• Annika Fernando

PR Wellness | International Yoga Day

I went to my first yoga class with my mother at the age of 15. Since then, it has become more and more essential to my general well being and I'm so blessed to be surrounded by the best yogis on the island !

Not only is Shobana Cooke the designer of favourite design label 1948 and a PR Wellness Expert, but she is a certified Homeopath, Pranic healer, tarot card reader and Hatha Yoga instructor & Yogic Lifestyle Counsellor.

Who better to contribute in honor of International Yoga Day which falls on 21st June, than to remind us to.... just breathe.


Just Breathe

by Shobana Cooke, BSc,C.HOM. Dip.RYT 200

It has not only been a tough year with Covid-19 - for us in Sri Lanka, as we were catapulted into the Pandemic on the heels of the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019. As a nation we have all been in a state of shock and fear. I am well aware that this moment in time is not the time for philosophy and postulating. We as humans, all yearn to engage, live and act in the world.

As humans, we are able to stand up tall, metaphorically and anatomically! We hold our heads up high - and so we are capable of upholding high ideals. Unlike animals, we possess intelligence and discernment. We have the power of choice.


We can discern and decide; to take courage, to steady ourselves and to rise to the occasion. We must act in the world, this is our human gift. What we have at this moment is a choice - to continue down dead end roads or to change direction and co-create a more equitable world for all. The outcome is based on our own choices; choices we make daily as individuals.


In order to act according to our elevated human potential, Yoga teaches us many skills beyond the asana on the mat. I am reminded of a Yogi’s emergency response practice. It has three pillars - breathe, be calm and smile.

Swami Satchidananda always taught that we must also choose actions that are useful & peaceful.

For this, we must commit to a peaceful attitude, no matter what the challenges are.

And so you may wonder… How do we become peaceful? And, how do we do this particularly in the face of all the atrocities in the world, the Pandemic, the destruction of the environment and inequality of access to resources ?

Despite all of these debilitating challenges, we also have in front of us an opportunity; to be innovative, to be courageous and most importantly to be fearless.

we also have in front of us an opportunity; to be innovative, to be courageous and most importantly to be fearless.

My work and background is in holistic wellness - and according to Yogic science & philosophy - in Sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras - the literary work where the Science of Yoga is shared with us, it is taught very clearly as to how we can maintain our peace, be courageous and also fearless. Our human challenge, is as to how we will quieten our mind.

In the Yoga sutras, the epithet:

Yoga Chitta Virti Nirodha” - defines Yoga to be the practice that eliminates the oscillations of the mind. Through our breath practices, known as Pranayama in Yoga, we are taught various techniques to settle our breath, this in turn makes the mind quiet and clear.


All the Eastern philosophies and martial arts too link breath, movement and mind. You don’t have to approach this from a Yoga standpoint - it can be through Tai-Chi, Qi Gong or any other Martial Art too. For that matter even sweeping your home - we can link the movement to the breath and so settle our mind.

All the Eastern philosophies and martial arts too link breath, movement and mind. You don’t have to approach this from a Yoga standpoint - it can be through Tai-Chi, Qi Gong or any other Martial Art too. For that matter even sweeping your home - we can link the movement to the breath and so settle our mind.

The mind is defeated by fear - so how we handle our fears is critical to our wellbeing.

For example - when we are told something negative or upsetting and we get upset or angry - we have been told by our elders to close your eyes, to take 10 breaths and then respond. This is a perfect example of how the breath quietens the mind. In Yogic philosophy and science, we are given protocols and prescriptions for this, called Pranayama practices. Even in situations that we are fearful - we can close our eyes - some people may pray or chant, and when they do call on the Divine guidance, their breath too slows down and thus calms the mind, the speed of thoughts are reduced, the heart beat too slows down. We then find ourselves in a place of calmness. From this place, we have clarity to discern and make choices as to how we can access our courage in order to respond - as opposed to react.

We can, and we must strive to be Fearless. When we build courage, in turn it builds our immunity. It all begins with our ability to steady our mind. When your mind is agitated - the breath is also agitated. The mind state is reflected in the number of breaths per minute. Therefore, calm the breath and in turn it will quieten the mind.

I would like to invite you all to sit somewhere quiet, elongate your spine, relax your shoulder and open your heart center as you gently breathe through both your nostrils, on your inhale and exhale. Do this a few times, and observe the changes in your thoughts, your heart beat, your breath. Remember you can always do this simple breathing exercise - even without closing your eyes, you can settle your thoughts and mind even when you are with people or in a meeting. Just breathe gently.

“What is the difference between illness and wellness? Illness begins with ‘I.’ Wellness begins with ‘We.’ See? If we use the ‘I,’ we are ill. If we use the ‘we,’ we are well. Make your life a little more selfless. Don’t always think of you, you, you.

‘We’ brings wellness. So embrace everybody.

Sarvesham Swastir Bhavatu

May all be happy, May all be peaceful. God bless you. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.”

- Sri Swami Satchidananda


See Shobana Cooke's design range of 1948 jewellery and lifestyle products