Yoga for Women in Ratanpur and Hadiyabad 

Tuesday, February 26,  2019
Ratanpur and Hadiyabad, Bihar

Divanshi Devi, a 45-year-old mother of four in Ratanpur, Bihar, began a regular yoga practice with Amrita SeRVe village coordinator and health worker Urmila Devi in January 2019. Interest in yoga developed after Urmila’s promotion during house visits, where she would talk about the health benefits of yoga along with the positive effect upon one’s lifestyle.

“Before this, they didn’t know anything about yoga, but as I began to talk about it while checking up on home health conditions, interest started to grow,” Urmila recalls. She went door-to-door raising awareness about the positive effect regular yoga practice could have on health. The women became highly interested and motivated.

At first, only two or three women came to the yoga sessions, but soon other women expressed an interest in joining.

When Amrita SeRVe started its work in Ratanpur, no one had ever practiced yoga before. Urmala explains that although “the women knew of yoga, they didn’t have knowledge of asanas.”

Urmila was instructed in yoga at the Amritapuri ashram during her health worker training in February 2016. Since then she has taught yoga asanas to children at the Amrita CREATE tuition center along with village coordinator, Nand Kishor. The children started a regular yoga practice, which they would talk about to their parents, thereby sowing a seed of love for yoga.

“Basically, women love yoga,” Urmila proclaims.

Urmila begins her session with the chanting of the sacred syllable OM three times. She says that “anyone can join the class, even if she is late, for latecomers still fit in.” The class continues with Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) combined with breath awareness, followed by simple standing, sitting and prone asanas in an easy-to- follow sequence. The asana practice ends with a nine-minute meditation.

Thirty-five-year-old Manju Devi, of Hadiyabad, shares her favorite asanas: Prarambha Hanuman (lunge) and Balasana. She is offering the rooftop of her house for practice sessions. Her four children also practice regularly after they return from tutoring sessions at tuition center.

“Even though the women needed much support and correction in Surya Namaskar, they’ve really taken to it,” Urmila observes about her class. “In the beginning, Surya Namaskar was a little tiring, but after they learned it, they began feeling really good after the practice.”

“After a one-hour yoga session with meditation, I feel good and the body is functioning well. I feel fresh,” Sunita Devi, 40 and the mother of two, concludes.

Urmila can’t help smiling when she talks about her work in the village. “I love having yoga sessions with the women, she says. The time for the next yoga class is agreed among the women and it is very much anticipated.

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