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Mindfulness yoga workshop with mood-lifting benefits

Yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, which if you haven’t tried, you may not fully understand why some choose to partake in such an activity.

By Dalia Hilmi

Sunday 20 December 2015, 09:00AM

It has fast become popular with the Western and Asian world as it is known for helping with detox, helping kidneys and the liver function better, weight loss, and it works every single part of the body.

However, don’t be fooled by its sudden rush to coolness within recent times, as it can do a lot more for the mind, body and soul than one would think. And it’s not just yoga, it’s all forms of meditation in general.

I recently took part in a workshop where albeit, I initially wasn’t sure how effective it would be, but let’s just say I left feeling a lot more optimistic, positive and bright.

The Yoga & Mindfulness Workshop was held at the wonderful Shining Stars school in Kamala, on December 12. It was the second workshop to be held and it won’t be the last, and what’s more, all contributions on the day were given to the SOS Children’s Village in Phuket.

Shining Stars school was opened in 2008 by Christine Reilly and Lee Feekins, but these days it is run by Christine and her husband James Geary, who both direct and teach at the school. The school provides an Englishlanguage education for students aged two to seven, and over the years literacy has become a strong focal point at the school.

The school incorporated yoga in to the curriculum earlier this year, with the idea of enhancing the children’s ability in art, improving behaviour and helping them to express how they feel both physically and emotionally.

The workshop held last weekend included some of the kids’ parents, so it was a great way for some of the parents to see how yoga can be beneficial.

A local yoga expert called Steph, originally from Italy, led the workshop on the day. He has been teaching yoga and meditation for more than 10 years and he shared his knowledge and experience with the rest of the class.

The day was a mix of physical yoga practice, stillness meditation, and theory of mindfulness with discussion.

The morning session began with a light introduction and stretching, where we introduced ourselves to each other.I was recently involved in a motorbike accident and have been unable to exercise for over a month, and considering my usual active lifestyle and weekly classes in Muay Thai, you can only imagine how much of a change it has been to rest and being unable to exercise.

Although I wasn’t able to fully participate in the movement part of the workshop, what I will say is I was blown away by how much the meditation part helped me emotionally.

Steph helped us to understand the difference in knowing what you’re doing, what’s in your mind and what’s ‘real’. He was helping us to focus and not drift off into ‘dreamland’.

We were instructed to become aware of our bodies, become aware of our surroundings and see the beauty around us. By using various methods and techniques, we were guided how to allow pain to exist and not resist, as if we allow pain to be there, then it becomes easier to deal with – whether that be physical, or emotional pain.

Admittedly I hadn’t always been a fan of being told how to feel or how one can appreciate beauty outside, but I truly was touched by some of the words that were said to us. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been out of action physically, but suddenly I became mesmerised by the trees outside, the butterflies flying around, the mountains in the background, the sound of the birds and all things natural, that previously, had never even crossed my mind.

Indeed, meditation isn’t for everyone, but what it can do is open doors, open thoughts, and open the idea of one becoming aware of their surroundings and truly appreciating some of the more peaceful and smaller things in life.

Steph explained that, “When you don’t have time to feel, then everything is ruled by your thoughts that are often dictated by fear, and one can become aggressive because of that.”

But he explained that the reason people usually need to be reminded to take a moment to relax, think and unwind, is purely because people are controlled by habits and routine.

Steph has always had an interest in yoga and meditation and he is a mere example of someone who wanted to escape suffering and tried to find a way out.

Like so many today, Steph found peace in the form of yoga and spends his time and energy in helping others as well.

“I do it, because I like to do it. I studied with various teachers over the years, and so I just enjoy trying to give back a little now as well,” explained Steph.

By the end of the workshop, everyone shared and expressed their thoughts and experiences with each other. The way that everyone felt so comfortable to openly discuss their feelings is a reflection on how much of a positive atmosphere Steph created.

Each person felt an effect by one or more methods that Steph used throughout the day.

From walking through the garden with a spoon full of water; to a calm, meditative walk around the school; to typical yoga postures; to sitting in silence; it was an insightful workshop which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.



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