Written by Yoana Moya
Yoga: A Tool for Social Change
A post published in this blog by Sharon Brooke Uy, “Ego, inspired me to write the introduction to this post (http://www.parimukti.com/8377-2/).
We are all concern about the social problems happening nowadays in the world. Violence and human rights violations. People fighting against each other to defend their way, their ego. Judging others. I was reading a post published in this blog a couple of days ago talking about Terrorism and how we could achieve peace and freedom if we shed our attachments to mine and yours, and we simply acknowledge what is there. I liked that post very much, as I saw the realistic but optimistic point of view.
Now I would like to tell you about a vehicle, a tool to get to that path of real happiness. Yoga. Yoga has been a way for many people to listen to themselves and live in harmony. Ramana Maharshi wrote “the experience of the Self is only love, which is seeing only love, hearing only love, feeling only love, tasting only love and smelling only love, which is bliss”. Many people in the world have been taught to survive in a violent environment. Yoga is a way to move from that way of thinking to one based on cooperation through the connection with the self.
Yoga incorporates physical postures, breath control, mental concentration, and deep relaxation to positively affect mental states. Yoga tends to promote self-control, attention, and concentration, self-efficacy, body awareness, and stress reduction. The coordination of body movements and stretching in combination with deep breathing improves the body’s overall circulation. These results in release of tension as well as increasing levels of blood and oxygen throughout the body that in turn affect the central and autonomic nervous systems (Brosnan, 1982;).
From a physiological perspective, yoga influences the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) activity. The ANS primarily regulates involuntary activity such as heartbeat and respiration.
- Sympathetic system – Uses stored energy and prepares the body for “fight or flight”, which is the response of the sympathetic nervous system to a stressful event, preparing the body to fight or flee, associated with the adrenal secretion of epinephrine and its characterized by an increase on the heart rate and blood flow.
- Parasympathetic system- Conserves energy and is active in relaxed situations. Activities of this division include a decrease in heart rate.
From this perspective, Yoga might deactivate the sympathetic division and stimulate the parasympathetic system resulting in a sense of calm, emotional balance, tranquility, and increased concentration (Brosnan, 1982).
There are already places where yoga is being used as a tool for social change. Caracas, Venezuela. Yoga is practiced in the slums of Caracas, aiming to use the spiritual message of yoga for social transformation. More than 3,500 people have been part of the project. Many schools are involved, so children are receiving the education, which is the key for the future.
There are a couple of videos about this project you could watch. I hope you like the idea as much as I do :).
Brosnan, B. (1982). Yoga for handicapped people. London: Souvenir Press