Need to chill out? Try these yoga lessons in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
A path to enlightenment that winds back 5,000 years in its native India, yoga is now common practice in gyms and health clubs all over the world. Its blend of exercise and meditation doesn’t so much pump you up as bliss you out, and its benefits include relieving stress and improving concentration.
Your instructor will end the session with the word ‘Namaste’: the divine in me bows to the divine in you. But let’s up the stakes a bit – is yoga more than the power of positive breathing? Does it possess other health benefits? Fend off heart attacks? Revitalise somebody after a long illness?
To the sceptic, all evidence is purely anecdotal. But some tales are more than encouraging; they are inspiring, as told by the millions who have embraced yoga in a bit more than a generation.
As yoga is now trending in Bahrain, we decided to have a closer look at one of the newest types to straddle the kingdom. Pranayama yoga is the latest form of yoga to be introduced at World Beat Fitness Centre; an ancient Indian yogic science of regulating and controlling the breath, which also enables a person to control the life force in their body, as taught by the much acclaimed yogi Rasila Savani.
Many researchers claim that practising pranayama can potentially relieve symptoms of illnesses such as asthma. It can also be beneficial in treating stress-related disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Seeing as there are a total of six types of pranayama practice, we decided to speak with the person that has started the classes here in Bahrain.
We met with 66-year-old Rasila Savali, who could be considered a veteran yogi; she has practiced yoga for 30 years, and the last two-and-a-half years she has concentrated on teaching the traditional physical, mental and spiritual discipline yoga. Currently based at the World Beat Fitness Centre, every Tuesday Rasila has been showing participants the art of breathing also known as pranayama yoga. Rasila can even teach the yoga in the comfort of your own home. She explains: ‘I will come to you; you can come to me – as long as I get to teach yoga, then I don’t mind, as this is what makes me happy.’
Pranayama yoga brings focus to your breathing techniques, and Rasila says it has huge benefits on the body. ‘I have seen peoples’ cholesterol drop, some have stopped smoking, tension headaches have stopped – the list is endless,’ she says.
In terms of its actual meaning, pranayama is composed of two Sanskrit words – ‘prana’ meaning life force, and more accurately breath, and ‘ayama’ meaning extension of. In practising this form of yoga, Rasila says it is possible to build the lung muscles, therefore enabling a greater flow of oxygen around the body, and this in turn can also have greater long term benefits? ‘Our bodies do not get enough oxygen – there are too many blocks which can affect our health. By taking part in just 15-20 minutes of pranayama each day, you will see huge benefits,’ she explains.
She says that even after one class, the benefits of the new breathing techniques taught during the session will be evident – you will feel refreshed afterwards and have a glowing look to your face. ‘It will be a shock at the start, and you might find you have a white tongue afterwards, because you have lost so many toxins from your body, but the boost you receive is incredible,’ Rasila claims.
You would think that with so many potential benefits that this type of exercise would burn a whole in your pocket, but no, Rasila teaches this yoga for free and accepts donations which she passes on to the migrant workers and labourers here in Bahrain. ‘As long as I get to give goodness to someone, then I’m happy – all money donated is given directly to the Migrant Workers Protection Society (MWPS) and Helping Hands,’ she adds. Join Rasila Savani to learn about Pranayama at the World Beat Fitness Centre (36 694 696). World Beat hosts a number of activities like this, as well as three other types of yoga and meditation classes.