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PNG yoga program recognised by Vatican

AAP logoAAP 5/10/2016 Lisa Martin

The Vatican has recognised a yoga program helping to heal angry hearts and curb violence in Port Moresby, one of the world's most dangerous cities.

Fazilah Bazari, a young woman with Indian-Melanesian heritage, started the one-woman yoga revolution in the Papua New Guinea capital four years ago.

Known for its violent crime and local gangs of raskols, Port Moresby is the last place you'd expect to find people doing sun salutations.

Ms Bazari has trained locals to teach yoga and introduced free classes in settlements and shanty town areas that are usually no-go zones for foreigners.

The Yoga for Life program reaches more than 5000 people a week.

This week Ms Bazari is attending the first global conference on faith and sport at the Vatican in Rome.

"We are changing the people. Then they change their families, then their communities, then the people themselves change their city, and their country," she told AAP.

"The power is in the people. Yoga awakens this possibility of change."

Classes are also conducted at the Bomana Prison where inmates practise elaborate yoga routines.

Gordon, 20, is serving 15 years for the wilful murder of one of his grade 11 class mates.

"In the past I was a short temper kind of guy," he told AAP.

"I used to belt people up and drink too much alcohol."

On release, Gordon wants to become a yoga teacher to help other young men deal with anger and develop self-esteem so they don't end up in prison like him.

"It takes a lot of trust to build the human temples, without the trust the temple cannot stand," he says.

That inmates come from different tribal backgrounds can sometimes be a source of tension.

"After doing yoga we feel united," Gordon says.

Port Moresby Governor Powes Parkop is also a yoga convert and says the program helps to create a safe, healthy and active city.

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