Do Yoga in the Most Beautiful Place on Earth—And Do Some Good While You’re At It

Jordan Ashley started the Souljourn Yoga Foundation because she  knew yoga and travel were a powerful combo.

When Jordan Ashley was starting the nonprofit Souljourn Yoga Foundation, she  knew she wanted to use the powerful combo of yoga and travel to help girls around the world. In the 2 years since it launched, the nonprofit has organized yoga retreats in developing countries like Peru, Morocco, and Nicaragua, and soon it will host the “Seva Siem Reap” retreat in Cambodia.

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Seva is the Sanskrit word for selfless service, and retreat-goers will certainly be giving back on the upcoming trip: The fee will go toward supporting girls’ education in parts of the world where equal opportunities aren’t always available. According to Souljourn, there are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary school worldwide, and 66 million girls aren’t able to attend school at all. Yet access to education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and violence worldwide.

“[E]ducation,” Ashley says, “is something that can’t be undone, or untaught, and is an asset which creates opportunities, choices, and quality of life.”

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For Ashley, creating a nonprofit that focused on personal connections between supporters and beneficiaries was essential. As a survivor of violence herself, Ashley knew that even well-intentioned people could make her feel, “victimized, scrutinized, and judged because of something that had happened to me, something that I had no control over.”

In creating Souljourn, Ashley made sure to include personal interaction between donors and recipients in the programming, with the goal of building a lasting bond that goes beyond a one-off monetary donation. “We aim to create an experience that transcends the role of an anonymous donor into an active participant,” says Ashley.

At Seva Siem Reap, attendees will have the opportunity to volunteer at the girls’ dormitory that Souljourn helps support with other local and international nonprofits. Members of the retreat will participate in English and yoga workshops with students. “Nothing can compete with eye contact, with having the personal connection of actual face time to acknowledge that this is a person in front of me,” Ashley says.

Watch the video above to learn more about Souljourn Yoga Foundation.

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