"This exercise is all the rage now," says Kathrin as she demonstrates how to swing from side to side using a rope attached to a metal frame. With the rope looped around her ankles, she takes a perfect plank position and uses the flexibility of the rope and her legs to move her from right to left. "It's difficult, but it works out the whole core.
"Kathrin is teaching a green exercise class. Watching her are participants of Natur Seychelles nature therapy programme from the Mont Royal rehabilitation centre. Also present is a film crew from France that has come to film the programme and interview participants. They are doing a documentary on island resilience and apart from this programme, they will also film the reef rescuers project and ecotourism on Cousin Island Special Reserve.
Simply defined, green exercise is physical exercise performed in nature. It can vary from a simple walk or run in nature, cycling or exercising in the outdoors. It is now widely accepted that this type of exercise benefits both the physical and mental health of people. Nature Seychelles is using it for its nature therapy programme targeted at the vulnerable in Society who have included people struggling with substance and alcohol abuse, mental health patients, and vulnerable children.
Recently, in addition to the natural location of the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman that is the setting for the green exercise, some additional items, such as chin-up bars, horizontal bars, and sit up benches have been added. Painted green, they blend in nicely with the environment. This is where Kathrin is demonstrating new exercise routines on the different stations. These stations, she says, allow for an all body work out.
As the film crew records, Kathrin takes participants through their paces. She starts her class with warm up exercises to reduce the risk of injuries, but soon the class is making easy work of the chin-up and horizontal bars. Everyone works at their own pace. There is a good vibe and a happy relaxed mood.
Prior to this, there was a yoga class led by Robin, the yoga instructor and green health coordinator. Yoga in natural surroundings is also being used for the programme. Yoga is a great way to get and stay fit. It is also good for general well-being. It can help boost self esteem, reduce stress and anxiety. There are meditation techniques that can be used to quiet the mind and calm the often negative mind chatter that we all have.
Robin taught this class the basics of yoga, emphasising the value of proper breathing and warming up before moving to more physical poses meant to develop flexibility and strength.
The group was very involved, asking questions about the benefits of certain poses and how to do them properly. After the class, which was also filmed some participants said they would like to develop their practice further to help them with the various challenges they are facing. This Wednesday morning turned out to be fun and exciting for staff and participants.