An Ancient Key to Village Empowerment
September 14, 2018 - India
In India, yoga is an ancient tradition for both physical and mental health. In its villages, Amrita SeRVe has been reviving the practice to aid people in returning to a state of well-being. The story is beautifully rendered in this video.
In recent times, yoga practice has not been a part of people's lives in the villages. Whenever a class is started, the first questions that come are, "Why should we do this? Where is the time?"
People have their responsibilities, often in this pattern—housework and other chores for the women, labor for the men, and studies for the children.
In addition, according to India's latest census figures, one of every four people in rural areas live below the poverty line. The country's overall population is about 1.25 billion. Next, 69% of those people live in rural India—more than 862 million. What that comes to is 207 million of them are poor.
The way Amrita SeRVe has dealt with this aspect is to assure villagers that they are making a good investment. The beginner yoga program is a simple asana sequence that can be completed in 20 to 30 minutes. It's a small amount of time that can be a big investment in improving health.
In the villages, any suitable place is used for yoga classes—rooftops, fields, homes, under the trees, school classrooms and verandahs, playgrounds, local community centers and parks. Tarpaulins and mats can be used to cover the ground.
The benefits are taking effect as people decide yoga practice is worth it. Now, when an Amrita SeRVe yoga instructor begins a session, villagers gather immediately, especially children.
In fact, regular practice for young students has lead to having a session either in the morning before school or in the evening after school. Group sizes vary from five to sixty participants.
In some places, ASeRVe's village health workers also teach sessions for self-help group women (SHGs).