Month-long Nationwide Yogathon Provides Outlet for Yogis to Give Back this May 2009

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On May 1st, Karma Krew ,a yoga-based 501(c)3 non-profit, launches the Peace by Peace Yogathon - a month-long nationwide fundraiser to support its outreach initiatives that include bringing yoga programs to underserved populations and promoting community volunteerism through a nationwide network of yoga studios and teachers.

By re-conceptualizing 'community service' through the lens of 'Karma Yoga,' we transform typical volunteering into an opportunity for self reflection and self transformation as well

In this time of financial jeopardy and economic hardship, it's hard for many people to imagine having enough energy, time, or resources to commit to community service or fundraising for others. We want to help but feel overwhelmed at the prospect of fitting it into our busy and challenging lives. But what if your community service or charity work could simultaneously nurture you and create a better sense of balance and equilibrium in your life during these uncertain times? Such an integrated model of serving others while nurturing yourself now exists with the Peace by Peace Yogathon.

On May 1st, Karma Krew, a yoga-based 501(c)3 non-profit, launches the first annual Peace by Peace Yogathon, a month-long nationwide fundraiser to support its outreach initiatives that include bringing yoga programs to underserved populations and promoting community volunteerism through a national network of yoga studios and teachers. With the Peace by Peace Yogathon, your yoga practice is transformed into a vehicle for civic engagement. As a participant, you register for free at http://www.karmakrew.org to obtain a personalized fundraising page to use in securing your pledges for each yoga class you plan to take during the month of May. Classes can be taken anywhere you choose. The more classes you attend, the more money you raise - and the better you feel. Simultaneously, you stretch your body, open your mind, fill your heart, and strengthen your community.

For those new to yoga and those reluctant yogis who may need a little extra incentive to get on the mat, Karma Krew has partnered with various socially-conscious and yoga-related companies to provide prizes for the biggest fundraisers. To be eligible for weekly raffle drawings and other fundraising prizes, a participant must take the Karma Krew challenge – they agree to take at least 10 classes during the month of May and raise a minimum of $400 for the Peace by Peace Yogathon. Winners will be awarded with various yoga gear, clothes, books, cds, and even yoga trips from the Peace by Peace sponsors including Jade Yoga (http://www.jadeyoga.com), I Love Yoga (http://www.iloveyoga.com), Patagonia (http://www.patagonia.com), and Be Present (http://www.bepresent.com).

In addition, all participants will receive free weekly meditation podcasts, inspirational karma related news articles, tips for consciously living your yoga practice off the mat, and other moral support via email and at http://www.karmakrew.org throughout the entire month of May. "We have designated the month of May as 'Karma Yoga Awareness' month. Karma Yoga is the 'yoga of action or service,' and we are encouraging participants to use their involvement in the yogathon as an opportunity to reflect on how they integrate the principles of karma yoga into their own lives. Though we will all be practicing in various studios across the country, we plan to use our website as a virtual community to create a sense of connectedness throughout the month-long yogathon," explains Amy Lombardo, co-founder of Karma Krew.

Two like-hearted yoga teachers, Amy Lombardo and Scott Feinberg, co-founded Karma Krew in August 2006 after they led a community service and yoga retreat in post-Katrina New Orleans. "By re-conceptualizing 'community service' through the lens of 'Karma Yoga,' we transform typical volunteering into an opportunity for self reflection and self transformation as well," remarks Scott Feinberg, co-founder of Karma Krew. He adds, "Our personal practice becomes a collective offering to the world, and we begin to understand on a deeper level how we are all interconnected. That way, our 'giving' can come from a more authentic and less ego-based space. It becomes about the experience of the connection, and not about the end result."

And so it is with the Peace by Peace Yogathon. As people step on the mat, they'll remember that their hour or hour and a half of nurturing the self in a yoga class is simultaneously connecting them to the hundreds of others around the country that will benefit from their efforts. Funds raised through Peace by Peace will be used in part to support Karma Krew's yoga-based empowerment programs for underserved populations. Karma Krew currently implements yoga-based empowerment programs for abused children in six children's shelters in SE Florida, and is working to expand the program into other markets nationally in the later half of 2009. Funds will also be used to support Karma Krew's grassroots network of yoga studios, teachers, and students around the country that commit to organizing regular community outreach programs and volunteer projects for their local yoga community. Currently, there are nearly 30 Karma Krew community chapters around the country spanning from Long Island, New York to Juneau, Alaska, and more local chapters are joining each month.

This May, all month long, the Peace by Peace Yogathon provides a way for people to reconnect with their own sense of personal power and potential through their yoga practice, and they can do this while making a significant contribution to the world. This type of win-win outreach work helps break down the feeling of powerlessness and immobilization people often experience when they search for a meaningful way to contribute in a world overwhelmed with social, economic, and environmental challenges. To join the national Peace by Peace Yogathon as a participant, studio ambassador, sponsor, or promoter, visit http://www.karmakrew.org.

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Amy Lombardo
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