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Groundswell LA Meet Up

Posted by James Oakley on
yoga charity

Yogi Bare founder, Kat, has always held strong, personal ethics that have helped shape her business. For one thing, she’s been on a personal mission to make yoga more inclusive and accessible to everyone no matter their situation or circumstances. Not only that, but she also wanted to create an ethical brand that supports the global community wherever possible.

Indeed, having a conscience about the wider community has led to a number of powerful partnerships and collaborations, including the breast cancer charity, Coppafeel! and Project Hometree, helping to make tangible differences to people’s lives and to the planet.

Recently, one such opportunity presented itself and naturally, Kat couldn’t resist. The result is an exciting partnership between Yogi Bare and Groundswell Community Project, a surf therapy charity. Not only that, but each time a Yogi Bare Flow Paws Mat is sold, some of the proceeds will be donated towards the Groundswell Community Project. It’s a cause, truly close to Kat’s heart because it was anxiety and mental health issues that led to her discovery of yoga in the first place. 

We caught up with Kat during her recent trip to LA to experience the help and support that Groundswell gives to women at grass roots.  

 

How Do Groundswell Help And Support Women In The Community?

Often at times we feel lost at sea. The result is that we end up swimming further and further away from safety, from land, from home, until we feel overwhelmed and drowning in our fears and anxieties. We prolong our struggles in isolation. 

What I like about Groundswell is that they provide an anchor. They’ve created a real honest and empowering community that will guide you back to shore, back to you. 

To quote their website, ‘We are a sisterhood of intersectional women holding a safe and brave space for individuals and communities to find their healing, power and belonging in mother ocean’s waves.

This is achieved through a research-based surf therapy curriculum. The organisation’s programs are rooted in somatic, trauma-informed, nature, and community therapy models. It’s these empowering psychological models that facilitate the holistic healing of women and their communities, helping them overcome various forms of trauma and the effect on their mental health. 

With home roots in San Diego, California, and branches that extend across the globe, this ground-breaking charity strives to break down barriers and build up communities that celebrate mental health, women’s health, and ocean health. 

 

What Happened at the Groundswell Session You Attended?

It’s funny how life works isn’t it? Life mimicking art, mimicking life, mimicking art again. 

On the day I attended my Groundswell session I have to admit I was being taken out by life’s relentless waves. Having just adventured to LA, it felt as if I’d been popped into a snow globe of loneliness – I could see the world going on around me, but I wasn’t quite sure how to connect with this new city. It had been the first time on my trip that my anxieties and fears had really bubbled to the surface and with these wobbles, I was unsure whether I should even attend but something was calling me. The ocean was calling me.

And I’m so glad it did. On Santa Monica beach, I met and connected with an incredible group of creative, passionate, alive women – many strangers – who were holding a few hours to let each other be. We shared as much or as little as we felt comfortable with, about how we felt on that day. We spoke about the ocean – her transformative power and why and how in caring for her we get out of our heads and into our bodies, and in our bodies, we remember that we are nature too. We learned the benefits of water therapy … and then we felt them.

After creating a nurturing space on land the session turns to the ocean – there is no pressure on how you spend your time, more a listening of where you are at and what you need – from watching and meditating on the waves to surfing them. Groundswell just wants you to be in that connection. To really feel it and be present.

Despite my love of water and the ocean, as a born and raised Londoner, I haven’t had the opportunity to grow up with the sea as my playmate and felt a little nervous alongside seasoned Californians. But I need not have been. The beautiful facilitators made the session feel like you were playing in the sea with your oldest friends. 

It’s a chance to be fully present and alive in childlike wonder. I felt the happiest and freest I’ve felt in years as the kindness and ocean washed away so much “stuff”. The good-hearted encouragement and support lend to a willingness to try and jump in – empowerment in community.

There are not many words to describe how my day with Groundswell made me feel but maybe that’s just it – I felt. I felt like me. And that feeling had such a lasting ripple effect for me. Something shifted. 

“I choose to be present, I choose to speak for myself, take care of myself. I choose to respect myself, my fellow surfers, this space. I choose to be stoked! I am a surfer”

 

Why Did You Choose The ‘Flow’ Mat For This Project?

When we first started work on the Yogi Bare Flow Mat, we had no idea where the current would pull the world, but we knew that this mat would stand for something deeper than just the technology behind it. 

At Yogi Bare, we create mats to stand on, mats that stand for something. Flow Paws has come to symbolise a place of escapism, to help you ride out the waves of an isolated year and reconnect with the world, with yourself.

Every Flow Paws comes with a download of an exclusive magazine, RIDE THE WAVE, full of inspiration and mental health advice from surfers, swimmers, illustrators and poets and fantastic mental health tool kits to help you learn to surf those anxiety waves.

Deeper still, we are so proud that with every sale of the Flow Paws Mat, a donation will be made to Groundswell, who I can wholeheartedly say are the embodiment of this mat.  

 

What Will The Impact Be From Donations?

You can rest assured that donations raised through sales of the Flow Paws Mat will be used in extraordinarily valuable ways to help those that need support. For instance, providing scholarships for women overcoming addiction, abuse, sex trafficking, depression, and deep trauma. This money will ensure that they too can experience healing and empowerment through the Surf Sister community as they learn to surf and love Mother Ocean's waves.

It will also enable Groundswell to use even more licensed therapists who are trained in Experiential art therapies, mindfulness practices, positive psychology, and ocean safety to be hired to facilitate the 8-week programs with utmost safety and intentionality.

More support will also be provided to international Surf Sister branches, allowing them to sustainably provide programs that promote self-care, ocean conservation, and community healing through the therapeutic modality of SURF!

It’s truly a worthy cause, putting so much positivity out into the world right now and God knows, we need that. All I can say is that I’m so pleased that Yogi Bare can be a part and contribute, in our own way, to Groundswell’s ongoing work.


If you liked this article, you’ll love How Are You Celebrating World Ocean Day or How Is The Yogi Bare Flow Mat Different?

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