Shelley Lowther giggled when she pictured 200 people practicing yoga by the river in downtown Beaufort.
"When we first told (City Council) 100, we thought that was out of the box," she said.
But the four-hour yoga event and fundraiser planned for Sunday has attracted attention and support from across the region. Lowther said she has been overwhelmed by the response.
The event is part of Yoga Aid Day, a worldwide fundraising and education effort that starts in Australia with "waves of events" occurring across time zones.
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From noon to 4 p.m. in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, instructors will teach lessons, a DJ will play music and a documentary about the Africa Yoga Project will be screened.
The local group has raised about $4,000 of its $10,000 goal, and all proceeds will go to the Africa Yoga Project, Lowther said.
Lowther, owner of Dancing Dogs Yoga Studio, plans to go to Kenya in late winter to volunteer for the project. She will teach some of the more than 50 yoga instructors who teach free classes in slums, jails, schools, orphanages and other places in Kenya.
"What we do is help people to get into their bodies, to get awareness of what they feel," she said. "When you get into your body, you get out of your head."
The Africa Yoga Project teaches people in poverty and difficult situations ways to deal with stress, she said. The instructors receive a "living wage" from donations so they can support their families, she said.
Lowther hopes to eventually apply the idea in Beaufort County by identifying youth who are willing to commit to receiving free yoga-instructor training in return for teaching free classes in schools, churches and other areas around the county.
"You don't have to go far to find abject poverty," she said. "Poverty doesn't make people miserable and unhappy. What makes people unhappy is people getting caught up in the cycle and losing hope. ... (Yoga) teaches you cannot control your circumstances, but you can control how you react to them."
Sunday's event, Lowther said, will be a regional community celebration for a cause. Yoga instructors are coming from Augusta, Jacksonville, Aiken, Savannah and Charleston.
"We don't care about how long you've been doing yoga or what style you do," Lowther said. "It's about coming together as a community."
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- Yoga open house in Beaufort to benefit Red Cross efforts in Haiti, Feb. 18, 2010
- Yoga Aid for Africa Yoga Project
- Africa Yoga Project