This former performer and Les Mills training instructor is teaching children the benefits of mindfulness

Jase Te Patu is a man on a mission to promote mindfulness, improve kids’ mental health and spread the gospel of yoga throughout Aotearoa

By Fiona Ralph
Hauora, the Māori concept of health and wellbeing, is one of Jase Te Patu's guiding philosophies.
The Wellington-based yogi (Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāti Tūwharetoa) has been teaching in the health industry for 28 years – first aerobics, then dance, and now yoga and meditation.
Before he discovered yoga, he performed in musicals (such as The Lion King) and trained Les Mills instructors around the world.
Jase co-owns Awhi Yoga & Wellbeing and is the founder of M3 Mindfulness for Children.
M3 encompasses mindfulness, movement and Māori stories in a series of videos and workshops taught in schools.
Jase is also a passionate mental health advocate and Youthline champion, and received a Local Hero medal in the New Zealander of the Year Awards last year.
He shares with us his passion for spreading peace and hauora.
Image: Jaymee Morrison

Helping hand

"The first half of my life was about me and this part of my life is about others and how I can be of service and offer them the tools that have helped me to cope and find peace and happiness."

Teach your children well

"I teach kids a story, then I put the movement of the story into their body so they remember it better.
"These are stories of Aotearoa and of our Māori culture, which have amazing themes and teachings – teachings of respect, happiness, helping others, teachings of whānau and what family means, teachings of whakapapa and how important it is to know where you're from."

Stay in the moment

"What if kids learnt mindfulness from the age of five, like they learn how to read or write?
"Then they'd have these wicked tools at their disposal always.
"Mindfulness is remembering or being present.
"When you're feeling anxious, with butterflies in your tummy, or you're feeling hurt in your heart, you know that you can stop and breathe.
"That's what I'm teaching kids to do."

Guiding light

"Since my brother passed away, I want to share hauora even more; I want to be an awesome example of wellness and wellbeing for my nephews and nieces, not just in how I take care of my body but also how I take care of my mind and spirit.
"My brother has made my pathway forward very clear and will continue to be my inspiration."

Taking it slow

"What I know about grief is there's no right or wrong way, there's no time that you have to get it back together.
"It can even take years."

Power to my people

"I came home from working on musicals in Australia with the intention of sharing yoga with my people, but I realised I hadn't actually been doing this.
"Then I taught my first reo yoga class, and 110 people showed up. 80 per cent of them were Māori and new to my studio.
"Not only that, 60 per cent had never done yoga and were trying it for the first time because it was in te reo and it was taught by a Māori man."

Boys just want to stretch

"The whole idea of the Boys of Yoga project I'm part of is to smash the stigma that yoga is just for girls.
"The physical practice of yoga was originally a practice for men. All the men's events I run pay homage to that.
"Every year I do a Movember event. I gather all the male teachers throughout New Zealand and we hold events on the same day so we can band together as brothers and raise awareness for mental health through yoga."

Falling into yoga

"I fell into yoga because I injured myself dancing and my physiotherapist said the only way to recoup was to do yoga.
"I fell in love with it, first the physical side, then I realised quite quickly that there's more to it.
"When I did my teacher training eight years ago, I realised that the mindfulness aspect of yoga, the deep traditional philosophies, are the same as what I'd been taught in Te Ao Māori [the Māori world].
"There are similar stories, themes, teachings and practices, so I fell in love with yoga even more.
"Hauora and yoga are really the same principles to me.
"I'm from both of those worlds."

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