In December of 2004, a tsunami struck the islands of the Indian Ocean. It is safe to say that those who survived were traumatized. Their lives were transformed from normal to anything but. Stress, fear and anxiety filled their days and nights. Many outsiders tried to help, including a few yogis who one month after the tsunami, conducted a stress-management program. Forty-seven survivors from varying cultures spent one hour every day for a week practicing yoga. At the end, all reported significantly reduced levels of sadness, fear, anxiety, sleep disturbances and respiratory rates. They had been restored, albeit partially, by the discipline.
Here at home, similar things are occurring every day. In Boston, for example, YogaHope teaches yoga at women’s homeless shelters, domestic-violence safe houses and substance-abuse treatment programs. Across the nation, yoga classes are appearing in prisons, juvenile detention centers and various shelters. Yogis, aware that not everyone can afford a class at a fancy gym, are taking the discipline to the needy, because they know that yoga helps. It reduces stress, brings a sense of peace and allows for inner meditation.
If yoga can help these people, people whose lives have been turned upside down by a natural disaster, an addiction, an abusive spouse or a wrong turn, why can’t it help you? You may not have the amount of stress that they do, but you still have stress and you still need a way to work through it. Unroll your yoga mat; then, bend, pose and breathe your way to a calmer, happier you.