According to Libby Wever, founder of one of Queensland's leading Yoga and Pilates studio on the Gold Coast, -Soul Centre', Yoga can help to fix all sorts of health issues including high blood pressure, anxiety, headaches, and much more.
Dedicated to inspiring and empowering its clients through dynamic movement, Soul Centre runs Yoga and Pilates classes for all ages and experience levels. With a belief that overall wellness is achieved through attention to the mind, body and soul, Soul Centre helps people achieve and maintain inner and outer strength. Soul Centre is a community where people are given the tools to live their best lives.
'Yoga is a holistic approach to balancing the body, mind and soul that is suitable for all to enjoy," Ms Wever said.
'We recognise that every individual has a unique path to follow to create healthy, strong, vibrant bodies and cultivate creative and tranquil minds.
'Yoga and Pilates have been a passion of mine for the past decade and when the opportunity to purchase the Soul Centre studio came up nine months ago, I leapt for it.
'Since then we have established a team of enthusiastic and experienced teachers, and we're looking forward to helping people to improve their personal health, happiness and well-being.
'I have long been a lover of Yoga and Pilates and have seen Yoga help so many people. Because it is so calming and involves a broad range of dynamic movements and helps to strengthen core muscles, it provides so many health benefits.
'I have witnessed people take up Yoga with terrible health issues and within a matter of weeks, they are feeling better, looking better and some of their health issues have started to disappear.
'Based on what I know and what I have seen, Yoga can fix all sorts of health issues. Many of our health issues develop because of stress. Many people are simply doing too much and taking too much on and not getting enough time to relax, unwind and destress their body. Yoga is perfect for this."
The studio's fully-qualified teachers guide students through classes to deliver the many benefits of Yoga and Pilates. Focussing on posture, alignment, breathing techniques and flow of movement, teachers are trained in a variety of Yoga teachings and incorporate their own unique variations, and adapt classes to meet the needs of individual students.
'Classes are run at an easy pace with clear instructions for beginners, while intensive classes are open for those with previous training," Ms Wever added.
'Everyone responds differently to Yoga, based on age, physical condition and genetics, so we don't measure -progress'. We encourage people to embrace where they are in their yoga practice and let go of expectations."
As Yoga can be a challenging practice, Soul Centre works on the philosophy that if you can breathe you can do yoga. Teachers are happy to offer modifications and individual assistance where needed and sessions are taken at a pace appropriate for all levels of experience.
Acknowledging that many parents use yoga as a part of their busy lives, the studio is welcome to children. Soul Centre's workshops and parties are tailored for the younger generation up to twelve years of age and they are unique, age appropriate and include creative breathing techniques, fun yoga games and relaxation time. Expectant mothers can also enjoy the benefits of movement through pregnancy, with teachers happy to accommodate the different abilities of their students.
'Soul Centre supplies Yoga mats and props. New members need only bring a water bottle, an open mind, and comfortable clothing," Ms Wever continued.
'For posture, flexibility and general strength, we recommend attending a minimum of three classes per week. The well-documented effects of exercise last up to twenty-four hours, so for peace of mind and mental wellbeing we suggest practicing Yoga at home, too."
With classes that are suitable for all levels of experience, Soul Centre has options for everyone from beginners to experienced practitioners.
Question: How does yoga treat a variety of health issues?
Libby Wever: Practicing yoga has shown to increase mindfulness, this in turn helps you become aware on how you and your body feels not just on the mat but in other areas of life. Yoga is one of the most powerful stress and anxiety relief techniques, the health benefits are well documented. Regular practice restores your energy levels, eases mental tension and relieves the stress response. Yoga calms the nervous system, lowers your heart rate and teaches you to slow down your breathing and relax your body.
Question: What types of health issues does yoga treat?
Libby Wever: Doing a regular practice of yoga has shown to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: it helps lower blood pressure in clients who have hypertension. Research studies shows now that yoga can also help with depression, anxiety and arthritis.
Question: How can we begin yoga in an effort to treating anxiety?
Libby Wever: If you have never done yoga before it is best to go to a yoga beginner's class or yin/restorative yoga. For people struggling with anxiety yoga helps calm your mind and improves brain function, which in turn reduces anxiety. It also improves your body's ability to cope with stress and handle the demands of a busy lifestyle. When practicing yoga, your brain's dopamine and endorphin levels increase so this helps lift your mood and improves your perspective on life.
Question: How did you make this correlation between yoga and illness?
Libby Wever: Through personal struggles that I had with being diagnosed with stomach cancer, yoga improved my psychological health. It helped reduce my anxiety and gave me a positive mindset. Yoga for me stopped the noisy, negative chatter of my mind and brought it into a place of stillness, because of this the brain and the body began to heal and create a better quality of life.
Question: When did you first fall in love with yoga?
Libby Wever: I had been practising pilates for eight years and my naturopath told me I needed to slow down and relax more so I decided to try yoga six years ago, and in my very first class I fell in love with it and I have never looked back.
Question: What inspired you to create Soul Centre?
Libby Wever: My main aim for creating Soul Centre is to build a community where people can come and enjoy what they love and feel at peace.
Question: How is Soul Centre different to other yoga studios?
Libby Wever: Soul Centre is a boutique studio, where the individual teachers teach their own style of yoga giving the classes a variety of styles. We have a class for mature and motivated (50 poses of grey) where we have clients that are in their late eighties. Then to see them after class, chatting and telling you how good they feel since starting is heart warming.
Question: What items are mandatory for a beginner implementing their first yoga practice?
Libby Wever: One of our philosophies is if you can breathe you can do yoga. At Soul Centre all you need is comfortable clothing, we supply everything that is required i.e. mat, straps, blocks.
Question: What's the difference between Pilates and yoga?
Libby Wever: The main difference between pilates and yoga is that pilates is more for the physical body whereas yoga seeks to create harmony between the body, mind and spirit. Yet they both share similarities as they both have the ability to create a strong, lean and flexible body. Yoga has been around for thousands of years whereas pilates originated in the earlier 1900s.
Question: Will pilates have the same benefits as yoga in terms of treating health issues?
Libby Wever: Pilates was designed as a unique series of vigorous physical exercises that help to correct muscular imbalances and improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility. As well as to increase breathing capacity and organ function. Joseph Pilates states in his book -Return to Life Through Contrology', 'In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you'll have a whole new you!"
Question: Do you have a daily morning ritual? Can you share it with us?
Libby Wever: The morning (regardless of what time I wake up), is one of my absolute favourite parts of the day. I think it's so important to try your best to start your day off with some good habits, because the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day.
I wake up around 5am every morning and begin by doing some stretching and meditation. I always eat something that's high in protein and good fats, or I make myself a fruit smoothie. Say a positive affirmation as to what I would like to manifest for the day. Then I either go and do a yoga or pilates class, before I tackle the most pressing things on my to do list.
Interview by Brooke Hunter