it was the least i could do
For The Price of a Shirt I Can Help a Child Finish School.
It’s no secret that practicing yoga once or twice a week has countless health benefits. But what if you made a commitment to practice everyday for 30 days? And, to make it a bit more interesting you set your mat up in a room that’s heated to just under 40 degrees Celsius. That’s what Adrian Lee did. He wasn’t doing it for personal success or accolades amongst his peers. He was answering a call for help.
The 33-year-old hospitality worker admits that after signing up for the 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge he didn’t think he’d have the motivation to successfully make it to the end.
“I have been really lazy with my yoga lately,”
“So I thought you know what I’m going to do this challenge then I’ll have to go everyday,” Adrian explains.
A few days before the challenge was set to start a friend put a post on Facebook that would turn out to be the drive Adrian needed.
“Monique posted that she was going to Thailand to help at a remote school,”
“I donated, but then I thought hang on a second I can help out as well,”
“So, I thought I’d do the 30-day challenge and combine it as a fundraiser,” Adrian says.
BAN WANALUANG SCHOOL.
Ban WaNaLuang school is in the northern highlands of Thailand. You won’t find big write-ups about the school or the village, or where it is located on TripAdvisor or The Lonley Planet. It’s too far off the beaten track to feature.
Monique Henry explains that local villagers donated the land for the school to be built in 1994. Today there is almost 300 students at the school, with about 80 of them traveling long distances to board during the week.
“It’s a government school with most of its students coming from different hill tribes,”
“Many people send their children to the school because of its good reputation.” Monique explains.
Monique met the director of the school, Kanya Sombun, eight years ago. She had returned to Thailand to thank Kanya’s husband for helping her two years earlier when she fell ill.
“Pi Au drove me and my motorcycle into Pai,”
“I was very sick and had to leave Thailand,” Monique says.
Pai is 80- kilometers north of Chiang Mai. Ban WaNaLuang School is about a one-hour drive northwest of Pai.
Kanya took Monique to visit the school and explained that it cost just $70AU to pay for the final year of schooling for one child. Monique promised Kanya that she would do whatever she could to help out.
After seeing Monique’s Facebook call-out Adrian was also determined to help. He set a goal to raise enough money to sponsor 20 children.
“I thought that’s nothing for us,”
“It’s like a shirt or going out for dinner,”
“So I thought I would aim for 20 children so that’s $1400.” Adrian says.
Even for a seasoned yogi like Adrian, he admits there were days during the challenge when his mental strength was tested.
“Day one was a Saturday 7.30am class and the teacher went straight at me,”
“All I heard was Adrian, Adrian, Adrian,”
“That first class was really difficult,” He admited.
Adrian believes that buddying up with a fellow yogi helped him with planning what classes to attend each week. He says his buddy would phone him at work late in the afternoon to give him a push to ensure he would turn up to class that evening.
“She held me accountable during the challenge and always reminded me why I was doing it,”
“I think I had about one day off in each week,”
“But then I had to do a double class each week, which meant doing two classes on one day.” he says.
THE RULES OF THE CHALLENGE.
Every yoga studio has it’s own set of rules when it comes to challenges. The studio where Adrian undertook the challenge was Bikram Yoga Victoria Park, in Western Australia. Karen Then is the studio owner and says her goal when setting up the challenges was to educate people about consistency.
“I made the rules so that each student could only miss one class per week,”
“Purely for the fact that I don’t want too many people doing doubles and triples in a day,”
“That’s not the point of keeping a balanced yoga practice and understanding what it means to have consistent practice.” Karen explains.
Karen says that before heading into a challenge it’s important to be mentally and socially prepared. Also, a key component to successfully completing a challenge is to be educated about hydration.
“Hydration is the utmost priority and can become an issue very quickly,”
“If you don’t prepare properly for your practice it will hit you in the first four postures,”
“And then it will wipe you out for the rest of the class,” Karen says.
It’s not the physical challenge that leads people to give up, it’s more the mental challenge, Karen admits. She says that’s why it’s important to plan ahead and have a back up plan for unexpected changes to social commitments.
SO, DID ADRIAN SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THE CHALLENGE?
Adrian surpassed the required number of classes in 30 days. He did 32. On the final day he says he felt so good after completing the 7.30am class that he went straight back in for the 9.30am session.
“I had the same teacher that I did for the first class but for some reason the class was really strong,”
“Half way through the second class I starting thinking why am I doing this, finishing on the last class would have been perfect,”
“But I wanted to push myself.” Adrian says.
However, at the end of the challenge Adrian had fallen short of his fundraising goal by just $10AU. He put a thank you post on Facebook and told his friends they helped raise $1390AU.
“As I posted that I had about ten people message me saying they would tip in the $10AU,”
“That was really cool how everyone thought they would chip in to help me reach my total,”
“In the end I raised about $1500AU,” Adrian says.
Together Adrian and Monique raised around $3200AU. That money will sponsor the entire senior section of the Ban WaNaLuang School for two years.
As for Adrian, he believes that when you’ve done a 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge you can do anything.