Polyvagal theory and healing in yoga

We spoke with Chandrika Gibson about her yoga journey, the wonders of the nervous system and the Polyvagal ladder…

Q: What is your yoga journey and what work are you currently doing?

My brother and I started yoga when we were children thanks to a small Indian yoga book that somehow found its way into our home. It felt like a homecoming when I first attended a class aged 20. I had the privilege of learning from some wonderful teachers in WA including Iyengar Yoga electives during my naturopathy studies, and many wonderful classes, satsangs and philosophy talks at Beacon Yoga Centre (Sivananda Ashram). I graduated as a yoga teacher in 2005 and began teaching classes for people with cancer almost immediately. I have also taught corporate classes, pregnancy, parent and baby, and children’s yoga, as well as alcohol and drug recovery programs. Along the way I have undertaken further Anatomy & Physiology training at Masters level, yin yoga teacher training and more.

I have been employed by Cancer Council WA, Endeavour College of Natural Medicine, Cancer Support WA, and am currently a Research and Education Consultant for Solaris Cancer Care. I’ve been on the faculty for Wisdom Yoga Institute (formerly Yoga Space) teacher training since 2007, and developed a post graduate Yoga Therapy training in 2012, which was the first program of its kind in Australia to be accredited by the International Association of Yoga
Therapists. Along with seeing private yoga therapy clients and teaching in my home studio Surya Health, I am currently in my final year of a PhD at Curtin University investigating compassion-based interventions for people with head and neck cancer.

Q: What is Polyvagal theory and how did you first discover it?

Polyvagal Theory was originally developed by Stephen Porges in 1994 and posits that the tenth cranial nerve known as the Vagus (meaning wandering) nerve is central to the autonomic nervous system responses to threat and safety. I first came across this theory in relation to pranayama as I was curious
about the mechanisms by which yogic practices influence the mind by altering the body and vice versa. I have been investigating Polyvagal Theory more
intensively recently as it is relevant to the trauma experienced by participants in my PhD research.

Q: Why is it beneficial for yoga teachers to understand this concept?

Yoga teachers are well placed to support people who have experienced trauma, those living with mental ill health, pain, chronic illness, or simply not
thriving due to the many stressors of modern life. Our impact on our communities is powerful and we have numerous techniques in our repertoires that can quickly help students climb the Polyvagal Ladder (see diagram). It’s helpful for yoga professionals to understand the ‘why’ behind what we do,
and to consciously work to make our classes, studios, workshops, and courses, healing spaces. Polyvagal Theory adds to our understanding of the nervous system, anatomy, physiology, and the human experience. Teachers and students are in an intricate dance and this understanding of how our brains, nervous systems, and bodies influence each other is both fascinating and practical.

Q: What will participants be doing in your workshop?

In this two hour workshop we will cover the fundamentals of Polyvagal Theory, look up close at the anatomy of the Vagus Nerve, and discuss how yoga techniques can move people from dysregulated states for example, “numbed out” or hyperaroused “sympathetic” states, and return to “ventral vagal” – the biological seat of safety and connection. The theory component will lead into a workshop style class where we will experience and reflect on the effect of yoga practices including asana, pranayama, and chanting through the lens of Polyvagal Theory.

Q: How does the polyvagal theory complement a restorative yoga practice/ yin yoga/ meditation practice?

Polyvagal Theory explains a great deal of how and why restorative yoga, yin and meditation can support healing. It can also explain why sometimes these
practices are distressing, confronting, or uncomfortable for students, and how we can make them safer, more inclusive and effective for our students.

Q: Do you plan to run this workshop across Australia? What are the next plans you have?

I would love to bring this workshop to yoga teachers across Australia. My plans for 2020 are largely to complete the PhD and so my teaching capacity will likely expand in 2021.

If you are lucky enough to be in WA – then book on now for Chandrika’s workshop.

It’s on Sunday, April 5 from 9.30am – 11.30am at the Greenwood Yoga Academy in Wangara. More details here:

Find out more about Polyvagal Theory & Healing with Yoga

Meet Alyssa Bird

My name is Alyssa Bird and I am the new Post-grad Manager for the Seniors Chair Yoga, Restorative, and Pranayama & Meditation courses.

I am a mum to three young daughters and live in Manly, NSW, where I enjoy being by the ocean and spending time with my husband and kids.

My yoga journey began ten years ago when I was doing a lot of running, and I decided to try out some kind of stretching and strengthening exercise to compliment my exercise routine.  I’d always been curious about Yoga, so I went along to my local Vinyasa class to try it out.  I went in thinking I would be doing some easy stretching, but came out 90 minutes later sweating and amazed and how challenging it was and how much upper body strength I lacked!  I kept going back because I loved the physical workout, and it really did help my running!  I began going along to short courses run by the teacher on Yogic Psychology, Pranayama, and Meditation.  After my first experience of a full Yoga Nidra, I was hooked!

When I had my first baby, I had to slow my practice down and fell in love with the slower pace and deep restorative poses in the prenatal classes I attended.
Since then my yoga practice has guided me through the ups and downs of raising three children away from family support, and a relocation from NZ to
Australia.  It has allowed me to deepen my connection to my intuition and opened up a spiritual practice for me, becoming an instrumental part
of my daily life.

After I had my third baby, I had time to complete my Yoga Teacher Training with IYTA in 2019, which I absolutely loved, and which took my personal practice to the next level.  I have recently started covering classes as I dip my toes into teaching.  I feel like I have been so well prepared through
my training last year and I am so excited to progress in this journey.

My role involves liaising with the lecturers in setting up the courses, taking enrolments and being the point of contact for each course.  Making
sure the course participants have all the information required and helping them navigate our online platform.  I look forward to working with the IYTA team to bring existing and new courses to various locations around Australia!

This role came along shortly after my youngest started preschool and offers the flexibility I require as a stay at home mum, so it felt like the stars aligned and the perfect opportunity!  I feel so lucky and excited to be part of an organisation that I have learnt so much from and even better that it’s all about my passion: Yoga!

My Yoga Online Journey: Rebecca Lean

Rebecca found her face-to-face classes have moved almost seamlessly online – here’s how she’s made the transition:

For someone who hasn’t had a TV for ten years it really did seem crazy for me to do something so modern as to teach yoga online.

In reality I was inspired by ancient yogic text, The Bhagavad Gita, where Krsna counselled Arjuna to ‘do your duty’. I was also guided by the Yama of Ahimsa,
non-harming.

As news of this highly infectious virus, Covid-19 came through, it became evident that to do my duty while doing no harm would require some changes. I run seven yoga classes from my home studio every week so I decided to confer with all my students in early March.

We were already washing our hands and mats as well as having hand sanitiser where we keep our pens and sign in cards. From our discussions some students
wanted to stagger smaller classes, others suggested classes in the park or beach. I am forever grateful to one student, Tanya Silveira, a talented music therapist who mentioned she has been teaching online using Zoom and offered to show me how.

It was so easy to set up a $20 a month account (which gives us hour long classes instead of the 40 minute limit on the free Zoom option) schedule the week’s classes and email students their regular class invitations at the beginning of every week. Administration was further simplified as for the last few years the students have been buying 10 class passes, (I have them printed with Vistaprint, they are like the reward cards you see in coffee shops).
The only difference now is that I fill out their sign in cards for them with the date and take a quick photo on my phone and text it through for their
records.

I believe that my IYTA teacher training deserves to be highlighted and applauded here, as all I had to do was apply the health and safety training I learnt so many years ago; display your qualifications, have insurance, have students fill out an online student consent form and ensure that both the teacher and student can see and hear each other at all times.

But what amazed me was the really positive response! I have learnt so much from the feedback. Students texted that they felt really supported by keeping
their regular routine in a time that is far from regular and where most of their daily routines have been upended. Some students who are now working
from home have opted to book even more classes as they love being able to access not just the physical benefits of yoga, but also the support that
pranayama and meditation bring to their mental health. Other students who are now interstate or overseas joined the classes online and were thrilled
to catch up with their old friends.

Because of their valuable feedback I have been emphasising regularity, familiarity and Sangha or association.

The yoga room is set up so that the students can see all the things they did when they came to my physical classes; the wall mandala, yoga props, plants
and salt lamp.

Even more exciting has been witnessing a deepening of Sangha. We open the class a little early and check how everyone is doing. Students have been able
to support each other, particularly those who have lost work due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Importantly, students have also been able to share jokes
and happy news, even the announcement of pregnancy!

I understand that yoga is a pretty big tent and that what works for some does not work for every one. However I am happy to share my experience and hope
that others will see teaching yoga on an interactive online platform as a viable option. If I can do it, anyone can.

Hari Om Tat Sat

Taking your yoga online

As yoga teachers we know how to be flexible in body and mind, but the Coronavirus has challenged this adaptability in ways that none of us could have imagined. Whether we taught in studios, gyms, community centres or with groups of friends, we’ve each had to reinvent ourselves, and in many cases learn new skills in a matter of days.

This has meant teaching online – figuring out the technical issues of live streaming and working out our Zoom from our Loom (yes, that’s a thing too!)
while still looking after our families and keeping ourselves centred and sane.

Every day seems to bring about new challenges and hurdles to overcome. Yet change doesn’t have to be negative – there are positives that come from even
the bleakest situation and that is what we need to hold on to.

As an organisation IYTA has had to overcome its own issues – from quickly adapting the Diploma of Yoga Teaching course from a face-to-face learning environment to fully online with interactive lectures – somehow Astrid and Amy managed to do this with the support of the DYT lecturers and last weekend saw the latest IYTA DYT students adapting amazingly well to this style of learning.

We’ve all had to navigate this new world. Personally, I’ve been running live, online yoga classes via Zoom and have recorded classes too – it’s been a
roller-coaster ride. I’ve had moments where I’ve thought this will work and possibly prove even better than before and other moments when I’ve crumpled in a heap on my yoga mat feeling dejected and disheartened.

I’m certainly not an expert and I’ve been learning as I go, but here are ten things I’ve learnt from this experience so far…

    1. LIVE and ONLINE: Nothing beats live, online yoga classes. Sure pre-recorded classes are great but no substitute for the interaction
      and connection that you get in face-to-face classes. You can get this connection online – it is possible. A chat at the start of the class,
      a quick check-in during and a chat at the end of the class. Anyone who doesn’t want to talk can simply unmute themselves or switch their video off. Encourage your students to book classes with you – either as a course or a one off class or workshop and conduct the lesson by Zoom.
    2. COMMUNICATE: There’s a lot of free content out there, but it varies in quality.. Communicate with your students – tell them what you are planning to do and keep them informed. They are likely to feel stressed, uncertain and in need to routine and relaxation. Yoga is particularly important at this time for you and your students. Send out an email via your database (if you have one) and your Facebook page (if you have one).
    3. ZOOM:  This seems to have been the buzz word of the month. If you haven’t already, download it – it’s free. I’ve found this is the easiest platform to navigate – it’s here: https://zoom.us/downloadYou don’t have to  pay a membership but you can upgrade to the pro plan which is around $20 a month and means you will have up to 24 hour
      meeting/session times and up to 100 participants. The free version will switch off after around 40 minutes and you’ll have to schedule another
      meeting.
    4. HAVE A PLAY: Once you have Zoom – play around with it. There are videos on the Zoom website which will help you understand the features, and you can even book into a live webinar – these are in US times – so either in the middle of the night or at 8am! But it’s a great idea to experiment with a few friends on the site first. Have fun with it – you can create virtual backgrounds or upload a photo of your own for the background(great if you have kids running around or dishes piled up in the sink!).
    5. EQUIPMENT: Once you have your Zoom set up – you may need to purchase some equipment… this is a bit of a challenge as the world and its dog has bought every web cam and wireless microphone ever made… but if you do get hold of them great. If not, don’t worry! You can still do this with the camera on your device and the computer audio. It’s just a bit sharper and clearer with the web cam and microphone.
    6. LIGHTING: – this is very important. You don’t want to be in shadow – so play with the image that your students are likely to see. Put a light behind the camera to light up your face – and be mindful of the background. I’ve got a white screen door behind me – which you’d think would be great, but if the light is too strong then it creates a flickering effect. If you are using outdoor light then be mindful the lighting conditions will change and for consistency it might be better to close blinds and curtains and use indoor lighting. You don’t have to spend much, a spot light from Target or K-Mart might be all you need or just rummage around your house and nick everyone’s bedside lamps!
    7. YOUR YOGA SPACE: This about your studio set up or space – create a warm, uncluttered and inviting environment. Have your yoga props around and perhaps even your pet can join in!? My puppy Minty used to wait patiently at the door of my yoga studio while I taught and now she can curl up at my feet as I teach – she loves it and I’m sure it makes it a bit more entertaining and reassuring for my students!
    8. PRICING: Run a free trial class for your students – this way they are more likely to join you and it’s a good idea to keep to your usual yoga class days and times – so you retain the routine. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a huge response – everyone is dealing with their own stresses, it might just take a couple of messages to check in with them or a call to check they are ok. Decide if you want to continue to teach for free or add short video sequences online and then longer paid classes. There’s a lot of free content online, but we still need to make a living! You may want to continue to charge what you did for face-to-face or offer discounts if your students are suffering financial
      strain. It’s up to you.
    9. OTHER OPTIONS: You might like to try Instagram Live or Facebook Live – I’ve not had time to investigate these options. I do know that Facebook owns the content – so it’s important to bear that in mind when recording classes.  You can also record via Zoom or your device and then upload the videos on to Vimeo or You Tube. I’m still investigating these options! That’ll be my next blog
    10. BE YOURSELF: It won’t be perfect. Far from it. I’ve recorded and re-recorded lots of times – there’s the neighbour’s barking dog that is bound to go off when you do your Yoga Nidra or you’ll simply feel a bit odd delivering a class to a screen – you can still see your students on the gallery, but it is totally different to teaching face-to-face. You may even find that some classes are a bit easier – there’s no rent to pay and the commute is easy – good luck and remember to let us know how you go

We’ll be running regular blog posts*  like this one from Rebecca Lean on how some of our IYTA members are making that transition to virtual studios and online. We’ll include their advice and tips for what has worked and
hasn’t worked!

Check our IYTA Facebook andIYTA Instagram for updates and of course the May eNews and the next issue of International Light.

Adore Yoga’s Nikola Ellis has recorded a series of helpful short videos to get you started in your online journey. Here’s the link:

* please send your yoga transition story to editor@iyta.com.au

Discover the joy of Restorative Yoga

My restorative yoga journey began many years ago when I introduced some poses within my pre-natal yoga class… at first the students were a little
bemused when I demonstrated Reclining Goddess – suddenly we were more like engineers than yogis – using blocks like building bricks and carefully folding blankets.

But it didn’t take long for the students to crave the poses. Within a couple of sessions they were easing their aching shoulders over an inclined bolster
– enjoying the seemingly instant relief from bothersome heartburn.

Blankets would be beautifully wrapped around feet and legs – the weight promoting a sense of security and safety. And as the tips of thumbs lightly touched index fingers in Gyana Mudra, minds would begin to let go, inviting a gentle slide into the natural rhythm of their breath and body…

After five to ten minutes I’d coax the students out of the shape, but most simply wanted to stay put in the loving embrace of the earth.

And that’s when I could see the true beauty of Restorative Yoga. A practice which gives you time to explore the physical body, truly connect with your
energy levels, to sit with your emotions – suspending judgment and expectations.

As the pose was held it was an opportunity to explore more deeply – to connect with the intellectual and spiritual bodies… and in time noticing
muscular tension dissolving, heart rates slowing and frustration evaporating.

I found myself bringing Restorative Yoga poses into my general classes too. It became standard practice to use blankets and blocks to fill in gaps within
postures, to create support, comfort, stillness and softness.

To practice Ahimsa – kindness, especially in this crazy, busy world where we are all overscheduled and overwhelmed.

Personally and professionally I have embraced this practice wholeheartedly.

Now in my general classes I teach a blend of Hatha postures and practices with Restorative Yoga movements and shapes.  I also teach specific Restorative Yoga classes – connected with the season or perhaps with an issue such as anxiety.

And I’ve been lucky enough to create a two-day course in this beautifully nurturing practice for the IYTA. The first day focuses on understanding what
Restorative Yoga is, exploring stress and how it affects the mind and body, the benefits of this practice and setting up a safe space. The second day focuses on poses which require more props –how to use the props as well as teaching practice and tools to explore within each pose.

It’s a wonderful two day retreat – where you will rest, rejuvenate and relax at the same time as discovering new techniques and tips to integrate Restorative Yoga into your general, yin, pre and post-natal classes and run specific Restorative Yoga classes.

Here are a couple of comments from students who attended our recent training:

“I loved the lecturer’s positivity and personable presentation. A perfect balance of practice and theory – hard to attain.

The audio lecture pre-course was outstanding to set the academic scene. Excellent. The content of power point/presentation was succinct, achievable and questions were thoroughly answered.”

Caroline English

“Katie has a lovely calming manner and a wealth of knowledge about restorative yoga. I’m very relaxed and I’m sure my students will be too.”

Cathie Hammond
Upcoming Restorative Courses

 

Find out more about the Restorative Yoga course

If you would like us to run the course in your state please contact us!

Yoga for bush fire relief

Many of us have struggled to wish people Happy New Year when a large proportion of country is on fire. It’s soul destroying seeing images of people losing homes, animals suffering and our beautiful flora being wiped away.

But what is heart-warming is seeing how the community has come together to help – and as yoga teachers, we can all play our part – offering our wonderful
classes while raising vital funds and awareness.

This is what one IYTA teacher has been doing – Julie Atkinson was devastated when she saw the news footage of the fires, so at the weekend she held her
first class by donation in Melbourne to help raise funds for Firesticks an indigenous organisation which teaches cultural practices to fire management.

Julie has been an IYTA member since 1989 when she completed her Diploma of Yoga Teaching. She’s been holding classes ever since and is also a shiatsu practitioner and qualified in Okido Yoga.

This isn’t the first time Julie has stepped up to help – after the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009, Julie took her massage chair and made several
visits to Kinglake – massaging volunteer firefighters and members of the community.

Julie says: ‘The weather forecast for this day was for extreme temperatures and strong winds and despite many warnings in place, 173 people lost their
lives.’

Julie was so moved by the loss of life and properties that when a call went out for massage therapists, she jumped at the chance to do something to help.

She says: ‘Arriving at the camp set up near Kinglake -one of the most severely affected communities – at the nearby Whittlesea Showgrounds for the CFA
& other emergency service workers just tore at my heartstrings. There were so many people offering their help, working behind the scenes …an incredible amount of food donated and such a feeling of kindness and goodwill.

‘The people who came for the massages include firies, emergency service workers, people from the local communities & victims of the fire. Through your hands you could feel you were making a difference to tight overworked muscles and in relieving stress and other emotions. People were very grateful
and appreciative of our help and the massages were very popular.’

Julie and her husband Roger a retired meteorologist, often take motorbike rides through the Victorian & NSW High Country – areas such as Mount Kosciuszko, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek – areas which have been severely affected by the recent bushfires.

She says: ‘We love all these beautiful places and communities and really feel for all those affected in so many ways. I usually sit on the back of the
motorbike taking photos of the beautiful country that we ride through and can only imagine the devastation that has taken place. I remembered Black Saturday & wanted to do something no matter how small to make a difference.’

She adds: ‘I have friends making bat wraps & pouches for koalas and wanted to find a way that I could help. I feel that yoga is a wonderful way to
help others who are not directly impacted (although we pretty much all are now with the hazardous air that we are breathing) are feeling overwhelmed
with all the heartbreaking news.

Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that anxiety, overthinking and sympathy are the emotions which affect our earth element and Okido Yoga offers various practices to help ground us and nourish the stomach and spleen – the organs and meridians associated with the Earth element. Its practices include
partner and group exercises which help forge connections and a sense of community.

So Julie decided to take action and last Saturday held her first class. She says: ‘I was offered a room to teach, so I made up an event in Facebook. I
didn’t know how popular it would be – but within a couple of days I had about 84 people interested and 12 people saying they’d come! It was a bit of
a squeeze – but ten people turned up and the class went really well.’

Julie made a total of $230 from the class which has gone to the Firesticks.

She focused on helping people feel connected to the energy of the earth and poses to relieve anxiety and clear the mind. At the end the students did a
heart opening visualisation.

Julie’s next “by donation” class

Julie has now been offered space at the local urban farm & garden where she’ll be holding another class this Saturday (January 18, 2020). Details below:

If you are in the area, please join Julie in a practice of Okido Yoga in the beautiful grounds of Ceres Joe’s Market Garden this Saturday morning
with donations accepted forWildlife Victoria.

The session will include practices to help ground us and relieve anxiety, nourishing our earth element. BYO Yoga mat & or blanket (I’ll have
a few spare) & water bottle.

Afterwards you might want to grab a coffee or check out the fresh market produce on sale until 1pm 😊🙏

Contact Julie with any enquiries on 0481286079.

If you are holding events to help raise funds for the bushfires please let us know.

How to Theme your Yin Class

Yin Yoga teaching is very different.  Recall how we cue each Hatha yoga posture.  We attend to the warm-up of muscles, then the placement and
alignment of feet, hands, spine, knees, pelvis, shoulders; then the activation of muscles – lengthening, pressing, rotation, tucking; all the while
cuing their breath in a controlled way.  We do this to optimise the safety, depth or opportunity within the pose.

In Yin Yoga we find the general shape of the pose, explore the “Edge” and release into it – and that is it. Our biggest challenge is if a student has injuries/pain and we need to tailor modifications or alternatives.

Hatha teaching feels like a continuous stream of instructions and as teachers, we are constantly talking. Yin Yoga gives us time, space and peace. And then, even more so, in that, students will hold postures for around 5 minutes – so we can go on an inward focused adventure, exploring, observing the breath, a breathing pattern or technique, the mind, a focal point, a visualisation, an awareness of energy, mudra, emotion, feeling or space -all while students are in the pose.

So, themes and planning a class becomes a creative opportunity to take your students on a journey deeper into their practice. We choose a theme and then
weave the breathing and the mindfulness into the poses – coming to a “pinnacle” mental state or awareness for the class.

Below are some ideas of class themes using the Chinese Meridian Theory. I have found this to be my easiest and quickest route to a class plan – but there
are 100’s of themes that you could use – from the body, to a poem, to the weather……

Meridians and Five elements

The meridians are pathways for energy (qi) to flow and together with the Chinese Five Element theory, they are a fabulous way to align your classes.

Five Elements – the five Chinese elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each element has two meridians associated with it –
an internal one (yin) and an external one (yang). Each element aligns with a season. So, you can either take one posture from each of the elements
for a wholistic class, or choose a season and focus on that element/pair of meridians. For example, for Spring you would focus on Wood and the Liver
and Gallbladder meridians, and chose poses that work along those energy lines such as butterfly, dragonfly, happy baby, square, sleeping swan and shoelace. Or go even more focused – and chose one meridian as your theme.

Each element also has a related colour, time and dominant/vulnerable organ. So, you could focus a class on releasing anger and irritability (Wood). Or
considering the Chinese clock highlights different elements according to the time of day, so if your class is at 5pm – the time of the Kidney meridian
energy then you can focus on poses for the Kidney, Urinary Bladder and Water element.

Element

Colour

Organ

Time

Woodgreen/brownLiver/Gall bladder11pm – 3am
Firered/orangeHeart/Small intestine11am – 3pm
Earthlight yellow/brownSpleen/Stomach7am – 11am
Metalwhite/greyLung/Large intestine3am – 7am
Waterblue/blackKidney/Urinary bladder3pm – 7pm

Once you have identified the physical postures and the order or flow of the poses – then we start to add the icing on the cake – the breathing and the
mindfulness that are related to the theme. For example, I use a qigong Water breath and the Ocean breath (Ujjayi) when working with Water, Kidney or
Urinary Bladder. The Water element is a cascading, descending energy – totally soft and yielding – and yet powerful in how it affects the whole environment. The natural cycle of water – from rain to ocean to sky; or just dancing with dolphins… there is a wealth of imagery and visualisations to play
with.

The cherry is that delicious moment when the class is poised at its deepest state of calm and peace. And that is when you totally shut up – and let them
“marinate” in the pose.

Learn more ways to theme classes when Sarah Manning delivers our fabulous 2-day Yin: Flow, Themes and Pre-existing conditions on 4-5 April 2020 in Sydney.

Upcoming Yin Courses

 

2019: What a year!

Here’s our round-up of 2019 state-by-state:

WA

It’s been an action-packed year with four successful events: a teachers’ catch up in February, an interesting and informative morning with Reiki practitioner
Kelly Ayoub on the Authentic Self in May, The IYTA Seniors Yoga Course presented by Beryl Broadbent at the end of June and a workshop on myofascial aspects of yoga with Kellie Brett and Justin Kiely in August.

Our rep Pam is already planning 2020 – so make sure you check out our Jan enews for dates and details!

ACT and Surrounding Regions 

During the first half of the year, Glynis Whitfield ran a one-day workshop looking at An Exploration of the Yoga Energy System.

The second half of the year saw three mini events with the introduction of Sunday Sangha’s. Designed to be simple, free 2-3 hour local opportunities for
fellow teachers to gather, learn from each other, sing and celebrate all things Yoga.

The ACT committee was and is committed to creating regular opportunities for our local members to come along, tapping into some excellent talks by fellow experienced teachers, catching up with old friends and making new ones, and supporting our teaching community. The generosity of teachers was evident in the way people attended, volunteered their studio, time and knowledge on a vast range of topics.

NSW 

Our ever-popular AGM and Annual Retreat was held in the beautiful grounds of the Brahma Kumaris in Wilton, NSW. And Karen Nicoll ran a fabulous workshop on yoga for Hips and Shoulders. There were also numerous post-graduate trainings on Yin, Meditation and Pranayama and Seniors Yoga.

QLD

Mary-Louise Parkinson ran a soothing session titled: Nourish your Body, Mind and Spirit. There were also fun Sanghas held throughout the year and the Qld
members flew the flag for the IYTA at the Sunshine Coast’s Yoga Fest event.

In 2020 there are already plans for Sanghas in March – including one Sangha on the Sunshine Coast. Plus, there’s a Somatic Yoga workshop in July with Katrina Hinton.

VIC

Beryl Broadbent ran her popular Senior Yoga course at the end of the year.

And there are plans for more workshops next year.

As we move into 2020 we’ll be unveiling an exciting timetable of trainings, workshops and events.

So keep an eye on the eNews for latest announcements and visit our Events page!

Life membership award recipients

2019 AGM – Awards and accolades

Jo Blackman and June Greenwood – two loyal IYTA members were both awarded with Life Membership at the 2019 AGM in Wilton, NSW. And Mary-Louise Parkinson and Dyan Ostrow were given a Certificate of Appreciation.

Jo Blackman

 

“It was a great honour for me to receive the IYTA Life Membership Award, and completely unexpected. I was very disappointed not to be able to attend the
celebrations as I was travelling overseas (in Japan). One never thinks of one’s own efforts as being so great but as just doing what you can and part
of the collective.

“I completed the TTC in 1987 and over this time I have seen so many people give so much of their time and energy so freely. Often quietly without drawing
attention to themselves. Each with their own vision to incrementally ensure the IYTA grows and remains vibrant and engaging to a very different yoga
teaching world that 30 and 50 years ago. I have seen so many lives transformed including my own.

“While I no longer teach, I still feel very much part of the IYTA family. This is one of the IYTA greatest strengths – a membership for everyone.”

Jo Blackman, Dulwich Hill, NSW

June Greenwood

 

“I completed my IYTA training in 1985 after going to India with Howard Kent and group from Australia. While there, I met Mary Johnson and she convinced
me and to do the IYTA course – which I did by correspondence. After graduating I worked as Treasurer for the South QLD group and organised lots
of workshops just about every weekend!

“Over the years I have nominated and mentored many students to do the IYTA Teacher Training Course as I felt that it was the best course available.

“I was also on the panel of assessors for students doing their class for the finals of their teacher training course when assessments were held in
Brisbane.

“IYTA – has been my life and it’s formed me. I’ve loved everything about it from the friendships to the students, the course, everything. I taught
continually from when I graduated to just a year ago when I took a break from teaching.

“I’m very honoured to receive Life Membership.”

June Greenwood, Redcliffe, QLD

Meet Olivia Hammerschmidt

Olivia Hammerschmidt is one of our Post Graduate Managers – we’ve asked her a few questions so you can get to know her a little better…

Olivia Hammerschmidt with IYTA Mascot Opal

Q: What is your role with IYTA?

I work part-time on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I look after some of our post-graduate teacher training courses: Yin yoga, Pre & Post-natal yoga
and Restorative yoga. This entails answering member and non-member queries, liaising with the lecturers, organising training weekends, communicating with participants. I also manage IYTA’s Social Media such as Facebook, Instagram and Google.

Q: When, why and how did you become a yoga teacher?

I started teaching in 2016, then really ramping my classes up in 2017 to about 18 classes a week, but now just 13 classes – a lot more manageable. I also
teach Pilates.

Q: How did you discover IYTA?

Since I was young, I have always known of IYTA as a credible and reputable association.

Q: Why do you love your IYTA?

I love this organisation because I work with really fun and down to earth people. I enjoy talking with members about all things yoga and getting involved in all the events and training sessions we run.

Q: What is your personal practice?

Every Wednesday morning is my set time for personal practice – it’s my opportunity to visit new things or try out the old or work out new combinations for myself. Often then, I’ll introduce it into my classes for the following week.  Saturday afternoons or evening I often hit the books to learn
more about various things, especially functional anatomy.

Q: What can members do to help you in your role?

I would love members to make more use of our Facebook and Instagram forum by sending me news items that I can post on our page to inspire, encourage other members and visitors.

Q: What are your favourite things to do in your spare time?

Cooking up storms, eating, all things cheese, bike riding, hanging out with friends and our kids, playing outdoors and aerial yoga!

Check out Olivia’s delicious recipe for Afghan Chutney!