Staying Grounded Through Pandemic With Yoga – and for a Good Cause

Yoga for Charity Alka Kaminer
Alka Kaminer will be the lead teacher in Saturday’s virtual yoga benefit to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This is the fourth yoga fundraiser Kaminer has been part of since last June.

Like so many other aspects of life during the past year, the pandemic has brought havoc to those who love yoga and their instructors. Many studios have been forced to close, whether it be temporarily or permanently and move online.

One local yoga instructor has found a way not only to continue providing virtual classes for her students, but has also been collaborating with colleagues to raise money for important causes and organizations.

This Saturday at noon, Alka Kaminer will be the lead instructor for the fourth in a series of Yoga for Charity events she helped create since the middle of last year under the collaborative banner of Present Wisdom Community. This weekend’s roughly 90-minute virtual experience will raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We were trying just to get our word out there and what we are doing and there are so many people that are also in need and how could we serve them as well, and we realized that it could be used for a charity event,” said Kaminer, an Armonk resident.

On Saturday, the online yoga event will feature five different instructors leading their portion of the class for about 12 to 13 minutes each. Kaminer will take a bit longer since she will be introducing the class and others. The event will also feature an appearance by St. Jude representatives who will talk about the work they do and perhaps include a conversation with a family helped by the hospital.

Last June, Kaminer had spoken to a friend who has relatives in Minnesota affected by the protests following the death of George Floyd. She and her friend held an online class, which doubled as a charity event for Reclaim the Block, an organization that supports communities in Minneapolis.

That initial effort was popular enough that Kaminer concluded that she should bring the followers of her yoga and meditation classes to help other causes, including some closer to home.

A second event was held to support Neighbors Link, the Mount Kisco-based organization that helps to acclimate immigrants to their new community and country, followed by another that benefitted the Alzheimer’s Association.

Now the thought is to hold a Yoga for Charity event about every other month to help not only those who enjoy yoga make it through the pandemic but to assist organizations that depend on donations.

“Our intention is to work with large organizations as well as local organizations and we’re giving back, not only nationally and globally, but also to our community as well,” said Kaminer, who for several years has led yoga and meditation classes at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk two days a week. She has continued those classes online since last year as well.

“We’re like so many other people, we’ve just been involved, our consciousness has been increased through the events of 2020 and seeing which ways you could further and be of service to the greater community,” added Kaminer’s husband, Brian.

He said that through the first three fundraisers they were able to donate a combined $3,000 to the designated charities. As word begins to filter out and the events are better publicized, the totals have slowly increased. As of last week, Brian Kaminer estimated that they had already come close to matching their previous combined total with Saturday’s class.

For the upcoming event, instructors will lead participants through several different yoga styles, Alka Kaminer said. Anyone can register for the class, even those who are novices. If someone wants to join but decides to observe for part of the program, that is fine as well, she said.

Alka and Brian agreed that yoga sessions, even when virtual, provide people with a way to manage through difficult times.

“Every day, it giving them a way to stay connected with friends, with their community,” she said. “It’s bringing them back into their bodies and achieve a sense of being present as opposed to letting their minds take them away into anxiety or fear or worry.”

“I think the higher levels of anxiety in society attracted people to it, and my understanding with my own practice – I’m not an instructor but personal experience – it really helps reset your anxiety levels,” Brian Kaminer said.

Registration for Saturday Charity for Yoga is $10 a person. Participants are free to donate more if they choose. For more information about the event and to register, visit www.presentwisdom.com.

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