Holistic approach to health

Holistic approach to health

reaching out Ahead of International Yoga Day, Pooja Mahesh talks to a few organisations in the State that are taking yoga to the underprivileged

Holistic approach to health

With United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declaring yoga as an intangible cultural heritage last year, it has come to be seen as a way to “help individuals build self-realisation, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation”. In this light, many have been doing their bit to bring yoga to a wide cross section of society.

Supporting local communities
One such person is Kiran Ravandur, founder of Anahata Healing Arts Centre, in Ravandur, a small hamlet near Mysuru. Having studied Ashtanga yoga for more than 12 years, Kiran started the centre to spread the message of yoga and holistic healing. At the centre, he offers yoga classes for special needs children, individuals who want to gain a deeper understanding of yoga and for the residents of Ravandur and nearby villages. Kamalamma is one such person who has benefitted from Anahata’s programme. When she first arrived at the centre, she was unable to stand or walk on her own due to pain in her joints and knees. After attending a two-month holistic programme, Kamalamma was able to carry out her daily routine without much pain. Kiran couples yoga with ayurveda and meditation to provide a balanced approach to health.

To support children with special needs in the local communities that surround his centre, Kiran established a children’s rehabilitation centre. The sessions combine yoga with other physical exercises and therapies such as art therapy. “We do not replace medical therapy. However, for many, it may not be feasible as medical diagnosis and treatment is expensive. This is where we step in,” explains Kiran.

Another organisation that believes in the power of yoga is Maitri Foundation. Established by Meenakshi and Chidananda in 2004, the foundation brings the benefits of yoga to those in need. They use a portion of their earnings to reach out to those who cannot afford yoga classes but would benefit tremendously from it. For instance, they conduct yoga sessions for patients in various government hospitals. Maitri Foundation combines yoga classes with other therapies such as reiki and meditation. “Yoga is not strenuous and everyone can do it,” says Meenakshi.

It is not just organisations that work towards spreading yoga. Individuals like Savitri Basole from Bidar are also involved. Savitri began doing yoga in 2005 as she was unwell. Soon, she noticed that her health began to improve. “So, I thought if I teach yoga to those who are suffering from some ailment, their conditions will improve. I consider teaching yoga as a good deed as it allows me to help others and by doing so, I thought it will help me establish myself,” explains Savitri.

She started teaching yoga in 2010. Soon after, she started a pickle- and roti-making company with the support of her son. Earlier, she used to conduct yoga camps in nearby villages for eight days. Now, as she is hands-on with the running of her company, she only conducts yoga classes in Bidar and for students in the local schools. Many of her students have felt a positive change in their health, and have been able to focus on their work better. “With yoga, my mind is at peace and I dedicate one hour to it every day. Otherwise, everything seems to be a waste of time. It is only with yoga that I am able to alleviate any tensions I experience and get immense clarity on what to do next,” reveals Savitri.

For children in need
Apart from the organisations that work with underprivileged communities, there are also those that bring the benefits of yoga to children with special needs. Chaarana is one such centre in Bengaluru that employs yoga to help empower the students. Established in 2015 by Dr Moona Sumalatha and Yash Aditya, the centre aims to help children focus on being independent and learn to express themselves through various programmes. “I see the benefits of yoga as a ‘snowball effect’. In fact, yoga helps bring down anxiety, aggression, self-harm and any obsessive behaviour that is displayed,” elaborates Dr Moona.

A typical yoga session at Chaarana lasts for 60 minutes, of which 20 minutes is spent on meditation. The session also involves the parents and if they are unavailable, the therapist sits with them. The session helps them improve their sitting tolerance, eye contact and coordination of muscles. “The changes take place gradually. For me, it’s not about them doing the postures right but about the changes yoga brings in their lives,” says Arooshi Singh, founder of Rooh Yoga.

Parents have, in fact, seen an immense change in their children after they have begun doing yoga. “I started the yoga classes for my eight-year-old son around six months ago because I wanted my son to experience the benefits of yoga. Since then, I have seen tremendous changes in him, both physically and emotionally. In fact, it has significantly boosted his self-confidence,” shares Madhura Krishnaswamy, the parent of a special needs child. In fact, one of yoga’s beauty is that it will support you and in the process, help empower you.