Students’ yoga classes aid Vanuatu

University of Wollongong students Sarah Bialczyk and Roger Cross are taking part in hot yoga to help raise funds for a TB detection program on a Vanuatu island. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIA group of University of Wollongong students is getting hot and sweaty, for a good cause of course.

The Graduate School of Medicine students have teamed up with Bikram Yoga Wollongong for a weekly karma class, with proceeds going towards a tuberculosis detection program on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Tanna Island Project (TIP) fundraising manager Roger Cross encouraged UOW students, staff and community members to join in the hot yoga and guided meditation class in exchange for a donation (minimum of $5). The 90-minute class, held in a heated room, will run at 7.15pm each Thursday for the next six months.

‘‘TIP is a charity run by about 12 medical students who first went to Tanna Island in 2010 to see how they could help out with the range of health problems experienced by the population,’’ Mr Cross said.

‘‘They identified tuberculosis as one of the most prevalent health problems on the island. TB is one of the most infectious diseases in the world and 50 per cent of untreated cases result in death.

‘‘After developing a program, students last went back to Tanna in July and trained 40 local volunteers in how to recognise TB and take properly labelled [mucus] samples to their regional clinics for diagnosis. This enables them to highlight those in need of treatment.

‘‘The funds raised from the bikram yoga classes will help keep that program running, and allow us to put together educational resources for Tanna schools.’’

Mr Cross said bikram or hot yoga was a challenge for some, with classes done in a heated room with temperatures of up to 40 degrees and 50 per cent


‘‘Bikram yoga can be more intense than other forms of yoga,’’ he said. ‘‘But it’s very effective and enjoyable – and there’s a great atmosphere in the class.’’

‘‘Some of the medical students were already members at Bikram Yoga Wollongong, which offered to run the karma class that started this month.’’

‘‘Already the response has been great and we hope to keep that up.’’

Mr Cross said the initiative reflected the medical students’ desire to start working to improve the healthcare of communities in need.

‘‘We are in the early stages of our medical education, but we still want to do our bit to help communities with significant health problems, to make a difference where we can,’’ he said.

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