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Breathe Easy

Breathe Easy: Relax with Guideposts’ Pranayama Yoga Classes

Our yoga classes at our Henry Smith House Hub in Watford have always been very popular. Last March of course the in-person classes were no longer possible due to Covid-19, and in taking the classes online classes our teacher Bina has concentrated on pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), to help the class stay well in their lives at home. Building on the success of this class, we have recently set up another pranayama class for adults with learning disabilities, through our Better Connected and Active project.

One of our Henry Smith House yoga class members, Carole, tells us about her experiences and how she came to pranayama.

How I came to yoga

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, I knew that having cancer on top of having a mental health condition was going to be no easy challenge.  First, I radically changed my diet: no red meat, no processed sugar and lots of ginger and turmeric. The cancer treatment – surgery and radiotherapy – seriously debilitated me and I needed some sort of discipline to aid my recovery. 

I was therefore delighted to learn on joining Guideposts at Henry Smith House, Watford, that yoga classes were available to clients.  I had always wanted to learn yoga but had not had the strength of will to do so by myself. 

I started yoga classes with Bina, and since the advent of the pandemic I have been participating on Zoom in pranayama/breath yoga classes and I have experienced great benefit from the practice.  

Why is breath so significant?

There is an ancient story found in the Prashna Upanishad  that tells of a debate between breath (prana – life force) and the five senses as to which of them was most valuable for human survival. The eyes claimed that without them, people could fall and be injured. The ears claimed that they could help people hear sweet things, as well as alert them to dangers the eyes could not see. The sense of smell argued that one could live without seeing and hearing, so long as one could still smell the richness of the world. And so, it continued. 

Then breath (prana) spoke up, expressing that without itself, none of the other senses could do their jobs. The other senses did not believe this. So, to demonstrate, breath began to leave the body, causing the five senses to grow weak. Quickly realizing the truth that breath (prana) is the life force and reigns supreme. The five senses apologized and bowed down to the significance of breath/prana. 

How does pranayama help?

Pranayama cleanses the body, calms the mind and in fact is all round good inner engineering. 

Scientist tell us that every time we exhale, we expel 1023 particles (1023 means 10 followed by 22 zeros).  When we inhale, we also take into ourselves microscopic particles that have been floating around outside of us.  Many of those particles are partially the exhalation of other humans, animals, trees and plants, since they too breathe. Pranayama purifies and keeps healthy our biological systems.   

Yoga is India’s gift to the world.  Do try it.   It makes for a life worth breathing 

How to join?

Our pranayama classes are available to members of our services at Henry Smith House, and anyone who signs up to our new Better Connected and Active service.

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