The holistic practices of yoga aimed at rejuvenating and resting the mind, body and spirit are also being used for conflict resolution, not merely at an individual and interpersonal level where one deals with conflicts in one’s mind and relationships, but also at a larger more global international scale.The results of yoga practice are greater awareness, clarity, calm and acceptance of others. These ‘symptoms’ of yoga practice has now made yoga a ‘methodology’ to enhance leadership, nonviolent conflict resolution skills, ensure social justice and promote positive self-expression. As scholar Kristen Smith notes , “the practical applicability of using the methodologies of yoga in the field of conflict resolution extends itself to potential educational and training models, outreach to various communities and integration of the two fields on global and interpersonal level”.
International conflict resolution organizations are using specific methodologies of yoga practices for each process of the conflict resolution process (pre-conflict, conflict, and post-conflict). Rama Jyoti Vernon, founder of California Yoga Teacher’s Association and co-founder foe Institution for Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies initiated various conflict resolution strategies via Yoga in her conference in Jerusalem for ‘Yoga for Peace in the Middle East’. Her institution of Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies also uses the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the basis of non-violence training for international teams of conflict resolution specialists.
Similarly, yoga practice also enables the transformation of terrorist and guerrilla forces and makes them skillful individuals who are contributive to society. For instance, the Art of Living Foundation, a non-profit organization that specializes in teaching yoga, breathing and meditation techniques has provided spiritual, behavioral and vocational rehabilitation training to ex-militants which include Taliban terrorists, Naxalite Militants and Tahir Jail Victims in India. Teaching yoga to the ex-militants ensured that the individuals will not only be imparted with practical skills but will also be given tools for personality development and emotional management. “The training program is aimed to eliminate stress, bring inner peace and sensitivity and make the former militants socially responsible citizens”, Indian security sources said.The integration of teaching yoga and meditation techniques along with vocational skills ensures that surrendered militants do not resort to their previous behavioral patterns as it gives them a greater inner motivation to start a new life and be self-dependent in a holistic manner.
Crimes and conflicts occur due to of a sense of intolerance, helplessness and unanswered questions. When we , as global citizens society recognize that these sentiments emerge from a dis-ease of the mind, only then can we successfully eliminate them in a skillful and effective manner.
Spiritual understanding through yoga methodology of oneself helps bring this out. Inner-peace and harmony results in outer-peace and cooperation. By using yoga as a tool for increasing one’s inner strength, tolerance and flexibility, we can practically deal with conflicting demands with greater ease and peaceful negotiations, thus creating a more cooperative world for ourselves in the future. Yoga methodology in conflict resolution reminds us rather tangibly and practically that the answer is in acceptance, compassion and co-operation and not in neglect, anger and isolation.
Mumaw-Smith, Kristen Jeanette, “Yoga And Conflict Resolution: Creating A Phenomenolgical Integration Of Yoga Teacher’s Experience Resolving Conflicts With Yoga” (2007). Capstone Collection. Paper 28.
Yoga Journal. June 1995. “Wisdom of the Masters : Rama Jyoti Vernon”
-Contributed by Isha Sharma