Yoga mentor nominated as Life Member
Myra Timmerman loves life, through the practice and teaching of Yoga and Tai Chi, and she is passionate about passing on this positive outlook to her many students. Myra also follows Buddhism and other disciplines in understanding how the mind works – or how it can work – to help relieve the stress and mental issues connected with modern life.
Myra’s philosophy is progression to a better life for herself and her students, which is absolutely satisfying for Myra. “That’s what keeps me going; I even have people say, ‘oh, Myra saved my life’, but of course it’s not me, they’ve done it themselves. You can see it, emotionally, physically and mentally. While I’ve taught all age groups the most satisfying for me is seeing positive changes in older people.
‘People progress at their own pace but I say to them, ‘know your limits but don’t limit yourself’. It’s not a race, it’s not a competition, but I also ask people to challenge themselves within their own limits every day.
‘It’s living in the moment because the only thing we really know is this moment. What’s gone is gone and what you are doing now is going to influence what is to come. Do the best you can now and your future is going to be a lot better.’
Myra began her journey with U3A in 1982 when she started as a Yoga and Tai Chi teacher, returning from Mission Beach in North Queensland. Classes in the early days numbered nine to 12, which doubled the following year. Now, 150 people are registered for her classes: three Yoga, one chair-Yoga and two Tai Chi classes.
‘Yoga and Tai Chi allows people in any age group to do something for themselves, not always to rely on other people, and to know how important is our mental health,’ Myra said.
‘With Yoga, it’s not only the physical, it’s the whole balance of the physical and mental wellbeing: understanding your own mind and how it works, and bringing that into your daily life.
The dangers of personal stress that Myra teaches with passion came home to her so clearly when her father died from acute stress at the’ early age of 54 years. She was only 33 and couldn’t understand how this could happen.
Since then, in a career spanning 40 years, Myra has endeavoured to help as many people as possible avoid such a tragic loss of a relatively young life.
One meeting can change a life. In 1980, Myra met renowned Yoga teacher, Elsa Rabold and was inspired by Elsa’s belief that ‘Yoga is the science of life.’
‘Yoga and Tai Chi became my passion and I delved into other things; this was the 80s with gurus and everything spiritual, and I was into everything that was going on. Meditation also became a passion.
‘Through Yoga, Tai Chi and Buddhism I discovered meditation, particularly Vipassana meditation. This helped me understand how one’s mind can be a help or a hinderance, or both.
‘People say to me, ‘oh, I can’t meditate’ but you give your mind something else to do; It’s all about listening and learning about yourself and being involved. It’s also a very social thing to do and that’s important; I love the classes because everyone is involved together, and that’s what Yoga is, the yoke or holding that brings people together.
‘Yoga is not something where you go to a class and you go home. I instil in people that Yoga is everything in life: when you walk up the stairs, when you are sweeping the floor, exercising, it’s in everything. I call this holistic approach ‘Yoga therapy’.
Myra embraces the idea of video-conferencing classes as she understands that we need to do what we can in current circumstances.
‘I just love the classes and I get a lot out of it. The interaction is key and perhaps that won’t come across as well with an online class. Still it’s something, we’ve got to do something because I think the mental health of people moment to moment is the most important thing.’
There’s more of Myra’s story at www.u3asunshine.org.au/ myras-passion-for-yoga/.