Yoga instructor Li Melville is training to be a yoga therapist.
Yoga instructor Li Melville is training to be a yoga therapist. John Mccutcheon

Yoga is the best medicine

IN 1986, in the international community of Auroville, India, Li Melville went to her first yoga class. Little did she know it would change her life.

After hearing a friend comment on how good they felt after a class, Mrs Melville was motivated to give the ancient practice a try. She went to class once, then twice, then three times a week before her teacher asked if she would like to become an instructor.

"I started the training over there in India, but as I was going into the training program, I met my husband, so things changed," Mrs Melville said.

"We moved to England and my daughter was born and for about six years, I didn't have any real yoga training."

In 2003, Mrs Melville and her family moved to the Sunshine Coast where she was able to resume her training and study of yoga in the tradition of T. Krishnamacharya through the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation.

"We met a lady in Buderim who was just starting a yoga teacher training course, so I decided to do it, too," Mrs Melville said.

She graduated as a qualified yoga instructor in 2006.

Despite the in-depth training she had received to become an instructor, at the end of the three-and-a-half-year course, Mrs Melville wanted more.

"I just felt we had only really covered the surface of everything, so I decided to start the yoga therapy training, which is a four-year course," she said.

Yoga therapy is the teaching of yoga for people who are unwell, to help improve their health.

"It can help with things from back pain to hypertension, and even diabetes and obesity," Mrs Melville said.

As part of the yoga therapy course, participants are required to complete a research project.

Mrs Melville is researching the impact of the quality of a person's breath on other aspects of their being in sufferers of hypertension.

Having completed all of the groundwork for the project, Mrs Melville approached three doctors in the Coolum area to help find participants for her study, but has so far been unsuccessful.

"One doctor said people seem to expect her to just give them a magic pill to fix everything," she said.

"Yoga has so many benefits but it's something you have to experience to really appreciate and understand, but it takes time and daily practice - there is no quick fix."

Mrs Melville also said that yoga could help people undo bad habits and behavioural patterns, such as walking or sitting with slouched shoulders.

"These patterns can become part of your nature, but with yoga, you can learn to undo those patterns and create new ones that are more beneficial to your health," she said.

The challenge was doing regular yoga practice, which Mrs Melville likens to growing a plant.

"To grow a plant, you have to keep watering and feeding it - practice that becomes a daily routine," she said.

"And then it's only after some time that you get the first flower - like first noticing the benefits of doing the practice. And then after more time, you get more flowers."

Mrs Melville teaches a class once a week at Noosa, but is interested in becoming a travelling instructor, teaching small groups in people's homes.

"That way, I would be able to give people the individual attention they need to get the most benefit out of it in an environment in which they feel comfortable," she said.


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