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Live Your List - Heart & Mind Combine to Help People

By accident, this Newcastle-based Zenthai Shiatsu practitioner stumbled into a modality that changed her life's course and sent her on the path to facilitate therapist training.


Sonia Brown was at the Woodford Folk Festival when she first met the movement-therapy founder Gwyn Williams. Then in Newcastle at the 2011 Bodhi Festival, she attended another partner Acro yoga class with Gwyn and was handed a flyer about a four-day immersion course.

"I fell in love with Zenthai. For me, it was fun, connecting, soulful, and challenging enough to put me on edge," Sonia said.

In 2013, she headed to Queensland to explore Zenthai Shiatsu — a combination of Zen Shiatsu energetic systems, Thai Massage, and osteopathy. This blended bodywork also includes yoga asana and mindfulness, which creates an effective structural and energetic therapy to help with musculoskeletal, digestive, and nervous system issues. There was much more involved than the physical practice that combined yoga and acrobatics, usually with lifts, she had expected.

A NSW Sports and Recreation outdoor adventure teacher with an affection for nature and permaculture, Sonia found this modality combined all her passions while helping people.

"My eyes were opened to the possibility of really improving my life on many levels. Here, I decided to do the therapist training."

Each step along the path has been gradual. After the therapist course, she became a therapist and felt a desire to "share this profound healing with others and spread it a little further into the world."

She completed many post-graduate courses then headed to Bali in 2014 to do the facilitator training. This combined Chinese Medicine, solo asana practice, creative partner yoga and effective therapeutic bodywork sequences.

"I have learnt through teaching that teaching is the best way to learn. When you try to teach something, that is when you see the depth of your knowledge. The more I learn, the more I realise that there is so more to learn."

In 2016 Sonia extended her learning and teaching with a local yoga teacher.

Then in May 2018, she taught her first four-day introductory course at Lemon Tree Passage with a team of therapists. At the course's closing ceremony, she knew this was a great path as the students beamed, sang and danced.

"I loved teaching and asked if there were any more opportunities to do more, and from that, was asked to join the therapist program on the Sunshine Coast as an assistant teacher."

At the first module in 2019, Gwyn offered her the opportunity to teach the therapist program in Newcastle, starting either in 2020 or 2021. When COVID struck, Sonia took the opportunity to deepen her knowledge as she wanted to support herself – energy and mind – to be "solid and clear" to teach the next level.

This year, Sonia launched the eight-module therapist training program in Newcastle. Students are currently progressing through the third module. Last month, Sonia taught her 10th level-1 workshop, which she teaches twice a year; her next one is in January.

"I feel a deep sense of gratitude, grace and honour to be in this space. It gives me a lot of joy to support people to open to their healing ability, connect to their true nature and be reminded that we are all here for a reason."

Sonia's bucket list is to be connected, present and dancing with life, especially nature, community, creativity and her roles as an aunty to a niece and nephew.

Previously, through her sister's adventurous spirit, Sonia was able to go cross-country skiing, white-water kayaking and rock climbing. Sonia also travelled overseas – Europe, Morocco, Thailand, New Zealand – and realised how good we have it in Australia.

Her vision is to live in harmony with nature and support projects focusing on regenerating the earth.

In the meantime, she feels the best way to live is to support her therapy students to complete their training and be inspired to put what they have learned into action.


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