Why Community Service is good for Your Health (and a Call to Action for Alexandria)

There is this idea in the tradition of yoga called karma yoga. Karma yoga is selfless service, without expectation of outcome or even acknowledgment.  Yoga means union and the experience of samadhi (bliss) that is spoken about in the yogic texts is the death of the ego and the experience of being at one with all that is.  In a society where stress is the number one cause of illness, we have a lot to learn about bliss.


Most of us will never reach a state of samadhi, and that is okay, but, according to yogic philosophy, we can experience slivers of true happiness by practicing karma yoga.  Karma yoga gives us perspective on our own lives, connects us to others and reminds us that we are all in this together. When we act from a place of good will, our whole being is in alignment with the energies kindness and generosity, and we feel better, physically, mentally and spiritually. In yoga there is a saying: if you want to be happy, serve.

In this spirit, this spring, Mind the Mat is partnering with RunningBrooke, an organization started by Alexandrian Brooke Curran. Brooke runs marathons all over the world to raise money to help children in our city. Together with RunningBrooke we will raise money for Spring2ACTion – Alexandria’s giving day, April 20 – to build a new playground in the west end of Alexandria on Taney Avenue near the Foxchase shopping center.


During last year’s Spring2ACTion, RunningBrooke raised almost $100,000 and partnered with many volunteers to build a new playground at Hume Springs, which was completed in September 2015.

Hume 10

Here is what one neighbor said about the Hume Springs playground:

“It seems like as long as there’s a sliver of sun in the sky, children are enjoying the playground. Even right after the recent blizzard, there were constantly groups of kids in the park, playing in the snow. Neighbors took it upon themselves to dig out a path through the snow in the park before city maintenance reached it, so the neighbors could enjoy it. For some families in the neighborhood, the playground is the only real space their kids have to play outside, so it’s always in use.”


Why build another playground? There are 1,500 kids in the Taney Avenue neighborhood, many of whom live below the poverty line. They don’t have space nearby to run around and just be kids. Research continues to prove that active kids are better learners. Let’s ensure that these kids have the same opportunities afforded so many others.

Mind the Mat is inviting you to donate funds to help build another great new playground in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood of Alexandria so kids can play, socialize, and exercise with their friends and neighbors.  Your donations would be used to purchase the necessary building materials including: playground and exercise equipment, landscaping, ADA-accessible features, and a water fountain. Donate by signing your child up for a yoga class.  Let your children know that by taking this class they will be helping to build a new playground.  Your help is a critical to making this playground a reality. Let’s get more kids moving and strengthen the fabric of a community at the same time!

Date Saturday, April 9

Time 3-6 year olds at 1pm, 7-10 year olds at 2pm, 11-14 year olds at 3pm

Donation Each class is $22 and all funds will go directly to Running Brooke

Mind the Mat is also partnering with Community Lodgings, an Alexandria organization that assists men, women, and children in transition from homelessness. We are sending recent graduates from our yoga teacher training program to teach yoga to these groups.  Yoga is a powerful life tool.  It helps empower us all to become aware of our reactions and hone the ability to respond rather than to react to difficult situations.  We are aware that not all people can afford to do yoga at our studio, and we want to make it accessible to all people.  As part of our 200-hour yoga teacher training program, we require our students to practice karma yoga in the activity of their choice.  If you are interested in finding more about Mind the Mat’s upcoming 200 hour yoga teacher training program, starting this September, visit www.mindthemat.com/ryt-200-hour-yoga.

  • The latest from Sara
co-owner, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500 | Mind the Mat
Sara VanderGoot, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500, is Co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates and Yoga and Director of Mind the Mat Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program. Sara is an experienced Registered Yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She studied Interdisciplinary Yoga with Don and Amba Stapleton in Nosara, Costa Rica and at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Sara is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Sara has been practicing massage therapy, including specialties Prenatal Massage, Postpartum Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Thai Yoga Massage, in Del Ray, Alexandria for over 15 years and a yoga instructor for 7 years. At Mind the Mat she specializes in Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Core Yoga, Mommy and Me Core Yoga, Partners Yoga, and Hot Flow Yoga. Sara frequently acts as a birth companion for many of her clients, doing massage and yoga during labor and delivery to facilitate comfort during both medicated and unmedicated births. Before becoming a massage therapist and yoga instructor, she was a lawyer in the Washington D.C. area and found that the healing practices of massage and yoga brought a balance to her life that she had been searching for.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.


2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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