YogaFit Helps Victims of Domestic Violence
During our recent Atlanta MindBodyFitness conference, YogaFit founder, Beth Shaw led an evening class to support the Ahimsa House. The Ahimsa House is a non-profit that finds temporary foster homes for animal victims of domestic violence while their people find safety. Humans are not the only victims of domestic violence, tragically their animals often get involved during the cycle of abuse.
Justin, a representive from the Ahimsa House, explains to us that they are a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that helps animal victims of domestic violence in the state of Georgia. The Ahimsa House provides services such as a 24-hour crisis line, pet transports, foster housing, veterinary care and pet deposits for survivors of domestic violence while they're going through recovery and finding stable housing. YogaFit founder Beth Shaw explains "so often during domestic violence situations the pets are either involved, held hostage, held for ransom, withheld, beaten, abused or neglected. It's so great that there is an organization that really focuses on pets." Statistics show that most people consider their pets to be part of the family, which is great for the people however, the pet may be used to stop the survivor from leaving the household. 50% of surivors will stop themselves from leaving an abusive situation becuase they fear the safety of their animal. Less than 1 in 8 shelters actually have space for animals on site. Ahimsa House provides the middle-ground gap of housing and vet care for those pets, while the survivor is able to obtain safety.
In YogaFit we begin to teach the Yamas and Niyamas (Yoga's ethical practice) in our Level 2 training. We learn that Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for nonviolence. Deborah Adele teaches us in her book The Yamas and Niyamas, that Ahimsa is "literally to do no harm, [and] calls forth from us our most brillliant and best self. Our capacity to be nonviolent depends on our proactive pracitce of courage, balance, love of self, and compassion for others." We also begin to teach Transformational Language and how powerful our words can be.
For myself, the word Ahimsa, holds great power. A few years ago, I found myself living in the cycle of domestic abuse. One pivotal moment of realization for me was when I began to learn about Ahimsa. I had always been taught to be kind to others, but I realized I was no longer being kind to myself. I wrote the word Ahimsa on a piece of paper and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I reminded myself everyday to live without internal violence, because that was the part that I could control. About a month later and immediately after taking Level 3, I realized I was strong enough and needed to leave the abusive relationship. The hardest part about leaving being unable to bring my dog with me. I would have left months before if I knew there was a safe place for him. I want to send my personal gratitude to the Ahimsa House for the work they're doing. It is non-profits like this that make it possible for survivors to find peace. My hope is that someday there is an organization like this everywhere and that no domestic violence victim has to even consider continuning to live in abuse because of the safety of their animal. - Carli
Want to get involved? Ahimsa House is always looking for volunteers, foster homes and donations. Please visit AhimsaHouse.org for more information. Not in Georgia? Look for similar organizations in your area, if there isn't one - we urge to you be the change!