I was very privileged to take a workshop at the wonderful Zorba the Buddha during my stay in Delhi. This was arranged just a week in advance, when I contacted them after learning about Pat Duckworth’s planned menopause workshop. Normally they arrange their workshops a month in advance, so it was a great relief that people came!
The workshop was billed as a “Beat Stress And Addiction”, and I eagerly looked forward to the session, a chance to teach this in India was too exciting for words! I planned to make it be more focussed on stress than addiction, as the tools that helped me beat my addiction can be invaluable to anyone looking to find healthy ways to deal with stress in their life.
On the day in question, I had really good day, including a spontaneous visit to Rahijat to see Gandhi’s Sanadhi (where his ashes are). I should have had plenty of time to do this, and get back to my hotel in time for a shower, small bite to eat and time to relax before heading to Zorba. BUT, this is Delhi, and traffic in Delhi does not do what you expect it to. After a very stressful time when I worried that I wouldn’t even be able to get back to my hotel (several rickshaw drivers refused to take me the long distance), I finally managed to get a ride, but the traffic was horrendous. I had to use my very expensive mobile data to contact Zorba to keep them informed of my progress. After some confusion with the first taxi driver who came to the hotel for me, I finally arrived.
About 15 minutes late.
I was absolutely horrified at being late. Yet despite this, I was calm and collected – a marked difference to how ‘old Esther’ would have reacted to the afternoon’s events. Old Esther would have arrived a seething mess of frustration, anger and stress, not really the most inspiring person to take a class on beating stress! ‘New’ Esther just took some deep breaths, knew that I would get there, that it was all going to be ok, and stayed calm.
Fortunately, this is India, and I was assured that Indians keep their own time, and are quite used to people not being on time. Tardiness seems to be the norm, so no one seemed at all phased by my late arrival apart from me!
I was able to use this as a great teaching point, as I shared the difference in my response of old and new Esther! This is entirely down to the changes that have happened in my thanks to Yoga, and the teachings of Swami Gitananda, the same teachings I was there to share with them that evening. I then began the workshop itself, having already made a very clear connection between good breathing and stress reduction!
The workshop began with quiet sitting, sitting still and focusing on the breath in what many will call meditation to quieten the mind, and Jattis, small movements designed to release any tension we have in the body so that we can be relaxed in body and mind. The rest of the workshop was a combination of practical and theoretical. I talked about the impact of stress on the body and mind, how the nervous system reacts to stress and relaxation, and Yogic concepts such as Adhi Vyadhi (the connection between the mind and the body) and Pratipaksha Bhavanam, the practice of reversing negative thoughts and behaviours to produce a more positive state of mind.
I took the class through several pranayama practices; Sukkha Pranayama, simple equal length breath, Vibhaga Pranayama which involves breathing into the different sections of the lung, and Savitri Pranayama, which is a fantastic Pranayama for balancing the emotions. For relaxation we did Kaya Kriya, a wonderful, deep relaxation that works with the breath pattern of Vibhaga Pranayama.
By the end of the workshop we were all very relaxed and there was a lovely atmosphere in the room as I brought the class out of relaxation. There were a few questions about the practices and the teachings I had shared, then we went to enjoy a delicious vegan meal by the lake under the moonlight. As venues go this one has yet to be beaten in my experience! I loved teaching at Zorba the Buddha, and am very grateful to the team there for making it possible.
The workshop I delivered can be offered to recovery groups to help with development of healthy coping techniques, as a staff wellbeing course, and can be adapted to suit all sorts of client groups, including schools, where stress management techniques could be very useful for both staff and students. If you would like to find out if this training would suit your organisation, please get in touch for more information.