Laura finds another way of life

Laura Harris left the corporate world a few years ago in search of a more sustainable and calm life. Volunteering at McAuley House gives her the chance to help other women change their lives. She teaches yoga and believes it can teach participants ways of relaxing during stressful times in their lives.     

While Laura might have abandoned the competitive corporate life, she is still busy teaching yoga at various studios around Melbourne and doing freelance corporate business advisory work with several Melbourne companies, to help pay the bills.

Laura, 34, also volunteers at The Global Women’s Project, and is currently in Nepal working on a project. During her six-week stint in Nepal Laura will also teach yoga.

She believes the women in Nepal and those at McAuley House have something in common, and therefore can benefit from a program that looks at their physical, emotional and mental well-being.

“Like the women at McAuley House, some of the women in the project in Nepal have suffered trauma, family violence or have been ostracised by their communities after being divorced or widowed. So I offer daily yoga to support them,” Laura said.

Laura volunteered at McAuley House after hearing about the service from a close friend. She wanted to use the skills she had to contribute to her local community, specifically to support women who are marginalised.

“Yoga isn’t just about fitness, which sometimes turns some of the women off attending because they think you have to be fit and flexible to give it a try. It is about learning the skills to cope with stress and other life issues. Moving and using the body through yoga helps to keep the body and mind healthy,” Laura said.

Laura recognises the challenges of teaching yoga at McAuley House and has worked to develop relationships with the women. Several women turned up to the first two classes and Laura took the opportunity to stay around and chatted to other women, explaining what yoga was about and ‘converting’ a few.

“One of the great things about yoga is that there are no fancy clothes needed, you just need to feel comfortable. Women have the option of doing yoga while seated if they cannot do it on the ground. We figure out a way to make it happen,” Laura said.

Laura is passionate about the benefits of yoga for the women in Nepal and McAuley House wants to make it more accessible to people. She can attest to the benefits of the practice.

“There was no purpose for me living in the corporate rat race, even though it was a great career with great money. Doing what I do now connects me more to the real world. In the corporate world there are outcomes and goals you must meet. But volunteering at McAuley House isn’t like that; it’s about being with the women in a supportive and compassionate environment.”