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Healthy bodies + peaceful minds in Cambodia

by | Apr 9, 2015 | Uncategorized

I am very aware of how fortunate I am to be living in Australia, with more than enough money to feed my family.  There are so many people in the world who do not have this privilege, through no fault of their own.  Why is one person born into a middle class family  and another born into poverty?  I don’t have answers for this.  But I do have a drive and a commitment to do my small part to balance out this injustice.

Whenever someone signs up for A Daily Dose of Bliss, I give 10% of the cost of the course to Krama Yoga in Cambodia.  This NGO is doing amazing work supporting young people in Cambodia who are experiencing poverty, abuse, addictions and lack of  support.

I didn’t take the decision to donate to Krama Yoga lightly.  There are so many people who would benefit from support in the world, and it’s not easy to know the best way to give.  I am grateful to my friend Sarah Ball, who spent a year working with Krama Yoga, and who talked me through the organisation, and made it very clear that this was a meaningful way to make a the world a little happier.

Today I interviewed Kirsten Pontius from Krama Yoga about the wonderful work they’re doing in Cambodia.

 

Hi Kirsten, tell me a little about yourself and how you ended up in Cambodia?

I’m a small town girl from the US, approaching my 7th year abroad (half of that in Cambodia,) and loving it.  I’ve always enjoyed traveling and feel so fortunate that my husband’s career allows us to live an adventure everyday.

I found Krama Yoga my first week in Cambodia, and instantly connected with their mission. I started teaching with their social enterprise, Nataraj Yoga Studio, which helps fund their programs.  I have a background in marketing and non-profit administration and as a Yoga Teacher I have more recently found a fulfilling role in helping Krama Yoga NGO spread their wings and share their work with the world.

Krama Yoga is doing some really wonderful and life changing work.  I’d love for you to share a little about Krama Yoga’s vision and work that they’re doing.

Krama Yoga is a unique and special not-for-profit organization operating in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, reaching deep into a community of hurting and disadvantaged youth and adults.

The mission of Krama Yoga is to build and sustain a yoga community for people from all backgrounds, by providing yoga-based classes and programs that cultivate healthy bodies and peaceful minds.

Our mission is achieved through kids, teen and trauma sensitive yoga classes for young Cambodians through partnerships with NGOs that offer educational or therapeutic services to underprivileged youth. Krama Yoga believes that awareness and self-care skills are essential to becoming stable and empowered adults in a changing social environment.

How does yoga change young people’s lives?

Using the healing power of yoga, our Cambodian teachers (who themselves have used the positivity of yoga to change the direction of their lives) work with local organizations to bring yoga, confidence and peace to a diverse group of youth and young adults on a weekly basis.

Bringing the benefits of an asana practice, as well as mindfulness practices, students learn confidence, a sense of accomplishment and skills to process the trauma they have experienced in life.

There are so many different ways to make a difference in the world.  Why does Krama Yoga choose to work in the way that they do? 

It has really evolved from a love of yoga, and it’s ability to heal and to nurture.

The seeds of Krama Yoga were planted in November 2008 when seven young Cambodians began intensive yoga training under the founder and yoga teacher, Isabelle Skaburskis, assisted by a qualified Cambodian yoga teacher, Yan Vannac. By 2010, the training evolved into an apprenticeship program geared specifically to the needs of young Cambodians from under-privileged backgrounds and came to include outreach classes taught by the apprentices for over 300 children and adolescents from children’s NGOs, orphanages and rehabilitation shelters.

We believe in community, based on a shared understanding and commitment to healthy and non-violent living. A community that believes that bringing peace in society starts by finding peace within one’s self and that positive relationships and mindful living enables such peace to last. We believe in yoga for everyone!

I’m so honoured that through A Daily Dose of Bliss we can support Krama Yoga in making such a difference.  10% of the cost of each online course is given to support the wonderful work you’re doing.  What will the money we sent you today be used for?

This is a very timely contribution.  We have been building a relationship with a local NGO that supports victims of human trafficking.  We are discussing details for starting a pilot program with this NGO in order to add trauma sensitive yoga to their support services. Until now, this has been a conversation without the resources to take the next step.

Starting a new outreach program like this is done very intentionally and carefully.  We plan alongside the organization and discuss the participants background and current life situation, we discuss an appropriate location, class size and demographic.  While A Daily Dose of Bliss is offering mindfulness and bliss to people around the world, we are so thankful to be extending that gift to a new group of youth who are currently struggling to find peace in their lives.

You took the very first A Daily Dose of Bliss course last year.  How did it make a difference in your life?

I don’t know anyone that doesn’t feel, at times, overwhelmed by life both personal and professional.  We have to be intentional in what we do and how we set our priorities order to stay grounded and to find balance.

In my personal journey, A Daily Dose of Bliss gave me the tools to incorporate a meditation practice that I was struggling develop, and take a step towards a healthier balance in my life.  It is the least threatening and most accessible meditation course or instruction that I have ever received and has allowed me to experience a multitude of techniques in developing my practice.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to take this course!

Thank you so much for your time Kirsten, and for all the amazing work you and the Krama Yoga team are doing. 

1 Comment

  1. Kathleen Suneja

    Hi there! Great article you have, I would also want to share my thoughts that Meditation indeed has positive effects not only in the body but also in the mind, a total holistic wellness that brings us to know our inner-self better. It gives us a peace of mind that helps us have a much better perception about our lives.
    Our advocacy is to promote the positive effects of meditation, yoga and inner wellness.
    Help us, visit our website at and also http://www.goodreads.com/kathleensuneja. You can also download the app at .
    Thank you and have a great day!

    Reply

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