Monday, 22 June 2015

MIND OVER MATTER: Locals mark International Yoga Day with festive and empowering retreat in Kingston

FLOORING IT: Participants get centred during meditation; (below) Kalaan sets the mood.

There’s something to be said for the therapeutic benefits of yoga: the clarity, the spiritual calm, the peace of mind. One was compellingly reminded of this Sunday evening as Art of Living Jamaica, the Jamaica Yoga Association, and the Indian High Commission joined forces to celebrate International Yoga Day with a lavish mini-retreat that attracted scored of yoga devotees, beginners and regular Jamaicans curious about the practice. A sea of white-clad participants flooring it with their colourful mats and towels inside the National Indoor Sports Centre.

What transpired was a wonderfully rejuvenating two-and-a-half hours of deep breathing techniques, physical movements associated with the yoga practice, and powerful meditation exercises, which left you feeling reinvigorated and on an even keel. For beginners and those looking for a quick refresher course on the purpose and practice of meditative yoga, Art of Living’s team leader Dushyant Savadia was particularly helpful in ‘breaking it down’ and providing an ‘accessible’ introduction.

“The best kind of meditation you can practice is to set aside ten minutes of your time every day and focus on three things: wanting nothing, doing nothing and being nothing,” he shared, as flautist Robert ‘Kalaan’ Pairman set a serene atmosphere with his soothing snake-charmer-like instrument. “It will bring you so much energy and clarity. With meditation, don’t look for an experience; just be.” 
Attendees were also fed stress-relief tips and enlightened about the science of the breath, the inner workings of the mind and the transformative impact of uniting mind, body, breath, thought and spirit in the present. “It is the birthright of every human being to find peace and joy and harmony in life, and for that yoga is an effective tool,” Savadia noted. “Yoga is not just about stretching the body and testing how far the body can bend. The real trick is to see how far the mind can bend with the body.” 

In addition to pep talks and demos from other professional instructors like Sharon Feanny, Vitra Goopee and Maria Lapushkina, attendees were treated to lively Indian dance, and the curtains came down on the evening with a robust performance from rootsy singer-storyteller Jah 9. 

> FYI: The Jamaica Yoga Association has several more events planned for the summer, visit for the schedule

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