Karma Yoga in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

by Norm on February 2, 2013

in San Miguel de Allende, Success Stories, Yoga



Las Rancheritas:  Women Empowered



There are days, people, and occasions that touch the heart in indelible ways–poignant, illusive, and ineffably pure and true. A simple luncheon on a Mexican ranch last Thursday touched me in all these ways and more. To see what can be done by motivated women, living in rural poverty, with a little help, training, and a few basic tools, is awe-inspiring. Truly awe-inspiring. And deeply humbling.

I gratefully experienced all of this when I attended a fund-raising luncheon hosted by Mujeres en Cambio, a “non-profit, all-volunteer, grass-roots organization committed to enhancing the lives of women living in the rural communities surrounding San Miguel de Allende.” To accomplish this, the group raises funds via donations and fund-raising events such as this one.

Over 98% of the money goes to scholarships for rural girls (we give out 150 a year, 38 of which are now in university, having been with us since junior high school), with the remainder used to help projects such as The Rug Hookers of Agustin Gonzales, who have bonded together to form a co-op to sell their handicrafts.

For over seventeen years, I have worked with this group, specifically in the scholarship program, which, as a former teacher, is particularly dear to my heart. But Mujeres en Cambio has another prong that is equally important, one that supports women with projects that will economically enhance their lives. In this case it is the rug-hookers of the rural community of Agustin Gonzales.

Charlotte Bell, friend and fellow volunteer in Mujeres en Cambio, is a photo journalist who donates her time to be the marketing consultant and more to the women’s craft cooperative. With help from fellow members and friends, she tirelessly brings down wool, mainly in the form of clothing, from Canada and the U.S. for the women to use in their rugs. This is from Charlotte’s blog:

In the small village of Agustin Gonzales, located in the central Mexican highlands near San Miguel de Allende, 20 people spend what little free time they have hooking rugs. You will find them working late at night by kitchen tables after children are asleep or perhaps you will see them sitting under a tree on the hillside tending the cows and working on their rugs.

Their subject matter is the life around them: mountains, cactus, cows, horses, burros, flowers, a small house, a church, ducks, rabbits, chickens, roosters or fish.

The people of the area are subsistence farmers who grow corn, beans, and squash. The proceeds from selling these art pieces help with paying for additional food, children’s schooling, doctor visits, and other family needs. Many of the women are the sole support of their families.

Each art piece is entirely unique as is the skill of rug hooking in Mexico. 

So what, if anything, does all of this have to do with Yoga?

The path to enlightenment through selfless service is called Karma Yoga.

I salute this  practice by Victoria Challancin, my wife and the author of this post, by Charlotte Bell, and all of those who serve in Mujeres en Cambio. I hope that others will see the joy you have in selfless service.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy; I awoke and saw that life was service; I acted and behold, service was joy! – Rabindranath Tagore

For photos and more go to

Part I Las Rancheritas: Women Empowered 

Part II: Las Rancheritas and the Food

Related posts on the life and culture of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico:

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico by Rick Skwiot

Gringolandia: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Please feel free to ask questions and make comments below, which will require you to sign in with your name and email address in order to prevent spam comments. Your email will not be posted on this blog nor will it ever be sold or otherwise distributed without your permission. I dislike spam as much as you do…Norm




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