Dental assistant keeps crews smiling with stretches

Able Seaman Chutima Luerach conducts a yoga class at sea on board HMAS Canberra. Photo: Petty Officer Tom Gibson

Dental assistant keeps crews smiling with stretches

Able Seaman Chutima Luerach is used to helping improve people’s smiles in the dental chair, but while on deployment without port visits, she kept the 709 officers and sailors smiling by doing yoga classes.

When the Navy dental assistant was not working in the surgery in HMA Ships Canberra or Sirius, she held the classes for her shipmates.

“I began yoga about three years ago after trialling a couple of classes,” Able Seaman Luerach said.

“I found it helped with some joint injuries and, the more I made it a habit, the more people asked me to help them learn.

“While working as a dental assistant in the Navy, I studied yoga as a personal interest, then took a course to become an instructor.”

Facilitated by the ships’ physical training instructors (PTIs), Able Seaman Luerach has held regular classes, focusing on strength, but also encouraging relaxation and mindfulness.

Canberra’s PTI Petty Officer Amy Carpenter said yoga was a great way to unwind, particularly when they were on deployment.

“We had no port visits because of the COVID pandemic so, as PTIs, we were interested in different ways to help members relax and keep their morale high,” she said.

“Able Seaman Luerach’s talent and enthusiasm were welcome.

“Her skills as a qualified yoga instructor provide variety to the PT program for the ship’s company.

“She taught us a variety of stretches and poses, ranging from easy to advanced, and I could see that members were relaxed and refreshed after a quiet yoga session.”

Lieutenant Ben Walker, Deputy Maritime Logistics Officer in Sirius, said he had enjoyed doing yoga.

“I found the classes relaxing and reinvigorating,” he said.

“Often I forget to stretch after a workout, so yoga has been a great way to stretch and build strength.”

Able Seaman Luerach said the three-month deployment had been challenging as she was away from her son.

In preparation for her time at sea, she flew her mother, Sormchat, to Sydney from her home in Thailand to look after 12-year-old Lucas.

But Able Seaman Luerach said she was glad to have the chance to deploy.

“Performing my job at sea has been a rewarding experience,” she said.

“I have to admit that doing yoga on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra while the sun rose and reflected on the water all around me was a highlight.

“There was a truly unique sense of stillness and calmness.”

Able Seaman Luerach originally deployed in Canberra, but moved to Sirius with the rest of the dental team when the landing helicopter dock left the five-ship task group in Guam and returned to Australia.

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