Yoga for Refugees in Japan

Refugee Empowerment Network (REN) is non-profit organization building community and self-sufficiency among refugee and asylum seekers in Japan and Kenya through educational, economic, and social programs.

REN's programs include Japanese classes, educational scholarships, and an economic empowerment program that pays clients for making beaded jewelry, which is then sold and reinvested into the organization*. Most recently, REN has invited me to come on board and teach a weekly yoga class for refugees living in Tokyo. 

Mental and physical health is important for everyone, but is often times difficult to prioritize. Coping with the stressors that come with moving to a foreign country and the uncertainly of applying for refugee status in Japan, can be extremely challenging. In 2015, Japan had more than 7,500 people arrive in the country and apply for refugee status - 27 people were accepted as refugees.  The number of applicants for 2016 is expected to exceed 10,000.

Yoga and meditation are two tools that help many people cultivate inner peace and empower them to find the strength they need to cope with life's challenges. Each week REN provides a free yoga and meditation class for all refugee and asylum seekers as a way to build community and create a space for one to locate that inner peace and inner strength.

Transportation costs in Tokyo are very high and make it especially difficult for our unemployed clients to commit to regular activities, which is why REN has committed to covering the clients transportation costs as well. 

That is where we need your help! Since the classes began in July, the students have requested the twice a month class to be every week and have committed to bringing new friends each week. This has resulted in a weekly following of 12 to 15 people, with only word of mouth promotion. Pretty exciting to see the interest and the weekly committment in such a short period of time!

The transportation cost for us is about $120/week - more than we had anticipated, but we have been able to budget it out through the end of this year.  As we are in the process of looking and applying for more stable grant funds, we need some help to cover the transportation costs for the first part of next year. 

Just think, the cost of a yoga class in the U.S. is about $15 to $20 drop in (it's $30+ in Tokyo) and for that same amount of money you could cover the transportation cost for two to three refugees! A donation of $120 would cover the cost for an entire class. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about our efforts.

Peace & Love.

Ali & the rest of REN's staff and clients

*We are in the process completing our English website and setting up an online store with the bead products. I can send you the link if you are interested when the website and store is up and running. 

Donations ()

  • Kelly & Debbie Wolters 
    • $100 
    • 23 mos
  • Kirsten Moore 
    • $50 
    • 23 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 23 mos
  • The Daltons 
    • $50 
    • 23 mos
  • Suzanne Joseph 
    • $100 
    • 31 mos
See all


Ali Moore 
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