Introducing our newest patron…

Long-standing yoga and movement teacher/mentor and imminent author Leonidas Peppas is the latest new patron of Animalia Asana®:

Embracing all that has come before us can help us to appreciate who we are as a species, to deal with the human condition and to respect the profound teaching that process has to offer. This can help us to become ecological human beings that are more at one with nature and to find the wisdom this humility provides. Understanding who we are can develop from an awareness not only of what makes us unique, but also of the commonality we share with animals. Much of what we have to learn simply comes from honoring what already is. Appreciating the nature of life can support our creativity and thus our intelligence can shine and differentiate.“ ~ Leo Peppas

Leo has created some stunning imagery around some of the animal yoga postures. He is kindly sharing these with Animalia Asana. We look forward to his forthcoming book, which is keeping us all in suspense and is sure to offer as much inspiration and grounding for our explorations into the animal element within yoga. Leo offers mentoring programmes for other yoga teachers and shares specialist workshops on the asanas and the ir origins (developmental movement patterns). We all have to wait patiently for his visit to our own respective countries or save up to visit another country he is due to share his valuable insights with… exciting! Take a look at some samples of his work. Thanks so much for your support, Leo!

New Animalia Asana® teacher alert!

Congratulations to Karen as the newest Animalia Asana® teacher seeking to dedicate some of her teaching to raise the profile of animal protection in all corners of society and alleviate the suffering of all animals, humans of course included!  🙂

Karen is based in Suffolk and keen to even introduce the multifaceted animal element of yoga to chair yoga!

Welcome aboard!

Animating Samadhi by Dr Valpey, aka Krishna Kshetra Swami

 

Animating Samadhi full essay

Abstract
This paper seeks to move us beyond the commonly held images of Hindu (and Jain) traditions
associated with animal protection, namely, the principle of ahiṁsā (non-harming) and the
worship of the “holy cow.” Approaching the theme of animal protection through Yoga theory and
practice, which in turn draws from the ancient Sāṅkhya darshana (philosophical vision), my aim
is to show how important features of Sāṅkhya-Yoga could help to address the urgent crisis of
animal exploitation and environmental degradation.

The central argument of this paper is that Yoga traditions, in their acknowledgement of
consciousness as foundational to existence as a whole, provide processes and methods for
elevating individual human consciousness in ways that have direct bearing on collective animal
and human well-being. These processes and methods are informed by Sāṅkhya’s triadic modal
mapping of consciousness: Of the three modalities of behavior and experience, the luminosity
and balance of sattva-guṇa is favoured over the passion of raja-guṇa and the inebriety of tomaguṇa.
From this perspective, among animal species, cows are considered to be representative
of and characterized in their behavior by sattva-guṇa. Hence their protection by human beings is
understood as integral to both the cultivation of sattvika (illumined) consciousness in human
society and the expansion of what may be called the “circle of protection” that is the basis of
human civilization.

By seeing animals in general as sensate, conscious beings that are progressing on the
path of Yoga, the ultimate aim of classical Yoga practice – the attainment of samādhi (perfect
absorption) — takes on significance for animal-human relationality, extending Yoga’s potential
for environmental healing far beyond the pursuit of individual yogic accomplishment.

Research survey for yoga teachers launched!

Historical animal-inspired yoga movements to be unveiled!

Animalia Asana® is excited to be partaking in a unique event unveiling newly discovered historical yoga sequences. The workshop will be facilitated by yoga academics/teachers Jacqueline Hargreaves and Jason Birch. Join us if you can: https://www.yogacampus.com/workshops/hathaabhyaasapaddhati-a-precursor-of-modern-yoga#

“One hundred and twelve āsanas, many of which are based on the movements of animals, are described in an eighteenth-century yoga text called the Haṭhābhyāsapaddhati, ‘a manual on the practice of Haṭhayoga’. The āsanas are divided into six sequences and some of them involve repetitive movement and require extraordinary strength and flexibility, as well as the use of rope. Many of these āsanas remain unknown to modern yoga practitioners.”

Human-dog conflict in India

Human-dog conflict in India

Feeding
                                                     (a)

India has up to 59 million street dogs1 and endures approximately 20,000 human cases of the rabies virus annually2. These figures are the highest in the world and inextricably linked to each other as dogs mediate over 99% of human rabies cases, primarily through bites2. In some areas, dog-human bites increased by 88% in one year. These aspects generate further ill-feeling towards dogs in a culture that is vulnerable to negative perceptions of dogs as dirty outcasts3. Some citizens have begun killing dogs. What humane alternatives exist to ease the human-dog conflict?

Welfare issues and the current situation

Dog bites among humans, livestock and wildlife lead to injury, or death either directly or indirectly through rabies4. If provoked, dogs can bite out of self-defence5. Unprovoked attacks may result from hunger; trying to access food from humans; a deep-rooted fear of humans caused by witnessing human violence towards dogs; or a predatory instinct if people or other animals flee when dogs approach5. Rabies damages the central nervous system, frequently causing aggression in its victims6; this could also cause dogs’ aggression. Dogs further affect humans due to the emotional and economic costs of attacks on livestock and wildlife including critically endangered species7.

Improper garbage management, suboptimal pet ownership and ensuing inadequate mass sterilisation and care programmes have caused burgeoning street-dog populations5. India’s street dogs battle starvation, heat, human violence, disease and drastically shortened lifespans5. Panic, ignorance and a need for immediate action5 cause indiscriminate inhumane dog culling at individual, group and state levels. Children and other dogs often witness this, which reinforces fear and leads to

further attacks from both sides of the conflict8.

(b)
                                                                                  (b)

Dog culling breaches India’s Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001. Studies also highlight dog culling as ineffective for population control because dogs from surrounding areas claim the newly available territory9. Moreover, in the north-eastern state Nagaland, an illegal dog meat trade exists that hostility to dogs could fuel further.

Humane solutions and challenges

Past attempts at managing India’s human-dog conflict have concentrated on dog sterilisation. Whilst vital for future dog population control, focusing only on this fails to resolve present conflicts5. In 2017, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) piloted a more holistic programme in the state of Kerala5. Mirroring strategies of the global campaign to eliminate rabies by 2030, this pilot boasted the following factors5:

  • A One Health approach. This considers both human and animal welfare, recognising our interdependence and preventing friction forming between different stakeholders.
  • A multi-dimensional approach. This addresses the causes and immediate effects of human-dog conflict concurrently, alongside systematic sterilisation efforts.
  • Education about dog-bite prevention and rabies treatment. This helps people to feel confident around dogs and ensures they know what action to take if dog bites do occur.
  • Counselling for dog-bite victims. This safeguards human psychological welfare and encourages neutral or positive attitudes towards dogs.
  • Systematic vaccination of 70% of dog populations. This safeguards dog and human welfare and creates a buffer against non-vaccinated dogs.

The pilot’s impact assessment indicates success5. For example, awareness about dog body language and appropriate behaviour around dogs increased 100% (if dogs approach, stand still and let them sniff you rather than fleeing), and patients hospitalised by dog bites showed a 50% increase in awareness about rabies prevention. FIAPO is lobbying for the programme to spread across India5.

The following challenges remain in resolving the human-dog conflict:

  • All Indian states and neighbouring countries sharing high incidences of rabies and street-dog problems need to commit to such initiatives5. Otherwise, non-local street dogs will simply spread into well-managed areas.
  • India is a lower-middle income country10, thus significant on-going investment will also be necessary. Moreover, India’s human-dog conflict typically affects India’s vulnerable young, poor, uneducated and rural-dwelling citizens5. Rural areas must receive extensive coverage where there is the least access to education and medical resources11. Research into non-surgical sterilisation and oral vaccines may help them become more viable2, potentially freeing-up time-intensive and staff-expertise resources involved in the current methods used.
  • During surveys, citizens may provide conflicting information regarding the extent of dog supervision and purposefully misreport due to fear of punishment (e.g., fines)5. This could misinform our understanding of human behaviour towards dogs, and thus hamper treatment efforts.

Summary and how you can help

Key stakeholders recognise dog culling as inhumane and counterproductive to citizens’ needs concerning India’s human-dog conflict. The conflict’s cause is multi-factorial and requires a multi-factorial response. You can learn more here and help by maintaining pressure on international organisations to continue to invest resources into eliminating rabies humanely and effectively.


References

  1. Gompper, M.E. (2014). The dog-human-wildlife interface: Assessing the scope of the problem. In: Gompper, M.E. (ed.). Free-Ranging Dogs and Wildlife Conservation. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 9-54.
  2. World Health Organization (2013). WHO Expert Consultation on Rabies. Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/85346/1/9789240690943_eng.pdf [accessed 19 Feb. 2018].
  3. Kellett, P.M. (2017). Pariahs among us? Transforming conflicted constructions of urban street dogs in India. In: Kellet, P.M. and Matyok, T.G. (eds.). Communication and Conflict Transformation through Local, Regional, and Global Engagement. Lanham, MD, USA: Lexington Books. 159-172.
  4. Home, C., Pal, R., Sharma, R.K., Suryawanshi, K.R. and Bhatnagar, Y.V. (2017). Commensal in conflict: Livestock depredation patterns by free-ranging domestic dogs in the Upper Spiti Landscape, Himachal Pradesh, India. Ambio. 46 (6). 655-666.
  5. Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (2017). Rabies Free India – Kerala: Successful Pilot for the Holistic Programme to Minimize Human-Dog Conflict. Available at: http://fiapo.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Rabies-Free-India-Report-final-2.pdf [accessed 15 Feb. 2018].
  6. American Friends of Tel Aviv University (2014). How rabies ‘hijacks’ neurons to attack brain. 6 (2014). Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141006133424.htm [accessed 22 Feb. 2018].
  7. Home, C., Bhatnagar, Y.V. and Vanak, A.T. (2017). Canine conundrum: Domestic dogs as an invasive species and their impacts on wildlife in India. Animal Conservation. DOI:10.1111/acv.12389.
  8. Arluke, A. and Atema, K.N. (2017). Roaming dogs. In: Kalof, L. (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. 113-134.
  9. IFAW (2015). World Rabies Day: Culling is not the answer. September 28, 2015. Available at: https://www.ifaw.org/united-states/news/world-rabies-day-culling-not-answer [accessed 22 Feb. 2018].
  10. World Bank (2016). Data for lower middle income, India. Available at: https://data.worldbank.org/?locations=XN-IN [accessed 22 Feb. 2018].
  11. Sharma, S., Agarwal, A., Khan, A.M. and Ingle, G.K. (2016). Prevalence of dog bites in rural and urban slums of Delhi: A community-based study. Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research. 6 (2). 115-119.

Images

  1. Frederic Spycher (2014). Man feeding some stray dogs [digital image]. Distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license. Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spycherf/12527535113 [accessed 22 Feb. 2018].
  2. Achat1999 (2016). Female and adolescent Indogs rummaging through a garbage bin for food [digital image]. Distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Female_and_adolescent_Indogs_rummaging_through_a_garbage_bin_for_food._02.jpg [accessed 22 Feb. 2018].