Yoga and meditation are the solution to high crime rates that are wreaking havoc globally. This is the view of Ritam Khan, a yoga teacher from the Art of Living Foundation of Bengalaru, India, and now in Trinidad with his wife, Swati, also a yoga and meditation instructor.
Ritam hails from Calcutta and is a volunteer teacher with the Art of Living Foundation, a humanitarian and educational organization founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The Art of Living offers stress free techniques and self-development programs. “We have 57 self-development programs to relieve people of stress, depression and many health hazards,” Ritam informed.
Ritam added that many don’t know how to come out of those problems and live a healthy life. Health, according to the Art of Living philosophy, is when “both mental and physical are well. Meditation is the best technique to take care of your mental hygiene. We brush our teeth for dental hygiene. Similarly, meditation gives us mental hygiene. It makes you happy, joyful and spontaneous in your action and all the positivity come along,” said Ritam.
SKY-Sudharshan Kriya Yoga- online workshops are given free of charge with an appointment. Through the SKY workshop a participant learns to regulate his breathing. “When a baby is born its first act is inhalation while exhalation is its last…. What happen in between is life or breath!” said Ritam.
Ritam contends that the average person doesn’t put much attention to his/her breath. “Without food we survive a few days, without water a fewer days but without breath hardly a few minutes. Breath has a direct link with our mind.
“The mind has its own tricks, jumping here and there, so many thoughts and impressions. The SKY and Pranayama increase the life energy in our bodies.”
A major success of the Art of Living Foundation is the work being done among prisoners. “More than 800,000 prisoners have benefitted our yoga and meditation techniques all over the world—Brazil, Argentina, US, Europe, India, Jamaica, Pakistan and UAE,” said Swati.
Prior to their arrival in Trinidad Ritam and Swati were in Jamaica. “Art of Living has been teaching yoga and meditation to the prison population of Jamaica for the last 7 years. More than 1200 prisoners have benefitted from these workshops. The results are very encouraging: a drastic decline in aggression among prisoners and personal experiences of fulfillment and peace among them,” said Swati.
The Art of Living has 370 million people practicing daily its breathing techniques. Its motto is a stress free and a violence-free world.
In addition to its teaching of yoga and meditation the Foundation teaches hatha yoga and runs 700 schools providing free tuition, uniforms, books and meals in the tribal areas of India and Africa. A total of 56,000 pupils are beneficiaries of this education trust of the Foundation. The entire cost including teachers’ salaries is paid by generous contributions of members and well-wishers.
“Art of Living has several Ayurvedic hospitals in India where a patient is diagnosed by checking his pulse; and illnesses are treated with ayurvedic drugs derived mainly from plants,” said Ritam.
With the outbreak of COVID 19, Ritam and Swati are using the medium of ZOOM to conduct SKY workshops with interested participants. So far more than 120 persons have participated in their workshops,” he said.
Asked about Trinidad, the couple were very happy to be in the country where they find “the people are friendly, hospitable and fun-loving.”