From drug addicts to yoga teachers, these foreigners show the way

Last Updated 15 September 2013, 20:12 IST

The ancient Indian rituals and therapies to attain solace has influenced the people of western countries since time immemorial. In one such example, Pandeshwara, the tiny hamlet in Sasthana has now become a mute witness to the transformation of drug addicts and become better citizens by adopting Yoga.

A group of 14 people including a Yoga teacher and a nurse from Norway, USA and South Africa, have come down to Pandeshwara to stay in Ramakrishna Manjar house and perform “Karma Yoga” as a part of purification process.

Siv, Lars Andre, Fredy, Helge, Ole, Stig, Nicholai and Rebecca from Norway, Sven from USA and Nomzi from South Africa who have arrived at the small village to perform Yoga and also simultaneously sweat it out in the process of “Karma Yoga.”

Accompanying them is Alexander Medin, who is a Norwegian Yoga Guru, Carlos, a Mexican, Magnus and Rosalinda, a doctor from Norway. The team has laboured the construction of two houses built in their own expenses and which they have offered as shelter to two poor families. They also took part in the cleansing process of the Theerthabail pond (Theerthabailukere) adjacent to Shankaranarayana temple. They were also part of the renovation process of bus stop in Sasthana. They are in Pandeshwara for last four weeks and are returning to Norway on September 19.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Alexander said that he had his spiritual Yoga education in Mysore Sanskrit College before returning to Norway and take up Yoga teaching as profession. In Mysore, he had met Vijay Manjar, the son of Ramakrishna Manjar, who was learning Yoga. Vijay had been to Norway two months ago. He met Alexander and there the project of “Karma Yoga” was materialised.

Alexander says that his students get true experience of Karma Yoga by labouring hard to help others. “They have changed completely and are finding happiness and peace never like before. It is really amazing to see these men and women who were stigmatised back in Norway for being drug addicts, living a community life here in India. They are feeling the power of Yoga. They had practiced Yoga during their stay in Norway. They are now realising that they have something within despite the difficulties and challenges they have gone through. They are finding peace in serving others,” he noted.

Speaking about the initiative,Vijay Manjar said that the team members perform Yoga everyday from 6 am to 8.30 am and toil hard from 9 am to 1 pm. They take lunch break and again start their work at 3 pm and end their work at 5 pm. Except for plastering, they have done entire construction work, spending their personal money to build houses. They are living truly Indian life and practicing Indian rituals. They are on vegetarian diet and most of them are able to come out completely from their addiction, he revealed.

Life changing experience

Six years of heroin addiction almost killed Ole Johnny who was diagnosed with hepatitis and delta virus in 1994. He had a liver transplant in 2011. He was a master chef before getting addicted to heroin. However, after dedicating himself to Yoga, Ole now feels fit and physically strong. He says he enrolled in a study programme to graduate from Norwegian Institute of Sport and hopes to specialise in Yoga.

Helge, aged 40, began consuming drugs when he was 15 and was addicted to heroin at the age of 29. Helge was always fond of gymnastics and was in Norwegian national team. He believes Yoga is the greatest way to reclaim his physique. He says he now wants to become a Yoga teacher and share some of his great experiences with others.

“It is so much of pleasure in giving yourself to others. Norwegian life only demands you to chase money and is purely materialistic. There is no community life. I am, now in peace,” he smiles.

(Published 15 September 2013, 20:10 IST)

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