An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude
Retirement Living

Meet retirement living resident and dedicated yoga instructor, Gailene Wester.

4th January 2024

After taking her first yoga class at age 30, retirement living resident Gailene Wester has been bending and stretching ever since. Now at 86 years old, she continues sharing her passion for yoga with fellow residents at SwanCare Bentley Park. 

How it all Began 

We sat down with the yoga enthusiast to hear all about her beloved passion, which to our surprise all started with a friendly nudge from her next-door neighbour. 

“My neighbour was aware I struggled with asthma, and one day they found an advertisement for a yoga class in Fremantle,” Gailene explained, “they stopped by to let me know, suggesting the class could be a good way for me to manage my asthmatic symptoms.” 

Alongside her mother, Gailene attended her first class and instantly fell in love with the practice. 

Not only did she discover a whole new passion, but her health began to improve too. Through learning to breathe through her nose and use her diaphragm in yoga, Gailene’s asthma eventually became a thing of the past. 

While she enjoys the physical aspect, Gailene says discovering the philosophy of yoga was truly life changing, “I love yoga, not just for its physical values but its spiritual values too. For me, yoga opened up my spiritual life in a way I had never experienced before.” 

Passing on the Practice 

After two terms at the first studio, Gailene decided to develop her skills further by attending the Yoga School of Perth, later completing her Instructor course through the Sivananda Ashram in South Fremantle. 

“Meanwhile, my mother wanted me to teach yoga to some of her friends so, starting from scratch I did. I was terrified, and truthfully, I think I was only one lesson more ahead of some of them.” 

Gailene’s confidence soon blossomed though once she discovered her capabilities, “It turned out I knew more and could do more than I had originally thought. Once I had this realisation, it marked the beginning of my yoga teaching.” 

Gailene landed her first teaching job at the Yoga School of Perth - talk about a full circle moment! She then began teaching the odd classes to students at Tafe and at Murdoch University. 

“I have now taught classes all around Perth and I really enjoy it, especially seeing people who start off quite stiff, continue coming to class and improve.” 

A Career in Caring 

As Gailene says, “life happens”, and she soon returned to work as a palliative care nurse, referring to it as the highlight of her nursing career. 

“Of course, when I worked in palliative care it was different because people didn't expect to live, they exposed a deeper part of themselves, sometimes spiritual. We seemed to work on a different level.” 

It didn’t take long before Gailene was rolling out her yoga mat again, after a nurse she worked with on night duty discovered her passion for yoga and encouraged Gailene to run a class. 

“I started these classes and eventually was able to teach at the Theosophical Society, of which I am a member, using their hall for the class. That was about fifteen or so years ago and I’m still going.” 

We wondered if there was any crossover between her love of being a nurse and her passion for yoga teaching. Turns out, there certainly is! 

“Teaching yoga is special to me, just like nursing. I see people changing sometimes, becoming softer, more sharing, more affectionate. People become more open to spirituality, which I also saw a lot of as a nurse. I try to put a bit of spirituality into teaching without preaching, just hoping people will look within and see whether they need to make changes.” 

Life at Bentley Park 

Nowadays Gailene teaches a range of classes targeted towards seniors, including her weekly sessions at SwanCare Bentley Park. 

For safety, Gailene does not teach headstands or other advanced sequences which may cause harm, instead, she asks members to simply enjoy themselves and do what feels best for them, “I have arthritic joints, as do most other people, and while I’m not particularly flexible now I still do what I can do, which is all I ask of anyone who comes to the class.” 

As for life at Bentley Park, Gailene says she’s enjoying every moment. 

“There are some wonderful people here, residents who check in to see that we are ok and others who organise and run the multitude of activities here, as well as the very kind staff who endeavour to meet our various needs in other ways.” 

“I can say life is indeed good at SwanCare, and I am so glad to be here.” 

Thank you, Gailene, for sharing your passion with us, both in Tidings and throughout our village. We deeply appreciate having you part of our SwanCare community. 


Share This Page

back to all news
Back to Top of the page