Tawake Finds Ben­e­fit in Yoga

mailife - - Contents - By BERTH MUR­RAY Pho­tos by JONE LEVUNITOGA

Orig­i­nat­ing in In­dia about 5000 years ago, yoga has spread world­wide with prac­ti­tion­ers in hun­dreds of coun­tries – in­clud­ing Fiji. Yoga has been proven to have many phys­i­cal and men­tal ben­e­fits. Aside from the ob­vi­ous im­prove­ment in flex­i­bil­ity and fit­ness, yoga is also held to re­duce lower back pain, aid in­som­nia, im­prove blood flow, tone up your en­tire body and also pro­tect­ing your joints and bones from in­jury due to weak mus­cles. Most im­por­tantly, yoga is a nat­u­ral mood booster. In Fiji there are so many op­tions to get in­volved with classes and retreats ded­i­cated to help­ing Fi­jians and visi­tors to im­prove their health and well­be­ing. Pure Fiji, the Suva based com­pany with an in­ter­na­tional mar­ket for skin lo­tions and po­tions based on Fiji nat­u­ral prod­ucts in­clud­ing co­conut oil and trop­i­cal flo­ral fra­grances, runs yoga classes with in­struc­tor Ju­lia De­lai. De­lai has been teach­ing yoga since 2008 as well as run­ning aer­o­bics groups for the past 36 years. As for most peo­ple, there was a rea­son for De­lai to take up yoga. “I was in­volved in an ac­ci­dent in 1999 and suf­fered whiplash in­jury. I was told I would go to my grave with it and from then un­til De­cem­ber 2007 I was in con­stant pain. As fit as I was I al­ways had a headache, suf­fered mi­graines and al­ways needed a mas­sage… al­ways. “Then I picked up this text book show­ing the ben­e­fits of yoga, es­pe­cially af­ter whiplash. I read that it may help if you prac­ticed the shoul­der stand. I had done shoul­der stands be­fore but had never used props – they help to pro­tect your neck.” “So I had the props and stayed up for maybe three or four min­utes – and I heard it; a crack, like a stick snap­ping. In­stantly I wig­gled my fin­gers and my toes and said okay I’m fine, but I felt warmth in my back. I stayed in the pose and when I came out I was sweaty and tired, I was cry­ing. I felt the ra­di­a­tion, the pain, the tight­ness, it was gone. I had fixed my­self.” De­lai cred­its her re­cov­ery com­pletely to yoga. Al­though the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als couldn’t help her there was a so­lu­tion out there. “Most peo­ple think it is just stretch­ing, but it is not just the stretch­ing, it is be­ing con­scious and aware, breath­ing and ev­ery­thing else comes into it. The slow, phys­i­cal part of stretch­ing takes you to your full po­ten­tial, it takes your joints to their full po­ten­tial. Men­tally it helps you to re­lax and the

phys­i­cal stretch­ing helps to pro­mote re­lax­ation.” De­lai said peo­ple come to her classes for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons. “Some peo­ple come be­cause their doc­tors have ad­vised them to do yoga. I met this girl, she had never been to my class and she was very, very sick. Two years ago a doc­tor told her to do med­i­ta­tion and get into some yoga stretches and it worked. “It is great, so I tell peo­ple who come to my class: yoga is a tool, a tool you have for your whole life.” Al­though she has taught aer­o­bics for longer, De­lai now favours yoga be­cause it is a more gen­tle prac­tice. She pointed out her finest stu­dent, Paul Carnegie, and said he at­tended 99% of her classes, which run four times a week. Carnegie said he took up yoga mainly for well­be­ing and health. “It is the open­ing to­gether of mind, body and spirit, so for me it is a way of stay­ing healthy men­tally, spir­i­tu­ally and phys­i­cally.” “I have been do­ing yoga for about 15 years now. You have to do it to ex­pe­ri­ence the ben­e­fits, but they are very real. It im­proves your gen­eral health, keeps you calm, de­stresses you and helps your phys­i­cal health. I thor­oughly rec­om­mend it to any­one who wants to try it.” Like De­lai, he had some phys­i­cal rea­sons for tak­ing up yoga. “Get­ting back into yoga has been a way of ad­dress­ing some real phys­i­cal is­sues from past sport­ing in­juries. It gives you strength and flex­i­bly and you main­tain that strength, which pre­vents you from get­ting other in­juries. “It links up all those dif­fer­ent mus­cles and ten­dons as well, which keeps you stronger. It also gives you a mind­ful aware­ness of your­self and also your re­la­tion­ships with other peo­ple, and that projects out into the world.” De­lai has noth­ing but grat­i­tude for yoga: “Thank God for Yoga, I know how to fix my­self. Oth­er­wise, I al­ways tell peo­ple, if I wasn’t teach­ing and prac­tic­ing yoga I think I would be crip­pled.” Even if you con­sider your­self a men­tally and phys­i­cally healthy per­son, yoga can aide you in ways you can’t imag­ine. A sim­ple twist will help your di­ges­tion, a down­ward dog might get rid of the lit­tle ache in your lower back, the re­lax­ation will make sure you have a rest­ful night’s sleep. Give it a go. Pure Fiji Zene­gry Group Fit­ness classes run weekly at their stu­dio on Karsanji Street, Vatuwaqa.

Yoga teacher and en­thu­si­ast…Ju­lia Tawake

Tawake demon­strates how a yoga stretch is done.

Yoga stretches are good for hu­man well­be­ing and health

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