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Yoga and Development


Yoga and Development

With unity, empowerment, health and peace at its very core, the practice of yoga is a very powerful tool for social good. sportanddev looks at the diverse spectrum of ways in which yoga is being used for Development around the world.

Yoga, which originated in India some 5,000 years ago, has been used for millennia to positively impact both the individual and society. Having increased in popularity monumentally in recent decades, today yoga is being used all over the world as a holistic tool towards spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing. It is being used to combat a diversity of issues from eating disorders to peacebuilding, from reaching out to the homeless to addressing the roots of crime, in prisons and on the streets

Yoga to unite a global response
The natural uniting power of yoga is being harnessed to bring people together from around the world to respond to need.  The Art of Living Foundation is one such global network that facilitates financial and volunteer support to a range of social initiatives around the world which incorporate yoga, from disaster relief (providing physical and mental relief as well as material aid) to economic empowerment, child and adult education programmes to prison workshops. 

Yoga Aid is using yoga’s uniting power to raise awareness and funds for NGOs around the world through Yoga Aid World Challenge, a global event that will be held on 9 September 2012.

Off the Mat Into the World (OTM) is an organisation that bridges yoga and activism, uniting other organisations and providing leadership training.

Yoga as empowerment and belonging
Yoga is more than physical and mental exercise; it offers a sense of belonging and community to previously isolated persons. The Africa Yoga Project is one organisation that uses yoga to inspire personal confidence and empowered communities.

Yoga as an accessible, low-cost and sustainable tool
Yoga can have such a positive long-term effect because it can be practised anywhere, and requires only space, time, and, at least initially, a guide.

Yoga for holistic well-being and healing
By increasing awareness of the self, yoga allows for greater understanding of the need to respect the body and the importance of healthy nutrition. Yoga is increasingly recognised as an alternative therapy and is being used to address a number of illnesses, from post-traumatic stress disorder to cancer.

Yoga as an education tool
Yoga is also used as an alternative education tool. Not only does it allow for greater dialogue about health and nutrition science and teach important lessons about respect, trust, teamwork and confidence, but it can offer an important support tool for young people in stressful situations, both at school and home.

Yoga for training and employment
Miami-based Yoga Gangsters, whose mission is to empower youth by addressing the symptoms of trauma and poverty, provides scholarships to the Urban Guru Program, a 200-hour yoga teacher certification that enables participants to return to their communities as leaders. The Olive Tree Yoga Foundation also seeks to provide training and job opportunities for future yogis in Israel and Palestine.


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Heather Elgar


Monday, August 20, 2012 - 23:00