Meet Lynn Mooney (Lalitatirtha). She is our energetic Tools for Inner Peace teacher who has launched four new refugee yoga classes across Liverpool since summer 2018. “My immersion in yoga and spiritual life began in 2010 when I went to live for two years at the Anahata ashram in New Zealand. The emphasis there was on serving others. We ourselves had warm comfortable beds, nourishing food and daily yogic practices. Even the hard mental struggles I went through in the ashram had a beauty to them; they allowed me to grow a little more and to release and let go. The holistic lifestyle of the ashram turned my life around completely. I wanted to offer the experience of yoga practices to others, so in 2015 I began my training to teach yoga at the Mandala ashram in Wales. “I believe that every human being’s needs should be met. We all need love, security, food and a warm bed. We are not separate from one another, although it can feel that way with isolation and loneliness rapidly growing
Training held in Bekaa valley, Lebanon RYE UK and Tools for Inner Peace 23-25 October 2017 & 4-6 April 2018 Children in crisis All children arrive in the world untainted and open. They are sensitive to every influence, behaviour and emotion around them. This can be seen in their often uncanny ability to sense the unknown, their natural responsiveness to the feelings of people around them, and their sponge-like ability to absorb language and information. There is a spark of the divine in children that needs nurturing. A good home environment and contact with positive people, ideas and experiences gives them a good start in life. The flip-side of children’s openness is that their sensitivity also makes them vulnerable. Even in families living in physical safety and material comfort, children can become lost. Parents who lack self-awareness pass on to their children their own expectations, frustrated ambitions, anxieties and dissipation. At the extreme, living in harsh circumstances where the grown-ups are frightened, themselves broken by material hardship, or undergoing intense emotional and mental suffering can
“I can safely say if it wasn’t for those classes during last winter I would be sure to be a mental patient by now. Your efforts are greatly appreciated, hope that many others can benefit as much as I did. When God cannot come he sends help.” – Participant feedback, Liverpool, 2021 We are delighted to be back to face-to-face teaching. While we continued offering refugee yoga classes throughout the Covid-19 lockdowns of the last year and a half, we have been painfully aware that our ability to reach the people who most need yoga for their mental health and wellbeing has been curtailed. This has been due both to lack of devices and data, as well as an intangible something that gets lost over a zoom call. Face-to-face classes have restarted in Liverpool, and we hope to launch new classes soon in Northumberland and London. Do you know of a refugee or asylum seeker group in the UK that would benefit from simple, gentle yoga classes to promote their mental and emotional wellbeing? We
“Peace begins with a smile” In an unprecedented and intensifying flood, 60 million people around the world have become refugees, often escaping war in places like Afghanistan Sudan, Syrian and now Myanmar. Of these as many as 50% suffer from trauma and mental health problems. To respond to this need, Tools for Inner Peace has focused on offering free refugee yoga classes. Our first classes for refugees were launched in London in 2016; from the beginning of 2017 we decided to take this work to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Yoga is a simple, cheap and effective means of trauma recovery. It soothes the nervous system; relaxes the body and mind; and brings peace and inner clarity. Those we work with – whether in London or in Lebanon – are finding solace in yoga. Their open smiles at the end of each class testify to the benefits. Here is how a refugee from Afghanistan described her experience of this summer’s Restorative Retreat for refugee women: To expand this work and make yoga accessible to refugees everywhere,
Of the 60 million refugees in the world as many as 50% suffer from trauma and mental health problems. Those we work with – whether in London or in Lebanon – are finding solace in yoga. Their open smiles at the end of each class testify to the benefits.
Tools for Inner Peace trustee and founder, Minna Järvenpää, has written a blog post for Missing in the Mission, a blog site about the process of taking of ourselves and each other by aid workers, for aid workers.
Van der Kolk’s masterful book, The Body Keeps the Score, charts the journey from talking and drug therapies to approaches such as yoga that help integrate trauma and take off the lacerating edge of painful memories.
Emma Hill-French is a yoga teacher offering classes for refugees in London for Tools for Inner Peace. Here is an extract from her blog, Simple Gentle Yoga, where she describes her first time teaching a group of refugee women
The restorative techniques that people at the frontlines use to minimise stress
To release stress, it is often enough to move and stretch our tense, strained bodies while focussing on the breath. The practice of yoga postures or asanas helps develop strength and flexibility, improves balance, and calms the mind. It also has a positive influence on the nervous, immune, digestive and hormonal systems. Practised with subtle awareness, the simplest asanas bring peaceful equilibrium to the body and mind. The effect is calming, energising and grounding. In the words of Swami Satyananda, asanas are “techniques which place the physical body in positions that cultivate awareness, relaxation, concentration and meditation.”