Changing your life with your breath

When you are in your teens and early 20s, you are in the process of picking your career, finding your relationships and making decisions that impact on the rest of your life. Our emotions are very volatile in this stage. When you are a full grown adult, you must make life decisions, both major and minor, and deal with problems both professional and personal — you need to think clearly in order to be happy. One group on campus helps individuals direct their energy to help them accomplish their life goals. The organization is simply called the Art of Living.

The Art of Living offers two introductory courses, the YES!+ course (for youth 18-30 years of age) and the Part I course (people over 30 years of age).

Upasana Saijpal and Rekha Khunteta are two Art of Living teachers from India, who have currently come to Winnipeg to teach the Art of Living courses. Saijpal says the only reason why someone should take an Art of Living course is “if they breathe.” The course teaches a special breathing technique called the Sudarshan Kriya composed by the creator of the Art of Living organization, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The breathing exercises affect the mind in a positive manner.

Upasana and Rekha explain “The quality of our life depends on the quality of the mind.” The Art of Living courses give practical tools that benefit the individual on the mental, physical and emotional level.

How do the Art of Living courses actually help individuals, though?

In a pilot study conducted at the Department of Neurosciences, Fatebenefratelli hospital (FH) in Milan, an innovative therapy based on the application of Sudarshan Kriya to patients affected by depression, generalized anxiety and panic attacks yielded the following results after the first six months:

Average reduction of 60 per cent in the rate of depression (according to the standard tests)

Average reduction of 40 per cent in the rate of psychosis (according to the standard tests)

Significant improvement in the cognitive functions, which became evident in clinical interviews

The Art of Living is an international organization, active today in more than 140 countries. The course has been offered in Aboriginal communities across Canada, including in northern Manitoba. Additionally, the course has also been offered in prisons throughout the U.S. and Canada, and a program is currently being organized with Manitoba Justice for the inmates in Winnipeg.

Deanne Peterson, a member of the Art of Living Club, says her favourite part of the course is “probably how I feel during it. Life is so relaxed — it’s like you are on a high without drugs. I also love the people I have met through it; you get such an interesting mix. The great part is that I get to spend such a large amount of time in the course with really great interesting people.”

The next Art of Living YES!+ course will run from Nov. 3 to Nov. 8, 2009, at the University of Manitoba. The next Art of Living Part I course will start on Nov. 16, 2009. For information, please contact Upasana Saijpal at (204) 962-2090.