Chicago group an­swers street vi­o­lence with yoga

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

CHICAGO (AP) — With their brightly colored mats spread along a side­walk, Tameka Law­son’s yoga stu­dents try to fol­low her in­struc­tions: con­cen­trate on their breath­ing and fo­cus on the beauty of their sur­round­ings.

But this is Englewood, one of Chicago’s most dan­ger­ous neigh­bor­hoods, where streets are dot­ted with boarded-up houses and over­grown lots, and res­i­dents are as fa­mil­iar with the crackle of gun­fire as the chime of an ice cream truck. So while the stu­dents stretch their arms to the sky, a man the size of a re­frig­er­a­tor stands guard over the class.

It seems odd, all these slow move­ments, deep breath­ing and talk about be­ing cen­tered in a neigh­bor­hood ruled by drug-deal­ing gangs. It’s sim­ply the lat­est at­tempt to curb vi­o­lence in a city where the num­ber of homi­cides and guns seized leads the na­tion. The hope is that yoga’s med­i­ta­tive fo­cus will help cooler heads pre­vail the next time vi­o­lence or vengeance looms.

The idea has even caught the at­ten­tion of po­lice. At least one of­fi­cer has made Law­son’s class part of an anti-vi­o­lence pro­gram for at-risk youths.

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