Why I love my IYTA by Mugs McConnell

Author and yoga teacher, Marion (Mugs) McConnell has been a member and supporter of IYTA since she first came to Australia in the mid-70s. Here she talks about her love of the association….

“In 1975-76 when I was travelling in Australia I met Val Diakos and she told me about the Yoga Teacher Training and high standards of the organisation. Although I was unable to take the training back then as I lived in Canada, I was able to make a life-long connection and learn from many of the great IYTA influences, like Swami Gitananda and Venkatesananda. My main teachers here in North American were Swami Vishnudevananda and dear great teacher Dr. Hari Dickman, who IYTA led me to and whom my book (Letters from the Yoga Masters) is about.

IYTA “mentored” me every step of the way, with encouragement and in the 1980s letting me challenge their exam so I could have equivalency as a Full Teaching Member. I was made the Canadian Representative for IYTA and held that honorable job up until around 2016, when one of my fellow Canadian members of IYTA, Dorothy Fizzell, took over the role.

I have enjoyed being a supporter of IYTA and the high standards. Our Yoga Teacher Training here in Canada is based on meeting not only the Yoga Alliance Standards but also the IYTA Standards, making it possible for our 500-hour graduates to become Full Teaching members. IYTA has supported us for many years in this when Moina Bower helped us meet this goal.

As a board member with Yoga Alliance and part of the Standards Committee, I have stood up for IYTA continually, playing a small role in the IYTA training becoming a Registered Yoga School with Yoga Alliance. Why? because I believe IYTA has extraordinary standards and deserves to be recognized for this. After all, IYTA was here long before YA.

I don’t get to attend all of the IYTA conferences, but when I can I really love reconnecting with long time friends. I find these conferences outstanding and worth the journey every time! I have been to the conferences in Barcelona twice (1984 and 2005), Puerto Rico (1981, where I met USA rep Prue Kestner), Uluru, in 1997 and Sydney in 2020. Your current Canadian rep, Dorothy, came to Uluru, Barcelona and Sydney too, so we were your Canadian team of devotees!

IYTA has been a steady foundation for me from almost all of my yoga life, and certainly influential in helping me to become a teacher. You have been my yoga family. Even though I have joined other yoga associations and taken numerous other trainings, IYTA will always be my number one yoga family. Thank you for all that you give, and may my life be blessed enough to give back even a small degree of what I have received!”

Mugs is the founder or the South Okanagan Yoga Academy

www.soyayoga.com    and author of Letters From the Yoga Masters  www.lettersfromtheyogamasters.com

Sarah’s Singapore Yin

We had a chat with IYTA lecturer Sarah Manning on her upcoming Yin Autumn workshop, how the pandemic has affected yoga in Singapore and her exciting new projects…

Q: How is life?

I am busier than ever and I’m trying lots of new things. With any change we have to make the best of it and move forward. You can sit in a big hole and say I can’t do it, that you’re too old or you can throw yourself in there and be embarrassing and willing to be a bit of a fool. As you get older you get willing to wear that purple hat and ask for help.  So I’m busy and I’m learning and it’s good. 

 Q: What’s next with the IYTA?

I’m running a three-hour online Autumn Yin Yoga workshop for the IYTA on April 24.

Yin is an opportunity to slow down, to go inward and develop awareness of your body, your energy and your state of mind. When you are in a country that has seasons it gives you an opportunity to just pause and reflect on what you will store in the memory banks.

This workshop will include discussion about the meridians and anecdotal stories relating to the lungs and large intestines meridians. And the emotions of grief and letting go. In  Qi Gong they call it the energy of drawing inward and is used for storing energy in the lower dantian.

Q: Tell us a bit more about your yoga projects

I’ve chummed up with a techie, an Ayurveda practitioner and a fertility coach and the four of us are creating a 30-day fertility program which is on an App.

It’s tailored by women’s doshas and menstrual cycles and I’ve created around thirty minute yoga sequences!

I’m also heIping a friend who practises Arvigo massage and she and I are also working on promoting creating holistic health for fertility. The  other project is offering Yin teacher trainings here in Singapore which is both face-to-face and online – so teaching both together has been another steep learning curve!

Q: How has the pandemic affected yoga in Singapore?

We are in a tiny place that has better control of its compliant population and we have a lot more freedoms than most people, but we are being traced. Every building you enter has a QR code and your temperature is taken constantly. For a while the studios were closed but they’ve now opened back up with strict mat distances and 1 person getting bolsters at any one time. Everyone has to wear masks until they are sitting on their mat. As a teacher if I move around the class I have to put my mask on – even if it’s to switch on or off the light!

The experienced teachers who have followers have moved online – you don’t have to travel with online classes. People who really want to work with you will do so in private and pay a premium. The studio where I’ve worked is now closing and renovating so they can transform the space for more private yoga classes and therapy rooms.    

Q: How has Covid affected people’s mental health in Singapore? 

We don’t have social security, so people don’t have the luxury of wallowing so they have to seek out other ways of making an income as they have no choice. So they just get up and move on.

I think over the next five years there will be a big shake up of the small studios that haven’t been able to sustain themselves.

Q: And what now for you personally?

Well my son Conrad has had to postpone his wedding twice, so they have set the date again for October in the UK – and I’m going to that wedding come what may!

I’m also missing my trips and all my friends in Australia – so hopefully I’ll make it there too sooner rather than later!

To book into Sarah’s workshop please click HERE

 

Kitcheree – the perfect food for Autumn

Give your tastebuds and digestion a treat with this delicious Ayurvedic dish. Kiitcheree (also spelt kitchari) is known as a healing food as it is so easy to digest and the perfect blend of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. This recipe is from our IYTA Social Media expert, Karen Mallinson

Ingredients:

1 cup mung beans (soaked overnight)

1 cup basmati rice

½ cup Sunflower oil (can use “ghee” but it won’t be vegan)

1 ½ inch piece of fresh ginger (pealed & chopped fine)

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp black pepper powder

2 bay leaves

1 stick of cinnamon (if small use 2)

4 cloves

4 whole cardamon pods (split)

½ tsp Asafoetida (hing) (Asafoetida can be found in good Indian grocery stores, if you don’t have it, it can be left out).

½ tsp cayenne

Salt (to taste)

6 cups Vegetarian stock or water (heated)

2 cups of carrots (small dices)

2 cups of broccoli or cauliflower (small florets)

You can add any other vegetables, like potato/sweet potato or pumpkin.

Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped

 

Method:

  • Soak the mung beans overnight, it will help to aid the digestion process.
  • Make a vegetarian stock with vegetable scraps and peelings. (If you don’t have time you can use a store-based vegetable stock or use hot water).
  • Wash the mung beans and the basmati rice until the water is clear.
  • Heat a pot on medium heat and add the oil (or ghee). Then add ginger, stir for a moment and then add the black mustards and cumin seeds. When they start to pop-up add turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon barks, cloves, cardamon and hing.
  • Stir for a couple of minutes and add the rice and the mung beans, stirring very well until all is mixed together.
  • Add the hot vegetarian stock (or the water), cover and bring to boil, let it boil for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat very low to a simmer. Lightly cover the pan.
  • Make sure you give the mixture a stir every 5 minutes, so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  • After 15 minutes of simmering, add the carrots, continue to keep stirring every 5 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes more add the broccoli or cauliflower. Keep a close eye on it for another minutes.
  • You can add a little more stock of water if it is needed or if you want a runnier consistency.
  • Add salt to taste and turn it off the heat. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve.

 

SERVING OPTIONS:

  • You can serve on its own, or with a dollop of yoghurt, (we use coconut yoghurt) and a squeeze of lemon.
  • IF you are using Ghee, it’s also nice to serve with a little melted ghee on top.
  • We also serve ours with Sauerkraut or a nice tomato Kasundi.
  • You can serve with a leaf salad.