Yoga used to bring peace to Caracas’ barrios

World Today

Young boy in meditationResidents from throughout the city come to this program to seek peace and silence – if only for a moment.

The Venezuelan capital Caracas has this year overtaken Honduras as the most violent city in the world, according to crime researchers. It has nearly 120 murders per 100,000 people. The majority of the violent crime takes place in the ‘barrios,’ or slums, that have grown up around the capital during the last 40 years. CCTV America’s Stephen Gibbs reports on one organization that is attempting to bring peace to the barrios – through yoga.

Yoga practitioners often say one of the advantages of the discipline is you can do it anywhere.

High up in one of the troubled communities of Caracas everything stops for a while. Everyone takes a deep breath.

“It calms me down and relaxes me a lot,” said one young boy.

The project is called ‘yoga in the barrios.’ Yoga classes take place here three times a week. They have proved remarkably popular. An opportunity for the people here to disconnect from their normal lives for a few minutes.

Part of the purpose is to build bridges between all residents of the city.

Daniela Alminana, a practitioner from outside the barrios, says the difficulty in getting to the program was worth it

“The people, that don’t live here usually will not come here because they think it is dangerous,” she said. “But in my personal opinion when I first came here I was surprised, because I didn’t find it as dangerous as I thought it would be.”

Two young women guide a yoga program in the barrios.

Two young women guide a yoga program in the barrios.

They day we filmed there was a peace jog through the communities, another effort to break down barriers. But later, there was also a reminder of the challenge all face. After night fell, a grenade was thrown at a police station in the community – leaving several injured.

Changing attitudes and bringing peace to these areas will be a long hard struggle. But at least some are trying.