Off the Mat Into the World

Off the Mat Into the World
For many years, yogi/nis have been criticized for focusing inward to the detriment of social change. While often stereotyped as navel gazers, many yoga teachers currently work to challenge this perception, making the case for yoga as a basis for activism. Off the Mat, Into the World, founded in 2007, seeks to bridge the gap between personal enlightenment and global activism. The organization is a coalition of yoga teachers and who, in the words of Gandhi, seek to be the change they wish to see in the world.

Co-founder Sean Corne, a Vinyasa Flow teacher, is revered in the yoga world for her service-oriented focus. She created the yoga program for Children of the Night, which provides housing and education for
child prostitutes; she is also actively involved in working for those living with HIV. In 2005, she was named the Yoga Ambassador for Youth AIDS.

While less well known, co-founders Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling also have star-studded yoga resumes. Khouri is a writer, Somatic therapist, yoga teacher, and yoga teacher trainer. Sterling is a musician as well as a leader of workshops such as Voice of Change and Priestess Apprenticeship in Sacred Leadership. Together, the three women embody a passionate approach to changing the world, one event at a time. They believe that yoga and meditation sit at the root of leadership, providing a format to access greater cognizance and personal responsibility. One cannot achieve personal enlightenment without understanding and working to address the ills of the planet.

Off the Mat, Into the World offers a variety of trainings for those interested in using their yoga practice as a form of activism. Workshop leaders include such luminaries as Jivana Heyman of Accessible Yoga, and Nikki Myers, the founder of Yoga of 12 Step Recovery. Corne, Khouri, and Sterling teach workshops as well, both in person and online.

At the eponymous website (, one can find information about ways to use yoga to work with disadvantaged populations. Whether one wants to teach yoga to incarcerated youth, the Deaf community, or to people of color, organizations listed here will help one get started. Looking for training in Trauma Informed yoga? Information can be found here. Passionate about body image issues or fighting domestic violence? There are still other organizations listed. Wanting to create a new organization to confront some other issue? Consider starting with one of the leadership trainings and then using the new knowledge to put wings on a personal vision.

Impressed with the work? Consider making a contribution. One can do this in a variety of ways. Connect with one of the organizations listed; take a training; attend an event. One can donate money directly to the parent organization, which also sells tees through Teespring. It is also possible to donate by shopping Amazon through their Amazon Smile site, where a portion of a purchase can be directed towards Off the Mat, Into the World..

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with OTM. I am affiliated with Accessible Yoga.

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2022 by Korie Beth Brown. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Korie Beth Brown. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Korie Beth Brown for details.