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Turkish Protesters Use Yoga To Show Solidarity

by Matt CaronJune 10, 2013

Peaceful Protestors

I have no idea who is right or wrong in the political unrest going on in Turkey right now, but I thought this was just awesome.

Who would’ve thought that Yoga could be used as a way to show peaceful solidarity with protests?

Chris Chavez did. He’s the Yoga teacher guiding everyone in the film above. 

Apparently there is a large group of citizens (mostly middle class) concerned with the religiously conservative government becoming more authoritative. The constitution is completely secular, and the protests are obviously in opposition to what they feel is creeping religiosity.

But when the ruling party decided to remove Gezi Park (one of the last green spaces in Instanbul) to put in replica military barracks and shopping mall, it was a spark that started everything. 

The predominant religion in Turkey is Islam and the Prime Minister (Erdogan) shares that faith. Erdogan claims that  protesters are drinking beer in mosques and insulting women wearing headscarves, a symbol of Islamic adherence.

He also says he is running out of patience. 

The protests have gone on for 6 days, and attempts have been made to shut it down. Even tear gas has been thrown into the crowd.

One of the canisters hit a woman in the face, critically injuring her. 

Regardless of what’s going on, I think it’s great there is Yoga going down. I hope BOTH sides start doing it. (Not holding my breath, but hey you never know)

In any case, Chris is doing an awesome job. 

Here is an excerpt from him in an interview on Elephant Journal

BW: How does yoga play into the protest and can you see an effect?

CC: The Prime Minister has referred to the protestors as “chapulcu” which literally translates as “worthless rag.” Side note: That word has become a slogan and it refers to one who is connected to their Truth and who is willing to express it!

After teaching classes yesterday and today, I had many journalists asking me this same question. It is important to show that this is a peaceful movement that is made up of all sections of society. The people in the park are not terrorists, there is no political party slogans being chanted, there is only one sentiment, “We the People.”

When we practice, I know it brings a smile to the faces of those who are watching—and I know that pictures of us practicing have gone viral, and that those photos are being published on the front pages of newspapers all over the country. I hope that has an effect.

What I can say for certain is that yoga is the practice of gathering energy for the purpose of transformation. From my perspective, people here are doing just that! Yoga!

BW: Can we change the world with yoga, breath, stillness, love?

CC: I don’t know if we can change the world—but I do know that we have the power to change ourselves. And by changing ourselves, we may inspire change in others.

Matt Caron
Matt Caron
Matt is an enthusiastic Yoga teacher and life voyager. He enjoys reading, writing, practicing and meditating. He is the founder and editor of theyogablog.com. Matt strives to inspire conscious living and conscious dialogue; not only for others, but for himself.
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