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Ja n uar y 2014


on the cover



40 | those Who caN, teach

your teacher training special report.


by sue White

52 | DoNt Quit your Day Job

you might be surprised what your yoga
teacher gets up to outside the studio.


by katie brown


56 | gooD For you


How your practice improves your health.

by katherine griffin

68 | Future yoga



Where is yoga headed from here?

by brook mccarthy

4 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

cover credits model: kino macgregor

Photography: DaVID martInEZ

JaNuary 2014

PHOtOgraPHy, clOckWIsE FrOm tOP lEFt: IstOckPHOtO.cOm/glOBalstOck; ann EllIOtt cUttIng; istOckPHOtO.cOm/magOnE; mIcHaEl scHOEnFElD


conscious yoga athletica


J an u ar y 20 1 4




90 | NeWs aND revieWs


92 | ask the expert(s)

Books, DVDs, apps, websites and worthy

causes: our pick of the best.

Our experts share: why I became a teacher


and what I wish Id known back then.

34 | basics
Upward Extended Foot Pose: build core strength


while developing stability and stillness with

15 | om

Urdhva Prasarita Padasana.

Find your happy place; keep cool with sweet

by Nikki costello

treats; tame tension in your neck and shoulders;

get outdoors for ultimate health; spot a safe

49 | home practice

self-tanner; up your vitamin D levels.

Well grounded: rooting down through the

earth lets you stay strong and flexible, even

26 | liviNg yoga

when life tries to throw you off balance.

Its a womans world: why are more women than

by Deborah burkman

men drawn to yoga? by katie manitsas

114 | the ayJ iNtervieW

tibetan Buddhist robina courtin on having
the courage to change your thoughts.
by tamsin angus-leppan

72 | FiNDiNg Never Never laND
a traditional sri lankan working village offers
a rare yoga retreat experience. by kris mcintyre

22 | JoiN club meD

79 | masterclass

30 | WellbeiNg

Depth perception: use this quieting twist

Bypass burnout: learn to take time out before

to pause and check in with your inner life.

you work yourself into a rut. by Diana timmins

the mediterranean diet just got even better

for you. by lavinia spalding

reader offer

by annie carpenter

64 | essay

96 | subscribe

86 | ask the meNtor

What catching pneumonia taught Victoria Penko

subscribe for two years and well add

How important is your voice when teaching?

about yoga teaching and herself.

two bonus issues to your subscription!

6 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

JaNuary 2014

PHOtOgraPHy, clOckWIsE FrOm tOP lEFt: NIcHOlas J. scatUrrO, PHOtUrrOs 2009; syDNEy tOWEr EyE;
istOckPHOtO.cOm/glOBalstOck; mIcHaEl WINOkUr; istOckPHOtO.cOm/glOBalstOck


CHC 42766 -09/12

editors letter

I SS U E N O 32 . JA N UA RY 20 1 4

A teacher affects
eternity; he can
never tell where his
influence stops



ABN 39 122 001 665
Suite 15, Level 2/174 Willoughby Road,
Crows Nest NSW 2065
PO Box 81 St Leonards NSW 1590
Tel: (02) 9439 1955 Fax: (02) 9439 1977

Henry Adams

Subscription enquiries: (02) 9439 1955

8 issues (1 year) $60.00
16 issues (2 years) $110.00

Both of my parents were high school teachers before they retired.

While this was a real bummer for a high school kid (you could never
lie about anything school-related they knew all the rules, and all
your teachers), it also brought me up with a true respect for and
understanding of how hard teachers work, how important they are to
a persons development and how great their influence can be.
When my beloved father passed away a few years ago, one of his
former students wrote a beautiful letter to my mother. In it, this
previously sports-mad boy who had grown up to be a professor at New
Yorks Columbia University spoke of the key influence my father had
on his education and intellectual awakening. It was amazing that this
hugely successful academic still thought so fondly of his history teacher
from all those years ago. Just as Mr Adams says above, you really can
never tell where a teachers influence stops.
This issue is all about teachers, albeit of a slightly different kind
to my parents. Yoga teachers, too, can have a remarkable influence
on peoples lives not just in the physical sense, but emotionally,
psychologically and spiritually.
If you are considering taking that big step to becoming a yoga
teacher, this issue will give you a really good insight into what you might
expect. And not just in teacher training. Weve asked yoga teachers
to share their stories and experiences, taken a look at teachers lives
beyond the mat and peeked into the
future to see what might be in store
for the yoga teachers of tomorrow.
Theres a lot to take in.
Has there ever been a special
yoga teacher whos stood out for
you? Id love to hear your stories of
inspiration and awakening. And who
knows? Maybe one day youll be that
special teacher that someone will
cherish in their memory forever.

E D I T O R Alison Turner
A R T D I R E C T O R Julitta Overdijk

Cara Boatswain (02) 9439 1955

Ian Brooks

Todd Cole

Printed by Webstar Print

Australian Yoga Journal is published and distributed
eight times a year by Odysseus Publishing Pty Limited,
under license from Cruz Bay Publishing Inc., 475
Sansome Street, Suite 850, San Francisco, California,
United States of America. Copyright 2014 Cruz Bay
Publishing Inc. The trademark YOGA JOURNAL is a
registered trademark of Cruz Bay Publishing Inc. All
rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced
in whole or part without the written permission of
the publisher. Copyright of all images and text sent
to Australian Yoga Journal (whether solicited or not)
is assigned to Odysseus Publishing upon receipt.
Articles express the opinions of the authors and are not
necessarily those of the Publisher, Editor or Odysseus
Publishing Pty Limited. Distributed by Network Services.
ISSN 1837 2406.

o d y s s e u s

C R U Z B AY P U B L I S H I N G I N C .
G E N E R A L M A N A G E R Patricia Fox
G R O U P P U B L I S H E R Bill Harper
E D I T O R I N C H I E F Kaitlin Quistgaard
C R E A T I V E D I R E C T O R Charli Ornett
M A N A G I N G E D I T O R , I N T E R N AT I O N A L
E D I T I O N S Dayna Macy

Alison Turner

Visit us on Facebook:


Follow us on Twitter:


Jane Tarver

Heres (a sweaty) me having a delicious

post-yoga class lunch at Sydneys Egg of the
Universe with owners Harry and Bryony.

The exercise instructions and advice in this magazine

are designed for people who are in good health and
physically fit. They are not intended to substitute
for medical counselling. The creators, producers,
participants and distributors of Australian Yoga
Journal disclaim any liability for loss or injury in
connection with the exercises shown or instruction
and advice expressed herein.



Kris McIntyre

Brook McCarthy
Brook McCarthy is a yoga teacher
and Director of Yoga Reach online
marketing consultancy. She helps
yoga teachers to magnify their
impact, be bold in business,
and bring more people to the
mat through business coaching,
courses, and e-programs. Visit or follow Brook
on Twitter @YogaReach.

Kris McIntyre is a Ryoho yoga

therapist and writer, best known as
the host of Australias YOGA TV,
which has been syndicated around
the world. She currently teaches
public yoga classes in Sydney and
seasonal yoga retreats with Peppers
Salt Resort & Spa in Northern NSW
and Lake Crackenback Resort
& Spa in the Snowy Mountains.


Vi c t o r i a
Penko spent
her late teens
and twenties travelling the globe
reporting for UK magazines and
TV show. But she always had the
feeling there was something more
she needed to do. Her inner activist
surfaced when she was offered
the chance to interview families
of the disappeared for Amnesty
International. Ever since she has
been looking for meaningful ways
to contribute and now works in the
Australian environmental sector,
promoting water and environment
programs. Shes also a yoga teacher.

talk to us



Serenity now
Lucinda Bresnehan, who teaches
yoga at the Lotus Centre in
Hobart, Tasmania, shares this
photo of her four-year-old niece,
Kirra. She loves Lotus Pose,
Lucinda says. Very cute, indeed.

I picked up AYJ for the first time at

the airport on my way to a meditation
retreat. I have recently incorporated yoga
and meditation into my life to assist with
depression and low self-esteem. I wanted to
thank you for producing such an inspirational
and aspirational magazine. As someone who is very new to
meditation, Sally Kemptons article (On the Right Track)
helped me feel more committed and connected to my practice.
Im so relieved to know Im not the only one who has a monkey
mind and often feels frustrated during meditation! Meanwhile,
Alison Turners advice to look in the mirror and quit the
negative talk (13 Ways to be Kinder to You) has helped me
relax a little and be kinder to myself. Thank you for producing
an insightful, nurturing and information-rich magazine. Im so
happy I found this wonderful resource.

Want to see yourself, a family member,

Ed: And we are so happy that you found us, Sarah! (Oh, and Im glad you liked

a friend or even a pet in a future issue

my story, too *does a little dance*).

of Australian Yoga Journal? Send your

pics (high resolution jpgs are preferred)

Thanks to the teachers

Ive been practising yoga for several
years now and have in general been
quite regular with class attendance.
However due to an overall collapse of
my routine in the last six months Ive
been struggling to remain regular in
my yoga. This brings me to the crux
of my letter: teacher dedication.
While we as pupils have the
opportunity to skip a class here and
there, our teachers cannot afford
this luxury. Day after day week
after week from dawn practices to
evening relaxation classes go on all
over the world where we can go to
gain instruction and insight. None

of this would be possible without

the selfless dedication of our yoga
instructors. These inspirational
human beings devote themselves
to passing on their knowledge to us
and nurturing our skills and abilities.
So next time you consider skipping
class, spare a thought for the people
who make this all possible. Maybe you
could devote your next session to our
yoga teachers, take the time to say
thanks at the end of class or even just
return their welcoming smile.

Ed: Youve nailed it, Jeremy

our teachers are inspirational.
And this issue is dedicated to them!

CORRECTION In the article At the Beach (issue 31, p82) we state that more kidfriendly yoga sequences are available at This is incorrect
the sequences are actually available on the Yoga Education Resources website at We apologise for this error.


We aspire to inspire

Everything in moderation

I absolutely love my Yoga Journal the

stockpile of editions in my living room
is constantly being thumbed through for
inspiration, interesting sequencing, recipes
and motivation to continue and enhance
my yoga journey. Which is why I was a little
disappointed to come across a couple of
things that just dont belong in Yoga Journal.
There are so many healthy dessert recipes
out there that give us the goodness of three
types of fruit Im baffled as to why you would
encourage yogis to try a pavlova that includes
1 1/2 cups of caster sugar! (issue 31, pg 27).
Similarly, we can make myriad healthy
choices in life to keep our hearts healthy
why would a yoga magazine advise people
to consume red wine every day!?! True,
the article only suggests a little red wine a
day (issue 31 pg 31) but does this fit in with
the lifestyle of a healthy yogi? Just ask any
reputable naturopath whether the rest of our
organs would be healthier with or without at
least a few alcohol-free days per week.

I am by no means a renunciate, nor do

I preach that we must abstain from alcohol or
sugar indeed I agree that moderation is key
however I dont feel that a yoga magazine
needs to start incorporating the same sort of
questionable health tips that we could pick
up from any one of thousands of glossy/trash
mags. I want to continue looking forward to
being inspired by every page of AYJ when it
arrives in my mailbox. Please dont allow this
magazine to drift into the same category as
womens interest magazines. Please keep
up the fabulous work and inspire us on every
page to be healthier and happier yogis.

it, you dont have to all the more for me!

But seriously, Yoga Journal is for everyone,
and our aim is to provide a holistic view of
a healthy lifestyle that includes diet and
health as well as asanas and meditation.

This months winning

letter has scored
Sarah a $150 Eco
Yoga Store voucher.
Email your letter to
or snail mail it to
PO Box 81,
St Leonards,

Ed: Thanks for your feedback, Mia. Im a

NSW 1590.

firm believer in enjoying the wonderful life

Include your

Ive been blessed with, and think that the

full name and

pavlova in question (as the recipes states)

address. Prizes

should be saved for special occasions, when

available to

a little enjoyment is warranted. Also, a glass

Australian and NZ

of red wine a day has been shown to offer

residents only.

health benefits, but if you dont want to drink


talk to us

you tell us
... WE ASKED ...

We asked our Facebook friends: which pose makes you feel powerful, and why?
The most popular pose was Warrior II because, as teacher Marcus Felicetti says, Thats
what its designed to do. You open the body up and stand firm, squeezing the earth, feeling

I like to do my yoga practice

before bed in the evening.
Gets the days events
processed and makes for a
good nights sleep.

the kinetic energy rising into your sacrum, which is the source of your physical power.
But there were plenty of other responses, with interesting reasons behind them:
Crane Pose. Because it takes

Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Handstand, nothing like

concentration and strength.

Confronting, difficult

changing your perspective

And I feel I have achieved

and grunt-eliciting but

and realising your strength.

something after Ive done it.

a fabulous confidence



building, strengthening

Ardha Chandrasana because

Its different every day

and doesnt always involve
rolling the mat out.

Any time, but particularly

early morning when
everyone else is in bed so I
can find my peace.

and releasing asana.

Happy Baby - dont care


bout nuthin when Im

doing happy baby.

I am half the moon!


Savasana - if I can stay still


for Savasana Ive nailed my

Tree for me. As I see how


Any arm balance that I nail.

strong and flexible trees are


Because its an arm balance,

and I visualise I can take on

and because I nail it.

all the beautiful qualities of a

Headstand, king of asanas...

tree when I am in this pose.

because it makes me


appreciate life more when


Join our 3750+ Facebook friends! Like us


upside down.


Join us on FB!

We want to hear from you! Email your thoughts, photos,

ideas and requests to

Vale, Roma Blair

All of us here at Australian Yoga
Journal pay tribute to the mother
of yoga in Australia, Roma Blair, who
has passed away at the age of 90.
Roma (Swami Nirmalananda) died on
Tuesday, November 5, 2013, in Burleigh
Heads, Qld, after becoming critically ill.
A successful model, Roma was only 18
and living in Java during WWII when she
was taken as a POW by the Japanese. She
was held in an internment camp for three
and half years, during which time she gave
birth to a son and suffered from severe dysentery. After the war,
plagued by ill health and nightmares, Roma was introduced to yoga.
After returning home to Australia, she started the Roma Blair
Yoga Clubs and brought yoga to the homes of millions of Australians
through her national TV show Relaxing with Roma. In 1967 she
founded the International Yoga Teachers Association, headquartered
in Sydney, the first association to professionally train yoga teachers
as a non-profit registered organisation. At the age of 43, Roma
became Australias first female swami.
Earlier this year Roma told Yoga Journal, If I went to God tomorrow
I know what I can and Im quite happy and Im quite prepared for it.



What time do you

like to practice?


next issue
Australian Yoga Journal
February/March 2014 issue
goes on sale Thursday,
January 13. Grab your copy
or subscribe today!

Summers in full swing, and

Yoga Journal is loving life.
Join us for new inspiration,
better health and poses to
challenge and empower:
Lengthen your spine and
expand your breath with
Extended Side Angle Pose
Strengthen your bones
with food
Release tension and
find stillness at the end
of a busy day

Subscribe to our print

or digital version.
See page 96 or visit
for more information.

Want to be a
yoga teacher?
Make it Dru!

Transform your life with yoga. Be who you want to be!Dru Yoga Teacher Training

02 6161 1462




embracing the elements

Kim Rintel (pictured here in Salt Lake City, US) has taught in the US and now in Australia where
she teaches Vinyasa yoga, Trauma Sensitive yoga and meditation in Victoria. "Yoga is life and
life is yoga, to me both are a constant balance of my external and internal environment," she
says. "I like to take in what's around me and mesh that with whats going on within my mind
and body. Doing yoga outside feels like a deeper and more heart-opening experience."

YOGA STARS Want to see your photo here?

Send your pics to


YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 1 5


The latest science offers some simple
things you can do to beat stress

Results of a study published in

the journal Psychological Science
THERAPY showed that breaking into a
genuine smile, one that engages not just the
muscles around the mouth but also those around
the eyes, can measurably lower your heart rate
after a stressful event. Whether you feel happy
while smiling doesnt matter, says lead author
Tara Kraft, a doctoral candidate in clinical
psychology at the University of Kansas, US.
Muscle activation alone does the trick.

be here now
According to new research done at the
Center for Mind and Brain at the University
of California, Davis in the US, focusing on
the present moment can significantly reduce
your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
If you start rehashing the past or worrying
about the future, try drawing your attention
back to the present by focusing on the
sensations of your own breath,
recommends lead author Dr Tonya Jacobs.

in good company
Recent research at the University of Hawaii, US, shows
that stress can be as contagious as the common cold.
We pick up the negative attitudes and even the
negative body language of stressed-out friends,
family members and colleagues. Pay careful attention
to the emotions you experience in anothers company,
says psychology professor Dr Elaine Hatfield, the
studys lead author. If theyre negative, dont take
on too much. And if theyre positive, seek out that
persons company.
According to Dr Mathew White, a lecturer
at the University of Exeter Medical
School in the UK, looking at water is a mood enhancer.
Water feels good to us perhaps because 60 per cent
of the human body is comprised of it and because we
gestate in amniotic fluid. Visiting the ocean may have
more of a calming effect than being near a river, lake or
stream. And the positive effects could be cumulative
over multiple visits, says Dr White. If you cant get to
a body of water, try adding a water element to your
backyard or verandah.


GLEE A new study published by Swedens University

Gothenburg found that as choir members
sing together their heartbeats begin to

synchronise, which results in a calming effect on the

mind and body. Other studies have shown that singing
releases feel-good endorphins. And
a 2010 study by researchers in the
United Kingdom and here in
Australia found that singing lowers
levels of depression and anxiety
Carnegie Mellon University, US, released a new study that offers
and improves a general sense of
the first proof that self-affirmation can protect against the
wellbeing in the elderly. The
negative effects of stress. Study subjects suffering from chronic
respiration involved in singing
stress solved 50 per cent fewer test problems than those who were
slows down the heart rate and
under less stress. But when the stressed-out subjects completed
calms the nervous system, says
self-affirmation activities, such as writing about healthy personal
Gothenburg study author Dr Bjrn
relationships or other matters that were important to them, they
Vickhoff. Someday, we may even
performed just as well as their less-stressed counterparts, perhaps
have prescriptions for stress that
because they felt calmer and more confident, says study co-author
include recommended songs
Janine Dutcher. Before a test, annual performance review or first
likely those that have a slow, easy
date, remembering your personal values can help you to focus
tempo and are especially relaxing.
and succeed, she suggests.

1 6 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU



im (more than) ok


beauty bar
The seasons coolest treats are loaded
with good-for-you antioxidants and
no added sugar
In a blender or food processor,
combine 2 to 3 cups
fresh fruit chunks
and to
juice or milk. Blend
until smooth, or
pulse until slightly
chunky. Spoon into
ice block moulds,
insert sticks and
freeze for six hours
or overnight. Makes
six to eight iceblocks.

When filling
moulds, leave about
half a centimetre at the
top of the mould, to
allow for the mixture
to expand.

Use freshlysqueezed juices like

OJ for added sweetness
and flavour,
or milk or soy for creamy
mixes. Coconut water
or coconut milk
work, too.


Use ice block moulds

made with BPA-free
plastic, such as Tovolos
range (visit
Very juicy fruits,
like melons, have a
high water content and
may not need extra liquid to
pure. If you start with
frozen fruit, you may need
to add up to
more liquid.


YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 1 7


Strengthen and release to ease
neck pain
If you have tightness or tension in your neck,
certain poses can be difficult, and practising
them out of alignment could lead to injury. Yoga
teacher Desire Rumbaugh, creator of the DVD
Yoga to the Rescue for Neck and Shoulders, says
the best way to ease tightness or pain in the neck
is to address it at its roots in the upper back and
shoulders. Many daily activities have us hunching
over and rounding forward. The result of this is
a collapsed chest and tight shoulders, which pull
on the neck. Yoga can help by strengthening
the upper back to maintain the spines natural
curves and by stretching the chest and front of
the shoulders to release the neck.
To let go of tension in the neck, shoulders, and
upper back, hold each of the poses below for five
breaths, says Rumbaugh. Adjust if you feel strain
in your neck or shoulders.


Text neck. Its a term

coined by chiropractor Dr
Dean Fishman to describe
a particularly modern
form of neck pain caused
by bowing your head over your text messages.
Smartphones arent the only culprits looking
down at a tablet or anything else in your hands
for an extended period can put pressure on your
neck and lead to stiffness and discomfort.
Harvard ergonomics professor Dr Jack
Dennerlein, author of a study on the ergonomics
of tablet use, suggests using a stand, especially
when youre using it for an extended period of
time. Choose one that allows you to go hands-free
and puts your device in a position that doesnt
require you to bend your neck to look down. For
shorter sessions, change positions often. And
try not to get so immersed that you ignore the
twinges that tell you its time to look up.

device use
can keep your
neck pain-free

Childs Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Place your arms and forehead on

Rest your forehead on a block

a bolster, allowing your neck to rest

to release the neck. Keep arms

in a neutral position.

active and chest open.

Wide-Legged Standing
Forward Bend

Supine Twist

Hold a belt if your shoulders are

inner shoulders gently stretch.

tight. Reach your arms forward.

1 8 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU

Expand your chest and let your






into the wild

Step into a dappled glade. Inhale the fresh air. Gaze
up through the branches and feel your tension melt
away. Researchers already know that a walk in the
woods has measurable benefits for the brain and
body. But a recent study by scientists in Zhejiang
Province, China, goes further, finding that time
spent in the wild may actually prevent disease.
Researchers sent 10 young men on a two-day
trip to the lush Wu Chao Mountain forest; another
10 went to a nearby city. The groups stayed in

Seeking a path to good health?

Get yourself outside
comparable hotels, ate the same meals and walked
outside for about three hours each day. In the end,
the forest group had lower levels of natural
chemicals that promote high blood pressure and
inflammation, less evidence of oxidative stress
(the unchecked activity of free radicals) and
more white blood cells linked to immunity. They
also reported feeling less anxiety, depression,
anger, and fatigue and having more vigour
than the less fortunate urban group.

Did you love Babar the elephant as a kid? Well, he's all grown up now and loves
his yoga, just like you. Get yourself one of these adorable Babar tote bags from
Out of Print Clothing (US$18,, which celebrates the
world's best stories through fashion and design. For every product sold, Out
of Print donates a book to a community in need through Books For Africa.


YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 1 9


safe tan
How safe is that sunless tanning mousse
youre currently massaging in? Many
tanners on the market are laden with
ingredients that really have no place on
your skin, but there are healthier options.
Harsh chemicals such as certain oils,
paraben-based preservatives, fillers and
fragrances can all be irritating to the skin
causing topical dermatitis, aggravating
allergies and sensitive skin, says Kimmie
Worley, managing partner of Chocolate
Sun, available at
Some chemicals in beauty products
have even been linked to cancer and
immune dysfunction, so the fewer
chemicals in your product, the better.
Look for products that use pure and
natural ingredients, adds Worley.
Australian brand Eco Tan was
founded by Sonya Driver when her
sister's melanoma diagnosis pushed her
to research safe tanning options. She was
stunned to learn safe tanning was a loose
term in the world of tanning marketing.
I was determined to develop a safe
tanning option for her, she says.
Eco Tan made Australian history by
becoming the first tanning company to be
certified organic. The colour is made from
cacao (chocolate) so there are no green or
orange tones present and the formulations
2 0 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU

are free of nanoparticles so they dont

break the skin barrier and enter the blood
stream. Instead it works on the outer dead
layers of the skins surface only.
These are all small steps some
sa vvy companies are making in
replacing chemicals in tanners with
natural alternatives. But be mindful
of green washing (marketing spin
used to deceptively claim a product is
environmentally friendly), urges Driver.
Our skin is our largest organ, and
much of what we put onto it gets absorbed
into the blood stream, Driver says.
Here are some ingredients to look out for:
Synthetic colour pigments made from
coal tar. Animal studies have shown
almost all of them to be carcinogenic,
warns Driver.
Fragrance can indicate the presence
of up to 4000 separate ingredients, many
toxic or carcinogenic, Driver adds.
Propylene glycol. In a nutshell its a petrol
chemical that penetrates the skin and can
weaken protein and cellular structure.
The jury is still out on using tanners
during pregnancy, adds Worley. Speak
directly to your doctor to have them give
their approval for any skincare routine
or treatment you may want to partake in
during pregnancy, she says. EMMA BANGAY


Eco Tan Organic Invisible

Tan, $34.95,
Santorini Sun
Everyday Gradual Tan
Moisturiser $23.95,

Solar Translucent
Bronzer by Vapour
Organic Beauty, $36,

Chocolate Sun
$44, iamnatural

Lavera Organic Fake Tan

$34.95, nourishedlife.



How to get the safest glow sans sunshine


Vitamin D
The sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong bones and

muscles, as well as overall health and wellbeing. Unlike other
vitamins and minerals the amount of D found in foods is very
small, so its very hard to get what you need from your diet.
The best way to get D is to expose your bare skin to
sunlight ultraviolet radiation from the sun is necessary for
the production of vitamin D in your skin but you can also
get D from supplements if youre running low or youre
worried about exposing your skin to the sun.
In summer, a few minutes of sun on your face, arms and
hands is plenty. Regular exercise can also help your body to
produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency might not have any obvious
symptoms. If youre worried, ask your doc for a blood test.

To honour all the amazing Yoga
teachers out there doing a
fantastic job of bringing Yoga
to the people...


Percentage of
Australians who
have low levels
of Vitamin D, according to
Professor Michael Holick
from Boston University, US,
a translational physicianscientist.


Kits and Bodha clothing not included.
Teaching qualitfication required.

TEL 02 8005 0538


eating wisely


club med
One of the worlds oldest and most healthful
cuisines just got easier and more delicious
By L avi ni a Spald in g

PhOtOgraPhy: Mark rOPer, 2013

For breakfast tomorrow, how about a bowl of tangy Greek

yoghurt topped with fresh apricots, almonds and a drizzle of honey?
For lunch, how does a peppery rocket salad with cucumbers,
radishes, feta, mint and olives sound? Or a hearty pumpkin soup
with tomatoes, turmeric, cinnamon and coriander? Dinner might
be orecchiette the small pasta discs from Puglia (the heel of the
Italian boot) cooked al dente with chopped broccoli rabe or rapini,
blanched until just crispy-tender and tossed with extra virgin olive
oil, minced fresh garlic, hot red chilli and lemon zest.
If these dishes sound delicious, its because they are. If they sound
healthy, its because theyre examples of the Mediterranean diet.
Of course, this probably isnt the first youve heard of this diet,
often referred to as the worlds healthiest. Mediterranean cuisine
has been a source of interest since the 50s and 60s, when nearly
12,000 men from seven countries participated in a celebrated
12-year dietary study. The results suggested that people from the
Mediterranean region were less likely to experience heart problems.
Soon afterward the Mediterranean diet was born, combining
elements of cuisines from Italy, Spain, Greece, Southern France
and parts of the Middle East and relying mainly on fresh vegies,
fruits, fish, grains, legumes, nuts, cheese and olive oil. (Meat, sugar,
saturated fats and processed foods are largely avoided.)
A multitude of studies have since reported the diets long list of
potential advantages from protection against cancer, diabetes and
Parkinsons to increased mental agility, fertility and longevity. But
the benefits arent just health related the food tastes good, the
ingredients are accessible and the recipes are surprisingly simple.

HealtHy Hearts and minds

The Mediterranean diet is once again making headlines. Its being
reinvigorated not only by new research into how it affects long-term
health but also by fresh culinary influences that broaden its appeal.
A recent clinical trial tracked 7447 participants with major
risk factors for heart disease. The results, published in the
2 2 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

January 2014

Vegetable baKe (briami)

serVes 6


medium eggplant,
cut into large cubes
medium zucchini, cut
into 1cm slices
medium carrots,
cut into 1cm slices
broccoli, cut into large florets
cauliflower, cut into large florets
small brown or red onions,
cut into quarters

medium potatoes,
cut into 1cm slices

small red capsicums,

cut into large chunks


cloves garlic
extra virgin olive oil
medium tomatoes,
blanched and peeled

1 x 440g
1 cup

can whole peeled tomatoes)
hot water freshly milled
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper,
to taste
dried oregano, to taste
crusty bread, to serve

The Mediterranean Diet

($34.99) is published by
Pan Macmillan australia.

January 2014

1 Preheat oven to 180C (160C
2 Place eggplants in salted water for
20 minutes to draw out bitterness,
then drain.
3 Place drained eggplants, zucchini,
carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onions,
potatoes, capsicum, whole peeled
garlic cloves and olive oil in a large
baking dish on the stovetop and saut
over medium heat for 510 minutes
(do not brown).
4 add tomatoes and hot water and mix
well, then season to taste, add oregano
to taste and bake for 30 minutes,
checking regularly and adding extra
hot water if necessary.
5 When vegetables are cooked and
sauce is thick, serve with crusty bread.

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 23

ea t i ng w isely
New England Journal of Medicine, found that
people with previous coronary incidents
who ate a traditional low-fat diet had a 30
to 50 per cent higher risk of heart attack
and stroke than those on a Mediterranean
diet rich in nuts or extra virgin olive oil.
In fact, the evidence from the first four
years of the study was so strong that the
researchers decided to end the trial early.
Meanwhile, another new study the
largest of its kind to date published
in the journal Neurology suggests that
sticking closely to a Mediterranean diet
may help stave off dementia. Four years
after more than 17,000 men and women
shared data about their diet, the study
reported that those who adhered to the
Mediterranean diet were 19 per cent
less likely to have experienced cognitive
problems such as memory loss.
Studies have also shown that the diet
promotes a longer life in general and,
specifically, reduces the risk of diabetes
and bowel and prostate cancers.

tHou sHalt be HealtHy

Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, associate
professor in dietetics and human nutrition
at La Trobe University in Melbourne,
has been studying the Mediterranean
diet for more than two decades. Dr
Itsiopoulos, who ha s Greek-bor n
parents, has put together a cookbook
called The Mediterranean Diet ($34.99, Pan
Macmillan Australia). The book includes
some of the exact meals she has used in
the numerous studies she has undertaken
to illustrate the diets protective effects
against diabetes and heart disease.
In addition to her recipes, eating plans
and general dietary advice, Dr Itsiopoulos
has developed 10 commandments of
the Mediterranean diet, to help people
understand what it involves.
Dr Itsiopouloss 10 commandments:
1 Use olive oil as the main added fat
(aim for around 60mls /day);
2 Eat vegetables with every meal (include
100g leafy greens, 100g tomatoes
and 200g other vegetables per day);
3 Include at least two legumes meals
(250g serve) per week;
4 Eat at least two servings of fish (150-200g
24 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

serves) per week and include oily fish

such as Atlantic and Australian salmon,
blue-eye trevalla, blue mackerel, gemfish,
canned sardines and canned salmon.
Canned tuna is not as high in the
important fish oil omega-3, but still a
good choice to include in your fish serves.
5 Eat smaller portions of meat (beef, lamb,
pork and chicken) and less often (no
more than once or twice a week);
6 Eat fresh fruit every day and dried fruit
and nuts as snacks or dessert;
7 Eat yoghurt every day (about 200g) and
cheese in moderation (about 30 to 40
grams per day);
8 Include wholegrain breads and cereals
with meals (aim for 3-4 slices of bread
per day);
9 Consume wine in moderation (one
standard drink a day, which is about
100mls), always with meals and dont get
drunk. Try and have a couple of alcoholfree days a week;
10 Have sweets or sweet drinks for special
occasions only.

beyond club med

Its hard to imagine improving upon
this path to wellness, but leave it to
the renowned holistic health writer Dr
Andrew Weil founder and director
of the Arizona Center for Integrative
Medicine at the College of Medicine,
University of Arizona, US to crank up
the diets nutrition quotient and make
it tastier and more accessible. Dr Weil
has created a food pyramid, co-founded a
successful chain restaurant and authored a
cookbook, all based on the Mediterranean
diet but with a few special twists.
While researching his book on ageing,
Dr Weil explains, he encountered the idea
that many chronic diseases begin as lowlevel inappropriate inflammation.
It seemed the most important
strategy for optimising health, maximising
longevity and reducing the risk of serious
disease was to lead an anti-inflammatory
lifestyle, he says. And a key to that is the
anti-inflammatory diet.
So I used the Mediterranean diet as a
template but added Asian influences and
tweaked it to make it especially powerful

for containing inflammation.

If you already eat healthily, following
Dr Weils instructions wont be a stretch.
Start by eliminating processed foods, filling
up instead on fresh produce of all colours
from apples and artichokes to blueberries,
beetroot and bok choy. Kick the bread
habit and stick with true whole grains like
brown rice, barley, farro (a chewy, nutty
grain similar to pearl barley) and quinoa.
Intact grains have a lower glycaemic index
(which indicates how a food affects blood
sugar levels). But when such grains are
ground, the index rises, meaning that even
wholemeal bread can cause blood-sugar
spikes. If you can roll a piece of the bread
into a marble-size ball, Dr Weil says, it will
digest too quickly and is best avoided. Dr
Weils eating plan does allow for organic
pasta, but its always cooked al dente
again, the impact on blood sugar is lower
when pasta is really chewy.
Instead of red meat and poultry, says
Dr Weil, opt for vegetarian protein
sources like beans and legumes. But feel
free to indulge in moderate amounts of
high-quality dairy like yoghurt and natural
cheeses, and embrace two Mediterranean
staples: nuts (especially walnuts, which
are high in omega-3 fatty acids) and extra
virgin olive oil, which contains polyphenols
that can lower disease risk.
Rely on olive oil as your major fat,
Dr Weil advises. Its the one associated
with the Mediterranean diet for which we
have the best evidence for health benefits.
Whats more, he says, it has a unique antiinflammatory component.
When considering meal preparation,
remember that quick and simple lowtemperature techniques yield the best
results. That often means stir-frying
always with good oils like top-quality
extra virgin olive, organic expeller-pressed
canola or grapeseed. For fish and vegies,
steaming works beautifully and preserves
nutrients well.
You might also be surprised by how
delicious raw ingredients can be: one of
Dr Weils favourites is Tuscan kale salad
with garlic, red capsicum and pecorino
Toscano (a sheeps milk cheese from
Tuscany. When marinated in citrus and
salt for 15 minutes, the kale becomes
January 2014

tender and loses its bitterness, resulting

in perfectly succulent salad greens.
From astragalus root to zaatar, herbs
and spices also play a starring role in Dr
Weils food philosophy.
For instance, Theres been a great deal
of research into turmeric as a natural antiinflammatory, he says.
Ginger another very potent antiinflammatory and garlic, a natural
antibiotic, also rank highly. Fresh is always
best Dr Weil suggests keeping herbs in
a tightly sealed jar in the fridge. As you
expand your spice cabinet and repertoire,
try shifting your view of herbs and spices:
theyre not just flavour; theyre food.
W h e r e D r We i l m o d i f i e s t h e
Mediterranean diet most is by adding
an Asian twist: Brussels sprouts are stirfried with tamari sauce; long green beans
with sesame and citrus. He makes liberal
use of Asian mushrooms, too: shiitake,
maitake, oyster and enoki have anticancer, antiviral and immunity-enhancing
properties. Plus they deliver the rich,
savoury fifth taste of umami to the palate.
When you start eating this way, you
dont feel deprived, he says. You enjoy
your food even more. You dont even
have to tell people its healthy; its just
good food.
Lavinia Spalding is the author of Writing Away.
Visit her at

tHeanos easy cHeese Pie witH Filo

m a K e s 1 6 s n a c K- s i Z e s Q u a r e s

youll need
375g filo pastry
tablespoons olive oil
250g feta cheese, crumbled
4 eggs lightly beaten
300ml low-fat milk

1 Oil a rectangular baking dish. Preheat
oven to 200C (180C fan forced).
2 Place 2 sheets of filo pastry on
a bench and brush top layer only
with a little olive oil.
3 Place filo sheets on oiled baking dish.

4 Scatter some feta lightly over the

5 repeat steps 34, layering each new
pair of filo sheets over the last, until
all the filo and feta have been used.
Put a layer of pastry on the top.
6 Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into
squares, through all the layers.
7 Mix eggs with milk and pour over pie,
then set aside for 10 minutes until egg
mixture has soaked into pastry.
8 Bake for 2530 minutes or until golden
brown on top.

six to skip and stock

to follow Dr Weils approach, avoid foods that promote inflammation and choose ones that keep inflammation at bay
Processed oils like cottonseed,
soybean and peanut
high-glycaemic tropical fruits like
bananas, pineapple, mango and papaya

refined, processed and manufactured

food, including quick-digesting carbs like
bread, white potatoes, crackers, chips
and pastry

Sugar even juice. Fruit juice is a

concentrated sugar source, Dr Weil says,
not that different from soft drink in its
impact on blood sugar.


red meat and poultry


Whole grains and cracked grains

Plain dark chocolate, which is low in
sugar, provides a healthy fat and
contains beneficial antioxidants
tea white, green or oolong

January 2014

Cool-climate fruits like berries,

cherries, apples and pears.
Oils the best choices are extra virgin
olive, coconut, grapeseed, organic
expeller-pressed canola, avocado,
sesame and palm fruit.

Oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids,

like wild salmon, sardines and herring, or
an algae-based supplement with both
Dha and ePa, plus vegetarian omega-3
sources like flax and hemp seeds.

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 25

living yoga

s a world
Why are more women than men drawn to yoga?
Katie Manitsas investigates

in the developed world, from New York

to Sydney, and youre likely to find more
women in attendance than men. If youve
chosen a more dynamic form of yoga such
as Bikram or Ashtanga you might have a
more even split; but delve into the more
esoteric teachings or the less strenuous,
and women will tip the balance pretty
much the world over.
It didnt used to be like this yoga
is traditionally a male practice. (Some
scriptures suggest women cant attain
enlightenment apparently the best
they can hope for is to reincarnate next
time as a man...) Yet in most yoga studios

26 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU

today the presence is largely female. Why

is this? When I asked some female yoga
teachers in Australia this question I got
the sense that there is no one reason.
Yoga is challenging for men physically,
but especially for their egos where the
challenge is to be doing something
theyre not immediately good at, says
leading Sydney-based Hatha teacher Eve
Grzybowski, whos been teaching for 33
years. Feeling into poses may be something
women are instinctively better at.
Many men think of yoga as being sissy
or girly (although they would soon change
their minds if they gave it a try!) And while
yogas image with men is improving many
football teams now have yoga as part of their
training, to improve flexibility and reduce
the risk of injury the more spiritual and
emotional aspects of a regular practice see
many men eschewing the yoga mat for
more vigorous forms of exercise. Women
tend to be more proactive about
mental and emotional health
than men. While men will
happily spend time and
money on the gym or other
body/ima ge improving
activities, theyre generally
less inclined to approach
stress management or
spiritual wellbeing with the
same gusto as women.
It may be true that men
prefer a physical challenge rather


Show up to a yoga class anywhere


Eileen Hall
Age: 57
Practising yoga: 35 years
Born: Australia
Style of yoga taught
and practised: I was
traditionally taught and
certified in Iyengar yoga
by BKS Iyengar for seven
years. Then I stepped over
to the Ashtanga yoga
method as taught by
K. Pattabhi Jois.
Favourite yoga philosophy
teaching: The Bhagavad
Gita. I read it over and over
for its insights to right
livelihood in the here and
now. The yoga practitioner
whosemind is unbridled can
never attain self-realisation.
Only one who hasmastered
the self and who strives
byright means is assured
of success.


YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 27

l i vi n g yo g a

Age: 60
Practising yoga: 45 years
Born: USA, now living in Melbourne
Style of yoga taught and practiced:
Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi
Favourite yoga philosophy
teaching: If you cant see God in
all, you cant see God at all, Yogi

28 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU


A 2012 US Yoga Journal study showed

that of the people practising yoga regularly,
82.2 per cent are women and only 17.8
per cent are men. A 2012 Australian study
for the International Journal of Yoga
showed the male attendance level at only
14.5 per cent.
Although women have made a strong
claim on the teachings and practice of



Guru Jivan
(Renee Goodman)

than an emotional one, and are looking

for instant results in an exercise regimen.
But plenty of women feel the same way.
Perhaps one difference between men
and women might lie in womens ability
to persist and break through emotional
challenges rather than give up when feeling
confronted. Women may be more resilient
to the challenges that starting out in yoga
can present, because in general they adapt
better to change than men. Physically, a
woman goes through a greater and more
intense cycle of developmental and
hormonal changes in her life. Plus, many
women give birth to life, and all the ups and
downs that come with it.
Our yoga and spiritual practices
throughout our lives should support us
in each phase, says Guru Jivan, a yoga
teacher who has taught and practised
Kundalini yoga (as taught by Yogi
Bhajan) in Melbourne for more than 45
years. Many older women have found
that having a strong practice throughout
their lives has made transitioning into
the menopausal phase much smoother.
Personally, I found menopause to be no
difficulty at all after nearly 40 years of a
steady daily practice of Kundalini yoga
and meditation.
Just as some styles of yoga will appeal
more to men, some have adapted to have
a greater focus on womens teachings.
Kundalini yoga is a good example here,
with a whole set of teachings offered with
women only in mind.

yoga in the developed world, when we

get to the top of the ladder, theres
a stronger male presence. Many of the
superstar yoga teachers are male,
particularly in the US. It seems that yoga
has followed in the footsteps of many
industries and although female and male
teachers will usually be paid the same
amount for the same work at the top
there appears to be more space for men
than is reflected by gender split of regular
yoga practitioners in the Western world.
Why this is so is a huge question that
delves into the arena of feminist politics
in a way the limitations and word count
of this article couldnt hope to explore
properly. But, just as in other industries
and professions, one of the reasons why
women are so poorly represented in highlevel positions is due to their choice to
take time off work to have children.
The other factor is that teaching yoga
is often a second career a sideline to
their day job (see p64 for more on this).
Other people become a yoga teacher after
leaving the corporate world or another
type of more stressful employment
behind. And part of this lifestyle change
often includes a lessening of ambition.
Yoga as a practice is always changing,
always evolving although the essence of
the teachings remain the same. The core
of yoga is in its philosophical backbone
but the interpretations of the practice

throughout history and within different

cultural contexts must surely take into
account who is doing the practice.
If women dont honour and nourish the
phases and cycles of their lives they will
do themselves and the practice of yoga
a disservice. Perhaps the biggest lesson
to learn is to let go of our collective goaloriented culture and soften into being

rather than achieving.

A life-long practice removes the need
and desire to achieve, allowing you to
be in the moment, says Eileen Hall, an
Ashtanga yoga teacher of over 35 years.
Through this comes awareness as we age,
transform and evolve.

Eve Grzybowski
Age: 68
Practising yoga: 42 years


Born: Chicago, US, and now lives

on Mitchells Island, NSW.
Style of yoga taught and practised:
Ive been influenced by the yoga of
B.K.S. and Gita Iyengar, Donna Farhi,
Judith Lasater, Donald Moyer,
K. Pattabhi Jois all of these filtered
through my life experience to create
I guess what you could say is Eve yoga.
Favourite yoga philosophy teaching:
Patanjalis Sutra I:2 and I:3. Yoga is the
stilling of movement in the mind; and
Then pure awareness can abide in its
very nature.


YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 29


Burnout doesnt mean the
end of a yoga-teaching
career it can be the
beginning of a liberating
lesson about taking time
out, writes Diana Timmins

3 0 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

As another year draws to an

end, some yoga teachers may breathe
a secret sigh of relief at the looming
Christma s close-down. Those
abundant with inspiration and energy
may continue teaching the eager
who merrily forego mince pies and
champagne to mindfully manoeuvre
their way into the New Year; whereas
others wearily cross the finish line
with a thud. That almighty clunk was
me a couple of years ago a burnout
that prompted a sabbatical of stressless self-enquiry.
I worked in the fa st-paced
entertainment industry until, at 24,
I threw in the TV towel to pursue
yoga teaching. I was passionate
about sharing yoga with others,
yet misguided about realities of
teaching and to a degree what
yoga is. With an unbalanced focus
on yogas physicality, combined with
mastering the art of people-pleasing
and motherhood, I quickly headed
for third degree burnout. Most days
involved numerous nappy changes,
bottles and burping, copious coffees
on the run, pleading with sluggish
traffic and eventually barrelling into
classes breathlessly attempting to
dump my dishevelled desperation
at the door. I became an actor with
teaching yoga my role; not entirely
what I or my students signed
up for. My former cure for burnout
became my cause. My love became my
living, and I was desperate for a break.
Around this time, my teacher

from Indias International Centre

for Yoga Education and Research
(ICYER), Dr Ananda Balayogi
Bhavanani, wisely said, If you love
and live yoga, where is the need for a
break? If its just another profession
for you, then please take one at
the earliest. This reinforced that
teaching yoga is a privilege, not
punishment; hence I took leave until
I could practise what I preached and
teach with integrity. I had dug myself
a hole, and needed time to climb out.
Work Within your limits

Burnout appears widespread

nowadays, and difficulties
discovering personal limitations is a
common cause. Jet-setting instructor
Amy Ippoliti burnt out in 2001 from
frantically racing around New York
on a scooter, teaching up to six
classes daily. Hectic international
teaching commitments coupled with
a painful divorce landed her in hot
water again in 2009.
I packed my schedule to the
brim and had recurring injuries
and constant meltdowns from
the frustration of being unable to
establish a healthy routine or social
life, she says. I was acutely aware
that I had to step off the hamster
wheel, because nobody wants to
feel like their teacher is the most
unbalanced person in the classroom.
Many teachers can relate, even
in laidback Byron Bay. In 2009,
Byron Yoga Centre instr uctor
JAnuAry 2014

illusTraTions ThroughouT:

Lila Kirtana witnessed two teachers suffer

with unsustainable workloads to the point of
surrender, and soon struggled personally when
her initial eagerness saw her saying yes to
every opportunity.
Suddenly I was teaching 10 classes weekly,
supervising trainees and lecturing as well as
cooking and cleaning for the centre, she says.
My personal practice dwindled and I was
teaching similar sequences daily, as I had no
time to play with variations.
As water finds its own level, I realised
teaching so many classes wasnt for me. I learnt
to say no to some things and prioritised my own
practice to find a happy balance. Now I feel
inspired to do something creative for each
class I teach, and my passion to share yoga
philosophy has returned.
The ideal number of weekly classes is purely
individual. Some like me select quality over
quantity and find one class daily or even one
class weekly is ample. Owner of Vinyasa Yoga
Wollongong Steven Hinchliffe, on the other
hand, comfortably instructs four to five classes
on most days.
JAnuAry 2014

Listen to your body and mind, and set your

own rhythm, he says. Regardless of personal
limits, its important to have at least one day
off weekly, to recharge physically and mentally.
When youre teaching, youre giving a lot of
energy to your students. You need time to
re-centre yourself.
replenish your energy

When running ragged, the very things we

instil within students are often those we cease
prioritising: personal practice, down time and
diet. Being self-sacrificial isnt noble, but could
tip the scales for teachers zapped of energy and
teetering on the brink of burnout. Taking time
out to practise, play or pause one day weekly,
one hour daily, even one minute hourly adds
up incalculably; refilling our own cup allows
its energy to abundantly overflow into others.

regardless of personal limits, its important

to have at least one day off weekly, to
recharge physically and mentally
yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 3 1

we l l be in g

If freedom and finances
dont stretch far enough to
attend regular classes in
person, mobile phone apps
like yoga Studio, All-in
yOGA and Daily yoga (AllIn-One) offer accessible
alternatives. The internet
also offers a range of
general support to keep
you connected, including:

32 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

Its crucial to take time out and recharge,

says Sydney-based celebrity yoga teacher,
Charlotte Dodson. Start each day with your
own practice. This could be 20 minutes of
pranayama and meditation, or going to your
own personal teacher.
Both Dodson and Hinchliffe have avoided
significant periods of burnout despite busy
schedules, perhaps due to committing to regular
practices extending beyond the mat. The
Hatha Yoga Pradipika (classical text) states that
physical practice is only preparation for deeper
practices of raja yoga (mental development), yet
many teachers get hung up on doing their asana
practice, says Hinchliffe.
Its like a student chef spending all their
time perfecting food preparation skills,
but never cooking or eating anything. Most
important of all is learning to develop a sense
of presence every single minute of every day.
Engaging in daily activities that cultivate
a sense of presence fosters an awareness that
alerts us when our cup is in danger of drought,
and mindfully presses the brake pedal when
running on empty. It may be walking in nature
and listening to the ambience, immersing
ourselves in creative outlets or simply
momentary pauses between tasks.
Dodson also reiterates the importance of
replenishing energy physically which doesnt
constitute takeaway coffees between classes!

Ensure you eat healthily and in small amounts,

she says. Have a banana and nuts handy when
youre on the go. Keep well hydrated by putting
chlorophyll in your water bottle and refilling it
throughout the day.
coping With criticism

Many teachers remember the fear of their first

few gigs, often ending in a post-class plunge
similar to a sugar rush. My fear escalated. What
if I dont portray the ideal yoga persona? What if
my body wobbles and mind freezes? Worse what
if people complain? Even if hundreds sung my
praises, just one unhappy camper knocked me
off my perch. Harsh self-judgements constantly
consumed me; a far cr y from Patanjalis
description of yoga in the Sutras (1.2) as the
cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
In his book Mindfulness at Work, research and
evaluation officer for Geelongs Preventative
Health Initiative Dr Stephen McKenzie classifies
good teachers as light on their mental feet.
Being light on your mental feet means being
mindfully agile enough to get out of the way
of your thoughts such as how well or badly
youre doing before they land on you, he
says. Good teachers just do what theyre doing
without needing to create their sense of self
through it Good teachers transcend their
selves: I help others to realise their full potential to
be more than they think they are, by firstly being more
than I think I am.
Says Dodson, When we begin teaching, its
easy to try guessing what students are thinking,
but youll never really know what anyone is
JAnuAry 2014


good teachers just do what theyre doing without

needing to create their sense of self through it...
good teachers transcend their selves
thinking. All you can do is teach with sincerity
and be the best you can one moment to the next.
An instr uctor s aim is to encoura ge
positivity and love from within every student.
Some find this confronting if they arent ready
to face their own challenges. Its important to
honour this situation, just as its important for
students to respect their teacher. Remember
that as a teacher, youre guiding students to
find the teacher within. Any criticism is a great
observation worth taking on board, but not
taken personally.
education for inspiration

Gaining teaching certification shouldnt be

the end of education. Many yoga associations
recognise the best teacher is also the best
student by implementing professional
development policies to maintain registration.
Furthering knowledge in areas that are rusty
or of specific interest not only prepares us
for various classroom encounters, but also
maintains freshness and enthusiasm.
As more health practitioners recommend
yoga to patients, trainings specific to anatomy,
psychology and therapeutics are particularly
recommended, says Ippoliti.
In 2011, Ippoliti co-founded 90 Monkeys
(, an online educational
resource for yoga professionals to polish skills
and build business know-how. Already, 90
Monkeys has helped over 1500 graduates in 43
countries enhance confidence and grow class
attendance by approximately 42.7 per cent.
Of course there are other accessible ways
of being studious that dont burn holes in the
back pocket, like attending kirtan (devotional
singing) or satsang (spiritual teachings) within
the yoga community, or autonomously
revisiting old textbooks and yogic scriptures.
Simply spending 10 minutes daily reading
up on subjects that need strengthening is an
JAnuAry 2014

instant boost of life-force for weary

teachers, Ippoliti says.
Making a New Years resolution to
make conscious efforts to continue learning
is the perfect way for a yoga teacher to remain
inspired and inspiring for others this year and
Repeatedly digging your own hole, battling
to dodge it and going through the process of
re-emerging is not a healthy lifestyle nor
sustainable. Its far better to use your vast yogic
toolbox to prevent digging the hole in the first
place. Things will then naturally flow with greater
ease; energy, class structure, student numbers,
perhaps even traffic en route to classes!

Charlotte Dodson is kindly

offering all AyJ readers
FrEE membership valid for
one month from the date of
registration to access her
online classes, live chats and
tips. Visit
promotions and enter code
AyJ-EXCLuSIVE before
31 January, 2014.

Diana Timmins is a freelance health and wellbeing

journalist and certified Hatha instructor in
Wollongong, NSW.

symptoms of burnout
Could you be on the brink of burnout? While its best
to seek expert advice for medical diagnosis, possible
indicators can include:
reluctance to teach
unenthused to provide
uninspired to practise
or plan

muscular tension
weight fluctuations
frequent colds and flus

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 3 3


core values
Tone your mid-section and draw on your inner strength

move from
the centre
Core work in yoga is not
isolated movement. You
work from your centre
in relationship to the
effort of your arms and
legs. Learning to
connect the work of the
limbs to the core is the
key to practising more
advanced poses such
as arm balances and

By Nikki Coste llo

upward extended foot pose

urdhva prasarita padasana
urdhva = upward; prasarita = extended;
pada = foot; asana = pose

As a yoga student, you can learn to build core strength without doing
crunches. In a traditional sit-up, you would lift the head and shoulders off
the floor to bring the elbows towards the knees. This crunch movement
contracts the abdomen and primarily strengthens one set of muscles, the
rectus abdominis muscles (the six-pack area), which run vertically from
the front of the rib cage down to the top of the pelvis.
When you work to develop core strength in yoga, the goal is not to
isolate one part of the body, or just contract certain muscles. Instead, think
of the core in relationship to everything else: your other muscles, your
limbs and even your mind. Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended
Foot Pose) tones the entire abdominal region the front, the sides and
the deeper transverse muscles that cross the sides of the torso and it does
so by lengthening and extending the whole body. The two ends of your
body the arms and legs are actively pulling in opposite directions, like
a tug of war, but the centre, your core, becomes stable and still.

Relax youR
neck and face
engage the

3 4 yo gaj o u R n a l .co m . au

JAnuArY 2014

slowly lift and

loweR youR legs

fully extend
youR legs

JAnuArY 2014

yo gaj o u R n a l .co m . au 35

basi cs

lift and lower your bent legs

set up
Lie on your back, with your legs fully
extended along the floor.
stretch your arms alongside your body
and turn your palms to face the floor.
Bend both legs with your feet on the
floor, bringing your heels towards the
buttocks with your feet and knees together.
Lift your legs, bending from the hips to
bring your thighs in towards your abdomen.
refine press your palms and outer
shoulders into the floor to widen your
chest. Lift both legs together to bring the
thighs towards your abdomen. Allow the
abdomen to be soft as it moves inward and
towards the lumbar spine. Keep the weight
of your outer hips on the floor and the

Ur d h v a Pr a s a r i t a Pa d a s a n a i s
practised with the back of the body
supported by the floor, allowing the
spine to fully elongate. And the pose
gives you the strength to keep your spine
long in an upright or standing position.
With strong core muscles, you can sit
and stand up tall, with a lift in the centre
of your body. Without core strength,
the rib cage starts to sink towards the
pelvis, and the shoulders and head can
get pulled forward, causing tension in the
3 6 yo gaj o u R n a l .co m . au

sides of your torso long. Bring your

attention toward the sacrum (the
triangular bone at the base of the
spine) and be sure that both sides of the
sacrum also make contact with the floor.
finish squeeze in the outer thighs and
hips to bring the legs together as one.
practise raising the thighs towards the
abdomen with awareness and control.
(Avoid using a swinging motion to create
momentum to lift the thighs.) raise and
lower them several times, and with each
repetition, gently and gradually engage
the abdominal muscles without tensing
other parts of the body like the neck,
throat, face, or tongue.

upper back. Practising Urdhva Prasarita

Padasana can help relieve or prevent pain
and tension in the entire back.
Practice the pose in three phases. If
youre already strong, you can spend more
time in the final phase. Alternatively, you
can stop at the early, less rigorous phases
until you build more abdominal strength.
Try to avoid tensing or gripping the neck,
throat and facial muscles, and instead
keep them relaxed in each phase.
In the first phase, with the knees bent

(see Step 1), the arms stay at the sides of

the body to support the back muscles
until the core becomes stronger. The key
is to lift the bent legs together without
pressing the lower back to the floor;
instead, rest the weight evenly on both
sides of the pelvis. Raise and lower your
legs (bringing the feet back to the floor)
several times. Notice how the abdomen
moves in and back toward the spine
while the lumbar remains neutral, neither
flattened nor overly arched. Let the work
of holding your legs up come from your
abdominal muscles, not the muscles of
your lower back.
In the next phase (see Step 2), practise
holding the legs up perpendicular to the
floor using abdominal strength. Keep both
sides of the pelvis stable and keep the lower
back neutral. If your legs swing towards
your head, the lumbar spine will contract
into the floor, and if they swing too far
away from your head, the lumbar may
get overly arched. With the legs reaching
toward the ceiling, extend your arms
overhead and press them into the floor.
Firm the muscles around your knees and
elbows. This resistance, or contraction, is
what allows you to relax your hip flexors
and groin. Continue to feel the abdomen
moving towards the back.
In the final phase, your arms and legs
are pulling and reaching in opposite
directions. Reach your arms and press
them to the floor to allow the chest to
expand. The chest counterbalances the
weight of the legs as you lift and then
lower them towards the floor. If you
dont reach through your arms and legs,
pressure can build in the lower back,
thighs and groin. Lower your legs as
slowly as needed in order to keep your
abdominals pulling in and your lower back
stable. When you start practising Urdhva
Prasarita Padasana, you may not be able
to lower the legs all the way with control.
In that case, first practise the earlier
phases of the pose. Keep practising and
remember to tug in both directions for a
strong and steady core.
Nikki Costello is a certified Iyengar yoga
teacher (

JAnuArY 2014

PhoTograPhy: david marTiNez; model: jeNNifer laNe; sTylisT: lyN heiNekeN; hair/make-uP: raCiNe ChrisTeNseN

step 1

Bend the legs toward the

abdomen, keeping the
pelvis stable.

step 2

Stretch your
arms overhead to
lengthen your torso.

iow Yoga
Immersion Retreats
& 200hr
Teacher Training

stretch your legs toward the ceiling

Ubud, Bali
set it up
Lie on your back, with your legs fully
extended along the floor.
stretch your arms alongside your body,
with your palms facing down.
Bend your knees, bringing your heels
towards the buttocks.
Bend your legs at the hips to bring your
thighs towards your abdomen.
extend your legs upwards.
firm your thighs and grip the muscles
around the knees.
extend your arms overhead, with your
palms facing up.
refine Keep the back of the outer hips
in contact with the floor and your legs
perpendicular to the floor. stretch the
back of your legs from your sitting bones

upwards to your heels. roll the outer

thighs inwards while keeping the inside
edges of your feet together. press the
front of your thighs towards the thigh
bones and widen the backs of your legs.
now extend your arms overhead, along
the floor, fully stretching from your waist
to your armpits, to your elbows, to the
backs of your hands and fingers. press
the backs of your arms to the floor and
expand your chest.
finish elongate your entire torso
by reaching your arms in one direction
and pressing your thighs in the opposite
direction. Allow the front of the abdomen
to soften down. stay for 20-30 seconds
without tensing the neck or facial

elements of practice
What does core strength really mean to a yoga student? Its more than having
toned-looking abs. Its about learning to draw on your internal strength from a
steady centre. When something is truly strong at its core, its unshakable. In Urdhva
Prasarita Padasana, you reach with your limbs in opposite directions, but your
centre stays still and quiet. Finding a still centre can help you navigate the highs
and lows of life. The mind no longer gets pulled in all directions but instead has
the ability to remain present and focused. You can learn to experience that stable
centre as the steadfast or unchanging element that resides within you.
JAnuArY 2014

April 4th-May 4th 2014

with Amy Jean Pastore
Balarama Chandra Das
assisted by Antigone Garner
and Poncho Cottier

inspired by the ow
intelligently aligned
intuitive by nature
stay for weeks 1 and 2
for a Yoga Retreat
stay for the month
and become
a Certied Yoga Teacher.
to register and for more info:

basi cs
finAL pOse

urdhva prasarita padasana

set it up
Lie on your back, with your legs fully extended
along the floor.
extend your arms overhead with your palms
facing up.
press the backs of your arms down and expand
your chest.
firm your thighs and grip the muscles around
the knees.
Lift the legs up to 90 degrees.
Begin to lower them gradually towards the floor.

Keep extending in these opposite directions to

raise the legs upwards. Maintain the fullness in
your chest to balance the weight of the legs. As
you lift the legs, do not let the legs swing towards
your face beyond 90 degrees.
finish As you lower the legs, keep reaching
strongly through your arms and legs. Maintain
a gentle curve in your lumbar by lengthening
the tailbone towards the heels and elongating
your abdomen. to build strength, practice

refine to lift your legs, first reach with your

arms from your waist to your fingertips and
expand your chest completely. spread your toes
and stretch the bottoms of your feet. reach out
equally through your legs and lengthen them
from the backs of your thighs to your heels.

steps 1, 2 and 3 in succession. the progression

will teach you how the abdominal muscles are
toned without creating unnecessary tension
in your hips, groin and quadriceps, or neck and
facial muscles.

Raise and lower your legs

with control to tone the
abdominal muscles.

optimise your pose

Challenge yourself
Grasp the legs of
a table for support
and raise and lower
your legs 10 times.

refine your practice of urdhva prasarita padasana.

relax your abdomen

With your legs reaching
up, loop a belt around
your feet and hold the
ends. rest your elbows
on the floor.

3 8 yo gaj o u R n a l .co m . au

support your lower back

Keep your arms by
your sides, pressing
into the floor, to support
your back in all phases
of the pose.

prep your hamstrings

Before you practise
the pose, stretch your
hamstrings for a few
minutes in Legs-upthe-Wall pose.

expand your chest

place a folded blanket
under your forearms and
firmly press the backs of
your arms down to open
your chest.

JAnuArY 2014


who can,

so you want to be a yoga teacher?
sue White takes a look at your
options to help you find the
right style and the right course

For the yogis of bygone eras who learned their

4 0 yo gAj o u r n A l .co m . Au


craft through sitting at the feet of their guru,

todays world of yoga teacher training would be
almost unrecognisable. Its true: yoga teachers of
the new millennium are spoilt for choice.
Eager teacher trainees can now choose both the
teacher and the method of study that suits them,
with everything from residential programs to
distance education and intensive courses on offer.
So how do you decide? Some trainees choose based
on their preferred style of practice, while others just
want to take on training with their favourite teacher
or local school. If you dont follow a specific path of
yoga, deciding can be difficult, and in these cases the
answer often comes down to cost or convenience.

January 2014

January 2014

yo gAj o u r n A l .co m . Au 4 1

4 2 yo gAj o u r n A l .co m . Au

styles to consider
AnusArA yogA

Snapshot Founded by American John Friend, Anusara is a style of hatha yoga that combines
a life-affirming Tantric philosophy with a focus on alignment.
Training Either choose to become an Anusara certified teacher (a long road, taking many
years) or an Anusara-inspired teacher, which requires 200 hours with a certified teacher, 100
hours of Anusara immersion and two years teaching experience before you begin.
The training radically improved my teaching, giving me confidence to skilfully weave
powerful alignment principles with uplifting heart-centred philosophy, resulting in
transformative classes that students love, says Cassandra Missio, certified Anusara teacher.
Typical cost $8000 for inspired accreditation; $12,000 or more for certified accreditation.
Good to know In February 2012, a scandal rocked the Anusara world as Friend was accused of
mismanagement and abuse, including having sexual relations with students and leading a Wiccan
covent. Following these allegations, hundreds of Anusara teachers resigned. In March 2012, Friend
stepped down from leading the organisation, but returned to teaching several months later. In
November 2012, the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga, a global teacher-led school, incorporated.
Accreditation All Anusara trainings are certified with US-based Yoga Alliance.
Locations There are certified Anusara yoga teachers in most capital cities in Australia,
offering immersions and teacher trainings.
More info
AshtAngA yogA

Snapshot The founder of this flowing Hatha practice, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, passed away in
2009, but the Ashtanga yoga lineage remains strong around the world.
Training Traditionally, you had to travel to India numerous times to study at the source,
with Sri Pattabhi Jois (Guruji) himself. Today, the lineage holder is his grandson, Sharath
Jois. After regular visits (were talking a few months at a time, over a few years) Sharath (or
formally, Guruji) becomes your teacher and eventually you may be offered authorisation
to teach. This is still the position of the K Pattabhi Jois
Ashtanga Yoga Institute (KPJAYI) in Mysore, India,
however some accredited teachers are now beginning to run
their own trainings here in Australia.
A student needs to first become a good student...
Someone with a strong mind and overwhelming enthusiasm...
Maybe after 10 years of tasting and experimenting with yoga,
maybe then they might be ready to teach, says respected
Australian Ashtanga teacher Eileen Hall.
Typical cost Depends how long you take.
Good to know There are differences of opinion about
possibilities for Ashtanga certification in the Australian
community, however, KPJAYI says it is the only authority
able to authorise or certify individuals to teach the Ashtanga
yoga method as taught by Sri K Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath.
Accreditation As Ashtanga training is not a Westernised
training, accreditation is given through the institute in
Mysore. However, the institutes website states: Students
travelling to Mysore should not come with the expectation
of obtaining authorised or certified status. The idea is that
you come to learn, not to get a certification.
Locations Mysore, India
More info
January 2014


If youre going with a school you

dont know, take some classes
with them first as anyone who
knows even a little about yoga
soon learns, approaches and
styles can be vastly different.
Ma n y s t u d e n t s t a ke o n
teacher training simply to
deepen their own knowledge:
its a valid choice, but whichever
way you go, be prepared to put
aside time, open your heart and
mind and get ready to see the
world in a different way.
Although you can expect to
pay anywhere from $3000 to
$12,000 for a training program,
youll find that your favourite
teacher will often have done
more than one yoga teaching is
seen as a field where the learning
journey is a never ending one.
Read our overview of the major
styles and schools and remember
while the styles and approach
may differ greatly, were essentially
all on the same path. With that
in mind, open your heart and get
ready for the journey.

dru yogA

Snapshot This 90-minute practice, created by Bikram

Choudhury, uses 26 postures (asana) and two breathing
practices, all done in a heated room.
Training All training is done in Los Angeles, US; youll need
to be at least 21 years old and have a certificate from a local
Bikram teacher saying youve been practising the style for at
least six months. The nine-week intensive training runs six
days a week.
I love the discipline of Bikram yoga; the heat, the intensity
and the sweat. It gives me strength, toning, flexibility and
stillness of mind, says Simon Phelan, a Melbourne-based
Bikram Yoga teacher.
Typical cost US$11,400 for training including share
accommodation (more in a private room).
Good to know A typical day at teacher training starts at 8am
and lasts until at least midnight, including two daily Bikram
yoga classes.
Accreditation Successful graduates receive certification as
Bikram Yoga Method Instructors. Youll then need to travel
to Los Angeles every three years to do a shorter, recertification
course (US$250).
Locations Los Angeles, US
More info

Snapshot An accessible form of yoga based on flowing

movements, directed breathing and visualisation. Dru Yoga
began in Wales in the late 1970s. Its now taught in Europe,
Australasia and North America.
Training Australian courses tend to run in nine four-day nonresidential weekends, spread over three years. In between
modules there is a comprehensive reflective practice program
and personal mentoring is encouraged. Students are supported
to start teaching about 15 months in, after which they can start
earning an income from their teaching.
The Dru course offers a complete package: personal
development, structure for your home practice, skills to teach
and practical ways to give back to the world, says Judy Charlton,
a Dru Yoga graduate.
Typical cost $215 per month, for three years ($7740 total).
Good to know Dru Yoga training is not only for those who want
to become a teacher; many therapists, management trainers and
human resource leaders do the course for insight into yogas
understanding of body, emotions, mind and group dynamics.
Accreditation Graduates register with the International School
of Dru Yoga, and the course is accredited with Yoga Alliance
(US and Pacific Rim), Yoga Australia and the Independent Yoga
Network (UK).
Locations Courses run across the country, but start dates vary.
In 2014, new Australian trainings are currently scheduled for
Brisbane. You can also train as a Dru teacher in the UK, Ireland,
Netherlands or Canada.
More info


BIkrAm yogA

January 2014

yo gAj o u r n A l .co m . Au 4 3

Snapshot Unless a yoga teacher training is labelled as a specific training in

a certain style of yoga, you are generally safe to assume its a generic form of Hatha
yoga following the teachings of ancient yogic sage, Patanjali, and the eight limbs of yoga.
Training Training commitments and schedules vary according to the studio some are
held as intensives over a period of months, others might run one weekend a month for
one to three years. Most will involve at least
350 up to 1000 hours of training; this includes
IyEngAr yogA
contact hours, classes and homework.
I love that Hatha yoga brings together the
S n a p s h o t An inter national l yenergies of the sun and moon, inviting each
recognised approach to the practice
student to investigate the balance between
and teaching of yoga, emphasising
effort and grace, says Samantha Nolan-Smith,
a precise, careful and thorough
a Hatha yoga teacher.
methodology. The 93-year-old guru
Typical cost Varies substantially, but expect
of the lineage, BKS Iyengar, still
to pay anywhere from $1500 to $7500 or more.
practises daily from his home institute
Accommodation might be extra if residentials
(RIMYI) in Pune, India. Iyengar yoga
are involved. In general, longer courses cost
is strictly a term coined by his students
more and some not-for-profits may charge less.
(he doesnt believe in branding yoga).
Good to know Many teachers start with
Iyengar yoga aims at a consistency
a general Hatha training and then go on to
of form, methodology and approach
something more specific down the track.
across its many teachers worldwide.
Accreditation Some trainings are registered
Training Youll need to have practised
with Yoga Australia, while others have Yoga
Iyengar yoga for a minimum of three
Alliance (US/international) accreditation
years before undertaking training
instead (see get connected, opposite page). You
with a teacher accredited by the
mainly want accreditation so that you can get
BKS Iyengar Yoga Association of
public liability insurance, or to assure students
Australia (BKSIYAA). There are five
about the standard of your training.
levels of Iyengar teacher training,
Locations Across Australia in almost every
each containing two or three stages.
capital city. Asking your favourite yoga studio
Start at Introductory, Level I youre
for their recommendations is a good place to
still considered to be in training on
start (and so is looking in our directory, at the
completion. You can use the Iyengar
back!). Yoga Australias website (yogaaustralia.
Certification Mark at Introductory, lists courses registered with them.
Level 2; after a minimum of 300 hours
of training, 100 hours of assisting,
4 4 yo gAj o u r n A l .co m . Au

adjusting and teaching and passing the

rigorous assessments set by BKSIYAA.
Taking on the commitment
to train to become a yoga teacher
deeply changed my life. The
ongoing practice has only become
richer refreshing my eyes and
focusing my heart, says Caroline
Coggins, a senior Iyengar teacher.
Typical cost Many teachers dont
charge for apprenticeship- style
teacher training. If its a course format,
training may cost upwards of $5000
over a two-year period.
Good to know Iyengar yoga teacher
training is renowned for upholding
rigorously high standards, just one
reason it takes most students five years
to complete Introductory (Levels 1 and
2) accreditation.
A c c r e d i t a t i o n In t r o d u c to r y
assessments are conducted at least twice
yearly by the BKSIYAA in Australia,
typically in major capital cities.
Locations Train across Australia or
More info
January 2014

PhotograPhy:; Facing Page:

gEnErAl hAthA

IytA (hAthA)

get connected

upon completing your yoga teaching qualification youll likely want (or need)
Snapshot: While IYTA (International
to join a professional body such as yoga australia (formerly the yoga Teachers
Yoga Teachers Association) is an
association of australia).
association of yoga teachers, its primarily
While its not mandatory, about 1740 australian yoga teachers are members of
a training body that has trained more
yoga australia (others join the uS equivalent, yoga alliance).
than 2000 classical Hatha yoga teachers
in the past 30 years.
There are discounts with some insurance houses, on conferences and seminars,
Training One of the longest-running
and members can post events and further trainings.
teacher training courses in Australia,
Professional body accreditation, or eligibility to get it, is required by some insurers
IYTA offers 350 hours of lectures,
as well as groups such as Fitness australia. yoga australia has agreements in
teaching, mentoring and research over
place that anyone teaching in their gyms should have at least a 200-hour training,
a 12-month period. There are two ways
and apply for registration with them.
to study with IYTA: Sydney-based
To join yoga australia, youll need to complete at least 200 hours (provisional
students meet once a month (all day
membership) and at least 350 hours (full membership) of recognised teacher
Saturday and Sunday) for 11 weekends
training. If your course is one of the 69 across australia registered with them,
during the course. The second option is
application is simply a matter of sending in your certificate and the $110 fee
($77 if youre already a member of another yoga teaching association), but if
via correspondence (youll receive DVDs
youve studied elsewhere, dont fret. It doesnt mean they wont take you, you
of the Sydney sessions). Both groups
just need to outline your training and make sure it covers the areas yoga australia
must also attend a five-day residential
requires. For more info, see
in Sydney.
At the end of their training course
students say that they have thoroughly
jIvAmuktI yogA
enjoyed their yoga journey, says course coordinator Satyaprem Gibson.
Typical cost $7500, payable in instalments. Cost includes 5-day Sydney
residential and all course materials.
Snapshot Founders of Jivamukti Yoga, New
Good to knowYou need three years yoga experience to apply. An IYTA
Yorkers Sharon Gannon and David Life, have
liaison teacher in each state will supervise and monitor your asana component.
designed a style of flowing vinyasa that brings the
Accreditation The course is registered with Yoga Australia. You can also
philosophical teachings of yoga into the modern
apply for full membership of IYTA on graduation to access to their free,
ongoing continuing professional development.
Training The main centre for Jivamukti training is
Locations Sydney, or your lounge room!
in New York, where a 300-hour intensive typically
More info
runs once a year. However, with the opening of
Jivamukti Yoga Sydney in 2011, Australian trainings
may eventually be on the agenda as the community
in Australia continues to grow.
The thing which really excited me about doing
the training was that I knew Jivamukti integrates
the physical and spiritual into their classes. I
wanted to add that to my teaching, says Jess
Olivieri, a Jivamukti teacher.
Typical cost About US$7000 plus accommodation
costs at New York States holistic learning centre,
Omega Institute, where the training is run.
Good to know Training is tough! Expect long days
and no slacking off. You also need to commit to
becoming vegetarian or vegan.
Accreditation Jivamukti Yoga training is certified
under Yoga Alliance.
Locations New York, US; Germany (if you
happen to speak German); possibly also Costa Rica
in 2012. Australian trainings are on the horizon.
More info and

January 2014

yo gAj o u r n A l .co m . Au 4 5

continuing professional development

as new teachers soon learn, most yoga teachers are continually developing their
knowledge and understanding of the practice. If youre a member of a professional
body, continuing professional development (CPD) is usually a requirement.
The yoga australia CPD Policy requires members to undertake CPD activities
which earn at least 12 CPD points in each year of membership. If the training
is directly related to yoga, one hour equals a point. If its less direct, two hours
equals a point.

Snapshot Kundalini Yoga is a dynamic

practice that was brought to the West
by Yogi Bhajan. Although hes no longer
alive, his teachings of sets or kriyas
remain popular. In class, expect dynamic
asana designed to strengthen the glandular
and nervous systems, a good dose of
meditation or chanting and a feeling that
something has just happened.
Training You can become a Level 1
Kundalini Yoga teacher by training in
Sydney, Melbourne or Mackay, Qld.
Formats vary the Sydney training is run
as three six-day residential retreats, while
the Melbourne course has a mix of retreats
and weekend intensives. The 220-hour
training includes 180 hours of classroom
instruction, plenty of homework and a
40-day personal sadhana.
Kundalini Yoga Level 1 teacher
training is more than simply an instructors
course. Its a life-changing experience
that awakens a powerful journey into the
Self, says Patty Kikos, Kundalini Yoga
Typical cost $4500-$6000 (payment
plans and early bird discounts apply).
Good to know Kundalini Yoga is not
linked to the religion Sikhism, but as the
founder Yoga Bhajan was a Sikh, many
Westerners are confused about this.
Accreditation The Kundalini Research
Institute in New Mexico, US, controls
accreditation. Graduates automatically
become members of the Kundalini Yoga
Teachers Association of Australia and NZ
(KYTANZ). Although it isnt registered
with Yoga Australia, graduates can sign
up and register.
Locations Around Australia and across
the globe.
M o re i nfo;;
4 6 yo gAj o u r n A l .co m . Au

Workshops, seminars, retreats and conferences all usually qualify as CPD points.
While most teacher training bodies offer some ongoing training, groups such as
IyTa who make this a priority for their members usually have their own methods
of calculating points for their purposes.
not sure where to start? yoga Synergy co-founder Simon Borg-Olivier offers an
extremely well-regarded anatomy and physiology course (
anatomy-physiology), which runs annually in Sydney as well as online.
yoga australia offers occasional CPD opportunities to their members, and guest
teachers often travel to share their expertise with yoga teachers it can be
worth joining mailing lists of yoga schools in your area to see whos headed in
your direction or checking the courses and events page on the yoga australia
website (

PhotograPhy:; Facing Page:

kundAlInI yogA

January 2014

sAtyAnAndA yogA

Snapshot Developed by Indian yoga master Swami

Satyananda Saraswati, who died in 2009, the style emphasises
that the physical is only one part of yoga practice.
Training The two-year, 1440-hour Diploma of Satyananda
Yoga Training is intended to be a journey of self-discovery.
It requires no experience in yoga to enter. The teaching
module comes in the last six months.
I started the course for myself, then during the journey
I realised that the rich knowledge and tools taught by this

tradition are meant to be shared with others, says Maria

Hadnut, a Satyananda graduate.
Typical cost Fees for the whole course range from $7250
to $13,500, depending on your choice of accommodation.
Discounts apply for students living in low-income countries.
Good to know The diploma is taught through a mixture
of residential (ashram) stays and distance learning.
Accreditation The Diploma of Satyananda Yoga Training
is Australian Government accredited, so students may be
eligible for Austudy or other government assistance. Its
also recognised as a 500-hour course with Yoga Alliance
and is registered with Yoga Australia, too.
Locations In Australia study is held at Mangrove
Mountain, NSW, and Rocklyn, Victoria (modules 1 and 2
only), however you can arrange to do part of your studies
at Satyananda academies in the US, South America, India
or Europe.
More info;
Sue White is a journalist, former yoga teacher trainer and long-time
yoga practitioner. Sue is a regular contributor to the Australian
Yoga Journal, and also loves to travel.Visit

home practice

Rooting down through the earth lets
you stay strong and flexible, even when
life tries to throw you off-balance

PhoTogRAPhy: mIchAeL WInokuR; moDeL:

DeBoRAh BuRkmAn; sTyLIsT: Lyn heIneken;
hAIR/mAkeuP: shAWn BuRke

By Deb o ra h Burkma n

January 2014

the practice

mind-body benets key focal points

This grounding sequence builds a

As you move through your standing

In each standing pose, think of rooting

strong foundation in the legs, giving

poses, imagine your feet are like roots,

down through your legs and feet, and

you steadiness in balancing poses and

connecting you to the earth, giving you

notice if that lets you reach tall from

allowing you to safely explore deeper

power. From that strong place in your

your lower belly. To further encourage

stretches. When you can keep your hips

lower body, allow your upper body to

the grounding effects of the sequence,

and legs stable in Parivrtta Trikonasana

feel lifted and fluid. Like a tree standing

youll either gaze up at your hand or

(Revolved Triangle Pose), you can

tall on a blustery day, allow the roots of

down your nose in each pose.

rotate into the twist without straining

each pose to help you find confidence

your lower back or sacrum.

and inner resilience.

Y o g a j o u r n a l . c o m . a u 4 9


home practice


1 PaDanGuSTHaSana

2 uTTHITa TrIKOnaSana

Warm up with several rounds of

hAnD-To-BIg-Toe Pose

eXTenDeD TRIAngLe Pose

surya namaskar A and B (sun

Inhale with feet hip-width apart, hands on

Inhale; step your right foot out to the right.

salutations A and B). As you practise

hips. exhale, fold forward with straight or

Turn your left foot in 45 degrees. exhale;

the poses in the following sequence,

bent legs and grab your big toes with the

place your right hand on your shin or on the

hold each pose for five breaths.

first two fingers and thumbs. Inhale; look

ground outside your right foot. Lift your left

up. exhale; fold, keeping your abs engaged.

arm to the sky. gaze towards your left hand.

6 PraSarITa PaDOTTanaSana

7 TaDaSana mounTAIn Pose

8 ParSVOTTanaSana


Inhale and straighten your arms, bringing your InTense sIDe sTReTch, WITh BLocks

stand with your feet wide, hands on hips.

head up. exhale; engage your abdominals with

Inhale, step your left foot back, and turn

exhale, fold forward with straight or bent

your hands on your hips. Inhale; come up with

your foot out 45 degrees. exhale as you

legs and place your hands on the ground in

a flat back. exhale as you step to the top of

hinge at your hips. Place your hands on

between your legs. Inhale, look up and

your mat with your arms by your sides. gaze

blocks on either side of your right foot.

extend your spine forward. exhale as you

down your nose. you should feel very stable

Bring your torso towards your right leg.

fold, moving your head towards the ground.

and grounded here.


12 ParSVOTTanaSana

13 VrKSaSana TRee Pose

14 TaDaSana mounTAIn Pose

InTense sIDe sTReTch, WITh BLocks

From Tadasana, grab your right ankle, and

From Tree Pose, come back to mountain

come back to Intense side stretch. hold for

press the right foot into the left inner thigh.

Pose. This is an active and alert pose.

five breaths. Inhale; extend your spine. exhale;

To balance, squeeze your foot and thigh

keep your weight evenly distributed on

bring your hands to your hips. Inhale; come up

towards each other. Lift your hands to the

all four corners of your feet. engage your

to standing. exhale; do poses 7 through 12 on

sky, and touch your palms together. gaze

quadriceps and abdominals. maintain a

second side. Then come into Tadasana.

down your nose. Repeat on second side.

neutral spine and pelvis.

5 0 Yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

January 2014


3 VIraBHaDraSana II


5 uTTHITa ParSVaKOnaSana


Inhale as you drop your left arm and rest

eXTenDeD sIDe AngLe Pose

Inhale to come up. exhale; bend your

it on your left thigh. Lift your right arm

Inhale; come back to Warrior II. exhale;

right knee over your right ankle. Reach

and gaze towards your right hand. Try

place your right forearm on your right thigh

your arms out to the sides and stack your

not to backbend from your lower back.

as you extend your left arm over your left

shoulders over your hips. gaze towards

you should feel very grounded in your

ear. gaze towards your left palm. Do poses

your right hand.

legs as you extend your torso upwards.

2 through 5 on the second side.

9 ParIVrTTa TrIKOnaSana

10 ParSVOTTanaSana

11 arDHa CHanDraSana

ReVoLVeD TRIAngLe Pose, WITh BLock

InTense sIDe sTReTch, WITh BLocks

hALF moon Pose

Place your left hand on a block on the

exhaling, release Revolved Triangle and

Inhale; move the block on the right forward

outside of your right foot. Inhale as you

come back to Intense side stretch with both

with your right hand. Lift your left arm and

reach your right hand up and twist your

hands on blocks. Take five deep breaths,

leg as you twist your torso towards the left.

spine towards the right. gaze at your right

keeping your legs steady and strong.

stack your hips on top of each other and on

top of your right leg. your left leg will be

further out to the left.

parallel to the floor. gaze at your left hand.


hand. For more stability, bring your left foot

15 aDHO MuKHa SVanaSana

16 BaLaSana chILDs Pose

DoWnWARD FAcIng Dog Pose

Bend your knees and bring them to the

Inhale; lift your hands to the sky. exhale;

floor. Reach your arms in front of you as you

fold forward. Inhale; look up halfway.

bring your buttocks towards your heels with

exhale; with hands on the ground, step

your toes pointed and legs together. Bring

your feet back. Press your hands firmly

the hands back towards your heels, and rest

into the ground. engage your lower abs.

your head on the ground.

January 2014

dont quit
By Kati e Brown

52 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU

your day job

As lead singer with legendary Aussie punk
band the Celibate Rifles, Damien Lovelock is used
to an audience but these days theyre more likely to
be doing Tree Pose or Downward Dog than crowdsurfing, moshing or stage-diving.
Meanwhile, when Juliette Ridge and Stan Cortes
arent on their yoga mat leading a class, they spend
their time up in the sky Juliette on a plane at
10,000 metres and Stan abseiling down the side
of a skyscraper.
These three yoga teachers are just a small
proportion of the hundreds of Australian yogis who
combine teaching with another profession. And
chances are your regular yoga teacher does more
than instruct asana in their typical working week.
Lydia Dyhin, course manager for the
International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA),
says many yoga trainees on the course are already
professionals from a wide range of careers.

People become passionate about yoga while

theyre doing other things and because theyre so
passionate they want to pass this knowledge on to
others, she says.
But it can be quite challenging to make a living
from yoga teaching alone. Its a big step to make
yoga your only source of income, Dyhin continues.
Although it is possible.
She advises taking it in stages and gradually
increasing the number of classes you teach, while
keeping your day job as a back-up.
Its a very personal decision and depends on
your individual expenses, she says. But combining
teaching with another profession doesnt have to
be a conflict. Having another job can keep you
grounded while giving you perspective and
empathy with your students.
Here, Damien, Juliette and Stan share their
stories of mixing business with pleasure.



Yoga teaching is
often a part-time
profession you
might be surprised
what your guru is
up to when theyre
not in the studio

Stan (left, in white helmet) cleans windows

with his business partner Andre Quin.

scaling new heights

Stan Cortes, aged 40, Kundalini yoga
teacher and owner and operator of


Abseilers United

My first experience of yoga was when

a friend took me to an early-morning
Kundalini class. There was a lot of
chanting and it really touched me. Soon
afterwards, I went to a workshop with
my girlfriend, which was run by the same
teacher. So I didnt look for yoga it fell
into my lap!
I was keen to find out more, so I took
a Kundalini yoga teaching course, which
ran over three years. The more I learnt,
the more I wanted to learn, but we were
in Brazil and to delve deeper into the
philosophy, I had to learn English.
I knew an Aussie dude who convinced
me to study the language in Sydney, so I
did. My English was very, very limited, so
at first I worked as a kitchen hand.
At the time, a friend of my flatmate was
the owner of an abseiling company and he

took me climbing. Eventually I asked him

for a job and he gave me a chance.
A year after arriving in Australia, I met
Sara an artist, who became my wife, so I
ended up staying!
Then four years later I began teaching
regular yoga classes and, with another
friend, set up Abseilers United. Basically
we do high-rise maintenance, repairs and
inspections on buildings, which includes
painting, window cleaning and installing
banners. I call myself a Jack-of-all-trades
on ropes!
I find yoga helps me more with my job
than my business helps me with yoga.
There are scary moments, but yoga keeps
you present and connected.
I wake up every morning at 4:30am to
meditate and prepare myself for the day.
During the day when I need to focus, I
do yoga breathing just concentrating on
the inhalation and exhalation. The scariest
aspect is when the job is very fiddly and
you have to be super careful not to drop
anything, as there are always people below.
I deal with lots of different people
from owners of companies to body
corporates and cleaners and I try to be
kind and connect with everyone to go
beyond the ego and not get caught up in
disputes and competition.
I work Monday to Friday, 7am 5pm.
I also teach a yoga class on a Tuesday

evening and a Sunday morning. But I

dont consider yoga to be a job its just
something I love to do and it comes first
in my life.
When my students find out what I do
for a living, they often say, Wow, thats
weird! And theyre shocked I dont teach
full-time. Ive been teaching yoga for 20
years and because Ive always had another
income, it has never worried me if I have
one student or a hundred.
There are some teachers who purely
live off yoga and sometimes you can see
their stress and how it gets passed on
to the class. One thing I always tell my
students in teacher training is that it takes
a while to become established as a teacher
and have a good class.
Im not sure what Ill do in the future,
but having another activity besides
yoga gives me the opportunity to bring
together all the teachings Ive learned.

YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 5 3

from punk to pranayama

Damien Lovelock, aged 59, Ryoho yoga teacher, sports commentator, singer and writer

room at the gym. I was there one day and

got chatting to this old digger whod had
a double knee and hip replacement. I was
really despairing and he just said, You
wanna try that yoga mate; its unreal.
There was a Ryoho yoga class starting in
half an hour, so I went along. At times it
was excruciating, but I could still feel it was
doing me good. From then on I went twice
a week my back felt better, I had more
energy and felt more positive about life.
Af ter si x y e a r s , I m e t A n dr ze j
Gospodarczyk, founder of Ryoho yoga.
He said the only way to learn more was
to do the teacher training course. It
involved a years full-time study, attending
a minimum of five classes a week as well
as quarterly retreats.
I still had no interest in teaching. I
was doing gigs and working as a radio and
TV sports commentator. I just wanted
to improve my own practice and delve
deeper into the theory.
I enrolled and found most of the other
trainees were 20-year-old girls whod been
vegetarians and gymnasts all their lives!
Then at the end of the year, in order to

graduate, I had to do practice teaching.

Ive been on stage in front of 10,000
people, but I was far more terrified when
I taught my first yoga class. I only had
four people, but its the responsibility you
have for their health.
Although I may have been the worst
practitioner on the course, I discovered
I was a pretty good teacher.
I do have students who recognise
me from the Celibate Rifles. Mostly
they think its funny, but there are a few
who think its inappropriate but they
probably dont like me anyway!
Ive been instructing for 12 years
now and I also teach the Central Coast
Mariners in the A-League and the NSW
Origin team.
As well as my yoga classes, I teach
boxing training, which I call Boxiyo the
class runs for 45 minutes of partner work
and then half an hour of yoga.
I still do the odd gig with the Rifles
and Im on radio; theres talk I might be
doing a rugby league show on free-to-air
TV next year.
Ive never been that good at maximising
my earning potential Im more of a doer
than a business planner but my careers
have kept me enthusiastic and openhearted. I could be wracked with financial
insecurity, debt and apprehension about
tomorrow like a large percentage of the
population over 55 but I dont feel that
way at all. Yoga just lets me live the life I
want to live.


If someone had told me that coming into

my 60th year Id be a yoga teacher, Id
have thought they showed an alarming
lack of insight.
In my 20s, I got a job as a TV research
assistant, studied communications at
university and joined a rock band, the
Celibate Rifles.
As the Rifles became more successful it
was hard to find time to do anything else.
It was an intense life wed do gigs three
or four days a week and on days off Id be
exhausted and wouldnt want to be near
anyone. Then wed be back on the bus or
plane flying to Europe or America.
But in hindsight, I was heading in a
yoga direction I did some work with
Tibetan refugees, met His Holiness the
Dalai Lama and practised meditation with
Tibetan monks.
Then in my mid-40s, I bruised my
spinal cord playing footy. I was in a bad
way for months. Doctors kept giving me
stronger and stronger drugs, but nothing
worked I had no energy and felt terrible.
The one thing that gave some
temporary relief was going to the steam

5 4 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU


up, up and away


Juliette Ridge, aged 46, Iyengar yoga teacher and Qantas cabin crew

After completing a degree in economics

and psychology, I worked in banking. But
after six months I found an office-based
environment wasnt for me. So I left.
I wanted a career with variety, where I
could travel and be active my sister-in-law
suggested I join the Qantas cabin crew. It
wasnt a job Id considered before, but I sent
an application to Qantas and was accepted.
I loved the job straight away. I worked on
the international routes and found myself
away for up to eight days and then home
for three or five days. I loved the dynamic
lifestyle, but the downside was I had to quit
my softball and netball teams I couldnt
commit to games and didnt want to turn up
to work with a black eye or sprained ankle!
Soon after, I noticed a yoga studio near
my home in Cronulla, NSW and tried a
class. It was Hatha-based and I loved it.
From then on, I attended classes whenever
I could in Australia and overseas. Id pack
yoga paws (as I didnt have room for a mat!)
and whenever I landed in a new city jet lag
permitting Id take classes in Los Angeles,
San Francisco, New York, Hawaii, Bali,
Singapore, London and Berlin.
After exploring the physical asanas,
I became drawn to the philosophies and
history, so I decided to do a teaching course.
The course which worked best around my

schedule was the IYTA Teacher Training

Scheme (International Yoga Teachers
Association), so in 1997, I enrolled.
I loved combining my work with learning
about yoga Id often be awake at odd
hours of the night, so Id get out my books
and read this amazing wisdom.
My objective hadnt been to teach yoga,
but after graduating, I felt I should pass on
this knowledge and help inspire others, so
I became a locum teacher covering classes
when I was in the country. Although I
loved it, I found it challenging to walk into
a class and teach, when I hadnt seen the
students before and they hadnt seen me.
After a couple of years, I decided to do
something regular, so I transferred from
international to domestic flying, which gave
me a more structured work schedule, and
began teaching a weekly class at Culburra
Surf Club on the south coast of NSW. I also
continued to study and took an anatomy and
physiology course with Simon Borg-Olivier
and a Yoga Arts Ashtanga teaching program.
Since 2009, Ive been studying Iyengar yoga
with Kay Parry in Bondi, NSW.
Tuesday became my yoga day I loved it
and really enjoyed the sense of community
that came with the class.
Quite a few cabin crew combine their job
with another passion and its great to have the

opportunity to do this. The techniques have

been a saviour for me at work a restorative
practice is essential for jet lag. I also love
being part of the yoga community.
Ive always found my practice quite
centering wherever I am in the world, I
sit on my mat and feel grounded. Physically,
it keeps me fit for my job and emotionally
it helps maintain a sense of calm and
detachment when dealing with people and
situations. Being cabin crew, you need to
be good at dealing with people, have good
communication skills and be a problem
solver these have all helped with teaching.
I am so lucky to be able to do both jobs
they are my passion and together create
a perfect balance.
Katie Brown is a yoga teacher and journalist,
teaching general yoga classes, pre-natal yoga,
post-natal yoga, baby yoga and infant massage
for the past decade to thousands of people
across Australia (
YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 5 5


ways your yoga

practice can improve
your health


Much has changed since US preventative medicine specialist dr dean ornish included yoga in his
groundbreaking protocol for preventing, treating and reversing heart disease more than three
decades ago. Back then, the idea of integrating yoga with modern medicine was seen as far-out.
todays picture is very different: as yoga has

mentally and physically and may help to

become an increasingly integral part of

prevent and assist in the treatment of a

21st-century life, scientists, armed with new

number of the most common ailments that

tools that allow them to look ever deeper

jeopardise our vitality and shorten our lives.

into the body, have been turning their

dozens of yoga studies are underway

attention to what happens physiologically

at medical institutions around the world,

when we practise yoga not just asana but

particularly in the US. More studies are on the

also pranayama and meditation. these

way, thanks in part to the work of researchers

physicians, neuroscientists, psychologists and

at the US institute for Extraordinary living

other researchers are uncovering fascinating

at the Kripalu Center for yoga and health,

evidence of how the practice affects us

one of the first research institutes to focus

Photography by Ann Elliott Cutting

5 6 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

January 2014

lEAf illUStrAtion BEloW lEft: iStoCKPhoto.CoM/ChUWy


Balancing act
When you were a kid, your day
included activities that tested your
balance walking along curbs,
hopping on your skateboard. But
when you spend more time driving
and sitting at a desk than in activities
that challenge your balance, you can
lose touch with the bodys magical
ability to teeter back and forth and
remain upright. Balance poses are a
core part of asana practice, and
theyre even more important for older
adults. Better balance can be crucial
to preserving independence, and can
even be lifesaving falls are the
leading cause of injuryrelated death in
people over 65.

January 2014

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 5 7

exclusively on yoga. And in india,

Khalsa, a harvard neuroscientist who

pain reliever

scientist dr Shirley telles heads up

has studied yogas health effects for

Yoga shows promise as a

Patanjali yogpeeth research

12 years. its likely, he says, that the

treatment for relieving certain

foundation, which is spearheading

next decade will teach us even more

kinds of chronic pain. A recent

studies large and small.

about what yoga can do for our minds

While studies of yogas impact on

and bodies. in the meantime, the

German study published in

the Clinical Journal of Pain

health are at an all-time high, experts

patterns beginning to emerge suggest

say that much of the research is still

that what we know about how yoga

compared Iyengar yoga with

in the early stages. But the quality is

keeps us well may be just the tip of

a self-care exercise program

improving, says dr Sat Bir Singh

the iceberg.

among people with chronic

neck pain, they found that


dr Kim innes, a Kundalini yoga practitioner and a clinical

yoga reduced pain scores

associate professor at the University of Virginia in the US,

by more than half. Examining

recently published a study on how yoga may benefit people

yogas effects on a different

who have a variety of health risk factors, including being

kind of chronic pain, University

overweight, sedentary and at risk for type 2 diabetes. forty-

of California Los Angeles

two people who had not practised yoga within the previous year took part in an

(UCLA), US, researchers

eight-week gentle iyengar yoga program; at the end of the program, more than
80 per cent reported that they felt calmer and had better overall physical
functioning. yoga is very accessible, dr innes says. Participants in our trials,
even those who thought they could not do yoga, noted benefits even after the

studied young women suffering

from rheumatoid arthritis, an
often debilitating autoimmune

first session. My belief is that once people are exposed to gentle yoga practice

disorder in which the immune

with an experienced yoga therapist, they will likely become hooked very quickly.

system attacks the lining of

the joints. About half of those

ray of light

who took part in a six-week

Much attention has been given

opportunity to focus your

Iyengar yoga program reported

to yogas potential effect on

attention somewhere else.

improvements in measures

the persistent dark fog of

in a small study in 2007,

depression. Dr lisa

ucla researchers examined

of pain, as well as in anxiety

uebelacker, a psychologist at

how yoga affected people who

Brown university,uS, became

were clinically depressed

and depression.

interested in examining yoga

and for whom antidepressants

as a therapy for depression

provided only partial relief.

after studying and practising

after eight weeks of practising

mindfulness meditation.

iyengar yoga three times a

Because depressed people

week, the patients reported

tend to be prone to rumination,

significant decreases in

Dr uebelacker suspected that

both anxiety and depression.

seated meditation could be

Dr uebelacker currently has

difficult for them to embrace.

a larger clinical trial underway

i thought yoga might be an

that she hopes will provide a

easier doorway, because of

clearer picture of how yoga

the movement, she says. it

helps with mental illness.

provides a different focus from

worry about the future or
regret about the past. its an

5 8 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

Control Blood PrESSUrE

One-fifth of those who have high blood pressure dont
know it. And many who do struggle with the side
effects of long-term medication. Yoga and meditation
may help bring blood pressure down to safer levels
by slowing the heart rate and inducing the relaxation
response. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania,
US, recently conducted one of the first randomised,
controlled trials of yoga for blood pressure. They found
that 12 weeks of Iyengar yoga reduced blood pressure as
well as or better than the control condition of nutrition
and weight-loss education. (If you have high blood
pressure, consult with your doctor and make sure its
under control before you practise inversions.)
January 2014

Bringing yoga and Western
medicine together
duke integrative Medicine
Duke universitys integrative Medicine
department in the uS has lived up to its
name by integrating yoga into medicine
and medicine into yoga. the department
is one of the only major medical centres
in the uS to offer yoga teacher training.
its two programs, therapeutic yoga for
Seniors and yoga of awareness for
cancer, are taught by a team of yoga
instructors, doctors, physical therapists
and mental health professionals.
these yoga teacher trainings accept
about 100 people a year and involve
elements of asana, pranayama,
meditation and mindfulness working
together as adjuncts to the conventional
medical treatments that patients may
also be receiving simultaneously. Once
training is complete, teachers can work
on contract for hospitals and other


health agencies.
Kimberly carson, the founder and
co-director of the yoga training
programs, stresses that what sets the
programs apart is their research-based
approach. Medicine listens best when

its taken the development of modern technologies like

you speak its language, says carson,

a yoga therapist who has taught in

functional Mri screening to give scientists a glimpse of how

medical settings for more than 15 years.

yogic practices like asana and meditation affect the brain.

the evidence base is what the medical

We now have a much deeper understanding of what happens

in the brain during meditation, says harvard neuroscientist
dr Sat Bir Singh Khalsa. long-term practitioners see changes

community listens to, she says.

Essential to the programs success,
says carson, is the staffs commitment
to thinking critically about how they
promote the benefits of yoga. the

in brain structure that correlate with their being less reactive

quickest way to shut doors is to

and less emotionally explosive. they dont suffer to the same

state as fact claims that arent

degree. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin, US, have

shown that meditation increases the activity of the left

substantiated, she points out.

luckily, the evidence base for yoga
and other alternative methods is fast

prefrontal cortex the area of the brain thats associated with

growing, and Duke university has been

positive moods, equanimity and emotional resilience. in other

communication between yoga and

words, meditating regularly may help you weather lifes ups

a forerunner in opening the lines of


and downs with greater ease and feel happier in your daily life.

January 2014

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 5 9

turning doctors into mindbody experts
Benson-henry institute for
Mind Body Medicine
located in one of the best academic
medical centres and in one of the most
doctor-friendly cities in the uS, the
Benson-Henry institute for Mind Body
Medicine at Massachusetts general
Hospital is well poised to train new
doctors to incorporate mind-body
techniques into their practice. its
founder and director emeritus, Dr
Herbert Benson, pioneered research on
the relaxation response as a powerful
antidote to the stress response; he was
also one of the first to illustrate that
meditation changes metabolism, heart
rate and brain activity as a result of the
relaxation response. this commitment
to research is still what makes the
institute stand out: Dr Benson and his
colleagues recently published a
landmark study illustrating some of
the changes in gene expression that

Asana, pranayama and meditation all train you to fine-tune

your attention, whether by syncing your breathing with
movement, focusing on the subtleties of the breath or letting
go of distracting thoughts. Studies have shown that yogic
practices such as these can help your brain work better.
recently, University of illinois, US, researchers found that
immediately following a 20-minute hatha yoga session,
study participants completed a set of mental challenges both faster and more
accurately than they did after a brisk walk or a jog.


researchers are in the earliest stages of examining whether yogic practices could
also help stave off age-related cognitive decline. the yogic practices that involve
meditation would likely be the ones involved, because of the engagement of control
of attention, says dr Khalsa. indeed, research has shown that parts of the cerebral
cortex an area of the brain associated with cognitive processing that becomes
thinner with age tend to be thicker in long-term meditators, suggesting that
meditation could be a factor in preventing age-related cerebral cortex thinning.

down with diabetes

Researchers at the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine,
US, found that adults at risk for
type-2 diabetes who did yoga twice
a week for three months showed a
reduction in risk factors including
excess weight and blood pressure.
While the study was small, all who
began the program stuck with it

throughout the study, and 99 per

cent reported satisfaction with the
practice. In particular, they reported
that they liked the gentle approach
and the support of the group. If
larger, future studies show similar
results, the researchers say, yoga
could gain credence as a viable way of
helping people stave off the disease.

can come from practices that elicit

the relaxation response, including
meditation and yoga.
Doctors at the institute help treat
patients for everything from heart
disease and diabetes to infertility.



individual therapeutic yoga instruction

is offered as an adjunctive approach
for a wide variety of conditions, both
physical and mental. Dr Darshan Mehta,
the institutes medical director and
director of medical education, says
that along with maintaining its
commitments to research and patient
care, the Benson-Henry institute is
dedicated to educating medical
students and residents in integrative
medicine. Boston is famous for
training leaders in medicine, Mehta
says. We need to expose the next
generation of doctors to the benefits
of mind-body medicine. My hope is that
after studying at the Benson-Henry
institute theyll be able to at least
recognise value in it and perhaps add
it to their practices in some way.

6 0 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

In our revved-up, always-on

world, our bodies spend too
much time in an over-stimulated
state, contributing to an
epidemic of sleep problems.
A recent Duke University
analysis of the most rigorous
studies done on yoga for
psychiatric conditions found
promising evidence that yoga
can be helpful for treating sleep
disorders. Asana can stretch and
relax your muscles; breathing
exercises can slow your heart
rate to help prepare you for
sleep; and regular meditation
can keep you from getting
tangled up in the worries that
keep you from drifting off.

a 2013 review of 17 clinical trials concluded

that a regular yoga practice that includes
pranayama and deep relaxation in Savasana
(corpse Pose), practiced for 60 minutes
three times a week, is an effective tool for
maintaining a healthy weight, particularly
when home practice is part of the program.

better sex
in Mumbai, india, women who took
part in a 12-week yoga camp reported
improvements in several areas of
sexuality, including desire, orgasm
and overall satisfaction. yoga (like
other exercise) increases blood flow
and circulation throughout the
body, including the genitals. Some
researchers think yoga may also
boost libido by helping practitioners
feel more in tune with their bodies.
January 2014

yoUnGEr-looKinG d n A
While the fountain of youth remains a
myth, recent studies suggest that
yoga and meditation may be
associated with cellular changes

that affect the bodys ageing

process. Each of our cells includes

lEAf illUStrAtion toP riGht: iStoCKPhoto.CoM/ChUWy

structures called telomeres, bits of

dnA at the end of chromosomes that
get shorter each time a cell divides.
When telomeres get too short, the
cells can no longer divide and they
die. yoga, it seems, may help to
preserve their length. Men with
prostate cancer who took part in a
version of dr dean ornishs ornish
healthy lifestyle Program, which
included an hour a day of yoga, six
days a week, showed a 30 per cent
jump in the activity of a key telomerepreserving enzyme called
telomerase. in another study,
stressed care-givers who took part
in a Kundalini yoga meditation and
chanting practice called Kirtan Kriya
had a 39 per cent increase in
telomerase activity, compared
with people who simply listened
to relaxing music.

immune activity
Many studies have suggested that yoga can fortify the bodys ability to

ward off illnesses. now one of the first studies to look at how yoga affects
genes indicates that a two-hour program of gentle asana, meditation and
breathing exercises alters the expression of dozens of immune-related genes in
blood cells. its not clear how the genetic changes observed in this study might
support the immune system. But the study, from the University of oslo in norway,
provides striking evidence that yoga can affect gene expression big news that

Were used to thinking of

inflammation as a response
that kicks in after a bang on
the shin. But increasing
evidence shows that the
bodys inflammatory
response can also be
triggered in more chronic
ways by factors including
stress and a sedentary
lifestyle. And a chronic state
of inflammation can raise your
risk for disease.
researchers at ohio State
University, US, found that
a group of regular yoga
practitioners (who practised
once or twice a week for at
least three years) had much
lower blood levels of an
immune cell called il-6 than a
group new to yoga. And when
the two groups were exposed
to stressful situations, the
more seasoned practitioners
showed smaller spikes of il-6
in response. According to the
studys lead author, dr Janice
Kiecolt-Glaser, the more
experienced practitioners
went into the study with lower
levels of inflammation than
the novices and they also
showed lower inflammatory
responses to stress, pointing
to the conclusion that the
benefits of a regular yoga
practice compound over time.

suggests yoga may have the potential to influence how strongly the genes youre
born with affect your health.
January 2014

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 6 1

caring health care
Urban Zen integrative therapy


the brainchild of designer Donna Karan,

rodney yee, colleen Saidman yee and the
Beth israel Medical centers chair of
integrative medicine, Dr Woodson Merrell,
the urban Zen integrative therapy
program at ucla seeks to strengthen the

Taiwanese researchers from the Taiwan Adventist Hospital

scanned the vertebral discs of a group of yoga teachers
and compared them with scans of healthy, similar-aged
volunteers. The yoga teachers discs showed less evidence of
the degeneration that typically occurs with age. One possible
reason, researchers speculate, has to do with the way spinal
discs are nourished. Nutrients migrate from blood vessels
through the tough outer layer of the disc; bending and flexing
may help push more nutrients through this outer layer and
into the discs, keeping them healthier.

human element in hospital-based health

care and to lessen the pain and anxiety
many patients experience when
undergoing treatment for cancer and
other illnesses. launched in 2009, the
program offers a 500-hour training
course for yoga teachers and health care
professionals in five healing modalities:
yoga therapy, reiki, essential-oil therapy,
nutrition and contemplative care.
included in the training are 100 hours
of clinical rotations, carried out at
participating hospitals and long-term
care facilities in new york; los angeles;
columbus, Ohio; and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Were bringing mindfulness into arenas
where there is often only anxiety, panic,
stress and crisis states, says co-director
rodney yee. We all realise mindfulness
and meditation are so important to daily
life. this is a way to bring this to patients
in a medical setting, to support patients
needs. For example, depending on the

keep your heart healthy

despite advances in both
prevention and treatment,
heart disease remains one
of the no. 1 killers of both men
and women. its development
is influenced by high blood
pressure, high cholesterol, high
blood sugar and a sedentary
lifestyle all of which can
potentially be reduced by yoga.
dozens of studies have helped
convince cardiac experts that
yoga and meditation may help
reduce many of the major risk
factors for heart disease; in
fact, a review of no fewer than

70 studies concluded that yoga

shows promise as a safe,
effective way to boost heart
health. in a study this year by
researchers at the University
of Kansas Medical Center, US,
subjects who participated in
twice-weekly sessions of
iyengar yoga (including
pranayama as well as asana)
significantly cut the frequency
of episodes of atrial fibrillation,
a serious heart-rhythm disorder
that increases the risk of
strokes and can lead to heart

might help patients do in-bed yoga poses,


breathing techniques and meditation that

they can then repeat on their own.
yee says hes been amazed by the
receptivity of the medical community

By gently taking joints ankles, knees,

hips, shoulders through their range of
motion, asana helps keep them lubricated,
which researchers say may help keep you
moving freely in athletic and everyday
pursuits as you age.

towards the program. Old stigmas are

dissolving, he says, and new attitudes
are emerging. But its a two-way street,
he adds. the yoga community has our
own work cut out for us, keeping up with
the science and being open to addressing
the issues that will affect yogas role in
Western medicine for years to come.

62 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

Many women have turned to yoga to help them cope with

the symptoms of menopause, from hot flashes to sleep
disturbances to mood swings. A recent analysis of the most
rigorous studies of yoga and menopause found evidence that
yoga which included asana and meditation helps with the psychological symptoms
of menopause, such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. In one randomised controlled
trial, Brazilian researchers from the Federal University of So Paulo examined how
yoga affected insomnia symptoms in a group of 44 postmenopausal women. Compared
with women who did passive stretching, the yoga practitioners showed a big drop in
incidence of insomnia. Other, more preliminary research has suggested that yoga may
also help to reduce hot flashes and memory problems, too.


January 2014

lEAf illUStrAtion BEloW lEft: iStoCKPhoto.CoM/ChUWy

needs of the patient, a certified therapist

recent studies have suggested
that exercise is linked with
increased levels of a brain
chemical called gammaaminobutyric acid (gaBa), which
is associated with positive mood
and a sense of wellbeing. it turns
out that iyengar yoga can also
increase the levels of this chemical
in the brain, more so than walking,
according to a Boston university, uS,
study. in another study, a group of women
who were experiencing emotional distress
took part in two 90-minute iyengar yoga
classes a week for three months. By the
end of the study, self-reported anxiety
scores in the group had dropped, and
measures of overall wellbeing went up.


Some 60 to 80 per cent of people
suffer from lower-back pain, and


theres no one-size-fits-all treatment.

But theres good evidence that yoga
can help resolve certain types of
back troubles. in one of the strongest

if youve felt the thrill of

studies, researchers at Group health

discovering you can hold

research institute in the US worked

Chaturanga for longer and longer

with more than 200 people with

periods, youve experienced how

persistent lower-back pain. Some

yoga strengthens your muscles.

were taught yoga poses; the others

Standing poses, inversions and

took a stretching class or were given

other asanas challenge muscles

a self-care book. At the end of the

to lift and move the weight of

study, those who took yoga and

your body. your muscles respond

stretching classes reported less

by growing new fibres, so that

pain and better functioning,

they become thicker and stronger

benefits that lasted for several

all the better to help you lift

months. Another study of 90 people

heavy shopping bags, kids or

with chronic lower-back pain found

yourself into handstand, and

that those who practiced iyengar

to maintain fitness and function

yoga showed significantly less

throughout your lifetime.

disability and pain after six months.

Former US Yoga Journal editor
Katherine Griffin is a writer and editor.

January 2014

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 6 3


the call


What catching pneumonia taught Victoria Penko

about yoga teaching and herself
Theres a dog-eared rumi quote stuck to
my fridge to remind me of my intention for 2013:
Respond to every call that excites your spirit.
In January 2013, my spirit was called and I was excited.
As a yoga teacher and parent to an incredible autistic son,
Id decided Id found my purpose: I was going to gift
yoga to parents of children with special needs. Having
been to hell and back following my sons diagnosis four
years earlier, I wanted to tackle the trauma I believed
parents of special needs children suffered. My own
reaction denial, fear, a compulsive obsession with
researching to fix him had left me torn, off-centre
and hyper-vigilant. For a while I had not been in the best
place from which to parent any of my children, until the
full power of my yoga practice intervened. And, for the
record, I now have no desire to fix my wonderful son.
He is perfect as he is.
So I had a mission: I would develop and teach a
free yoga program for parents of children with special
needs. The restorative practices would gently nurture
and restore mums and dads, enabling them to better
regulate their emotions and behaviour. In turn, theyd be
in a better space to tackle parenting and what lay ahead.

Once Id set my intention I was amazed at the speed

with which it materialised: our family early childhood
intervention centre snapped up the idea, the mats I
needed to give to parents were donated by a local yoga
studio via the LovEarth preloved mats recycling scheme
( see p88 for more info) and before
I could second-guess myself, Id raised funds for blocks,
blankets and straps via an online crowd-sourcing site.
6 4 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

I was deeply humbled and completely ready to step up

to the plate. It had all happened so quickly and so easily,
I was obviously on purpose.
The first few weeks of the program lit up my soul.
Participant numbers were fewer than Id hoped for
but the space we created together was magical. Steely
muscles, once clamped tight with tension, slowly began
to loosen. I saw space created in chests that had been
constricted with shallow-breathing. Hunched shoulders
began to melt. Breathing became smoother and calmer.
Eventually there would be a sigh, an exhale a smile.
The time after class became equally significant. As
parents of special needs children we had a unique bond
and could talk in shorthand about our childrens meltdowns and social challenges. I would frequently steer the
chat to self-care often referring to the old aeroplane
adage of putting the oxygen mask on parents first so
that they can then assist their children. Yes! We needed
the oxygen, we agreed we needed to breathe, deeply.
Apparently my body wasnt listening.

In the fourth week of the course I developed a fever and

an unrelenting, hacking cough. Shivering on my mat I
realised I needed to cancel the weeks lessons. I had flu
(I told the centre) but I was resilient and would be back
next week. But by the end of that day I was in hospital
on an IV drip being pumped with antibiotics to kill the
virus that was ravaging my lungs. It was pneumonia.
It was serious. Id be there for a while.
My initial reaction was disbelief. Like many people
sustained by yoga and healthy eating practices,
I considered myself literally immune from this stuff.
January 2014

POSED by mODElS: PhOtOgraPhy: iStOckPhOtO.cOm/ryaNJlaNE

As my husband said, staring at the doctors

incredulously, but you dont understand:
she never gets sick.
Yet the doctors were clear: I had
Community Acquired Pneumonia, which
was a risk for the very young, the elderly
and those with compromised immune
systems. Why had I got it? They couldnt
say. Perhaps Id been stressed lately?
Under pressure at work? Or just unlucky?
I would have happily plumped for the
latter suggestion, but two months of
recuperating gave me plenty of time to
reflect. Having now discussed this with
many respected yoga colleagues and
mentors, Ive concluded that my teaching
project was, in fact, a key contributor to
the illness. The project was all right; the
way I did it, I now realise, was all wrong.

January 2014


My biggest error, in hindsight, was not

fully exploring my motivation for wanting
to teach parents of special needs kids.
While I thought the work I was doing
was a form of seva (service), after much
soul searching I realised that it was
unconsciously therapy. I was trying
to conquer the pain Id experienced on
our autism journey; I was St George and
autism was the dragon.
Marianne Elliott has seen this before.
Shes the regional leader in Australia and
New Zealand for Off the Mat, Into the
World, a global movement which promotes
conscious, sustainable yoga activism (as
featured in the movie Yogawoman). Off
The Mat holds yoga-based training sessions
to help people find ways to consciously
contribute through service or activism.

One area the training explores is examining

what motivate us to act.
Its tr ue that our wounds can
motivate us to want to create positive
change in the world, Elliott says. But its
extremely important that we dont allow
our wounding to negatively influence and
undermine our work in the world.
She makes a good point. The work Id
attempted certainly triggered unresolved
issues for me. Even the simple matter
of working from the early intervention
centre Id attended with my son activated
unpleasant feelings from the past. While
I thought Id made peace with these issues,
I hadnt. Now I needed to work through
those residual matters with a counsellor
and on my mat... and not as a teacher.
As yoga teachers we have to do our
personal work on issues that arise, says
y o g a j o u r n a l . c o m . a u 6 5

Elliott. Otherwise, while we hope to serve

others we may unconsciously be serving
ourselves, with difficult outcomes.
Alternatively we might find ourselves
serving no one at all.

Pr o m i n e n t a m o n g t h e s t r e s s o r s
I experienced in hospital was the guilt at
having to abandon new students who
were just beginning to experience yogas
benefits. Having set up the project alone
I had no one to call on to step in and pick
up where Id left off.
Michael de Manincor, founder and
executive director of the Yoga Foundation
(and former president of Yoga Australia),
believes that community collaboration is a
key to success in projects such as this. De
Manincor set up the Yoga Foundation to
share yoga with people who experience
hardship or disadvantage. He realised from
the outset that he couldnt work alone.
I could have started this work as an
individual, as many generous yoga teachers
have done, but as a busy person with
various work and family responsibilities,
I knew this work needed the support of
others, he explains.
De Manincors passion for this project
inspired others and eventually they
collectively founded an independent

6 6 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

not-for-profit organisation which now has

an amazing team of almost 40 people,
working together.
What we have created by working
together is far greater than could have
ever been achieved by the same 40 people
working independently, de Manincor
says.Some of the benefits of working
with others include collective support,
inspiration, brain-storming and problem
solving. Teachers are able to cover classes
for each other when needed, and can
take over classes and programmes to
keep them going whenever one teacher
is unable to continue. We learn from
each other, as well as opportunities for
professional development.
Ultimately, the joy of offering yoga to
people in need is what brings us together
and keeps us going, he continues. I
have no doubt that people value the
yoga that we give, but I also think that
we have created something special, as
a unique, supportive and collaborative
opportunity for people to work together
and experience the joy of giving.

So its pretty clear: there was a great deal

of svadhyaya (self-inquiry) I omitted to
undertake when setting up this teaching
project and its blatantly obvious that

I failed to draw on the support of a willing

yoga community. Now, as I talk to fellow
yoga teachers (a little late, for sure),
another question keeps arising about
capacity: how do you know if youve got
enough oil in the tank to take on another
project, another class?
While I was trying to run the program
at the early intervention centre, I was
also my familys only breadwinner,
working in a senior position, part-time,
in a company undergoing organisational
change. Meanwhile, my husband and
I were continuing to oversee our sons
therapy and deal with our youngest childs
first year at school. And lets not forget
my other yoga-teaching work.
In retrospect I didnt have the capacity,
no matter how much I wanted to serve.
I was being led by my heart which isnt
always a terrible thing, but a heart needs
a grounded body and legs to carry it and
mine were caving in under me from the
weight of my responsibilities. Something
had to give. First it was my daily yoga
practice. Then it was my lungs.
Leigh Blashki, President of Yoga
Australia, gives wise counsel on this issue:
Teaching yoga to others is like providing
much needed water to the parched and
thirsty, he says. But where does that
water come from? For many teachers
and carers (including yoga
teachers) there is often
not much water left in the
personal bucket as we seem
to be endlessly ladling it
out only to find the last few
drops at the bottom to try
and nourish ourselves.
To be effective teachers
and carers we need to ensure
our bucket is regularly filled
or overflowing, so we are
appropriately nourished and
can share with others from
the abundant overflow.
Blashki emphasises
that each of us, through
svadhyaya and a good dose
of commonsense, needs to
work out the appropriate
types of nourishment with
which to fill our own bucket.
January 2014

POSED by mODElS: PhOtOgraPhy: iStOckPhOtO.cOm/yuri_arcurS


For some it ma y be p rima ril y

nutritional, while for others it may
have more to do with building reserves
of rest and restoration, he says. For
yoga teachers, of course, the common
restorative strategy for filling our buckets
is ensuring our own appropriate, regular
practice be that asana, pranayama,
relaxation, meditation or other lifestyle
measures. Then when we are juicy and
well-nourished we can effectively assist
others, remembering to keep a watch on
the level in our bucket.
Critically, the yoga teachers among
us have to remember that theres a
difference between teaching yoga (being
present for others) and practising it (being
present in ones self). While teaching has
many wonderful benefits, its not the
same as being wholly focused on your own
personal yoga practice. Its important not
to let that practice fade.
Elliot agrees vehemently. Aside from

her teaching and her work with Off the

Mat, Into the World, she is a human
rights advocate and has worked in many of
the worlds most treacherous war zones.
Elliots recent book, Zen Under Fire, charts
her work with the UN in Afghanistan
and the critical importance of her yoga
practice in the midst of war.
My yoga practice keeps me honest, in
life generally, and in my work, she says.
With yoga I cant hide from the reality
of what Im feeling its a practice that
brings me face-to-face with myself over
and over again. And, importantly, yoga
gives me the tools to meet whatever I find
in myself with kindness. When my work
starts to trigger uncomfortable emotions,
thats when I know I need my practice
more than ever.

While I still love Rumis quote, Respond

to every call that excites the spirit, Im

now also adopting another: A thousand

half-loves must be forsaken to take one
whole heart home. With apologies to
Rumi, my take-home message from that
is that you cant do it all and it really
turned out that I couldnt.
For the record, I intend to continue
the special-needs parents program but
first Im spending some time doing the
personal work I hadnt realised needed to
be done. My yoga practice is back on track
and Im looking at ways to cut back on my
workload to give me the time and space
to take on what I still view as important
work. When I go back to the program Ill
certainly be doing it very differently. And
one more things for sure: I wont be doing
it alone.
Victoria Penko, a former journalist, now
works as a yoga teacher and in the Australian
environmental sector, promoting water and
environment programs.

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Yoga continues to grow in
popularity here in Australia we
take a look at where its headed

6 8 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU



Youve heard of acro yoga and aerial yoga, stand-up

paddleboard yoga and yogalates, but have you heard of yoga
on horseback, yoga with free weights or yoga combined with
wine appreciation? Dont worry you soon will.
While yoga has been practised in the East for thousands
of years, this age-old tradition transplanted into modern
Australian culture via America is less than 200 years old in
the west. It has spawned a significant number of homegrown
leaders and legends, including Shandor Remete, Roma Blair,
Martyn Jackson, Eve Grzybowski, Eileen Hall and Nicky
Knoff. More recently, Simon Borg Olivier, Nicole Walsh,
Duncan Peak and Mark Breadner have been leading the way
for a new generation of yogis. Yoga has found its way into
the hearts, minds and spirits of Australians all across the
country and its made one thing very clear its here to stay.

Old 60s and 70s yoga stereotypes still die hard, but youre
more likely to be a secular yogi in modern day Australia
practising a rigorous Bapiste-inspired power yoga or vinyasa
flow workout rather than a chanting, meditating Zen-out.
Yoga is now mainstream. Chances are, even your favourite
football team has yoga in its training program the practice
increases flexibility and reduces the risk of injury, meaning

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: yoga raving at the Future Sound of Yogas
Night Creatures; Yoga by the Sea; pre-natal yoga is growing in popularity;
post strength training stretch using the TRX at Flow Athletic; lululemon
athletica Balmains Yoga Degustation; Yoga from the SKY at Centrepoint
Tower; Yoga by the SEA at Sydney Aquarium


YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 69

LEFT: a class underway at the Playground

Weekender Festival, Wisemans Ferry, NSW.


Party-hearty yogis are flocking to yoga

raves alcohol- and tobacco-free events
that combine yoga and music for a good
time that you wont regret the next
morning. DJ-husband and yoga teacherwife act the Future Sound of Yoga
regularly tour the east coast of Australia
as well as overseas. Their joyous fusion of
yoga, dance and music with a live DJ was
quickly imitated and adopted by different
groups and companies. Experiencing
yoga beyond the class format runs the
gamut, from two-hour workshops or
intimate yoga and meditation weekends
away to festivals combining multiple
crowd-pulling teachers, homegrown and
international kirtan artists, vegetarian
70 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU

food and gluten- and sugar-free treats.

Sydneys yoga ghetto, Bondi Beach, is so
synonymous with yoga that it even has its
own Bondi Yoga Festival. In short, yoga
is now hip.
Kate Kendall, co-owner of trendy Flow
Athletic in Sydneys Paddington, teaches
yoga blended with free weights, TRX and
cycling. We attract people who dont gel
with traditional yoga but are looking for a
complete, balanced workout, says Kendall.
We marry the athletic mindset with the
magic of yoga in a contemporary setting.
Kendalls studio runs very early morning
classes, not so students can meditate at vata
time (before 6am), but so office workers can
be at their desks by 7:30am.
Our students crave relaxation and
want to be shown how to slow down.
I teach people to be more body-aware and
curious, and to retain this state of alertness
throughout their day, Kendall says.

The increasing popularity of yoga has

seen a boom in teacher training, with
approximately 130 teacher training
programs on offer, giving teachers and
studios the chance to earn some serious
cash. Byron Bay has become a magnet
for overseas students who come to study
amid Byrons world-renowned beaches
and hinterland. People are seeking Byronbased teachers to train with, searching for
past student feedback online, augmented
with social media research. The only
mystery is why Byrons yoga teacher


Yogas rich, varied and sometimes

downright weird toolbox of techniques
are increasingly used in talk therapy. Led
by Jon Kabat-Zinns mindfulness based
stress reduction training, therapists across
Australia are prescribing mindfulness,
breathing techniques and meditation to
their patients. With more than 45 per
cent of people reporting a mental health
concern at some time (according to the
Australian Bureau of Statistics) combined
with high rates of youth suicide, rising
obesity rates, social isolation and chronic
Indigenous Australian health issues, its
clear that we are ripe for yoga.
Au s t r a l i a i s a w o r l d l e a d e r i n
yoga therapy training standards and
practitioner registration, with the
Australian Psychological Society recently
welcoming a Yoga Psychology Interest
Group. Yoga is being taught in prisons,
old age homes, rural and urban Indigenous
communities and teenage mothers
groups as well as groups recovering from
cancer treatments and others living with
chronic disease or pain.


fewer missed games and better all-round

performance. And increasingly, people
discovering yoga for the first time are
arriving at their first class pregnant,
as more obstetricians and midwives
advocate yoga for pregnancy.
Half of our new students come to us
when theyre pregnant, 90 per cent of
whom are totally new to yoga, says Andi
Kiprillis of Yoga Plus in Melbournes
Berwick, whos seen 1000 babies born
to students in the three years that the
studio has been operating. Our next
generation of (non-in utero) yogis is
starting much earlier, sampling yoga in
preschool or primary school, spearheaded
by Australian organisations like Zenergy
Yoga and Yoga to Go Kids.

community hasnt formed an alliance

to lobby tourist boards internationally,
similarly to what the Daintree regions
spas and retreats have done.
Yoga teachers working in Australia can
expect to earn $45 per class working in a
gym, an average of $65 in a studio and $140
in corporate yoga settings. Enterprising
teachers are increasingly online savvy,
building followings through blogs and
social media, teaching one-on-one yoga
through Skype and creating e-courses and
e-programs focusing on common issues
and ailments such as adrenal fatigue,
insomnia and diabetes.
Facebook and Instagram are filled with
pictures of advanced asanas performed
by impossibly lithe practitioners. Yoga
selfies, which tread a fine line between
aspirational and narcissistic, will hopefully
become less popular as teachers grow to
realise they often put people off rolling
out a mat for the first time.


Yoga is psychology, says Dr Lauren

Tober, a clinical psychologist and yoga
teacher working in the Byron Bay area.
Yogic philosophy and practices bring a
deep sense of peace and wellbeing which
is why many people see a psychologist.
In my classes and counselling sessions
I often teach clients to develop a witness
perspective, welcoming all sensations,
emotions, thoughts and beliefs.
Dr Tober draws on research headed by
Richard Miller on the efficacy of iRest
Yoga Nidra (a research-based practice
of deep relaxation and meditative
inquiry provided by the US Integrative
Restoration Institute) in reducing
depression, anxiety, stress (particularly
post traumatic stress disorder) and other
chronic mental health conditions.
Human Rights Officer Marianne
Elliott trained to be a yoga teacher with
the intention of returning to her post in
Afghanistan to teach her humanitarian
colleagues in the field. Living with high
levels of stress, danger and isolation in
Afghanistan and Gaza led me to yoga
teacher training, says New Zealander
Elliott. I wanted to find a new way to
support people in war-torn countries
where Id been working, so I designed an
online yoga course the kind of course
I would have liked.
Students all over the world are now
doing Elliotts online video courses,
which include 30 Days of Curvy Yoga for
rounder physiques and 30 Days of Yoga
for People to Busy to Do Yoga.
Some of my online students live in
remote rural areas with no studio nearby,
Elliott says. A surprising number of
people arent comfortable starting yoga in
a studio environment they worry about
being too old, too fat, too inflexible, too
unfit or too uncoordinated.

plenty of slower, more devotional styles

and purist spiritual communities that
focus on yogas less popular components,
including vegetarianism or veganism, seva
(service) and philosophy.
In the last few years weve noticed
students seeking a more comprehensive
experience of yoga, notes Yoga Australia
president, Leigh Blashki. This search for
yogas deeper aspects has predominantly
been in meditative practices, including
pranayama, Yoga Nidra, mindfulness and
self-enquiry as well as yoga therapy.
Yoga is not a coherent culture of rituals,
institutions or leaders. Writes Matthew
Remski: It has no family infrastructure.
It offers no life-transition rituals. It does
not marry or bury us. It does not host
AA meetings. It runs no soup kitchens.
I dont need yoga to be a religion. I need
it to provide community.
Real community extends far beyond tea
shared after class. Community mobilises
to fill the gap between government
services and need, fundraising, organising
and empowering individuals to cohesive
action. And while there are many
individual studio seva projects, including
plenty of free or low-cost classes, its only
very recently that the yoga community
has mobilised for social change led
by groups such as Yoga Aid, the Yoga
Foundation, the Worlds Longest Yoga
Chain and Off the Mat, Into the World.


The Australian yoga community is still

finding its feet, yet to know how to
collectively respond to controversies
within our community, including sexual
abuse by senior teachers, yogas attraction
to people with eating disorders, the
sexualisation of yoga through advertising
and social media as well as our ideological
and philosophical differences.
Yoga has much to offer societys most
vulnerable. To be taken seriously, we need
to be intellectually rigorous in our beliefs
and opinions and step up as leaders, to
demonstrate that were not merely paying
lip service to our core foundation of
compassion and union.
In the not-too-distant future, its likely
that global warming will cause mass social
upheaval and people will need to be more
dependent on the goodwill of each other,
says Eve Grzybowski. If yoga teachers
and students have practices that foster
kindness, love, compassion, connection
and gratitude, well have what it takes
to get through tough times. You can
probably bet your car that in the future,
yoga will keep evolving.
Brook McCarthy is a yoga teacher and director
of Yoga Reach online marketing consultancy
( She helps yoga teachers
to magnify their impact, be bold in business
and bring more people to the mat through
business coaching, courses and e-programs.


Yoga in Australia today is not a coherent

movement. While power and vinyasa yoga
styles are more popular, there remain
RIGHT: Adore Yoga organised the Guinness recordbreaking Worlds Biggest Laughter Yoga Class on
October 20 this year, bringing the community
together to raise $25,000 for Cancer Council NSW
and to support teachers and students with cancer.


YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 7 1



in the jungle heartland of

old Ceylon, a traditional sri
lankan working village offers
a rare yoga retreat experience
By K r is mc intyre

Its 8am and guest yoga teacher

PhotograPhy: Kris mcintyre

Mithila Ubayasekara is encouraging me

to drop into feminine and come into
masculine, drop down to reach up and
do a dog split.
In the week that follows, some of
the other more bizarre instructions Ill
receive will include: Wag your tail,
waddle, downward duck, be in alien
abduction and slosh. Its all part of the
Yogamonks approach to aligning the
spine and bringing balance into the body.
Im at Ulpotha a traditional
working village in the jungle heartland
of Sri Lanka that, for six months of the
year, welcomes guests to experience a
rare kind of yoga retreat.
Cradled between paddy fields and
a lotus-ringed lake at the base of the
Galgiriyawa Mountains, Ulpotha
(meaning water spring) is steeped in
sacred mystique and natural splendour.
According to local legend, pilgrims
travelling from India in search of
Shivas son, Lord Kataragama, believed
Ulpotha was a sacred site associated
in the absence of electricity,
Ulpotha is lit by lanterns

72 yo gaj o u r n a l .Co m . au

January 2014

PhotograPhy: CloCKWise from toP: niCholas J. sCatUrro, PhotUrros 2009; UlPotha; UlPotha - sUsanna sCott; Kris mcintyre

CloCkwIse from Top: this is the lake hut in which guests can stay a night or two (at no extra cost). you get there by rowing across
the little lake on a raft. a very romantic spot! far rIghT: a yoga class in the shala. CenTre: anusara teacher Cat de rham from hawaii
adjusts a student. far lefT: Ulpotha encourages days spent in the pursuit of simple pleasures like swimming in the lake.

with the deity. The land is also believed

to be the playground of Prince Saliya
the son of Sri Lankas most legendary
king, Dutugemunu, who united the
country during his reign from 161-137 BC.
According to myth, the Prince escaped
the ancient city of Anuradhapura with his
outcast gypsy wife Asokamala, who was
described in ancient texts as a rare beauty
in the realm of the divine. Through a
secret tunnel, they came to live in a cave
above the lake at Ulpotha.
January 2014

serendIpITy and synChronICITy

Myths and legends aside, there's no

disputing the magical beauty of Ulpotha
and the profound impact it has on the
human psyche. Im fortunate enough to
be at Ulpotha during one of the owners
frequent visits to the retreat.
A former investment banker turned
a c c i d e n t a l b u s i n e s s m a n , Vi r e n
Perera exudes the relaxed charisma of
someone who knows they have a blessed
life. Despite the fact he says its the

land that makes Ulpotha special, its

obvious that a big part of the retreats
success has to do with his own magic.
In hearing Perera talk about how
Ulpotha evolved, I come to understand
that its the product of an unusual recipe
of serendipity, synchronicity, trust and
fun. Ulpotha came about playfully,
Perera tells me. It was never meant to
be anything in particular but it seems just
about perfect for whatever anyone might
take it to be.
yo gaj o u r n a l .Co m . au 73

aBoVe: one of the many hammocks

that dot the grounds, in which guests
can swing and dream the day away

Ulpotha was never

meant to be anything
in particular, but seems
just about perfect for
whatever anyone
might take it to be"
74 y o g a j o u r n a l . C o m . a u

He chanced upon Ulpotha in the

early 1990s during a road trip with two
friends Mudiyanse Tennekoon and
Manik Sandrasagra. When they came
across an old man who was selling his
land, Perera brought the property sight
unseen because he was enchanted by the
old mans smile and energy.
As the new guardians of the land, Perera
and Tennekoon set about restoring the
main house (Walauwa) and starting a
village. Tilled by human hand and threshed
by buffalo, thousands of trees were
planted and diverse crops were cultivated
using organic indigenous farming
practices that follow the lunar cycle.
Eventually, the village grew in population
to 40 and it was clear funding was needed
to keep the project going. But wanting
to make it an experiment where money

didnt matter, Perera was reluctant to

involve anyone from the business world.
Tennekoons philosophy of leisure,
pleasure and rest took on the order of the
day while Virens hands-off managerial
style and insistence that there would be
no dogma led to Ulpotha being run by
a committee of villagers.
One serendipitous moment led to
another and Perera and Tennekoon
met Englishman Giles Scott. According
to Viren it was Scotts idea for a more
practical turn in direction to come to
Ulpotha. Giles introduced yoga as a
bridge to the West, which now subsidises
the village and attracts paying guests for
six months of the year. The rest of the
year it is for what Perera says it was always
meant to be nothing.
Sadly Tennekoon died after a long
January 2014

PhotograPhy: Kris mcintyre

ex p er ien ce

illness, but Perera and Giles have remained

custodians of the land, upholding
Te n n e ko o ns v i s i o n f o r U l p o t h a .
Ironically, Perera and Giles are not
yogis, vegetarian or by Pereras account
even environmentally conscious. But
Tennekoons spirit lives on. He could not
entertain even having a fridge as anything
more than a means for keeping unfresh
food, so aside from a small solar panel
to charge handheld devices there is no
electricity or need for plastic and the
other trappings of modern living.

PhotograPhy: from toP: Kris mcintyre; UlPotha; Kris mcintyre

In The Company of kIndred spIrITs

All the ingredients are here for us to live

in peace, happiness and harmony with
nature, says Perera.
What he likes most about Ulpotha
is that to this day theres still no fences,
doors or locks. Even though the villagers
scratched their heads at why Perera
and Tennekoon would want to build
mud huts, a commitment to only using
natural materials and traditional building
practices was core to their vision.
Accommodating a maximum of 23
guests at a time, Ulpothas lodgings
consist of simple wattle and daub huts.
Sparsely decorated and largely open to
the outside world, the elegant simplicity
is a reminder of how little we really need
to live comfortably.
Outside my hut, buffalo work the
fields, squirrels scurry along tree branches,
an eagle soars, lizards laze in the sun and
monkeys swing in the branches just out of
reach to the disapproval of the resident
dogs Scooby Doo and Didi.
Without electricity and the distraction
of mod cons, life at Ulpotha is dictated by
the rhythm of the day. We rise with the sun
and spend our days in the pursuit of simple
pleasures like walking in the mountains,
swimming in the lake and hanging out in
hammocks that dot the grounds.
Our daily program consists of morning
Top: one of the storage buildings for Ulpotha's
locally-grown organic crops, including rare
heritage red rice. CenTre: top teacher John
scott in King Pigeon on one of the rocks in the
lake. Below: guest yoga teacher mithila
Ubayasekara is one of only five certified
yogamonks practitioners in the world.

January 2014

and afternoon yoga, pranayama and

meditation, complemented by Ayrurvedic
treatments and massage with Ulpothas
visiting therapists, including Australian
Reiki practitioner Erin Kostanski.
After dark we gather in the communal
area (Ambalama) to tell our stories. It
soon becomes obvious that the very things
that might frighten off some people no
electricity, yoga and meditation, cold
showers, vegetarian meals and being at
one with nature are the very things that
attract those who come here.
My fellow guests are mostly 30- and
40-somethings from all walks of life the
CEO of an agricultural business living
in Norway, a Danish schoolteacher, an
Iranian psychology student, the owner of
a kids theatre group in Dubai, a former IT
consultant studying yoga and Ayurveda in
California and the manager of a Swedish
housing organisation. They're citizens of
the world; many of them are here for their
second, third or fourth visit to Ulpotha.
Danish businessman Bjorn is in the
third week of his second visit and says
the communal area is one of the reasons
he returned. You get to know people
really well, really quickly, he says. Its a
place where friendships form easily and
continue long after you leave.
on The maT

Ulpothas rotation of yoga teachers come

from around the world and an array of
yogic traditions to host two-week
programs when the retreat is open to
guests. Mithila is here on her fifth visit
and she relishes the opportunity to teach
in an environment where its so easy to
connect with nature and our own natural
rhythms. Born in Sri Lanka, she now lives
in Sweden and is one of only five certified
teachers of the Yogamonks method in the
world. With a passion for dance, she was
attracted to the teachings of Jonathan
Monk as art in movement.
Fun, beauty and gracefulness are all
part of the practice, she says. Inspired
by traditional Hatha yoga and Tai Chi,
Yogamonks seeks to help the spine
unwind and relax into alignment. Its a
back-to-basics approach that encourages
working consciously with the opposing
yo gaj o u r n a l .Co m . au 75

forces of the body through gentle but

deliberate movement. The focus is on
lifting and extending from the spine,
pushing in one direction to lengthen into
the other instead of exerting effort.
Lead from the heart and let it lift
you, Mithila says, encouraging us to take
ourselves less seriously. Shes playful and the
perfect guide to help us untangle our bodies
and minds from the stresses we arrived with.
Decide where to place your mind,
she instructs as she leads us into our
meditation practice. It comes easily here.
The days are long and time moves slowly
so the mind starts to goes with it.
In The wedagedara

The Wedagedara is Ulpothas version

of the day spa. Since 2005, Ulpothas
r e s i d e n t Ay u r v e d i c d o c to r S r i l a l
Mudunkothge has been overseeing the

retreats holistic approach to health

and healing. In keeping with the way
everything else about Ulpotha has come
to be, Dr Srilal arrived here after a chance
meeting with Perera at the Colombo
Swimming Club. An offhand comment
by Dr Srilal about how hard it was to find
medicinal herbs for his clinic led to Perera
offering to grow the seeds at Ulpotha and
an invitation for the doctor to give up
his city practice to set up a traditional
clinic to support the local villa ge.
A week or so after his visit, the doctors
rent doubled and he decided to make
the move. Serendipity had struck again.
Proceeds from the tourist treatments

administered by Dr Srilal and his team go

towards funding the free clinic established
by Ulpotha for the local villagers.
All guests receive a consultation with
Dr Srilal as part of the package with the
option to undergo personalised detox and
rejuvenation programmes at an additional
cost. I sign up for preparatory and
elimination therapies that are steps along
the path to Panchakarma (Ayurvedic
detoxification). On my first visit, Dr
Srilal takes my pulse and asks me a series
of questions about my eating, sleeping
and bodily functions to determine my
dosha, or constitution.
There is the constitution of the
universe and the constitution of the
body, he says. According to ancient
Ayurvedic philosophy, we cant change
our constitution but we can balance the
body through the right combination of
lifestyle, exercise and diet.
Dr Srilal prescribes daily treatments
including full-body massages, facials,
steams and herbal baths. Im lathered
with Indian gooseberry paste, turmeric,
sesame oil, honey and milk until I have
the tell tale euphoric glow and red-stained
armpits and feet that come with visits to
the Wedagedara.
A couple of days later, Dr Srilal
reassures me that my pulse is better and
the strange crawling sensation around my
navel is just toxins gathering in my belly.
Its all part of the process. The other
important ingredient is the food.
Based on Ayur vedic principles of
balancing vatta (air), pitta (fire) and kapha
(water) our meals include the six tastes
of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and
CloCkwIse from Top lefT: some of
the delicious sri lankan vegie sambols and
stuffed rice patties that are part of the wide
array of luncheon dishes on offer at Ulpotha.
the rice and most of the vegies are grown
in Ulpotha's large organic kitchen garden.
rIghT: a typical Panchakarma ayurvedic
detox treatment at Ulpotha includes a full
body massage with warm plant-based medicinal
oil which brings the toxins to the surface of
the skin. the massage is followed with a long
soak in one of the healing warm herbal baths
pictured to draw the toxins out of the body.
Below: top international teacher stephen
thomas adjusting a student.

76 yo gaj o u r n a l .Co m . au

January 2014

PhotograPhy: toP left: UlPotha - sUsanna sCott; UlPotha; UlPotha - sUsanna sCott

ex pe rien ce

astringent. With fresh produce plucked from the kitchen garden

and cooked in terracotta pots on open fires, theres an earthy
wholesomeness about the menu. Curries, rice, vegetables and
fruit are the daily staple and, on hopper night, we party on Sri
Lankan-style pancakes and the local brew, arak.
Frolicking on the lake with newfound friends one day, I recall
Perera describing his relationship with Tennekoon and Giles.
Our connection was just about having fun and everything we
did was just like playing, he told me. His words evoke a sense
of the carefree delight of childhood and it dawns on me that this
place is like Never Never Land for grown-ups.
As we gather in the tea hut on my last morning at Ulpotha,
I wonder if Ive made it one step closer to the moksha, or
enlightenment that Dr Srilal described as the ultimate goal of
Ayurveda. Somewhat ironically, I catch a glimpse of a fellow guests
tattoo and its reminder that this too shall pass. But for the moment
I promise to hold on to the magic and memory of this little piece
of sacred Sri Lanka.

is twin-sharing
in elegant
wattle & daub
huts open to
nature. Beds
are equipped
with excellent
mosquito nets.

Fact file

ulpotha welcomes guests for only 30 weeks of the year,

from June to august and november to april. Bookings
are from Sunday to Sunday and the all-inclusive
package includes accommodation, meals, yoga
classes and one free massage starting at uS$1300.
additional ayurvedic five- to 28-day programs are
available at an additional cost. For dates and pricing
details visit
BOOKINGS: go to or via ulpothas australian
agent Maria Chanmugam on or 0406
595 033.

PhotograPhy: UlPotha

GETTING THERE: ulpotha will organise a driver for the

three-hour journey from Colombo airport to the retreat
for LKr9,000 (approximately auD$80) each way.
VISAS: a 30-day visitor visa can be obtained at
WHAT TO BRING: you dont need much, but in addition
to the list ulpotha sends you, its worth bringing a good
headlamp or backlit e-reader for reading at night,
a pedicure set and good quality shampoo and conditioner.

January 2014

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depth perception
Use this quieting twist to pause
and check in with your inner life
By Ste phanie S nyd er

Modern life provides a constant stream of intense stimulation. When we walk

out the door, were bombarded by sights, smells, sounds and tactile sensations.
Technology heightens the intensity of our fast-paced world these days we can
connect to others anytime and anywhere but all of these external stimuli can
leave us feeling disconnected from our inner life. And when we lack a strong
and intelligent connection to our own inner being, we may feel fragmented or
overwhelmed by all that we are bound to in our daily lives.
In the Yoga Sutra, the sage Patanjali codifies yoga practice into eight practical
limbs. The fifth limb, pratyahara, teaches us to turn inwards and withdraw from
the senses. Pratyahara helps quiet the mind so that we can bear witness to our
inner environment. It allows us to pause and to check in with what is real, valuable
and calling for our attention. This pause requires discipline because its not always
easy to get quiet and examine our habits, predispositions, gifts and limitations.

photography: michael winokUr; model: Sean haleen; StyliSt: danielle gold; hair/makeUp: renee rael/artiSt Untied

continued on page 82

January 2014

Y o g a j o u r n a l . c o m . a u 7 9

ma stercla ss

1 BaddhaKonasana
BoUnd angle poSe
open your hips and begin the process of
drawing inwards with Bound angle pose.

BoUnd half-lotUS Seated
forward Bend
practise a simple bind with your leg in
half lotus to prepare for the final pose.

now that youve practised the notes that

make up the pose, you can put them all
together into a beautiful symphony of action
thats like a lullaby for your nervous system
8 0 Yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

January 2014

3 Bharadvajasana
Bharadvajas TwisT
incorporate binding with a twist while
warming up the side body, spine, and

4 Triang
Forward Bend
Keep your pelvis compact and
rooted while you find length in
your side body and spine.

final pose

5 Marichyasana ii

The shape of marichyasana ii

allows you to draw inwards and
access deep inner quietude

January 2014

yo gaj o u r n a l .co M . au 8 1

ma stercla ss

continued from page 79

But when we do, we allow ourselves the
opportunity to gain awareness and selfknowledge. If we can learn to skillfully
listen through quiet practice, we can find
our innermost voice and express it to the
world. This integration of the inner and
outer worlds is what allows us to live a life
of empowerment and purpose.
Marichyasana II is a great pose for
invoking the state of pratyahara. The pose
combines the containment of a bind with
the surrender of a forward fold. As you
physically wrap and then fold into yourself
in this pose, you invite a sense of stillness
and quiet.
As you move through this practice,
please remember that it may take several
years to come into the final pose and that
there is no rush to get there. The point
is to gracefully transition from one pose
into another with quiet awareness. Once
in the pose, bow your head into a calm and
quiet moment even as you are bound and
wrapped up around yourself. If you can do
it here, you can do it anywhere!
Before you Begin

Come into Balasana (Childs Pose), and

take a few slow, deep breaths, setting your
intention to quietly turn your attention
inwards. Move into Supta Padangusthasana
(Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose) and then
Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose). Lift
into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward
Facing Dog Pose) for at least five breaths
and finish your preparatory practice with
a few rounds of Surya Namaskar B (Sun
Salutation B).
Baddha Konasana

Bound angle Pose

B a d d h a Ko n a s a n a
introduces the forward
fold and deep external
rotation of the legs
that are required in
82 yo gaj o u r n a L .co m . au

Marichyasana II. Its key that the external

rotation happens in the hip joint and not
in the knee. You should never feel knee
pain in any of the poses in this sequence.
Begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with
your legs stretched out in front of you.
Draw your right knee into your chest and
hug the shin so that your calf and your
hamstrings connect firmly. (This position
will be referred to throughout the
sequence as a closed knee.) Keeping the
knee closed and without any movement
in the knee joint itself, begin to rotate
your right thighbone externally. Sense
the rotation thats happening deep inside
the hip joint. Bring the right heel towards
your right inner groin, keeping the inner
ankle long and the foot engaged, and rest
your outer thigh on the floor. Repeat on
the left side.
Place the soles of your feet together,
hold your ankles and lift up through
your spine to open the chest. As your
chest lifts, press the feet into each other
to pack the top of thighbones into the
pelvis. Your outer hips, thighs and sitting
bones will root down as you lift the pelvic
floor and belly. From this grounded and
engaged place, begin to bend into the
forward fold, moving your forehead to
the floor. Keep the front of your spine
long and your breath deep and slow. Stay
here for five deep breaths, noticing how
folding forward begins to quiet the mind;
let that peace set the tone for the rest of
the sequence.
ardha Baddha Padma

Bound halfLotus seated

time, bring your right foot to the very top

of your left thighbone and fit the edge
of your foot snugly into the space at the
top of your hip crease. Keep the right
foot active and the inner ankle long. The
right thigh should rest comfortably on the
floor if it floats above the floor, return to
Baddha Konasana and revisit this pose in
a few months or more. Keep your left leg
active and left foot gently flexed.
Reach your right arm out to the right
and turn the thumb towards the floor.
Rotate your inner elbow forward and
then down; the arm will be internally
rotated. Maintain this rotation and bend
the elbow, wrapping the arm behind
your back. Slide your forearm across your
sacrum, and bind the pose by grasping
your right big toe with your right hand.
Inhale and lift your belly and chest.
Widen your collarbones. Exhale and fold
forward over the left leg. Take your left
foot with your left hand. Hug the outer
edge of your left foot up into the outer
left hip while extending the inner left
heel away from the inner groin. Pause for
a deep breath. Create a ripple of energy
in your body to draw you deeper into
the forward bend: draw the pelvic floor
towards the belly, the belly towards the
heart, the heart towards the crown of the
head and the crown of the head towards
your left foot to help you glide further
into the pose. Rest your head on your
shin. Hug your outer left pelvis back and
down as you square your shoulders with
the floor. Pause here for several breaths.
Give yourself enough time to feel your
body settle down into the floor. Take
this moment to get quiet and turn your
awareness inwards.

forward Bend

This pose will

further imprint
key actions of Marichyasana II. Baddha
Konasana introduced external rotation in
the hips and a forward fold. In this asana,
youll bind the pose by reaching your
arm behind you to hold onto your foot.
Begin in Dandasana. Draw your right
knee into your chest and externally
rotate the thigh just as you did in Baddha
Konasana. Keep the knee closed and the
rotation coming from the hip joint. This


Bharadvajas twist

This twist will prepare

you for Marichyasana
II by warming up your
spine and opening your
side body, shoulders and
hips. Similar to the last
pose, youll place one leg in Half Lotus
and bind that leg; to that shape youll
place the other leg in Ardha Virasana
(Half Hero Pose) and add a twist.
January 2014

From Dandasana, hug your left knee

into the chest, placing your knee in a
closed position. Rock your weight over to
the right sitting bone and place your left
shin on the floor, tucking the top of your
left foot next to your left hip. Snuggle
your inner left heel against your outer
left hip. Firm the top of the left foot into
the floor and bring your weight back to
centre. Hug your left outer shin in, and
lengthen your inner ankle. Fan your toes
out and down. Now pull your right knee
in to externally rotate the thigh for Half
Lotus. Slide the right foot into the left
hip crease just as you did in Ardha Baddha
Padma Paschimottanasana.
Bring your hands by your sides, and
then pause. Sense and observe the midline
of your body. As you twist, imagine the
midline drops down through your tailbone
and into the earth and keeps you rooted
like an anchor.
Now, with your foundation firmly
established, youre ready to move into
the full pose. Begin to twist from the

lower left side of your belly, turning your

belly, chest and shoulders and turn you
gaze towards the right. Slide your right
arm behind you to hold the right foot.
Bring your left hand to your right knee;
gently pull back on the knee and continue
to twist to the right. Keep your thighs
about hip distance apart.
Pause, and anchor your tailbone and
outer pelvis down while lifting your pelvic
floor towards the crown of your head. Let
the breath be even and full-bodied as you
feel for a balanced and nurturing twist
not too much, not too little. Now, tune
in to the inner experience and spend a
moment or two observing from the inside.
Repeat on the other side.


From Dandasana
fold your right leg
into Ardha Virasana

with your right shin hugging in towards

the midline and the top of your right foot
on the floor. Squeeze the outer ankle in
towards the inner ankle. Spread your toes.
Adjust your weight so that your sitting
bones rest evenly on the floor and your
hips are square. With your hands by your
hips, lift through the inner spine and open
the chest. Keeping your spine long, begin
to fold forward over your left leg. As you
fold forward, feel your belly lift up and
over your left thigh. Take your left foot
with both hands, and bring your forehead
to your shin.
With the next few breaths, refine the
pose. Imagine your left leg as a straw. Suck
the energy up the straw from foot to hip.
Let that action draw the outer left hip
back so that its even with the right hip.
As your left leg is being sucked into the
hip joint, notice how that allows you to
lengthen the left side of your spine (which
tends to be congested and shortened in
this pose). Finally, if you feel any pain in
your right knee, you can place the sole


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of your right foot against your upper left

thigh and take Janu Sirsasana (Head-ofthe-Knee Pose) instead.
Now its time to soften the mind. As
you breathe into this forward fold, allow
the upper thighbones and inner groin
to release back and down. Inhale, and
lengthen the front of your spine; exhale
and deepen the forward bend, drawing
your shoulder blades down and into the
back ribs. At the end of each exhalation,
release the back side of your lungs into the
body. Linger in that moment of release
before you exit the pose, inviting the state
of pratyahara to deepen with each breath.

Weve arrived at the

deeply bound twisted
posture that perhaps
struck fear in you
during your first yoga class. But now that
youve practised the notes that make up
the pose, you can put them all together

notice how the shape of the pose

encourages a deep sense of quiet
into a beautiful symphony of action thats
like a lullaby for your nervous system.
Begin with a few quiet breaths in
Dandasana. Draw your right knee into
your chest and squeeze the knee closed.
Externally rotate your thighbone, and
place your right foot in a comfortable
Half Lotus. From there, bend your left
knee and pull your left heel in towards
your left sitting bone. Reemphasise that
action by interlacing your fingers around
the left shin to squeeze the leg into your
trunk, becoming as compact as possible.
This will pack the right foot the Lotus
foot into the lower abdomen. It will also
bring most of your weight onto your right
sitting bone and outer thigh, enabling you
to create a stable foundation.
Pause, and take a slow breath as you
revisit the intention of drawing your
attention inside. Slide your left shoulder

inside your left leg and begin to bow

forward. Bring the back of your left
armpit in front of your left shin. Extend
the left arm out to the left, and internally
rotate the arm to wrap it around your left
leg and behind your back. Do the same
internal rotation with your right arm as
you reach it behind you. Bind the pose by
clasping your hands together. Let your
forehead rest either on the right knee or
on the floor in front of your trunk. Close
your eyes, and let your awareness hover
on the breath. Notice how the shape of
the pose encourages a deep sense of quiet.
Finish with an easy supine twist and
Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall Pose).
Stephanie Snyder is a vinyasa yoga teacher and
the creator of the Yoga Journal DVD, Yoga
for Strength and Toning. For information

Australian Yoga Journal is now digital

View the entire magazine on your iPad, Mac,
PC or Android in vibrant colour


Visit today

ask the mentor

How important is your voice when teaching yoga? Expert Christina Brown offers her advice
I am currently doing a yoga
teacher training program.
How does one cultivate a
voice that connects; takes
students on a journey that
they wish to pursue for the
rest of their lives? Angela

8 6 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU

What a beautifully phrased question!

I can feel your love of yoga in your words
and this passion will be the key that will
naturally allow your voice to connect with
students and help them on their journey.
To answer your question more fully, we
can examine factors like your own level
of relaxation while teaching; the depth,

cadence and range in your voice; the words

you choose; and the importance of allowing
for silent spaces. Just as newsreaders and
radio announcers tend to cultivate a lower
range (as they believe listeners consider
that more trustworthy), many yoga teachers
notice their voice lowers and their cadence
smooths while teaching, so their voice may





be rather different to the one they use while

chatting with friends. Rather than forcing
this, allow it to come from a state of your
own relaxation. When you come out of a
meditation, Savasana or after pranayama,
chanting or Hatha yoga practice, you may
notice your voice lowers purely from the
deep level of relaxation. If you cant fully
relax in a way that works for you before
you teach, try letting the Om or other chant
opening your class to resonate through your
own body and vocal chords.
Often teachers feel so in the moment


as they teach, they naturally relax and their

voice reflects this. Acknowledging this might
feel like a challenge while you build your
confidence during and after your teacher
training course, take heart: nearly all of my
teacher trainees are convinced they sounded
really nervous in teaching their initial classes.
Yet when Ive been a student assessing those
same classes, Ive rarely picked up on their
While a deeper, smoother teaching
voice may help lull your students into
serene states of mind, you still need to
be authentically you. Allow your voice to
alter to reflect the phase of the class. The
soft, lulling voice you use while guiding a
class into a long forward fold may be quite
different to the strong, encouraging voice
urging students to stay a few more breaths
in a strong backbend. The voice you use
to correct a misalignment you notice in
students throughout the room will be very
different to a quiet personalised correction
to the student next to you.
On that note, dont try to secretly
whisper to a student during class. Imagine
youre adjusting a student and you try
to communicate privately. Inevitably
students will sense a secret; their ears
will prick up and theyll be intrigued
away from their own experience. Instead,
position yourself close to your students
ear and speak with a quiet tone that a few
neighbouring students will hear. This will
convey that there are no secrets worth
straining ears for and allow class members
to stay within their own experience.
Choose your words carefully. Take
classes with eloquent teachers who inspire
you and notice their turn of phrase. Jot
them down after class if necessary.
Another thing which perplexes teacher
trainees is knowing how much of the class
to fill with their voice. Its common to feel
youve talked too much, while others feel
they ran out of words and the instruction
wasnt full enough. Beginners may need
more instructions, while experienced
practitioners may appreciate refined
instructions and plenty of silence in
between. Keep in mind many students have
come from busy work and home lives and

will appreciate quietness. Ask a friend

to come for their feedback on this, or
record yourself and then listen at home.
Remember that if you speak from
your heart and convey your truth,
students will feel this. If their passion
is waiting to be ignited, your passion
will fuel it. Your very question how to
take student on a journey tells me you
have that very feeling within yourself
and this will shine brightly though.

Christina Brown runs

Transfrom Yoga & Pilates
in Sydney and also runs
teacher trainings, corporate
classes and retreats.


Do you have a question about

teaching youd like answered?
Let us know! Published questions will
receive a teacher
listing for one year, valued at $180.
Email us at
(with Ask the Mentor in the subject
line), message us on our Facebook page
or write to us at PO Box 81, St Leonards
NSW 1590. Please include your full
name, address and phone number.

YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 87

complementary practice

Booking my appointment with biodynamic
craniosacral therapist Sakina Reijners, I realise I know
very little about this form of bodywork. But Ive heard
great success stories and Im keen to see what it offers.
As Reijners takes my history at the start of the session,
she explains that the process is non-invasive and nonmanipulative. In fact, I will be lying on a massage table
fully clothed as she applies gentle touch to a few areas
of the body.
Starting at my ankles, the touch is so subtle, I am
hardly aware of it and I quickly
fall into a state of deep relaxation.
By holding your ankles Im
listening to the whole body, she
explains. After a few minutes she
tells me the sacrum is the next part
of the body to receive touch. Not
long after she holds the sacrum,
I can feel a subtle opening of
my right hip, my knee falling to
the side slightly the fascia is
8 8 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

unwinding itself and relaxing, she tells me.

Moving her hands to the occiput, at the base of my
head, she discovers that my hip issues are mirrored in my
neck and shoulders. And yes, I do have niggling problems
there. I am amazed that with this gentle physical touch
in just a few parts of the body she has been able to read
the situation so accurately.
Its at this point that I feel the benefits in my nervous
system as I nod off into a wonderfully blissful state that
Reijners says her clients often experience.
People have a half-dream
state where they have dreams
and see images or colours. Most
feel a deep sense of relaxation,
like their body is asleep and their
mind is awake, she explains.
How it works

Biodynamic craniosacral therapy

has its roots in osteopathy, but
differs by being completely
January 2014

PhotoGraPhy: Courtesy oF PaCiFiC assoCiation oF CraniosaCral theraPists (PaCt)

Gentle biodynamic craniosacral

therapy induces healing and deep
relaxation, writes Molly Furzer

non-manipulative. It recognises that the

body has a natural ability to self-repair,
and facilitates reorganisation of the
bodys physiological, psychological and
energetic systems to enable healing to
take place.
As Reijners explains to me, the therapy
is based around the concept of the breath
of life, or lifeforce.
The craniosacral fluid flows in
expression of the breath of life, she says.
We can feel craniosacral fluid moving in
certain patterns and rhythms its like
you can touch the intelligence of life that
is pushing the flow. Its a flow that doesnt
relate to blood or breath or anything it
has its own flowing nature.
Craniosacral fluid is found in several
places in body: it surrounds the brain,
encases the spine and is held in reservoirs
near the sacrum. The fluid is accessed
through the touch of the therapist.
There are a few common places that
are quite powerful to touch for most
people the sacrum and occiput, Reijners
says. It depends on the issues people
come in with and what I feel needs to
be touched. Sometimes its a particular
vertebrae that needs to be held.
Admittedly these are not easy concepts
for the layman, which is why having a
session is really the best way for clients
to comprehend the therapy.
They understand that the kind of
touch we use puts the body into a deep
state of relaxation that allows the body
to self-heal, Reijners says. The body
built you from a couple of cells, so it
already has a blueprint of what you are. So
when things are out of whack, it has the
intelligence to know what the right way
is, to be more integrated. The problem
is that when the body is overwhelmed by
trauma, it cant process the emotions and
it gets stuck in a certain pattern.
Biodynamic craniosacral therapy is
particularly effective for trauma, from
accidents and birth issues to emotional
events. Emotions that were lodged in
the energetic body are released without
reliving the trauma in detail.
There is some recognition of what is
coming out, but theres not so much of
an emotional attachment to it, because
January 2014

the body built you from a couple of cells, so

it already has a blueprint of what you are
its the body physically releasing it,
says Reijners. And often questions
they have find a resolution during the
session. People seem to be more focused
about whats the right thing to do, their
direction. I find that really inspiring,
because it really helps people.
Reijners recommends about three
sessions to make progress on issues. Best
of all, changes made during a biodynamic
craniosacral session are likely to be set.
One of the theories of craniosacral
therapy is that youre changing on a core
level, because your body is changing itself,

getting back to its normal harmony;

therefore the problems shouldnt come
back, Reijners says.
If youve had a few proper sessions
where real change has taken place these
issues should not return.

to find out more about biodynamic

craniosacral therapy, visit sakina
reijnerss website at
or go to the Pacific association
of Craniosacral therapists at

yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 89


news & reviews

Our pick of the latest stuff to read, watch, listen to, download and get involved in

recycled yoga mats
LovEarth yoga mats are
part of a push to lessen the
ecological footprint of yoga
in Australia. Their mats are
made from natural tree
rubber and jute; they dont
include PVC, PER or TPE; and are fully biodegradable. You can
also trade your old mat to LovEarth and itll be distributed to
a community yoga group serving disadvantaged populations
simply email the guys at and theyll let
you know the nearest drop-off spot and send you a $13 Yoga
pass redeemable at over 400 yoga studios around Australia.
Nice. Plus, the website has dozens of great ideas for ways to
reincarnate your old mat at home.

9 0 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU


Yoga for a Healthy Lower Back: a Practical

Guide to Developing Strength and Relieving Pain
By Liz Owen and Holly Lebowitz Rossi, Shambhala
In their new book, Yoga for a Healthy Lower Back, co-authors Liz
Owen and Holly Lebowitz Rossi argue that a great deal of the
current epidemic of low-back pain can be attributed to stress
and poor posture and that yoga practice can be a help for both. .
Owen, a teacher in the Iyengar tradition for more than 25
years, and writer Lebowitz Rossi offer a look at spinal health
from both the Western anatomical perspective and a traditional
yogic perspective, and include discussions of chakras (energy
centres), bandhas (locks) and nadis (energetic channels). Noting
that the lower back is connected via muscles and connective
tissues to the abdominal core, hips and sacrum, middle and
upper back and neck, the authors address each of these
areas with descriptions of asana variations designed to open
or strengthen the muscles and joints.
The final section of the book offers
sequences for specific back issues, from
computer overuse to pregnancy. With
its mix of practice and theory, Yoga for
a Healthy Lower Back is helpful both
for yoga students with back pain and
teachers who work with them.



MUSIC Lulu and Mischka, Stillness in Motion
The debut CD from Lulu and Mischka is the culmination
of two years of live chant circles in Sydney. The two
have finally released a studio recording of nine songs,
made possible through crowdfunding. The CD features
Bobby Singh on tabla and backing musicians Emanuel
Lieberfreund and Tyler Pike.
A highlight is Lulus enchanting voice. Its a great CD
to sing along to challenge yourself to match Lulus lush
vocals. Using a mixture of English and Sanskrit lyrics,
the songs are cleverly crafted musical journeys of up to
nine minutes in length. Lulu and Mischka sing about
our connection with each other and with nature. In the
resounding chorus of the title track, Stillness in Motion,
the chant circle choir joins in to sing I am the waves,
I am the ocean, I am stillness in motion, and it is quite
possible to feel that you are floating on the rolling waves
of a vast clear ocean. But its not all lightness and ease:
other tracks like Warriors of Light entreat us to face the
unknown and the need to fight ones own fight.
The CD represents a different experience to
the simplicity and intimacy of their chant circles.
Nevertheless, the energy and enjoyment of this young
couple shines through and reflects their heartfelt
commitment and ability to uplift the world around them.

Wor ime


The Secret of Life

Wellness the essential
guide to lifes big questions
By Inna Segal, Rockpool
Inna Segal is an internationally
recognised healer, professional
speaker and author. In her new
book, she goes beyond physical
healing to demonstrate how
life wellness reflects health
wellness. By answering 24 of
lifes biggest questions, Segal
guides readers through every
stage of personal wellbeing and
invites us to look within to find
the answers. From losing weight
and raising confident children
to dealing with depression
and loss, Segal covers the full
spectrum of human challenges.
Wi t h r e a l - l i f e e x a m p l e s
and practical exercises that
can be integrated into dayto-day life, Segal offers the
must have tools for healing,
transformation, and evolution.

Heaven on Earth: Timeless Prayers of

Wisdom and Love
Dr Stephanie Dowrick, Allen and Unwin
Almost all of us pray at some stage in our lives. Heaven on
Earth is a prayer book that offers you the wisest, most comforting
of prayers, while also guiding you on how to pray. A collection of
sublime prayers and teachings from a variety of traditions, this is
an inclusive how to book on achieving spiritual joy and peace.
From the most ancient heartfelt prayers to those newly written
by the author herself, this is a collection that meets us where
we are - and takes us where we most want to go. Whatever your experience of prayer,
you will find a new depth of inspiration and support in these pages.
As a writer and spiritual leader who has supported and guided many thousands of
people to live more hopefully, Dowrick has a rare understanding of what prayer is and
how steadfastly it can support you, whatever your faith background or journey. Some of
the worlds most beautiful words are gathered here; so are many of the most uplifting and
consoling. From prayers to be shared with family, friends or community to prayers that
take you within to your own souls depths, this is a collection to be used and cherished.

MUSIC The Unchanging

Donna De Lory,
Occasioned by the recent passing of the
artists father, noted jazz musician Al De


MyYogaPro combines
online yoga classes with
a social network for yogis
and a video game-like
rewarding system. It aims
to revolutionise the way
people learn and practise
yoga at home by making
it personal, social and
rewarding. MyYogaPro
offers a wide range of yoga classes that can be accessed anytime, anywhere and uses
game theory elements to maximise practice results you can earn rewards and badges
after completing courses and classes. All you have to do is sign up, create your personal
profile, pick your goal and youre ready to go.

Lory, the album The Unchanging is one

of Donna De Lorys most deeply felt,
stylistically diverse and profoundly lifeaffirming albums to date. It features some
of her most personal songwriting, but
these songs connect the personal with the
universal, seamlessly blending evocative
English lyrics with the heart-opening
power of ancient Sanskrit mantras.
After a decade of recording popular
world devotional CDs, De Lor y
is one of mantra musics reigning
queens, but she is also no stranger to
the highest strata of the pop realm,

having performed as a back-up singer

and dancer for Madonna for many
years, as well as releasing her own pop
albums. She brings all of this to bear on
The Unchanging, striking a satisfying
balance of chilled-out electronic
grooves, lush string arrangements and
a world-fusion flavour.
Both ethereal and earthy in all the
right places, De Lorys glorious voice
draws us deep into the heart of these
songs of both family and divine love;
into a merging with the totality of being
where loved ones are never truly absent.
YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU 9 1

expert advice

ask the expert(s)

Sammy Veall

mySan Sidbo

After I met my teacher Steve Ross in LA

and was introduced to Hip Hop yoga,
I felt like my whole world expanded up
and out into the universe, leaving me with
a massive grin on my face. I had found
my calling something that kept me fit
and healthy but most importantly something that made
me happy! This is why I became a yoga teacher. I want to
share the magical world of music and yoga with everyone.
I wish Id known that everyone has off days. Sometimes
youll walk into the room and absolutely everything will
go perfectly, then other days you walk in and youre
calling your foot your hand and your stomach your neck,
and you do both poses twice on the same side and miss
a few poses in between and everyone is staring at you
thinking what is this lady talking about?
Every class is a new class and everyone has good
classes and bad classes. So I guess dont take yourself too
seriously were only human.

The start of me teaching yoga comes

from a number of challenges both
physicall y and mentall y f rom my
previous sporting background as my
own practice took shape, I started to feel
the need to share the freedom, the health
and happiness that yoga provided me. I started teaching
yoga because its my passion and I feel that my purpose is
to share it with others. Today, as a full-time yoga teacher
and a mentor to yoga teachers, I feel so grateful for the
ability to share my passion and see students explore life
in happiness and health.
When I started, I wish Id known you dont have to
be perfect! Yoga is a constant learning experience. Its
always alive, forever changing. As I grew as a teacher,
I came to understand that both my practice and I are
always changing, so my teachings are forever evolving and
developing. I am grateful to always be a student open
heart and mind, happy body.

92 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

January 2014


So, you think you want to be a yoga teacher? We asked some of our favourite teachers
what led them to follow this path, and what they wished theyd known back at the start...

Katie manitSaS

I fell in love with yoga

while I was still a teenager
and started attending
cla sses after school.
Very shortly after that I
realised I wanted to be
a yoga teacher and thats what Ive been
doing for the last 17 years. I became a
yoga teacher because I truly believe the
practices of yoga are transforming and I
wanted to share the transformation Ive
experienced myself through this ancient
art. I feel totally blessed every day to be a
yoga teacher, and honoured that students
show up to my classes!
I was pretty lucky in that I already
worked in a yoga studio (as a receptionist)
when I started teaching, so I had a
pretty good idea of what it would be
like. However, I think what a lot of teachers
underestimate is how much goes into
teaching a class, the preparation time and
the emotional and mental energy it takes
to serve your students well. Its also not
the most lucrative job in the world but
it is one of the most rewarding! Now that
Ive had young children Ive also found that
teaching yoga is a job thats flexible and
manageable with young kids around, much
more so than a typical 9-5 job for example.
aSh nilSen

After struggling with food

intolerances for years,
yoga turned out to be
the greatest relief of all
treatments I tried, as well
as supporting my general
health. I felt stronger, balanced and happier.
I believe many people discover yoga
when they go through difficult times. My
experience gave me a strong encouragement
to help other people. With a regular yoga
practice we can all learn to centre ourselves,
be more grateful and connect to the people
we love in a better way.
When I first started to teach regular
classes I was surprised how much the
energy in the room and among the students
could vary from time to time and how this
January 2014

affected the class. It took me some time to

read my students properly and understand
how to adjust my class thereafter. We all
have good and bad days, as a teacher you
want to make sure you can contribute to
make people leave the class feeling lighter
and happier than when they arrived.
liiSa halme

Yoga had been my number

one passion for years.
I was asked by my teachers
to cover their classes and
was generally encouraged
to get into teaching. It
seemed like a natural thing for me to do it
was what I wanted to do and so I enrolled
in teacher training, one of many to come.
Working a normal office job was never
really an option for me, even if it may have
provided a steadier income. Making a living
as a yoga teacher can prove challenging for
many new teachers, especially these days
when there are so many.
Back when I lived in London, yoga
teachers hours werent very conducive to
a normal social life, let alone a relationship:
super early mornings, lunchtimes, late
evenings and weekends are the most
popular times for yoga classes in most cities
around the world. Luckily now I live in
Sydney Eastern suburbs and its pretty easy
to work normal hours: my classes at 9:30am
during the week are packed! Otherwise Id
never see my husband
diana timminS

I initially came to yoga

as a way of dealing with
work stress and to learn
how to love and respect
my body after many years
of battling body image
issues. The first teacher I ever deeply
connected with, Greg Wythes, provided me
with such a safe haven to learn and explore
the deeper parts of myself beyond my
physical shell that I had merely identified
myself with before. Greg inspired me so
greatly and taught me so thoroughly that
I was completely and utterly motivated to

share this with others, and offer the same

level of nurturing that would in turn allow
them to transform. Discovering yoga is one
of my lifes biggest blessings, and to share
this with others is an immense privilege.
I wish Id known that no amount of
practice can ever make perfect; we engage
in a yoga practice, not perfect. I was so
deeply passionate about changing lives
for the better that I initially placed far
too much pressure on myself to deliver
the perfect class that would wholly and
solely please all and sundry. I eventually
experienced a shift in perception and learnt
to relax into it a little more when one of my
beloved teachers imparted his wisdom: do
your best, and leave the rest. Suddenly the
self-inflicted pressures dropped away, and
I was able to teach again from my heart.
michelle jayne

I accidentally stumbled
upon yoga after
numerous philosophical
conversations about life
and a friend suggesting
I s h o u l d d o te a c h e r
training in this thing called yoga. The style
I initially learnt was slow and gentle, and
my fiery temperament ached for something
a little stronger, so our first introduction
didnt last much longer than 12 months.
Then I entered into the physical arena of
the Group Fitness world and one day was
asked to fill in for a yoga class. I hadnt
done all that much teaching since the
training, but knew how to lesson plan, so
with that in mind and a wide open heart
I said yes and have never looked back.
I dont think there was ever an intellectual
decision to be a yoga teacher, I dont feel
I made the choice as a career path, I just
felt I had found something that tapped
into the essence of not only myself, but
the students on the mat who were willing
participants to be guided into deeper layers
of this experience of being a human being
I wish I had laid more ground work in my
personal practice. Sometimes my passion
for things can get a little overwhelming,
and being in the fitness industry I forgot
how personal a yoga practice is. Having
yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au 93

ex p er t a d vice
a gym background provided motivation,
but the softer element of the practice was
overlooked as I charged ahead with the
physicality of it. Heading into my eighth
year of teaching yoga, I realise that just
when you think you know something,
along comes a new insight knowledge
is never-ending. I wish Id known how
popular yoga was going to be and benefited
by opening a studio in the early days!
Otherwise, I believe we are always in the
right place at the right time, its merely our
choices that allow us to continue down
the never-ending road of bringing yourself
back home to the source within
KriS mcintyre

It happened by accident!
In my early 20s I was
working too hard.
I wanted to get myself out
of the office on time
and do something to
make myself more interesting. I randomly
contacted Nature Care College and
decided to study Shiatsu because it sounded
interesting. In my very first lecture about
Traditional Chinese Medicine I felt like Id
stumbled upon the answers to everything I
never knew the questions to ask! Part of the
course was learning a Japanese-style yoga
and my then teacher encouraged me to do
the yoga teacher training course. I finished
that diploma and then studied Ryoho with
Andzej Gospodarczyk and Lisa Foster.
I wish Id known that you should really
research who you are studying with,
their qualifications and lineage. If you
can, talk to previous teacher trainees.
Also, the learning really begins once you
graduate. Then you keep learning from
your students, your own body and its
limitations, your ego and its limitations
and continued training and development.
Your own practice will also probably
suffer. For me this was one of the
hardest things about teaching (when
I was teaching more than I do now)
running around town teaching classes
left you with lots of time during the day,
but if you like to practice in the morning
or evening (when most yogis do) thats
usually when youre teaching.
9 4 yo gaj o u r n a l .co m . au

Kelli Prieur

I became a yoga teacher

because I knew from my
experience of the practice
that it had the potential
not only to help people
heal themselves, but to
help re-instill self-belief and belief in the
possibility for change. I wanted to help
people remember that they have the power
to create whatever they want in this lifetime,
and that regardless of circumstance, they
have the opportunity to choose their
perspective, their reaction and how quickly
they move towards their dreams.
Its easy to slip into thinking that to be
of the greatest service you really should be
devouring every ancient yogic text, learning
Sanskrit or mastering your drop-back into
full wheel. But really, what serves people
most is just being you. I wish Id known that
I was enough, and that all I needed to do
was show up as fully as myself as I possibly
could and from there, teach from my heart.
ana daViS

As a teena ger I wa s
passionate about
dance, but I was also a
conscientious student.
It was therefore not
surprising that as a young
adult I began to experience a conflict
between my head and my heart. My head
was very good at being clever I was a high
academic achiever. But my heart wanted to
do a more embodied practice that got me
out of my head. Some years later, sitting
in the boardroom of the television and
video production company I worked for,
talking budgets and bonuses with other
department managers, I just knew I needed
to finally follow my heart, quit my job and
embark on a career as a yoga teacher.
Id have to say every experience Ive had
on my yoga teaching career over the last
18 years has contributed to bringing me to
the present moment, for which I am truly
grateful. I could say that Id wish Id known
what a financial drain and stress it would
be to establish a yoga studio in Sydneys
Eastern suburbs with no money behind

me. But its thanks to the challenges of

those years running a studio that I feel
I have gained a great deal of my knowledge
around the business of yoga.
caitlin reid

I was already working as

a dietitian and exercise
physiologist and seeing
many clients with mental
and physical stresses. I
wanted to add another
dimension to my services, providing them
with a connection between body and
mind, using yoga as a tool to teach them
discipline and commitment, as well as
improving self- esteem.
I wish Id known that teaching would
encroach on my own practice, making it
harder to dedicate as much time as Id like.
brad goodchild,

Practising yoga regularly

has opened my body and
has allowed me to have a
positive and co-operative
relationship with my
mind. This has given me
feelings of confidence and self esteem and
allowed my life to go places I never knew
I could. Becoming a yoga teacher for me
means paying it forward I feel a duty to
share this knowledge with as many people
as possible so they too can have a healthy
relationship with themselves.
When I started a career as a yoga teacher,
I never knew how hard I was going to work
the difficult hours including early morning
starts, late night finishes and weekends. I
also never knew how uncertain I would feel
not knowing, week to week, how much Id
earn and whether or not I could pay the bills.
I also never knew how much of an example
you become for your students and how
they absorb everything you say and do and
sometimes everything you have to give.
Ive since learnt these are things that make
teaching yoga the best job in the world. The
work is hard but from giving and helping
others you receive it all back tenfold!
January 2014

maScha coetZee

From the age of around 19

I experienced a series of
micro-strokes which left
the right side of my body
temporarily paralysed
and my speech distorted.
I also suffered from migraines and fatigue,
my immune system was weakened, my
hormones were out of balance and I had
digestive issues.
With the help of my wonderful
teachers, yoga helped me look deep
within, improve my health and rid myself
of the conditions I was suffering from by
strengthening and cleansing my physical
body and the mind. I became a yoga
teacher because through my experience I
have found that yoga can heal people and
transform their lives.
My development as a yoga teacher
is ongoing and I believe it will stay this
way, as learning is a part of any teachers
journey. I have occasional attacks of selfdoubt, questioning whether I am good,
knowledgeable or mature enough to
teach. I have learnt that continuous study,
feedback from the students, commitment
to practice and self-reflections are tools of
growth as a yoga teacher.
The path of a yoga teacher can seem
overwhelming by choosing this career,
we take up on the enormous responsibility
for the physical, psychological,
physiological safety and emotional
wellbeing of our students.
Also, while we dont want to admit it
at times, yoga is becoming a competitive
industry that I found hard to accept for a
while. But if we have a calling to teach, we

must survive and we must do it ethically,

with integrity. Outside of yoga training,
you need business management, marketing,
web design and accounting skills.
chriStina broWn

I became a teacher out of

pure love and passion for
yoga. Nothing else made
me feel so good inside, on
all levels, and I wanted to
share that with the world.
I began yoga as a 19 year old naturopathic
student. I was on a quest for healing as
wed had so much illness in my family I lost my parents young - so statistically
the future wasnt looking pretty for me.
I really felt my body light up after those
initial practices, and it has continued so
here I am, over two decades later, feeling
great and healthy. Thank you, yoga!
What I wish Id known when I started
was not to try to fit yourself to someone
elses practice. Your needs will change over
the decades and therefore so will your
ideal practice. Stay true to a practice that
nourishes you and teach from that practice.
Self care and self preservation are
important. Ensure you top yourself up
energetically and take rest days, too. There
are times you must hold back.
Also, once you start teaching your
learning grows exponentially. You dont
need to know the answers to all the
questions before you start. Your students
will teach you. For example, if someone
asks you what to do about their knee
problem, you can research it and come
back to them the next week. Thats how
you learn over the years.

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the ayj interview

and took on a more social way of seeing the world and then
when I was 19 I gave up God and chose boys instead because
you couldnt have both. After that it was communist radical
left politics in London in the sixties and then radical feminist
politics and then wanting something spiritual again. When I
was 30 I was back in Australia and I heard about these two
lamas running intensive retreats and wondered if they could
become my teachers. Ive been studying with them ever since.

Was there a particular Buddhist teaching that

really struck you?

Melbourne born Robina Courtin, 68, spent her

youth searching for a worldview, dabbling in
everything from Catholicism to Communism.
In 1976 she found her path in Tibetan
Buddhism and was ordained as a nun in 1978.
From 1996 to 2009 she ran the Liberation
Prison Project, working with death row
inmates in US prisons. Her basic philosophy
is that we are junkies for nice feelings and
when we dont get what we want we feel
anger, despair or panic. Instead of looking
directly at this pain and attempting to dissolve
it, we prolong our suffering by blaming
someone or something outside of ourselves
for our pain. By Tamsin Angus-Leppan

How did you come to the path of Buddhism?

When I was a kid I wanted to understand the way the world
worked and why things happen. I was raised a Catholic; I was
very into God. When I was 15 I heard black American music
1 1 4 YO GAJ O U R N A L .CO M . AU

What are the tools for doing this?

The starting point is having confidence that you can change
your own thoughts and then having the courage to own them
as yours. The Buddhist belief is that the only reason we have
problems is because we are attached to getting what we want.
We have a deep primordial craving to get things to be nice.
That means nice smells, nice tastes, nice words, nice boss, nice
everything. We cant bear the painful things, we only want the
nice things and this attachment to nice is running us second to
second. The slightest thing goes wrong, we cant bear it. We
are junkies for nice feelings. We have attachment and we have
aversion or anger. The minute attachment doesnt get what
it wants, anger or aversion or panic or despair or guilt arises.
We believe we are the recipient of an unfair thing. But if we
learn to look into the pain that we think is coming from the
mean husband, the lousy kids, if we look at the pain of the
jealousy itself, the pain of the anger itself, just the feelings,
we see that they are what are breaking our heart and if we
have the courage to look inside and start to change, thats
incredible. A good example is a guy whose daughter was raped
and murdered. Thirty years after this happened, he finally
realised that the reason he was suffering wasnt the rape of
his daughter, it was his rage. The point for him was to get rid
of this rage. That takes a lot of courage.



Karma. I always wanted to understand why things are. The

Buddhist deal is we are suffering because we dont understand
why things are, like we believe that outside things will make
us happy. Hearing about the idea of karma that is the view
that youve created yourself, your consciousness didnt come
from your parents, you didnt come from a creator, you came
from previous moments of your own continuity and whatever
you think and do and say imprints in your mind and produces
you in the future first hearing that was an aha! moment.
Somehow you bring your own reality into this world and
you create yourself and its up to you. I found that view very
empowering, and I still do. Look at our psychology; everything
goes back to what mummy did to you, what daddy did to you,
what people do to you out there. In Buddhism, its up to you
to be the person who transforms yourself and then to be of
benefit to others.

bottoms up.