Gala emcee Bill Horton, board member Kim Horton and KGW-TV weatherman Jim Donovan help commemorate Living Yoga’s 11th year of bringing yoga classes to institutional communities.

The aroma of patchouli filled the sari bedecked Melody Ballroom to set the mood for Living Yoga’s Fourth Annual Gala, held October 23. A crowd of colorfully dressed yogis and yogainis traded their credit cards for auction bidding numbers to support Living Yoga, an organization that this year recruited volunteer instructors that taught over 800 classes with over 10,000 student hours of yoga in prisons, drug and alcohol treatment centers, domestic violence shelters, and centers for homeless youth.

Speaking on the nature of personal and social justice, Sarahjoy Marsh, the founder of Living Yoga explained that healthy communities begin when we make an investment in our own health. “Being on the mat,” she said “is an act of social justice.” Keynote speaker and restorative justice practitioner Susan Sharpe continued, calling the organization “a beacon on the horizon for those circling in the dark.”

Sharp presented Marsh with the first “Invest In The Human Spirit Award.” A standing ovation from over 250 attendees celebrated Sarahjoy’s 11 years of service to imprisoned populations.

Silent and live auction items abounded, specifically geared to inspire healthy bodies and minds. An “On Your Feet High: Impact Presentation Skills Workshop at Ponzi Vineyard” motivated bidders to hoist their paddles. Travel packages included a 10-day trip to Thailand, a luxurious week at Stinson Beach, and a yoga retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs. The evening’s raffle boasted a pair of 18 karat white gold onyx and diamond earrings valued at nearly $2,400.

Paddles rose in a special appeal to train, coordinate, and manage over 70 active volunteers, develop programming, and provide outreach and education to more than 12 organizations. The evening netted $78,000 supporting an annual budget is $125,000.