Yoga shakti



By Nienke Moolenaar

December 2011

The Nepali Yoga Women Trust is harnessing the power of hatha yoga to empower marginalised women in the Himalayan nation, says Nienke Moolenaar


Devika Gurang: Empowering women through yoga

Hidden amid the Himalayas, in the centre of Nepal, lies the village of Pokhara. The name Pokhara is derived from the word Pokhari, which means lakes. Of all the beautiful lakes of Pokhara, Fewa is the largest and most popular. Big and small settlements surround the lake, and some more are scattered on the mountains nearby. Pilgrims are attracted to Pokhara for its sacred Hindu and Buddhist sites. Trekkers are drawn to it for its mountains. Add to this the serenity and the overall energy of this birthland of the Buddha and you have the perfect place imaginable for the practice of yoga. Devika Gurung (34) sensed the potential and started her yoga studio there in 2000. This was shortly after she discovered the bliss of yoga in her own life.

Devika was born in a remote village in the Annapurna mountain region and was one of six children. Circumstances forced her to leave school at the age of 15 to support her family. She spent three years doing manual labour, which included time at a construction site and a carpet manufacturing unit, till she met two Australian yoga teachers who introduced her

     
  The seven women who are currently at the centre spend their days learning English, yoga, holistic therapies, self-healing techniques and handicraft-making.  
     

to the ancient Indian discipline. For three months, she watched as they practiced hatha yoga for several hours a day at a Buddhist monastery in Pokhara. After learning the basics of yoga from them, Devika continued her yoga studies in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. A few years later, with financial help from her Dutch godparents, whom she met at the same Buddhist monastery, she established her own yoga centre in Pokhara.

Oppressive patriarchy

Nepal has a colourful culture thanks to its delicious cuisine and
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