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US disaster victims take up yoga to combat stress

US disaster victims take up yoga to combat stress

Author: Ashley D'Mello
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 3, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/mumbai/US-disaster-victims-take-up-yoga-to-combat-stress/articleshow/5081985.cms

The US has turned to yoga and meditation to help natural disaster victims get over the trauma and rebuild their shattered confidence. And this exercise seems to have yielded a positive result as well.

Brian Michael Jenkins, director of the National Transportation Security Centre at the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Diego, California, said they started taking yoga classes for victims of a devastating forest fire that ravaged large areas of San Diego in 2007-'08. After being evacuated from their homes, the residents were put up in camps where they went through a tough time, trying to come to terms to the losses-it was then that yoga was introduced in the camps to help them overcome stress and tension.

"We had thousands of people suffering from stress and tension. The blaze had wreaked havoc and there was panic everywhere. We set up counselling centres where yoga came as a huge help in calming down the people,'' Jenkins said.

He said other countries, including India, where yoga originated, could use meditation to mentally rehabilitate victims of natural disasters.

Jenkins is in the city as part of a US team of transport planners, who conducted workshops on security in transport system, which was organised by the MMRDA. Jenkins said during the fires in San Diego, they had to evacuate over a million people and send them to camps. The people, all huddled together, were worried sick about their homes being consumed by the blaze.

"We managed to evacuate and accommodate over a million people from homes, hospitals, medical clinics and old-age homes and shepherd them into large baseball stadiums in 24 hours. We had a range of services with doctors and nurses, manning medical systems. We also had centres for yoga and meditation at these camps run by volunteers. The yoga instructors came from different states to help the victims,'' he said.

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