Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Our Yoga Workshop – A Sense of Calm

Today’s post is about our recent yoga workshop hosted by the lovely Barbara Gallani and with delicious refreshments from Gloria Halim of Rock on Divas.

On a rainy afternoon, a small group of people with cancer gathered at The Life Centre, Islington to learn more about how yoga can support the body and mind through illness.

We were welcomed with a green juice, freshly prepared by Gloria. A tangy blend of spinach, celery, cucumber, mint and green tea awakened our senses as Gloria kicked off proceedings by telling us of her own experiences. A few years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and embarked on a journey which led her to take charge of her own health. She re-educated and re-balanced herself and is now about to celebrate five years of living cancer free.

This process of successfully transforming her own lifestyle inspired Gloria to help others and now she runs her own business as a health coach, supporting people to feel empowered to improve their own health and well-being. She spoke about how important juicing was to her recovery, juicing on average 6 times a week! (Watch this space for a special juicing workshop coming soon)

Feeling sufficiently refreshed and inspired, we turned to Barbara who began by giving a talk about the scientific research behind claims that yoga can benefit people with cancer. Although studies are still quite limited there is evidence that yoga has a positive impact on cancer treatment and recovery. Barbara explained that as a particle physicist, this increasing evidence was very important to her and supported what she had seen after working with cancer patients for many years as a specialist yoga teacher.

Aside from these fledgling proofs, Barbara spoke on the undoubtable well-being benefits of yoga including improved sleep, appetite, and lymphatic flow; enhanced energy, digestion, joint health, circulation and respiration and increased strength and flexibility, both physically and mentally. For all these reasons Barbara believes yoga is something that should be accessible to everyone it may benefit, and there was no better note on which to begin the class.

Barbara encouraged us all to find a place of calm on our individual yoga mats and to begin to focus on our breathing and our sense of place within the room. Now was the time to let any distracting thoughts pass overhead, feeling the air moving in and out of the tip of the nose. With a voice that epitomised tranquillity, Barbara led us through a series of gentle poses, inviting us to participate as
much or as little as we felt able. The movements we enacted in synchronicity worked to lengthen and stretch limbs and spine, engaging those tiny muscles that never normally get any attention. Forward folds and upper body work helped to increase lymphatic flow and every motion contributed to realigning the body and increasing self-awareness.

It was an incredibly grounding experience with an atmosphere was one of mutual peace. Barbara asked us to think of a word during the session describing how we felt and the overwhelming answer was ‘calm’. Aside from all the potential medical benefits, this sense of calm was perhaps the clearest cut value of the class. At any time in life serenity can be hard to find and especially so when facing cancer, yet it seemed the practise of yoga could help.

As the class disbanded, some perhaps felt they were moving forward with a new tool whilst others had reaffirmed what was already important to them. Barbara very much envisages yoga as a way of life, bringing balance, strength and unity to the body and mind. After such a therapeutic afternoon, it was hard not to be convinced.

Barbara Gallani runs regular sessions for people affected by cancer at The Life Centre in Islington, for more information please click here.

Gloria Halim offers advice as a certified health coach and also runs workshops, retreats and detox programs through her company Rock on Divas, for more information please click here.

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