Life­long pas­sion for yoga

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK -

Well re­spected lo­cal Shirley Lloyds has spent most of her life prac­tis­ing and teach­ing yoga, part of a fas­ci­na­tion with In­dia, as she re­counted to

Shirley (82) was born in Cardiff, Wales, and went to In­dia aged four months. Her fa­ther Sidney Smith OBE was at­tached to the South In­dian Rail­ways, and stayed on af­ter In­dia achieved in­de­pen­dence.

On his re­tire­ment, in 1950 the fam­ily moved to Mel­bourne be­cause her fa­ther felt Aus­tralia pre­sented a bet­ter fu­ture, and Shirley com­pleted her ed­u­ca­tion there.

She mar­ried English­man Guy Lloyds in Mel­bourne in 1955, and in 1967, with their three young sons they moved to Fiji, where ar­chi­tect Guy han­dled the de­vel­op­ment of the new Nadi In­ter­na­tional Air­port to cope with the ar­rival of the new Jumbo jets.

The fam­ily re­mained in Fiji for seven years and Shirley be­gan study­ing yoga.

She says, “I had a won­der­ful In­dian Guru, a doc­tor who was also a San­skrit scholar and gen­uine yogi, so I grad­u­ated un­der the old sys­tem of study­ing with a tra­di­tional teacher.”

When the fam­ily re­turned from Fiji in 1973, Guy worked with govern­ment hous­ing in Mel­bourne, and af­ter the Dar­win cy­clone in 1974, he rewrote the build­ing code to en­sure new build­ings had ad­e­quate cy­clone rat­ing.

Guy’s ca­reer took them to Bangladesh and then Hong Kong, where Shirley taught yoga for seven years, tak­ing up to 18 classes a week.

She re­mem­bers “When I came to back Aus­tralia I thought I’d bet­ter qual­ify to Aus­tralian stan­dards and the most highly re­spected was the In­ter­na­tional Yoga Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion which is ac­cepted around the world. It was a 15 month course and we had to at­tend lec­tures and com­plete four in-depth as­sign­ments a month. We didn’t have in­ter­net to re­search then, we had to read about it and then hand­write or type them.”

Liv­ing in Syd­ney, Guy was one of the team in­volved in the ren­o­va­tion of the splen­did Queen Vic­to­ria Build­ing in the mid 1980s.

But he de­cided that liv­ing in big cities wasn’t for him, so in 1988 he and Shirley came to Port Dou­glas where he was site ar­chi­tect on Christo­pher Skase’s Sher­a­ton Mi­rage vil­las, work­ing for the Gold Coast com­pany Me­dia Five Ar­chi­tects.

Shirley said “Money was just be­ing thrown around left, right and cen­tre and Skase would use a pri­vate jet to fly guests in for par­ties. It was quite a place for the Skase peo­ple, but sud­denly it went crunch and we were one of the many peo­ple af­fected badly. Ev­ery­thing came to a grind­ing halt when Skase dis­ap­peared.”

The se­cond stage of vil­las did not be­gin as Skase took off to Spain. Builders had to leave town to find work and the price of houses plum­meted.

To re­tain his job, Guy moved South­port where Me­dia Five were based, so he and Shirley had to live apart for a year with oc­ca­sional fly­ing vis­its to see each other. Af­ter that, he de­cided to re­tire in Port Dou­glas.

Shirley says she was lucky to have her yoga to keep her busy. When she first ar­rived in town, Hi­lary Con­nors who ran the Sher­a­ton gym had asked her to start yoga classes there with about eight stu­dents.

“Ever since then, I’ve been in­volved in yoga up here. We shared with the gym so it wasn’t al­ways con­ve­nient to have classes there, so we moved to a small stu­dio op­po­site the post of­fice, and when we out­grew that, we went to the orig­i­nal com­mu­nity hall in Macrossan Street.

“It was a lovely hall, tim­ber and peace­ful,” she says. She gave five classes a week there un­til she had to move again when the build­ing was shifted to Craiglie.

“The rest is lit­er­ally his­tory. It started with just me and now we have seven fully qual­i­fied teach­ers with Port Dou­glas Yoga cov­er­ing Wonga, Dain­tree, Port Dou­glas, Moss­man and up in Ju­lat­ten. I’m hop­ing we’re adding some­thing to our lo­cal com­mu­nity,” she laughs.

Af­ter Guy passed away in 2010, Shirley de­cided that she wanted to re­turn to In­dia. When she men­tioned it in yoga class, six hands went up, ask­ing to join her.

Since then, she has had six trips to In­dia with stu­dents and friends, some­times vis­it­ing her old school or her old home. This year 14 peo­ple, in­clud­ing four hus­bands and son Si­mon are vis­it­ing South In­dia. Funds raised by the lo­cal yoga com­mu­nity have sup­ported a pri­mary school in Ra­jasthan for many years. She says, “It’s a good ex­cuse to go back to a coun­try I love. I had a won­der­ful child­hood there.”

As she sits cross-legged in front of her at­ten­tive stu­dents twice a week, she presents a fine ex­am­ple of the ben­e­fits of yoga prac­tice. “I aim to be peace­ful in body and mind. Yoga keeps me healthy and calm,” she says, smil­ing.

Pam Wil­lis Bur­den re­ceived a 2017 Re­gional Arts De­vel­op­ment Fund grant from Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil to con­duct oral his­tory record­ings with fam­i­lies from the dis­trict. This is a short ex­tract from her up­com­ing book.

Shirley with some of her In­dian items. Inset left: yoga in her Hong Kong days. Right: In Fiji with Swami Abayananda and two stu­dents

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