There’s been an explosion of yoga studios in Townsville over recent years, the latest offering being hot yoga at Lighten Up on Stanley Street in the CBD. So why are more North Queenslanders embracing this ancient practice?
“I love the saying, ‘I came for the vanity, but now I’m here for the sanity’ — you start to make different choices because you want your body to be a healthy vehicle and looking better is just a bonus” – Jasmine Healy-Pagan
Known as the nucleus of Townsville’s ever-growing yoga community, energy-packed mother-of-two Jasmine Healy-Pagan has spent the past six years doggedly championing yoga’s cause in this city. This has been largely through Sundalah — a neutral platform created in 2008 to enable yoga teachers and students to come together to find and learn a style of yoga they love — and also to support not-for-profit programs like Yoga Tools for Schools Inc.
It’s literally absorbed thousands of her hours, often without financial gain, but you’ll never hear Jasmine complain; especially now that the local yoga community has blossomed, nearly doubling in six years, with increasing numbers of qualified teachers, studios and North Queenslanders willing to switch on to yoga’s benefits.
“Townsville is now ready for the evolution of yoga; something that I’ve seen happen all over the world,” says Jasmine, who worked in the fast-paced fitness industry in New York and started “dabbling” in yoga as a way to achieve work-life balance for her tired company director’s body and unsettled mind. “When I returned to Townsville in 2006 after 11 years in the states, the majority of people I met understood yoga to be ‘some kind of religion’ or something only really flexible people could do. It was these misunderstandings that lead me to become so passionate about sharing the ‘big picture’ of yoga in our town.”
And what is that big picture, you ask? Jasmine describes the practice of yoga as a “doorway into creating a happy and optimal life”. She says that while many people first take up the practice for their bodies, it’s often the mind that ends up as an unexpected beneficiary. “People learn to create a balance in themselves on the mat and it filters out into the world,” Jasmine explains, cup of tea in hand. “I love the saying, ‘I came for the vanity, but now I’m here for the sanity’ — you start to make different choices because you want your body to be a healthy vehicle and looking better is just a bonus.”
With so many styles of yoga to try, from the physically challenging Ashtanga and styles of Vinyasa, to the more meditative and relaxing Purna and Satyananda; you could be forgiven for getting a little confused as where to start.
That’s part of the reason why Jasmine and a team of yoga-loving volunteers are hosting Sundalah Sunday on August 24 at the Castle Hill PCYC in West End. This event started on a very hot December day six years ago with 40 people and has now grown to attract an expected 300-500 who are keen to learn about yoga’s different styles and benefits.
“Sundalah Sunday is about people coming along for a taste so they can better understand yoga and realise that it’s so much more than what happens on the yoga mat,” she says, with everything on offer from yoga classes and workshops (e.g. preventing back pain, exploring meditation, family yoga, an explanation on the styles of yoga and how they differ); to a market stalls, live music and a community lunch.
“I’m really excited about this event and yoga’s future in general in Townsville — it’s the right time now for the city to embrace yoga as people seek to step out of life’s busy list of expectations, re-set themselves, build strength and clear the mind. It’s just so exciting for me to see people understand yoga properly.”
To find a local yoga studio, see here: sundalah.com.au/localyoga