Liforme and Yoga Gives Back: A Partnership for Social Justice
What is Social Justice?
Social justice can perhaps be best understood as the solution to social injustice. Poverty, disenfranchisement, and lack of education and opportunities for economic advancement due to racism, sexism, and discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, class, physical ability, and religion are all examples of injustices perpetuated by society and often codified by our institutions. The social justice movement seeks to identify and address these inequalities so that all people have the same access to the education, nutrition, healthcare, and jobs that can improve their quality of life. Wealth, resources, and power should be equally available to everyone.
Running a Conscious Business
Individuals and some governments make social justice a priority but not many businesses do. The reason behind this isn’t too mysterious: it’s the money, honey. Businesses are driven by the bottom line; if they don’t make a profit, they soon cease to exist. But we think it’s important to run a socially conscious business. We’re not going to make a buck on the back of someone else’s misfortune.
It turns out that it’s actually completely possible to grow a responsible business in which employees and stakeholders are provided for and there’s still enough to do good outside our immediate sphere. We believe this is particularly important in the yoga business because if yogis aren’t going to look after humanity, who is?
Our yoga practices makes us hyperaware of the interconnectivity of all living things. Our planet and its inhabitants are not separate from our selves. If one person, animal, or ecosystem suffers, then we all do. It’s not ok to think ‘if I’m good in my little bubble then everything is right with the world’. Not when we have the means to do something about it.
Unsurprisingly, yoga’s ethical code as outlined in Patanjali’s eight-limbed path backs us up. The yama aparigraha, like social justice, is perhaps best understood by looking at its opposite. Parigraha is greed, covetousness, avarice. Aparigraha is the opposite. If we remove greed from our economic equation, then it’s easy to see that there are ample resources to reach out and offer other people the opportunities to improve their situations.
One of the best ways for us to do that is to work with established non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or charities who have programs in place that need financial support to continue changing lives. By making partnerships through which we can donate from the fruits of our own business as well as help to raise awareness of important causes, we bring our customers into the circle of giving (financially, but also in terms of spreading good, important social messages).
Yoga Gives Back
One of Liforme’s partners is Yoga Gives Back, which was founded by Kayoko Mitsumatsu, a documentary filmmaker from Japan who now lives in Los Angeles. In 2007, she made a film about microfinancing and was inspired by its enormous impact on the low income population in India, the birthplace of yoga.
Microfinancing is a system in which small loans are made to people who are too poor to receive credit from traditional banks. The recipients use these loans to finance cottage businesses that can help them transcend their impoverished circumstances.
Kayoko saw how much money people were spending on yoga in the West and wanted to find a way to channel a small fraction of those funds back to India. Specifically, she wanted to help women and children in India escape poverty through microloans and education.
Yoga Gives Back began by working with Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammed Yunus’s Grameen Foundation. In 2010, YGB added its Sister Aid program, partnering with several NGOs in India (NISHTHA in West Bengal and Deenbandhu Trust in Karnataka) to provide loans for poor mothers and money for the education of orphans and young girls. Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE), another YGB initiative, funds high school students in India who could otherwise not afford to attend college or university.
In celebration of its ten-year anniversary, Yoga Gives Back is centering much of its activities around their brilliant One Million Yogis campaign. This fund-raising drive aims to sign up one million donors to affordable monthly subscription plans that helps support women and children in India. As little as five dollars a month can make a difference in someone’s life.
At Liforme, giving back is part of our ethos, so we’re incredibly pleased to support the wonderful work being done by Yoga Gives Back. Want to join us? When you buy a mat, you’ve already become a contributor. Take it one step further by joining One Million Yogis Campaign. If we want a revolution, it’s up to us to make it happen.