‘The New Yoga’


Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - News - Story and pho­tos by Carmel Lid­dell.

In 1970 the not-for-profit, in­de­pen­dent, Hills Com­mu­nity Aid or­gan­i­sa­tion be­gan pro­vid­ing fam­ily, fi­nance and trans­port ser­vices to res­i­dents in the Hills and West­ern Syd­ney. Then, recog­nis­ing the phys­i­cal and men­tal health ben­e­fits of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, it in­tro­duced a leisure learn­ing pro­gramme: Learn­ing in the Hills.

Thirty five years on, Learn­ing in the Hills con­tin­ues to hold a range of so­cial and tu­tored groups in the Turner Build­ings (4 & 5) Bal­combe Heights Es­tate, at Baulkham Hills. Run over four terms, six days per week, classes are held in Arts and Crafts, Paint­ing, Home Fur­nish­ings, Cake Dec­o­rat­ing and So­cial Games. Also avail­able is the Health and Life­style op­tion, yoga. Pop­u­lar in Aus­tralia since the 1950’s, this mind-body prac­tice of med­i­ta­tion and re­lax­ation is renowned for reliev­ing stress. How­ever to­day’s pun­dits pro­claim that so­cial in­ter­ac­tion is the ‘new yoga’, and in this area mem­bers of two groups, have found their niche.

On Satur­days, the Turner build­ings are a hive of ac­tiv­ity. Ma­chines hum in the Sew­ing and Dress­mak­ing class, and nee­dles clack in the Knit­ting for Char­ity group. Ac­tiv­ity is sus­pended for lunch or cof­fee – but the con­ver­sa­tion never stops.

Sarah Shreeve is the youngest mem­ber of the weekly, tu­tored, sew­ing and dress­mak­ing class. Brim­ful of en­thu­si­asm, she uses her own ma­chine (a course re­quire­ment), and is keen to study pat­tern mak­ing. Sarah glows in the com­pany of ex­pe­ri­enced dress­mak­ers. The pud­dle of pur­ple fab­ric on her ma­chine, a circle skirt in the mak­ing, hints at her sense of style. Ma­chines hum; mem­bers chat; they re­lax…

Next door, the Knit­ting for Char­ity so­cial circle meets on the first Satur­day of the month. Shar­ing a lead­ing role in the group is Robin Slattery, Ruth Petersen and Bev Coe, rep­re­sent­ing the Red Cross. Here mem­bers knit and cro­chet items for dis­tri­bu­tion to Knit­ting for An­gel Ba­bies, the am­bu­lance ser­vice, Red Cross, lo­cal hos­pi­tals and Wires – res­cued an­i­mals love a woollen em­brace! Nee­dles clack; mem­bers chat; they re­lax…

So, get with the pro­gramme, peo­ple! On trend for stress re­lief is ‘the new yoga’: old fash­ioned, so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. Where can you get it? The wel­come mat is out, and cour­ses avail­able, at Learn­ing in the Hills.

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