Open your chest and breathe deep

March 30, 2017

‘Make your body big and full. Soften your shoulders, open your chest, and breathe deep.’ The girls look somewhat surprised and are trying hard to execute the teachers orders – without bursting into laughter.

After a couple of nerve-wrecking weeks overflowing with books, tensions, and exams, it is time for Riad Moustaqbel’s first yoga lesson. Anika, initiator of yoga company Nosade, has volunteered to introduce the girls to yoga.

And boy do the girls need it. Hafsa Boulâssafre literally fell ill directly after her final exam. ‘I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing. It was terribly scary.’ The doctor prescribed her a high dose of antihistamine Atarax. But when she noticed she could no longer move her legs after one day of taking the prescribed pills, she abandoned the doctor’s orders.

It isn’t the first time Hafsa falls ill due to the stress she experiences during examinations. And her tutors at Riad Moustaqbel are convinced there are better solutions to her problem. Yoga, for instance.

Cross-legged the girls concentrate on their breathing. Slow and deep, it should be, but quick and shallow it often is. The girls listen to their bodies.

‘Press your feet firmly into the earth. Lenghten your spine and hinge forward at the waist.’ The bodies flow into position, we hear only the sound of breathing.