Another Door, Another Shore

Hari Om,

This is the story of the Yoga Association Kurdistan. If you want to learn about any science or art of life, you need more energy in the beginning to apply it. To start the institution in Kurdistan was not easy. Nobody knew about yoga, but God helped every time and we succeeded.

In 1999, Kurdistan was part of Iraq. Two of my friends, one a student of veterinary and the other of computer science, and I, a student of nursing, started the three-year process of creating a yoga association. In the environment of fanatic religion, many difficulties had to be overcome. People thought yoga was a religion like Hinduism, or a philosophy like Buddhism. The authorities were not willing to give permission. We persevered and wrote articles for the local newspaper and magazine, we gave interviews and talks on television and on radio, and at the university we conducted seminars and a one-month course with daily classes for doctorates and the administration. The topic was always to present yoga as a science. We wanted to bring clarity in regard to yoga. It took three years, but now the government makes no problems and we are free to carry out our activities.

Current activities

Today the association has many activities:

  • Satsang anywhere in Kurdistan
  • Writing articles
  • Writing a book on the benefits of yoga for beginners
  • Translation of yoga books from English, Persian and Arabic into Kurdish
  • Three-monthly magazine on yoga
  • Twice a week TV show, once for the local television, and once some time on satellite
  • Radio show for Q&A
  • In winter, distribution of clothes
  • Yearly planting of three to four hundred trees
  • Yearly clean-up of one neighbourhood of the city
  • Creation of website: kurdistanyoga.com or kurdistanyoga.net

During those fifteen years, eighty courses were conducted. Each course was of three months duration with three weekly classes of three hours each. Between twenty to fifty people participated in each course. In the beginning, the classes were separate for ladies and men, but now the Association can hold mixed classes.

We planted three thousand trees in the city of Suleymani, a city of one million inhabitants.

Introducing yoga nidra

Yoga nidra was introduced with the help of CDs at the Centre of Psychotherapy, a centre for victims of war trauma. At the local psychiatric hospital, yoga nidra CDs were given to one hundred patients. These were the observations made by the doctors and hospital staff: aggressive, schizophrenic and hyperactive patients became calm; patients addicted to heroin or medication could drastically reduce their intake; patients suffering from anxiety could reduce their stress level.

Yoga nidra is now fully integrated in both places, after only two weeks of trial period. The hospital administration is happy as the cost for medication has been reduced. Instead of one hundred dollars per patient, a CD worth one dollar can be used to help.

Yoga for orphans

We conduct yoga classes for thirty war orphans who live in a government orphanage. They come every year for one month to learn yoga; their age is from six to nine.

Future activities

  • More translations of BSY books, especially APMB and Yoga Nidra
  • Introduce yoga in private schools which charge high fees
  • Introduce yoga in other health centres
  • Introduce yoga in prisons.

—Jignasu Jnanananda, Kurdistan, Diploma Course student 2014–15