Brazil’s stressed out shantytown dwellers to do yoga

Brasilia: A new programme is introducing people in some 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 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 programme launched by the Art of Living group in the poor areas.

Violence “causes individuals to reach their stress limit”, the programme’s coordinator, Lanusia Cavalcante, told Efe news.

“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.

Rio de Janeiro, according to Amnesty International figures, registered 1,771 shootouts in the first quarter of 2017.