When I first heard about Yoga for Bhopal and the life-changing work of the Bhopal Medical Appeal charity, I knew I needed to get involved with their initiative. We often hear about Yoga in terms of the benefits it brings a practitioner, whether this is physiological, psychological or spiritual. However, it is also worth considering how Yoga can benefit the wider community. The work, the Sambhavna Trust Clinic in Bhopal, does is an exemplary example of this.
Through Yoga for Bhopal‘s initiative, I could offer something from our yoga studio on the Isle of Wight to benefit the charity. I am of an age that can clearly remember the gas disaster in Bhopal and the shocking suffering of innocent Indians and abuse of power from those responsible. Union Carbide India Limited. I can tell you right now that it felt wonderful to be giving and giving from the heart of my Yoga, as far as I am concerned that is what it means. All I had to do? Run a workshop, that’s no big deal.
Afterall Bhopal is considered to be the world’s worst industrial disaster.
Yoga for Bhopal
So, in 2017, along with several other yoga studios in the country, we held events that raised funds and awareness in support of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic. These events marked the 33rd anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster.
The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds the Sambhavna Clinic. The clinic uses Yoga as one of a range of treatments for the survivors of the Bhopal Disaster. Yoga is used to treat chronic diseases involving the respiratory, musculoskeletal, neurological and endocrine systems.
While women survivors suffer additional, gynaecological severe problems which Sambhavna has also been treating, with great success, using Yoga.
The healing power of Yoga
Although I have taught and practised Yoga for many years (23 years). It was not until I suffered a prolapsed disc (18 years ago) when my ideas of what Yoga is, changed. Suddenly I could not perform asana anymore. The movement was not natural and often painful. I was unable to use my body in a way that felt so familiar. This change leads to a somewhat disconcerting period for me until I met Gary Carter. He gave me the confidence to build up my practice again but in a different way. It was my first experience of Scaravelli inspired Yoga. In a way, it was my best lesson. Now I felt the power of Yoga to heal.
Isle of Yoga
Since that afternoon in Brighton at Natural Bodies with Gary, I have revolutionised my yoga practice and understanding. Since following teachers that were inspired by Vanda Scaravelli, Yoga has become so alive. And so, Elaine and I wanted to offer yoga retreats, with this approach and we collaborated with several teachers. We did this work as the Isle of Yoga for a few good years. But all good things come to an end, and earlier this year we decided to make a change.
I now run our studio as Erling’s Yoga. Offering weekly yoga classes to my local community. Teach periodic yoga workshops and host, personalised yoga retreats for just two to three students at a time. The offer to work with Yoga for Bhopal touches me on a profound level.
It goes to say I have been very fortunate to learn with many great teachers. I want to mention Marc Acquaviva, John Stirk, Diane Long. Angela Farmer, Gary Carter and particularly Peter Blackaby who has analysed the neurology of practising Yoga. From these beautiful teachers and others, I can explore and share with students how to undo habitual tension and move with ease, where an injury does not have to impede on Yoga Practise.
Yoga for Bhopal and more
We are lucky to exist in an open society where the various views and ideas about Yoga, can be shared and debated without recourse. Britain, in the 21st century, is an exciting place to find and practice Yoga. My current view and how I teach is Scaravelli inspired, maybe more so because I can question the traditional guru lineage teaching.
In the country that Yoga was born, it is quite possible that, culturally, the guru authority is absolute. When we can’t question authority, we get in trouble. Understanding is knowledge and knowledge is freedom. We know more about our brains and neurology now than ever before in history. We can introduce more choice in our views and beliefs, and this is helpful.
I felt that I would want to share what I had learned with the teachers in India at the Sambhavna Clinic. Yoga for Bhopal shares our vision to exchange ideas with the teachers in India.
What we did in 2017
We hosted an Antenatal CPD Workshop for pregnancy yoga on 2nd December with visiting senior yoga teacher Abigail Peck. A perinatal yoga teacher, doula and co-director of the Acquaviva School of Yoga. Abigail specialises in prevention or recovery from chronic injuries associated with pregnancy. We successfully raised £150.00 to donate to the Bhopal Medical Appeal.
Social distancing for the foreseeable future means world of yoga has moved online because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Zoom is the platform of choice yoga teachers use to continue their work. Online Zoom classes is a solution to not being able to attend an in-person workshop.
What we are doing in 2020
Yoga workshop about breathing. On 26th September I am running a two-hour special workshop about breathing.
We humans come into the world, knowing how to breathe. In yoga, we give breath special meaning because of its historical connection to prana (the vital life force).
Humans become tense in life. But if we are habitually tight, we don’ get to breathe optimally. During this workshop, I’ll teach techniques to release muscular tension. When there is less tension, your body self-regulates breathing.
All funds will go to the Bhopal Medical Appeal.
Breathing Yoga Workshop
26th September 2020
If you would like to register for this event, please use the following link below. You will receive a link to the Zoom meeting. The workshop starts at 10 am for two hours.
Donate for charity
Not everyone can do the workshop, but you can still make a donation to the charity and to do that, and please follow the following link.
Through a series of yoga workshops. I want to share techniques and teachings that can help their work. And to raise awareness of ongoing Bhopal Disaster-related issues as well as to raise vital funds to help support the work of the Sambhavna Clinic.
Yoga for Bhopal T-shirts
Bhopal Medical Appeal funds the Sambhavna Trust Clinic in Bhopal.
Rapanui make them, based on the Isle of Wight too. An award-winning ethical company, using sustainable, organic materials with a traceable supply chain. At the end of the garment’s life, it can be sent back to Rapanui for a store credit. And all of the clothing is made of organic or recycled materials and produced in an ethically accredited wind-powered factory.
Yoga can help
Yoga, when practised gently, when, the function takes precedence over form, has an amazing therapeutic quality. We practice Scaravelli inspired Yoga here on the Isle of Wight. Running small retreats, workshops and weekly classes.
It’s not about how far you can bend, how big a breath you can take. Yoga has to be a more profound, intimate experience with yourself. The oldest text point to us to acknowledge a more unaffected natural state of being. Every time you breathe out you travel there, every time you breathe, you come from there. Do you want to know too?
Links to Bhopal
In 1999, Sambhavna was invited to present a paper to the sixteenth ‘World Congress of Asthma’ on the efficacy of its yoga treatments on respiratory disorders.
In the study, more than half of the people practising Yoga for persistent breathlessness were able to remain entirely off drugs they have had to take every day since the disaster. Naturally, Yoga costs nothing and once learned, easily practised outside of the clinic. Additionally, Yoga calls for the individual to be an active participant in his or her healing.
Yoga Therapy at the Sambhavna Clinic.
The clinic has documented research into how Yoga has helped patients. Women have suffered in silence, and menstrual chaos is one of the least-known aspects of what is happening in Bhopal.
In the town of Bhopal in central India, Yoga is helping survivors and victims of the gas disaster heal.
Thank you, Erling McCracken.
Register your place now