A local yoga instructor is donating every penny of revenue earned from his summer classes to help victims of the earthquake that ravaged Nepal this year.
Since his first class began in early June, Alexander Litvak, 36, has raised $1,231 and seems more than on track to beat his goal of $2,000 by the end of summer. The money goes to CARE, a humanitarian organization working in Nepal to provide earthquake victims with food, clean water, and emergency shelter.
Litvak’s classes begin at 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 3pm on Sundays at PaKua Martial Arts & Fitness of Brooklyn (2105 Avenue U). The martial arts center’s owner allows Litvak to use the space for free — meaning that all the money goes to charity.
“I visited Nepal and Tibet exactly a year before the earthquake. So many of the people and places I visited are now gone,” he said. “I benefited greatly from their culture and ideas about compassion, love, and kindness. Giving money is the least I can do.”
Litvak, a disabled military veteran, credits his trip abroad and yoga for his physical and spiritual recovery. The charity yoga classes seemed like the perfect tribute to both.
When Litvak left the Marines in 2001, after serving for four years, the grueling physical stress had taken a toll on his body. The cartilage had worn down in his knee and shoulder and would eventually require surgery. However, even after hundreds of hours of rehab, Litvak wasn’t able to resume the active lifestyle he once enjoyed. Sports like snowboarding, racquetball, weightlifting, and swimming would cause crippling pain and swelling in his damaged joints.
“I was only 21 years old. It was devastating to feel so beat up at such a young age,” he said.
It wasn’t until 2006, when Litvak began to practice yoga, that his quality of life improved.
“The beauty of yoga is that it’s a mind/body exercise,” he said. “It’s not repetitive and it’s very forgiving. You can always back off and accommodate yourself.”
Now a certified yoga instructor, and a student at Columbia Graduate School, Litvak has resumed an active life. He’s able to swim and snowboard and regularly taught classes at Hot Spot Yoga near Shore Parkway and Dooley Street in Sheepshead Bay.
Litvak said that many of his former students followed him to PaKua Martial Arts & Fitness, where his classes draw an average of 10 people per session. However, Litvak said he would like to see the attendance grow, and welcomes pupils of all levels in his class.
“I know the temperature in those mountains drops severely during the night,” he said of the need to provide relief to Nepal. “It’s crucial they get that kind of aid.”
For more information on Litvak’s charity yoga classes, visit his Facebook page. Or show up at PaKua Martial Arts & Fitness of Brooklyn to try a class, some good articles on topic “benefits of yoga for stress“, “physical stress symptoms“.