? YOGA JOURNAL: Can you describe ACT’s mission and how it helps your community?
MARSHAWN FELTUS: The first component is to educate people on what yoga is and what it can do for them. It amazes me how so few people actually take the time to close their eyes and take a deep breath. The second component is to make yoga accessible. Our classes range from $8–$12. We don’t want our prices to mean people have to take things off their grocery lists.
? YJ: How do you embody the yogic concept of seva, or “selfless service”?
MF: Yoga is multidimensional, and you have to look at what different people need. If you try to say, “We’ll do it our way and make everybody conform,” it doesn’t work. If you can tap into what individuals need, you have better buy-in. When I meet someone who’s never been on a yoga mat or seen the inside of a yoga studio, I try to get to know them, and then say something like, “You know, if your back is hurting, I know a few things for that.” They may never come in for a traditional class, but at least I’ve planted the seed.
? YJ: What are your goals for the future, and how do you plan to use the $10,000?
MF: This is a really key time for us to receive this award. The main plan is to train more yoga teachers from the community and to help more people. We’ll also be able to buy some props and pulley carts, which we need to transport our mats when we’re out doing pop-up yoga sessions on the street; we’ll fix our website, which is down because of malware; and we’ll be able to do wellness checks where we sit down and buy a meal for someone and have a conversation—that goes a long way.