The Give Back Yoga Foundation was founded in 2007 by Beryl Bender Birch, Rob Schware, and Lori Klein. Rob, a student of Beryl’s and a former director with the World Bank with his doctorate in world economics, was a serious yoga practitioner and meditator at the time, and wanted to find a way to give back to his teachers. Beryl had long wanted to start a foundation and, interestingly enough, the development of a give back project had been, since l985, a requirement for graduation for all students in The Hard & The Soft Yoga Teacher Training certification programs.
Part of Beryl’s rationale for including a give back project in the requirements for yoga teacher certification, was her desire to get teachers out of the studios and out into the world, doing service and demonstrating that yoga was not just about teaching movement and exercise. She wanted to show through action that there were many ways to practice yoga, and that volunteering to walk dogs at your local shelter or to teach breathing for stress relief at the local senior citizen center could be considered a yoga practice. Lori was working for Beryl at the time as her administrative assistant. The three of them put their heads together, and decided that give back yoga would be a perfect name for their vision and mission, the objective being to support yoga teachers from all traditions, to develop give back projects in their communities.
Rob Schware has gone on to become the executive director for the foundation and taken our little project into the stratosphere. In the nearly 10 years since it’s inception, the Give Back Yoga Foundation has become the gateway organization to yoga service projects throughout the country and the world. We have funded dozens and dozens of start up projects – from teaching yoga in prisons to offering yoga to veterans to help with post deployment anxiety and post traumatic stress. We have supported yoga in schools for at risk youth, in hospitals, in shelters, and in impoverished neighborhoods throughout the world.
Currently, we support 4 major projects: The Prison Yoga Project, Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans, Eat, Breathe, Thrive (yoga for disordered eating), and Y12SR (Yoga for 12 Step Recovery)
Visit givebackyoga.org. to find out how you can become involved!!