"Yoga teaches us to cure what needs to be endured and endure what cannot be cured." - B.K.S. Iyengar
I found yoga at the age of 21 and it has been the bedrock that has centered me through every personal storm I've encountered. I believe in the power of yoga to uplift, empower and heal.
In 2008 I was doing an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College, CUNY and was residing in International House ,New York. Kathryn W. Davis and her husband Shelby Cullom Davis were residents of International House at Columbia University during their graduate school years and were longstanding supporters of I. House. Kathryn increased her support of the Projects for Peace program with a special grant to International House to allow students at various I.Houses to apply to the Projects for Peace initiative.
I applied with a proposal that envisioned grassroots instruction of yoga and meditation using media and other forms of communication. The project would be implemented in a country that had recently undergone conflict and where its youth were still living in the after shock. My proposal titled 'Stretching Towards Peace' was awarded the Davis Peace Project. In the summer of 2008 I traveled to Sombor a small town on the border of Serbia, Croatia and Hungary. I partnered with the Yoga Center Sombor to make my proposal a reality. The aim of ‘Stretching Towards Peace’ was to give an experiential and interdisciplinary method of engaging with youth and providing them with tools for self-empowerment. The teaching and meditation correlated with concepts of self-awareness, compassion, body consciousness, self-esteem and management of emotions like fear and hostility.
What I experienced and learned in my time in Serbia cannot be put into the words. The support I received from the people of Sombor in particular Slavica and Fabijan Periskic was endearing. The bond that formed between my students and I was one of friendship and lifelong ties. Three years later in 2011 Slavica traveled to New Delhi, India to attend my wedding. The effects of those 10 days of yoga, meditation and movement still create ripples of peace till today.
Here are a few snapshots of the two week workshop. There were children of two age groups. The workshop ended with a public lecture and demonstration which was attended by friends, family and the towns folk of Sombor. The Indian ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro was the special guest and delivered the opening speech.