Meet the inspirational woman teaching yoga and dance in her seventies

Benefits of seniors' exercise programs

(Health Report)
Port Macquarie 2444

Exploring Sydney's obsession with the physical culture movement

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(ABC News: Emma Siossian) Yes it’s exercise, but it’s also a very meditative practice, very focussed on the breath, which calms the mind and it has made a difference to my life.”Also, for people perhaps suffering with arthritis as well, strength building exercises are always beneficial and to me it’s made a huge difference.”Ms Eldridge will head to India for another yoga workshop later this year.She continues to inspire those around her and said anyone considering taking up a new sport or interest later in life, should give it a go.”If you think about taking something up and it appeals to you and you’d like to give it a go, well you’ll never know unless you try it.”Meeting like-minded people… and animals

A dog joins its owner for the relaxation pose, Shavasana, at the end of one of Heather Eldridge’s yoga classes. Photo:
Heather Eldridge continues to practise and teach yoga regularly in her beachside town of Port Macquarie. Being in a regional area, any competitions we had we would travel to,” she said.”Some of the initial ladies from when I first started the physie club in Port Macquarie, I teach now at yoga.”It’s so nice, you do make some amazing friendships and lasting ones, because that’s been over 40 years.”

Heather Eldridge teaching yoga in a Port Macquarie surf club. She still helps teach physie and is also a yoga instructor. (ABC News: Emma Siossian)
Ms Eldridge, who lives in Port Macquarie on the New South Wales mid-north coast, said when her yoga instructor first suggested she join a teacher training program, she wasn’t convinced.”Initially I thought, ‘Well yes, if you’d asked me that 30 years ago it would have been a good idea’,” she laughed.”But obviously it didn’t take too much to convince me and I went ahead and really have enjoyed every minute of it.”Yoga part of a life changeMs Eldridge now teaches yoga throughout the week, while continuing to offer teaching support to the physical culture club she started in Port Macquarie more than 40 years ago. “So I advertised in the local paper and a friend had suggested I not mention physical culture as it wasn’t very well known or heard of in Port Macquarie, so I captioned it ‘fun, fitness and friendship’ and that first week I had eight people turn up to class. Then one very hot morning, I suggested that we put a mat down inside out of the sun and from then on that became the norm,” Ms Eldridge said.”At the end of class when the students were lying in the final relaxation pose, Shavasana, Olley very quietly moved over to Leanne and lay down beside her, so that also became the accepted routine.”Now that Leanne is living overseas we all miss Olley who managed to endear himself to everyone.”A love of ‘physie’ through the years

The Port Macquarie Physical Culture Club founder, Heather Eldridge, after winning the Over 43s National Championship title in 1991. Photo:
Heather Eldridge practising yoga at a Lino Miele workshop at Kovolam, India. (Supplied: Heather Eldridge)
“I think there are many, many benefits from yoga. Heather Eldridge is one person you won’t hear utter the words, “I’m too old for that”.After teaching the dance sport, physical culture, or ‘physie’, for decades, she decided to start doing yoga.A trip to India when she was in her sixties then inspired the grandmother to go a step further and become a yoga instructor. I became a yoga teacher in my sixties when many people start to think about retirement,” she said. (Supplied: Heather Eldridge)

The ABC, Grandstand and the National Sports Museum want to hear your sport stories of connection and community. “A friend of mine suggested I take up yoga as something to do just for myself and right from the very first class I really enjoyed it and to be part of a class again was really lovely,” she said. (ABC News: Emma Siossian)
She said she took up yoga at a time in her life when she needed it and it had helped her physically and mentally. (Supplied: Port Macquarie Physie and Dance Club)
Under Ms Eldridge’s guidance, the Port Macquarie club enjoyed much success at a national level and Ms Eldridge also regularly placed in national finals, including taking out the top prize.”I think a lot of it is the friendships that you make. Photo:
Heather Eldridge started the Port Macquarie ‘physie’ club more than 40 years ago. Watch some on our YouTube channel or visit our latest stories: Australia’s oldest Invictus Games competitor says archery helps with rehabilitationHow fighting helped turn a teen’s life aroundRemote Aussie Rules team hungry for a win and a kangaroo on its 600km trip to gameTell us your sporting life highs and lows
Ms Eldridge said she had met many lovely and like-minded people through yoga, who had added to her life.Among them was Leanne Prussing, who regularly attended yoga classes with her canine companion, Olley.”Olley would wait patiently outside for her. She said yoga had many benefits for the body and mind. (Supplied: Heather Eldridge)
Ms Eldridge embraced a love of dance and movement as a child.She started physie at the age of 10 in Sydney and later taught the sport in Sydney and Newcastle, before moving to the mid-north coast, where she founded the Port Macquarie Physical Culture Club in 1976.”I thought, ‘Perhaps I will have a daytime ladies class while the children are at school’,” Ms Eldridge said. “Yoga has allowed me to shift my own perception of what I could or couldn’t do. “That year we had a team and one of the ladies from that team also won the individual competition in the Newcastle zone.”Following the coverage we got in the newspaper from our results, unbelievably the next week we had not eight ladies turn up but 98.”

The Port Macquarie Physical Culture Club ladies team in 1977. Certainly keeping fit was the prime reason and we had a lot of fun and a lot of great experiences.
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(ABC News: Emma Siossian) ABC Mid North Coast


Emma Siossian


October 11, 2018 06:25:08

Heather Eldridge is in her 70s and teaches regular yoga classes.

A beginner's guide to yoga

Recipe of respect for kitchen that’s been serving free meals for the homeless

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(ABC Sydney: Harriet Tatham) ABC Radio Sydney

By Harriet Tatham


October 11, 2018 13:24:39

The kitchen serves 50,000 meals a year.
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Seven days a week the volunteers, including retired doctors, dentists, graziers and parishioners, serve lunch between 11:00am and 12:30pm to thousands who sleep rough or struggle to pay living costs. (ABC Sydney: Harriet Tatham)
Mr Coleman agreed: “I’ve met many people here, there’s lots of opportunities to be social and to reconnect. “I think there are more women and that’s disturbing, but there are a lot of services,” he said. “I don’t know how they do it but I’m, very glad that they do.”

Michael Coleman is homeless while he searches for the funds to pay a locksmith to get back into his house. “I catch the night rider bus, about 3:30, 4:00 every morning.”The way things are going at the moment, food is going up, rent is going up, and that’s why I come here.”While the food was certainly a reason for Mr Nathan travelling from Sydney’s west, he said it was more about connection. “I was so surprised that this place even existed, because the food they put out would cost $20 or $30 if you went to a pub,” Michael Coleman said, as he ate Asian-inspired roast chicken, fried rice, a ham and salad sandwich, with cake to come. (ABC Sydney: Harriet Tatham) It’s a big job, but for the volunteers at St Canice’s Kitchen, which for 30 years has prepared meals for those down on their luck, the recipe is familiar. “Sydney is very forgiving.”

Trent Nathan rises early each morning to make his way to St Canice’s. “I come here four days a week and I travel all the way from Croydon,” Trent Nathan said. (ABC Sydney: Harriet Tatham)
Homelessness rising despite economic growthAustralian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures released in March found that despite sustained economic growth, homelessness has continued to rise, with a 14 per cent increase in the number of homeless people since 2011. At 10:00am sharp, inside a small soup kitchen in Kings Cross, a dozen volunteers surrounded by donated produce don aprons to prepare for lunch for 130 people. “People that come here, it gives them a sense of community.”

St Canice’s collects bread from local bakeries to give to attendees. “We’re one of the only ones now that don’t change a meal and it makes my week to come here,” John Giblin said, who manages the kitchen on Wednesdays and has been volunteering since 2006. “There are more women now than there used to be, of course the vast majority are men, but there are more women coming now.”

Sister Sheelah Mary has volunteered at the kitchen for the past 18 years. “We hope to provide for the daily needs of the people,” Sister Sheelah Mary, who’s been involved for almost 20 years, said.”The numbers are getting bigger and bigger. “Also, in the church they give out things like towels, blankets, toiletries, shoes even.”And the connection isn’t just for those on the receiving end of the kitchen. “People need to come to a place where they feel safe and comfortable and meet new friends and share stories with each other.”That’s St Canice’s.”

Paul, visiting St Canice’s for lunch, says the food is some of the best he’s tasted. Think there are no homeless people in your area? “If it wasn’t this place, I don’t know where I would be today, so I’m very, very grateful. Think again More than 100,000 Australians are homeless and they live in virtually every part of the country. The facts on homelessness:Tonight 116,427 will be homelessThat’s a 14 per cent increase in homelessness over 5 yearsEvery day, 250 people are turned away from crisis centres across the country Homelessness increased in NSW, VIC and QLD There was a slight decline in the NT
NSW had both the largest and fastest growing homeless population, with a 27 per cent increase in the rate of homelessness.And while the majority of homeless people are men — between 58 and 60 per cent in all states except for the Northern Territory where the numbers are equal — Mr Coleman said he believed the portion of women in Sydney were increasing. (ABC Sydney: Harriet Tatham)
Despite being attached to St Canice Catholic Church, the kitchen is non-denominational. (ABC Sydney: Harriet Tatham)
Staving off social isolationThe offer of goulash, curry, pastries and fresh juices is hard to resist; the kitchen draws crowds from all over Sydney.

Housing initiative helps disadvantaged youth access first rental property

ABC Goulburn Murray


Mahalia Dobson


October 11, 2018 15:29:19
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Shepparton 3630
Think again Think there are no homeless people in your area?
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(ABC Goulburn Murray: Mahalia Dobson) Photo:
The initiative has helped more than 30 young people get into the rental market.
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Or just rent forever? Are there other ways? Should you sacrifice lifestyle to buy? Your Sold Real Estate property manager Michelle Bourke said landlords had been very receptive to the program.”Landlords were happy to come on board, owing to the fact the [tenants] get six months support from Berry Street after they move out from the Foyer,” she said.Ms Bourke said most of the properties cost about $150 a week, with the majority of former Foyer residents signing six to 12-month leases.More real estate agents are being asked to get on board.”It gives [young people] confidence to be living on their own. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Mahalia Dobson)
“I didn’t even get emails back from real estate agents … they just didn’t bother with me because I was a young person and they obviously knew I didn’t know much about [renting],” she said.”Being a young person with not much support, the Foyer helped me in a lot of ways … with housing, education, volunteer work, everything.”I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the Foyer.”A key part of the initiative is Berry Street providing support services to young people for up to six months after they begin living independently.”We still have an open-door policy. The real estate industry and tenant organisations may disagree on whether or not there is a rental crisis, but there are some points where they do agree. We can support them by mentoring and just being there to help with whatever challenges pop up,” Mr Jobling said. A total of 372 people are experiencing homelessness in the regional township, and more than 80 of those are between 25 and 34 years old.”Housing is a human right that everybody deserves to have,” Ms Brauman said.”We just wanted to focus on the solution and not the problem.” “If a student down the track starts to struggle with their rent … we can link them with other programs through BeyondHousing that can help them continue their tenancy and not be evicted.”Landlords prove receptive to initiative

Build, buy or bust? Photo:
Education First Youth Foyer former residents Telaah Donnelly and Patrick Davidson are enjoying living independently. It makes them feel like they can achieve something,” Ms Bourke said.Homelessness on the rise in SheppartonShepparton has the highest level of homelessness in regional Victoria, according to a report released last month by the Council to Homeless Persons. A new grassroots housing initiative is helping disadvantaged youth in north-east Victoria access their first rental properties.Shepparton welfare groups Education First Youth Foyer for BeyondHousing and Berry Street have partnered with real estate agents, offering one-bedroom units for young people on the verge of homelessness.Foyer student residency officer Cinnamon Brauman said it was becoming increasingly difficult for young people with no rental history to find a place to live. It makes them think, I can do this. Renting: What are the facts? “Once residents leave the Foyer, it’s really hard for young people to find good, safe, secure and affordable accommodation,” she said.”It can take up to six to eight months to find a property.If they’ve left the program, they can find themselves couch surfing, living with friends or family, or having to find two or three others to rent with just so they can afford the rent that’s out there.”It’s very expensive here in Shepparton, so if we can start them off on a good footing with the real estate agents, find them a nice, cheap unit, they can then work their way up to a house, once they have proven themselves to be a great tenant.”The Foyer and Berry Street partnered with Your Sold Real Estate about six months ago and have since helped more than 30 young people get into the rental market.”We help support [young people] transition to wherever they would like to go,” Berry Street transitional worker Matt Jobling said.”We’ve had students in the past transition to Queensland, several to Melbourne for study, Ballarat, a fair few to the Shepparton and Mooroopna area and Bendigo as well.”Supporting struggling youthsFormer Foyer resident Telaah Donnelly searched for months for a rental property without success, but with the support of the program she was able to move into her first home.