(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) It was a coronary-artery bypass surgery that prompted Tony D'Silva to turn his life around and start taking care of his health. That was six years ago.
On Friday, the 69-year-old was on stage at Dubai's first ever Yogathon in Za'abeel Park, sweating bullets, but grateful for the practice of yoga. "It has given me a second chance at life and that's why I'm highly thankful to it."
D'Silva was one among the roughly 1,500 people who took part in the event. Along with Dubai residents, those from Sharjah and Abu Dhabi also took part in the Yogathon, which was spearheaded by The Art of Living, a global humanitarian organisation. Surrounded by the shade of date palms and blazing scarlet blooms on the royal poinciana trees, the setting for the event was as optimistic as the words coming out of the speaker on stage.
"Keep smiling everyone," she kept telling participants as they worked their way through 108 sets of the sun salutation pose. Among the participants was Aduait Mane, 19, an engineering student who says he does yoga to keep up with the burden of university.
"It helps you overcome the pressure and stress of school really well," Mane said, adding that unlike the gym where you focus on building your muscles, yoga helps to "build the mind." Prince Juneja, a volunteer at the Yogathon, said he was suffering from breathing problems that prevented him from sleeping. In an effort to overcome his ailment, Juneja took up yoga and said since then he doesn't face any breathing problems. "I was suffering from this ailment for two years, and was taking so many different medications, but after yoga this all ended," Juneja said.
"Yoga is about your mind and body working together," she said. "Its effects are phenomenal and beautiful and you have them for a lifetime." Gangaramani said that yoga is good for anyone, but noted that elderly individuals who find lifting weights too strenuous should look into the practice. However, she warns not to be fooled by how easy it looks compared to lifting weights.
"It may look very easy sitting there, but it's not. Your body has to be very flexible, but it also makes you very flexible," Gangaramani said. And that's something D'Silva attests to, saying the practice isn't easy, but it does have its benefits. "I can easily recommend it, especially to heart patients, those who are suffering from obesity, arthritis and diabetes," D'Silva, who now teaches yoga free of charge twice daily at Za'abeel Park near Gate 3, said. "We need to make people more health conscious and that's why I teach them," D'Silva said.