Yoga practitioners will gather in Forsyth Park Sept. 9 to pray for peace.
“I’m really excited about it,” says Ann Carroll, a local yoga teacher and director of the Yoga for Peace event in Savannah. “There are going to be Yoga for Peace events in several cities across the country, as well as Indonesia and Germany.”
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the event will be from 9-11 a.m. “I wanted to have ours early in the morning because it’s still so hot here,” Carroll says.
Participants will practice a yoga mala with 108 sun salutations to bring peace, unity and love into the world through yoga. “It is being held to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11,” Carroll says.
“They’ve been doing it every year since 2001 in New York as a kind of memorial,” she says. “In yoga, you find inner peace, then you send it out to the community and the world.”
One hundred and eight beads will be found on a mala, a prayer necklace yogis use when they are saying their mantra. “We will do 108 sun salutations,” Carroll says. “That means we’ll send out a prayer for world peace.”
Participants can register online at www.yoga-for-peace.org or at the event. “If you register online, they’ll ask for a donation,” Carroll says. “We don’t ask for donations, but we do ask them to sign a waiver in case they get hurt.”
Practitioners should bring their own mats, some water and wear loose, comfortable clothing.
“We’re going to hold it in a beautiful space next to the fragrant garden,. We’ll get in a circle and create a mandala. Eleven different people will be leading the sun salutations,” she says.
“In all kinds of yoga, the sun salutations are one of the core things everyone does. We will be doing very simple ones, the easiest style you can do because we are going to be doing so many of them.’
A chime will be rung between every 10 sun salutations to help everyone keep count. “While we are practicing our sun salutations, a group will be playing music in the background,” Carroll says.
That group is the Winged Medrese Chanters, who will perform a kirtan, or “the chanting of divine sounds.”
“Many of the chants are call and response, so people can chant along whether they have ever chanted before or not,” says Susan Lamb, one of four members of Winged Medrese. “Other chants are so easy, they’re learned instantaneously.”
Winged Medrese was founded two years ago. The instruments that will be played are the harmonium, tambura, flute, drums and other rhythm instruments.
After the sun salutations, participants will do a deep relaxation. “We will tighten and release our muscles,” Carroll says.
Since this event has never been held in Savannah, Carroll doesn’t know what to expect. “If we have 50 people, I’ll be overjoyed,” she says.
“All the yoga teachers are very excited,” Carroll says. “They’re telling their students about it.”
Carroll has distributed flyers about Yoga for Peace up and down the East Coast between Charleston and St. Augustine. “I definitely hope it will become an annual event,” she says.
People who don’t know yoga are welcome to attend as spectators, or they can participate. “They can chant ‘om shanthi,’ which means peace,” Carroll says.
The original Yoga for Peace was organized by Jacqueline Stolte in New York City. “I felt at the time that there were no outlets for people to express or even know how to express what they felt about the 9/11 tragedies,” she says.
Stolte wanted to create a space where people could come together. “When you do a yoga mala with its 108 sun salutations, it creates a kind of energy,” she says. “You actually generate peace and peacefulness in the body. “It’s celebrating life in a dark time.”
“Mala” means “prayer “ in the Sanskrit language. “It’s a moving prayer,” Stolte says.
Each year, Yoga for Peace has grown and this year is going international. “My vision was to have it become a world-wide event, although I didn’t know how it would happen,” Stolte says.
“I would like to see it held in as many places as possible,” she says. “Yoga welcomes all people of all levels and practices.
“I get such joy when people tell me this inspired them,” Stolte says. “People are directing all their energy around ideas. Peace is not something you create instantly.
“I think participants will gain a sense of community, a belief that there are others like them,” she says. “All of us seek peacefulness in our lives. We all want peace for ourselves and this is where it starts.” ç
For information about Yoga for Peace, call Ann Carroll at 596-0584 or 786-4882, or e-mail email@example.com.