Every day, whether we are conscious of it or not, we have the decision to give back. Some of the giving we do is motivated by necessity: for example, we devote time and energy to our families, our jobs, and our to-do lists. While this type of giving is essential to our personal success and well-being, another type of giving—giving back—asks us to step outside the demands of daily life and find ways that we can help others. In yoga, the Sanskrit word seva, which means “service,” describes this incredibly valiant act.
When it comes to giving back, Global Ambassador Tiffany Cruikshank is the perfect spokeswoman. Tiffany is the internationally acclaimed founder of Yoga Medicine Seva Foundation, a project that combines her passions of teaching yoga and helping people in need.
We're so excited to feature Tiffany in today’s post about the power of giving. We loved learning more about her foundation, her inspirations, and her thoughts on the value of seva…
KG – What inspired you to start the Yoga Medicine Seva Foundation?
TC – I grew up working at the homeless shelter my mom ran and have always believed in the importance of giving back. When I was at Nike I was introduced to the trafficking issue through an infographic video for The Girl Effect and as soon as I watched it I knew it was something I had to get behind. As a woman I can’t imagine anything worse than to have your freedom and choices taken away. And as a woman with access to education and so many precious resources, including our community of inspiring & compassionate yogis around the world, I felt it was my duty to lend whatever support I can.
KG – Can you describe what the Yoga Medicine Seva Foundation does?
TC – We raise money to help rescue and rehabilitate women rescued from trafficking in Delhi, India with the help of Her Future Coalition (provide vocational skills for the girls) & Rescue Foundation (work hard behind the scenes to find and rescue girls). Our program provides food, shelter, medical, yoga and the vocational skills needed to bring these girls above the poverty line and give them the tools they need to thrive.
KG – What are the three most important reasons for doing seva?
TC – Giving back to those in need as an offering to the community, gaining perspective as a reminder, and developing gratitude for what you have.
KG – What has been the biggest reward of your work?
TC – Seeing the confidence in the girls faces when we visit the shelter, it’s everything to me. Seeing them able to stand on their own two feet, empowered with tools to live a meaningful life of their choosing.
KG – You recently traveled to India to work with your foundation firsthand. What did you find most eye-opening?
TC – We visit every couple years, and I’m always amazed at the power of the community of these girls. They are like a big family all supporting each other, you would never guess what these girls been through. They are happier than most people I know in the US, slugging though our days, trying to manage our stress. They give me hope, they give me fresh eyes to appreciate my life.
KG – How can practicing seva help someone on their journey towards wholeness and self-love?
TC – For me, it’s a great reminder of what’s really important in this life. It puts things in perspective for me.
KG – What are three ways that someone could get involved in a seva project?