How can Wayapa nourish your soul?
Wayapa Wuurrk, popularly known as Wayapa, is a wellness practice involving Earth connection and movement meditation, built on a foundation of Indigenous and ancient wisdom to achieve a goal of Earth, mind, body and spirit wellbeing. It involves working through a sequence of movements to Indigenous music, and practicing mindfulness through visualisation. Wayapa tells a story of 14 elements found in nature, including the sun, wind and rain, allowing those practicing it to feel a connection to the Earth's energy no matter their environment.
A key element of Wayapa is developing our connection to Earth as the starting point for achieving holistic wellness, and the words ‘Wayapa Wuurrk’ mean to ‘connect to the Earth’ in the Aboriginal Peek Whurrung and GunaiKurnai languages, respectively. Based on the long-held Indigenous knowledge that we cannot achieve wellness if our environment is not well, it aims to help people find connection to nature around us, as well as belonging and purpose in caring for the Earth as it sustains and nourishes us.
The practice was created by Jamie Marloo Thomas, an Aboriginal Maara & GunaiKurnai man after his personal journey to reconnect with culture brought him the realisation that he 'only felt aligned and whole while performing Ceremony on Country'. While working with Aboriginal boys in the late 1990s, he used his cultural and traditional dance knowledge to develop a sequence of movements and narration that worked to calm and centre the boys, and through this, the 14 Element movement practice was born. But it wasn’t until Jamie teamed up with his partner Sara Jones that they added an accredited structure around the practice to create the Wayapa Wuurrk modality in 2014.
Created in Australia and increasingly practised worldwide, Wayapa is a modality approved with the International Institute for Complementary Therapies. To ensure you receive authentic and certified instruction of the best quality, only choose a practitioner who has been accredited and licensed by Wayapa Wuurrk.
Benefits of Wayapa
Wayapa shares similarities to modalities such as yoga or tai chi, with its emphasis on mindfulness – which has been found to be effective in improving mood and reducing anxiety. For people who wish to access those benefits but find meditation challenging, Wayapa may be an alternative as the movement embodies storytelling which can help to guide and still the mind. It also introduces purpose through your daily lifestyle by connecting and caring for the environment.
Wayapa has been used in companies, prisons, mental health organisations, councils, schools and kindergartens across Australia, and many participants have reported feeling calmer and more relaxed after a session as well as referring to having a complete life reset. Many have also described an increased sense of clarity and a greater appreciation for the Earth, while others have found Wayapa beneficial while recovering from trauma. The body benefits include strengthening muscles, the nervous system and immunity while also improving balance, neural pathways and detoxification.
As the first Indigenous wellness practice, Wayapa is unique as it offers non-Indigenous people the opportunity to learn about their own cultural and ancient family connection of energy connection to Earth, and 'importance of being custodians of the Earth and acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land'. It can also help Indigenous people connect to culture while enjoying the health benefits.
Another difference that separates Wayapa from other modalities is the focus on creating intergenerational wellness which is at the heart of Indigenous ways of being.
Wayapa can assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Anxiety and stress
- Emotional issues
- Muscle tone
What to expect from a Wayapa session
Wayapa is a versatile modality that is ideally practised outdoors so you can maximise your connection to nature, but can also be conducted indoors. It is often run as a group session, but can also be practiced individually as a home practice. When you begin a session, your practitioner will explain the modality to you, and take you through the 14 elements that tells a story of how Earth nourishes us. He or she will then ask you to shut your eyes to help you visualise your connection to the Earth, and guide you through the gentle, flowing movements to the sound of Indigenous music.
The movements can be practised while standing or sitting, making it an accessible practice that can benefit people of all ages and capacities. A session typically lasts for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, and involves an introduction, narrative meditation and movement. It is great for families and community groups as it introduces and brings together wellbeing and sustainability
Wayapa is a non-invasive, complementary modality which is unlikely to cause any adverse effects, however it is always advisable to practice to your own capacity. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, do inform your practitioner, who will be happy to address these and explore how the session can be adjusted to suit your individual requirements.