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Community yoga class raises funds for Nepal, funds matched by Lululemon

Lululemon Athletica’s Grand Rapids store and AM Yoga partner to raise humanitarian aid for Nepal with community yoga class; all donations matched by the high end apparel company up to $50,000.
Mali Jane assists students in child's pose.

Mali Jane assists students in child's pose. /Susan Vogelzang

Ashley Yost instructs students through warrior two pose.

Ashley Yost instructs students through warrior two pose. /Susan Vogelzang

AM Yoga co-founders Ashley Yost and Mali Jane

AM Yoga co-founders Ashley Yost and Mali Jane /Susan Vogelzang

AM Yoga has been teaching classes at locations all over town, but Lululemon in Breton Village hasn’t been one of them - until a Sunday night earlier this month. When Lululemon approached AM Yoga co-founder Ashley Yost about teaching a donation-based class to raise funds for humanitarian aid to the devastated victims of recent earthquakes in Nepal, she and co-founder Mali Jane jumped on the opportunity.

“For us, this class isn’t about marketing ourselves to a certain clientele,” says Yost. “It’s about coming together as a community to support our global brothers and sisters in need. If I can teach a class that will gather funds for people who desperately need it, I have an obligation to do that.”

Lululemon, a high end athletic apparel company, incorporated their “global collective in action for Nepal” fundraising campaign into AM Yoga’s standard donation-based class model. The apparel company, which relies on grassroots community outreach to grow its customer base, has pledged to match donations to MercyCorps up to $50,000. AM Yoga donated the May 31 class’s proceeds to the campaign.

“Community is at the very heart of who we are. The recent disaster in Nepal reminds us all of how we are connected as a global community, and the importance of sharing our support and strength,” states Lululemon’s fundraising campaign webpage.

The night’s class brought in 80 attendants, and raised $650, an amount which will be matched by Lululemon. Despite the fact that AM Yoga has yet to secure a permanent location for their studio, their student base continues to expand - both with the public and in the local business community. Yost and Jane currently teach public, private and corporate classes at a mix of venues and businesses across Grand Rapids

“We just feel so massively supported and grateful,” says Yost about the turnout at the Nepal fundraising class.

“We’re going to keep doing this - bringing the community together through yoga,” says Jane. “We want a studio, and we’re going to have one soon, but we’ll never stop going out into the community like this.”

Randy Heibel, a local painter who had been practicing yoga for 20 years, approached Yost immediately after the class and told her it was the most difficult practice he’d ever done.

“My job is physically demanding,” he said. “Yoga definitely helps. And this class was fun. I loved the energy.”

Yoga first-timer Michelle Conley also had a positive experience at the class.

“I was looking around, trying to see what others were doing - which is something you can’t do when you’re doing a video," she says. "I just loved it. I’ll definitely be back.”

Lululemon Athletica will continue to match donations until they reach their $50,000 mark. At time of publish, $9,106 had been donated. Readers can contribute their own donations to be matched online here.

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