We believe that mental, physical and social wellbeing are basic human rights that should be accessible to all, regardless of race, gender, socio-economics, religion, or sexual identity. Over the years, our work with women and men has taught us how far out of reach the experience of wellbeing can be, how difficult the journey of healing from situations characterized by extreme poverty, trauma, and addiction , and what extraordinary courage and strength it requires.
Clinical studies conducted over the last decades in the West unequivocally demonstrate that a mindful, trauma sensitive yoga practice harbors significant healing potential for people experiencing ongoing severe stress and distress. These studies show that yoga practice can enhance self-awareness, compassion for oneself and others, physical and mental strength, happiness,and sense of meaning and taste for life. Yoga heals body, mind, and spirit.
We envision a world in which all people have access to yoga; a world in which girls and boys, women and men, from all walks of life can practice yoga to develop, grow, and feel worthy whatever their circumstances.
Yoga for All was established by Leora Kessel (BA Criminology), co-founder of the nationally renowned Women’s Courtyard,
with over 25 years’ experience in working with at-risk youth (especially girls); and by Sharon Roth, a clinical social worker (MSW) whose professional expertise is in work with disenfranchised and homeless Israelis. Both had been Yoga practitioners for over 20 years. According to Leora, “When we first met 10 years ago in the neighborhood in Jaffa where we were living, it was as therapists and social activists. We had no idea we had Yoga in common until a few years later, when we met at a Vijnana Yoga lesson and realized we had the same teacher! Yoga for All is the confluence of our two worlds: our work to empower those who struggle with life at the margins of society and our conviction in the healing, clarity and strength which Yoga gives its practitioners.” Yoga for All" was formally launched in 2017 through the auspices of Gvanim.
Leora Kessel, co-founder and director
I believe in our ability to reduce suffering for ourselves and others. I have learned through my years of practice the tremendous power of yoga to heal pain, calm the mind, and reveal the natural inner forces of each and every one of us through body, breath, and consciousness. Following my teacher training, I knew I wanted to bring yoga as a tool and a way of life to the many people who live in survival mode, day in, day out. Today, after several years of working with prisoners, young women at risk, and women in the cycle of prostitution, I understand the powerful effect of yoga that begins with practicing together and goes on to permeate practitioners’ daily life. I follow yoga rehabilitation projects in prisons around the world and see Yoga for All as leading the way in Israel. I believe in a just and better society, and in our ability to influence and transform society from within.
Leora Kessel, BA Criminology, has over 25 years of experience working with young women and men at risk. She has 14 years of experience as Founder and Director of the Women's Courtyard Foundation and the social business venture Women’s Courtyard atTel Aviv Port. She is a graduate of the Senior Yoga Teacher Training Course—Vijnana Yoga.
In 1998, in my early 20s, I was orphaned from my two parents, an event that led me to search for a way to heal my body and soul, and provide me with answers to existential questions that arose. From my first yoga class I felt and devoted myself to the tremendous healing powers inherent in yoga. Some years later I met my teacher Orit Sen Gupta, to whom I am eternally grateful for the practice she taught me. In addition to my training as a senior teacher of Vijnana Yoga, I worked for over 10 years as a fieldworker and manager in organizations serving peripheral populations of Israeli society, specializing with young people living on the street. I studied for a master's degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Haifa, and worked as a therapist in a community mental health clinic and in services treating people with addiction.
Yoga for All is a physical and emotional place where two of the main issues that have occupied me for more than 20 years intersect: the possibility that yoga offers for liberation as human beings, and the work towards compassion, equality and solidarity in the social field.
Sharon Roth, co-founder and director
Orit has practiced yoga since 1976. In the 1980s she studied with some of the most prominent yoga teachers in India and the west . Since 1996 she has trained yoga teachers and taught retreats in Israel and internationally. In 2003, together with a group of experienced teachers, Orit founded Vijnana Yoga. Today there are Vijnana Yoga Centers and Vijnana Yoga Teacher Trainings in Israel and around the world. Orit is a graduate of the Hebrew university of Jerusalem, with a BA in Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy.
Orit’s books include: Translations of Yoga Sutra of Patanjali into Hebrew and English, A Little Book of Yoga, Vayu’s Gate – Yoga and the Ten Vital Winds, and The Heart of Practice, the three of which have been translated in to English, Dutch, and German.
Noga has been teaching yoga for over 20 years, and practicing yoga since 1988. She holds a BA in Hebrew Literature and Indian & Sanskrit Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Noga teaches a varied audience ranging from beginner groups open to the general public; courses and mentorships for teachers & advanced practitioners; rehabilitative & therapeutic yoga; and workshops on yogic texts.
A student of Orit Sen Gupta and senior teacher of Vijnana Yoga, Noga is certified by Orit Sen Gupta to lead the three-year, 800-hour Vijnana Yoga Teacher Training at Wingate Institute in Israel.
Co-Founder of Gvanim along with a variety of initiatives focusing on civil society/third sector partnerships with the public sector