Mahatma Gandi’s famous declaration, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” is the inspiration for the first annual Yoga for Unity Conference for Change, taking place on Sunday, November 1, at Can Do Fitness Club in Princeton Forrestal Village. The day-long conference features lectures and yoga sessions taught by instructors who also are generously involved in doing service for their communities on the local and global scale.

The idea for the Yoga for Unity Conference came to yoga instructor Kristen Boccumini, who has backed off on her instruction to dedicate this year to fundraising for Off the Mat, Into the World’s humanitarian work in Uganda (offthematintotheworld.org) and on the local level, for Kula for Karma (kulaforkarma.org), a nonprofit that offers yoga and nutritional and therapeutic support services, at no charge, to those who have been challenged by difficult circumstances such as illness, addiction, and abuse.

“My intention was to create fundraising events where people can come together as a community to help a global cause while also empowering them to create positive change in their own lives,” says Boccumini. “If everyone just gives a little bit it makes a big difference. My goal is to raise over $20,000 by December 15th and encourage people to be more proactive in charitable giving, whether in the form of monetary donations or service. Together we have the power as a collective to make significant changes in the state of the world that we will be able to see in our lifetime.”

Conference presenters include:

— The internationally recognized Alison Ingenito, who will speak on “Creating the Change” and lead a workshop “Advancing the Practice,” with a focus on learning to move past plateaus, and find new strength to engage any physical endeavor with less apprehension. Her Yoga & U Foundation provides supplies for schools, babies, and families locally and internationally.

— Carol Buckley, also known worldwide, creator and president of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, a home for elephants after laborious work in the entertainment industry.

— New Jersey native Debby Kaminsky, who brings yoga into all Newark Public Schools, gives a prana flow class, “Honoring the Heart Flow,” featuring heart opening asanas.

— Joanne Carter, a Lawrenceville resident and owner of Simply Yoga in Kingston, gives a class on the subtle details and alignment principles from the Iyengar tradition.

— Area instructor Andrea Sacchetti, who brings yoga into New Jersey correctional facilities, leads “Gentle Yoga: A Rejuvenation Practice.”

— Laurie Greene, who will educate participants about Uganda and humanitarianism while recollecting her work as an anthropologist, also leads a vinyasa class, “Kama Yoga: Moving to Your Breath’s Desire.”

— Ellen Mosko, a highly experienced teacher, leads “Stillness and Flow: Yin Yoga and Gentle Vinyasa.”

— Area instructors April Eichhorn and Tiffiny Twardowsky lead a multi-level class, “Life, Compassion, and Freedom for All Beings.”

According to Boccumini, the event is open to everyone, no matter how much or how little yoga experience someone has. Everyone can participate, even brand new beginners to yoga.

‘This is a great way for people to learn from a great selection of highly experienced teachers for a great price, a price that all goes to creating a better world,” she says. “We want this event to fit everyone’s schedule, so participants can enjoy the whole day or even just one session.” Thus, the minimum suggested donation is $18 per class, or $36 for the whole day. “We want people to come and enjoy their yoga, enjoy being a part of the community, without worrying about the cost while still making a positive difference in the world and supporting a great cause.”

Yoga for Unity Conference for Change, CAN DO Fitness Club, Princeton Forrestal Village, Sunday, November 1, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Lectures and yoga sessions led by a variety of leading instructors, to benefit Off the Mat into the World’s fundraiser for humanitarian work in Uganda and efforts to help at-risk youth in the United States. Minimum suggested donation of $18 for one session or $36 for whole day. Light fare for breakfast and lunch provided. Pre-register online and view conference schedule at www.YogaforUnity.com/conference.html.

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