Movers and Makers
Following on from Dr Paul's blog post about Alison Mynard's fabulously creative social inclusion project, Nadia Chaves (doctor and qualified yoga instructor) would like to share with you her take on the movers and makers of 10 Bridge Road. The makers are the
incredibly creative participants who made decorative boxes at today's session and the movers are those that participated in the yoga and guided relaxation session facilitated by Nadia. The makers will display their crafts which will be available for purchase by the public at the end of the year. Check out the flyer at the bottom of this blog for details. The content below is Nadia's work with a few edits added by Lester Mascarenhas.
Out the back of an unassuming weatherboard house in Werribee Alison Mynard has created a haven of creativity. For the last two and a half years, at the back of Next Door psychology Alison and her staff have supported people from Karen and Karenni refugee backgrounds in therapeutic creative pursuits from painting and weaving to woodwork. Today, the clients were making
intricate mosaics. It was a painstaking process requiring a lot of concentration and the results were truly spectacular. A number of other staff were helping out including Karenni and Karen interpreters, community leaders, nurses, counsellors and even a lawyer. Alison, with the help of the community has also planted out a fabulous vegetable garden and has kitted out a huge shed with craft and sewing tools.
I am a yoga teacher and an infectious diseases specialist. I trained in yoga only post-2020, when I realised that the regular practice of yoga had been the perfect antidote to the pandemic burnout. It can also be a helpful practice for those who have experienced trauma. I walked around the tables observing the artists at work, introducing myself and trying to explain the concept of yoga with the help of the interpreters.
One definition of yoga is to ‘draw the strands of the mind together.’ We asked the clients if they might be interested in going through a few asanas, or movements and to my surprise the entire group stood up and gathered around. There were over 60 women and men ranging in ages with different levels of health and abilities. Some people had visible disabilities, and I’m sure many had invisible disabilities too - the impact of surviving and escaping the genocide which has been perpetrated by the Myanmar government against the Karen and the Karenni peoples for many years.
I wanted to show that we could use yoga to feel stable, comfortable and safe (sthiram sukham in Sanskrit). I started by paying respect to the Bunurong people whose unceded lands we were standing on. We felt the ancient ground beneath our feet. Wominjeka, we had come for a purpose, of connection and safety.
With the help of the interpreters we stood like mountains, breathed in and opened our arms to the beautiful blue sky and white fluffy clouds, stood strong like warriors and then hung down, relaxed to the ground like weeping willows. We came back to noticing the breath in the posture of Samasthiti - standing to attention. I chanted Om Shanti - may you have the gift of peace.
The session ended with smiles all around. It was an incredible experience for me: a space full of people who were so generous with their time and who trusted me to share with them the joy of yoga. Thank you also to NWPHN and Lester from Utopia refugee health clinic who have funded these sessions. I look forward to future sessions where I will build on what I taught today, helping to draw our minds into peaceful attention.