Dozens of people participate in the group outdoor yoga session at the legislature in Victoria on the eve of the International Day of Yoga last year. This year’s group yoga session,hosted by Nirmala Raniga, takes place on the lawns of the legislature on Wednesday, June 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Contributed photo

Celebrating the benefits of yoga

International Day of Yoga takes place Wednesday, June 21.

Nirmala Raniga often sees people when they are at their worst.

As the founder of the Chopra Wellness and Addiction Centre, Raniga helps people dealing with addiction, addictive behaviours, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

People who come to the centre are all over the map and often don’t have a proper eating or sleeping schedule. Many seek help for addictions they’ve been battling for more than 20 years, while others can’t even look her in the eye because they’re so ashamed of their addiction.

But it is through yoga that Raniga has encouraged more than 1,200 people to manage their behaviours.

“When we practice yoga we are given the opportunity to feel a stronger sense of connection to ourselves, our envrionment and others,” said Raniga, who is promoting the benefits of yoga in Victoria next week.

“Not only does it help reduce stress, but it encourages us to consciously create a positive internal environment and improve our lives from the inside out.”

As part of the program in Squamish, participants are encouraged to establish a routine, which includes yoga and meditation in the morning and afternoon, which helps them make healthier choices and gives them more energy to take on the day. The routine also includes lunch and dinner at specific times.

After a few weeks, Raniga can see a difference in patients from when they first came to the centre.

“Yoga allows you to become aware … Especially people who may be in an addictive behaviour or have depression and anxiety,” Raniga said. “When they get triggered and those intense emotions come, they reach for drugs or alcohol…if you breathe, you reset the point in the brain. We see a lot of healing in people.”

Now, Raniga is celebrating the benefits of yoga and encouarging people from all walks of life to participate in the third annual International Day of Yoga next week in Victoria. Raniga will be leading a group outdoor hatha yoga session at the legislature on Wednesday, June 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. People who practise yoga of all levels are encouraged to participate.

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