Today is officially day 11 of the yoga challenge and we are halfway there! How’s it going? Are you still staying dedicated and getting on mat once a day? Remember, “getting on your mat” totally does not mean you have to go to hard-core vinyasa classes every day! Yesterday, I took one of Polly’s classes via her dvd and my muscles definitely felt “yummy” after. I think, if anything, this challenge is making me fall in love with gentler forms of yoga such as yin yoga, which gives my muscles the deep release they are craving. It’s all about being good to your body!

I wanted to chat a little about compassion today. We talk about it in yoga class all the time, but do you put it to work in your daily life off the mat? There’s many ways you can be a more compassionate person, two of which include volunteering and/or donating monthly to a charity. There’s an old Baptiste yoga saying that says “if you can, you MUST” and I believe that ties in directly to giving compassionately, whether it’s your time or money.

Personally, I sponsor Watoto Living Hope, a ministry in Uganda that supports vulnerable women that have been left abandoned and mutilated. Many of these women are HIV positive and young single mothers. They are cast off from society because they don’t look like everyone else (many times ears, lips and nose have been cut off) and therefore, have no where to go. Watoto is a Christian based organization that helps these women get back on their feet again and provides necessary medical treatment and counseling to those that need it. I felt personally convicted to be a part of this ministry when I first heard about it at a church conference in May. It’s an amazing cause that really spoke straight to my heart and I hope someday I can go volunteer in Uganda and meet some of these women face to face.

I believe we are all called to do our part when it comes to compassion, which might mean giving up a dinner out or pedicure a month to give to a charity you believe in. I urge you to keep up with your yoga practice and use the remaining time left in the challenge to research a charity you feel convicted about. Or, sign up to volunteer at a local food bank! I did that last Thanksgiving and it was an amazing way to serve when I couldn’t be with my own family.

Fortune cookie message from lunch an hour ago. Is someone trying to tell me something?

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  • Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance
    August 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    That’s great that you sponsor an African Ministry. Loves yoga AND giving back!? Get it, boo

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey
    August 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    This is perfect Jenna! What a great cause.

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    August 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Jenna this is such a moving and touching post. Being aware of ALL that we have, and being able to help others, give back to others, do with less, stretch ourselves in order to help others (and many times it’s not even a stretch for us to help others…it’s so EASY to help them without even really altering anything)

    This is such an important message and it’s something I think about all the time both because of my yoga, my spiritual path, and just my life path. And I give my time/energy to some groups that I feel strongly about and it’s been so amazing for me to receive that energy back πŸ™‚

  • Gina (Yogattude)
    August 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    What an amazing charity, I love this post:) I get so caught up in buying that next great item, that I forget there are others with far less. I try to donate to a variety of friends’ efforts like in races and such, but I know I have more to give. I’m really enjoying your yoga-inspired posts!

    I practiced this morning at 6 and really gave in, let me body do it’s thing without thinking “I can’t” and it was amazing. I think I’m starting to get the hang of this early morning yoga thing!

  • Jocelyn
    August 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    This post gave me shivers πŸ™‚ It warms my heart to know that people out there give so freely when you do not really have to at all! The world would be a better place if we gave a little bit…time, heart, money each day…week..month..whatever!
    Keep it up!

  • megan @ whatmegansmaking
    August 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    that sounds like a great organization. We sponsor a child from gospel for Asia, which is a wonderful evangelical organization. Thanks for a great reminder in this post πŸ™‚

  • jenna
    August 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    what a great post jenna.

    feeding america is another great cause…could you imagine the child your daughter/son eats lunch with only eats at lunch time during the school year? it breaks my heart! “β€’During the 2009 federal fiscal year, 19.5 million low-income children received free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. Unfortunately, just 2.2 million of these same income-eligible children participated in the Summer Food Service Program that same year” – feeding america website.

    so when your feeding your child dinner tonight think of the poor kids who don’t have that priveledge.

  • Baking N Books
    August 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    What a wonderful cause! It shows another side of you I didn’t know existed. (Well, duh, this is the internet πŸ˜‰ ).

    This really reminds me of the book “The Lost Girls”(by Amanda Pressner, Holly Corbett and Jen Baggett) – please read it – you will love it I can tell from this post!! I learned so much about what other countries lack. Although I’ll admit – volunteering and sleeping with bug-infested beds and stuff is the reality to be aware of…

    It’s interesting about the “giving” thing. I read something in the Secret the other day that said in order to get more of what you want – you have to give. So to get more money – you have to give it. Seems contradictory! But it’s so true – because that’s how you attract the goodness.

    Yep. Slow practice at home is where it’s at at (many) times. I’m actually doing (and had decided this before you announced yours!) – a 40-day challenge. According to Yogis, it takes 40 days to change a habit (y’know…not like a “change to All-Bran for 2 weeks type thing πŸ˜‰ ).

    BUT – of course – I’m not hard-core like you and others!! So there are days I just get 10 minutes on the mat. But so what? Sometimes, we have to thank ourselves just for “showing up” or doing what we can in that moment. I do want to thank you though for simultaneously doing this on your blog…although I get down on myself and compare myself to easily – it gave me the kick in the pants to not wait till other things get better. Sometimes, we have to focus on the things we can do or change rather than the other overwhelming stuff that ain’t going anywhere!

    • k
      August 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      empty nut jar?

      • Marla
        August 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

        I used to read empty nut jar’s blog and hope she is well- miss her actually!
        Not sure your point in mentioning it though?

        • Sara
          August 13, 2011 at 8:05 am

          I used to read empty nut jar too. I do miss her writing!

      • Baking N Books
        August 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

        No. Oh God…:( that’s really mean.

  • Natasha
    August 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I totally agree Jenna! We are not rich by any means but I let some of my luxuries go to sponsor a little girl through World Vision in Mongolia. I also volunteer with an animal rescue here in my town. It makes me feel good that I can do something small that can make a huge impact for someone else πŸ™‚ I also believe that you get back what you put out.

  • Marie@feedingfive
    August 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Great topic. I belong to a religion where we give 10% of our income to our church which is then used from everything to helping the hungry to education.

    When you give you will be blessed 100 times over for sure.

  • Lizzie
    August 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    That’s a great organization Jenna! Another one of my faves is Women for Women. Anything to do with women (or children) is something I am really passionate about. Investing in them is NEVER wasted!! πŸ™‚

  • kaila @ healthy helper!
    August 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I love this Jenna! What an awesome cause!!

  • Lauren
    August 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I love the quote “If you can, you must.” I think it’s so important to give back to our world, if you’re fortunate enough to be in the position to give back. My parents instilled that idea in me, and it’s one that I’ll instill in my own kids one day.

    I give to a number of organizations I feel strongly about — ASPCA, UNICEF, Planned Parenthood, and local groups that support the arts. A few months ago, I started sponsoring a little girl in Cambodia, and that experience has been immensely rewarding. It feels good to know that I’m helping a child live a little more safely and comfortably.

    I love this post. I firmly believe that compassion is what makes the world go round.

  • Mel
    August 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Completely agree. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in trying to make grandiose gestures of charity, that sometimes our small and seemingly simple efforts to help others get thrown to the wayside. I’m leaving for the Peace Corps in a few months and have been so focused on thinking about the future effects and possibilities of the levels of my compassion, that I have forgotten to focus on what I can do in the present. Since graduating in May I’ve found it harder to stay involved with community service activities simply because it’s not as easily accessible (in the sense that I can’t just sign up at school to volunteer for something). I would really like to make more of a concerted effort to do something at home though! Thanks for the inspiration…I love that you can draw compassion for others out of something you do for you!

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    August 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Loves this post! What a great cause πŸ™‚

  • Christena
    August 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Bravo, Jenna.

    Compassion International ( is also a great organization. I sponsor two children through them & I love writing and receiving letters from them!

  • kelly
    August 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Great, great post!

  • Marlow
    August 11, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Don’t forget about Fair Trade too! I work in the Fair Trade industry, and all the items my non-profit sells, directly goes to support folks living in developing countries, like Uganda. While charity work is AWESOME, fair trade is awesome too, because it creates sustainable business and gives artisans a market. There is a really cool project called ABAN that works in Ghana for example, that is giving homeless mothers a home, but also teaching them a craft, and then also giving them access to the US market, where their items can sell.

    It’s really amazing, just by looking at our everyday purchases, how many of those items could have been fair trade, and there-by spending just a few extra dollars, could help someone in a developing country!

  • Lana
    August 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    This is awesome! What a wonderful post – I hope this lights a spark in people to give back! Compassion makes the world go round in my eyes.

    I went to Uganda in 2009 and I would really encourage you to go. It’s an amazing, beautiful country with kind people. I think it’s so important to go and experience life there first hand. For me, it was hard to imagine living without running water and electricity – but when you do, it becomes a new normal. It really opens your eyes and makes you appreciate EVERY luxury that you are offered. I went to Kenya in 2010 and also had an incredible time. I would go back to either country in a heartbeat! Keep up the good work!

  • Amy @ ahealthyandhappyheart
    August 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    What a nice post! It is nice to see someone thinking about others!

  • Lola
    August 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Love this post Jenna, thank you.

  • stephanie
    August 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    what an awesome topic. It is so important to give back and it’s great that you’re sharing how you do!

  • Alyssa
    August 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I also heard about watoto ministries through church. After a children’s choir performed, I felt so convicted to sponsor a child. Great organization!

  • Liz @ iheartvegetables
    August 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Wooooah. That fortune cookie HAD to give you chills. That’s crazy! Very cool though πŸ™‚ I hope I can work for a non-profit someday, or at least be able to donate money to help the cause!

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    August 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Lovely Jenna.

  • Janna
    August 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    What a great cause, I work with HIV patients and it is really rewarding.

  • Kristin @ eat healthy. be happy. live well.
    August 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I have been doing my morning sun salutations as I watch the sunrise over the mountains outside of my bedroom window….breathtaking! Thanks for the challenge πŸ™‚

    • jenna
      August 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      can i come live with you? that sounds amazing!

  • Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel
    August 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    YOU ARE AMAZING! Simple put. <3

  • Kiah
    August 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I love these more “contemplative” posts. Keep ’em coming!

  • Kate
    August 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    You may want to do more careful research on Watoto. I’ve read awful things about their support for some possibly violent regimes and the (oppressive) crackdown on homosexuality in Uganda. Could absolutely, absolutely be false but definitely worth investigating.

    In general, it is a good idea to use something like Human Right’s Watch’s when you give. International charity is full of corruption, and I think donors should be careful to be responsible and fully understand what they are giving to.

    • Lana
      August 12, 2011 at 7:18 am

      Completely agree! I saw this when I went to Uganda. I went to a school where US organizations were telling their volunteers that they were giving $500 to the School directly and when they arrived in Uganda, they realized the school was receiving less than 1/4 of the amount. I am very wary when I give to International Aid organizations.

  • Khushboo
    August 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Love this Jenna, thanks for the reminder to spread the compassion πŸ™‚

  • Marla
    August 12, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Please all take a moment and give something to aid
    the HORN OF AFRICA area (see charities like
    Unicef,Red Cross,etc etc for more specifics.

    This is a famine that is just HUGE and heartbreaking.
    Children and families are dying of starvation in shocking

    I feel the media has not given enough attention to this
    famine tragedy.

    Thank you all! I just can’t bear to think of North American
    luxuries we enjoy (yoga classes included!)
    while people are dying of hunger.

  • Sara
    August 12, 2011 at 4:41 am

    Hi Jenna,
    Thank you for this post! Currently, I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Guyana, South America. I’ve been here for 18 months and have 8 months to go. Lately I’ve lost sight of compassion because I’ve let other things, like feeling hopeless and missing home terribly, get in my way. I’m trying to get back on track and so I can enjoy and give my very best for my remaining months of service.
    Thanks again!

  • jenna k
    August 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    i’ve been so stressed out the past couple days from studying for the mcat, and so yoga fell to the side. πŸ™ buuuut, i took the exam today, and i sat in child’s pose during one of the breaks! i got some super strange looks, but it really helped me stay calm.

  • Melissa @
    August 14, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Love this post, Jenna! I sponsored a young girl through Compassion International named Henry for many years. This post has made me want to do it again! Nothing beats the pen pal letters. Thank you!!