Donelle McInerney: Stop Passing the Parcel

Donelle McInerney is a leader in our community. She is an example of someone who has turned a journey of inner pain into a journey of purpose through holistic healing. She shares this journey of healing with her partner John. Together they have started the ‘SilverYogies’ to pass on their story of empowerment to others by teaching yoga, Qi Gong, workshops for anxiety and many other activities that provide so much healing value to our community.

I had the pleasure of working with Donelle for a short time teaching in Health and Sport. I am so grateful to be able to share Donelle’s story as this week’s Happywhenfit valued blog feature.

This story is for anyone who would like to commit to their own journey of self discovery and in doing so, find a purpose that is so much bigger than the ‘self’.


My name is Donelle and my husband is John, both 56 years old. At 50 we decided to embark on a journey of holistic healing to unpack our lives and start acting belonging and committing to a life we wanted, not a life that we thought we were expected to lead, or what others thought we should lead.

From an early age we were both bequeathed a “parcel’ from past generations and family members, this parcel was wrapped up tightly containing a set of beliefs, values, secrets, behavioral patterns and sometimes medical afflictions that have shaped our lives up until now.

Wind the clock forward to 2014, due to ongoing health, relationship and personal issues, we both decided enough was enough, we needed to get off the treadmill, we needed to unwrap our parcels.

After decades of seeing numerous specialists, counselors, and GPs, I finally discovered that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety and panic attacks, all which impacted so many areas of my life. I wore a mask that deflected and hid the turmoil that was spiraling out of control inside me. John had a revelation that something dramatic had to change in his life to reduce the amount of stress that was associated with his job and personal relationships. Both of us suffering silently in our own ways.

After decades of seeing numerous specialists, I finally discovered that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety and panic attacks, all of which impacted so many areas of my life

The first step we made was to begin yoga. After reading all the hype about how yoga can do amazing things for the body, mind and spirit, that was the miracle cure we both needed. So off we went to 5/6 classes of Hot Yoga per week….  change was needed as the Hot Classes we wiping us out, so we added in Vinyasa Yoga. We put the bit between our teeth, and tried our best to keep up with the younger generations. Needless to say that was our egos talking and even though we could see the massive benefits in improvements to our fitness, balance, strength, mobility and other areas, we suffered from injuries, over inflated opinions of ourselves being the only over 50s able to do certain poses in our studio, and we still couldn’t find that “peace”, that place of stillness in our minds, that feeling of bliss we were so desperately seeking.

Eventually I took the plunge and ventured overseas (by myself) on a women’s retreat to find what I was searching for. Quite a scary experience as I had never travelled alone let alone stay with a group of strangers. What did I discover? Yin yoga. It was blissful, it was what I was searching for, it allowed me to go deep inside myself and feel, really feel what my body was saying, what my body was yearning for, what my mind needed a release from. I couldn’t wait to return home to share with John what I had found and for him to embrace as well.

Donelle and John practising Yoga on the beach in Bunbury

Donelle and John practising Yoga on the beach in Bunbury

I discovered Yin Yoga, It was blissful, it was what I was searching for and allowed me to go deep inside myself

From there we researched and went on a journey of experiencing sound healing, mediation, vegetarianism, plant based eating, raw food, intermittent fasting, homeopathy, Ayurveda, minimalism, breath work, and whatever we could get our heads around. Along the way John surprised me and said he wanted to become a yoga teacher (a big change for a middle aged man who had designed beautiful houses for his entire adult life). So we both did our yoga teacher trainings and began teaching in our local community.

Our evenings transformed from the usual watching the latest reality TV shows, to lighting candles and incense, playing soft calming music, reading or listening to the latest podcasts of holistic healing or self-growth and finishing with a 75min Yin class to replenish and revitalize our bodies. Our minds were finding the space of stillness we so longed for, that place where we were able to find the balance in our bodies and become responsive rather than reactive. Personally my body was able to heal and I finally let go of all of the trauma that I was holding onto, it was life changing.

My body was able to heal and I finally let go of all the trauma that I holding onto. It was life changing

In January 2019, after an amazing 4 weeks in Ubud, Bali we both made a plan to move forward and offer events, workshops and lectures about our journey and what we have learnt to others searching/yearning for the same. To provide support, guidance, encouragement and inspiration to people over 50 who want to unwrap their parcels.

We have become the SILVERYOGIES.


Sunrise Morning Yoga Classes at the local foreshore during the summer months,

Tribal Yoga, a unique mix of flowing yoga with local musicians providing live tribal music, (the event had 93 participants and all funds raised were donated to the local women’s refuge),

Qi Gong classes,

Yoga Therapy for Healing Classes,

Free Calming the Anxious Mind and Calming Your Anxious Teen Workshops, supported by the local shires,

Plant Based Eating and Fasting Workshops,

Our goal in future years is to expand our lectures to include “Rushing Women’s Syndrome”, “Navigating Menopause”, regular Qi Gong and Gentle yoga classes provided at a subsidized cost in conjunction with the local shire for the over 55’s, and running overseas transformational immersions for the over 50s. (Egypt, China, Thailand, India. Morocco come to mind).


John and Donelle McInerney, John multi award winning and qualified architectural designer (, yoga and qi gong teacher, avid foodie and amazing cook, Donelle health and physical education teacher, high performance sports coach, yoga teacher, mental health and trauma informed practice trainer.

Find us on Facebook: Silveryogies for all our events and general inspiration.

Donelle and John

Donelle and John

Thankyou so much for sharing your incredible story Donelle. I look forward to continuing to watch the positive ripple effect both yourself and John are having within our community.

Danae Cornford