Happy International Day of Yoga from One Girl! Proposed by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in his 2014 address to the United Nations, this day does not celebrate, exercise, but helps “discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world, and the nature.” Here at One Girl, we link yoga and activism. We celebrate the healing powers of meditation to help us remain “present in the moment” as we continue our advocacy.
We must remember the importance of raising our social consciousness as we work tirelessly in advocating for women-specific work. We must engage in research, actively participate in grassroots organizing, and strive to provide educational tools and resources for our communities. However, many activists in this line of work suffer from “burnout”, increased anxiety, and overwhelming feelings of trauma or hopelessness when fighting for a cause.
In response, we strongly encourage yoga as a holistic, accessible means of addressing these side-effects. Through conscious breathing techniques, calm environments, and healing spaces, we can more effectively walk on our paths towards personal growth and development. Practicing mindfulness can help us all understand our parts in a greater whole, learning how to give back to our communities through service and volunteerism.
Yoga not only helps our activists at the frontlines, but also the women we advocate for. Survivors of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence in particular have sought yoga to heal from physical, emotional, psychological, and economical abuse. According to Exhale to Inhale, an organization using yoga to assist survivors in healing, “The body remembers neglect, abuse, and terror.” However, by going through the motions of yoga in a “trauma-informed” manner, survivors can regain a sense of safety. I had the privilege to hear Tara Tonini, Exhale to Inhale’s Program Director speak at the NGO Committee on the Status of Women June meeting panel. According to her, women can “reclaim their lives - mind, body, and spirit.”
Let’s try something I learned from Blanche Manago, a yoga/meditation teacher and panelist at the NGO meeting. While standing or sitting, hug your body and feel your rib cage. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. What do you notice? Try closing your eyes, repeating this breathing technique 4-5 times. Be mindful of how your body changes, how your shoulders relax, and where your mind wanders.
Remember that your experiences are valid and worthy. Continue on your paths to healing from trauma, exhaustion, and physical or mental manipulation. Healing takes time, but I, along with everyone here at One Girl, support you on your journey.
Pictured here: Exhale to Inhale Directors, NGO CSW Directors, and Yoga Panelists