Between April and May 2020, calls to 061, the psychological assistance team of the SEM (Medical Emergency System) of the Generalitat de Catalunya, doubled compared to the previous year, reaching a figure of 6,500 calls per month. This peak in calls related to mental disorders coincides with the months of confinement in Spain. Although in the summer the calls decreased, with the second wave they went up again, and have been growing until reaching 5,000 calls this January. Undoubtedly, these data demonstrate a growing mental health problem among the population. Reducing social activity and spending most of the time confined to the home, not moving or going outside, can have serious effects on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

For all these reasons, two TBS students in Barcelona, Charlie Monfared and Daria Arkhangelskaya have started a project that combines meditation and yoga with taekwondo and self-defense to help people get out of the house, get active and increase their emotional well-being. The project is called Mente Fuertistas BCN and is part of their Citizen Service until the beginning of May, although they plan to continue on their own at a later date.

They will also be in contact with NGOs to offer their services. For example, they have contacted an association of women who have been victims of harassment, to help them both emotionally and with self-defense classes.

They invite everyone to join them, the classes are free and you don’t need to be an expert or have practiced before to join. Although they already have 10 members, they are currently looking for more volunteers. The only requirement for participation is a strong desire and, preferably, an understanding of Spanish or English.

What will the lessons be like?

Lessons will be held two days a week, Saturdays and Sundays, for two and a half hours (five hours a week in total). On Saturdays, self-defense and taekwondo classes will take place, while Sundays will be dedicated to meditation and yoga. They assure that they will be very flexible and will adapt to the needs of each group. Besides, they intend to offer very horizontal lessons, with the whole group at the same level and helping each other, rather than classes guided by a teacher. The classes will take place in open spaces in the city, such as the Parc de la Ciutadella, where the first sessions have already taken place.

Hobbies cultivated since childhood

Both Daria and Charlie have personal histories closely linked to these two hobbies. “I was very introverted as a child. My father, worried that one day someone would pick on me – which never happened – decided to sign me up for martial arts classes,” explains Charlie. Since then, he has been practicing taekwondo for fourteen years. “It’s something that has always helped me a lot to stay active and motivated,” he adds. As for Daria, she has been practicing meditation in different forms for ten years. “My mother was a yoga teacher years ago, so since I was little I have been able to attend her classes and learn from her. She was the one who introduced me to mindfulness and taught me the importance of being good to myself,” says Daria.

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TBS parc ciutadell taekwondo

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