In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, yoga teachers were among the many who hurried to provide aid. Amy McDowell, chief financial officer of YogaFit® Training Systems Worldwide Inc., based in Redondo Beach, California, made this appeal to 35,000 YogaFit-certified instructors: “In the spirit of helping our fellow man, cat, dog and other living beings, we encourage you to do what you can to help out; be it teaching a class and donating the proceeds to a humanitarian organization, putting a box in your studio to collect nonperishables for the local food shelf, or making a cash donation.” A follow-up appeal went out to 65,000 YogaFit-certified instructors, urging them to contribute to The Humane Society of the United States.
The YogaFit organization made sizable donations to both the American Red Cross and The Humane Society, according to Beth Shaw, founder and president of YogaFit. In addition, Shaw announced that the week of September 12 would be Yoga for Hurricane Victims Week and encouraged all YogaFit instructors to teach classes and donate the week’s proceeds to the American Red Cross. Community service, a traditional aspect of yoga practice known as karma yoga, is an important part of the YogaFit teacher training. Level 1 training requires all instructors to donate 8 hours of community service to people who normally would not get to do yoga.