Working it off: Two charities can breathe easier thanks to yoga studio's fund-raiser

On Thanksgiving Day, Santosha Yoga in Madison Valley will offer two yoga classes as a way to raise money for local food organizations.

Hosting a special class on Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to share in the holiday season and to feed people in need on a day when so many feast, said Rebekkah LaDyne, Santosha's studio director and owner.

Giving back

For the last six years, Santosha has held two or three classes on Thanksgiving Day to benefit Northwest Harvest and Boomtown Café. In previous years, many regular and new students have attended with family members.

It's a great way for families to enjoy the day together, LaDyne said.

This year's sessions will take place at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 23 at the studio, 2812 E. Madison St. Students are encouraged to sign up in advance at the studio or by e-mailing or phoning the company.

Santosha's assistant director, Stephen LaDyne, said he is very excited that the remodeled studio will allow more participants to attend compared to past years.

New and returning students are asked to donate $30 to $100 for a class session. Santosha then donates 100 percent of each year's proceeds to the two local organizations.

"The [organizations] were chosen because we want to be able to give back to the local community," Ste-phen LaDyne said. "Donations are split in half unless the client has a preference" toward one of the organizations.

The beneficiaries

Northwest Harvest is the only statewide hunger-relief agency in Washington. The organization operates the Cherry Street Food Bank in Downtown Seattle and supplies food, without cost, to more than 300 independent food banks.

The organization began in the '70s, after The Boeing Co. laid off 60,000 workers over 18 months and hunger became a forefront problem, according to Northwest Harvest's website. Its mission is to "[fight] hunger in Washington state in a manner that respects the dignity of those we serve."

Northwest Harvest relies on individual, foundation and business donations and does not receive any of its funding from the government.

The money raised by Santosha's event will go toward purchasing and transporting food to distribute at the food banks, said Northwest Harvest's Maureen Brindle.

The other nonprofit organization benefiting from the event is Boomtown Café, which provides nutritious meals to homeless and low-income residents and workers in Seattle. The idea for the restaurant was developed in 1995 as a way to supply meals to those in need at a low cost. Customers are even allowed to work in the café in exchange for a meal and a 50-cent fee.

Wright said Boomtown is in the process of searching for a new sustainable location to provide daily breakfasts and lunches for about 400 people per day. The temporary location is at the Millionair Club in Downtown Seattle.

"We will use [Santosha's] donations for our general operations and toward reopening in a new location," Wright said.

The organization created "Boomtown bucks" to decrease panhandling on city streets. People can purchase these coupons, which can be exchanged for a meal at Boomtown Café, to hand out rather than give money.

Last year, Santosha's Thanksgiving event raised about $1,400 for the two organizations. In the last five years, the events have raised more than $5,000 total.

"Events such as the one Santosha Yoga is doing provide us fantastic support," Wright said. The money raised for Boomtown Café last year "more than pays for food [served in the restaurant] for an entire month."

Teaching mindfulness

Stephen LaDyne said that Santosha's director wanted to find a way not only for Santosha Yoga to give back to the community, but for students to have an opportunity to be generous as well.

"In addition to teaching yoga, we teach mindfulness," Rebekkah La-Dyne said. "[Thanksgiving] is a day that so many people feast. There are many people that are hungry who we can help get the nourishment they need.

"We hope to take care of our own minds and hearts by helping others," she said.

To register, contact Santosha Yoga, at 264-5034 or e-mail

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