The healing hands of yoga

First published in Exhibitions Borehamwood Times: Photograph of the Author by

The benefits of yoga have long been extolled for bringing about balance and harmony on many levels. Two Watford mums, Gulcan Malik and Tina Kouroushi were so impressed with the effects of yoga on their wellbeing they decided to train as teachers and went on to run classes in yoga for pre-natal groups, children and teens.

“For young people, I found yoga helped with hormonal changes, exam stress and self-esteem issues. It was an outlet emotionally and spiritually,“ recalls Tina.

When cancer touched both of their lives, the friends decided to tailor their study specifically for people living with the disease. From this month, they will be running classes at Woodside Leisure Centre.

“When we experience an imbalance due to illness, practising yoga can help in a number of ways to restore it,“ says Gulcan. “Cancer is a broad complex of illnesses in which a weakened immune system cannot cope with the proliferation of damaged cells. Yoga can help in various ways to strengthen the immune system and encourage our inner healing forces.“ When her sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, Tina looked to yoga for answers.

“She didn’t really open up to anybody,“ says Tina. “I thought there must be more I can do to support her in what she was going through, especially with the emotional effects when you’re waiting for diagnosis or undergoing treatment. Through yoga, I found techniques for settling anxiety and building emotional strength.“ Gulcan explains that the classes are not about achieving ambitious postures.

“We use simple movements to free the joints and improve circulation,“ she says. “They can help reduce swelling, particularly if people are bed-bound after surgery, they can do them at home.“ The classes include gentle stretches, guided meditation techniques and breath work.

“Rhythmic, balanced breathing is a meditative practice that can enhance the immune system and aid cell repair after chemotherapy and radiotherapy,“ adds Tina. “It can help speed the removal of toxic waste and improve circulation. The breath is a powerful healing force, it restores emotional calm and promotes relaxation, which is a vital element in healing. As body and mind let go, tension and anxiety give way to comfort, stillness and peace of mind.“

Sessions which are open to people with cancer and their partners/carers take place from this month at Woodside Leisure Centre, Horseshoe Lane, Garston. Details: Gulcan Malik: 07949 135624 or Tina Kouroushi: 07812 351288, www.everyoneactive.com

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