$8 to Get Yoga to Trauma Survivors

I’ve almost been a total recluse since June, 2012, when I got to my second Peace Corps site in Botswana.  A lot has happened.  I was thinking about what I wanted to do for my birthday this year, and I realized: I want to tell people what’s happened, where I am, and where I would like to go. 

Why do you wanna do that?

Because I woke up since June, 2012.  And when I say I “woke up,” I mean that I became aware of how much I have been hurt and hurt myself, and how much love I wish to give.  And I discovered that sharing what has happened to me is an amazing way of making what happened help others.  I was ashamed of my story over the past 2.5 years for so long, and now that I love myself for all of my herstory, including the tough, nasty, horrible-feeling parts that I wanted to push down and out of my heart space for so long, I want to share it so that more people know that the kinds of things I went through are nothing to be ashamed of.  To the contrary, they are things I can celebrate, and try to celebrate every moment I remember that I am alive.
So, what happened?

The short version is this: after experiencing the 2012 Malian coup d’état as a Peace Corps volunteer in the capitol of Mali, and then being the victim of a violent crime as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana, I got medically evacuated out of my Peace Corps post, diagnosed with PTSD, discovered I was an emotional eater, and isolated out of shame to tell anyone that I was back home, let alone why.  When I say “victim of a violent crime,” I mean that I was sexually assaulted and in a domestically violent relationship with an abusive partner in Botswana, and finally reported it to Peace Corps.  They got me out of my post and back home, where I realized that I needed to feel grounded again.  I chose to stay in Washington, DC with my dad, get my emotional eating under control (I frequently ate because of how I felt instead of how hungry I was, and it caused me great distress), started a daily yoga practice, cultivated an amazing relationship with the partner of my dreams, and found an amazing trauma therapist.  All of these pieces together have brought me to want to help others in domestically violent relationships feel grounded through yoga. 

Whoa.  How can I help?

By reading what you just read, you’re already making my birthday dream come true.  Read, let it marinate, and share something you learn from it, or the post itself, with others you know, love, talk to, etc.!  If you wanna read more, I have written a blog post on my personal blog, which can be found and shared here! 

Can I help more?

The title says the next step of a birthday gift to me: donate $8 to my Gofundme campaign page, which is also listed at the bottom of my blog post.  Donate more if you can and want to, of course!  I am trying to make $2,870 to take a 200-hour yoga teacher training (the most basic, beginning teacher training one needs in order to learn how to teach well and not get people injured, get necessary yoga teacher insurance, and get certified to be a teacher who people will let teach at their studio or in their business or organization) and to teach 52 free classes to domestic violence shelters over a year (the idea being, 1 class per week). 

Why donate? 

It’s expensive to get trained to be a yoga teacher! It’s not just the fee for the training, which is $2500-$3000; it’s also the books (including ones I bought for a teacher training that I did not get a scholarship through), the transportation costs, a nonrefundable deposit from a teacher training I could not get a scholarship through, fundraising fees, and the insurance so that you can handle getting sued if somebody gets hurt during a class, which hopefully, they don’t.  But better to be safe than sorry!

Why $8 specifically?

My journey over the past 2.5 years has also been my journey to getting into a daily practice with yoga, which I believe is the most grounding, beautiful part of my life today.  And my journey off of my mat these past 2.5 years aligns itself perfectly with 8 yoga poses, or asana in Sanskrit, that compose the first parts of a sun salutation, or surya namaskar.  A sun salutation is a frequently practiced set of poses in yoga that enable one to bow to the sun, ideally done in the morning. Not only does my name, Akinyi, mean “born in the morning,” but I also have come to salute the light inside of me every day.  So I think it’d be beautiful if enough people could give a minimum of $1 for each “pose,” or part of my story of coming to salute my inner light.  $8 from about 360 people would allow me to go through a teacher training, get insured for a year, and teach free classes at domestic violence shelters. 

Writing and sharing this was my way of straightening my back out before coming down once more into myself, full of love for myself in a forward bend, or uttanasana.  Getting to this monetary goal would allow me to come to the last pose in a sun salutation: to rise, strong as a mountain, back into “prayer hands,” or Namaste hands.  It will help me rise and give gratitude through the gift of yoga.
  • Anonymous 
    • $8 
    • 72 mos
  • tasha pelaez 
    • $8 
    • 75 mos
  • Kristin Bergman 
    • $8 
    • 75 mos
  • Sarah Schrag 
    • $25 
    • 75 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $30 
    • 75 mos
See all


Akinyi Zmirrah Shapiro 
Rockville, MD
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