GEORGIA SCHAMPERS AND STAFF WRITERS
A Gold Coast mother has embraced COVID-19 lockdown and found a solution for those seeking mental and physical stability during the pandemic by transforming an old work shed on her property into a yoga studio.
Nat Rasmussen opened her yoga studio, Soul Squeeze, in the northern Gold Coast hinterland earlier this year.
Ms Rasmussen is keen for everyone to experience the benefits of yoga.
“It’s great for injuries, it’s strengthening, stretching, and it increases mobility,” she said.
“Yoga is not just about the movements, it’s about getting in touch with yourself, and at the end [of the session] where you actually spiritually connect within yourself, that’s the time in which yoga truly comes into itself.”
New research from the University of South Australia also supports the benefits of yoga, with data showing that yoga can significantly improve mental health.
The research is in collaboration with the Federal University of Santa Maria, UNSW Sydney, Kings College London and Western Sydney University, and the study is the first of its kind in the world.
Lead researcher Dr Jacinta Brinsley said the research was timely and offered a solution for Australians feeling lonely, isolated or depressed amid the pandemic.
“As self-isolation escalates and people find themselves working from home and unable to physically catch up with their friends and family, we’re likely to see more people feel lonely and disconnected,” Ms Brinsley said.
“Exercise has always been a great strategy for people struggling with these feelings as it boosts both mood and health, but even jogging with a friend is currently strongly discouraged [during the pandemic] – people are looking for alternatives, and this is where yoga can help,” she said.
Ms Brinsley said the research showed movement-based yoga improved symptoms of depression and mental health for people living with a range of metal health conditions, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress and major depression.
“So, it’s very good news for people struggling in times of uncertainty,” she said.
Ms Rasmussen decided to incorporate yoga in her life after the sudden loss of her husband, Blake.
“I started doing yoga with my kids because we had a tragedy happen in the family and I knew that I needed healing and that it would help my children with healing as well,” she said.
“So, we decided to go on a yoga journey all together and it’s now helped our family emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and financially as well.”
Ms Rasmussen said Soul Squeeze welcomed people of all ages and abilities.
“I just want it to be a safe space that people can come to if they feel like they need somewhere that’s loving and non-judgmental to come and do some gentle stretching and feel safe,” she said.
Soul Squeeze regular Madison Weik said the studio provided a supportive environment and its quirky countryside location made it a distinctive place to practice yoga in.
“Soul Squeeze is in a great location that makes you forget about the busyness of the world, and it’s somewhere where you always feel welcome and never judged,” Ms Weik said.
“Unlike other studios, at Soul Squeeze I feel like it’s more about connecting with your mind and body, not just stretching,” she said.
For more information about Soul Squeeze, visit their website.