This past September, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean island where I was born and raised, went through its worst natural disaster in modern history: Hurricane Maria. Two weeks before Maria, the island had already gone through Hurricane Irma. After the passing of these two hurricanes, 3.5 million people were left without power and running water. For weeks, many Puerto Ricans in the island had very little access to food and drinking water. Four months after these two hurricanes, half of the island is still without power.
Seeing the devastation in Puerto Rico was heart breaking to say the least. During my daily meditation practice, I kept hoping to get some insight on ways to help my island. I knew that despite all the work that needed to be done, I could still contribute somehow even if it was just in a smaller scale. As I meditated the word yoga kept coming to mind. Yoga, which in Sanskrit means “ union” or “yoke,” has been a source of personal strength and comfort in my life, most especially during difficult times. For the past ten years, yoga has helped me find mental, spiritual and physical strength and balance. As I meditated, I came to the conclusion that I could use yoga as a tool to bring some relief and comfort to people of my island.
Last September and November, I organized yoga fundraisers in Salt Lake City, Utah and Palm Desert, California. At both events I was able to raise cash as well as physical donations that were sent to the island. Through the support of many of you, we were able to raise almost $12,000. This money helped around five families in the island as well as multiple smaller organizations that are involved in relief efforts. There is still a lot of work to do and it will take years for Puerto Rico to go back to how it was before the hurricanes.
As a Puerto Rican yogi, I will continue working on helping the island recover and become even stronger than before. One of the ways I hope to do this is through Raíces Yoga & Culture Retreat. As I have explained in previous posts, we provide our guests with opportunities to seek connection with the culture, traditions, cuisine and most of all the people of Puerto Rico. In our upcoming retreat from May 5-11, 2018 in Puerto Rico, guests will also participate in volunteer efforts to help the island. Also a percentage of what our guests pay for the retreat will go towards hurricane relief efforts. It is important for us as yogis to realize that there is no better place to practice yoga but outside our mats on our everyday lives.
Jendar Marie Morales
Founder and Director
Raíces Yoga & Culture Retreat