Home' Australian Yoga Life : sample issue Contents From War to Peace
sharp, abrupt, and shallow breath. Using
the classes as a starting point, I worked
my way through a book on pranayama.
Now my breath is a lot more regular and
my heart rate has come right down.
Denise and I still play Rishi
Vivekananda's yoga nidra every night,
even though we don't really need it any
more. We've got used to his voice!"
War veterans' retreat
The 2009 Retreat for War Veterans at
Mangrove Mountain was held at the
request of the Hobart group. Wives and
partners were welcomed, and the
invitation was sent out to others via the
national VVCS network. The presence
of Dr Rishi Vivekananda, who formerly
specialised in treating war veterans, gave
the group time with someone who is
both an expert in yoga and in psychiatry.
For many, the five-day program was
their first experience of retreat and
ashram living and was a turning point, as
they found the confidence to believe
they could heal at a deep level.
The experience of teaching the
Vietnam veterans for the last five years
has shown me how much is possible
through yoga. Having made it clear to
VVCS that I had no background in
counselling or psychology and would be
working purely with my knowledge of
yoga, I embarked on introducing the
group to yoga as a holistic approach to
living, not merely a set of practices to do
once a week. I did not know their case
histories, nor what medication, if any,
they were on. While there are limitations
to the asanas that can be done due to
physical conditions, this is no limitation
to the yoga they can do.
In pranayama, the emphasis is on
foundation, tranquilising, and balancing
breaths. In meditation, we practise body
stillness, trataka, mantra chanting,
thought observation, following energy
pathways and working with the chakras.
Specific meditations that focus on feeling
expansion and relaxation in the heart
space (internal chest region) help remove
emotional tension. This develops anahata
chakra, the energy centre associated with
peace, contentment, compassion,
forgiveness, and the experience of love. In
yoga nidra, many aspects of the practice
are explored, from the basic to more
advanced applications. The men are open
to it all and encourage their sceptical and
yoga-phobic mates to join. The social
aspect is also integral to the success of the
program, as is a lot of laughter and
lightness. The men are adept at their
favourite asana, the Roaring Lion Pose.
No other class roars with the freedom
and wholehearted expression of the
Hobart Vietnam Veterans' yoga group.
Each week, Monday mornings come to a
close with the chanting of the peace
mantra, Om shanti shanti shanti. For me,
the meaning of the word 'peace' is never
as potent as at that moment.
Ahimsadhara teaches at the Hobart
Yoga & Meditation Centre, where she
is also the Centre Manager.
She coordinates courses at the
Satyananda Yoga Academy, Mangrove
Mt, edits books for the Bihar School
of Yoga, and is a freelance writer.
She can be contacted on
A Yoga Retreat for War Veterans will
be held at Mangrove Mountain in
australian yoga life • december-february 2010 25
Links Archive Navigation Previous Page Next Page