SOULJOURN YOGA’S QUEST TO TAKE WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT GLOBAL
By C.S. Burke
Jordan Ashley does not have a return ticket. It’s July, and the Souljourn Yoga founder is in Rwanda for the second time in a little over a year. Between trips, she’s spent time in Peru, Morocco and Cambodia. “Wi-Fi is spotty here and all that movie stuff,” she warns me as we begin our video chat.
Behind her, a mosquito net hangs from the ceiling of a pretty, well-kept wooden bungalow. Golden light shines from an unseen source onto the log-cabin-style beams. “We had no reception out in the national park the last two nights,” she adds. “And there are hippos outside.” Ashley’s nomadic existence in 2019 as well as the time she plans to spend in Rwanda—both are owed to her pioneering work with Souljourn Yoga. The non-profit organization, launched in 2016, hosts retreats in developing regions of the world with the mission of promoting female empowerment and educational opportunities for girls.
Working through community organizations on the ground, Ashley connects participants with girls in her retreat destinations. They practice yoga together and engage in art projects. A portion of the retreat “tuition” is designated to supporting partner non-profits. In three years Souljourn has hosted 14 retreats. Some of the locations, such as Peru, have been repeats, and Ashley partners with the same local people for the sake of continuity and to build strong, life-long relationships. In Rwanda, her partner organizations support schools, provide scholarships and offer classes, all aimed at women and girls.