Introducing Neohumanism and Astaunga Yoga to the Indigenous People of Mexico

Interview by Didi Ananda Rama

Gicela Lopez Morales, residing at a ranch called El Misterio, is a local Aztec woman of Mexico. Since she was 16, she has been an activist in the struggle of the indigenous people of Mexico. Indigenous peoples with their own languages are spread throughout Mexico, but the majority (80%) are concentrated in the southern and south-central regions of Mexico, in states such as Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz, Puebla, Yucatán, Guerrero, Hidalgo and Mexico City. Together they struggle for their fundamental rights of education, health and peace of the people in their indigenous territories.

Gicela lived with the people in the jungles and territories of the indigenous people who are trying to protect and preserve their culture and societies from outside land grabbing schemes. She is familiar with the abundant species of flora and fauna, many of which are endangered, such as the quetzal, jaguar, ocelot, otter, blue headed parrot, and the howling monkey. Gicela tells of the great variety of wild orchids and amazing animals such as pumas or mountain lions, tapirs, monkeys, boas, roadrunners, wild boar, pelicans, herons, spoonbills and opossum, among many others.

Over the years Gicela has organized and participated in various humanitarian projects. The projects help the locals in various areas such as education, nutrition and health, agriculture and preservation of the ecological fabric of sustainable life and emergency relief, safety and protection. The projects have support from people in the cities and various groups such as women’s groups and cooperatives of people who help the remote indigenous people.

Gicela is a teacher of various skills, such as herbal remedies, naturopathy, yoga and meditation, Aikido for self-defense, first aid and other basic survival skills and practices. She has earned the title of “Manik” which stands for a “wise leader or elder.” She has received approval from the National Congress of Indigenous People (CNI) of Mexico to introduce Neohumanism and Astaunga Yoga to all the communities. She is interested in introducing elements of Neohumanist Education as well to their schools, which are presently applying concepts of Paulo Freire and Rabindranath Tagore.

The peoples that make up the CNI are governed by seven principles and everyone has a say to decide collectively:

  1. To serve and not to be served.
  2. Build and not destroy.
  3. Represent and not impersonate.
  4. Convince and not conquer.
  5. Obey and not command.
  6. Down and not up.
  7. Propose and not impose