YogaActivist.org’s mat donation program based in Washington, DC is now expanding to other US cities.
How does the program work?
Yoga Activist arranges for pick-up of abandoned or used mats from partnering yoga studios, and then helps place the mats in local yoga outreach programs. Mats that had been sitting unused in a closet get a new lease on life in yoga classes held in homeless shelters, schools, prisons, and other social service organizations. YogaActivist.org governs the use of the mats after any individual program comes to an end, and in this way ensures that the mats will be used continuously.
What is the value of donated mats?
While it is certainly possible to practice yoga without a mat, most yogis – whether in a studio or in an outreach class – do appreciate the added cushioning provided. According to yoga outreach teacher Aqeel Yaseen, yoga mats can play an additional role in yoga outreach classes: they emphasize the concepts of personal space and boundaries. This is meaningful for young yogis, who can learn respect for their own space and the space of others, as well as with homeless or incarcerated communities, whose potentially transitional and cramped living situations welcome the personal, peaceful space the donated mats provide.