“Serve All” Community | Toronto, Canada
Swami Vishnudevananda’s mission was to spread peace around the world. We are working to integrate Yoga into Toronto communities so that everyone has access to the teachings and tools that promote both inner and outer peace. In addition to raising funds for both local and international causes, we have developed teaching partnerships with numerous community organizations and the Toronto District School Board, allowing us to reach a diverse group of students and increase access. We believe that with your support we will be able to not only continue with this mission but to expand and reach every member of our community.
If you are interested in collaborating or supporting any of these programs please contact us directly at: [email protected]
We have conducted tailored yoga and meditation programs at the following sites:
- Toronto East General Hospital (Outpatient Youth Anxiety Clinic)
- Sketch – community arts organization for street-involved and homeless youth
- Robertson House – shelter for homeless mothers with children
- Hincks-Dellcrest Centre – residential youth mental health center
- Kennedy House Youth Center– youth secure custody facility
- Birchmount Residence– shelter for homeless senior men
- St. Joseph’s College School – girls’ Catholic high school
We have also developed a program called “Yoga Buddies” in collaboration with the SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health. The Yoga Buddies program was designed to measure the effects of “Integrative Cognitive Yoga Therapy” for children, youth, and families and we are currently conducting ongoing research.
If you are interested in conducting research on any of our programs or have a partnership opportunity please contact us directly at: [email protected]
In early 2016, we developed an educational programming partnership with the TDSB. Our goal in doing so was to be able to reach all children and youth within the school board. Our focus is on priority schools — those with fewer opportunities and services provided to them. These schools are often located far from our yoga centre and our volunteers spend many hours travelling to and from these areas.
Some of the participating schools:
- Stanley St. Public School
- Driftwood Public School
- Shoreham Public School
- Melody Public School
- Ledbury Public School
- Central Toronto Academy
- Carlton Village Public School
- North Toronto High School
- Secord Elementary School
- John McCrae Public School
- Huron St. Public School
We teach classes based on our Centre courses, in six or eight sessions. Most of the schools don’t have yoga mats, so we bring mats from the Sivananda Yoga Centre. Every class experience is different, with some classes mirroring the silence and peace of our classes at the center, while others are high-paced to match the energy of our students. Our teachers have learned to adapt to the needs of children who are full of unsettled energy, confused or mistrustful, as well as teachers who may be exasperated or tired.
We were moved by a lot of positive feedback received from the children. As one ten year old girl said:
“My mom was very upset when she came home yesterday. She was crying because she didn’t know how she would pay rent. I didn’t know what to do but then I remembered that we were talking in our yoga class [about] what to do when we were upset. I showed her some of my yoga and asked her to do our breaths with me. She didn’t feel like it but then did it because I really, really wanted her to. She calmed down and almost fell asleep. I was very happy. Then we made dinner together.”
We hope to continue this work and expand into more schools.
If you are a TDSB administrator, teacher, staff, or parent and would like us to come to your school please contact us directly at: [email protected]
We have raised funds for the following projects and organizations:
- Doctors Without Borders (project Syria)
- Shanti Girls Gurukulam at Trissur, India founded by Swami Tattwarupananda
- Christmas drive for Christie Refugee Center
- Swami Sivananda Rural Hospital, Kadavur, Madurai organized by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram, Madurai and Dr. V.
If you are interested in donating or conducting a fundraiser in partnership with us please contact us directly at: [email protected]