#InternationalYogaDay Yoga is a moving meditation, where practice becomes prayer and dedication: Yasmina Cherquaoui

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Nilima Pathak
London-based Yasmina Cherquaoui’s foray with yoga began in 2002. While trying to find balance in a stress-filled corporate world, the yoga mat became a secret haven for her.
A qualified health and nutrition coach, she teaches yoga at studios in London, has corporate and private clients and runs retreats in the United Kingdom, Portugal, Turkey, Morocco and the Caribbean.
Yasmina also works in co-ordination with Dr Imran Ali, a renowned osteopathic and naturopathic practitioner at The London Clinic (www.thelondonclinic.co.uk).
She acknowledged, “Dr Ali has a unique integrated treatment programme. He prescribes yoga to some of his patients as part of the rehabilitation programme to complement the treatment they receive from him.
“In fact, the various yogic breathing techniques he has been applying for the past few months, have been very helpful for Covid-19 patients, who were earlier on a mechanical ventilator and later recovered.”
Founder of Ready Steady Glow, a wellness store in London, Yasmina shares with Organiser, her nearly two decades of yoga experience.
How did it begin?
It was around 2002 while working as a PR consultant with a hotel chain that I had scoliosis (curvature of the spine caused by bad desk posture). In the midst of uncertainty, chaos, stress and anxiety, I was unnerved and did not know how to feel grounded. I suffered from panic attacks.
That’s when my mother who had heard about the benefits of yoga introduced me to it. I began practising a few asanas and within a few weeks, felt the change. The asanas were helping my medical condition. The practices astounded me on how yoga could positively affect me both mentally and physically. The practice of pranayama had a calming effect on my mind and transformed the way I lived life.
Sabbatical from job
To me, it was nothing short of a miracle and I wanted to learn more. It was not just about the asanas, but the history and philosophy of yoga, the art of well-being, that I wanted to imbibe.
I took a sabbatical from my job in 2014and underwent a 200-hour teacher-training course in hatha yoga,at the Himalayan Yoga Institute in India. On completion, I decided to share the knowledge and benefits with others. The idea was to help people discover the incredible effects of yoga. I began teaching at a local community centre and my perspective towards life changed.
The turnaround
I shifted my life in the direction it was taking me. Within a year, I quit the corporate job and became a full-time practitioner and yoga teacher. From yoga guru Shiva Rea, I learned prana vinyasa, an energetic and creative dance flow, soma prana, a restorative and healing practice, chakra mandala, conscious process of self-discovery, sound healing, mindfulness meditation and pre and postnatal yoga.
I consider it a blessing and an honour to be able to share my love of yoga with others. While being respectful towards the ancient traditional teachings, I make yoga applicable to the modern lifestyle. Through my concepts, I try to provide solace to people and relieve them of stress in their everyday life.
Area of specialisation
I am fascinated by hypnobirthing - a method of pain management that can be used during labour and birth. It involves using a mixture of visualization, relaxation and deep-breathing techniques. Sadly, these days, women, especially in western countries, have begun to rely heavily on medical intervention during pregnancy.
Staying connected to the present moment and releasing tension from the body is imperative for successful labour. Some asanas are very helpful during pregnancy and can relieve lower back pain and the tension in neck and shoulders. These can also improve a person’s posture and sciatica effects. Closer to and during labour, certain hip opening asanas are extremely beneficial.
Why yoga is necessary?
What is readily known and attracts people is merely a scratch on the surface. Yoga is much more than making poses! It is a moving meditation, where practice becomes a prayer and dedication towards it becomes sacred to every individual who practices it.