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Filed Under: Educational
Monthly Spotlight November 2023: Kula for Karma

Monthly Spotlight November 2023: Kula for Karma

By Michelle Lunger

For the November spotlight we chose to highlight Kula for Karma. Kula for Karma is  a “mindfulness-based mental health care for our post-pandemic world.” Kula was created by “soul-sisters” Geri Topfer and Penni Feiner who were inspired by their own mental health challenges. After discovering the healing power of yoga and meditation, they set out on a mission to make the practice of mindfulness for mental health more accessible. Together, they saw a critical need and started doing the work to provide the skills of mindfulness to help people in crisis learn to calm their nervous system, regulate emotions, create more clarity and focus, address anxiety and depression, and create new neural pathways and impact the expression of DNA to help heal trauma. Kula, meaning in Sanskrit: community and Karma: service to others, became the answer. 

 

Geri launched Kula’s first program with New Jersey’s Children’s Aid and Family Services (CAFS). Kula was able to host “no-cost mindfulness and yoga classes for children who had been removed from their families due to sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.” Not long after, Penni’s journey aligned with Geri’s as she arrived to teach at one of the group homes for teen girls called Woodlea. There, Penni equipped these young girls with tools to help regulate their nervous systems and emotions, understand the mind-body connection to trauma, and despite the circumstances, to “open their hearts” to self-love. They practiced together for 4 years. 

 

Their “kula” did not stop from there, it kept expanding to “schools, addiction recovery treatment centers, juvenile detention centers, crisis centers, job training programs for the impoverished homeless, jails, prisons, and group homes for at-risk youth.” Through their work both Geri and Penni recognized the healing power of yoga and mindfulness and that it can be beneficial for not only physical health, but mental health as well. Using what she learned through her own practice and her work in the community, Geri was able to convince physicians to write prescriptions to their patients for yoga. Kula’s programs started to become used throughout hospitals in New Jersey and Florida. Their practices promoted healing and a sense of community to people in need. Today, their programs run “nationwide in all types of facilities and locations, and they have inspired over 1,000 trauma-informed teachers to join their Kula.” 

 

Inspired by Kula’s mission, we at RTW support Kula for Karma as they strive to make mental health a human right by providing equitable, accessible, and affordable mindfulness-based mental healthcare to underserved and marginalized communities. Just like Kula, we recognize that post-pandemic, the need for an organization like Kula is necessary. There is no doubt that the mental health crisis is rising and that Americans need more resources than ever. But we cannot forget the barriers that come with mental health accessibility like discrimination, stigma, prejudice, socio-economic factors and more. We are proud of the work that Kula is doing to fight those barriers and make mental health care more accessible. Join us as we support Kula for Karma!

 

P.S. We were blessed with the opportunity to chat with Kula, so stay tuned for a blog-interview with this amazing organization. 

 

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