RIO DE JANEIRO – A new program is introducing people in some “favelas,” or shantytowns, in Rio de Janeiro to yoga, teaching residents of some of Brazil’s poorest areas how to deal with the stress caused by the nearly constant violence around them.
Residents of the Alemao, Mare, Cidade de Deus and Cantagalo shantytowns, where shootouts occur on an almost daily basis, are learning breathing, stretching and other yoga techniques, thanks to the RAS program launched by the Arte de vivir (Art of Living) group in the poor areas.
Violence “causes individuals to reach their stress limit,” the program’s coordinator, Lanusia Cavalcante, told EFE.
“That’s how you deal with emotional problems, with yoga and the breathing you help reduce the problems from stress, relax and achieve internal peace. That’s the goal, to have internal peace,” Cavalcante said.
Participants in the yoga classes range in age from teenagers to adults.
Joedson, a 13-year-old boy, told EFE he did not like life in the Alemao shantytown complex because “everything is very intense” from “the music to strolling down the street, it’s not peaceful.”
The boy convinced one of his friends, Matheus, to take the yoga class and “disconnect.”
Police recently built an armored watchtower in Alemao, a project that triggered six days of shootouts and left five people dead.
Rio de Janeiro, according to Amnesty International figures, registered 1,771 shootouts in the first quarter of 2017.