She Combined Her Love Of Travel And Yoga To Support Girls’ Education Around The World


Jordan Ashley turned into 25-years-vintage when she first estimated the idea for Souljourn Yoga, the nonprofit she founded to aid girls’ education in growing international locations. Her epiphany passed off in a yoga class, of course. After living overseas in Southeast Asia, she’d simply again to New York City and changed into struck through the dearth of network she felt within the studio. Everyone seemed so remoted:

“Yoga, for me, isn’t about getting into shapes on your mat. It’s approximately using the mat as a jumping-off point to now not handiest find out the arena, however your self as properly.” She blended tour, well-being, and ladies empowerment in her founding concept: Organizing yoga retreats in far-flung destinations, elevating cash, and focus on girls’ education. Four years (and one TED Talk) later, Ashley has hosted retreats in Sri Lanka and South Africa, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Morocco, Cambodia, and Peru.

But what of the reluctant yogi? The one who doesn’t exercise each day but might, in theory, and who doesn’t shrink back from the Pinot Noir while on vacation? (Asking for a pal.) True to form, Ashley seems at the large image on that front as nicely, acknowledging that well-being can occasionally mean a cocktail in preference to a workout. “I try to stay absolutely,” she proclaims.

If her candor appears clean for a yogi—nicely, it is. Souljourn Yoga is specific in that the reviews they offer are unlike any others in that crowded category: “Our retreats entice individuals who are searching out revel in that’s greater than only a yoga retreat or well being a holiday.”

Which is a great thing? Wellness has emerged as an incredibly famous word these days. In instances, the relentless pursuit of an ideal plank pose, plus internal peace, can appear defeatist and antithetical to the practice of yoga, which in the long run extols the love and reputation of the self and others.


Ashley posits that authentic health is a conjunction of searching inward and searching outward—that is why the network carrier detail of the retreat is mainly essential: “Often global yoga retreats are operated in growing countries without acknowledging the host network. It is Souljourn Yoga’s purpose to guide moral tourism so that we can form lasting relationships.”

And what approximately the individuals themselves? “I wish they depart the enjoy with their minds and hearts extra open, geared up to unfold the phrase lower back domestic.” We spoke with Ashley approximately her pioneering career within the travel industry, and her reports were running with nonprofits around the world. Read directly to study greater about her globetrotting journey to pursue yoga, wellbeing, and training for all. Jordan Ashley (left) practices yoga during the Mystical Morocco 2018 retreat with Lisa Bermudez.

What stimulated you to start Souljourn Yoga? Was there an epiphany of sorts?

Jordan Ashley: I’d returned to New York after residing in Southeast Asia as a journalist, and I went to a yoga class wherein I had an a-ha second: I realized how everybody turned into absolutely isolated by the perimeter in their mats. You might go to the same class week after week and in no way recognize the name of the individual that is next to you. But that connection of being within the same area, of shifting as one irrespective of magnificence, creed, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic standing, is what creates community.

Through worldwide travels, I’ve met many human beings—women and youngsters inside the international who’ve no longer had the identical luck inside the lottery of lifestyles to know the privilege of yoga, not to mention, have their fundamental desires of refuge, sustenance, and protection met. By fusing yoga, journey, and ladies empowerment collectively, I turned into able to create a multifaceted platform that would take the bodily practice of yoga out of the studio to locations in which access to schooling wasn’t continually a given.

As a baby, I could often go to yoga elegance with my mom (in particular after my parents’ divorce). It was without a doubt impactful to see her transformation earlier than and after the yoga session. I could do my fine to emulate her moves and left the enjoy feeling like an alternate befell. The exercise shifted something inner of me: Nameless yet acquainted and kept making me want to delve lower back into that sensation. When and wherein become the first retreat?

JA: Our first trip become to Peru within the summer season of 2016, and it’s absolutely thoughts blowing that this can be the fourth yr helping the Sacred Valley Project—an organization that homes, educates, and helps girls in this far-flung region, who could in any other case haven’t any get admission to schooling. Everyone changed into so excited to spend time at Sacred Valley. We introduced them to materials: from sanitary napkins to pens.

What becomes so lovely approximately the experience became that it delivered out the little girl in all of our contributors, who had been elderly 18 to fifty-three. I couldn’t even bear in mind the remaining time I had jumped rope or performed tag, let alone did a braid teach. But age became inappropriate as we spent the afternoon gambling, giggling, and just being girls with one another. The cash we raised just from the website hosting the experience contributed to building a new dormitory for the girls.