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Breath. It is the first thing we do when we are born and it is the last thing we do when we leave. In between that time, we take about half a billion breaths. The mind, body and breath are intimately connected and can influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath. Learning to breath consciously and with awareness can be a valuable tool to help restore balance in the mind and body. Breathing can have an immediate effect on diffusing emotional energy so there is less reactivity to our emotions.

A simple practice of slow deep breathing has many benefits on our physical body, such as reduced anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, increased energy levels, muscle relaxation, and decreased feelings of stress and overwhelm. The basis for all deep breathing practices originates in the science of yoga, specifically the branch of yoga known as Pranayama. The word ‘pranayama’ is derived from two Sanskrit words Prana (life force) and yama (control).

By controlling the breath, you can influence every aspect of your life. You can train yourself to breathe in a way that has a positive influence on your health. But what if controlling your breath was not physically possible??

Let me introduce you to two incredible people that I know. John Campbell and his fiancée Katie Nodding. John fights for his breath each and every day – and its not something new to him either. Katie and John graciously allow me to share their heart tugging story below.

John had fought for his breath once before when at 16 years old, he was diagnosed and overcame an extremely rare disease requiring a bone marrow transplant, radiation, and chemotherapy. His recovery was swift and he has enjoyed life to the fullest since as a dedicated electrician, and avid outdoors-man. However, for medically unexplained reasons, he once again must overcome the unthinkable. In May of 2017, John’s lungs began to fail. His pulmonary deterioration was rapid and severe, literally taking his breath away and requiring him to use an oxygen machine 24/7 as of September. Though no official medical diagnosis has been determined, his doctors have been treating him for Graft vs. Host Disease, and the damage to his lungs has been deemed irreversible. He takes bi-weekly trips to New Brunswick for treatment on top of an intense drug prescription regime. He has had to adapt to a major lifestyle changes, he can no longer work, or hike through the forest. The days can be long and tiring – but there is HOPE.

John has been accepted into a transplant program in Toronto, and in the upcoming months he and his fiancée, Katie, will be moving to Ontario to await a double lung transplant. Though the road to recovery may be long they are determined to stay positive and regain their lives. John WILL find his breath once again. Any monetary donations, positive thoughts, prayers, and energies given are graciously accepted as all will help lessen the stress of temporarily moving their lives and starting anew; it will all help strengthen their Prana – their life force – to overcome this illness, and BREATHE again.

Yoga means union, community, oneness with self and others. Sharing my light and reaching out to my community is very important to me and I would love to help Katie and John in any way that I can.

One path of Yoga that I feel very connected to is Karma Yoga. ‘Karma’ means action and ‘yoga’ is to know one’s self. The word “Karma Yoga” therefore, means knowing yourself through work. According to James Lochtefeld, Karma yoga is the spiritual practice of “selfless action preformed for the benefit of others”

Karma Yoga is work done well without any expectations. Its an unselfish action which must be done with dedication, love and care, without expecting any fruits of labour. You must do it only for the pure joy of it and an intention to help others.

FitYoga Windsor will be offering Karma Classes by donation on Friday evenings from 6pm – 7pm. All proceeds from each 60-minute FitYoga Karma class will go directly to helping John and Katie. Friday evening classes will begin on March 23rd. Please note that each Karma Class will be limited to 20 people and you can sign up for this class a head of time online. Donations will be made in cash at the studio. This will be a regular 60 minute FitYoga class with a dynamic power flow sequence, meditation and pranayama exercises – be prepared to sweat with pleasure.

“Healing is every breath” – Thich Nhat Hunh