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Correct breathing can reduce anxiety and depression.

Dubai The Art of Living Festival kicked off on Sunday -- the first of its kind since the ancient breathing technique was introduced to the UAE 10 years ago.

The Festival, titled EoACAyUnion of Awareness and Energy', is organised by Art of Living Foundation (ALF), a global non-profit organisation set up in 1982. It features preliminary level stress management workshops across five venues in Dubai and Sharjah.

The organisers expect more than 200 participants during the event that will conclude on March 2, 2012.

In an effort to spread awareness in the UAE about correct breathing, the Foundation decided to spearhead the concept of a Festival, focusing on breathing workshops as a means to de-stress, increase energy and enhance brain function.

Ashok Ved, director of Programmes and Senior Faculty at Art of Living in the UAE, told Gulf News that there is a definitive need for a festival of this nature. "Most people do not breathe correctly.

"Medical research has highlighted the fact that people use only one-third of their lung capacity. We, at the Foundation, want to spread awareness on the importance of correct breathing and its numerous benefits. There is a connection between breath and emotion. When one learns the right breathing technique, he will relieve depression and reduce anxiety, and if practised regularly, enhance inter-personal relationships."

There are five stress management workshops currently being conducted, explained Ved. "People will learn meditation techniques and experience a boost in their energy levels. The workshops are suited for novices."

Asif Mohammad Hashim, a Dubai-based architect has been attending Art of Living courses since 2004. He told Gulf News, "My profession is stressful with project deadlines and design issues. After my first workshop, I was able to de-stress and better able to handle work-related issues. Over time, my health improved. There was a boost in my creativity and productivity. I could even focus better on my family life. My advice is for everyone to take at least the basic level course on breath work."

K. Balaji, a Dubai-based vice-president at an insurance company, has signed up for the Festival. It is a "way of life" he told Gulf News. "I felt the need to sign up for this workshop because in my experience, I always learn something new. I learnt to communicate better with my wife of 16 years as well as my 12-year-old son. In fact, we joined the course together as a family. It has helped me achieve work-life balance."

Residents pick up useful stress-management techniques

fact file

What: Art of Living Festival

When: Until March 2

Where: Art of Living venues in Dubai and Sharjah

After my first workshop, I was able to de-stress and better able to handle work-related issues. Over time, my health improved. There was a boost in my creativity and productivity."

Asif Mohammad Hashim


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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Feb 28, 2012
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