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Colombians Practice Yoga to Heal Cultural Wounds

For five years, an organization called Dunna: Creative Alternatives for Peace has encouraged the practice of yoga for both victims and ex-militants of the ongoing Colombian conflict.

The ongoing Colombian conflict is thankfully not the bloodbath it once was. Still, over 220,000 people have lost their lives since the mid-1960s due to extensive violence between the Colombian government, various paramilitary groups, and bands of guerrilla rebels such as the deplorable FARC, a.k.a. the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Much of the country’s population lives with the scars of the conflict either as terrorized victims, helpless bystanders, or reformed aggressors. Among the latter are former child soldiers who either escaped their roles or have been rehabilitated.

Writing for Quartz, journalist Lila MacLellan offers a fascinating glimpse into efforts to soothe the wounds of all those affected by the conflict. Among those offering help is an urban organization called Dunna: Alternativas Creativas Para la Paz (Dunna: Creative Alternatives for Peace). According to MacLellan, Dunna encourages the practice of yoga for both “the poor, mostly rural victims of Colombia’s brutal, half-century conflict, and the guerilla fighters who once terrorized them.” Some ex-militants are even training to become yoga teachers themselves, a far cry from their past lives as Death Squad members. 

Dunna organizers cite empirical evidence that yoga offers healing to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD:

“To prove that public funds have been well spent, Dunna’s researchers tracked yoga’s effectiveness in a controlled study of 45 demilitarized individuals who took one-hour classes twice weekly for four months. Results showed a 48.5% decrease in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), compared to a group not in the program. When the yoga course was expanded to five more cities in Colombia, students again reported an easing of symptoms, and reduced drug and alcohol use.”

For more on the healing power of yoga in Colombia, check out the full story linked below.

Read more at Quartz.

Photo credit: Warren Goldswain / Shutterstock


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