“Education is the gateway for equalizing the playing field”
A Look Inside Souljourn with Jordan Ashley
Imagine being surrounded by the vibration of the hum of Ohm as you breathe in the warm tropical air. As you sink into your sun salutation you watch the young girls in the front giggling at each other as they fumble around to figure out the correct pose. It brings a smile to your face as you watch them carry on in their youthful playfulness. This is not an uncommon moment for the Souljourn Yoga Foundation. Hosting retreats around the world amidst exotic surroundings, this nonprofit combines the love for yoga with the need to empower young girls in communities where an opportunity for education is a rare instance. It is the yogic principle of Seva, the Sanskrit word, meaning selfless service, that drove founder, Jordan Ashley, to conceive Souljourn.
As a minority women business owner, I created Taïla with the mission to open up channels to share and support women empowerment and to put an emphasis on educating our future. It was only natural to feel the need to connect with Souljourn and their beautiful mission. Luckily, we had the privilege to sit down with Jordan Ashley to get a closer look at what inspired her to create this movement.
Jordan was a journalist living in Southeast Asia who was an avid yoga practitioner and later instructor. When asked what led her to the creation of Souljourn, Jordan shared, “Travel is the best education and has been extremely healing for me; so I thought what better way to see the world and giveback than by taking people on retreats to remote locations such as Rwanda and Cambodia to not only open up their minds, but hopefully their hearts as well.”
After returning to New York, Jordan had her a-ha moment and realized yoga was the perfect platform to kick start her philanthropic adventure. She states, “Education is the gateway for equalizing the playing field so why can’t this same tribe of [New York] women travel, connect, and support girls’ education initiatives on the ground?”
Intrigued by what these immersions have to offer, we asked what a person should expect when embarking on a Souljourn retreat?
“We choose countries that offer a magical, wanderlust quality of exploration, but that are also safe for travelers and Westerners to go to. Souljourn Yoga strives to make each retreat unique in that we highlight and juxtapose the natural beauty with the gender inequalities and inadequacies. The experience shows the light and shadows of the girls’ organizations that we visit and work with. Our hopes are that the light we bring illuminates these girls so much, the participants return home wanting to share and talk about their “Souljourn.” I either have a personal connection with the charities we partner with, or specifically choose organizations which go deep instead of wide with their impact.”
This year, Souljourn is hosting their first On the Ground Yoga Immersion and 50-hour training in Rwanda where Jordan will be teaching and training eight women of Komera how to lead a yoga class and teach self-care and meditation. “I hope that this can be the first of many teacher training immersions that Souljourn offers.”
To date Souljourn has raised over $36,000 for girl’s education in countries such as Nicaragua, Peru, China, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Morocco. Education can break the cycle of poverty and providing support through the unity of yoga allows for a special spiritual awakening. Taïla is proud to support Souljourn and to raise awareness in the parts of the world that need it the most. Join us in New York City on June 6th for a night of movement, meditation and community at Souljourn’s Global Goddess fundraiser.
Hope to see you there.
Love + Light,