Refugee crisis: yoga community call to action

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This is a call to action to the Yoga Community to come together and help refugees and asylum-seekers in light of the current devastating refugee crisis. Today, President of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs, “This is not a time to take fright, it is a time for humanity and human dignity.”

Ourmala is a registered charity, already helping vulnerable refugee and asylum-seeking women in London, with yoga at the centre of our approach. We provide therapeutic yoga classes and English class,  and access to critical resources. We also provide access to volunteering, training and education to help the women fulfill their potential. We are ready to help as many people as we can, we just need financing. Read on for what our service users say about our work.

We are calling on the Yoga Community to mobilise and support our work so that more refugees and asylum-seekers have the chance to rebuild their lives – in London and beyond.

You can help make real life improvements for our extended family by donating now or joining The Mala Initiative; our programme for yoga teachers, centres, students and alternative health practioners who want to support our mission. You may not be in the position to take a refugee into your actual homelife but supporting Ourmala’s mission comes in a good second.

The heart of Yoga is compassion and intelligence and when our heads, hearts and actions align we can effect great positive social change.

“I feel positive and hope keep practicing yoga every day. I will have a good night’s sleep, less panic attacks.” – S.

Ourmala’s trauma recovery programme is free to all our refugee and asylum-seeking service users. We also refund the cost of travel, without which most would be unable to attend.

We are set up to meet the expected increasing demand. We already have a long waiting list, including refugee children and men. We serve only women at the moment because 70% of refugee and asylum-seeking women have experienced gender-based violence so it’s essential to run women only classes and we plan to expand our service.

Our teachers are highly skilled, experienced and trained to work with cultural sensitivities and the complex needs of refugees and asylum-seekers. These range from language barrier to trauma, mental and physical health issues, severe isolation and the massive uncertainty about the future. Many of the women we work with are incredibly isolated – they literally have no social network, their friends and family may have been killed in their homelands. You do not choose to be a refugee or asylum-seeker.

“Yoga helps me concentrate for English. Sometimes, I’ve bad feelings about past. Yoga helps me forget bad things and relax.” – C.

We know that yoga and mediation is well known for surfacing emotions. Making sure our sessions are safe spaces where the women can breathe, start to restore their sense of self and then leave safely, because they do not generally have people to go home to, is part our duty of care. We couldn’t take our this duty more seriously.

May the Yoga Community walk the talk and take Juncker’s words to heart because compassion, humanity and dignity is what we practice for.

Thank you. Please tell everyone you know about our work if you’d like to support us.

Social? Use the hashtag #refugeeyoga to raise awareness about this movement and follow us to keep in touch

Donate now

Join The Mala Initiative if you are a yoga teacher or centre, yoga student or alternative health practitioner

Watch the women talking about their experiences here

Read Refugees: the myths and fears by Lindsey Hilsum, Editor of Channel 4 International News and Ourmala’s patron.

#RefugeeYoga #RefugeesWelcome #RefugeeCrisis #MigrantCrisis #SexualViolence #Unbroken






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