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

Hi Kayoko, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
“Full effort is full victory.” —Mahatma Gandhi When I first read this quote by Gandhi over a decade ago, I felt that this was exactly what I have believed in and aspired to since my childhood. Whatever I do, if I focus on the effort, not the result, it naturally takes my attention to the process, to the moment rather than future or the outcome. When I am aware and keep checking if I am giving whatever I do 100%, it makes it clear to me that the process is all I have got. The best part of living with this belief is that my focus stays on “what can I do today, what can I do to solve this problem now, etc..?” so I grow a strong sense and trust of my intuitive choices. It truly makes me believe in putting 100% at this present moment. I actually developed this belief system when I was a teenager having to change my junior high school every year due to my father’s business. Every time I arrived at a new school with new friends and teachers, nobody knew anything about me, and I learned that I just had to do all my best to prove myself in anything. If I did not put 100% to whatever I did, nobody would recognize me. As a result of this belief and living with it, I gained more self-confidence and trust in my decision making. In my mind, success is definitely not measured by external factors like numbers. Probably the best part is how I feel liberated from worrying too much about outcome all the time as long as I am confident that I am giving my full effort. It empowers me within.

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.
There are many non profit organizations in the yoga community, but Yoga Gives Back (YGB) is unique for engaging global yoga communities to express their gratitude to give back to Mother India, for the gift of yoga we have received. We raise awareness and funds to empower underserved women and children in India. YGB is unique in uniting all yoga practitioners regardless of branch or school with one simple cause, GRATITUDE. I am proud that we have been able to reach out to yoga communities in 30 countries worldwide, so far engaging 150 leading yoga teachers as YGB Global Ambassadors. We now empower more than 1400 underserved women and children in Karnataka and West Bengal, India through micro loans and education funds. 2020 was a very challenging year for all of us, but especially for our fund recipients in West Bengal, India. Many women lost income due to COVID-19 lockdown and catastrophic Cyclone Amphan destroyed their homes in May. I could not help but feeling helpless at times with the magnitude of disasters. However, I have learned one inspiring reality from our NGO partner director. She shared how women and girls of YGB programs have demonstrated unimaginable creativity and strength to get through their hardship and started rebuilding their lives. She credited how YGB’s micro loan and scholarship programs over a decade have truly seeded inner-strength in them that enabled them to stand up against all odds again. This made me feel even more empowered. YGB is also unique in connecting our global supporters directly to the fund recipients in India through regular updates of their stories with photos and videos on social media and regular news letters. One of the most powerful and unique tools is YGB FILMS, dozens of short documentary films which I have been filming and producing since my first visit to India in 2007. These real stories of empowerment show global supporters how their support has transformed so many lives in India. Seeing is believing. We empower ourselves by empowering others. That is a truly wonderful lesson.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am from Tokyo, so I think it is special to see ocean. I love taking people to drive on PCH from Santa Monica to Malibu or walk along the beach. I love also healthy alternative cafes and restaurants in LA such as Cafe Gratitude in Venice. We live near the Grove, so it is a great place for a walk and Farmers Market where I always appreciate how diverse population can truly co-exist happily with peace. I love this multi-cultural environment about Los Angeles. 

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would not have been able to be here happily with my work and life if it were not for my husband, soul mate, Ken Atchity. Ken has always encouraged me to go for my big dream. His selfless, loving support for me to start a non profit organization Yoga Gives Back truly helped my vision grow and dream come true. I was gifted with my Life Mission. I left my well-established professional career as a television programs producer/director for over 30 years to undertake totally volunteer grassroots work. The transition has not been easy but Ken always supported me as he believes in living for one’s dream. I also would like to thank the special energy that exists in Los Angeles. In 2007, I started Yoga Gives Back from a small yoga classroom with just an idea of giving back to India, birthplace of YOGA. I never imagined this grassroots campaign would spread into 30 countries worldwide, empowering 1400 underserved women and children in India. I credit YGB’s growth to incredibly supportive yoga teachers, students, studio owners and business owners in Los Angeles, who embraced and supported our mission from day one. I believe there is something very special in Los Angeles and its yoga community. The more I learn about YOGA, I have come to believe that it is two Indian gurus Vivekananda and Yoganadna who seeded a special energy in Los Angeles yoga communities and beyond. They came to US at a different time with different purposes, but both gurus chose Los Angeles as their base to teach Spirituality, the wisdom of YOGA. I believe Yoga Gives Back continues to grow from Los Angeles with these historic events and spiritual energy as a back drop that continue to express magical energy.

Website: https://yogagivesback.org/
Instagram: yogagivesback
Linkedin: KayokoMitsumatsu
Twitter: yogagivesback
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YogaGivesBack
Youtube: Yoga Gives Back

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.