– Quote by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati These are some personal reflections by Mantramala (Minna Jarvenpaa) on the Yoga Pura Vida teacher training that Tools for Inner Peace supported in Sierra Leone: The week before our departure from Sierra Leone was full of emotion: grief, joy, memory of old hurts, love. Over the course of the first eleven days of the training, participants had been finding their way into all the aspects of yoga, opening up, releasing tension, going deeper. Old memories were starting to come up, both tender and sad. On Day 12, we started teaching Yoga for Children and discovered that many of the participants had been orphans, street children or refugees from the civil war; some had survived sexual abuse or abandonment. Others had been pulled out of school and made to work in the streets by relatives. Several had never had the safety or care to really be children. All carried within them the inter-generational trauma of slavery on which Sierra Leone was built. Now we were asking these same people –
Mind, body and community: The potential for yoga as mental health and psychosocial support in emergency contexts Jessica Stone Lebanon is home to approximately 1.5 million refugees, numbering roughly a quarter of the entire population—the highest proportion in the world. Many Syrian refugees in Lebanon have witnessed or experienced physical, psychological or sexual violence, and continue to experience food insecurity, discrimination and social isolation. Reports of traumatic flashbacks, uncontrollable emotions, hopelessness, despair, and unusual physical and mental exhaustion are also common, as are high rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (1). Women in particular are increasingly exposed to sexual assault, interpersonal violence and survival sex work in the settlements (2), yet there are few mental health services available for Syrians in Lebanon (3), and even fewer that cater to women’s needs. To address these challenges, the organisation Tools for Inner Peace has been implementing a yoga program for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in informal tented settlements and community centres in the Beqaa Valley region since 2017. This program supports women to
In a podcast with Danielle Begg, founder of The Yoga Impact Charity, Mantramala (Minna Jarvenpaa) tells a bit of her own story and how Tools for Inner Peace was born. They also talk about how yoga touches people from diverse backgrounds, how Tools for Inner Peace navigates cultural and religious boundaries, and share ideas about making change in the world. Click here to listen to the podcast. Yoga With Impact is a podcast interviewing experts sharing yoga and healing practices in diverse communities.
Help Spread Yoga to Lebanon’s Disadvantaged Communities Tools for Inner Peace has reached a milestone in Lebanon. We have gone from one roving yoga teacher with a translator to a team that includes three Arabic speaking trainers. Our amazing trainers – Zena, Sandy and Cara – are now seeking support to put three more aspiring yogis from the younger generation firmly onto the transformative path of yoga and community service. The plan is to offer three scholarships for a year-long training with three residential immersions at the Satyananda Yoga Academy in Europe. In return, scholarship recipients commit to offering their time and skills to communities in need inside Lebanon. The minimum requirement is two hours of weekly service throughout the year during which the scholarship is being offered. This initiative comes at a time when people all around Lebanon are coming together across sectarian lines, with an awareness of the needs of disadvantaged communities: “Today, the entire nation is gearing up for change. Everyone is called upon to define their role and do their part. As yoga teachers
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