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Downward dog, uplifted spirits

By: Jennifer Wallace

Christian Matta, organizer of the Art of Living and an unidentified Algonquin student wait for the yoga session, held on March 11, to begin.

The Art of Living organization held another yoga meditation session for students at Algonquin on March 11. Dedicated to helping people cope with stress, anxiety, focusing, and many more things, the event highlights important strategies for yoga enthusiasts.

“Yoga is more about flexibility of the mind and making your mind strong,” said Christian Matta, the organizer and one of many instructors with The Art of Living organization.

The Art of Living is a non-profit, international and humanitarian organization. It’s in a consultative status with the economic and social council, the United Nations.

Students learned how to meditate, how to do the downward dog and cat stretch, balancing techniques, and the kapalbhati technique; a form of dynamic breathing which helps clean out the body circulating the blood, helping to channel and restore unused energy.

Matta emphasized that relaxing and focusing at the same time is key and it’s hard to put both together.

The same applies to students. “When you’re with your breath, the mind will relax and focus at the same time,” he said.

All of the instructors in art of living are volunteers, “It’s a great way for people to volunteer,” said Matta.

“I enjoyed it. It’s relaxing, and I learned to be healthy in many ways,” said Meloume Moulomgeu, a volunteer for the ministry department who partook in the session.

The art of living works on fronts like health and well-being, trauma relief programs, awareness classes, happiness, youth empowerment programs, cooking classes and through other programs and workshops.

“We teach techniques in yoga, coping with stress, and living a balanced and healthy lifestyle,” said Matta.

“My favorite thing is the people and making a difference in someone’s life. We want to build a sense of belonging with people and making a positive change in society,” Matta said.

The programs help towards students and young professionals, and are run through clubs on campuses, including places like University of Ottawa and Carleton where as many as 50-80 students have participated.

“Focusing is a big problem, especially when students are studying the night before an exam, and yoga can be of benefit to them,” Matta said.

The organization is now over 30 years old and is in over 150 countries with the number still growing.

Matta has been lucky to travel with the purpose of practising yoga, travelling to Montreal, Pembroke, Windsor, London Ontario, and Regina, Saskatchewan. He has gone as far as the Middle East.

“Yoga has always been an inspiration for me,” said Kshama Kamra, 3rd year business administration student.

Matta explained that it challenges students to discover their potential, and find  out what they’re made of.

Still in the beginning stages at Algonquin, the Art of Living eventually plans on starting a club here.

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