We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan Ashley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jordan, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I founded a charity in 2016 called Souljourn Yoga Foundation. We are a US 501(c)3 non-profit that raises awareness and funds for young women’s education in less economically developed countries (LEDCs) by using yoga as an inclusive vehicle for change. Inspired by seva, the Sanskrit word and yogic principle of selfless service, and ‘sojourn’ which captures the essence of being in a place for a time, we collaborate with local community based projects and international nonprofits. We endeavour to support sustainable educational pathways for women across the world and believe all women deserve equal access to education and that all women deserve their own space to breathe, connect and grow.

We carefully craft abundant opportunities to explore, practice, and educate through yoga both on and off of the mat. We offer diverse workshops, teacher immersions, and global retreats to continue to promote female empowerment and education in communities where equal opportunities are not always available. Due often to the limitations of endemic poverty and gender inequality, we believe it is important to provide a platform for yoga to universally inspire kaivalya (liberty) to connect people across spaces, empower global gender development, enable female education and to promote economic self-sufficiency.

We may have different spiritual practices across the planet, yet a deeply powerful element of yoga is that it does not adhere to one particular belief system or community; it is a fluid bridge for anyone and everyone to connect to their internal wellbeing. It is through this core observance and respect for community and collaboration that we are able to connect. We co-design retreats with our vital partner organizations on the ground, whereby we consciously weave social heritage and local practices of tradition, meditation, and movement so that it is a culturally contextual experience focused on equity, inclusion, and a shared experience for all involved.

Currently, over 130 million young women around the world are denied an education, which also means they’re often denied the right to make fundamental and unique choices. Choices which can improve their overall wellbeing, access to opportunities and individual health and gender equities. A young woman with safe access to an education, is also less likely to be endangered by violence, child marriage and premature pregnancy which are ubiquitous issues that women face universally. Education provides choices, and choices can provide liberty.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Founding of my charity, Souljourn Yoga Foundation (SJYF), when I was only at age 26 was lit by articles and statistics of the injustices of girls being denied an education, a human right that is often neglected, sacrificed, or completely ignored. Working as a journalist in Southeast Asia, following two study abroad programmes during my undergraduate degree, allowed me to meet and engage with women facing major challenges regarding education and resources. SJYF was created with the aim of using yoga as a form of social activism and supporting these women and communities financially, as well as on the ground.

At the heart of SJYF is a call to offer aid that is distinct and impactful. While reporting NGO coverage for some of the most vulnerable and voiceless communities in Cambodia, I met orphans, single mums, prisoners, and refugees. With little or no agency, these individuals’ lives were at the mercy of whatever given NGO could afford or might offer. Regardless of good intent, often these NGOs were spread too thin due to a lack of resources. Thus, inequality and human rights violations sadly occurred under the veil of “doing good work”, ever more highlighting the hypocrisy of what is and for whose benefit “aid” is to be.

In corners of the world where girls are forgotten, be they survivors of conflicts, wars, and/or genocides, their unaddressed needs echo how human rights reform must be applied for women. Taking a step, even if small, in the right direction, SJYF facilitates a deeper human connection by creating an interface for personal bonds and shared experiences to occur through movement. We use yoga for social activism, hosting global retreats that fund girls’ education

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For Los Angeles, my home town, there are a ton of great spots.

Apple Pan is one of my favorites as it’s been around since the 1930’s and they have the best french fries (sorry In N Out).
Gorrila Tacos in DTLA is also delicious and I love Flower Boy Coffee in Venice as well.
I grew up in Santa Monica, so am a big fan of the whole Main Street and Rose/Abbott Kinney Vibe.
LACMA is such a fantastic art museum and classic LA. The La Break Tar Pits is also great because it hasn’t been updated in decades so it’s hokey in all the right ways. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many of our partner organizations do incredible work. Komera in Rwanda, EFA in Morocco, Lalela in Southh Africa, The Ponheary Ly Foundation in Cambodia just to name a few.

Website: souljournyoga.com

Instagram: @souljournyoga

Linkedin: souljournyoga

Twitter: souljournyoga

Facebook: souljournyoga

Other: souljournyoga.com/ontheground https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLXAxOnJs2A

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