Press Release

Yoga Gathering and Fundraiser to End Family Violence

On Saturday, June 1st, yoga practitioners and do-gooders across New York City will gather at the 15th Street entrance to Prospect Park for 108 for Peace, an event to raise awareness around ending family violence.  They’ll be dedicating 108 Sun Salutations in the name of peace, as well as fundraising for the New York nonprofit, STEPS to End Family Violence.  The event promises prizes for the most enthusiastic fundraisers, music, refreshments, and a stunning view of the lake in Prospect Park, the only freshwater lake in Brooklyn.


When STEPS’ founder, Sister Mary Nerney, began providing counseling to incarcerated women in 1986, she realized a grim truth: the vast majority of incarcerated women had been victims of some kind of violence in their past.  What started out as providing domestic and sexual violence services and education to incarcerated women, has now grown into a citywide phenomenon, addressing each stage in the cycle of violence, including services to children and teenagers.  STEPS now provides services in every borough and reaches over 5,000 New Yorkers each year.

STEPS provides culturally competent, multi-lingual, free services, offered through four areas: Criminal Justice Services for Women, Counseling and Advocacy (provides individual and group counseling for survivors and their children as well as financial counseling and connection to a range of social service providers), Civil Legal Services, and Teen Services.  (visit STEPS’ website for more details on services)

About Project Surya

The engine behind the gathering is Project Surya, an unregistered nonprofit founded by Hawaiian karma yogi and writer, Joanne OS Kelly.  Project Surya’s mission is to “Shed light on global issues.”  The organization is responsible for Kashi Ganga Cleanup, a gathering of 500 Varanasi citizens to clean the river Ganga and pledge to make their city a World Heritage City in the next 10 years.  Project Surya’s founder was also given an award from the Yoga Journal for efforts to bring yoga to under-served communities, including TMM Family Services in Tucson, Brookview Preschool in Tallaught, Ireland, and members of the Umonho Tribe in Nebraska. (visit Project Surya’s website for more)

About Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations is a series of movements used in many yoga classes to warm the body.  Traditionally, it is a sequence devoted to Surya, the sun god.  There are at least 23 documented variations of Sun Salutations in India, and as yoga has grown in international popularity, variations have increased exponentially.  The Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, the mother language of Indo-European languages) will be performed as an offering to peace at the event.  Participants are encouraged to dedicate as many salutations as they feel comfortable doing.

About the Event

Participants will meet at the 15th Street entrance to Prospect Park at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 1st.  They will be led to a grassy field on the shore of the north side of the lake.  Each participant will set up their own mats or blankets, and though some refreshments will be served afterward, participants should bring their own water, sunscreen, hats and towels.  People may participate in any of four ways:

  1. Perform 108 (or fewer) Sun Salutations in the name of ending family violence.
  2. Come to the event to offer support.
  3. Fundraise by asking coworkers, friends, and acquaintances to donate some amount of money for every Sun Salutation they perform – fundraising sheets are available on the Project Surya website.  The most enthusiastic fundraisers will receive prizes like acupuncture sessions and yoga class cards.
  4. Donate directly at the event or online here.

A short dedication will kick off the event, and the Sun Salutation portion will take approximately 90 minutes, depending on the practitioner.  Light refreshments and music will be offered, and winners of the fundraising competition will also be announced.  Winners will receive healing prizes from Third Root Community Health Center and Hiking Yoga.

Contacts and Useful Links

Contact Joanne Kelly:  |  808.343.1850