In 2008, Lara Land ventured to Rwanda to use yoga as therapy with HIV positive genocide survivors and their children. Little did she know that this trip would dramatically change her life.
Throughout her time in Rwanda, and during her yearly visits to India, where she studies Ashtanga yoga, she was introduced to the horrifying reality of human trafficking. Although she knew she wouldn’t be frequenting Rwanda, Lara still knew she could make a difference on her annual trips to India. There, she provided aid in the rehabilitation of children rescued from the anti-trafficking organization, Odanadi Seva Trust.
“My eyes were opened to all the need in the world, as well as the limitations of my ability to serve.”
Lara brought the cause with her back to the United States, too. Since then, her Harlem yoga studio, Land Yoga, has participated in Yoga Stops Traffick, a worldwide event to raise awareness and money for modern-day slavery. This year, Land Yoga also hosted a mega Bollywood-style fundraiser. The event collaborated with a major venue, a world-famous DJ and other brilliant minds, to bring awareness to those outside of the yoga circle, and raising much more money as well.
“Since people now know that this is our key cause, they come to look for it each year. You can expect that we will continue to grow and break limits as to who we can reach and what we can do to rescues these children.”
Lara’s passion goes beyond her cause and straight to her yoga studio.
“The opening of Land Yoga was another one of those life-changing moments.”
Being a freelance yoga instructor and world traveler prior to opening Land Yoga, the ability to be able to be part of a community is her favorite part about owning her studio.
“Having a home, a space, a base, is tremendous. That’s why it’s called Land. We don’t think of Land in an isolated way, but as part of a larger picture of positive change in our community.”
Since it’s opening, Land Yoga has worked with local parks, schools, and food banks. Lara has even created a children’s yoga company, Chloe the Yogi, where she trains people how to teach yoga to kids and place them in schools, camps, and studios, as well as created a kids yoga app, Chloe Goes to the Amusement Park.
How does Lara keep up with it all?
“I could not find a system that could do all MINDBODY could do as far as scheduling, processing, and keeping record of all our students. I’m very visual, so I love the graphs which help me to see our numbers and motivate me to grow from our previous year. I also like the reports, especially because they allow me to see if someone hasn’t been in for a while, and I can check up on them.”