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Husnara Begum, associate editor & career coach

Running late as always, my heart was racing rapidly when I initially logged onto Zoom for my first-ever silent meditation and breath class. But our yoga teacher and breath coach, Nate of Nate Thomas Yoga, with his calming voice and manner, soon got us feeling at ease as he talked us through what to expect from our 45-minutes together.

Personally, I joined the class with very low expectations and wondering how someone as talkative as me would ever be able to lie-down, stay still and quiet for such a prolonged period of time. Particularly, because my previous attempts at meditation using one of the popular online apps resulted in my losing focus within a measly 2-3 minutes.

Also, if I’m being brutally honest, I was extremely sceptical about whether I really needed a tutor. After all, with social media awash with yoga instructors / enthusiasts posting demos and DIY toolkits surely this is something I’m more than capable of mastering on my own? Especially, as I’ve already successfully taught myself to use breathing exercises as a quick and effective way to calm myself down when I’m feeling stressed or anxious.

Saying that, I’m glad I logged on and stuck with it till the end. Practicing mindful breathing with Nate, using simple yet powerful techniques such as Nadi Sodhana (also known as alternate nostril breathing) and a couple of his own bespoke strategies, was a genuinely serene and blissful experience.

What’s more, it’s suitable for almost anyone, including novices like me who have limited mobility and indeed patience. Its benefits are also wide-reaching, as well as infusing our body with oxygen, it helps to clear toxins, reduces stress and anxiety, calms and rejuvenates our nervous system and enhances concentration to name but a few.

Back at the online class, I laid down flat on my back, eyes closed, focussing on my breathing and visualising myself snorkelling in the stunningly beautiful coral reefs off the coast of Thailand (this was my last overseas holiday before the pandemic). The pulsating thoughts I was experiencing trying to process Dominic Raab’s responses to the questions being fired at him by Marr show earlier that morning, along with how to flavour my roast chicken (I appreciate this sounds trivial but who doesn’t get stressed over preparing a roast?), soon dissipated. I no longer felt on edge and was almost levitating.

And as Nate encouraged us to send positive kinesics to someone who we thought would also really reap the rewards of our meditation and breath work I experienced a gentle tugging sensation, pulling me even closer and connecting me to this individual whom I hold so dear – especially knowing they’re going through a really rough patch at the moment.

Upon approaching the end of the class I felt totally metamorphosed. Re-energised and ready to face whatever challenges the rest of the day would throw at me. The change in me felt deeper and more transformative than what I had experienced through my own attempts at meditation and / or breath work.

When Shruti Srivastava, the founder of Yoga Mapp (a new online platform where you can discover different styles of yoga in one place) invited me to participate in a class I instantly dismissed her ‘crazy’ suggestion. As far as I was concerned, these days yoga is an activity that’s the preserve of svelte, bendy 20-something year-olds dressed in Sweaty Betty power leggings.

But I’m really glad Shruti persuaded me to give it a go. There are many different styles of yoga, and breathing classes in particular, are for everyone – you certainly don’t need to be able to touch your toes of stand on your head! It’s also a practice all of us can genuinely benefit from, particularly as we live through such challenging and unprecedented times.

Finally, as for having a tutor / doing a class? Put simply, I’d never have the self-discipline to go it alone and to practice regularly. There’s also something positive to be said for sharing the experiences with other people present, especially for anyone living alone at the moment. I’m certainly going to give it another go.

If you’d like to discover more about yoga then check out the free virtual class we are hosting for our followers in collaboration with Yoga Mapp.

Husnara Begum, associate editor & career coach