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Yoga and social business

Image of a business meeting

Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus proposed the idea of a “social business.” He defines social business as different from a traditional non-profit organization in that it is self-sustaining. A social business does not depend on donations for its continued existence. This means the social business is a profit making entity. However it is different from a normal business in that the promoters and investors do not get any distribution from the profit. The profit is retained for expansion of the business and only the initial investment of the promoters and/or investors is paid back without interest.

The goal of a social business is to meet a social need that would not be addressed ordinarily by a regular business. Unlike a non-profit, the social business would be self-sustaining and scalable thus able to address the needs of large sections of populations without a constant need for fund raising. The energy of the promoters is thus focused in meeting the social need rather than constant fund-raising effort.

In a social business the promoters and employees of the business get paid market wages. This means that though the promoters do not make a profit they can make a living wage for their effort they put into the social business.

The key idea is not to supplant non-profits or normal businesses but to complement. A non-profit will exist where a social business cannot. And a social business should find a niche where a normal for-profit business does not want to play.

Here are the seven principles of a social business: Continue reading

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Be careful who you pick on…

We have no idea what the background audio is saying. But the video is funny enough to share! Do you have a funny video, story, joke or anecdote? Please send it to us at: info [at] mylifeyoga [dot] com

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The Mustard Seed

Kisa Gotami was distraught. Her only son, a toddler, had just died. In desperation and grief she ran from door to door of her village and asked for medicine that could revive her dead son. Most villagers thought that she had gone mad, however one wise old man said in a comforting voice, “I do not have the medicine you need. But you can go to the neighboring village where the saint Sakyamuni has come. Maybe he can help you.” (Buddha was known as Sakyamuni, meaning a monk from the Sakya clan.)

Kisa was overjoyed to hear his words. She ran back home and picked up the body of her dead son and ran all the way to the neighboring village. Out of breath, she reached the place where the Buddha was seated. She placed her son’s body near his feet and fell to her knees and pleaded with folded hands, “Please, my Lord! Please revive my only son!”

Buddha looked at Kisa Gotami and understood that she was not in a condition where he could reason with her. He then said, “Very well, I will revive your son! However, you must first bring me a single mustard seed before sunset from that home where nobody has died.”

On hearing these words, Kisa Gotami felt energized. “How hard this can be? Surely I will find at least one home where nobody has died!” She thought as she picked up the body of her son. She bowed before the Buddha and took his leave. She then started running as she went from door to door of the village. In a few hours she had gone to all homes of the village and had found not a single home that was free of death. She then went running back to her own village in the hope of finding at least one home that was free of death.

By evening she was exhausted. She had scoured all the homes in the few villages that were in the vicinity and found not a single home that was free of death. Not knowing what to do she sat down on the bank of a river to ponder. The sun was low in the sky and she looked at it and thought, “Should I back to the Buddha and ask his help? Surely he must be having a remedy to the situation? There is still time, the sun has still not set!” Continue reading

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A lesson in deep listening

Hilary Lindsay

Hilary Lindsay

In the mid-eighties, before I practiced yoga regularly, I often sought the help of a chiropractor for a chronically stiff neck which was the result of a skewed pelvis.

I awoke one day with paralysis. I couldn’t lift my head from the pillow, could not turn my head. My husband got me out of bed and I was able to get dressed and ride with him to the chiropractor who told me there was nothing amiss in my spine. He suggested I have a session with a fellow who was doing a new kind of therapy based on yoga and offered no further explanation.

Open to learning new modalities of healing but somewhat suspicious of a yoga therapy that would correct a phantom spinal problem; I agreed to meet the fellow in the office the next day.

I was greeted by a white haired fellow with a quiet demeanor who also gave little explanation other than he would assist me in some yoga postures.

At the time I was a dance teacher who inserted yoga postures into a balletic form. I was fit and extremely flexible. I thought I was very much in command of my body. It seemed ludicrous that this man who reminded me of the character Peter Sellers played in “Being There”, an innocent simpleton could offer me anything and I was slightly annoyed.

He assisted me through a series of postures and with each posture he asked me how I felt. Then he repeated my words back to me. He urged me to come up with more than the first description. He kept repeating what I offered. It seemed ridiculous.

As I remember it, when the session was over, he asked me how it went, wished me luck and said goodbye and not much more. I was dumbfounded. What was that! I wasn’t pleased with the chiropractor who set me up for this. Continue reading

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The Yoga of Autism

Yoga for autistic children
All of us have felt the magic of yoga. It is likely, if you are reading this article, that you are a believer. I am. I know the powers of yoga and have dedicated my life to helping others discover this power.

And I know that the magic of therapeutic yoga reaches into lives of people in diverse populations. Those with physical ailments, traumatic injuries, emotional imbalances or mental upsets can all come to realize the healing potential of yoga and its ability to empower them.

I have heard of football players bowing their heads in namaste, angry young men in drug rehab surrendering in savasana (corpse, or relaxation pose) and prison populations finding solace in yoga. I personally volunteer with Gabriel Halpren at Yoga Circle when he teaches young adults who have many forms of developmental disabilities. I have seen them transformed as Gabriel brings them into the world of yoga.

But autistic children? I must admit that even I wondered how–or if–autistic kids could find some peace on the yoga mat. My friend Tanya Sugarman is a drama teacher at the Lincoln School in Evanston and a longtime yoga practitioner. She told me of the difficulties in getting a small group of autistic children involved in drama and her decision to instead introduce them to yoga. She had already received the approval of the children’s main teacher, Karen Mahoney, and was busy getting mats donated and developing an appropriate sequence of asanas. I wondered how the program would work out.

Research asserts that autistic children are often withdrawn and self-absorbed, being more interested in objects than people. They are often engrossed in stereotypic behaviors and may show rage if these patterned activities are interrupted. How, then, would they respond to the demands of doing yoga postures? What would motivate them to stop their behavior patterns and listen to specific instructions on how to move their body? Could they be still long enough to benefit from savasana? Continue reading

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