The Yogi behind the Movement


sondra pranafestI first became a part of yoga outreach through my work as a nonprofit community organizer. As I began to practice more, I discovered the connection between my yoga and the outreach work I was doing in the community. After having a regular asana practice, it becomes integral, part of your daily routine just like eating breakfast. Outreach is the same, a form of advocacy, always there as the great reminder to serve others. The more I became involved in community engagement, the more I understood the parallel between these two fields.

It was the amazing experience of work exchange that I was able to fully understand the essence of community. By assisting yoga instructors, helping with studio outreach needs, event planning and marketing I was able to gain valuable insight of the inner workings of the yoga community, and take part in massive amounts of yoga! Although I found that I was making a difference, I felt that there was so much more that I could do to fill the need of yoga outreach.

My path to yoga community outreach became clear when I helped to organize a community screening of the documentary May I Be Frank at the yoga studio where I began my practice 5 years ago. The documentary itself was powerful, but more-so was the collection of yogis that came together perched on yoga props to experience the story of how wellness, and yoga can transform lives. Throughout the film I was plugged into social media forums, building a bridge of information to those that could not be at the event, I needed to share the power of the experience. After the movie had finished we began a dialogue that I feel still continues today, how yoga  can serve us in different stages of our lives. It felt as though a door had been opened to something truly inspiring that night.

When I became a Portlander in the fresh month of March 2012, I fell upon a network of yoga greater than I had experienced before. There was so much to choose from, so much to do, so many yogis tracing the streets of the city on bikes and by foot. After a few short weeks I found ways to get involved and became inspired by the passion of connecting in the Portland yoga community. I discovered the wonderful local yoga nonprofits which became another source of inspiration for me- connecting to my previous path as a nonprofit organizer. Looking further into the history of yoga events and festivals around Oregon, I fell in love with the workings of regional yoga happenings fused with trainings, music, and celebration.

Having been transformed by my own practice, I was awakened to the impact that community outreach would have on others that might not have the access and information they need to become involved. Through YogaGrow outreach I hope to increase and deepen the connections made within the yoga community and enhance the lives of all practitioners.