By Janet Howard
I recently interviewed a staff member named Kira at the Tashirat Orphanage and Yoga Center in Mexico. Her story follows.
Kira first visited Tashirat, a spiritual learning center and ashram, when she was 20 years old. She had just finished yoga teacher training and a co-student/new friend suggested they visit Tashirat, which her step-mother founded. They could teach some yoga, experience the spiritual center and then head to some fun-in-the-sun on the coast.
Kira felt the healing energy of Tashirat and when it was time to leave and head to the beach, she informed her friends that she was going to stay. She wanted to learn more from Tashirat.
Kira had struggled with Crohn’s Disease for years and suffered through unsuccessful treatment and surgery. She described Tashirat as a spiritual healing environment that did what years of treatment and surgery couldn’t. It healed her on multiple levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
What she thought was the worst thing, her Crohn’s Disease, she now sees as a gift. It altered the course of her life and she found her calling in her 20s. And now, 20 years later, Kira continues her full-time seva—selfless giving—as her life choice and her true calling as a volunteer staffer at Tashirat. Tashirat is her home.
“My healing journey is helping others. Helping others helps me. We all feel that way here at Tashirat. We feel every single day how much we get through giving. We live with purpose and dedicate our lives to becoming the best that we can be so we can give the greatest service we can give.” - Kira
Opened in 1994, Tashirat is located in Tepoztlan, south of Mexico City at the foot of Tepozteco Mountain. In addition to hosting yoga and healing education, they worked in the community with at-risk children. There was only so much influence they could have with the children and no matter how much time they gave, they couldn’t change the trajectory of their lives.
In 2003 they opened an orphanage where they share custody of the children with the state. The children come to Tashirat with complex issues, often on medication and diagnosed with numerous conditions. With patience and time, a healthy diet, daily yoga, homeopathy and other healing modalities, the children’s medications reduce and overall health is improved.
Currently the orphanage is exclusively for children with disabilities, a group that had very few options in Mexico. There are approximately 30 children from ages 3 to 21 and they will always have a home at Tashirat. The care and interventions with years of uninterrupted focus change the directions of their lives.
“When you give with your heart to help others, the cosmos reaches out to help, and that magic of the cosmos has enabled this project to grow, survive and become what it is today.” -Kira
All of Tashirat’s staffers are volunteers, like Kira. Many have sponsors that cover their low cost of living and the children have sponsors as well, usually two—one to cover food and the other for medical care.
A typical day includes pre-dawn yoga for the staff, preparing and eating breakfast together; yoga or exercise and meditation for the children followed by organizing each of their own room’s and getting ready for school.
After morning classes, where most of the volunteers teach, they have lunch, break-time and another 90 minutes of class time. After school there are a variety of “helping activities” like picking lemons or cleaning an area on the property; leading to recreational activities like building a fort, playing sports, listening to music, art activities and caring for the environment.
A “Kid council” is a regular activity for working out any issues together. The staff doesn’t have a day off or any kind of break in their routine. Kira explained that the yoga practice and positive environment gives the nourishment and energy they need.
“Somehow we always get what we need. Miraculously, things fall into place. It doesn’t seem like it will work out but needs are met—somehow they are, and in retrospect we see how it all worked out perfectly.”
The team is working hard to be self-sustaining. They would like to have solar energy, grow their own foods and harvest their own water. With the ever-changing world, they would like to become more self-reliant.
One of their greatest challenges is water access. Because they are up in the mountains and water only flows part of the year, water is trucked up from the valley below and there was very little rain water this year. Expanding the collection, purification and water recycling system, as well as saving water by switching from water toilets to dry toilets in all of the homes, would eliminate the reliance on water trucked up the mountain from the valley.
This November, join the SatNam Foundation-hosted seva retreat at Tashirat, led by mantra artist Jai Jagdeesh and her family. Funds are being raised for the expanded water collection and purification system. Come together with the children, visit sacred sites, work in the greenhouse, prepare food, practice Kundalini Yoga and chant sacred mantra with Jai Jagdeesh—all together.
Join us for selfless giving, for receiving, for healing, for joy. Express gratitude for our beautiful planet by helping to harvest rain water for the children and their families of Tashirat.
Heal ourselves, heal others, heal the world.
“It’s not a life that many get to live. It takes a leap of faith—to go for it. I had to surrender; give up my comforts, my stability and my security. I was willing to do that.
“I’m so lucky that I found this place so early—lucky to have a hard knock that forced me to stop in my tracks and do something about it and look for my healing. That’s how the cosmos helps us. My appreciation for the cosmos expanded so many times over by living that and realizing, ‘Wow—the cosmos was with me all the time.’ The divine perfectly loving energy is always there. That illness, the worst thing that ever happened? Actually, that was the way the cosmos helped me to get onto the right path. Thank you—best thing that ever happened to me.” -Kira
Janet Howard looks forward to participating in November’s seva at Tashirat. As a blogger for 3HO, she shares the gift of Seva in “A Light Blue Bell Flower.” Kundalini Yoga transformed Janet’s life, helping her through big life changes with an increased sense of calm, emotional healing, self-acceptance and trust in the flow of life. Her daily sadhana is her gift to herself and the calm consistency in a chaotic, ever-changing world. Wherever she is, her Kundalini Yoga sadhana is with her. Janet has a 25 year career in health care environmental stewardship; is a reiki practitioner and teaches a weekly Kundalini Yoga class at White Barn Studio in western Massachusetts. Learn more and read her healing ponderings at www.rosehip26.com