Who We Are
YogaLoka, Inc. is a 501c3 registered nonprofit that provides yoga, meditation, and holistic wellness services to traditionally marginalized and underserved populations, including the homeless and incarcerated, veterans, survivors of domestic violence, those with physical and developmental disabilities, and individuals identifying as LGBTQ+. We currently serve the communities of Gainesville, FL, St. Petersburg, FL, and Miami, FL, with international partners in Montezuma, Costa Rica and Lille, France.
Our vision is to one day transform mental illness into mental wellness across socioeconomic backgrounds. We believe all humans deserve access to the transformative practice of yoga, regardless of their financial status, living situation, or any physical or mental diagnoses or disabilities. We use a trauma-informed approach, offering services in a safe and supportive way wherever we are called.
In the inherent dignity of every human being. We believe that yoga, meditation, and other wellness practices are valuable tools for re-discovering our own worth and that of others.
In interdependence and collective liberation. We believe that our individual liberation hinges on the liberation of all of humanity.
That, in order to manifest this collective liberation, we must center the voices of those that have been most systemically silenced. This includes but is not limited to black, trans, disabled, and indigenous voices. We believe in a socially and politically engaged spiritual practice.
That the services we offer like yoga and meditation have for too long remained inaccessible to the majority. We acknowledge that there are significant disparities between who can easily pursue wellness and who cannot.
That there are oppressive societal structures in place that prevent individuals from pursuing mental and physical wellness to its fullest extent. These structures include white supremacy, economic inequity, mass incarceration, ableism, sizeism, homophobia, transphobia, mental health stigma, and several other forms of discrimination.
That yoga is a traditionally South Asian spiritual practice. We offer this practice in a way that honors and respects yoga’s history. We stand against cultural appropriation and colonization of the practice.
In this generation and for generations to come,
We take action by offering:
Yoga teacher training scholarships and partnerships with yoga studios
Supplementary training opportunities for our board, staff, and volunteers (including but not limited to racial equity training, trauma-informed training, Accessible Yoga training)
Hosting classes and events celebrating the particular populations we serve
Our organization began in 2016, when founder and yoga teacher Cristiane Machado began posting accessible, instructional videos about yoga on her YouTube channel named YogaLoka. She used the platform to offer free yoga classes for all body types and backgrounds. Inspired by her brother who experienced homelessness resulting from mental illness, Cristiane dreamed of bringing the transformative practice of yoga to populations that might never have the chance to step onto a yoga mat.
With the support of yoga teacher Liz Getman, our program director, Cristiane’s vision came into being. In 2016, Liz began offering free yoga classes at GRACE Marketplace, Gainesville, FL’s homeless shelter. Within the first year of offering services, YogaLoka expanded from one free class per week at GRACE Marketplace, to three-to-five weekly classes. In December 2017, YogaLoka was incorporated as an official 501c3 nonprofit. Today, more than 30 volunteers offer classes at shelters for veterans, survivors of domestic violence, county jails, with those living with disabilities, and alongside several different youth organizations in Gainesville, FL, St. Petersburg, FL, and Miami, FL. We also have international partner programs in Lille, France and Montezuma, Costa Rica.
Gainesville programs begin at GRACE Marketplace, a residential shelter
St. Pete programs begin; GNV programs expand to serve veterans, survivors of domestic abuse, and members of general public
Receipt of official 501c3 incorporation
International partnerships established
St. Pete programs begin at Beacon and Baldwin Houses, residential shelters
St. Pete programs expand to Pinellas County Jail; successful jail program crowdfunding fundraiser
Gainesville programs expand to Alachua County Jail
Successful community fundraising event in Gainesville
Miami programs begin for members of the general public