Fitness Friday

Meet the Houston Yogis Saving the Elephants, One 'Om' at a Time

If you're looking for a sweat session you can feel good about, the search is over.

By Alexis Vargas February 2, 2018


Hey Hey Houstonians! How about this true ❄️winter❄️ weather? We’ve decided to postpone our official kick-off to support the @elephantcrisisfund until next Tuesday, January 23 @ 6p. We know you’ll come out in full force next week to support these sweet, gentle creatures. 🐘🖤 So stay in, do a home practice, snuggle and mark your 📆! We’ll see ya next Tuesday hopefully with lots of ☀️! #safetyandsnugglesfirst .. For those of you who have already donated on Venmo, thank you! We will apply this donation to a future flow. 🖤🙏🏻🕊 .. In case you missed it: @jenniferyuhas and I will be co-leading a donation-based Yoga flow to support the @elephantcrisisfund beginning on Tuesday, January 23 at 6p and every Tuesday through February 27 @flatlandgalleryhtx next to @brasilhouston 👍🏻 Hope you can join us!!! 🙌🏻🙌🏻 #flowforacause #yogainaction #seva #service

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A flourishing friendship between two Houston yoga instructors is now saving lives.

Every Tuesday at 6 p.m., Brasil Café hosts Jennifer Yuhas and Madonna McManus’ donation-based yoga class, a fundraiser for the Elephant Crisis Fund. Their ultimate goal? To put $1,800 toward ending the unnecessary poaching of elephants in Africa and Asia. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the ivory trade claims about 35,000 elephants annually—one is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes. A joint initiative of Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network, the Elephant Crisis Fund aims to fuel the coalition of organizations, scientists, and governments already working to halt the poaching, trafficking, and demand for ivory.

If you find yourself craving a feel-good sensation with your next namaste, head over to Montrose for this one-of-a-kind yoga session, which runs weekly through February 20.

Houstonia spoke with the one half of the duo changing the world one ‘om’ at a time.

Why did you choose the Elephant Crisis Fund as your beneficiary? 

Madonna McManus: What's beautiful about the Elephant Crisis Fund is that every dollar donated goes towards specific high-impact organizations doing everything in their power to save elephants. From ecological conservation to fighting illegal poaching, the ECF protects elephants from every angle. Elephants have a particularly special place in Jen’s and my heart, and we knew this would be the perfect organization to work with. 

How did you get involved with this project? 

MM: We're making it up as we go! We are both passionate about supporting the world around us, and our teaching styles mesh together flawlessly; we both love creative and challenging sequencing, emotive music, and heartfelt messaging. 

Why did you pick Brasil for your classes?  

MM: Jen and I love Brasil for its food, its people, its warmth, and its quirkiness. We became regulars at Brasil [and] we quickly became acquainted with its owner, Dan, who got us connected with their amazing and insightful space coordinator, Becca. Once we found out they had a gallery space, we knew this would be the perfect spot to launch our ECF classes. What sweetens the deal is the fact that Brasil offers happy hour and film screenings after classes, so students can stay after and mingle. 

How does ECF’s cause align with your yogic mission? 

MM: Jen and I believe with our whole hearts that yoga makes the world a better place. We each have witnessed over and over again what a difference mindful, heart-filled breath, movement, and connection can make within the lives of our students. Add in affordability (donate what you can) and philanthropy (Jen and I donate our time and everything we make, minus renting the space), and all those benefits become compounded. It feels good knowing that you're supporting a worthwhile cause. 

Has the yoga community been receptive?

MM: Jen and I very much value the Houston yoga community as a whole, and often do what we can to create connections. Because of the connections we've made across studios, we've been able to get the word out about our classes and are so excited to have a lot of interest. Not only that, we've built in surprise and delight opportunities (giveaways and raffles) that further aim to spoil and nurture any student that invests their time with us. There are so many wonderful ways to spend your Tuesday, and we are so grateful Houston yogis are choosing to spend their time with us.

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