Yoga Is Solidarity! Dissolving Blockades Through Yoga

AltruVistas and ¡Yoga Va! Latino invite you to stand against the blockade in peace

The United States embargo against Cuba is more than 50 years old. Though the overwhelming majority of the United Nations supports lifting the embargo, only the US Congress has the power to do so. US relations with Cuba improved greatly under Barack Obama’s leadership. As travel restrictions lifted, the tourism industry blossomed in Cuba, giving the island nation a much-needed economic boost. But under President Trump, relations have deteriorated, and Obama-era trade and travel policies have been reversed.

This February, AltruVistas and ¡Yoga Va! Latino invite yoga practitioners from all around the world to join their delegation and stand in solidarity against the US embargo in Cuba. Travel to Cuba remains 100% legal and safe, yet the recent moves made by Trump, the barrage of conservative media against Cuba as a place to visit, and the preexisting blockade all inform the delegation. Stand in tree pose with a group of Cuban and international yogis against the inhumane embargo that affects Cubans’ access to transportation, food, medicine, technology—every aspect of their lives.

Jorge Avila, ¡Yoga Va Latino! teacher trainer, says, “Yoga means to unify, to balance, and that was what many Cubans started to look for during the economic crises of the ’90s. People looked for spirituality and wellness in a moment in which there was a material lack of everything.” Yoga teacher and ecology educator Junior Amaya adds, “Fifteen years ago yoga was not accessible to many people in Cuba, but now it’s gaining in popularity, due to its capacity to unite people’s minds and bodies, as well as to bring people together. The more people that come to Cuba to share with the Cuban yoga community, the more cultures we can weave together through the same practice, in spite of governmental policies, the distance between countries, or social differences. Yoga is above all that. Though there are many yoga academies and schools all over the world, when they can get together and practice, this unique goal of solidarity is achieved.”

The February Cuba journey will also be an in-depth wellness event. Each day will be structured using one of the five elements as our guide: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. Cuban and international teachers, including Eduardo Pimentel, President of the Cuban Yoga Association, and teachers who have trained under Jorge Avila, will lead practice sessions. The entire trip will be bilingual English/Spanish. Each day will include yoga in different iconic places in Havana: Sun salutes on the Malecon, a flash yoga event in an old Havana square, a massive yoga gathering of Cubans and internationals at the port. There will be conferences on issues of yoga and diversity, climate and ecology, the arts, and Ayurveda, along with a full cultural program in the afternoons for US visitors.

This journey is happening 20 years after the original international yoga solidarity event in Cuba, 1999’s “Lifting the Embargo on our Hearts,” and will be a celebration of the exponential growth of the Cuban yoga community since that time. Like that original event, this journey is about dissolving inner boundaries and blocks, and about dissolving outer blocks as we bring cultures together. Co-Founder of ¡Yoga Va! Latino Mary Paffard, who has been involved with yoga exchange in Cuba for over two decades, says, “This event is like the event of 1999—extremely unusual, and very special! The Cuban yogis are creating and bringing together a phenomenal international yoga conference and cultural journey. Our ¡Yoga Va! friends and colleagues know that it will be extremely enjoyable, inspiring, and talked about for years to come.”

Baxter Bell, MD, co-author of Yoga for Healthy Aging, adds, “Having worked with this vibrant and unique yoga community on four separate visits, I know you will have an incredibly rewarding experience!” Join AltruVistas and ¡Yoga Va! Latino for what is sure to be a powerful and healing expression of solidarity through yoga practice.

Find out more about AltruVistas’ other upcoming tours to Cuba:

Find out more about AltruVistas’ journeys worldwide:

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For more on ¡Yoga Va! Latino’s international yoga community, events, and teacher trainings:

AltruVistas promotes transformational philanthropy in the sustainable travel industry and inspires you to engage your passion, explore the issues you care about, and share with communities around the world. AltruVistas offers sustainable, ethical, comprehensive, educational, and philanthropic travel-planning services so that you can have the adventure of a lifetime: A culturally insightful, engaging, comfortable, and worry-free journey that synergistically benefits the local economy, your hosts, and important causes.


¡Yoga Va! Latino supports vibrant yoga communities in Cuba, and fosters friendships between yoga communities throughout the Americas and within the Latino world. By building and sustaining communication networks; translating and creating educational materials and resources; and evolving education, teacher training and yoga tourism; ¡Yoga Va! Latino strengthens the Cuban yoga community and offers opportunities for all to learn from the Cuban experience.


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