Forget yoga chic. Reema Datta is on a mission to introduce yoga to abused women, orphaned children and struggling villages through her non-profit, The Usha Yoga Foundation. Her group also promotes yoga for HIV patients and people with depression.
Since yoga has arrived in the west, science has found ample proof of yoga’s physical and psychological benefits.
The National Cancer Institute recently funded a study that determined the improved quality of life in patients practicing yoga while undergoing chemotherapy. An article in Psychology Today also touted the role of hatha yoga in manic depression.
One of Datta’s projects involves a teacher, Marie Claire
A background of women’s studies and work with the United Nations led Datta to work with battered women shelters. She found that teaching yoga to emotionally and physically scarred women was empowering.
The effects of yoga on emotional health are further
supported in a significant study from The National Institute for Mental Health
Datta has landed a record deal, co-authored a book, and
teaches yoga workshops and teachers training worldwide. Through Usha, she has
helped bring yoga to Africa,
Although born and raised in the
Datta said the distinction between culture and philosophy is
important for the Indian immigrant in the west to understand. She seeks to
spread yoga to South Asians in the
“Our voice is important,” she said. “We have to be careful that we don’t deny our own truth.”
She hopes to generate discussion and practice within the
South Asian immigrant society.
“Our philosophy encourages us to be true to our own nature, not to conform.”