Positive Vibes

Meet Sofia Healy

We were lucky to have a very lovely lady called Melanie join our family during our time in Hong Kong.

Melanie, like many Filipino ladies in Hong Kong, works as a domestic helper (or an “Auntie” which I prefer!).

Like many of these Aunties, Melanie left her children with her extended family back in the Philippines in order to work in Hong Kong to earn money so that she can give her children a better life. She is very proud that her second child is now in university and her children’s achievements are thanks to their Mum’s sacrifices.

It’s a common and all too familiar story. It’s a hard life that these ladies have and I am always so glad when I see someone in the community reaching out to do something positive for them.

One such person is Sofia Healy. Sofia lives in Discovery Bay and I recently caught up with her for a chat about what she’s been doing.

So, meet Sofia!

Where did you live and what did you do before you came to Hong Kong?

I am from Portugal but left after graduating.

I went to London where I lived for 12 years, working in Operations in the Corporate Investment Banking sector of BNP Paribas.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a yoga teacher

I did a few classes in London to try something new. After I moved to Hong Kong, I had my second chid. I suffered from back pain, so I started to attend yoga more regularly because it relieved the pain.

After a few years of practice I love yoga for many more reasons now – for all its physical and mental benefits. So, I decided to do a course to share the benefits with others.

Where and when do your classes for Aunties run and what is the cost?

I am part of a community of volunteer yoga teachers (graduates of Anahata school of Yoga)  called the Andiappan Yoga Community. This community was created by the founder of the yoga school and there are many volunteer projects spread around Hong Kong.

They teach for free in elderly centres, hospitals and teach the low income sector of the population including the domestic helpers.

In Discovery Bay there are two projects for the helpers – at DBIS on Wednesday evenings at 8.00 p.m. and on Sunday mornings at 8.30 a.m.

Each project is set up and run by a project leader with the assistance of a group of teachers that rotates weekly to teach these classes.

I teach one class a month on Wednesday evening.

There is no cost, it is free for the helpers!

The Wednesday project where I teach was set up by Federica Betteto.

How many ladies are there in the class?

This week there was almost 30!

What kind of yoga do you do in the class?

I mainly teach Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Flow.

What do you think the ladies get most out of from doing this class?

1 hour to themselvess to focus on their wellbeing, on their bodies, and concentrate the mind.

Some teachers sometimes do medidation classes also.

I have been seeing the progress on some students who became stronger, more flexible and happier!

You have young daughters – what a positive inspiring example to set for them. Do they like to get involved or ask questions about what you are doing?

My eldest asked lots of questions and wanted to see it for herself so I took her along with me one time! She knows helpers can’t afford to pay activities for themselves and now understands why I do it!

Unfortunately, Sofia is soon leaving Hong Kong to set off on a new adventure.

Luckily, for these ladies, there are other yoga teachers in Discovery Bay also giving their time to this worthy project.

To find out more about the classes, check out the Andiappan Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AYCOSW/

The Andiappan Community, run by Louise Vasvil, offers many free classes around Hong Kong every week for domestic helpers.

Olivia Torres and Eva Kunyi created the Discovery Bay Andiappan Community in 2016

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