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Yoga Teachers Call for Aid to India Amid COVID Surge

As the COVID-19 crisis worsens, lndian leaders in U.S. yoga circles have created a way for the yoga community to offer seva.

The number of people receiving COVID-19 vaccines is steadily rising in the U.S., and the number of new cases of the virus is declining. But India is seeing a devastating surge. “Deaths on Wednesday officially surged past 200,000,” according to the Associated Press. “But the true death toll is believed to be far higher.”  Overall, the country has recorded a record 17.9 million infections.

News reports from the country cite a complex intersection of crises that include insufficient oxygen supplies, lack of hospital beds, and bureaucratic foul-ups. Now crematories are too overloaded to manage the number of people who have died. All of this is on the heels of months of political upheaval over farmers’ protests of contentious agricultural reform measures.

“It’s such a heart wrenching time,” says yoga teacher and activist Susanna Barkataki.   

According to Axios, the White House announced the U.S. will send more than $100 million worth of supplies to India, including N95 masks, diagnostic tests, and refillable oxygen cylinders. But many individuals, particularly yogis, are also looking for ways to help.

Spirit of Seva

In the spirit of seva, Barkataki and other Indian organizers in the yoga community have researched and curated a list of aid organizations that are doing work to support people in need in India. The list includes health, humanitarian, education, and social justice organizations. 

She says offering care is a form of reparations for the gifts that India has given the world, and is a way to respect Indian wisdom traditions such as yoga, Ayurveda and others. Donating, sharing information, or offering other forms of compassion demonstrates a collective form of ahimsa, she says.

Anjali Rao, yoga teacher and activist, and Protima Rodrigues of True Bay India, contributed to the list and helped vet the organizations doing aid work on the ground. The open-source list can be found here: India Aid Organizations. 

While they created the list to make it easier for people to offer immediate help, Barkataki encourages people to engage viveka—discernment and critical thinking—and do their own research before they donate. India is a vast country with many worthy organizations, and there may be many international groups who are also making valuable contribution during the COVID crisis.  

More COVID relief resources and information is available at True Bay India.