(L-r): Kayoko Mitsumatsu, Amrajit Marwah, Mallika Chopra. (Amy Tierney | Thrive Images)


Yoga Gives Back honored Mallika Chopra, author of Living with Intent, with the first-ever “Yoga Gives Back Namaste Award” at the fourth-annual Thank You Mother India fundraiser at the home of philanthropist Dr. Amarjit Marwah in Malibu, Calif. The Sept. 26 event welcomed over 200 members of the Southern California yoga to express gratitude to “Mother India” for the gift of yoga.


Kayoko Mitsumatsu, a Japanese-American documentary film producer and practicing yogi, who founded the LA-based non-profit Yoga Gives Back in 2007, says, “While it’s common for many to perceive yoga as a mere physical exercise, through deeper study, we learn that the ultimate goal of yoga is to unite with the Divine Self—where meditation plays an important role in achieving this. ‘Namaste,’ which means in Sanskrit ‘the divinity in me salutes the divinity in you,’ symbolizes Yoga Gives Back’s mission, which is to help others, and is the inspiration for the award.”

Mallika Chopra, Michelle Westfort. (Lisa Field)

Mallika Chopra, Michelle Westfort. (Lisa Field)

“It became very clear to me that if everyone worldwide who enjoys yoga donates the cost of one yoga class to help those less fortunate, we can effect real change in the birthplace of yoga.”

The Thank You Mother India fundraiser took place Sept. 26, 2015. A welcome cocktail reception with appetizer wraps donated by Kye’s (http://www.kyesmontana.com/), which allowed guests to mingle and bid on the various silent auction items was followed by a performance by the Odissi dancers and a delicious 3-course buffet-style dinner prepared by Organic Soup Kitchen of Santa Barbara, featuring delicious curries. After dinner, the Namaste Award ceremony took place, a short YGB FILM was presented, along with a live auction and raffle. Each event attendee received a generous gift bag from the event sponsors.

Odissi Dancer. (Lisa Field)

Odissi Dancer. (Lisa Field)

This local Malibu fundraiser serves as the launch for YGB’s annual five-month, global fundraising campaign. From September 2015 through January 2016, more than 150 YGB events will take place in over 15 countries heightening awareness of the realities faced by the poor, especially women and children. “In 2014-2015, nearly $70,000 was raised globally through this annual global campaign. Yoga studios and communities hosted special yoga classes or fundraiser events whose proceeds raised the majority of funding for YGB’s programs,” says Mitsumatsu. “Including the proceeds of this year’s Malibu event, our end goal this year is to arrive at $100,000.”

Pam Douglas and Denise Waling (r). (Amy Tierney | Thrive Images)

Pam Douglas and Denise Waling (r). (Amy Tierney | Thrive Images)

“For the cost of one yoga class, you can change a life” is the organization’s mantra, which has grown 35% every year since 2009, and now funds nearly 700 mothers and children in Karnataka and West Bengal, India. YGB’s micro-loans and educational scholarships offer a minimum five-year commitment to each recipient.

Rina Tham. (Amy Tierney | Thrive Images)

Rina Tham. (Amy Tierney | Thrive Images)

The Title Sponsor for the 2015 Malibu fundraiser was author Rina Tham, who has been supporting YGB’s Malibu Fundraiser since its inception. Rina wrote a book of inspiration for children worldwide, Lucky Number 9: Journey of a Rubber Tapper’s Daughter (http://www.luckynumber9.org/), and plans to donate this book to teen students of YGB programs in India. The Gold Sponsor was repeat donor Chalice Recording Studio (http://chalicerecording.com/). Table Sponsors included: Abacus Wealth Partners (http://abacuswealth.com/); Koji Toyoda Salon (http://www.kojihair.com/); YogaGlo (https://www.yogaglo.com/); Story Merchant Books (http://www.storymerchant.com); and Omkar 108 Yoga (http://omkar108.com/).

Siva Mohan, Zaire Black, Michelle Westfort (auctioneer),Kayoko Mitsumatsu and Ken Atchity. (Amy Tierney | Thrive Images)

Siva Mohan, Zaire Black, Michelle Westfort (auctioneer),Kayoko Mitsumatsu and Ken Atchity. (Amy Tierney | Thrive Images)

The 2015 Host Committee included prestigious members of the yoga community: Anand Mehrotra, Felicia Tomasko, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Guru Jagat, Jorgen Christiansson, Ken Atchity, Kia Miller, Kino MacGregor, Lauren Peterson, Steve Ross, Siva Mohan, Susan Nichols, Suze Yalof Schwartz and Tara Guber.