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Outspoken Swami is on his way to Alexandra Palace

PUBLISHED: 14:55 18 July 2007 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 September 2010

By Emma Gatten A CONTROVERSIAL yoga master is bringing his ancient art to Ally Pally where he will hold classes for thousands of students. Swami Ramdev is a practitioner of the little recognised Pranayam branch of yoga, which focuses on breathing as a rel

By Emma Gatten

A CONTROVERSIAL yoga master is bringing his ancient art to Ally Pally where he will hold classes for thousands of students.

Swami Ramdev is a practitioner of the little recognised Pranayam branch of yoga, which focuses on breathing as a relaxation technique.

He is running a course from July 27 to August 1 and will be teaching participants to enhance their physical and mental harmony.

Last year 10,000 people turned up for the sessions, which are expected to sell out for the second time this summer.

Pratibha Graham, who was taught by Mr Ramdev, said: "He has simplified techniques that are very old and rediscovered a lot of things that were lost over time.

"It's a very special thing for him to come to Ally Pally, he has a lot of followers here and is watched by almost 100million people on television every day."

But Mr Ramdev has courted controversy with his extraordinary claims about the health benefits of Pranayam yoga, and earlier this year was issued with a warning from the Union Health Ministry in his native India for claiming the technique could significantly help Aids sufferers.

A spokesman for the guru was quick to clarify his position and said: "Mr Ramdev believes yoga can help alleviate the symptoms of many diseases, rather than actually cure them.

"There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that yoga and Pranayam does ameliorate and at times cure a whole range of medical disorders.

"He does believe, for instance, that the use of yoga in physiotherapy could halve waiting lists on the NHS, because the effects would be so much greater than just physiotherapy itself."

He has founded a charity, Patanjali Yog Peeth with the aim of promoting yoga as a method of ridding the world of disease.

Yoga practitioner Nicola Phoenix, who teaches in Muswell Hill and Crouch End said: "In the west we have become disempowered to take control of our own health, that is why many people think that taking control of their own health and healing is controversial.

"For people to learn yoga as a whole system of life, including its essential elements of Pranayam, allows them to enjoy the benefits for themselves.

"It is an honour to have teachers such as Swami Ramdev in the UK."

The workshops will run from Friday July 27 to Wednesday August 1.


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