Sowmya Ayyar ’00 and Madeleine Sears ’11 founded a yoga organization in Bangalore, India, that assists children with special needs.
Last year was doubly busy for Sowmya Ayyar ’00 and Madeleine Sears ’11. They helped found the SCU India Alumni Chapter and launched Prafull Oorja (meaning “radiant blooming energy”), a yoga organization in Bangalore that serves children with special needs. The two women teach via poses, breath work, acupressure, reiki, meditation, and music. “We sing songs while doing the poses,” Ayyar says. Initially, she agreed to working with 10 students. “Within a month or two it was 60.” A Bay Area native, Ayyar started teaching yoga to HIV-positive women and children after relocating to India. Sears worked with disabled adults in hometown Salt Lake City while completing her Baptiste yoga teacher training. It wasn’t until their first Skype call to discuss Sears’ plans to move to India that they realized they had SCU in common. “It was totally unrelated and it seemed like … OK, this is where I’m supposed to go,” Sears says. The pair works with more than 300 children in seven schools and centers in Bangalore. Three Santa Clara students join them this summer as SCU Global Fellows.

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