As the year comes to a close, we’ve been thinking about our incredible community and how every one of you has made it possible for Kula to serve a growing number of individuals and populations each year.
The most fulfilling aspect of this work is knowing that Kula makes yoga, meditation, and all its positive effects accessible to those who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity. This wouldn’t be possible without our volunteer yoga instructors, in particular. Our volunteer team is dedicated not only to teaching students how to properly practice yoga and meditation, but to doing it in a way that is nurturing, kind, and life-giving.
As you may know, yoga and meditation are beneficial to all who practice, no matter their level of experience, including teachers, students, and those who practice on their own. It has many medical benefits, such as increased immunity, decreased pain, and a more relaxed nervous system, as well as psychological benefits like reduced anxiety and depression, improved impulse control, and increased healthy coping strategies. These benefits are the number one reason we work so hard to offer yoga and meditation to people who are struggling with issues around mental and physical health. But for volunteers, there’s even more to it.
We’ve heard from many of our instructors that teaching yoga isn’t just beneficial for the students – it has a positive effect on their own mental and emotional wellbeing as well. Here’s what one of our instructors had to say about her experience teaching yoga to those struggling with addiction at Integrity House:
“What connects us and opens (the students) up is not the content of the asana sequence, but my willingness to become vulnerable with them. They know my story. I’ve shared my pain, my joy and my gratitude for recovery with them. There is no judgment or expectation of them…I feel their energy, open my heart, and magic happens. What seems like such a small offering means so much to these women, and is so powerful to those who are ready to receive it.”
These positive mental and emotional effects of volunteering are well-supported by research as well. At the London School of Economics, for example, researchers found that the more their study participants volunteered, the happier they were – a metric that increased the more frequently they volunteered their time. This correlation was a result of a number of factors, including a connection to others; support in counteracting the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety; a sense of purpose; and feelings of joy and fulfillment.
We can speak to this from personal experience as well: as a volunteer yoga instructor, you’re not only doing good for others, you’re also doing good for yourself through the combined positive effects of your practice and supporting others. We’re so grateful for our volunteers, and are always thrilled to hear them say that they’ve felt these benefits while working with Kula.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer yoga instructor in the New Year, we would absolutely love to connect. The more committed and passionate individuals who are willing to dedicate any portion of their time to seva, the more programming we can offer to those who need yoga and meditation most. You can learn more about our current programs here, and find out more about volunteering with Kula here. To see the impact of our volunteers’ service, check out other blog posts, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Wishing our wonderful community a beautiful holiday season, and a happy New Year!