An Interview with Sowmya Ayyar- Instructor for Yoga for Peace
Go Inspired is lucky to be working in collaboration with Sowmya Ayyar in our unique Yoga for Peace Program. Yoga for Peace takes place this September for 10 days in India near Jodhpur where participants will stay at a Bishnoi Village. Sowmya’s nature and background makes her a knowledegable teacher where students will thrive in a comfortable environment while also getting to experience the beauty and spirit of India.
A chat with Sowmya.
1) How did you learn about Yoga for Peace?
The day I moved to Peace School, someone asked me if I was a yoga teacher. She wanted to learn from me. So did others. We decided to start a weekly session. I thought it would be cool to focus each week on the theme that we were studying—Theories, Gender, Terrorism, Environment—and link it to the yoga practice. That turned into my term project, which turned into a full-fledged course. Now I adapt how I teach using peace concepts.
2) What changes have you seen from Yoga for Peace (whether with people or experiences?)
I have gotten feedback that people now feel yoga is appropriate for them, for their culture, and for peacebuilding activities. I notice that people can relax better, and they are also more content with what they have. They become less greedy. I have also seen lightbulbs going off during workshops and sessions, where there is a realization of “I can be happy.”
3) Why is Yoga for Peace important in your eyes?
Yoga has often been used as a tool for inner peace. I see it as a tool for world peace as well. I believe that if people in conflict zones practice yoga together or separately, they are more likely to turn toward peace.
4) How does your background contribute to what you bring to a class?
I have a background in Sociology, Gerontology, Peace Studies, and Environmental Security. And then my yoga teaching background. Plus I have worked in large and small non-profits and NGOs. When I work with a particular group, I assess the group first (whether formally or informally). I collect relevant information about socio-economic status, geographic location.
5) Where have yoga for peace programs been implemented?
I have taught yoga for peace in different formats in universities around the world as short workshops; and then brought yoga to meet the needs of a variety of groups, from domestic violence survivors in California to HIV+ women and children in rural India, to special needs kids and corporate environments.
6) What is special to you about India that you would like to share with participants in the program?
In India, you get a community sense of awe for any form of yoga. It is respected immensely. You get a chance to see a land where yoga is practiced off the mat, more often than on.
7) What will be interesting for people participating living in the Bishnoi village?
The location we will be at is especially nice because the history and the culture of the people there is about environmental peace. They are known to be pro-nature and pro-women and children. We might be able to take our yoga practice out of the guest house and into the land—which is pristine and calm. And you never know if you will run into villagers walking with their cows or camels. The area is beautiful.
8) Why should someone join the program?
You should join if you are a yoga teacher trying to do interesting projects and take yoga to diverse populations outside of studios. You should join if your NGO serves conflicted peoples and places (environments) and you want to find an alternative way of conflict transformation. You should join if you like yoga and you like peace!
Thanks so much Sowmya for sharing!
For more information regarding Go Inspired’s yoga programs, check out http://www.goinspired.com/programs/yoga-and-meditation-workshops/yoga-for-social-transformation/
If you would like to know more about Sowmya and her programs, take a look at her website! www.sowmyaayyar.com