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DailyTidings.com
  • Shining a light

    Yoga instructors raise money to fight human trafficking
  • Orange, green and blue yoga mats masked the Ashland High School gym floor Friday night. In between the quilt-like rectangles were votive candles that cast a silvery thread of light across a wooden surface usually reserved for competition.
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  • Orange, green and blue yoga mats masked the Ashland High School gym floor Friday night. In between the quilt-like rectangles were votive candles that cast a silvery thread of light across a wooden surface usually reserved for competition.
    Tonight, however, the participants — yoga instructors and their students — were in unison, reaching their arms to the sky 108 times and by coming together, raising more than $20,000 to help organizations in India provide refuge, rehabilitation and economic opportunities for survivors of human trafficking.
    Without planning to, the yoga practitioners also learned that a fleeting thought could become something so much bigger.
    The idea for the Shine a Light event came to organizer Mary Rogan two months ago. The Ashland mother was dealing with the bittersweet sorrow of saying goodbye to her college-bound daughter, Grace.
    To find a new direction, Mary Rogan enrolled in a five-day yoga-action workshop called Off the Mat, Into the World. On her way home, she thought she could galvanize yoga teachers to raise awareness and money for women who were caught in the sex trade.
    On her website, iwillshinealight.org, she posted; "I put my privilege front and center and revealed the opportunities I had to focus on issues much more compelling than a child growing up healthy, safe and prepared for college."
    She vowed to raise money for The Global Seva Challenge of Off the Mat, Into the World and modeled her event after the successful One Love, a Dallas, Texas-based yoga group that has put on a fundraiser for the past three years. A dozen yoga instructors would lead a group for two hours in 108 sun salutations.
    The 108 number was inspired by the beads on a mantra-counting mala and also the numbers 1, 0 and 8 can be "one thing," "nothing" and "infinity," and collectively are said to represent "the ultimate reality of the universe" as being simultaneously "oneness," "emptiness" and "eternity."
    Rogan's seemingly lofty goal was to raise $16,500.
    By Friday night, supporters had given more than $20,000. And counting. Donations are still being accepted at iwillshinealight.org.
    In the high school gym, Mary Noble of Ashland was with her team, which ranged from high school girls doing a salute to the sun and plank positions every minute to senior citizens sitting and meditating. Noble was inspired to raise money because she saw victims of slavery when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, Africa, and when she lived in Thailand.
    "In the case of slavery for manual labor or for sex, the maxim holds: as long as one person is oppressed, none of us is truly free," she said.
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