On 21 June, citizens from around the globe joined together to celebrate International Yoga Day. Events were hosted across the world as a way for people to come together in celebration of yoga and meditation. In Grahamstown, a group of local youth including the Upstart Youth Development Project, met at the Joza Youth Hub to find their centre.
Spearheaded by local yogi, Meenakshi Kara Dullabh, the event at the Hub served as a way to teach and inspire youth to live a more stress-free and happy life. “It’s about finding happiness in your self”, she said. Dullabh is part of the Art of Living Foundation, an international organisation that focusses on yoga, meditation and breathing techniques as a way to promote and create global happiness and mindfulness.
Dullabh had worked with Upstart previously as well as pupils from Amasango Career School, and received great feedback. As a result, together Dullabh and Upstart organised the International Yoga Day event and encouraged learners from all township schools to attend. The hour long event featured a 20 minute yoga flow, and a 25 minute guided meditation and rest.
After the session the pupils submitted their own comments. One read: “Today I had a very long and tired day, and was not in the mood for anything. But I finally said why not go to yoga training and see how it goes. I then finally came here and I feel better now.”
Another wrote: “Today’s session was relaxing, comfortable and beautiful because I had a chance to forget about stressing about the upcoming reports. And I got to stop thinking that I messed up my exams and just relax.”
“It’s not just teaching and walking away,” said Dullabh. “It’s about having role models.”
With pupils potentially exposed to drugs, alcohol and violence in their home and social environments, yoga and meditation serve as a positive and healthy escape. Dullabh hopes to continue weekly sessions with the pupils for the future.