Back to basics

• Swami Venkatesananda with students on a visit to Perth.

IN these times of ongoing uncertainty it is vital you look after your mental and physical health.

For decades yoga has been used as a holistic approach to wellbeing, and the Beacon Yoga Centre is one of the oldest and well-respected practitioners in Greater Fremantle.

Recently they restarted their face-to-face yoga classes.

“We are lucky to have a large hall and have been able to accommodate eighteen students per class within the bounds of social distancing,” says centre board member Meg Meyer.

“On Sunday mornings we have a group, in our yoga hall, that studies the ancient scriptures of yoga. 

“Seeking to understanding this ancient wisdom brings enormous insight and guides one toward the truth of human existence transcending the worries of everyday life.”

Perched on a rocky outface high above South Street, the yoga centre is part of an ashram that dates back to 1961, when Swami Venkatesananda visited UWA and gave a talk on spirituality to 200 people.

Attendees included Nancy and John Horwood, who were inspired to open several yoga centres in Fremantle before finally establishing the Beaconsfield ashram in 1976.

During the 60s and 70s yoga had been mainly taught by housewives from their homes, so an ashram with a residential study program was a major step forward. 

But not even Swamis are immune from Covid-19 and the Beaconsfield ashram was forced to close its doors on March 23.

Centre administrator Sherryn McHugh says they are discussing reopening in phase 3.

“Our intent is certainly to be able to re-open as soon as possible with the safety of everyone involved,” she says.

“We currently have five full-time residents who live on the premises and two more will be joining them in the coming week. 

“We are currently accepting applications from spiritual students for residency.”

The centre’s yoga program also took a hit during lockdown, but they managed to put on virtual classes.

“As a not for profit with minimal staff and mostly volunteers we adjusted as best as possible and tried to provide as many services as possible online,” Ms McHugh says.

“Our doors closed on March 23 leaving our students without their teachers and space to practice their yoga, our teachers without classes and our bottom line also suffered an impact. 

“Within two weeks we managed to set-up live-streaming online classes with reduced staff and teachers and this was well-received by our community. 

“It was important to us to keep the connection with our community during this challenging time and we provided a range of material online also such as guided meditations.

“Yoga is not an activity; it is a way of life based upon the tenets of self knowledge and non-violence.”

So as we prepare for the long-term fallout from Covid-19, dust off your yoga mat and assume the lotus position.

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