The first time someone asked me, but why “YALAcollective” ? I felt a little bit lost and not ready to answer. It felt that the answer meant a lot and needed much more meditation and time to be answered. From that day in 2013, YALAcollective has slowly been evolving, in a spontaneous and organic way.
I began practicing yoga in 2000 during a charity project in Thailand. I accidentally started to practice trying to be a respectful European in a foreign country, as I was offered the yoga class as the reward for my voluntary work.
When I returned home to Italy, yoga was not as accessible as it is today, so basically I started practicing and studying by my own.
As an interior designer, my creative job and infinite love for travelling allowed me to work in different countries. Wherever I went I practiced, and suddenly, I started realizing the huge benefits that a regular practice had in my life; starting with a transformation in my inner world and, as a natural consequence, a substantial change in my external environment.
Naturally, day-by-day, I started trying to balance my practice on and off the mat, especially in my professional career. I was working in Paris for an advertising company in an extremely stressful environment: the kind of job with no breaks and long hours. The typical open space where the average age is 25 because at 30 was the burn out… I was at my desk when I had a revelation: the inner peaceful space that I nurtured through my yoga practice had positively changed my attitude towards my job and those around me.
I felt so connected, and had the tranquil sensation that nothing external could have a negative impact on me. Being integral started feeling as a quality admired by those around me and the extremely stressful working ambiance slowly started to transform into a respectful and calm place to be. One of the most significant yogic lessons I learnt from the ancient texts was that you get what you contribute to this world. So simple and so true. I believe that understanding this lesson gives everyone big responsibilities.
One night after work I went out with two Italian friends. We discussed the situation in our country, the difficulties for young women getting jobs, the economic depression of rural regions and, of course, how lucky we were to live a comforting life. Italy is an incontestable rich country, but still faces a lot of challenges.
Suddenly I felt something moving in my stomach, my second brain reacted to their words and I started feeling personally involved in a problem that until then did not affect me.
Another beautiful anecdote was meeting Carolina Daza, an amazing Ashtanga yoga teacher and creative artist, that helped me deepen my personal practice and understand the close relation between this science and my inner creativity. I participated in a couple of her yoga retreats and felt a deep connection to her way of teaching and living a yogic lifestyle.
All together, I got a clearer vision about YALAcollective and its capacity of bringing people together to make positive impacts in the lives of others. As I kept studying, I came across the teachings of yoga master Stewart Gilchrist who often said: “do not follow, ACT”.
And I immediately wanted to ACT even in my little world, doing something that could have a positive impact on people’s attitude towards life. I started to imagine ways of contributing to Italian rural communities and show people the great richness of this land.
The “first” YALAcollective project was created to promote Italian rural regions through a series of events combining yoga, meditation, healthy traditional cooking and the discovery of local natural landscapes. Our goal was to rediscover a place envisioning wellness, and support to local communities.
We had a fantastic week with 12 participants, and after this first experience I felt that the project was replicable, not only in Italy but around the world. Thus, it was clear to me that I needed to find talented, passionate and generous women to support this crazy dream.
Fully believing in the law of attraction, YALAcollective started to find incredible women who not only invested their precious time, talents, and energy, but that also shared their ideas participating in the creation and evolution of YALA.
With the precious help of Carolina Daza, Ophelie Doll and Nathalie Babouraj, the project took shape and the travels, events and workshops YALAcollective organized were unique and successful. Some of the participants were so attracted by YALAcollective’s energy that naturally started getting involved and help in the development of the project. I feel fully grateful with Lina Bou, Cristina Vatielli, Emilie Berger and Ana Milena Pinzón as well as our first participants Astrid, Caroline, Solange, Patty and everyone who supported us.
Now we are experiencing a re-birth of YALAcollective and, together with my friend Carolina Daza, we wish to enlarge the community by involving other women’s meaningful and professional projects that share YALA’s values and vision. Together we have dedicated long hours to co-create the structure that YALAcollective should have with a clear vision that we hope paves the path for a supportive and exciting long journey!
YALAcollective is a worldwide community of creative wellness. We believe Yoga is not about being super flexible or strong, nor putting yourself upside down or scratching your nose with your foot, but our true path begins off our mat. Be generous, positive, integral, and inspire others to live better every day. To us this is the real sense of Yoga and this is what we wish to spread around the world.
With love and kindness
Francesca Lo Cascio