Yoga was already becoming many things to many people two decades ago when a group of us formed the Traditional Yoga Association. Our dream was to ground ourselves in the ancient philosophy and ethics of yoga and explore how these can be expressed today as we live our lives in busy urban environments, where it is so easy to become estranged from meaning. To this end, while setting up classes and teachers’ courses we also created ‘The Mukti Project’, to raise funds for and awareness of those whose lives are lived without what many of us take for granted: a home, an education, a loving environment.
The Mukti Project has supported various projects: schools created on the sites of bonded labour; Maher, India’s largest shelter for battered women and their children; and two homes for street children – Naz, which cares for abandoned HIV Positive boys and girls and Karm Marg. Through the generosity of Yogins in the UK and abroad we have sent over half a million pounds to these projects. We do not administer any of these homes, they are organised by loving and committed people in India – our work is to raise funds so that their work can continue.
It has not been a one-way giving – the children teach us that no matter how traumatised, no matter how harsh life has been compassion can still ow. When the children of Karm Marg learned that we buy and ra e a bedcover each year to raise funds for homeless people in the UK, they were shocked that we too have homelessness and immediately set about designing and creating a bedcover for us to ra e. (It will be ra ed later this year and funds will go to Launchpad, a centre for homeless people in Reading.) It has been a privilege to get to know the children, who always remind us of the crucial teaching of Yoga: ‘tat tvam asi’ – ‘that thou art’.