Breaths of joy at post-tsunami camps
“I’d like to come to India to learn yoga,” quipped a Japanese lady in the middle of the room. This may not seem like an unusual wish. After all, India is known as the yoga capital throughout the globe. Yet consider these: the lady was a tsunami survivor; the room was part of a camp in Watari Cho (one of the worst affected areas), and this proclamation was made after a brief 20 minutes of yoga warm ups and a meditation.
She was among a group of 500 people who were taught a few, easy-to-do yoga asanas and breathing techniques to help quell the waves of panic after the March 11, 2011 natural disaster. Following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake, there was a 23-foot tsunami. The dual forces together wrecked land and sea, affecting a large number of the population.
Healing breaths to recovery
As various disaster recovery mechanisms were rolled out, The Art of Living moved swiftly to help the affected people cope with their mental anguish. A senior faculty member, Swami Sadyojathah conducted a series of trauma relief workshops for the refugees. These workshops taught simple yoga asanas, breathing technique and meditation. And at the end of each workshop, Swamiji’s warm messages and prayers touched each participant, allowing them to experience a sense of calm and peace long awaited. “I’m feeling nice and calm,” shared a refugee while a lady expressed surprise that she was able to lift her hand, which was sore since the disaster.
After a round of breathing exercises, there was a relaxed Sunday feeling at another camp. “It (the techniques) were interesting and fun,” shared the resident children.
Small groups of Art of Living volunteers are rushing to the tsunami camps to reach out to more affected persons. Relief materials continue to be mobilized by people wanting to reach out to the unknown survivors of the tsunami. The band of volunteers continues to grow – so do their plans of expanding their relief operations. The journey to recovery would be long – yet would be marked by a renewed sense of life and living.