Arts & EventsUniting Ottawa’s Women, Creating a Mechanism for Change

Uniting Ottawa’s Women, Creating a Mechanism for Change

Uniting Ottawa’s Women, Creating a Mechanism for Change

By Kimberly Lochhead

Third Annual Yogini Yogathon raises awareness of women’s issues while supporting local and international charities.

merIt began with a moment of divine intervention. Megan Campbell returned to Ottawa after traversing the globe for over a year, inspired by practicing yoga in India with like-minded women and a desire to reach out to her own community. She gained a better understanding of women’s issues, including poverty and sex trafficking. Recognizing the opportunity to empower women through yoga while also encouraging them to support one another, Campbell created the annual Yogini Yogathon through her soul-based business, Journey of the Yogini (JOY).

“As women, we aren’t sustainable or effective if we don’t take care of ourselves first,” Campbell explained. “We need to be healthy in all ways—mentally, physically and spiritually. Through participating in a day of yoga taught by some of Ottawa’s incredibly talented female teachers and fundraising for local, national and international charities, women in our community can spark change. It’s amazing to see what this one event can accomplish.”

Held on May 26th at the Glebe Community Centre, the Yogini Yogathon is now in its third year and has added Toronto to its list of participating cities this year. Future plans include expanding it across Canada to Montreal and Vancouver in 2014. The event includes a number of yoga practices like vinyasa, flow and yin, a keynote address from CTV’s Lianne Laing and catered lunch from The Nourished Self. There will also be an opportunity to shop for locally handcrafted jewelry and gifts.

me10edited“It’s going to be a powerful experience this year for women in each city to be practicing simultaneously, embodied with a spirit of the same purpose,” said Campbell. “One of our biggest goals is to raise awareness—whether it’s about women and girls or the mental health of women. These are important topics we need to start a conversation about.”

All fundraising proceeds will benefit Plan International’s Because I am a Girl charity towards creating a brighter future for girls and women in the developing world. Additionally, $5 from every commitment fee will support the Women’s Mental Health Program at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and another $5 will be donated to Helping Hands for India. The participant who goes above and beyond with their fundraising efforts will receive a grand prize trip to Tanzania with Because I am a Girl.

Aside from joining women together to fundraise for these causes, Campbell says she was also inspired by female partnership and collaboration.

ms“Unfortunately, our society and culture has perpetuated a view of women as fiercely competitive and pit us against each other,” she explained. “We shouldn’t be tearing one another down, but building each other up—we need to help women create successful relationships and support their careers. I’ve experienced this support system in our team and witnessed it in the community. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t have this kind of support for our efforts.”

Thanks to another important woman in her life, Campbell began attending yoga classes at her mother’s suggestion in 2005 and quickly signed up for teacher training after feeling the instant benefits of a strong body and peaceful mind. She says her motivation to continue teaching is to help others get back to their bodies and spend time with themselves during yoga practice.

“We all have cravings for a connection and we often rely on our relationships and jobs to find it,” said Campbell. “Yoga offers the space to disengage with external stressors and reconnect with our bodies and souls. It’s a way to still tap into the spiritual part of us.”

DSC_4677Since founding JOY and the Yogathon in 2010, Campbell has noticed a shift happening in Ottawa as more people take up yoga and learn to break down the barriers within themselves. The organization has also evolved into a larger movement with workshops, retreats and trips.

“I’m really proud of the event and everything it has brought—it’s really a catalyst for everything we do now,” she said. “JOY also offers yoga adventure trips where participants help build schools and houses in developing countries through a different organization we highlight each year.”

me7As JOY continues to actively engage more people in the Ottawa community and elsewhere in Canada, Campbell says she wants to create initiatives to include men in the dialogue on women’s issues.

“We don’t all have the ability to leave our 9 to 5 jobs to change the world, but there are ways we can speak up and participate in change,” she observed.

For more information or to register, visit:!yoginiyogathonottawa/cjnj

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