Hello world!

I am sitting in my dorm room here in the village of Schlaining, in southeastern Austria near the Hungarian border. Thanks to the other students who somehow managed to learn that I am a yoga teacher, I was able to set up teaching yoga while I am here.

I have wanted to teach Yoga for Peace for a long time, but never was motivated to do it. The motivation came from the hungry students who yearned for a way to decompress in a town that has 2 pubs and a cafe-cum-post office that closes for siesta.

What a great opportunity! To teach students of peace the world’s oldest method of peace-keeping is truly an honor.

Yesterday was my first class, and eight people showed up at 10 am on Saturday morning without knowing what to expect. I too, had no clue what would happen. Four women and four men, all of different ages, sizes, shapes, ethnic backgrounds, and a somewhat varied experience-level in relation to yoga, looked at me with anticipation.

Yesterday set the tone for the 10-week course I have now designed to be used by anyone interested in peace keeping. Since most students were fairly new to yoga, I thought that starting “at the very beginning” was “a very good place to start”, to quote a famous “Austrian” character– Maria, from the movie, Sound of Music. So, I began with teaching some proper techniques–bend at the hips, don’t overextend, always breath, twisting from the core, keeping vertebrae in alignment,simultaneously going in two directions (grounding to the core of the earth and reaching to the heights of the sky)– would give everyone something to think about.

Knowing the ABC’s of yoga is also important, so we discussed theory through the first limb of yoga– the yama, ahimsa. Ahimsa means non-violence, so this was a perfect tie-in to peace studies.

Since we studied the ABC’s, I thought the intention for the class should be to be free and open to experience new things, like a child. We did a lot of nature-based poses, and had fun with some– walking the dog, lion, bzzzing like a locust, cactus arms. I didn’t get to happy baby (ananda balasana) but it sure would have made a great ending!

Ninety minutes flew by fast. The students enjoyed the class, and many were happy to note that their previous health concerns (low back, knee, shoulder, stomach, wrists) were slightly alleviated. Later in the day and into the night, people even told me that they felt different– calmer, rested, lighter. The effects of yoga are taking place!

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Donna Bartos
    Oct 17, 2009 @ 21:21:34

    WOW Sowmya. This is incredible!!!!! I am so happy for you and I am living vicariously through your yoga and peace program. Much love and happiness from AZ to you!


  2. Khayriyyah
    Oct 18, 2009 @ 14:49:56

    Hi Sowmya! Its planting season here in AZ, your seeds of thought are an inspiring addition to our future crop! Shadi and I are also at the beginnings of a ‘peace project’ in the form of our newly launched “Unity Band After School Music Program”. We’ve been blessed with an opportunity to teach grades K-8 at a new school in the area. So glad to hear from you! We’ll look forward to your blogs. Blessings, Khayriyyah


  3. Dr.Sukhdev G. Punjabi
    Oct 18, 2009 @ 15:15:00

    Hi Sowmya,
    Congratulations for a new beginning and the choice of Yoga in Peace. Well this is one thing all need in this world….PEACE. You have started this, now move ahead and be part of the Global Consciousness for Inner Growth.


  4. Cliff
    Oct 18, 2009 @ 20:40:05

    Very impressive blog keep up the good work!


  5. P. Balasubramanian
    Oct 25, 2009 @ 13:03:22

    Dear Souwmya,We are happy to be motified of your website. Please keep up the interesting work you are now engaged in doing.

    God bless your students and you.

    With best wishes

    Vasantha Mami and Bala Mama


  6. Eden Taye
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 21:51:35

    Dear Sowmya,

    Thank you very much for sharing your great talent with us during your stay in Schlaining. It has been an inspiring experience. I have greatly benefited from the Yoga for peace exercise, physically and emotionally. I wish you all the very best & Success!

    Eden (Ethiopia)


  7. Feven Netsanet
    Dec 08, 2009 @ 15:07:12

    Hey Sowmya,

    Thank you so much for the yoga classes! I truly enjoyed each one of them! The different themes you chose for each session met my specific needs at the time and gave me strength and calmness.
    I particularly enjoyed your clear instructions, your mellow voice and the smile on your face during the sessions; I think their combination infused melody and warmth to the ambiance.

    Keep up the good work and good luck!

    Egziabhere yistelegn!



  8. Natachika
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 15:03:08

    Dear Sowmya,
    Thank you for inviting me on your blog 🙂 I enjoyed your virtual lessons posted here, though it spurred a bit my regret of not being in Schlaining this last semester 🙂


  9. Moses Tumusiime
    Apr 21, 2010 @ 02:40:06

    Dear Sowmya,

    This is so great indeed. I have enjoyed all info and it is so enriching. For Peace to be realised in the world, such information need to flow to all human beings. Education is vital and I can confess that you are so marvelous in promoting awareness via this blog to all those who can visit it.

    I find it so relevant and supplementing our classes in Peace and conflict studies as well as my career in Volunteerism arenas where I have served since 2003. The values of free will, commitment, solidarity and Unity in diversity all flow well here.

    I have no doubt that many others will enjoy your blog too. The struggles continues and keep it up. A peaceful mind, body and world is all we need to see.

    In Peace and Agape love,

    Moses; From Uganda
    University for Peace
    Costa Rica-Centro America


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