OURMALA: the inside story

Today, we are delighted to launch a new series of blogs called ‘OURMALA: the inside story. Over the next few months, we look forward to sharing some of the personal stories of clients who attend OURMALA’s trauma informed yoga sessions to find out exactly how yoga is making a difference to their mental and physical health and their ability to integrate better into UK society.

First up is Jaleh, a 30 year old Iranian woman who has been coming to OURMALA for the last one and a half years and has recently been granted refugee status. She told us how her yoga practice has made such a positive difference to her life.

The classes at OURMALA were her first ever experience of yoga and she remembers well her first real moment the gentle stretching and breathing came together. Jaleh has experienced multiple surgeries due to serious health problems and she has used breathing techniques she has learned in yoga to help her manage her post-surgical pain.

“[The breathing techniques] help the pain gone. Make me calm, make me relax.”

Before attending the classes, she experienced weakness in her legs but she has discovered that yoga has helped her balance improve immeasurably. She now enjoys a standing pose called Vrksasana in Sanskrit, or ‘tree pose’, in which you stand strongly on one leg, rooting into the earth, with the other foot positioned against the thigh of the standing leg.

She also enjoys Tadasana, or ‘mountain pose’, in which you stand tall, feeling your feet connect deeply with the ground beneath.

She feels these poses give her an increased confidence and help her feel strong. “…yes, you feel like a mountain, you are strong, yes.”

Other benefits of yoga she has discovered… include an improvement in her sleep and she likes to recreate the feeling at home when she is trying to fall asleep.

“I feel like I am on a yoga mattress… and then I fall asleep.”

Her yoga practice has helped her release tension and anxiety and has brought her a sense of calm.

“Feeling calm means my mind is more relaxed, more open, because before that my mind is so tight…trapped, like a cage.”

In addition she has found her appetite has improved and she has made lots of friends in the group, many of whom she meets up with outside the class. This sense of community and shared experience is extremely important to her.

Following a severe break to her leg several years ago, she wasn’t able to move her toes and her pain was severe. After doing yoga, she can now move her toes, her pain has gone and she no longer requires the injections she used to have nor will she need a further surgery. “…this is the amazing result of yoga, yes.’