WHEN BROOK EDDY
STARTED Bhakti Chai, she was a 32-year-old single mother working full time as a development director for a nonprofit. She didn’t intend to launch a multimillion dollar business: It started innocently enough after a trip to Mumbai, India, when Eddy started brewing her version of a spicy chai tea she was served there. Years later, when making her own recipe at home, she recognized a hole in the market for a craftbrewed spicy masala chai. She started by selling to cafés near her home, and slowly the company grew into a booming business.
From day one, Eddy— a longtime yogi—made social action part of Bhakti’s mission. “We started from very humble beginnings,” she says. “I didn’t have any money, or parents with money, which inspired me to support a lot of smaller organizations who were doing good in the world.”
In 2015, Eddy decided to combine all of Bhakti’s philanthropic efforts—more than $350,000 in charitable donations worldwide—into one platform called GITA Giving (GITA stands for Give Inspire Take Action).
Today, GITA Giving donates money to a total of 25 organizations, many of which support women and girls—a longtime passion of Eddy’s. The goal is to do more than simply write checks—it’s to also give smaller organizations access to Bhakti Chai’s enviable platform. “I also wanted to make it easier for organizations to apply for grants,” says Eddy. “When I worked full time in the nonprofit sector, I used to spend 90 hours completing one application for $1,500.”
Beyond helping organizations gather support, Eddy is hopeful her platform inspires yogis everywhere to take action in ways that most resonate with them.
“We can pray, repeat our mantras, and send peace and love into the world, but the action piece is really where change happens,” says Eddy. “Check in with your own passions and see where your skills can best be used in the world. Do something.”
Inspired to give back, but still unsure where or how to begin? A new, free online course from the Give Back Yoga Foundation and Lululemon’s Here to Be program may help you find the answers. We talked to Rob Schware, executive director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, about the course, aptly titled “How Can I Serve?”
Yoga Journal What motivated you to create “How Can I Serve?”
Rob Schware Every morning I wake up and ask myself, “How can I serve?” This course is a practical way to answer that question and give back to yoga teachers around the country. It was created to supplement 200and 300-hour yoga teacher training curriculums, which don’t tend to go into depth about yoga service. You’ll gain access to true experts—yoga service leaders who know what it means to serve and how to get started—and six hours worth of resources in the form of video, podcasts, and printed materials.
YJ Who are the teachers involved?
RS We’ve filmed some of the leading luminaries in yoga service, including Beryl Bender Birch, a yoga activist and spiritual revolutionary; James Fox, founder and director of the Prison Yoga Project; Nikki Myers, founder of Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, and so many more. These light workers are inspiring examples of why it’s important to get involved, and they give pragmatic suggestions for how to do just that.
YJ What is your hope for yogis who complete the course?
RS Ultimately, we want to inspire yogis everywhere to take action. Of course, the Give Back Yoga Foundation is a great place to start. And for those who want to take the next step, we offer five different program trainings, each of which go into great detail about how to serve a specific population. To take the course, visit