YOGA BEATS CONFLICT IN THE COMMUNITY - A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE
Not content with teaching his Yogabeats classes all over the world and training up the next generation of instructors, Yoga Elder, David Sye is on a mission to have Yoga recognised – and used – as a tool for social change.
In his new 4 Step weekend Foundation course David will focus on how to get involved with charities and causes dear to your hearts, using Yoga as a tool for change
Sye, one of the UK’s most esteemed teachers, has successfully piloted Yogabeats programmes aimed at resolving conflict within communities ranging from the Middle East to the UK. This not-for-profit work is supported by his Holiness the Dhalai Lama.
Sye explains: ‘Yoga comes from the sanskrit language, meaning to join or unite. Today Yoga is often, mistakenly, perceived as a celebrity fad or a chic workout for the white middle classes. For over 5,000 years Yoga has been a means to achieve ‘self realisation’ and the only difference today is the form and multitude of barriers [to achieving true happiness] that our society faces.
‘Whether this means drugs, crime or war, Yoga is 100% effective in empowering and transforming lives and circumstances into joy and happiness. Collectively this is the only way that we can achieve change that lasts within our communities.’
Israelis and Palestinians – since 2004 Sye has been working with women’s and youth groups using Yogabeats as a means to break down barriers and change perceptions regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This has increased every year during his visits to Israel. In October 2006 he took part in the first ever meeting of a group from both sides in the Conflict zone with special passes being granted to people coming over from the West Bank to take part in this historic meeting in the American Colony hotel in Jerusalem. The joy on the faces of both sides was very special to see. The energy was amazing.
2012 some 6 years later, the meetings go on, this year on May 22nd a meeting was held at the Peres Peace Centre with a large group from both sides. Now again in October 2012 they repeated the process in ‘no man’s land’ between Israel and the West Bank.
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Here I am with a wonderful Israeli Student who came to the Yogabeats all dayer in Manchester.The emotion is obvious to understand and see because while the Neanderthals keep to their centuries old history of killing and devastation , groups like ours all around our planet keep coming together to support the human evolution of Peace Shalom Salem Shanti.
The point is while the same bully boys I encountered in the Bosnian conflict keep up their devastation now in the Middle East Yogis and groups of consciousness must never cease to be outspoken and brave in standing up for all that truly matters for human condition!!
Our hearts and souls and love go out to our brothers and sisters on both sides of this longest of all conflicts and we will do all we can to actively support an end to these atrocities and the building of bridges of peace ! David Sye
When I read this I was even more convinced that in order for Yoga to be the radically metaphorical transformational healing tool that it is it has to be as relevant to everything we might be experiencing in our world at this time whilst simultaneously displaying the paradigm that peace can exist in the middle of a war, and that transformation is the way!
What is going on now in Gaza is what yoga must not go away from. If the idea of Yoga is to hold any credibility at all it must be able to cope with the worst and the best of the Human drama!
When I was isolated and blockaded in Serbia, when the entire world community put a unilateral embargo on Serbia, I and others smuggled vital supplies in and out of that country,
and since 2004 I have been going into the West Bank working through situations that I was always advised to avoid and turn my back on. I never stopped because this is my mission, and similarly I see Yoga in the same way, but if it is not dynamic and radically reflects our world I personally could not go on with Yoga.
Forgive my passion but this is something I am very clear about, that our world now does not need any more niche yoga, it is crying out for yoga to grow up and become the radically reflective and transformational tool it always had the potential to become!
And if this all seems a tad too emotional consider this then. If Yoga has the potential to change and transform people’s lives, (and there are endless examples and testimonies of this) what do we as Yogis do – stand by with this momentous gift for humanity (like Ostriches with their heads in the sand) and leave our world to the likes of Netanyahu ?!?!?!?
Maybe it’s time that the Yoga community sees themselves in a new light!? David Sye
Working with victims of Domestic Violence
A special day was arranged in May in Liverpool which was a great success.
David is now an Ambassador for the Choclo Project. This is production of Yoga clothing designed by dedicated designers and the money goes to the street children of Peru. See their website http://www.chocloproject.com/areas/choclo_ambassadors/70-david-sye-activist-and-yogi/en Wherever possible they will be attending our fund raising events setting up a stall to sell the clothing.
History of Yogabeats Community Initiatives
Bosnia - working with British troops in 1994 Sye found that music could be used to focus the soldiers minds on the session and block out the incessant background noise of war enabling them to feels the benefit of Yoga in alleviating the symptoms of stress.
Brixton, London – In 2004 Yogabeats supported the 409 Project, fighting knife crime on the streets of South London.
Southend-on-Sea , UK – David has been involved with Youth at Risk for over 2 years, using Yogabeats to re-engage youngsters in education and combat severe behavioural problems, namely the ‘Motivate the Estate project’. ‘Many who struggle to engage in activity for more than a few minutes spent a significant amount of time completely absorbed in the session…this can lead to quite radical changes in behaviour.’ says Youth at Risk of the project.
Sye’s father, the legendary performer Frankie Vaughn, undertook a mission to tackle street crime issues over 40 years ago; building a community centre in Easterhouse [which he single handedly financed through his music concerts in Glasgow] so that the youth of that time could live to realise their full potentiality.
Yogabeats has supported the local charity appeal for funding [£2 million] to recreate a community hub for an estate which is often held up as an example of broken urban society.
Changing perceptions through Yoga
And this is where Yogabeats comes in….Sye has already been bringing youths from rival gangs together through a shared passion for – perhaps surprisingly – Yoga. That’s not to say classes are only for the young and fit. With the establishment of the new centre Yogabeats will be open to the entire community.
His workshops which consist of breathing, meditation, dynamic ‘asana’ postures and tons of hilarity (a hall-mark of all Yogabeats classes) incorporate modern music like hip hop and dance beats to loosen inhibitions and focus the practioners’ minds on the joy that arises in the class, rather than niggling thoughts and feelings.
David makes Yoga relevant in order to pass on its deeper message and many benefits. He has inspired these young people to stay away from trouble.
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