Rehabilitation is only a deep breath away
Through yoga, the Kripa Foundation seeks to help those struggling with addiction and suffering from ill health.
One of the largest NGOs in India, the Kripa Foundation, offers a holistic approach towards rehabilitation from addiction. Under the guidance of Fr Joseph Pereira, the NGO uses yoga to help those struggling with drug addiction and those affected with HIV/AIDS. The first group this season to take up the yoga-for-rehabilitation initiative is from the Namaste Yoga School from Wroclaw, Poland.
"Youngsters who have quit drugs find solace in yoga. People suffering from cancerous diseases also find respite through our programme," says Fr Joseph Pereira, founder and managing trustee of the Kripa Foundation.
Fondly known as Fr Joe, he adds, "With the help of yoga, nitric oxide (NO) is produced naturally by sinuses during nasal breathing, breath retention, and humming 'Om'. This reverses ailments inside the body. Besides NO, interleukin can also be produced naturally in the body and these can eventually help cure the disease internally."
Besides this, through individual counselling sessions, the core problem is identified and goals that will help a patient lead a better life are set. These goals include overcoming resentment, developing trust and working on self-defeating behavioural patterns. The daily morning meditation makes use of yoga as a psycho spiritual and psychosomatic therapy.
Shedding light on this initiative, Fr Joe says, "We help patients see the positive aspects of life. The basis of our programme is the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous (AA) and narcotics anonymous (NA), based on a module of total abstinence from alcohol and other drugs, and in turn bringing holistic improvements on the biological, psychological, social, economic and financial level. Each patient works on adopting the philosophies of AA/NA before leaving the treatment."
Being a Catholic priest, Fr Joe admits that he has faced a lot of antagonism for advocating yoga and meditation. "A lot of Catholics believe that meditation is a demonic practice. They are ignorant about the science of yoga. Today, yoga is acknowledged by medicine but there is also spirituality involved. I have faced hostility for these beliefs but people don't understand that the kind of consciousness we carry out has a measurable impact on those who we care about."
Stating that yoga is not a workout, He adds, "It is a work-in. Meditation helps us get in touch with our inner self and gain control over ourselves. This fundamental idea is what has helped addicts recuperate. They are people who just want love and turn to alcohol and drugs for an escape from reality. Through yoga and meditation, we help them let go and accept themselves for who they are and bring in positive changes in their lives. Die-hard drug addicts are fascinated by yoga and meditation because it gives them what addiction does not. Thus, spiritual discipline and strength helps them overcome the addiction."
The Polish group of 28, accompanied by Paulina Stroz, founder and yoga teacher of Namaste Yoga School, is currently participating in strenuous yoga sessions twice a day. Heavy asana are practiced for three hours in the morning at the centre in Anjuna and followed by two hours of pranayam in the evening at the NGO's Panaji centre—five hours of commitment to a lifestyle change programme.
This is Paulina's second visit to Kripa, Goa, the first being last year, for the yoga programme.
Sharing her thoughts, she says, "Our life is dedicated to teaching yoga and meditation to people in our country. After going back to Poland, we will share the knowledge we have received here with all our students and other yoga practitioners. They need to realize that traditional 'hatha yoga' is a spiritually safe practice. On the other hand, other practitioners in the west need to learn more about the spiritual aspects of 'iyengar yoga', which they still perceive as a workout rather than a work-in."
Through individual counselling sessions, the core problem is identified and goals that will help a patient lead a better life are set. These goals include overcoming resentment, developing trust and working on self-defeating behavioural patterns. The daily morning meditation makes use of yoga as a psycho spiritual therapy