UNDERSTANDING Yoga as a Therapy

tingsha chimes on a mat


Yoga may be said to be as ancient as the universe itself, since it is said to have been originated by Hiranyagarba, the causal germ plasm itself. This timeless art and science of humanity sprouted from the fertile soil of Sanathana Dharma, the traditional pan-Indian culture that continues to flourish into modern times.

Today, Yoga has become popular as a therapy, and most people come to it seeking to alleviate their physical, mental and emotional imbalances. We must understand, however, that the use of Yoga as a therapy is a much more recent happening in the wonderful long history of Yoga – which has historically served to promote spiritual evolution. Yoga helps unify all aspects of our very being: the physical body, in which we live our daily life; the energy body, without which we will not have the capacity to do what we do; the mind body, which enables us to do our tasks with mindfulness; the higher intellect, which gives us clarity; and, finally, the universal body, which gives us limitless bliss.

All aspects of our life – physical, energetic, mental, intellectual and universal are unified through the practice of Yoga, which may also be described as the science of right-use-ness, that is, of using our body, emotions, and mind responsibly and in the most appropriate manner. One of the best definitions of Yoga given by Swami Gitananda Giri is that it is a “way of life.” It is not something you do for five minutes a day or twenty minutes a day. It is indeed a “24/7 x 365” lifestyle.

Illness, disease and disorders are so common in this world, and people everywhere are desperately seeking relief from their suffering. Yoga helps us to think better and to live better; indeed, it helps us improve ourselves in everything we do. Hence it holds out the promise of health, well-being and harmony. According to the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient text which can be said to be a Yoga Shastra (seminal textual source of Yoga), Lord Krishna the Master of Yoga (Yogeshwar) defines Yoga as dukkhasamyogaviyogam yoga samjnitham, meaning that Yoga is the disassociation from the union with suffering. Pain, suffering, disease – Yoga offers a way out of all of these.

One of the foremost concepts of Yoga therapy is that the mind, which is called adhi, influences the body, thus creating vyadhi, the disease. This is known as the adhi vyadhi or adhija vyadhi, where the mind brings about the production of disease in the physical body. In modern language, this is called psychosomatic illness. Virtually every health problem that we face today either has its origin in psychosomatics or is worsened by the psychosomatic aspect of the disease. The mind and the body seem to be continuously fighting each other. What the mind wants, the body won’t do, and what the body wants, the mind won’t do. This creates a dichotomy, a disharmony, in other words, a disease. Yoga helps restore balance and equilibrium by virtue of the internal process of unifying mind, body and emotions. The psychosomatic stress disorders that are so prevalent in today’s world can be prevented, controlled and possibly even cured via the sincere and dedicated application of Yoga as a therapy.

Psychosomatic disorders go through four major phases. The first is the psychic phase, in which the stress is located essentially in the mind. There is jitteriness, a sense of unnatural tension, a sense of not being ‘at ease’. If the stress continues, the psychic stage then evolves into the psychosomatic stage. At this point, the mind and body are troubling each other and fluctuations, such as a dramatic rise in blood pressure, blood sugar or heart rate, begin to manifest intermittently. If this is allowed to continue, one reaches the somatic stage, where the disease settles down in the body and manifests permanently. At this stage, it has become a condition that requires treatment and therapy. In the fourth, organic stage, the disease settles permanently into the target organs. This represents the end stage of the disease.

Yoga as a therapy works very well at both the psychic and psychosomatic stages. Once the disease enters the somatic stage, Yoga therapy as an adjunct to other therapies may improve the condition. In the organic stage, Yoga therapy’s role is more of a palliative, pain relieving and rehabilitative nature. Of course, the major role of Yoga is as a preventive therapy, preventing that which is to come. Maharishi Patanjali tells us in his Yoga Darshan, heyamdukkhamanagatham— “prevent those miseries that are yet to come.”

If the practice of Yoga is taken up during childhood, we can prevent so many conditions from occurring later on in life. This is primary prevention. Once the condition occurs, once the disease has set in, we can use secondary prevention, which is more controlling the condition to whatever extent we can. Tertiary prevention is done once the condition has occurred, as we try to prevent the complications, those that affect the quality, and even the quantity, of a patient’s life.

I would like to conclude this perspective with a word of caution. Yoga therapy is not a magic therapy! It is not a ‘one pill for all ills.’ There should be no false claims or unsubstantiated tall claims made in this field. Yoga therapy is also a science and must therefore be approached in a scientific, step-by-step manner. It should be administered primarily as a one-on-one therapy that allows the therapist to modify the practices to meet the needs of the individual. It is not a “one size fits all” or “one therapy fits all” approach!

When we use Yoga as a therapy, we need to consider both the nature of the person—his or her age, gender and physical condition, and the nature and stage of the disorder. A step-by-step approach must include a detailed look at all aspects of diet, necessary lifestyle modifications, attitude reconditioning through Yogic counseling, as well as the appropriate practices. All of these are integral components of holistic, or rather, wholesome Yoga therapy. When such an approach is adopted, tremendous changes will manifest in the lives of the patients and their families. The quality of life improves drastically and, in many cases, so does the quantity.

As human beings, we fulfill ourselves best when we help others. Yoga is the best way for us to consciously evolve out of our lower, sub-human nature, into our elevated human and humane nature. Ultimately, this life-giving, life-enhancing and life-sustaining science of humanity allows us to achieve in full measure the divinity that resides within each of us.

I wish you a happy, healthy and fruitful Sadhana in Yoga. May your potential manifest in a wholesome, harmonious manner.

Yogacharya Dr. ANANDA BALAYOGI BHAVANANI MBBS, ADY, DPC, DSM, PGDFH, PGDY, MD (AM), FIAY, C-IAYT Deputy Director CYTER, MGMCRI, SBVU (www.sbvu.ac.in) Chairman, ICYER at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry (www.icyer.com)

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1. Bhatt, G.P. (2004) The Forceful Yoga: Being the Translation of HathaYoga-pradipika, Gheranda-samhita and Siva-samhita (P. Singh, R. Bahadur, & S. C. Vasu, Trans.). New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers

2. Bhavanani, A.B. (2011) Understanding the Yoga Darshan, Pondicherry, India: Dhivyananda Creations

3. Bhavanani, A.B. (2013) Yoga Chikitsa: Application of Yoga as a therapy, Pondicherry, India: Dhivyananda Creations

4. Bhavanani, A.B. (2014) A Primer of Yoga Theory (4th ed.) Pondicherry, India: Dhivyananda Creations

5. Bhavanani, M.D. (2010) The History of Yoga from Ancient to Modern Times, Pondicherry, India: Satya Press

6. Feuerstein, G. (2001) The Yoga Tradition: Its history, literature, philosophy, and practice, Prescott, Ariz: Hohm Press

7. Feuerstein, G. (2003) The Deeper Dimension of Yoga Theory and Practice, Boston Massachusetts, USA: Shambala Publications

8. Giri, G. S. (1999) Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali, Pondicherry, India: Satya Press

9. Giri, G.S. (1976) Yoga: Step-by-step, Pondicherry, India: Satya Press

10. Ramanathan, M. (2007) Applied Yoga: Application of Yoga in Various Fields of Human Activity. Pondicherry: Aarogya Yogalayam

11. Sovik, R., & Bhavanani, A.B. (2016)‘History, Philosophy, and Practice of Yoga’ in Khalsa, S.B.; Cohen, L.; McCall, T, and Telles, S (ed.), The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care (pp.17-29). East Lothian, UK: Handspring

Want to be a yoga teacher? Read this first!

choosing the right yoga teacher training

With so many courses on offer – how do you know you are signing up for the best yoga course?

Here’s our guide to ensure you make the right decision

If one of the highlights of your week is attending your yoga class, then chances are you’ve considered taking the next step and enrolling on a yoga teaching course.

As yoga’s popularity has soared, so too have the number of yoga teaching courses on offer – but how do you know which is the best one for you? It’s a difficult decision – especially when the investment can be several thousand dollars.

Like everything, you get what you pay for and that intensive 4-week course in an overseas paradise can seem like a great idea at the time, but will it really give you a solid foundation, the confidence to teach and recognisable qualifications once you’ve unpacked your cases and returned home? And if not, will you have enough funds to do an additional course?

This is why the International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA) has been offering its benchmark 460-hour Diploma of Yoga Teaching to hundreds of yogis across Australia so successfully – because it does offer a solid foundation, with on-going support and an extensive list of experienced and world-renowned lecturers rather than one or two teachers covering the entire syllabus.

The IYTA is a non-profit organisation that has been established for 55 years. The training program: Diploma of Yoga Teaching (DYT) has been running for nearly the same amount of time.

What are the five essential questions you should ask before signing up to a course?

1: Does the course comply with the minimum 200 or 350 hours? Did you know many yoga schools and insurance companies won’t accept teachers with less than a 350-hour training? And is the course run over a short time period or spread across a 12-month time frame – giving you time to absorb the information and to build connections with other students (who are likely to become lifelong friends) on the course?

2: Does the course focus on yoga philosophy – such as Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, pranayama and yoga history as well as asana? Or is the teaching someone’s “brand” of yoga?

3: How long has the yoga school been established? And does it provide ongoing education, post graduate courses, annual retreats and support – at an affordable rate?

4: How is the course assessed? Are there regular check-ins to ensure you are properly absorbing the information? Is there someone you can contact outside of the lecture hours for help and advice?

5: Can anyone do the training or do you have to have a minimum two years as a dedicated student? Will you have a sponsor teacher or mentor?

Once you’ve reflected on those questions, ask to speak to recent graduates of the course (and not-so-recent!). Better still, see if you can find students that the school doesn’t put you in touch with. Would they recommend the course? If not, why not?

Yoga is meant to be flexible – you don’t want to be locked into a rigid timetable and you don’t want to feel abandoned once the course has finished. On-going assistance is vital for a new teacher, so find out if you are likely to be supported once the ink on your certificate is dry.

IYTA also provides on-going training with Post Graduate certificates in Seniors yoga, Pre and Post-natal yoga, Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga. As well as regular state-wide workshops and an annual retreat.

IYTA offers all of these things and far more. And if you’re still not sure there is the Yoga Foundations Studies – an online introductory course designed for students interested in pursuing knowledge and a deeper understanding of yoga and yoga philosophy.

This course is offered as an introductory course towards the full course IYTA Diploma of Yoga Teacher Training held each calendar year in Sydney, Australia (which is also available online and for students anywhere in the world). The Foundation Certificate gives 70 accredited hours toward the complete International Diploma of Yoga Teacher Training course, if you go on to complete the Diploma within two years.

If you would like to find out more please click HERE or contact our Course Manager, Deb Collie at: [email protected] or call 1800 449 195


‘ave an Avocado Tart!


Check out this recipe from the kitchen at Swami’s Retreat – healthy, delicious and wholesome. Come along to our retreat later this month and you’ll be able to sample even more vegetarian treats!


For the base:

  • 200 gr almond
  • 45 gr coconut
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 115 gr maple syrup
  • 15 gr coconut


For the mousse:

  • 2 big avos or 4 small
  • 80 gr almond milk
  • 40 gr cocoa
  • 45 gr maple syrup
  • 45 gr coconut oil melted


For the base, blend the almonds, coconut and cacao together, when they are all crushed and in small pieces, add the maple syrup and coconut oil.

Set the ‘dough’ in the tart mould and let it rest in the fridge.

For the mousse, blend all the ingredients until smooth and set it up on top of the base. And it’s ready to eat!

(1 medium size tart, 12 small port each tart)


Align online

Somatic Yoga lends itself perfectly to online classes – you can be in your own space, yet connected with the teacher – and even wear your Pjs!

There are very few Somatics classes being offered face-to-face in Australia, so having a workshop online is a rare opportunity to experience what it’s all about.

IYTA ACT rep, Katrina Hinton is an expert in Somatic Yoga and will be running two half-day online immersions drawing from Hanna Somatics and the latest work of the brilliant Australian rehabilitation therapist and lecturer, Joanne Elphinstone. The two sessions will be held over two weekends in September.

Katrina says: “Somatics is essentially an internal experience. The practice is all about turning our awareness inwards to our sensations: intéroception as opposed to proprioception; how we experience ourselves in space. We are guided through movements with suggestions and visualisations to help explore and sense, the spaces inside us.”

Katrina adds that the style is perfectly suited to online learning because you are mostly lying down and translating the cues into very subtle movements.

She says: “The movements are performed very slowly in unison with your breath. Everyone moves at their own pace. Unlike a typical yoga class the energy is quite contained with the focus on connecting mind to subtle sensations; so doing it in the comfort and privacy at home is ideal; no distractions and you can even do it in the dark in your pjs if you wish!”

Accessing classes and workshops online has become the new normal since Covid. It keeps us safe and connected and for practices like Somatics it works very well.

Katrina says: “It was a great way to reach out to my students during lockdowns and I’ve retained a hybrid class since in case people are travelling or have a sniffle they don’t want to share.

“Personally, I love the luxury of choosing fabulous learnings online! Ones that I may not have been able to travel to, access or squeezed into schedule are so much more possible when all I have to do is login.

“The beauty of an online workshop is having the recording so you can stop, go back, replay a bit that you need to hear again to fully digest.”

Katrina’s IYTA online workshop is punctuated by opportunities to experience the sensations in your body so you won’t be sitting for hours on end not moving.

She says: “We will embody each concept throughout the two three hour sessions so you will need to be in a space large enough so you can walk around, maybe even dance around and spread out on the floor.

“We will use the technology to breakout into small groups and bounce ideas of each other much as we would face to face. You will need someone to take full length photos of you or master your ability to take a time-delayed shot of yourself. We will be then using these in our own postural assessment.”

  Participants will also:

  •   Learn about the work of Thomas Hanna and Joanne Elphinston
  • Understand how three postural archetypes might relate to your own posture
  • Look at key postural reflexes and the importance of head position
  • Learn a new vocabulary for cueing in your teaching to promote ease and grace
  • Discover a new technique for the functional and easeful head position
  • Explore the importance of reflexes in the feet
  • Experience greater sensor input and sensation in the feet
  • Learn about fascia, promoting postural tone and boosting sensory input and interoception.

To book in click HERE


Veggie brekkie boost

Whip up a delicious combo of eggs, fetta and spinach for the perfect way to start the day.


2 eggs

Knob of Butter

30grammes of fetta cheese

Cupful of spinach leaves

Sourdough toast

Optional: Butter for toast



Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk

Add knob of butter to a non-stick fry pan

Wash spinach leaves and thinly slice

Crumble fetta cheese

When butter has melted add the eggs and stir with a wooden spoon

After a minute and the eggs are starting to scramble, add the spinach and fetta for around 30 seconds.

Toast the bread and spread butter if desired

Then top with the egg/fetta and spinach mix

Add salt/cracked pepper if desired.

Eat immediately and enjoy

Chicken soup for the soul

This chicken soup is based on a traditional Greek recipe – Avgolemono. It’s the perfect dish for when you are unwell, cold or just need some good old-fashioned comfort food!


  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 4 eggs
  • chicken stock
  • cracked pepper (optional)
  • juice of one lemon
  • lemon wedges, coriander and red chilli (as a garnish)
  • one cup of white rice



  • Finely chop the onion, slice the celery into small pieces and grate the carrot
  • Add 8 cups of water and chicken stock to a large pan and add the chopped veggies, rice and optional cracked pepper
  • Juice the lemon and add to the soup
  • While the soup is beginning to simmer cut the chicken into 1cm cube pieces and then add to the soup. Simmer for around 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender.
  • Then turn off the heat and wait a few minutes. When cooled a little, add the eggs one by one and stir into the soup – ideally the soup is not too hot so the eggs gradually blend in.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy ?


Yoga puzzle pieces from the past

The history of yoga is a vast subject and one which I personally find I need to dip into every now and again… eventually the pieces start to fit together like a 1000-piece jigsaw, but while it is fun to attempt this puzzle it can also be overwhelming – and you really do need guidance along the way!

Which is why the IYTA is so fortunate to have yoga teacher and mentor, David Burgess heading up our Yoga Philosophy Department on our Diploma of Yoga Teaching AND running regular workshops for members.

David has spent more years than he’d care to admit digesting yoga history, theory and philosophy.

He is incredibly humble (and no doubt will likely wince when he reads this) and is one of the most knowledgeable minds on the history of yoga in Australia today.

Which is why if you have any interest in discovering yoga beyond asana you MUST register for our workshop on the History of Yoga.

This is a three-hour workshop – so a bite-sized insight into the depth of yoga from how it first came about to how it has evolved, changed and morphed into the hugely popular pastime we know today.

So what piqued David’s interest in yoga history?

  David recalls a couple of decades ago he was sitting in a lecture entitled the History of Yoga, which was being given by a famous Swami.

He says: “She was an amazing storyteller, and I was enthralled. She came from that wonderful tradition of storytellers that didn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story and we were regaled with tall tales and true! Given my temperament, the challenge though was, for me to separate out the fact from the fiction: the wheat from the chaff, the facts from the myths.”

David explains he wasn’t at ease with the hypothesis that Yoga was brought to the Indian subcontinent from the island of Lemuria many millions of years ago by large birdlike creatures as propounded by some founding members of the Theosophical Society. Equally he struggled with the thesis that the ancient Gods of India (Vishnu and Krishna) are aliens as propounded by some.*

He adds that it isn’t that wisdom cannot be found in mythology, but he didn’t personally subscribe to what appeared to be “magical thinking.”

He says: “This is not made easy due to the antiquity of the Indian story and hence the lack of supporting primary evidence. Today much is still open to conjecture, much is still being discovered and much is being debunked so an open inquisitive mind remains important.”

  A (very) short history of yoga!

Asked if he can pinpoint three main historic milestones, David says it depends on who is asking and what books he’s reading or podcasts he’s listening to!

Today, David says:

#1: Whenever the Vedic texts were first collated which is around the middle to end of the second millennium BCE, as this body of knowledge is the foundation of Sanatan Dharma.

#2: Next for me is the Sramana movement including the contributions of Buddha and Mahavira around the 5th BCE where ritual became more focussed on inner transformation rather than outer boons.

#3: The systemisation of Samkhya and Patanjala Yoga around the 4th to 2nd CE are shoo ins.

#4: Adi Shankaracharya 8th CE for so many things including his commentaries on Advaita Vedanta, his creation of the 4 Maths and particularly for establishing the Dasnami order of Sannyasa.

#5: The articulation of Hatha Yoga from the 13th CE onwards (Dattatreya, Gorakhnath, Matsyendra and Svatmarama.

#6: Introduction of Yoga to the west via Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th CE

#7: The teaching and prolific writings of Swami Sivananda and the subsequent spreading of his word by way of his disciples

#8: : The teaching of Krishnamacharya and the subsequent spreading of his word by way of his disciples!

The timely sprinkling of relevant historic yoga gems into your class will help enhance and deepen not just your, but your student’s yoga experience.

As David says: “One of the most influential teachers in my life would most stridently say: Understanding yoga without practising it is patently next to meaningless, but so too is practising without understanding.”

  • If you feel like you need to fill in the gaps and put more pieces of the puzzle together then sign up to David’s Yoga History Workshop which will be running on Sunday, August 14 live and online via Zoom.
  • And don’t forget our Yoga Studies course which covers yoga history, philosophy and more in easy-to-follow and accessible online lectures which you can do at your own pace.

David’s favourite history quotes

  History is philosophy teaching by examples


History may not repeat itself, but it does have a rhythm

Mark Twain

History repeats itself, firstly as tragedy and secondly as farce

Karl Marx

Don’t make me repeat myself


When Alice is confronted by the Cheshire cat, of whom she asks, “Which path shall I take?”

“That depends where you want to go” the cat answers. “If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take”

Lewis Carroll

We make our destinies through our choice of gods


The gate of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny

President Thomas S Monson.

* David advises doing a quick search on Google for “Krishna and aliens” …and you’ll see what he means…!


Managing Mental Health

As we navigate the changing course of the pandemic it’s time to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing. Marg Riley will be presenting at TWO upcoming IYTA events. Here she shares her advice and thoughts…

Marg Riley is well qualified to give advice on mental health. She’s worked as a school psychologist and senior psychologist.

But how has she coped personally with the challenges of Covid?

She says: “I keep reminding myself that we are still in the midst of the pandemic although most of us are behaving as though this is not the case!”

She adds that she, like many, have found it a bit of a roller coaster ride.

She says: “Originally it was like occupying an extended liminal space and I approached that with curiosity.”

At this point, Marg did daily Gayatri Mantra chanting with Deva Premal and Mitten, but then as more yoga and meditation invites landed in her inbox, she became overwhelmed and swapped the mat for the garden.

She says: “I needed some really grounding activities and went out into my huge garden and undertook several big projects (thank goodness for Bunnings deliveries) which were a moving meditation and so exhausting that I couldn’t think by the end of the day!”

But as grounding as this was, it was still a huge challenge for Marg to be disconnected from friends and my family (based in both Canberra and Queensland).

Eventually Marg found herself homeschooling two of her grandchildren aged five and eight in the first lockdown. Home schooling was Equally rewarding and challenging!

It wasn’t until the second lockdown that Marg found herself embracing Zoom, teaching online classes and reconnecting with her students.

She says: “Throughout the whole time one way I’ve managed the stresses and challenges is to focus on the Niyamas: particularly santosha, tapas and svadhyaya. This has enabled me to maintain my equanimity most of the time. I’ve kept journals, focussed on acceptance of what is, worked hard on big projects and kept studying.

Once I was ready, I did a couple of Online courses: Befriending the nervous system- with Rachel Noakes, yoga teacher from Ray of Light and a course with Robbie Bosnak who is a Jungian psychotherapist. Robbie developed a technique called Embodied Imagination which I’ve studied previously and was a big feature of his teachings.

At the end of Robbie’s course, I was well and truly “ready to fall in love with the world again”

Marg’s SIX tips for healing and nourishing our mental health

Marg emphasises the value in managing our own nervous system, being aware of how regulated we are feeling, and having practices in place that allow us to restore personal equilibrium so that we can co-regulate others around us. There are so many circumstances that impact on our own mental health, but Marg particularly recommends:

#1: Get Support: Ensure you have some appropriate support whether it’s from family or friends or a professional.

#2: Find a routine: As much as you can maintain a steady routine as this can provide a stable base when things feel wobbly.

#3 Get the Basics in place: Prioritise basic things like attending to diet, exercise and sleep although all these can be challenged by mental health struggles.

#4: Soothing Practices: If you are a yogi reconnect with practices which you find soothing. Perhaps the Niyamas have some messages for you?

#5: Take time out: Consider whether you need to quarantine some time out for yourself?

#6: Reignite your Passion: If you have a passion that has fallen by the wayside, reignite it if you can as this can be the key to re-establishing vitality. And do this slowly and steadily as restarting activities can be super hard when your resources feel depleted. 

Yoga practices to encourage thriving

Marg says: “For me that is slow mindful yoga that enables interoception (awareness of internal sensations) to allow you to get intimately acquainted with your nervous system. Be mindful of whether the system needs to be upregulated or down regulated.

“If you are feeling edgy or anxious and the system requires down regulating, start actively with things like bouncing and shaking it out, dynamic versions of asana, forward folds and twist. Moving gradually to stillness.

“If the system requires up regulating start with small gentle movements such as pawanmuktanasana, gentle limbering lying down and moving to gentle chest opening practices and then standing.”

If you are struggling to still a busy mind, then Marg recommends Mantra meditation, which she says can be helpful rather than focusing on thoughts.

She encourages rhythmic movement to help soothe the nervous system.

And adds that she generally incorporates practices where the movement will take care of the breath rather than focusing too much on the breath (which can be tricky).

Finally her go to practices for vagal toning (the Vagus nerve is the main part of the Parasympathetic nervous system) are chanting and humming.

Want to find out more!? Marg will be part of our panel of presenters for our Yoga for Mental Health Event on Saturday, July 16. She is also presenting an in-person workshop: From Surviving to Thriving in Canberra on Sunday, August 14 from 9am – 5pm. To find out more click HERE  





Why you SHOULD wear fluffy socks during Winter Yin classes!

One of the best things about winter is wearing fluffy socks and doing some Yin Yoga… and you can enjoy both (and more) in Sarah Manning’s Winter Yin IYTA Workshop.

When I caught up with Sarah to chat about her upcoming three-hour workshop In July, she had just begun a four-week adventure on her new boat in Europe.

We chatted as she sat in an internet café in Maastricht. It’s a welcome trip for Sarah, who normally resides in Singapore and has (like the rest of us) been holed up for the past couple of years.

And she’ll be back just in time to teach Winter Yin on Sunday, July 10 – live and online for the IYTA.

As I sit shivering in Sydney and Sarah swelters in Holland, she explains that warm socks are an essential part of staying healthy and balanced through the winter.

“The kidney meridian starts at the base of the foot, with the Kidney 1 acupressure point (also called Bubbling Spring), if you are walking around with bare feet on a concrete floor, you are inviting cold into your system. So you should be keeping kidney 1 warm – and wearing those warm, fluffy socks!”

Sarah’s class is all about creating balance through the elements. Because in Singapore there are no distinct seasons, Sarah tends to focus her classes on the five elements.

She also likes to incorporate the Vayus – the movement of energy through the body – water (winter element) is a descending and cooling energy, Wood (spring) is expansive, fire (summer) is ascending, earth (late summer) is stability and metal (autumn) is inward and condensing.

Sarah adds: “The Chinese meridians are sensitive to seasons, so the Daoist believe the universe around us is a complete story of something in nature that is constantly changing and moving towards (in)balance and take that same concept into the body.

“The body too is constantly in flux and stimulated by outside influences particularly vibrations and seasons and if you imagine the weather comes in and creates flood – we have an excess of something or sometimes a deficit and drought.”

The element for winter is water, which is sensitive to cold – and Winter Yin works with the kidney and urinary bladder meridians.

“Cold creates stagnation and pain,” says Sarah.

“And when we are looking at winter, we are looking at fear as the driving emotion. For example, if a trauma happens to you, that creates fear and it will affect the flow of the energy in kidney and urinary bladder.”

This coldness results in stagnation and stagnation often causes pain. This could manifest as menstrual or back pain – and Sarah says the way to counteract this is to create movement and warmth.

Sarah’s Winter Yin workshop will follow the format of her previous IYTA seasonal workshops – with around 45 minutes of Power Point presentation, followed by a practice with discussion and feedback time – an opportunity to reinforce the eight pre-existing conditions that make being a yin teacher challenging, such as: stimulating the connective tissue of the joints, how to accommodate people with bad knees, neck, back, shoulder problems, hypermobility and pre and post-natal students.

As we finish our chat, Sarah heads back to the boat – to teach a Zoom class! Covid has meant that she now has a regular Zoom schedule of classes – and she’s still teaching two a week while on holiday.

She adds: “I was lucky working with a small studio that pushed immediately into online classes and it pushed me to use technology that I wasn’t so comfortable with. It a gift as I now teach a lot of classes online.” Sarah has even created an online fertility yoga program called Be Natural – a 30-day fertility yoga program tailored to help women focus on their stage of ovulation and Ayurvedic dosha.

Sign up to Sarah’s Yin Yoga Teacher Training!

And Sarah’s running a live Yin Yoga online training program which is being run with IYTA. For more information on this please click here.


Berry Banana Teacake

A deliciously moist teacake that never fails to impress and delight. This recipe is from Angie Cowen’s Love Life & Gluten Free and has been submitted by our ACT Rep, Katrina Hinton


  • 2 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1 cup rice malt syrup
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • 5 organic eggs
  • 2 cups frozen organic mixed berries
  • Preheat over to 180 degrees C and line a medium rectangle cake tin with baking paper.
  • Set aside.
  • Mash bananas in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add eggs and beat well with a fork till creamy and light.
  • Add almond meal, desiccated coconut, coconut cream and rice malt syrup. Mix well.
  • Tip contents into prepared cake tin and sprinkle with frozen berries.
  • Bake in oven for 45-60 minutes or until the cake is cooked in the centre.
  • Leave to cool in tin, then carefully lift out and cut into squares.

Freezes well.

Serves nine

Meet our new Membership Secretary

Discovering mindfulness as a teenager led Tara Van Toorn to practise yoga at an Ashram on The Ganges. She’s now a yoga teacher, a mum-of-two – and our new IYTA Membership Secretary.

  Here she tells us a little more about her yoga journey…

As a teenager, Tara Van Toorn practised mindfulness as a way to regulate her emotions.

She says: “Mindfulness led me into yoga – both practices helped immensely with the big emotions associated with being a teenager – and I just fell in love with yoga.”

After leaving school, Tara went to University where she studied Social Sciences, focusing on criminology and criminal justice – and she was keen to help reduce reoffending rates in the younger population. She says: “I’ve always been interested in how the mind works, mental health and how we can keep ourselves healthy and manage emotions.”

Once Tara graduated, she headed to India, where she immersed herself in yoga – staying at a beautiful ashram in Rishikesh and travelling the country. She met her (now) husband, Brent, a New Zealander, in Thailand and they worked and lived in Japan for 18 months before settling in Sydney.

Back in Australia, Tara found part-time work in a corporate marketing role. It wasn’t quite what she’d planned, but she enjoyed the job – and the freedom it gave her to continue to explore her passion for yoga. She became a mum to Bodhi and two years later, had another son, Phoenix.

By this time Tara and Brent had moved to Jamberoo, NSW and Tara spent her lockdowns finally completing her yoga teacher training.

She says: “Once I had children I started to feel like I wanted to make a positive difference in the world. I knew how yoga had helped me and I was keen to share that with others. I particularly love the philosophy of yoga.

“When I came to Jamberoo I was so lucky to find the retreat where I now teach and I attended Alana Smith’s yoga classes for my personal practice.

“Alana and I hit it off. We’re very similar and I’d often stay after class – and we’d do private kirtans together!

“When Alana mentioned the job as Membership Secretary with the IYTA I was very excited. I felt like this was an opportunity for me to combine my work skills with my passion for yoga.”

Tara says she is drawn to the IYTA for its strong history, ethics and sense of community. She’s only been in the role a couple of weeks, but she’s already loving it.

She adds: “I’ve had some beautiful calls from people who have been members for 30 years or more. It’s been really joyful and wonderful to chat. I’m keen to get involved with projects to celebrate the members and I’m looking forward to getting to know our members and fostering a sense of community as the Membership Secretary.”


Go Ayurvedic this Autumn!

How can Ayurveda and Yoga help us optimise our health in autumn? Our writer and yogi, Tessa Hoffman chatted with Sydney-based yoga therapist and Ayurveda expert Patricia Wigley

Health is a dynamic state of wellbeing, not just an absence of disease. Ayurveda (sometimes translated as the Science of Longevity) is the sister science to Yoga and is all about how to maintain homeostasis or regain balance in our individual constitution (dosha) for optimum health and a long, healthy life. We are then supported in our practice of yoga to fulfil our potential.

The doshas are biological principles in nature which govern all life. In Ayurveda there are three doshas: Vata (air/ether) Pitta (fire/water) and Kapha (earth/water). Each person has a unique balance of these elements, though typically one or two will dominate. Our doshas are constantly in flux and influenced by diet, lifestyle, the weather, our state of mind and emotions. A basic understanding of which dosha or doshas are dominant can help us determine the food, drinks and activities most likely to help keep us balanced.

The principle (guna) of sattva brings balance, so aim to bring sattvic qualities to your lifestyle and diet practices. Sattvic food is fresh and unprocessed and sattvic activities bring clarity and calm to the mind. This means letting go of inappropriate or excessive activities and foods which overstimulate (rajas) or create dullness or lethargy (tamas).

The Ayurvedic text the Charaka Samhita states that being in relationship with Nature, the universe and our own divine inner nature is integral to true health. From this teaching we can see the importance of aligning ourselves and responding appropriately to the rhythms of nature. The cycles of the seasons are reflected in our own internal rhythms.

What are the nature and characteristics of the season of autumn according to Ayurveda?

After the expansive heat of summer, the Vata qualities of dry and cool begin to be predominant. In early autumn as days get colder and often windy, a Vata person may say they can feel the cool change ‘in their bones’. As autumn moves towards winter the Kapha qualities of heaviness, cold and wet often become more predominant.

Because like qualities increase like, dry, cool and windy conditions can aggravate the Vata dosha especially in early autumn. The cold and wet qualities affect both Kapha and Vata (somewhat) in winter. Those with Pitta predominance may enjoy the approach of cooler days, however this is a good time for them to address any imbalances the heat of summer may have created (fire is dominant in Pitta dosha).

How do these characteristics influence the body and mind?

The change in temperature can bring imbalances including allergies, hayfever, and colds as the body throws off effects of excess heat and toxins (ama) which accumulated in summer. It is important to encourage regular daily elimination to help the body rid itself of these wastes. Triphala is a traditional Ayurveda mix of three herbs which can support digestion and aid elimination suitable for all doshic types.

Perhaps you may observe a reluctance to let go of the warmth and expansiveness of summer, that unwillingness to accept change? Check out the Meditation on Autumn below to see how the energy of this period can affect us on many subtle levels.

What foods and beverages should we consume (and avoid) in autumn, and why?

Look around and see what is available in this season. Nature provides us with an abundance of foods that our bodies need at this time of the year to stay balanced.

The following regime is recommended for all doshic types:

  • Include root vegetables and greens according to local availability. Fruits such as apples and pears, stewed with dates, sultanas and spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are ideal.
  • Eat warm, nourishing cooked meals made from fresh unprocessed foods. This is not the time for salads. In the evening, try khichari or just three or four vegies steamed together and sprinkled with spices specific for your dosha.
  • All-in-one dishes like soup or khichari – a dish comprised of rice, moong dhal, warming spices and sometimes vegetables – are ideal for autumn days.
  • Avoid eating dry, hard, porous, rough (Vata qualities) or leftover foods (tamas). Like qualities increase like, so balance the dry and cool qualities of Vata by eating warm soupy foods.
  • Include ghee and good quality oil to balance Vata. Garlic and onions are an option to boost the immune system however use in moderation because they are rajasic, promoting a tendency to activity and a busy mind.
  • Include calming and warming herbal teas using chamomile, lemon balm and slices of fresh ginger.
  • Cook with spices like ginger, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, hing, black pepper and turmeric to aid digestion.


What yoga poses and sequences are most beneficial in autumn, and which if any should we minimise or avoid?

In autumn Vata pacifying sequences are good.

  • Always practice with breath-centred focus, moving into and out of the postures with awareness using the breath. Work with the ujjayi breath – if you lose it you are working too hard.
  • All sequences which work into the joints (pawanmuktasan series)
  • In the morning include Salute to the Sun done slowly and mindfully with the breath to support peristaltic movement and agni (digestive fire) considered the basis of good health in Ayurveda.
  • Standing poses are grounding, try flowing sequences moving from Warrior I, II, Reverse Warrior and Warrior III.
  • Forward bends like parsvottanasana, prasarita padottanasana, janu sirsasana and paschimottanasana create pressure on the abdominal area and promote warmth in the body. Always modify as necessary to suit the individual.
  • Balancing poses eg tree pose (vrksasana) and variations done with drishti and soft focus can promote calm and are grounding and centering.
  • Cobra (bhujangasana), locust (salabhasana) and bow pose (dhanurasana) are warming and stimulating. Always practice gently with care.
  • Twists will help the body get rid of toxins while massaging the abdominal organs.
  • Finish in savasana to rest before sitting to savour the effects of the practice and prepare for the rest of your day.
  • A short practice to wind down in the evening before the evening meal is also recommended for releasing any built up tension from the day and ensuring a better quality of sleep – one of the three pillars of good health, along with diet and exercise.

Which pranayama and meditation practices are most suitable?

  • In the morning get your breath moving for 20 minutes before you eat anything. This can be done with a breath-centred asana practice or by walking in nature. You can count your steps to the breath. Start by observing how many steps you comfortably fit to the in and out breath, then try four steps to the in breath and four steps to the out breath.
  • Include the ujjayyi breath in your practice. Use the mantra So Ham as you sweep your awareness from navel to throat with the inhale and throat to navel as you exhale. This cleanses the centre energy passageway from navel to throat. This can be done seated in sukhasana or in savasana.
  • If you have time for nothing else include alternate nostril breathing (nadi sodhana) for several minutes before meditation.
  • Practice a relaxing form of meditation that brings stillness and silence to the mind and senses.
  • Seated meditation after asana and pranayama in the morning will prepare you for your day. You will be alert and clear.
  • Practice yoga nidra before lunch or mid-afternoon (not too close to lunch). Savasana is grounding and centering. Keep warm covered with a blanket and have a support under the head, knees and hands.

What other Ayurvedic self-care practices are helpful?

  • Start your morning with a regular half hour walk after glass of warm water with few drops of lemon. Walk briskly or use this time for a walking meditation or pranayama. But be out in nature.
  • Abhyanga (oil massage). Practice daily, if possible in the early morning or late afternoon. Follow with a hot bath or shower. Feel the resulting sense of being nurtured and nourished.
  • Apply a little ghee or oil to the nostrils a few times a day to maintain health mucous lining and prevent drying out.
  • Follow a relaxed and regular daily routine. Eat at regular times, exercise before breakfast (half hour walk in nature ideal).
  • After a meal lie on your left side in the pose of the Buddha (pictured).
  • Avoid stress and strain as much as possible and do not over exercise (rajas).
  • Avoid constipation – regular elimination is vital to health.
  • Autumn is a good time to declutter your house and car. Enter winter with a simple clean living space.
  • Early to bed (by 10 pm) and rise early.
  • Gentle cleansing or fasting is recommended for all doshas in this season. This can be done in many ways so consult an ayurvedic practitioner for a program to suit your needs. Fasting for more than two days should not be undertaken without professional advice.
  • For two weeks try fasting between 6.00pm and 8am.


Patricia shares one of her favourite practices for autumn

Read this passage and contemplate your own inner connection to the seasons – how each season makes you feel. In which season were you born, or have you married, had children or lived through other major events? Then focus on autumn and your connection with this season. Ask yourself what autumn has to teach you.

‘In Autumn the world starts to shed what it no longer needs and silence is released from the flowers and flows out of the earth into the world of humankind.

Autumn has come to teach us that all things in the world and within us have a beginning and an end. Yet this season can entrap us in attachment to the past while denying the future.

Autumn is about the start of decay and how this belongs in the natural order of things.

Autumn encourages you not to be trapped by your own fears but to understand them so that they may set you free from fear and small-mindedness.

Autumn brings the message that nothing is isolated or separate, all things are connected.

Autumn is the season that teaches self-reliance and offers the serenity of experiencing the connection of all life as a conscious but natural experience.’


Source: The Tibetan Art of Serenity: How to Heal Fear and Gain Contentment by Christopher Hansard

Patricia’s recommendations for further reading

Cate Stillman – Body Thrive

Laura Plumb – Ayurveda Cooking for Beginners

Shaun Matthews – The Art of Balanced Living


Patricia Wigley is has been teaching yoga since 1991 and holds qualifications in yoga therapy Ayurveda, counselling, nutrition and Anatomy and Physiology. She is Vice President of the Australian Association of Yoga Therapists (AAYT) and a past president of the International Yoga Teachers Association IYTA.

Tessa Hoffman completed her Diploma of Yoga teaching in 2016 with the IYTA. and now lectures on the topics of yoga, philosophy and anatomy/physiology. Tessa as a background in journalism and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) at the University of Sydney.

* This article first appeared in the IYTA magazine, International Light.




Meditation on Personal Power

Reflect on your inner strength with this guided meditation, by much-loved IYTA Yoga teacher, Margaret North

One aspect of personal power would be our ability to choose a personal positive feeling when a negative one might be emerging. For instance, personal (spiritual) power enables us to move from frustration to patience, from boredom to vitality, from hurt to understanding, from grief to gratitude…

Let us now go into our inner place of peace …

Let us take plenty of time to do that, ensuring that every limb is supported and completely relaxed and our thoughts are slowing, slowing, s-l-o-w-i-n-g…


Let us focus on our spiritual heart, wherever we perceive that to be …

That is the infinitesimal atma wherein resides all our spiritual strength, all our fortitude, compassion, sweetness, love … every one of our abundant and inherent personal positivity and strengths.

It may be at this time that we have the need of one particular strength or positivity, then let us see the seed of that residing in our atma…

It may be that we can identify no particular need, then let us see unbounded wisdom and positivity residing as a seed in our atma…

When we have a firm awareness of the source of our strength …. let’s take our time, let’s feel it … identify it … become truly aware of it …

When we are truly aware of that spiritual strength let us watch … slowly … slowly … as that tiny seed grows and spreads throughout our body. We keep focused … we keep it slow …

Then, filled with that positive force, let us see that positive force spreading out into our aura … take time … let’s take plenty of time …

We can now feel ourselves imbued with our positivity and our strength. It is within us, suffusing us, surrounding us, spreading out into our world …

We know it is the only way to be. We feel so strong, we lift ourselves taller, feel the lightness in our being … and inwardly we have changed. We have brought what is always within us to the surface, to be used for positive change.

We are strong.

(atma: Sanskrit word that means inner self, spirit or soul.) 

  • Margaret has been practising yoga for 50 years and, since her IYTA graduation in 1979, teaching hatha yoga as her major occupation for 40 years. She established the Kuring-gai Yoga School in 1979 which, since 2005, has been owned and led by Liz Kraefft and where she continues to teach. A deep study of yoga philosophies and meditation for some decades has brought her much inner peace. She conducts meditation groups in Mosman.

Homemade vegie sausage rolls

I’ve never enjoyed shop-bought sausage rolls, but I love these “healthier” versions of the popular snack. It’s the perfect food for cool Autumnal evenings…


  •   400g – 500g of TVP (textured vegetable protein) (if using 500g you will definitely need 3 sheets of puff pastry!) you can also use turkey mince
  • 2 -3 tbs tomato paste
  • Splash of Worcester sauce
  • 1 egg
  • I large carrot
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 2 x tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Turn on the oven to preheat at 200 C
  2. Take two sheets of puff pastry out of the freezer (if you are adding a lot of veggies you may need three sheets).
  3. Wash and then roughly chop a carrot and then either finely chop or put into a Thermomix or high speed blender at speed 7 for 10 seconds
  4. Wash then then finely chop a bunch of coriander
  5. Add the TVP to a large mixing bowl, then add carrot, coriander, tomato paste, chia seeds and egg until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cut the pastry sheets in half and then spoon the sausage mix into the pastry
  7. Brush the finished sausage rolls with milk
  8. Cook for 20 minutes or until golden
  9. Allow to cool, then cut up and serve with a big dollop of tomato sauce!
  10. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Don’t forget to try Natalie’s savoury treat Zucchini Polenta Cheese Muffins



Restorative Yoga – a massage for the soul

  Restorative Yoga – it’s like chicken soup, watching a favourite movie or stroking your pet dog. It’s calming, soothing and comforting. For me it’s like coming back to myself. Giving myself time to simply be, time to observe my mind and body unravelling from the many strands of life.

In everyday life we are moving through a constant barrage of situations and experiences. Some good, some not so good, some challenging and others rewarding. The continual maze of life. And if we don’t stop every so often and press pause, then we don’t see the full picture with a clear perspective.

More and more people are experiencing the benefits of Restorative Yoga – out of all the different sessions I teach it’s the one more people are gravitating towards. And that includes the classes I teach at my local gym.

It gives us permission to hold ourselves in a collective space – and when teaching in a room full of people that energy is palpable – it’s as if the entire room is having a long, slow and luxurious yawn.

Which is why the IYTA Restorative Yoga training is such a joy to teach.

Can you imagine – two full days of exploring these shapes, using props and delving into the benefits of this slow-moving and mindful practice. Not only are you experiencing it first hand but you are learning how to share this with others.

I first came across Restorative Yoga while teaching Pre-natal Yoga. I used to set up the students in Reclining Goddess pose – a little like a five star version of Supta Baddha Konasana – it was totally dreamy and you knew it was good for you just by witnessing worry lines melting away like thawing snow.

Post-natally it was even more indulgent – a way to realign the body from hours of breastfeeding and rocking a fractious baby. And it made me wonder why we all couldn’t experience the joy of these poses – to coax our weary, tense bodies out of their malaise and help empty our over-full minds.

And so I began my practice. I loved exploring these poses, either in pure, unadulterated silence or with a Guided Relaxation to focus upon.

Judith Hanson Lasater has written some wonderful books which detail the most gorgeously supported poses. I’ve tried them all! I also developed my own book with around 25 poses – divided into foundation poses (with minimal props) to advanced (with additional props). This forms the basis for our two-day training.

I now tend to sprinkle a restorative yoga pose into my yoga classes – other times I will do a pure Restorative Yoga experience. It’s like a massage for the soul – and also helps us to tune into the soft flow of the breath and tranquilising pranayama techniques.

These days I have a stack of props on hand for when I need to step off the treadmill of life and come into a quiet, nurturing space. I’ll stay for a while – however long I can and then step back into the rhythm of the day renewed and refreshed.

If you would like to experience Restorative Yoga with Katie Brown (author of Guided Relaxation), then come along to our face-to-face training in Melbourne on May 14 and May 15. Details and bookings HERE. 



Zucchini polenta & cheese muffins

As we move into the cooler weather you’ll love baking these savoury treats – thanks to our Tassie rep, Natalie Purden for the recipe!


  • 1 cup plain flour ( I use gluten free self raising & add 1 table tapioca flour)
  • 1 cup instant polenta (Marco Polo brand is a good texture)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or fresh if you have it!)
  • 2 medium zucchinis, 320 to 350 grams thermied speed 5.5 or grated.
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, ricotta or mozzarella grated
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 2 eggs


  • Preheat oven to 175-180°C.
  • Chop zucchini in Thermomix speed 5 (or high speed blender) until grated texture (or grated). Put aside.
  • Add flour, polenta, baking powder, basil and salt & combine reversed speed 3. (or mix with wooden spoon in a bowl)
  • Add cheese, egg & rice milk until just combined – avoid over mixing.
  • Add zucchini & mix reverse speed 3 until just mixed (or mix with wooden spoon)
  • Spoon 1/4 cup sizes evenly into greased 24-hole muffin tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through.

These can be frozen or eaten straight away!



Move with ease and grace

Helping people to move freely within their bodies – and life – is our new ACT State Rep, Katrina Hinton’s mission, as she explains…

Do you find the older you get the more the ‘meaning of life’ questions become more regular popups in your consciousness? I believe they are often prompted by the big milestones like large number birthdays, older family members passing or perhaps just getting to a point where we look back and wonder what’s it all about.

This has certainly been the case for me losing both my parents in the last three years. The finiteness of life has landed and prompted an urgency to fulfil my purpose on this earth. The answers aren’t all there yet and may never be but one thing is now clear: I want to help people feel free to move in both their bodies and minds and with this, find an ease and grace that permeates throughout their lives.

I believe in trusting the wisdom of our own soft animal body (thanks Mary Oliver!) and our body-mind-system. I believe we are ultimately responsible for our own wellbeing. We’re the ones who inhabit our unique Soma and the only ones who know how it feels. If we can learn to truly listen in, we can learn how to discern what we need. At times it can be confusing especially if we’ve been living in our heads, or with chronic pain and dysfunction which make it harder for us to find clarity. It can help to receive coaching from a specialist to help us get out of our own way and find the path perhaps a little more directly to our recovery or comfortable place.

All of my trainings have been aimed at unpacking the mysteries of why and how we move the way we do, why we get injuries or pain and how to relieve it. I’ve reached a place where I know what to do to support my own health and the most easeful movement for my body at this point in my life. I’m now ready to help other’s make their way to more ease and function so they can enjoy doing what they love.

Katrina will be running a Somatic Yoga Workshop in Canberra on May 7 & 8

Katrina’s Yoga journey

It’s been illuminating to look back and see the countless events and choices that led me to this path. A defining moment was rupturing my ACL playing soccer and fearing that my career as a yoga teacher would be over before it started. I’d just begun my 500-hour Advanced Diploma in Yoga Teacher Training at Nature Care College in Sydney the year before. But rather than hold me back, that injury set me on a path of seeking balance and unravelling how one’s body compensates for injuries.

Nature Care College provided an amazing foundation and I trained with some of the luminaries of the Australian yoga scene. I was exposed to Donna Farhi’s teachings and a few years later was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Christchurch in a transformative advanced teacher training. My appetite for learning was kindled as Donna introduced us to many wonderful movement modalities and teachers including Thomas Hanna’s Somatic movement education and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s Body-Mind-Centreing.

I set off down a path of training in Hanna Somatics with several teachers and have used the principles everyday in my own healing of postural issues incurred by 30 years in computers and management consulting not to mention the impact of the ACL long ago.

I have also explored healing through the Feldenkrais Method and Alexander Technique and more recently, I trained in a brilliant movement education method called JEMS, named after Joanne Elphinstone; a gifted wholistic rehabilitative physiotherapist, coach and teacher based in Wales.

This year I am very excited to be embarking on a Graduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy which can only broaden my delivery framework and be a great way to connect with other yoga therapists and allied health professionals in the Canberra and wider community.

I have been teaching yoga since 2008 after my initial 500-hour training and started a corporate class at my day job in a software development organisation.

On moving to Canberra from Sydney, I started teaching relief classes at different studios, teaching public servants in their lunch hours, and eventually inheriting my own class from a legendary Canberra teacher Ursula Huber. Some of those original students remain to this day 11 years on.

Over the last ten years, I have taught at women’s gyms, presented at local yoga conferences and festivals, hosted sold-out workshops and continued to teach my intimate functional yoga and somatic classes out of my home studio.

I take delight in hosting women’s retreats at beautiful locations including Heartspace at Yass and at venues near the beach on the far south coast. I have a dream to run retreats using the healing connection to country and practicing in nature and one day, lead a squad of like-minded women to play, explore and immerse in the magical culture of Bali.

I have been coaching clients for five years in postural assessments and providing follow up programs to reach my client’s goals. I love helping clients restore their freedom of movement through re-connecting their brains with their bodies. When you can truly tune in to your sensations and quality of your movement and breath, you can become aware of habituated physical (and emotional) responses to stress.

I am delighted to step into the role as the ACT representative for IYTA. I think it’s so important that the association is founded on the basis of excellent standards of yoga teacher training. I am a living example of passionate life-long learning but our foundation training is a critical launching pad for the rest of our yoga path whether that be teaching or for our own wellbeing. I aim to support this continued learning through community events in the ACT and broaden the reach with the help of social media platforms and through my own networks.

Book into Katrina’s workshop HERE

Discover the Prana Vayus with Patricia

  We sat down with Patricia Wigley to chat about this upcoming IYTA workshop. Patricia is the Vice President of the Australasian Association of Yoga Therapists and an Ayurvedic Consultant. She is also a past president of the IYTA.

The prana vayus are the five pranas (prana vayu, apana vayu, samana vayu, udana vayu and vyana vayu), that govern the body. Together they form the pranamaya (also known as pranamaya kosha). It is the breath itself, as well as energy, vitality, or life force.

  In this two-hour workshop you will discover how to balance these five movement/prana flows to create a heightened function of the physiological systems of the body and the more subtle levels of mind and awareness.

Patricia says: “It is so important that we move prana or heighten the movement of prana in a soft and flowing way – think Sthiram and Sukham of the Yoga Sutras (steadiness and ease) – so we are moving without effort.”

She adds: “Prana is central in the teachings of Yoga and so in this session we will be visiting how we can work with all our Yogic tools to support the soft flow and intelligence of Prana through our body/mind. How we work with our awareness and the breath is key.”

This online workshop is a combination of theory and practical and Patricia will be guiding participants through yoga flows with the breath incorporating the Ayurvedic elements, chakras and mantras as you experience the movement of the Prana Vayus through the physical body.

It’s something that, as yoga teachers, we tend to incorporate naturally, but, as Patricia says: “It can be beneficial to revisit what we already know and look at it as if it is new. Imagine this is the first time in the pose/practice. Notice what sensations you are aware of, what is happening with the breath and prana.”

For example, in Tadasana if you come up to the toes in a balance and raise both arms in the Breath of Life, then you stimulate the prana in the upper body and the udana flow (upward flow from the throat to the head connection between the brain and the body).

Then with the exhalation as you lower, you are balancing the apana vayu and that important connection with the lower abdomen and apana – helping the body let go of waste. So the inhale is energising and lightening and the exhale releasing letting go.

Patricia says: “The breath is the the tool by which we know that we are working in a way that is beneficial to the body. So if the breath becomes jerky or strained then we are creating the stress response and not balancing the important response of the Parasympathetic Nervous System.”

During the pandemic, Patricia has been teaching most of her classes online. She says: “I don’t mind online, I do prefer face to face for the immediate feedback that you don’t get on camera, but online classes are very convenient, a lot of my students have been coming a while, so they are comfortable within the poses and I think they are happy don’t have to sit in traffic to get to the class!”


Book now for this workshop to ensure you don’t miss out!



Meet Peta!

From running a gym, to being a mum and coordinating our IYTA events and workshops – meet our new Post Graduate Courses and Events Manager – Peta Jolley

  Q: How did you first find yoga?

I discovered yoga at the age of five in my prep year at Aireys Inlet Primary school with my teacher. He would weave asanas into the days learning and make it fun, and then take us through a Yoga Nidra at least once a week – it’s stayed with me ever since.

Q: Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?

Before having my daughter, Eva Rose, I worked in a variety of roles including a career as a youth worker. But after becoming a mother, I wanted to do something different.

My mum was a wonderful seamstress and as I’d been practising yoga, I had the idea of us going into business making yoga pants. I asked my friend Lorraine Bell, who ran a local yoga & reiki centre, if she would stock yoga pants, (the era before designer leggings!) if I made them.

After a long discussion about all things yoga, she asked me: “What are you really looking to step into, Peta?”

My immediate response was: “I want to be a yoga teacher!”, quickly followed by dropping to my knees and asking: “Will you be my teacher?”

Thankfully, Lorrie said Yes!

(And yes, we did make a few yoga pants as well!).

Q: How did you first discover the IYTA?

Again, from my friend and mentor, Lorrie Bell, she loved IYTA and was always recommending it to me.

Q: How much of an impact does yoga have in your daily life?

Even though yoga has been with me for most of my life, it’s been a slow process of integrating it so that it is more of a way of life rather than a practice.

I had carried that heavy feeling of failure if I wasn’t up at 4am and practicing every day, as I thought this had to be the way to be “committed” to Yoga. Then I met David Burgess, and he reminded me that I’m not living on an ashram and therefore have a lot of competing priorities. This was so enlightening for me! Now my Sadhana is four or five days per week and consists of pranayama, meditation, asana, and a daily yoga nidra.

I’ve always had a calling to the modality of Yoga and teaching was another step on this infinite pathway, the learning never ends, and I always remember that I’m a student first, then a teacher. I went on to study with Simon Borg-Olivier, John Weddepohl and Swami Premajyoti Saraswati.

I currently teach five classes per week at our gym MVMNT365, in Warrnambool. I work one-to-one with people in respite at Retreat South, Yambuk and I lead a Yoga Nidra session a couple of times a week in the Salt Therapy room at The Deep Blue resort in Warrnambool.

I’ve also joined forces with my wife Dionne, a chef (see this month’s recipe for one of Dionne’s delicious creations!) to run retreats.

Q: Why did you decide to take on the role of events manager?

I love Yoga, I love events and I love bringing those two things together!

Q: What events/highlights are you excited about for the IYTA this year!?

I’m really excited by both the Yin 1 & 2 in March, which will be open soon for registration and I’m super excited for the new course Yoga Studies Online, Philosophy, Pranayama & Meditation to go live in April!

There’s also the Restorative Yoga which we are running in Melbourne this May, and our Seniors Yoga Training.

To find out about our IYTA events click HERE

And to find out about the retreats Peta runs click here






Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a versatile and delicious dessert – served up with honeycomb, shaved chocolate or a dollop of salted caramel. Yum – or as pictured here, with fresh, dehydrated and freeze-dried fruits.
Thanks to chef, Dionne Goyen for this recipe!


2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
Vegetable oil, if unmolding the panna cotta
1 cup lactose free Greek yogurt
1 cup lactose free cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


    • Place the water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and set aside
    • Pop a few drops of vegetable oil on a piece of paper towel and lightly coat the inside of four 180ml ramekins (or small glasses). Otherwise, you can leave them uncoated and eat from the ramekin.
    • Place the sugar and 1/2 cup of cream in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring once or twice to dissolve the sugar, about three minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
    • Place the yogurt and the other 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.
    • Add the gelatine mixture and whisk to dissolve into the warm cream. Pour this mixture into the bowl of Greek yogurt and whisk until smooth.
    • Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins or glasses. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.
    • To serve your panna cotta, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer, and dip the bottom of one of the ramekins or glasses into the water for five seconds. Place a serving plate on top of the ramekin and turn upside down, shaking gently to help it ‘fall’ out. If it does not fall out easily, return to the warm water bath for another couple of seconds, or gently slide a knife down the side of the ramekin to make a little air pocket to help it slide out
    • Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Looking for more healthy recipes? Try Surya’s Green Smoothie – yum!

From Physics to Psychology and Pranayama!

Sarah Tetlow (Surya) has many talents, not only is she our wonderful IYTA Treasurer, but after completing a degree in Physics, working in banking and travelling, she went on to study Yoga Psychology in India.

  Surya is teaching the workshop: Pranayama for Enhanced States with Gyan Morrison on February 19

Click here to book and find out more

We sat down for a chai and a chat…

Q: Tell me about your early life

I grew up on a farm in the Essex countryside with two brothers and one sister. I was born in the farmhouse where my parents still live – and the four of us would roam around the countryside in our spare time!

After finishing school, I went to Nottingham University to do Applied Physics, which I loved. Once I’d graduated I wanted to go into business so I worked in Nottingham and became a chartered accountant.

Three years later I started to get restless and moved to London where I worked in Risk Management in Banking. My first introduction to the philosophy of yoga came via a spiritual teacher based in the Cotswolds – my sister introduced me to her and I attended some of her workshops.

Q: Why did you go to India to study Yoga Psychology?

​Like many people around the age of 30, I was at a bit of a crossroads (more like multi roads) in my life and was ‘seeking something more’. My job just wasn’t fulfilling me, so I gave it up and went travelling through South East Asia and Australia. I knew this wasn’t the answer but I have often found that travelling changes your energy and perspective and gives you the opportunity to see things from other angles.

When I returned about nine months later, I went to see my spiritual teacher and told her I was thinking of studying something holistic/complementary.

She showed me one of the magazines from a yoga school in India, which was set in an ashram, and it had a picture of the guru or master teacher on the front. I took one look and had a moment of absolute clarity, thinking: I want what he’s got!

So I took a look at the back page of this magazine and they had a list of courses – I thought I’d better go for as long as possible because I’m bound to be a hard nut to crack.

The longest courses were for two years and there was a choice of three. I chose Yoga Psychology over Yoga Philosophy or Applied Yogic Science because it sounded interesting and esoteric and I’d always had a lay person’s interest in psychology.

Everyone was quite accepting of this choice – I think my father was a bit bemused as to why I’d give up a good job to go to India, but my mum was totally on board!

Q: What were the main lessons you learnt from this experience and being in the ashram?

​I’d never been to India before (a Sri Lankan work colleague in London put me in touch with a divine family in Kolkata and they met me at the airport, took me back to their house for the day somewhere in the back streets of the city, fed me and took me to Howrah train station in the evening to catch the train out to the countryside where the ashram was located – that was my first experience of the magic of India and it’s never left me – I am not entirely convinced that I would have found the right train if the father hadn’t been with me).

I discovered the first and main challenge is that you come up against yourself – time and again.

I fought this for a while – all my normal ways of being, my defence mechanisms and so on, fell away until I was left with a raw version of myself.

For a while, I didn’t know how to be or how to act, it was extremely uncomfortable but ultimately it was very revealing about myself. That was the most important thing for me – yes, I learnt a lot about psychology (especially Eastern) and about yoga (asana, pranayama and meditation) and about ashram life in general, (I learnt how to read Sanskrit, took part in the rituals etc) but the most rewarding thing for me was getting to know myself a whole lot more.

It was a very fruitful two years and it’s a work in progress.

Q: I find it fascinating that you are weaving the psychology with the pranayama in your workshop – how can this help us with focus and concentration if we haven’t studied this for years like you!?

Sometimes one little thing can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Take the practice of gratitude for example – just a few minutes spent feeling grateful for the things in your life (the good and the bad) can make a big difference in your attitude and therefore how your day goes. Obviously, it’s not foolproof, and there are days when it works better than others but cumulatively it has a positive effect on your life.

I think that teaching often involves reminding people what they already know, sharing ideas, having insights together, and perhaps putting a new or different perspective on practices that they may be already familiar with.

We are going to discuss the neurological and psychological effects of some key pranayama practices, as well as the important practical aspects so that anyone attending has a clear idea what they need right now and how to practise them so that they get the most out of it (and discover if they are currently doing it incorrectly). And of course, we will also tailor our approach to whoever is in front of us.

Q: How can this benefit people in their day-to-day lives?

Everyone has a kind of stress in their life to some degree or another, and so everyone can benefit from doing pranayama, whether that be for moments in the day or as a formal sadhana or practice in the morning or evening.

Breath is life and we can use it wisely or we can use it unwisely! But if we have the knowledge we have the ability to make better decisions that work for us.

On a very practical level, we’re going to get really specific about what you can do for different circumstances or conditions or states that may make you feel better.

And everyone wants to live the best life they can, don’t they? Under whatever circumstances life throws at them.

Q: How does yoga make a difference to your life? And what is your daily yoga routine now?

In 2016, at the age of 45, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which was a bit of a curveball and no mistake. Yoga has helped me come to terms with that, especially the witness aspect of yoga. And on a practice level I do both pranayama and some simple asana, as well as meditate daily and that has been a lifesaver. And I really love doing Qigong because I find that very helpful in managing all aspects of this condition, especially the symptoms.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

​Gyan and I were discussing the workshop yesterday and I realised it’s been 15 years since we met on the teacher training course at Mangrove. We’ve never taught together before but I’m really looking forward to it – he has so much knowledge and experience – I think it will be a treat for me and for anyone else who is there.

To book in please visit

Sharron’s date and coconut bliss balls

Check out this recipe from our President, Sharron Williams. Just four ingredients – including super spice: cardamom – which is anti-inflammatory and helps aid digestion.


  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil 


Finely chop your dates. Pop them in a mixing bowl and soak them in boiled water for about 30 seconds, then drain.

Now add the coconut, cardamom and ghee and gently knead into a “dough” being careful not to burn yourself on the hot dates!

Next, simply roll the “dough” into small balls about the size of a walnut.

Roll each ball in some dried coconut, when you’re done, pop them in the fridge to harden.

OPTION: To make them chocolatey, add 1-2 tsp of organic raw cacao powder at the same time as the coconut etc.

Makes approx. 10 balls: GF, Vegan Option


Surya’s Green smoothie

Most mornings our Treasurer, Surya (Sarah) Tetlow wanders around her garden selecting herbs and leaves for her delicious daily green smoothie!



Smoothie Base

1 banana

½ ripe avocado

Dollop of organic yoghurt

Glass of almond milk

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of nutmeg

Squeeze of lemon

Dash of raw honey


Include a few from the following list:


Swiss chard


Pak choi


Thai basil




Vietnamese mint


Mustard greens

In our pictured smoothie most of these leaves were included

If you are feeling decadent add organic cacao (but then it’s not green…!)



Make the base and then add the leaves and drink immediately

A new lease of life with yoga

Enrolling in the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching has given mum-of-three, Audrey a new-found confidence and perfect life balance!

Audrey D’Souza’s first memory of yoga was of her father practising asanas every morning. He was as a fighter pilot with the Indian Airforce and his yoga helped balance the daily stresses of his job.

Although Audrey was born and grew up in India, she attended a Catholic school where yoga wasn’t part of the curriculum. She says: “In India there is a huge awareness of yoga, but I didn’t practice yoga as a child – though we’d sometimes do “play yoga” where we’d cross our legs in padmasana and twist ourselves into shapes, but that was the extent of it!

Audrey and her three siblings moved around a lot as their father was stationed across India. Then at aged 16 she met Selwyn (her now husband).

The couple moved from India to Hong Kong, with their first daughter, Stephanie, before settling in Melbourne in 1993. Within a few years of being in Australia they’d had two more daughters, Samantha and Catherine. With Selwyn often travelling for work, Audrey decided to stay at home to care for their three children.

Seven years later, the family moved to Sydney – and Audrey started regular yoga classes at her local yoga studio – The Kuring-gai Yoga School.

She says: “As a young mum, I loved the relaxation. But I also loved the physical practice – using muscles I didn’t know even existed and I really enjoyed the stretches.”

Yoga became part of Audrey’s weekly routine for the next several years – it became a huge help for her not just physically, but emotionally – especially when her mother became terminally ill. In fact, while caring for her mum, Audrey spoke to her yoga teachers at Kuring- Gai Yoga School to find out how she could learn more about yoga. They told her about the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching.

Audrey says: “I loved the way Liz Kraefft, Cathy Young, Lynne Tome and Margaret North all taught. There was a lot of care and thought to the safety and wellbeing of the student. And most of them had done the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching, so I just knew that was the one I would want to do.”

In 2019 Audrey’s mum passed away and while she was grieving, she knew she had to do something to pick herself up. One day she was working at her computer when she received an email from Amy – who was the DYT’s Course Manager at the time. It was a reminder that the Diploma of Yoga Teaching course was taking enrolments.

The email arrived at just the right time. After having thought about doing the course for a couple of years, she knew the time was right. She decided to sign up. For the next five minutes she was excited, but then terror set in! She rang her yoga teacher and mentor, Margaret North.

“Margaret was so reassuring,” Audrey says. “She knows me so well and told me that I was ready. I asked my husband and daughters and they were all so supportive! They all had more confidence in me, than I had in myself.”

So I enrolled. On the first day I walked into the studio in Crows Nest, NSW. It was great to see a familiar face, Lynne Tome – a teacher at Kuring-gai Yoga Centre, but then I looked around at everyone else and started to panic. At 59 years old I was sure I was one of the oldest people in the room and they all looked so flexible and fit. I started to freak out and wonder what I’d signed myself up to. But it didn’t take long to realise that I was meant to be there, and I fitted right in.

“What came across very strongly to me was how much all the teachers were there to support us. Every teacher gave me the support I needed, whenever I needed it. “

“In the first teaching practice sessions that we did, I was shaking but the feedback I received was very complimentary, non-judgemental and constructive and that’s where the confidence started to build. That confidence grew quickly and soon I was not afraid to stand up and teach, not worried about the mistakes I made, knowing I would be guided correctly. I realised it was so friendly and supportive that in the end I found the teaching practices fun and something I would look forward to. I could stand there and just be myself and that was recognised and appreciated.

“The moment I felt comfortable, I knew I was on my way and I owe that to each and every one of the teachers on the course.”

“In every way I have benefitted from the course – physically, mentally, emotionally – and my confidence has grown.

“I learned much more than I expected to. The course was so comprehensive and besides gaining all that confidence, I gained in knowledge. I also realised that this part of my journey is only beginning I am currently studying Sanskrit, and looking forward to learn more Yogic philosophy, as well as updating my knowledge and skills.”

Audrey is now teaching private classes to eight students and has been booked to teach community yoga classes at the Kuringai Arts School. She’s also teaching meditation classes online with students across the globe!

“Studying the year-long course and qualifying as a yoga teacher has given me a new lease of life. I am happy I have found what I love. Practicing yoga and teaching. Selwyn is still working and my daughters have all grown up and I now feel as if I have the perfect life balance”

After graduating from the course earlier this year, Audrey went on to do the IYTA’s Restorative Yoga Training with Katie Brown and is now teaching Restorative Yoga too. She says: “I’m really happy I did the course and I got a lot out of it. I would absolutely recommend it to others. I think it is particularly important in today’s world and there are so many people who would benefit from it.”

Discover more about our 2023 Diploma of Yoga Teaching course here



Meet Sharron – our new president

When Sharron isn’t teaching or practising yoga, she can be found reading about yoga! She admits yoga is her life, and is enjoying settling into the role of IYTA President.

  Yoga has become an intrinsic part of Sharron’s life. She says: “Yoga gives me a sense of coming home to me. I just love it. Yoga is my life.”

Sharron first discovered yoga as a single mum to her two sons. She needed an outlet from her demanding secretarial job and the pressures of parenthood.

  But it was when her boys grew older and she had more time that she was able to attend more classes.

In 2010 Sharron attended a yoga workshop with Satyaprem Gibson who asked her if she’d considered becoming a yoga teacher.

It was the first time Sharron had considered the idea. But the more she thought about it, the more it appealed and so she enrolled in the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching in 2011.

‘I loved it!’ Sharron enthuses. There was so much I didn’t know beyond the asanas – philosophy, ayurveda – the lecturers really knew their subject in depth and I just wanted to learn more – and I’m still learning!

And she also loved the IYTA as an organisation – becoming the NSW rep in 2014 and then the Vice President in 2016, family issues meant she needed to step aside. But she’s delighted to be back in the organisation and has been attending monthly Committee meetings for the past year.

Sharron’s also continued her yoga studies – completing the IYTA’s Pre and Post Natal Yoga Diploma, Yin Yoga training, Seniors Training and the Advanced Teacher Training and then Ayurvedic studies with Dr Sean Matthews and Rama Prasad and a Yoga Therapy diploma.

Pre-Covid Sharron was teaching 14 classes a week, but is now managing seven classes – both online and in person.

Her own personal practice includes a morning Ayurvedic ritual (which she’ll talk about in our Sangha!) followed by daily meditation.

On non-teaching days, Sharron enjoys an asana practice. As a former dancer, she loves to be physically active but as a Vata dosha, she also needs to be mindful to take time out!

As well as our new President, Sharron is also a committee member on the Australian Association of Yoga Therapists (AAYT).

She says her aim as IYTA President is to continue the great work of Astrid Pickup, Mary-Louise Parkinson and all the Presidents prior.

She says: “It’s a learning curve. I would like IYTA to offer more things online so we can be accessible both nationally and internationally.

“We have such fabulous lecturers on the DYT and all the Post Graduate courses who have such a wealth of knowledge and are experts in their field – and I’d like to get that message out to the wider yoga community.”

“For me President is a word and I’m just part of the Committee. There are many talented people on the Committee who can offer a lot to the community and our members. I work collaboratively and ask for everyone’s opinion before we make an agreement on anything.”

And in her spare time, Sharron loves to read. She says: “I bought a new wingback chair and have a floor to ceiling bookshelf! My mum thinks there’s only yoga books but there are a few mysteries and autobiographies tucked in there too!

And pre-Covid Sharron loved to travel. In fact it was after writing an article about Bhutan for the International Light that Vice President Katie asked Sharron if she’d be interested in the President role. Astrid had completed her four-year term – and the rest, as they say is history!

You can join Sharron and Katie at the December Christmas Sangha on Monday, December 13. We’re hoping to have as many IYTA Committee members as possible there and it will be a chance to connect across the kilometres, chat about Ayurveda, yoga and we’ll finish with a Christmas Guided Relaxation.





Feeling Fruity – Try this fruit platter!

Create some colour with a vibrant fruit platter. This beautiful arrangement is by IYTA Committee member, Amy Seal.

There’s nothing like a beautiful fruit platter to liven up a picnic or complete a summer lunch.

Check out this stunning display by Amy – based on a star. Amy has layered triangles of watermelon and mango and rockmelon segments around a centrepiece comprising of a small bowl of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries surrounded by kiwi slices. Yum!

5 Fun Fruit Facts

#1: Did you know most fruits are low in energy (kilojoules) and high in fibre and water, making you feel fuller. This reduces the risk of overeating which can cause weight gain.

#2: The fibre in fruit is also thought to reduce the risk of some cancers, including colorectal cancer.

#3: Fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Vitamins such as vitamin C and E and different phytochemicals may reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions.

#4: Potassium and magnesium found in fruit have also been linked to lower blood pressure.

#5: Different coloured fruits, especially orange, red and yellow fruit, contain carotenes (Vitamin A) which are also thought to assist in immune function.


Stay safe with your yoga practice

liz kraefft portrait picture

Come along to our free IYTA Lunch and Learn session to discover the art of teaching safe classes for all body types…

Teaching a safe yoga class is the foundation of the IYTA Diploma of Yoga teaching – our students attend their practice to improve their health and posture and it’s our job as teachers to facilitate this.

With the correct training and a proper understanding of modifications and options for yoga asanas, teachers can be well prepared to assist their students.

Join IYTA Diploma of Yoga Lecturers, Liz Kraefft and Katie Brown for this free Lunch and Learn session on Avoiding Yoga Injuries.

This session will be presented online via Zoom and Liz will lead the session. She says: “I want to emphasise good body preparation. The session will be a mix of practical and theory and we’ll start with a full body a warm-up.”

The session will focus on common yoga asanas including: Janu Sirsasana, ustrasana and virabhadrasana 2.

There will also be time for question and answers.

This topic is particularly important now many yoga teachers are holding online yoga classes. Liz says: “I have only taught ten classes via Zoom, as a teacher I found it difficult for me to look at the screen to check everyone’s posture, maintain the flow of the class without compromising my own body too. It’s important that if you are a teacher on zoom then you are mindful that your student can’t always see you and that you select a practise that isn’t too rigorous or complex.”

With all yoga classes, Liz says it is important to reinforce that you are with your own self and not looking to see what others might be doing in the pose. We need to emphasise the non-competitive aspect of yoga and reduce ego within the class.”

Liz runs the Kuring-gai Yoga Centre and has been teaching since 2003. She adds: “If you want to keep up your yoga practice then safety is paramount. If you build a practice with safety at the forefront then you and your students will be able to practise in to their older age in a business sense you will have to have people attend as they know they are safe and they trust you and don’t feel as if they are going out of their depth it is Foundation of the class…

Foster and encouraging this approach by encouraging students to come out of the pose if it isn’t right for their body at that time and to always have alternative poses and practices.

“That’s what we do best at the IYTA – as we want our teachers to understand and know what the best modifications and alteratives are for each pose.”

Liz adds that part of this is encouraging people to mindfully practice for themselves – and being present rather than thinking about what’s for dinner. So they are tuned into their bodies and notice when a position doesn’t feel quite right. It’s also important to encourage two way communication so they are willing to open up to you so you can offer ways to adapt poses.”

This safe yoga experience also encompasses mindful awareness during relaxation practice and using the breath – so it all links to create a safe and nurturing environment.”

Sign up to the free lunch and learn session HERE

And come along to our free open day on November 13 to discover the IYTA yoga Teacher Training difference

It’s simply the BEST (yoga course!)

Gary Drummond
If you are keen to study yoga, then check out the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching. Here’s one graduate’s story…
Yoga teacher, Gary Drummond is constantly recommending the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga teaching course. He says: “I would say it is the best teacher training course available and everyone I know who has done the course raves about it.”
The internationally recognised diploma is taught by more than 20 expert lecturers. And Gary says he also loved the great vibe on the course – between students and with the lecturers. He says: “I knew right away I’d made the right choice.”
Gary discovered yoga ten years ago when he was struggling with anxiety. He says: “My wife Lorraine suggested I do something to get out of my head. At the time we lived opposite Manly Yoga Studio, so I went along to a class.”
Gary was immediately hooked – and found the yoga practices such as asanas, pranayama and meditation helped him cope with the crippling anxiety he was experiencing. Eventually his anxiety became so challenging that he left his corporate job. Now for the first time in many years he found himself with time during the day and so he began to attending more yoga classes.
After about three months of regular yoga classes, he observed a shift in his mental and physical health – he was noticeably calmer, more content, his sleep had improved and relationships with his wife and kids very much improved as well
Then one evening in class Gary remembers hearing a voice in his head saying that he needed to become a yoga teacher, so he could help other people who had experienced anxiety.
At first he didn’t have the confidence in his ability but the teachers at the studio believed in him. A few of the teachers were lecturers on the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga teaching.
Gary attended one of the IYTA’s Open Days where he learnt about the Foundation Course – a 70-hour course which is taken as an online course or face-to-face for three months starting with the Diploma Of Yoga Teaching (if you do this you also have the option to continue on the full course).
As soon as Gary attended the Open Day he resolved to join the Foundation Course immediately. And within the first couple of lectures knew that he wanted to sign up to the full internationally recognised Diploma.
Once Gary began the Diploma he enjoyed the pace of the course, which is run over the year. This gave him time to digest the information and enjoy the regular monthly study weekends. “We’d all meet early and have breakfast together,” he says. And the group are still in close contact and have regular reunions.
Gary’s been teaching regular yoga classes since graduating in 2018 and has in the process of created specialist workshops for men and people with anxiety and also empty nesters.
If you would like to find out more about the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching and the Foundation Course – then please call us on: 1800 449 195

The IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga was life changing

Intan - DYT was lifechanging

Intan Ridwan’s life has turned around completely after graduating from the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga teaching – she’s left her corporate job and created a successful yoga business.

  When Intan’s doctor suggested she find an exercise she enjoyed she decided to give yoga a try. It was a decision that would be life changing.

She worked in the city and soon found herself attending classes 4-5 times a week during her lunchtime.

At that time, Intan had two primary-school aged children and her husband also had a full-time job, so days were busy and chaotic. Yoga provided a much-needed balance to their fast-paced life. 

The more Intan practiced yoga, the more she wanted to know, so she researched yoga teaching courses and settled on the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga.

She says: “I liked the fact the IYTA was well established and had been around for 50 years. It wasn’t based on any lineage and the course was taught by a faculty of more than 20 teachers.”

The course quickly exceeded Intan’s expectations. She says: “I was an empty sponge soaking up all this amazing information and knowledge.” Intan really liked how the course was structured. You work your way up from a foundation of knowledge and build up your understanding,” she says.

Intan didn’t intend to teach, but it wasn’t long before teaching opportunities arose. At the time, Intan was dealing with some work challenges and in the end decided to leave her job. She said: “The yoga course helped me feel grounded and in a peaceful state where I could make my decision.

And within a couple of weeks Intan was offered teaching jobs. She says: “It was as if I’d shut this ugly door and this other beautiful, peaceful door started to open up and I went along with it.”

Intan, 44, now also a yoga therapist has established her own yoga business: beginnowyoga.com and has says most of her students are in their 60s and 70s. She says: “They say you don’t choose your students, they choose you, which seems to be the case!”

Intan specialises in promoting healthy ageing in people from middle age onwards. “People who want to lead a healthy life and want to maintain health and mobility in their mind and body.”

And for anyone considering studying yoga, Intan wholeheartedly recommends the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga teaching. She says: “It was value for money as it spans an 11 month program and you graduate with the ability to go and teach.” She explains it will always be nerve wracking teaching for the first time after graduating from a yoga teacher training program, but with the IYTA as soon as you stand in front of the class your training just “flows organically.”

Find out about the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga course here

Check out Intan’s business here


IYTA Yoga Teacher Training Saved My Life!

Natalie Purden IYTA TAS rep

It may seem like a big claim, but Natalie Purden credits the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teacher Training with saving her physically, emotionally and mentally. Here she tells why…

Natalie moved to the beautiful isle of Tasmania at the beginning of the pandemic – in that time she’s started working as a barber and developed her yoga business: Yoga Focus.

Since graduating from the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching in 2014, Natalie’s simplified her life. She says: “I just cut hair and teach yoga… In the past I’ve complicated my life – but now I’m living the dream!”

She adds: “Yoga has shown me that when things are right, they all fall into place – there are no roadblocks, in fact the road becomes wider.”

Home is now in Launceston with a back deck overlooking three mountains, with partner Sacha who she says is one of the happiest and easiest-going people you could ever meet.

Natalie, 47, discovered yoga in a very unlikely location – she was creating a will at her local solicitor’s firm while living in Griffith, NSW. Her solicitor invited her to join the weekly yoga class that was held once a week in the back of the main office.

After that first class, she was hooked. At the time she was in her early 30s, but could barely keep up with the other students aged 55+!

Her partner at the time would literally push her out of the door to encourage her to attend her “yoghurt sessions,” she laughs.

Then at 34, she moved to Victoria and began attending Val Fraser’s classes. Val was an IYTA member – and told Natalie about the IYTA Yoga Teacher Training Course, so in 2013 Natalie enrolled as a correspondence student (with Val as her mentor) and immediately she knew she’d found her tribe.

She says: “I chose the IYTA because it’s a not-for-profit organisation and it is filled with people who have a very big heart. Everyone’s intentions were very pure and I am sure most yoga teachers are like that – but I found it to be extra true with the IYTA!”

She was also keen to study with the IYTA as the qualification is recognised internationally.

But what really impressed Natalie was how quickly her health issues eased once she’d enrolled in the course.

She says: “My health was quite bad when I started the diploma, I had dozens of food intolerances and allergies. I was highly stressed and had trouble sleeping.

One of the main turning points were the pranayama sessions on the course where Natalie learnt the full diaphragmatic breath which led to her slowing her breathing and she began to experience a deep sense of relaxation.

Her stress levels reduced and her body began to heal and rejuvenate. Her sleep improved, allergy issues such as rashes and itches eased, her anxiety levels dropped, she found it easier to focus and even looked younger!

She also changed her diet – opting for more Sattvic foods such as vegetables, gluten-free grains, rice milk and cold pressed oils.

She says: “I learnt how to breathe into the postures and could feel myself coming out of a state of flight or fight and feeling more grounded. Even now if I don’t do my yoga practice – even for a few days – I can sense myself feeling anxious and not sleeping as well – as soon as I do my yoga, I’m a different person again.”

Today Natalie is about to add more classes to her teaching schedule and has just taken on the role of Tasmania Rep for the IYTA. She is keen to connect with other IYTA members in the state and encourages others who are keen to develop their yoga knowledge to get in touch.

She says: “I’m still learning about the role and attending the IYTA Committee meetings, but I’d love in time to create an IYTA yoga community here and support people as they go through the course, as Val mentored me.”




Inspired by Indigenous Culture

NAIDOC Week: Sunday, July 4 – Sunday, July 11

Keen to learn more about Indigenous culture and Reconciliation? Then read the IYTA’s Alana Smith’s account of her personal journey and the Yoga Australia’s RAP launch…

In keeping us at home over the last year, Covid restrictions have encouraged us to look inward, to travel more within our own country and appreciate our homegrown cultures. In Australia, there’s been a groundswell of support for all things Indigenous, especially since the Black Lives Matter protests. The motto of Reconciliation Week this year was “More than a word. Reconciliation takes action”.

All of us within the IYTA have been given an amazing opportunity to become good allies and take action thanks to the huge efforts of Yoga Australia (YA) and Ngungwulah Aboriginal Corporation to create a formal Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for the yoga community across Australia.

We were honoured to be invited to the official RAP launch: Yoga on Country, on 21st June 2021 at the beautiful Washerwoman’s Beach at Bendalong, NSW. As a Committee member, I was asked to represent the IYTA alongside Aunty Ros Fogg, a long-term Indigenous IYTA member.


When our President, Astrid Pickup, asked if I was available to give a speech at the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) launch on behalf of the IYTA, I was both excited and intimidated. Although I’ve been really interested in Indigenous history for a long time and always felt sympathetic to Indigenous issues, it had all been in quite a distanced way. I’d had very little genuine connection with Indigenous people and culture. I soon realised that if I was going to give a speech genuinely committing the IYTA to Reconciliation Action, I had better get more educated and connected!

I began by reading the whole RAP and Ngungwulah website which led me to sign up for the online Cultural Awareness Training with Jem Stone and Eve White, two Indigenous yoginis. This eye-opening training sparked a starburst of connections and questions. We practised how to give an appropriate and heartfelt Acknowledgment of Country, which initially felt quite awkward as I didn’t yet feel connected enough to do it genuinely – I needed to know more! Jem and Eve made lots of intriguing connections between Aboriginal and Yoga practices, including deep listening (e.g. Dadirri); ethical responsibilities (e.g. Kanyini); and conscious movement (e.g. Wayapa Wuurrk) and I eagerly explored all of these in my own time.
They also highly recommended that we read Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta which explores the ways that Indigenous thinking can inform sustainable living. This turned out to be one of the most electrifying books I have ever read. Tyson is a brilliant storyteller and I learnt so much about the complex patterns and psychology behind Aboriginal philosophy and practices. As an ex-English and French teacher, I was fascinated to learn that in some Aboriginal languages there are far more pronouns than in English. Beyond “I”, “you” and “we”, there are more complex pronouns such as “we two”, “we but not others”, and “we altogether”.

I also attended a blood moon ceremony led by Barkindji man, Michael “Smacka” Whyman at Gumbooya Reserve, an incredible sacred site in Allambie Heights replete with rock art and mysterious portals. With his great sense of humour, Smacka impressed upon us the need for respect for Country and Culture, and how everything is so connected that if you look after it, Country will look after you.

Up until this point, I had unconsciously been thinking of Indigenous culture and issues in “us and them” terms, which had kept me in a state of disconnection and inertia. Then quite suddenly, while watching the Indigenous episode of “You Can’t Ask That” on the ABC, I had a revelation that no matter how we got here, we all have the privilege of living on Country. We have all inherited this precious ancient living culture, the oldest in the world, so we are all its custodians. Hence, it is all our responsibility to care for this ancient knowledge by looking after the knowledge-keepers, and the animals, the plants, the land, water, and sky, that hold this knowing in the very core of their being. This shift in mindset gave me a new sense of authentic connection and participation.

At this turning point I felt ready to craft my speech for the RAP launch. Astrid encouraged me to speak to Aunty Ros Fogg, who is a Dharug elder. Ros has been involved with the IYTA for over 21 years and her background story is fascinating. She was so generous with her time, explaining her work with Muru Mittigar in advancing Aboriginal culture, the need for truth-telling and treaty on the path to Reconciliation, and the political stumbling blocks along the way. With Ros’s insights and support I felt much more confident to stand up and speak at the RAP launch.


When 21st June finally arrived, we were all up early to drive to the pristinely beautiful Washerwoman’s Beach on the NSW South Coast in Yuin Country. The rain hung heavy in the clouds as all of us women were painted with special ochre: 13 dots on our faces to represent the 13 tribes of the Yuin nation and 3 dots on our hands to represent mother, father and child. This matrilineal tribe have been sourcing this ceremonial ochre from a sacred clay pit for thousands of years!
Meeting on the sand, many of us intuitively felt the need to throw off our shoes and connect with Earth despite the winter cold. As we waited for the ceremony to begin, our Yuin host Jrumpinjinbah gave us a sand talk lesson on the Aboriginal meanings of the Seven Sisters star cluster (aka Pleiades).

With yogis tuning in online from all over Australia, the event opened with a traditional smoking and Welcome to Country ceremony by Jrumpinjinbah and his family. We were invited to stand in circle – the non-hierarchical way of conducting an Indigenous yaan circle where everyone is included and respected. We were led in a deep listening practice to connect with the surrounding Country, and a traditional Yuin dance in which we all stomped and chanted in unison. Jem Stone gave us a taste of the earth-connected Indigenous movement practice Wayapa Wuurrk, which for me was a very grounding, connecting and heart-opening experience. We also witnessed the coming together of the ancient cultures of Yoga and Indigenous Australia through a symbolic dance performance by the Ngungwulah Yaan Circle – 12 Indigenous yogis who have been integral to the RAP consultation process.

As the rain began to bless the proceedings, I stood in solidarity with other great yoga organisations (AAYT, KYTANZ and DRU), and we all gave speeches of gratitude to YA and Ngungwulah and our commitment to the aims of the RAP. To symbolise the meeting of these two ancient cultures, Angela of Dru Yoga brought a Jyotir flame as a gift to Ngungwulah, and I incorporated a Coolamon into my speech, a traditional Indigenous bowl, which was cradling dried flowers from a yogic healing ceremony.

Afterwards we all shared a delicious Indian meal on yaaning mats and I was honoured to have a long yarn with Kirt Mallie, a captivating yogi of Torres Strait Islander descent, alongside my own yoga elder/teacher, Dharmananda.

It was so empowering and inspiring to feel the shared vision and emotion of all the people and organisations who had gathered on that stunning beach in the spirit of connection and healing for this Country. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to Cate Peterson, Patricia Bordon, the Yaan Circle (which includes our own Aunty Ros), Ngungwulah and Yoga Australia for their outstanding efforts in spearheading this reciprocity initiative. Thank you all for being my teachers – I look forward to learning so much more.

The IYTA has lots more coming up in the spirit of Reconciliation. Stay tuned…

(Please note that in the spirit of being a good ally, Alana asked Aunty Ros to review this article from her Indigenous perspective)

Warm up with Winter Solstice Yoga

Julie Atkinson spent the first International Yoga Day at the UN headquarters – this year she’ll be leading our IYTA Winter Solstice Class. Here she shares some thoughts about Japanese yoga and warming winter practices..

Q: How do you normally celebrate the International Day of Yoga?

For the very first International Day of Yoga I was living in Geneva and there was a big celebration at the Palais de Nation – United Nations Headquarters hosted by the Indian mission. It was held outdoors with a big attendance with the beautiful Lake Geneva and The Alps as the backdrop.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend similar celebrations at the UN on subsequent years. Last year whilst in lockdown, Rich (another yoga teacher) and I organised a day of yoga (on Zoom) as a fundraiser for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre here in Melbourne. Lots of people supported us and we raised around $1100. This year I’ll be leading this yoga class for the IYTA to celebrate and also mark the Winter Solstice.

Q: Will you do anything to mark the International Day of Yoga in the class? 

Yes I’m working on ways to bring us together as a group, to feel our inter-connectedness and acknowledge the important role that Yoga has in all our lives.

Q: How easy is Japanese yoga for people who have never done the practice before?

Japanese yoga is very accessible. There are so many aspects to the practice as well as Yoga postures and exercises including, Do-In, self-massage, corrective exercises, chanting, meridian based exercises and meditation. Many of these can be practiced whilst seated in a chair. I offer many options and encourage participants to listen to their bodies and to work in a comfortable and steady way using the Yoga principles of Sukha and sthira.

Q: What can they expect from this class?

The class will include chanting, Okido exercises to help us feel grounded and centered, acupressure & tapping or rubbing on meridians with a particular emphasis for the water element and Kidney and Bladder meridians which are related to Winter. There will also be an emphasis of letting go of unnecessary thoughts, feelings and making way for new possibilities as we begin to move back into the light.

Q: What is your daily practice? And is there anything you will be doing that you do daily in this winter solstice class?

My daily practice is in line with the seasons, the current weather conditions and the time of day that I choose to practice. Since Melbourne’s first lockdown I have offered an online practice virtually daily. Often my own practice is playing around with ideas and themes for the zoom session. Okido Yoga would normally include some partner work which of course hasn’t been possible since Covid – whether online or in face-to-face classes. And so I’ve found different ways that we can give ourselves shiatsu or apply acupressure. In daily practice I include self-awareness, chanting Aum and do-in or self-massage including using a foam roller.

Q: How is winter celebrated in Japanese yoga and do you have any tips for nurturing bladder and kidney meridians?

In Okido yoga we mirror the seasons in our practices. Winter is the most yin time and the winter solstice is like the yin within yin. It’s seen as a time to consolidate, slow down, rest more and spend more time in meditation. Practices to improve our circulation – stimulate kidney and bladder meridians such as supported or restorative forward bends and rubbing ears and kidneys.

Wearing a hara maki – a traditional Japanese under garment around our lower back kidneys is recommended to support our kidney energy and keep us warm. We can improvise by wrapping a scarf or similar around our waist (I will demonstrate in the IYTA class).

On winter Okido Yoga retreats ginger foot baths were recommended for their warming qualities and if possible we would have a gathering around a wood fire, with time for sharing stories, performances songs etc. we might choose to write down three things we were ready to let go of in our lives and then burn the papers in the fire.

Q: Any final thoughts?

The class will acknowledge that although we are in this most yin time we are beginning to move into the light. We will very gradually over the remainder of winter see the days lengthening and begin to prepare for the more upward and out wood energy of spring. Now is a good time to plant the seed of what we would like to manifest or invite into our lives in the months to follow ?

To book into Julie’s Winter Solstice Class, please click HERE

Seeking out the meaning of Samkhya

It’s a bright sunny afternoon in Collaroy on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and I’m at the IYTA’s annual residential on the Diploma of Yoga Teaching course where David Burgess has just stepped out of an afternoon of lectures on Pranayama and Meditation.

I’ve taken the opportunity to have a chat with him about his upcoming two-hour online workshop: The Place of Samkhya in Yogic Philosophy on Saturday, June 12.

Samkhya is a vast and multi-layered topic and I’m wondering how we will manage to do it justice in the sliver of time we have to chat.

With his trademark honesty and humility, David explains that preparing for this lecture has been all-consuming and daunting. He says: “There’s levels of knowing about Samkhya of course. Some call it the knowledge paradox: When you become somewhat conversant in any subject you begin to realise the vastness of what you don’t know. I’ve actually been doing a tertiary level course with Philipp Maas on the Samkhya Karika to help me prepare for this. Now there is a guy who knows his Samkhya!”

“I think it’s important for Samkhya to be understood as a darshana of its time – it’s not saying that it is the ultimate description of reality as we understand it to be in the 21st century. It was conceptualised, give or take a few centuries, around two thousand years ago and when we judge it with modern eyes, we can say well that doesn’t perhaps quite stack up. You see it is on one level just an ontological map as seen by ancient thinkers trying to describe their understanding of the nature of reality well before possessing the technology and insights we have today. Still, it is I believe, profoundly informative and a must for yoga teachers who are wanting to understand the philosophy that underpins the classical yoga of Patanjali in particular. While we may not choose to become authorities in this area, we should I believe have some level of literacy in that which is the foundation of what we propound. ”

“And another thing, it is so wide reaching – it covers it all: arguably it is our first theory of everything without recourse to myth and tradition – it is talking about self, the nature of mind and it’s talking about cosmological truths. It’s talking about creation. It’s talking about the unmanifest and the manifest. It obliges you to look at your own beliefs surrounding an explanation for the creation of the material universe, and inevitably to decide where one stands on the hard problem of consciousness.”

He adds: “Even today with all our technology we encounter a huge variation intellectually and linguistically in what we define consciousness to be. I can think of many definitions of what consciousness is – from simply being awake as opposed to being unconscious. Is it to be able to think to be “conscious”? What about sentience and what about “self-awareness” and what about “pure consciousness”? Is mind a product of consciousness or of the brain or both or the other way around? Do only humans possess consciousness, why not animals, why not all life forms and how about inanimate objects? the list is long and challenging and that is before we even ask is consciousness an evolute of material reality or is it an eternal autonomous entity? Samkhya has an opinion on all of this!

David adds that in the workshop he will be looking at the historical origins of Samkhya and how it is (and isn’t) applicable today. And to be seen in the context of all the other darshanas that collectively underpin what we describe as yogic philosophy.

He explains the reason why it is so helpful for yoga teachers to consider these matters is because: “there are a good deal of unsubstantiated or incomplete propositions and conclusions regarding what yoga is out there.” He says: “There are so many different understandings of what yoga is and isn’t and that is not to say that this workshop will totally clarify what it is and what it isn’t, but it is certainly a consideration of what it is and what it isn’t! ?

David refers to a quote from Mark Twain which he feels sums up the importance of the topic for yoga teachers: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

To book into this workshop and discover more on this wonderful journey through yogic history and philosophy then click HERE.




Ease into Winter with Japanese yoga

Sarah Kearney is drawing upon her knowledge as a Shiatsu Therapist and Chi Yoga Teacher to help us transition into Winter. Here she shares her yoga journey plus what’s in store in her May workshop…

Why did you become a yoga teacher?

I first attended yoga classes in my twenties during university, and practiced yoga on and off for ten or so years. After working for NSW TAFE in Health and Recreation Curriculum Development for some time, I decided in 1996 that I wanted to have my own business in the world of natural health. I studied Shiatsu Therapy and started a clinic in Dee Why, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, with a fellow student. Study in Shiatsu Therapy requires a lot of body movement and yoga studies as well as learning to provide Shiatsu massage. One of my Shiatsu teachers started a school in Bondi Junction called the ZEN Renaissance Centre just after I finished my course, where he wanted to teach the principles of Oki Do Yoga, applying meridian studies to yogic theory. I decided to further my studies there and by the year 2000, when I completed the yoga instruction course, I had begun to teach classes in both Bondi and Dee Why.

What’s your personal practice?

My personal practice involves constant mindfulness (I emphasise the word practice here!), attention to the environment around us as the seasons change, as well as regular asana, breathing and meditation practices. I try to put each practice into my day wherever there is a chance to do so.

How is Japanese Yoga different to Hatha Yoga?

Firstly it is based on the meridian system (the same system as acupuncture) and not on the Chakra system. It has its roots in ancient Chinese theory but was also practised in Japan.

The style I teach was inspired by the late Japanese zen yoga master, Masahiro Oki who blended Traditional Chinese Medicine with Hatha Yoga. Oki Do Yoga includes tapping and massaging with a lot of floorwork , but in my particular teaching I also incorporate many standing postures as well as flowing styles.

How can this practice help you connect with nature and the seasons?

It’s mostly about us being in touch with the changes of the seasons. We might not notice that in the winter a lot of us feel a bit lonely or things are too quiet or we have gone inside ourselves. You can use the energy of the kidney and bladder meridians in the Winter to help you feel grounded and present during this change.

What will the workshop focus on?

I’d like to let others know about the benefits of Japanese/Oki Do yoga perspectives. The practices support us in feeling more connected with the world around us as we are working with the same transforming energies in our bodies.

We’ll cover simple yoga practices that make a big difference to energy flow and state of mind. We’ll focus on balancing energies and the nervous system so the body can come back to its natural healing state and will work through a yoga practice that is felt on energetic as well as physical, emotional and spiritual levels.

What is your yoga teaching schedule like at the moment?

I teach nine classes per week (when I don’t have a broken foot – Sarah freakily broke her forefoot in February after a falling over the kids’ toys!) I teach both community and private classes. My classes are in Port Macquarie and Wauchope mainly, though I have taught in other nearby communities – Byabarra and Comboyne.

Winter Transition Japanese Yoga is on 1.30pm – 4.30pm AEST on Saturday, May 29 online and live via Zoom.

To book, click HERE

pic credit Tim Gouw at Unsplash

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


Boost your immune system with Ayurveda and Yoga


  Discover daily practices to help nourish your body and protect against disease

  Andrea Freeman’s day begins with a walk in nature, a special Ayurvedic tea (the recipe will be revealed in her latest IYTA workshop) and oil pulling.

These are just three of the ways Andrea integrates Ayurveda into her day. And those lucky enough to attend her workshop in Perth, WA on Sunday, March 21, will discover many more tips and ways they can stay strong and healthy this Autumn and beyond.

Andrea, a mum of one, developed a close connection with nature while growing up in the English countryside. Her family emigrated to South Africa in the early 70’s where she was educated. Finding out about the “spice route” around the Cape to India and the Spice Islands captured her imagination. Historically black pepper was more valuable than gold! Andrea’s interest in Ayurveda was sparked when she first travelled to India in her 20s.

After completing her Diploma of Yoga Teaching with the IYTA in 2001, she began reading more about Ayurveda (Wisdom of Life) – Yoga’s sister science and decided to undertake a Diploma in Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselling with the College of Mind, Body and Soul in Adelaide.

During her two years of part-time study, Andrea explored the concept of staying in balance and disease prevention. She is particularly fascinated by the doshas and dravyagunavijnana (the qualities of substances in the natural world and how they affect us physically, mentally and emotionally). Also of special interest; the healing power of herbs and spices.

Applying this essential knowledge now gives Andrea tools on a day to day basis to stay in balance through the seasons and her life cycle.

So what’s Andrea’s morning schedule like?

6am – I start the day with time in the garden connecting with nature and practicing Mindfulness

6.15am– I then brew a cup of Ayurvedic Tea (recipe to be revealed at the workshop)

6.30am – while the tea is brewing I enjoy an Ayurvedic self massage (Abhyanga), using warmed black sesame oil and focus on the joints.

I leave the oil to be absorbed whilst at

7am – sip tea while contemplating the day and cultivating gratitude.

Before showering and ready for yoga.

  Andrea adds: “My dominant dosha is Pitta and my secondary dosha is Kapha, so I am very mindful of the foods I eat and combine. I eat seasonally and in summer enjoy foods and acitivities that are cooling. Being in my 60’s now, I am in the vata phase of life. Vata is responsible for anxiety and overwhelm and I understand and help my students manage stress.

I make and blend a variety of herbal and spice mixes, to relieve stress, aid inflammation and help the digestive system through sparking Agni (digestive fire).

I also enjoy a daily dose of golden paste (a combination of turmeric, black pepper and coconut oil) for inflammation and a cognitive boost, either in black coffee in the morning or milk in the evening.”

Andrea teaches seven yoga classes a week and offers Abhyanga massages (Ayurvedic full body massages), Indian Head Massage, Ayurvedic Lifestyle consultations and makes many herbal formulations as well as running monthly workshops at her home studio, The Santosha Room.

The 2.5 hour IYTA workshop on Sunday, March 21 will feature:

  The seven steps to boost immunity as suggested by the AYUSH Ministry of India which was issued at the onset of the Corona Virus.

  • Daily practices (for all doshas) to bolster the immune system.
  • An asana practice and a specific visualisation for immunity.
  • Plus a presentation and opportunity to taste all of the herbal and spice recommendations, and goodies to take home.

Book on to the workshop HERE

Pic credit: Calum Lewish at Unsplash


Discover a secret yoga practice – at our IYTA workshop

Stop for a moment and notice your breath. Not just the rhythm, the temperature or even the pauses, but the predominant nostril and direction of exhaled air.

Did you know this forms the basis for a particular style of yogic practice known as Swara Yoga? 

And regular practice and self-observation can help you discover your biorhythms and give you greater self-awareness.

Swami Muktibodhananda (Mukti) discovered Swara Yoga while studying in India in the 70s – she’s even authored a book on the practice: Swara Yoga – The Tantric Science of Brain Breathing. And now she’s about to reveal this practice at an IYTA online yoga workshop in March.

Mukti says: “Swara Yoga is the practice of recognising which nostril you are predominantly breathing through and what this indicates about your capacities in your current situation and in your current environment.”

Swara Yoga requires you to be observant of the specific nostril through which you are breathing as well as the direction of the breath while exhaling.

For example, Mukti says when you exhale and you put your fingers close to the nostrils – the breath can flow up, down, sideways and central. It’s not always flowing the same way. This indicates a specific energy flow in the body, which relates to a particular element (Tattwa)– air (vayu), water (apas), ether (akasha), fire (agni) and earth (prithvi).

Mukti adds: “For example, if the air is flowing up towards the top of the nose, the fire element is predominating.”

“This can be observed any time, but it is particularly observed at sunrise. And ideally you need to know the specific moon date and which nostril should be flowing to be in harmony with your environment.

“There is a natural biorhythm to which everyone’s swara flows and if your swara is out of sync with this rhythm then you know that there is a disturbance in the body or mind or emotions which needs to be addressed. Swara Yoga does not teach you how to breath as this is addressed in Hatha Yoga.”

Of course, a three-hour workshop will just be an introduction to these concepts, but you will still come away with tools to understand yourself, others and your relationship to your natural environment on a deeper level.

So why isn’t more known about this fascinating practice? Mukti says there are few teachers teaching Swara Yoga worldwide, because traditionally this particular Tantric practice of Swara Yoga was kept secret.

Mukti adds: “In the history of Tantra, many practices have been kept secret because people were not ready for the practices. Today we are well and truly ready to understand our biorhythms. “

Mukti discovered Swara Yoga in 1978 when she was living in a small Yogashram in the middle of India, Rajnandgaon, Madhya Pradesh. She had taught herself to read the Deva Nagari script in which Sanskrit and Hindi are written. Here in the yogashram, she read about the connection of the moon phases and which nostril should be functioning at sunrise.

She says: “I would check every morning and found it was true. It fascinates me that everyone’s breathing and brain hemisphere activities are linked to the specific moon date cycles. And to know that by discerning which nostril you are breathing through, you can understand the outcome of specific actions is invaluable in the process of being more in charge of yourself, to be ‘self-controlling, rather than ‘other’ controlling. I am always interested in yogic methods that increase my awareness of myself and others.

Mukti says that by understanding her own swara, she is able to make more informed decisions.

Mukti explains it can help you to shift out of negative emotions and behaviours such as being judgmental, blaming or being critical or feeling victimised or having a desire to “rescue”.

This is quite a complex subject but Mukti still manages to incorporate it into her general yoga classes by bringing students’ awareness to the fact that they breathe through individual nostrils, as well as through both nostrils evenly from time to time.

And that this cycle of breathing needs to change throughout 24 hours in order to maintain physical and psychological balance. She also explains about sleeping on your side in relation to having a deep sleep (all these aspects will be covered in the IYTA workshop).

  To book on click HERE

Pic credit: thanks to Unsplash and Ale Romo photographer



Head over Heels

Turning upside down shifts your perspective, which is so good for us mentally and physically. We caught up with IYTA lecturer, Alex Cogley to chat about headstands!

Q: When did you first start doing headstands and incorporating them into your yoga practice?

First one when I was a kid, but from around 12 onwards I didn’t spend much time on my head again until I was in my mid-twenties when I started doing yoga.

I was taught them as part of the Yoga Synergy courses that were offered in Bondi, and Newtown. Yoga Synergy has a foundation in physiotherapy (both the Directors are physiotherapist), so there was a strong emphasis on safety and the stages to getting into a headstand safely AND coming out properly.

Q: Why you love headstands? And why you do them?

I love the stillness that they bring (but it didn’t initially feel like that, it took practice and patience!). Headstands have many benefits but when I first started doing them I enjoyed the challenge and overcoming my fear of falling out/balancing my body weight on my head… by learning how to get into them properly, and being patience fears are overcome. 

Q: Why do you think so many yoga teachers and students don’t do headstands?

Firstly, the neck/head is such a delicate structure there are concerns regarding injuries… you don’t ever fully know your students’ full medical history, they may tell you about their obviously physical conditions, but it is often the emotional and mental tension that causes tension and stress, especially in the head, neck and shoulders… especially in our sedentary society where we are required to sit for prolonged periods and therefore putting additional tension and wear/tear in the neck and shoulders and spine. There are many inversion alternatives that offer the same benefits but are more accessible to students.

Q: What are the key safety points?

This is a long answer and will be addressed in the workshop (Alex is running her headstand workshop for the IYTA in March). It’s more than just not being suitable for students who are pregnant, unmedicated blood pressure, neck injuries, eye issues (detached retina, glaucoma) and some heart conditions…. it’s an individual’s physical, emotion and mental state too…

Q: When do you do your headstand practice? How long do you hold your headstand?

When – well I suggest once you have completed the standing poses, or at the end of the practice… body warmed up, not tired, core engaged. How long – as long as you feel comfortable when starting… and then build to 1min, 2min, 5min, 10min for more… to a point that feels like you’re in Tadasana but on your head!

I only teach headstands as part of a course, or when I know the whole group or individual well – never to new students in my class (or if I’m doing a cover class), as I need to know their bodies, lifestyle / background etc. However, if you are confident with teaching a headstand, and it is suitable for the group or individual then do it, as the benefits are so worthwhile.

Q: Is there any time you don’t do your headstand practice?

Traditionally inversions aren’t practiced in the first three days of a menstrual cycle, due to affecting the flow of blood plus some women’s core are not so strong in this phase, and therefore not so supportive in the inversion. I think due to our lifestyles we need to look at a lot of other issues – prolonged desk work, tension, stress – headstands can help BUT only when a student is able to go into them without tensing all the wrong muscles and potentially putting themselves at risk of injury. Headstands are suitable for all levels of practitioners (apart from complete beginners) however, it is advised that students have some yoga experience of a least 2-3 months. I would recommend that students have body awareness, an open mind, desire to try something new and approach them with a sense of fun. Students should be able to hold Downward Dog, Wide­-Legged Forward Bend, Forearm Plank, and Dolphin for a minute each.

Q: Anything else to add?

Headstands are challenging so the ego needs to be left behind and an acceptance of where each individual’s body is at, on that day, in that moment is essential.

Book NOW for Alex’s workshop: The Fundamental Stages To and From Headstand, on March 6th, 2021.








Stay Young with Yoga


What are the five main conditions of the ageing body – and how can you stay youthful with yoga?

At first the signs of ageing can be subtle – feeling a little stiff when we get out of bed in the morning, finding our jeans are a little more snug and perhaps noticing an extra line or two when we scrutinise our reflection in the mirror.

These changes tend to happen from our mid-40s and affect everyone in different ways. How we look and feel is unique to us and in part due to our lifestyle, environment, genetics, mindset and work conditions.

Ageing is a fact of life, but yoga can help us to stay youthful in mind, body and spirit. Which is why Seniors Yoga is becoming increasingly popular.

The IYTA’s Beryl Broadbent has written and presents a hugely popular two-day training to help yoga teachers focus on the needs of students aged 50+

She has been teaching yoga for Seniors for the past 25 years and presenting the IYTA’s Senior Yoga Training for the past two years.

Beryl says: “Yoga can bring focus to the mind by helping people get back in touch with their breath. In the past 25 years, yoga has been widely accepted as a health regime and a lot of people start yoga because it is accessible, gentle and simple. It is beneficial in many ways – from improving posture to encouraging deeper sleep, awareness of the breath and helps people connect with others and their communities.”


FIVE main conditions of ageing


#1 – Arthritis and getting stiffer – arthritis can occur at any age, but it tends to be more prevalent as we age. We can also find our joints can become stiffer and we find it harder to climb stairs and get up off our yoga mats.

Beryl says: “I have a lot of students who were athletes or runners and as they age, they find their body can’t handle ballistic impact movements. Yoga helps to keep joints mobile and active in a safe and controlled way while reducing the severity and pain of arthritic conditions.”


#2 – Weight gain – as you age you lose muscle mass and typically become less active which means you’ll burn less calories. Our hormonal balance also changes as we go through menopause – and don’t forget men have their equivalent of menopause too. Beryl adds that as our children become more independent, our workload around the home shifts (of course this is a benefit, but the downside is that we aren’t running around as much and as such our activity levels drop.)

In Seniors Yoga classes, depending on the ability and age range of the students, Beryl will often bring in some aerobics movements such as marching, heel taps, easy walks and even grapevines.


#3 – Posture – as we get older there is a tendency for us to hunch forwards and for the back to round resulting in a stooped posture or even a kyphosis. We can also suffer bone loss.

Yoga encourages us to stand tall and to release neck and shoulder tension, open the heart and breathe deeply into the lungs and feeling the entire rib cage expand and release with the breath.

Beryl believes in focusing on postural awareness. She says: “I find that shoulder rolls help to loosen up the chest and release into the shoulders. I encourage students to feel the shoulder blades slide down into the hip pockets and think of having angel wings fold across your back, to encourage the chest to open and the shoulders to soften.


#4 Cardiovascular health and high blood pressure – as we age our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke all increase. Many people aren’t aware they even have high blood pressure, so it’s important they have regular health checks. Yoga helps keep people active, can reduce stress and helps to keep body weight regular. Some of the breathing techniques such as Nadi Sodhana may have a direct impact on our cardiovascular health.


#5 Stress of midlife – the stress of ageing is a different kind of stress than in our earlier years. We are unlikely to have the responsibility of children, we may lose our independence, have to readjust to retirement and cope with grief and loss. There are also the physical symptoms of ageing to deal with such as loss of hearing, sight and mobility. As we know, yoga helps us cope with the changing landscape of our life and gives us tools to ease stress, tension and anxiety.


These are just some of the ways ageing can impact us – and some of the ways yoga can help. To discover more about this wonderful practice sign up to our two-day training NOW



The IYTA course is available online and face-to-face and Beryl will be delivering the course face-to-face in Brisbane on March 13 – 14, 2021


Find out more HERE


How to Clear your Chakras


By Katie Brown

We all know about the chakras – but how can we feel them, let alone clear them if we can’t even see them?

The word chakra means wheel – in yoga, there are seven main chakras – each one like an energy vortex sending and receiving vital energy (or prana).

Now think about your energy. What’s it like right now? Is it scattered, depleted or does it feel strong and vibrant?

There are days we feel light – it can feel as if our energy is flowing at a higher vibration. In this state it’s easier to feel positive about life and situations, we tend to move a little easier and our smile naturally stretches a little wider. We feel in the flow of life – more resilient and able to cope with the fluctuations of our day.

Then there are the days when we feel heavy, apathetic – it’s more difficult to motivate ourselves and if we’re not careful we can slip into a negative thought spiral… which only serves to draw that energy downard – now we’re at a lower vibration of energy.

Put very simply the first scenario is when the energy or prana in our body is likely to be flowing more freely and the second is when there is a blockage of energy which creates a stagnation and can then impacts each of the other chakras.

Even if we can’t see our chakras – if we focus our mind and energy on them we can begin to feel them and over time continue to deepen and refine that connection.

As the old saying goes: where our attention goes, our energy flows. By regularly paying attention to each of the seven main chakras: Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna and the Crown Centre Sahasrara – we can begin to tune into each of these energy centres.

I’ve always loved the Chakras and in my twenty years of instructing yoga, I often refer to them within the classes that I teach.

Mini Chakra Cleanse

In my personal practice, if I start to feel my energy lagging or feeling unbalanced, then I do a short Chakra Breathing Practice. I simply spend ten minutes breathing into each of the chakras in turn.

Begin at the base chakra. Take at least three deep breaths into the Muladhara Chakra.

Then move up to the Svadhisthana Chakra and repeat three breaths, continue to move your awareness and focus upwards through each chakra. We always move from the lowest to highest chakra – this ensures you remain grounded, safe and secure. The three base chakras are connected with the gross body, the Anahata is the bridge between gross and the subtle body and the three higher chakras are connected with the subtle body. You can visualise the colours associated with each of the chakras and if possible, chant the Bija Seed Mantras (the sounds associated with each of the chakras) to amplify your experience.

Then sit for a moment feeling the breath flow up from the base of the spine to just above the crown centre and feel the exhalation flow from the crown to the tailbone.

Finish by place the hands in Anjali Mudra at the heart centre. Namaste


Restorative Yoga for the Chakras with Katie Brown


  • New Year is the perfect time to start your Chakra Journey – and I’m running a 90-minute online Restorative Yoga class on Sunday, January 31, 2021 where we will be focusing on each chakra in turn with yoga pose, pranayama or centring practice which will culminate in a guided relaxation through all of the chakras.

This will be a nurturing experience for you whether you are extremely familiar with the seven main chakras or if you’re yet to explore them.

Click here for details on the class and to book

Ten reasons to LOVE the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching

The IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching can change your life – here ten of our 2020 students share their experiences…

Start the New Year with a new direction and do something poistive, challenging and rewarding by becoming a Yoga Teacher. You never know it could change your life. Here TEN of our 2020 students share their story.

#1 Kana Nobuhara – 37, Dee Why, NSW

Initially I was doing Bikram’s yoga for about ten years – I thought about doing that training, but I didn’t want to be restricted to one style of yoga or study overseas.

I was about to commit to doing a yoga course and then I fell pregnant, I thought I’d have to put it on the back burner, but I miscarried.

As devastating as it was and my husband in February (2020) said: Well why don’t you use this opportunity to do the yoga course. I had started doing pre-natal classes – that introduced me to other forms of yoga which I started to appreciate again

That led to me to be more confident and open minded about exploring other forms of yoga and so I searched online. I wanted to find the most established school in Australia – and I found the IYTA.

I liked that there was no one form of style and it provided a really good grounding holistic view of yoga.

At that point I’d missed the first weekend, but it wasn’t a problem as I was sent the recorded lectures, so I caught up. Then I fell pregnant again!

It’s been my best decision I’ve made in my life.

At this point in my life – it’s come together in regards to my dharma. There are so many knowledgeable teachers who are familiar with pre-natal yoga that I wasn’t concerned.

Being pregnant on the course has been really nourishing in so many ways – it really has helped me gradually prepare myself for childbirth and being more connected to my mind and body and with the asanas and chanting and mantras and how that all comes together and how I can utilise all those tools to benefit my whole pregnancy journey.

I would love to teach! I want to focus on motherhood initially and devote myself to that, but I think yoga is absolutely essential in terms of helping people become more in touch with their bodies – I’ve been teaching my friends and it’s encouraging this course is already impacting my group of friends.”


#2 Rachel Smith, 30, Balmain, NSW 

“I’ve always wanted to learn more about yoga. I did a lot of research and the IYTA DYT course seemed like a good choice.

I like the gentle and holisitic approach and you learn to listen to your body.

It’s been intense – I think it has helped doing this course during lockdown… it has given me a focus and encouraged me to give myself time to do the meditation and pranayama and practice each week.

The residential has been good – it’s been great to meet all the online students and get to know each other a bit more.

The course has definitely helped to improve my daily practice and given me a great foundation in yoga and for teaching.”


#3 Rachel Sands, 47, Fish Creek Victoria, South Gippsland 

“I wanted to diversify my income moving into older age… I work in public health four days a week and I see being a yoga teacher maintains yoga in my life. It also forces me to stay engaged with yoga and to own it a bit more and thus to also shift away from a day job if I so choose.

The course has been profound and it wasn’t at all what I expected. I don’t think I did it for the reasons for which I am now grateful of – I went into it in a pragmatic way, but what I’ve got from it is so much more and I wouldn’t have thought I would have experienced that.

I will be so sad when it finishes. It is a framework in my life that keeps me engaged in learning and progressing and it gives me an emotional support .

Absolutely I would recommend this course. I have appreciated the inclusive philosophy and that it’s ok to be where you are at and ok if your body doesn’t do what the picture says and I love that we are given these tools to allow everyone to participate. And I have enjoyed the diversity of teaching styles I have been exposed to.

I’m really grateful with the standard of pranayama and meditation instruction.”


#4 Amanda Mealing, 40, Moree, NSW 

“I just wanted to know more about yoga – I went online and searched. There were lots of different courses and I like the approach that IYTA had welcoming in lots of different teachers and different aspects of yoga. It didn’t seem like it was going to be a rigid set of beliefs – and the correspondence was huge knowing that I wouldn’t get to Sydney a lot of weekends. I liked the way it was over a year so I would incorporate it into my life…

I love it – it’s been so good – the teachers have been amazing, the other students have been amazing – it is so well set up and timed as far as every step that comes next in the program you are ready for it… an integrated way of learning and also the correspondence has been helpful – during Covid the guys put in extra effort to do the classes via Zoom.

I’ve been very grateful to have this course to help keep me grounded during the madness of the year – I think I’m a lot calmer than if I hadn’t been doing the course

Sometimes I don’t realise the effect it is having on me..

I absolutely recommend it.”


#5 Stanja Buvac – 43, Dulwich Hill 

I decided to do the course to improve my personal practice and overall wellbeing and learn pranayama and meditation.

Why IYTA? I’ve done a lot of research and found this course is comprehensive and covers not only asana and philosophy but pranayama and meditation in comparison to the majority of others.

It is quite challenging but good challenging – it makes me learn and it is quite harder than I thought it would be. There is so much to learn – definitely more hours than in any other course.

Because you do it over the year it gives you more time and space for all this knowledge to settle so it isn’t that intense training which you don’t have time to absorb.

And in pranayama and meditation you can’t do that in a short course.

I absolutely recommend it, because it challenges you – and changes your life if you are open to a change… and expands and deepens your knowledge and understanding about life.

I feel like it has changed my life – it has shifted my perception in many ways – learning about different bodies and anatomy and Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. You do this course and you start to really dig deeper – and you understand yourself better. Professionally I fell in love with pranayama and edition so I would like to teach meditation and pranayama, I think I would find it more enjoyable than teaching asanas…

I can embody that more. Physical part is not as important as those deeper levels… “


#6 Junko Wong, 45, Ultimo, NSW 

“I decided to do this as I had been practicing yoga for 6-7 years and I wanted to learn more especially about pranayama, meditation and philosophy. I’d been doing a lot of asana work but not much else.

Pranayama, meditation and philosophy was included in this course in particular. And I was also aware of the good reputation of the IYTA and that is was a well-balanced and good course.

I really like the course it covers so much and the teachers are all very different. I’ve learnt a lot. The study weekends are quite intense and it can be overwhelming but there is a lot of support from all the teachers and students.

I think in the beginning I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach but now I am more keen to teach – starting with friends and perhaps hiring a community centre. I work as a support worker in a preschool, so I might do yoga for children.”


#7 Audrey D’Souza – age 60, Pymble 

“I go to the Kuringai Yoga School and have been going for many years. I enquired about this course about two years ago but in Sept 2019 my mum passed away and I was very involved in caring for her, when that happened I started to think about now it’s time for me.

I didn’t know what I was going to do and then I got the reminder email about this course and the moment I saw that, I thought: this is it, I am doing this… 

I did check out a few others courses, but I came back and spoke to Lynne and Margaret – they couldn’t speak more highly about the IYTA course. I asked them am I ready? Audrey I know you and I think you are absolutely ready, I was told, but they warned me I would have to work hard!

So I enrolled and I haven’t looked back since. The course is great – it is so comprehensive. It is covering the whole yogic lifestyle as opposed to just asanas. Doing the yoga philosophy part of it has sparked a great interest in me and I am waiting to jump in and learn more. I need to go and learn more.

My reason for doing the course… the first reason was myself and my husband – we are both 60 – as we grow older we need to be even kinder to ourselves and to me yoga is the way to go. I also want to encourage older people and help them move in a gentle and mindful way – I want to take my skills to the retirement homes – I want to just do it for the love of doing it.

People say the IYTA is the best course there is around and yes, it is the best course because of everything that it encompasses.”


#8 Andrea Gotham, aged  54, Seaforth, NSW 

“My first yoga teacher, Lydia Dyhin was an IYTA teacher and I really liked her style and I was always trying to find a teacher with the same style. Also one weekend a month was really good for me, as I have children and it didn’t interfere with family activities – and I liked the idea of having lots of different teachers who specialised in their individual areas.

I’ve loved the course. Absolutely loved the course. I’m not 100 per cent sure I will teach but the journey has been the most enjoyable experience.

It’s the group of people I’ve been learning with have been so likeminded and the lecturers have been very knowledgeable and supportive.

I would definitely recommend it – for me the journey has been so enjoyable especially this year with Covid. As much as it is rigorous the lecturers all seem to understand you have other lives and it’s not a big deal if you need an extension on something.”

#9 Helen Johnson, age 34, Young, NSW 

“I’ve had two incredible teachers who are both IYTA trained and had different approaches, but the same values. And living regionally the ability to be able to do it by distance and the third reason it is long and comprehensive.

I’ve found it amazing, both the teachers and the other students are all so supportive. And the curriculum has been comprehensive, but there is a lot of space to go into self enquiry and insight..

I did it because I wanted to be a yoga teacher, that was my main driver was to become a yoga teacher because of the big gap we have in our community. But through doing it I’ve found how advantageous it has been in deepening my own personal practice.

You guys are all really experts and I view it as an honour to be able to be able to graduate and teach.”


#10 Marcus Reynolds, 61, Newtown 

“This course I liked being spread out over 12 months – I didn’t like the idea of a boot camp intensity I thought at my age if I had an injury it would be hard to stick with it. I also know with my learning processes I would need time to internalise and assimilate it.

The course has been great. A really lovely balance between the breathing, asana and philosophy – I knew there was going to be that philosophical approach – the surprising element is how much it has resonated with me.

Understanding about being gentle to yourself, the process accepting of where you are at..

The course has supported that you accept what you can accept – move in that direction and allow yourself to build.

Yoga is such an internal process and one in which there is all this growing awareness of self and the connectedness of yourself as a whole – with mind and breath but to externalise that in terms of the articulation in a succinct way is challenging.

My journey of understanding of my body – the strengths and vulnerabilities. As I’ve started to teach friends I’ve realised what a gift this is to share. And my friends have said they feel inspired so this course has had a ripple effect to my friends… it has positively touched the lives of those I care about.”

We have just TEN spots left at our discounted rate – to find out more and take advantage of this deal, please click HERE







How studying Yoga helped me through 2020

When Mum-of-three, Bec Abbott enrolled on the IYTA Diploma of Yoga teaching at the start of the year she had no idea how much of a lifeline it would be…

By Katie Brown

This ground-breaking course has a panel of 22 expert lecturers delivering information and practical sessions on asanas, philosophy, meditation, anatomy and so much more.

More than 3000 teachers have graduated from this – arguably the longest running yoga teacher training course in Australia.

While dozens of yoga teaching courses have been postponed or even cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, the IYTA team worked hard to ensure the Diploma course continued – providing students with online live and face-to-face lectures whenever required.

Bec Abbott, aged 45, is one of the current intake of students and is delighted the course was able to continue.

She says: “I feel so well supported. The IYTA is doing everything within its means not only to help us pass but to ensure our experience of the course is just as enriching despite the restrictions and making sure we all continue to genuinely enjoy the course.”

The course has been delivered by a mix of online, live Zoom classes and face-to-face lectures – with live streaming for students in remote areas or who are not able to attend the study weekends.

Bec of Hornsby, NSW, says that even when she has attended online she has still found a deep sense of community and support from students and lecturers alike.

And the mum-of-three, who also works as a part-time journalist has found the practices she has learnt this year have helped her personally. She says: “My meditation and breathing practices have become a lifeline. They have sustained me and helped me focus on feeling positive and calm. I feel much more peaceful than I think I would have if I hadn’t been doing the course this year!”

Not only has the course supported her personally but she feels that at the end of this year she will have a valuable qualification as an internationally-recognised yoga teacher.

She adds: “It’s been a real rollercoaster ride this year – we’ve had lots of niggling sicknesses – my family has had a total of six Covid 19 tests so far this year! They’ve all been negative but it’s been challenging. We’ve dealt with homeschooling our three girls (aged 11, 12 and 15) while both my husband and I have worked from home.

“Another thing I’ve learnt from the course is how to respond and react to challenging situations. I have been able to give single focus to each problem as it crops up rather than feeling overwhelmed. And with that single focus I have been able to give undivided attention to my children as they have gone through these issues.”

Bec adds: “I am just so glad that I decided to take the time to do a course that would be so comprehensive. This was really important to me as I want to provide safe and effective teaching for people at all ages and stages of life.

“My husband works as a chiropractor specialising in rehabilitation, so I’m very aware of how beneficial strengthening and stretching can be, but also how important it is to do it in a safe, controlled manner.”

Bec adds if you want to become a yoga instructor who can simply demonstrate a few asanas, then you could find a short teacher training course elsewhere. However, if you want to be a yoga teacher who can safely guide their students through all the physical and emotional – and potentially even spiritual – benefits that yoga can provide, then the IYTA course is definitely the one for you.

She says: “It will not only enable you to greatly enrich the lives of your students, but it will also greatly enrich your own.”

The IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga course is 460 hours which includes 10 study weekends + six-day residential

The International Yoga Teachers Association is non-profit and does not have a guru, or owner. It embraces many traditions acknowledging that ‘many paths lead us up the mountain’. This inclusive approach creates a solid and stable foundation for student teachers to develop their own style of expression and teaching of yoga.

The IYTA also offer a 70-hour Foundation of Yoga course (an introduction to the full course). If you decide to do this and then wish to enrol in the full Diploma course, the course fee and all your completed assignments are counted towards the full course.

Graduates of this course are respected and acknowledged as some of the best yoga teachers around the world.

Email us to find out more and book into our FREE Open Days.


November 15

Live and via Zoom

4-5pm AEST

to register and find out more


Or visit our website: iyta.com.au for a course outline or to enrol

Meet Deb Collie – Our new DYT Course Manager

Deb’s first experience of yoga was while she was working as a Qantas flight attendant and living the seemingly glamorous life of attending yoga classes in Singapore, Perth and Japan.
She says: “I had friends in Sydney who encouraged me to attend a yoga class in Sydney and I loved it. At the time I was travelling to Singapore regularly and I was fed up with shopping – so I would go to yoga studios instead.  I also attended a studio in Perth where I lived at that time. I loved how yoga was not just a physical practice, but focused on breathing, philosophy and meditation. I would feel lighter after attending a class.”
Deb’s passion for yoga continued after she left Qantas, moved to Camden in NSW, married Tim and became a mum to Jack (now ten). And about five years ago she was chatting to her good friend Amy Seal about how she dreamed of becoming a yoga teacher. 
The duo researched courses and both attended an IYTA Open Day. They were struck by how comprehensive and inclusive the course was and so they both signed up to the 2015 Diploma. 
Deb says: “I really enjoyed the course. It was much more involved than I thought it would be. At the time Jack was five years old and it was a bit of a challenge working part-time in an office, caring for Jack and keeping up-to-date with my assignments! But I loved it.”
Deb was taken on as a yoga teacher just before she graduated by another IYTA teacher – Angela Baker at her Campbelltown Yoga Studio. 
Deb adds: “It was great to have the experience of teaching my own general class.” Deb adds that doing the IYTA Diploma of Yoga Teaching course was wonderful preparation for teaching.
She says: “If I had done a shorter course then I don’t think I would have been able to cope. I had students coming up to me with bad backs, sore knees and even PTSD. But I was able to handle it and come up with options because the IYTA course had been so thorough. It really sets you up with the confidence to teach.”
Deb now teaches two classes a week, has a one-day a week office job AND is managing the IYTA’s DYT course. She teaches a private class from home and an over-55s class.  
And she manages to weave in walking her two boxer dogs early every morning.

As for her personal practice, Deb fits in yoga when she can she has a daily meditation practice and does pranayama and asana with her husband Tim and son Jack whenever she can persuade them!  
Deb’s role on the IYTA’s DYT and Foundation Studies course includes managing the course, communicating with current and prospective students, ensuring the online course runs smoothly, communicating with the 22 lecturers regarding marking assignments and attending study weekends and representing the IYTA at Open Days.
Deb works with Amy Seal who has stepped down as Course Manager but is working as an IT coordinator with IYTA

Sadhana, Dharma and Almond Croissants…

If you feel in need of a practice which honours inner reflection (and gives you a day off for almond croissants), then check out the IYTA’s Meditation and Pranayama course

There are a multitude of yoga courses which claim to be fast-track and offering quick qualifications. But the Meditation and Pranayama course run by David Burgess for the IYTA is the exact opposite of a short dip-in course.

It is a lived experience – which will take around a year of regular practice – and one which will nurture your learning on many levels.

The course is online and presented in a week-by-week format with specific practices, recommended reading and self-assessment quizzes. It also involves regular journaling with ongoing support and feedback from David. For many students this incremental development (and David’s ongoing feedback) is the real strength of this course.

David (who has been teaching yoga for the best part of 50 years) says six days of practise a week is optimal and then take the seventh day off. “The recommendation is that you don’t practise” he says: “To prove to both yourself and those you love that you are not a fanatic!”

He goes on to say in the words of Charles Dickens that on this day “spend a good portion of it in a state of amiable dissipation and do so with unbounded license!”: sleep in and have an almond croissant for breakfast and a second cup of tea, go for a stroll, spend quality time with family and friends, read a non-relevant book…..

And he adds if you don’t have time for this day then the chances are you will struggle finding time on the other days for sadhana.” I am so very busy,” is rarely a useful sankalpa,” he adds with a wry grin.

So, if you feel you are ready to commit to this course – and David stresses, that knowing when to commit is a skill in itself! If you have children and/or a mortgage then the branches of Karma, Bhakti and Gyana Yoga might take priority for now.

But if you are ready to explore yoga beyond the asana – and you don’t have a myriad of commitments – then this could be the perfect time…

The online course is broken into three terms. With the pranayama component the first term is dedicated to a category of practices known as Prana Nigraha. These are the foundational breathing practices upon which the classical pranayamas are built.

The Prana Nigraha practices develop heightened breath awareness and sensitivity, breath control and expanded breath capacity, these are all prerequisite to accurate and safe performance of the pranayamas.

David says: “Many of us these days have lost our natural pattern of breathing and need to attend to this before moving into the classical techniques.”

The subsequent pranayamas fall into three categories: Balancing e.g. Nadi Shodhana, Tranquilising e.g. Ujjayi, Bhramari, Sheetali and Vitalising e.g. Swarna, Kapalabhati and Bhastrika.

The more technically complex practices are deconstructed and then reconstructed over weeks and months. In most weeks three nominated practices are done each day in sequence and followed by meditation practice (dharana).

And just as there are categories of pranayama e.g. vitalising balancing, heating cooling, tranquilising, there are categories of meditation taught on the course.

For example: Compassion and Loving Kindness, Open Monitoring, Mindfulness, and Focussed Attention. In this course the meditation techniques are drawn from the latter category, (focussed attention). Techniques from this category include Kaya Sthairyam, Trataka, Japa, Akasha, Ajapa Japa and Antar Mauna.

David says this is because in meditation: one size does not fit all!

So are you ready to make this commitment and reap the rewards? Sign up now or find out more about this wonderful course.

And if you’d like the full transcript of this interview with David please click HERE


All about the IYTA’s Pranayama and Meditation Course

This is an exceptional course presented by David Burgess. It is transformational – not just professionally but personally. But with anything that’s worth doing… it takes time.

We sat down with David to find out more…

Q: As you have stated, this course is a commitment – roughly how much time should people be dedicating to the course, study and practice? And how can they best manage this (presuming they already have a job, family etc…)

David: Yes, this course is very much a commitment of time, but not only time, it would be more accurately described as a commitment to managing one’s sadhana and hence is no small commitment.

In most cases the course will take a little less than a year, but you practise more often than not. That means a minimum of four days a week but better in truth if it is five or six.

Q: So is the commitment four half-hour sessions a week?

David: No that is just the nominal practise time, (around 15 minutes of designated pranayama and the same of meditation) beyond this one needs to complete a weekly journal that is submitted four times throughout the year and furthermore undertake associated reading, so around another hour or two per week.

Q: Is the reading really necessary?

David: As my teacher once said: “While theory without practise is little more than meaningless acquisition of knowledge, so too is practise without some degree of understanding!”

Q: Some would say that is a lot of time to allocate and I’m guessing others not enough?

David: Yes and both are right! It is a matter of perspective, competing priorities and desired outcomes.

Q: Would you care to elaborate?

David: Well to be honest probably not as this raises a larger question on the nature of sadhana which is beyond the scope of this discussion. Let’s just say that quality trumps quantity every time, and consistent practice is the real imperative. There are times in one’s life that may allow you to do more and there will certainly be times that will oblige you to do less. One has to ride that wave but know that it is a long game you are playing and it is a mix of persistence and tenacity that allows you to arrive/succeed.

And that is never going to happen if you regard yourself as being: “too busy,” or to think that yoga is synonymous with asana. There are times in one’s life where the branches of Karma, Bhakti and Gyana Yoga take priority.

One of the great skills I believe we all implicitly hope to gain from our practice is “timing”, discerning when the time is right to undertake the many projects that life throws our way. There is a time in one’s life when to take on a year-long course in pranayama makes great sense and other times where it doesn’t…to know which time it is is a very useful skill : – )

Q: I’ve heard you say that the ideal number of days to practice is six, why not seven?

David: On the seventh day, the recommendation is that you don’t practise, and amongst other reasons this is to prove to both yourself and those you love that you are not a fanatic! On that seventh day I advise students to take inspiration from the words of Charles Dickens and spend a good portion of that day it in a state of amiable dissipation and with unbounded license!

Such activities as lying in, almond croissants and a second cup of tea are all sound options on such days as these, swims, walks and non-obligatory books, family and friends and extended periods of being without doing all qualify.  If you don’t have time for this day in your week then there is a fair chance you will struggle finding time on the other days for sadhana.

” I am so very busy,” is rarely a useful sankalpa…

Q: In a perfect world you say these practices are performed in the early morning after ablutions and asana. Why?

David: Well there are many reasons why this is such an auspicious time. To name a few: this is a quiet time with less distraction both from within and beyond, you have not eaten and your bowels and bladder can be empty which is highly desirable for practise, you are rested and if you have taken appropriate steps you should be bright and alert but without the events of the day to review and impinge in on your presentness. 

Q: What is the rationale behind the sequence of practise you recommend?

David: Asana physically gets the prana moving and unlocks the granthis (energy blocks) energetically preparing one for pranayama which in turn prepares one for meditation. In short, by way of asana, pranayama and meditation we have shifted identification from the gross towards the subtle dimensions of human experience: from Annamaya to Pranamaya to Manomaya Kosha and beyond, from the outer to the inner form the gross towards the subtle

Q: What do you see being the main obstacles to regular practise?

David: Here in the west and in these days, we all consider ourselves to be time pressured and no doubt we are. On another level we still have 24 hours in a day which is pretty much the same as our forebears, how we prioritise and allocate that time has altered though. Mind you the priorities themselves have not really changed, e.g. food, shelter, procreation, companionship, work, contribution to society, understanding who we are, why we are here and where we are going you could say.

In yogic vernacular we are speaking of the ashramas and purusharthas. In today’s world we tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time on Artha (fulfilling the material aspects of our life, and more time in Brahmacharya (student) and Grihasta (householder) ashramas/stages, less time is allocated to Dharma and Moksha and consequently our sadhana is given lower priority and hence is often compromised.

Q:Why do you use the term sadhana rather than yogic practise?

David: Sadhana is most often understood as a collective term for yogic practices and for many this translates simply as asana. When I use the term I am referring not only to yogic techniques e.g. asana, pranayama, dharana etc by sadhana here I mean any activity which is undertaken with yogic/expanded awareness so Sadhana here does not just refer to time on the mat or the pillow, it refers in fact far more, to what we do beyond these formal practise times and more importantly how we do activity both within and beyond these times.

Why is it so important for sadhana to be regular?

David: The aim is for sadhana to colour every moment. The degree to which this occurs is very much in my experience a function of the cumulative effect on our awareness of ongoing systematic practise and this is why in this course one finds this requirement.

There are times in life where it is easier or harder to make this commitment so before entering this course one needs to be confident that the time is right. A good percentage of people have enrolled but competing priorities and life circumstances have meant they couldn’t make it right through. Abhyasa is hard won!

Can you give me an idea of what is covered over this eleven month long course?

David: Practices are scheduled on a weekly basis, some practices are only included for a week or two being transitionary and others over several months. The course is broken into three terms. With the pranayama component the first term is dedicated to a category of practices known as Prana Nigraha.

These are the foundational breathing practices upon which the classical pranayamas are built. The Prana Nigraha practices develop heightened breath awareness and sensitivity, breath control and expanded breath capacity, these are all prerequisite to accurate and safe performance of the pranayamas.

Many of us these days have lost our natural pattern of breathing and need to attend to this before moving into the classical techniques. The subsequent pranayamas fall into three categories: Balancing e.g. Nadi Shodhana, Tranquilising e.g. Ujjayi, Bhramari, Sheetali and Vitalising e.g. Swarna, Kapalabhati and Bhastrika

The more technically complex practices are deconstructed and then reconstructed over weeks and months. In most weeks three nominated practices are done each day in sequence and followed by meditation practice (dharana). Just as with the pranayama a range of meditation techniques are systematically introduced in a similar fashion.

Q: Can you elaborate on the meditation techniques?

David: Just as there are categories of pranayama e.g. vitalising balancing, heating cooling, tranquilising there are categories of meditation

For example, Compassion and Loving Kindness, Open Monitoring, e.g. Mindfulness, and Focussed Attention. In this course the meditation techniques are drawn from the latter category, (focussed attention). Techniques from this category include Kaya Sthairyam, Trataka, Japa, Akasha, Ajapa Jap and Antar Mauna.

Q: Why did you choose these particular meditation techniques?

David: The simple answer is because I am very familiar with them having worked with them for more decades than I care to declare! One should only teach that which they know deeply, not bolted on and these I know well. The other categories are mostly drawn more as I understand it, from the Buddhist Tradition(s) and hence there are people far better qualified and experienced than I from whom to learn those techniques.

These techniques are not better or worse than the aforesaid, they are techniques that suit a range of temperaments very well and also they are very coherent to the pranayama techniques being used in this course.

Q: Why do we as yoga teachers need to know a variety of techniques?

David: In short because one size does not fit all!

While the desired outcome of meditation practice is the state of meditation there are diverse ways of achieving this (many paths up the mountain as they say) and which pathway one choses should be in response to the temperament and constitution of the practitioner rather than that of the teacher.

For a student to find that which suits them then trial and error across a range of practices seems to me the best way to find that with which one truly resonates, and thus avoiding the square peg and round hole scenario. This is so important as if that technique is not found with which you are at home, it is only a matter of time before you stop. It has to be in you, not on you.

Why is it important to move slowly through the practices?

David: Oh as you well know there are so many reasons why!

In short one needs to develop proficiency in walking before running. Just like when working with asana one needs to develop sufficient physical strength, endurance and flexibility to perform the practice as an asana rather than just technically as a physical posture. The same principles apply to pranayama and meditation.

The only difference is that asana primarily focuses on Annamaya while Pranayama is on Pranamaya and Dharana is on Manomaya Kosha. Mind you by that I am not saying exclusively focussing but yes primarily addressing those respective layers of who we are. 

Using an analogy: while yes one needs to increase the voltage one needs also to increase the insulation. The yoga we are talking about here is not to be compared to dropping by the gym for a weekly class (as good as that is) or as a teacher doing a few rounds along with our students in a class or doing a few rounds of Surya before a morning dip. Please don’t get me wrong all the above are excellent but if one wants to go deeper you have to dive in and it is best to ascertain the depth before you do so..

Developing one’s viveka and vairagya doesn’t happen overnight. These act as the insulation in the above analogy. Sadhana is on one level an ongoing experiment to see how much voltage you can sustain,.. finding just how much is too much, too little and just right. For this you need discernment and detachment which are born of trial and error. As Patanjali tells us: Evolution through yoga requires Viveka, Vairagya and Abhyasa.

Q: is this course aimed at specifically yoga teachers or can anyone do the course?

  David: This course is aimed at people that want to dive deeper and that appreciate that it is no hay ride!

Q: Presumably this will be a course that teaches people both personally and professionally. As a result what can they expect or hope to gain from this course?

David: The short answer is the desired outcome of this course is to increase self-reflective awareness. This course is for yogis and yoginis who want to walk their talk whether that is to self or others. They regardless of vocation will have as Muktananda said: Clearer insight into who they are, why they are here and where they are going. And along the way will add quite a range of pranayamas and dharanas to their quiver.

Find out more or book into the course HERE

Meet our new Social Media Manager

You may have noticed our IYTA social media profile has been flourishing lately. This is due to our new Social Media Manager, Karen Mallinson. Karen is a yoga teacher and digital marketing expert as she explains here in our Q&A catch-up!

Q: Tell us about your yoga journey

I was introduced to yoga in 1998, however, it was eight years later before I started to practise regularly. After my move from the UK to Australia I began to practise Yoga Synergy with Alex Cogley in Manly, which I did regularly for three or four years. During this time, I was looking to increase and deepen my practice further, and Alex directed me to Gyan Morrison’s class at what was then the old Manly Yoga. Which, then was teaching predominantly Satyananda Yoga. I consider myself very fortunate to build my Yoga foundations with two exceptional teachers.

Yoga has been life changing for me. What started as a form of exercise became a way of life. I have so much respect for the practices and the benefits they continuously give to people. When I teach a class, I believe I’m sharing the most incredible gift. With yoga and meditation, you are continuously discovering and learning, I feel like I’ve only just touched the surface.

Q: Did you do a yoga teacher training?

I completed the two-year (1600hr) Yogic studies and teacher training diploma in Satyananda Yoga in 2015, through what was then the Satyananda Yoga Academy in Australia

Since then my postgraduate professional development has been a bi product of continuing to develop my own personal practice. I like to participate in workshops and courses and took great advantage of having David Burgess visiting to Manly Yoga to lead his masterclasses.

In the last couple of years, I’ve participated in different meditation retreats around the world: Vipassana in Spain, Tattwa Shuddhi in Tasmania, and last year I also participated in a silent meditation retreat in Tiruvannamalai Tamil Nadu, India at the foothills of Arunachala.

Q: Are you teaching at the moment?

I was regularly teaching at Manly Yoga until I moved overseas. Since I’ve been back here in Australia my teaching has been limited, mainly due to lockdown!

I normally spend my time between Australia and Spain, (my partner who also a yoga teacher, is from Barcelona). So, for part of the year I teach there. When I’m here, I generally offer cover classes.

We’re currently building our own offering and will be looking to teach more online.

Q: How long have you been involved with IYTA?

I first became involved with the IYTA during my time as Manager of Manly Yoga. Alex Cogley was also a teacher at the centre. Also, over the last 2-3 years when I worked for Alana Smith as Marketing Manager for the centre and a few of our regular students went on to complete the IYTA Diploma.

I’m really delighted to be working with the IYTA, I have a professional background in marketing, so to be able to use my knowledge and skills doing something I love with a well-respected and established organisation like the IYTA, is a real privilege.

I’m delighted to be working with IYTA. to work with an organisation whose ethos is to promote the benefits of practices to support mental and physical health and wellbeing is wonderful.

Q: What is your new role within IYTA and how can members help you?

My new role is as Social Media Manager, so I will be on the lookout for content to share with the IYTA community! And that’s where members can join in!

We would love to know what is happening in local areas, how you are spreading the joy of yoga with your communities. So, any short videos or photographs are very welcome.

You can email Karen here








Transform with the breath

Gyan Morrison’s life turned around after he discovered yoga 20 years ago… he’s now teaching others the tools that have transformed his life.

Gyan will be leading the workshop:

Experience the Purpose of Pranayama


We caught up with Gyan to find out a little more about his yoga journey.

Q: When and how did you first experience yoga?

Gyan: I’d been to a naturopath because I was having a lot of stress in the early nineties – I was working as a company manager at the time and I was finding it difficult to sleep.

As I left she gave me a cassette and told me to play it before I went to sleep at night. I found out ten years later (after attending Mangrove Mountain) that it was a Yoga Nidra.

Q: Did it help you sleep?

Gyan: Oh definitely! It fixed up my sleep issues. I rarely experienced the nightmares after that, and every time I played that cassette I slept like a baby and I didn’t ever get to the end of the recording!

Q: So how did your experience of yoga develop?

Gyan: In the late 90s I went with a mate to Simon Borg-Olivier’s classes which I really enjoyed. I was going to a couple of classes a week – mostly asana and pranayama. Then I hurt my shoulder sometime in mid-2002 – I was around 40 years old at the time. I’d been to Mangrove Mountain and I thought I should learn about meditation. They were running a weekend meditation course and so I did it and loved it.

After that I did lots of weekends up there before heading overseas for a year.

I spent a month in Kerala, India and then a month at the Satyananda ashram and a month at the Osho Centre in Pune, before going to Sweden and attending a three-month Kriya Retreat at the Scandinavian School of Yoga and Meditation. I spent another six months in Asia before returning to Australia and that’s when I realised how many things had shifted in me in the most positive of ways.

Q: What had changed for you?

Gyan: All of the things I’d done before finding yoga just fell away – drinking alcohol, partying, hunting… I quit my job working in the family business and a long term relationship ended.

These things just fell away… and I wanted to know why yoga had made such an impact on my life, so I did one module of the Satyananda Yoga studies course, then another and by the time I’d finished the first four modules – I decided to do the full teacher training. I ended up living in the ashram for the next three years. During that time I was very fortunate to have very experienced teachers such as David Burgess, Shankardev, and Satyadharma. I then lived and taught at Manly Yoga from 2011 – 2016, and taught at the new centre for another 3 years.

Q: What are you doing now?

Gyan: I’m now teaching on the Northern Beaches of Sydney – although I was supposed to be doing another one-month retreat in Sweden, but obviously had to cancel that due to the pandemic! And I’m running the workshop for the IYTA on Pranayama.

Q: Why focus on Pranayama?

Gyan: It expands and balances and focuses your energy in ways that you can’t really get from other forms of exercise, nor other aspects of yoga. With correct technique you can biohack your nervous system for specific outcomes, whether it be to energise, calm or focus the mind for example. And it can really help to prepare you for meditation. Pranayama is a practice I do regularly. And I feel with a lot of current yoga establishments and teachers there is not enough emphasis put on pranayama – most of the emphasis is put on asana.

Q: What can people expect from the Pranayama workshop?

Gyan: I am running the workshop together with Alana Smith and we will be starting the session with a prana nidra – so if people aren’t familiar with their own flow of prana they get to experience it. We will then introduce some specific pranayama practices so the participants can understand and experience what the effects are when the breath is manipulated in different ways, and in doing so know which particular practices are most suitable to obtain particular outcomes.

Q: What is a prana nidra?

Gyan: A prana nidra is like a yoga nidra but it is about getting in contact with your pranic state. It is an exploration of energy and to help people access stillness.

In doing this practice you are waking up dormant energy. It is revitalising, but not in an exaggerated way – in a therapeutic way.

The workshop will also cover a range of yogic breathing practices and more.

To find out more or book into this workshop click HERE


We All Need Nidra

Yoga Nidra can create the conditions for transformative change and an even deeper experience.

Regular practice of Yoga Nidra strengthens us to burn off old habits, conditioning and samskaras so that we can establish new ways of expressing our inner nature and ultimately our true destiny.

Yoga Nidra offers us access to a limitless source of inspiration and creativity. The more we practice the more we can respond to situations with imagination, wisdom and resourcefulness. Take the first step, lie down, let go …… and express your potential.

It is accessible to all and can be practiced by anyone – all that is required is the ability to stay still and follow the instructions.

The body is placed in Shavasana (corpse pose), as this is a position that creates space between each of the limbs and minimises touch sensation, thereby reducing sensory stimulation and distraction.

Although the practice is ideally performed while lying in Shavasana it can be practiced in any comfortable posture, including sitting in a seat. This means that it can be done by anyone, irrespective of age, level of physical mobility, or health status. It is one of the few systematic yogic practices that can be practiced by those who are bed-ridden due to chronic ill health or those who are sitting upright, for example while travelling on long haul flights. The only requirement is to be still and maintain awareness.

Yoga Nidra is based on ancient tantric practices which have been adjusted to make them more accessible to the modern practitioner.

The deep state of relaxation is induced by systematically addressing the tensions in the body, mind and emotions. This is achieved by then steady progression of the mind into a deep stage of pratyahara, where the mind is gradually withdrawn from external stimuli into a still, inner state while the consciousness remains alert, on the borderline between sleep and wakefulness.

In the state of pratyahara, our awareness is expanded to the point where external stimuli and distractions are minimised. We can then gain access to the deeper levels of the psyche and experience the inner world of the mind whose language is one of symbols and images.

It is then focused on releasing the threefold tensions – physical, mental and emotional. If we experience stiffness in our joints, there is often a correlative tension in the mind; if we are feeling anxious we can also experience agitation in our breathing or fluctuations in the digestive system; when we are mentally stressed this is manifested in physiological changes in the body such as an increase in heart rate, escalated blood pressure levels, disturbed breathing patterns and a dominance of the sympathetic nervous system. Yoga Nidra progressively releases these threefold tensions in sequential progression through each of the stages of the practice.

A version of this article first appeared in Australian Yoga LIFE magazine

Learning your Kraefft

Join Liz Kraefft for a FREE yoga class this Saturday and find out more about the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching

Liz has a background in education which was the perfect stepping stone into yoga teaching. She began practising Iyengar Yoga as a student and then while working full-time as a Lecturer in TAFE NSW, but her interest quickly developed into a new career after enrolling with the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching in 2003.

After graduating, Liz was so impressed with the course that she volunteered to join the Teacher Training Committee and together with other IYTA yogis, Marg North, Janet Stevens and Patricia Wrigley and Satyaprem Gibson worked on overviewing the curricululm and ensuring the course met the accreditation guidelines for Yoga Australia.

To this day, Liz – who runs the Kuringai Yoga School in Pymble, NSW – is still one of the Asana Team lecturers. And she will be teaching a free hour-long class this Saturday, July 25 as part of the IYTA’s Open Day for the Diploma of Yoga Teaching.

Liz believes the IYTA Diploma of Yoga Teaching is the best course around because it has no connection to one particular style or approach. It encompasses many approaches and traditions and students are provided the classical teachings of yoga by yoga teachers who are current and actively teaching.

“The right people are delivering their specialist areas and are dedicated to share their skills and knowledge. IYTA is an organisation that is embracing, supportive and like a family.”

Liz says: “Yoga evolves with our life’s stages. Nothing remains the same and so my style continues to develop as I learn more about myself and therefore how I deliver to my students.”

She adds: “My general Hatha classes are very classic in nature and are designed to provide an experience to bring each student into a fabulous Connection to their own consciousness.

“My style is profoundly meditative so even during a flowing movement there is a breath aware connection to hold each student in the present moment.

“Over the last four years I have been exploring Yoga Nidra for my own practice and my most popular class now has become my ‘Slow Yoga class with Yoga Nidra.’”

Liz assures participants she will lead them to a stillness they have not ever experienced before.

To experience this and why the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching is so highly regarded book into the face to face open day on Saturday, July 25 or the Online Zoom event on Sunday, July 26.





Dreaming of being a yoga teacher? Then join us this Saturday!

The IYTA is running an Open Day and free yoga class this Saturday, July 25 and online event on Sunday, July 26.

Book now to ensure you don’t miss out.

There’s something about a pandemic and all the mandatory restrictions that makes you re-evaluate life choices. For many of us it is a time to focus on what truly brings us joy and purpose. In yoga this is called Dharma – following your life’s purpose or calling.

And if you have ever considered teaching yoga this could be the best time to uncover all the gems of yoga, while gaining an internationally recognised qualification as a yoga teacher.

But it can be confusing to know which is the best course and who are the best instructors.

This is why the International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA) is showcasing its prestigious Diploma of Yoga Teaching at and Open Day this Saturday, July 25 face-to-face in Crows Nest, NSW and online via Zoom on Sunday July 26.

If you are able to attend the event on Saturday you will discover what the year-long course covers and enjoy an hour-long Hatha Yoga class for free taught by one of the Asana team members, Liz Kraefft. You’ll also meet Course Director, Amy Seal and IYTA President, Astrid Pickup and be able to participate in a Q&A session.

The IYTA’s DYT is a 460-hour course which is widely recognised as one of the most comprehensive and is the longest running yoga teacher training course in the country.


To book into this FREE event click here




Yoga Nidra Is A Lifesaver

Yoga Nidra helped yoga teacher, Alison Mactaggart (Mantradharma) cope with chronic insomnia during menopause and now she is teaching others how to experience the benefits of this ancient practice

  Alison or Mantradharma (as she is known by her Sanskrit name), discovered yoga more than 20 years ago while living in London. She says: ‘I started with Iyengar and continued when I moved to Australia.” But it was when she attended a friend’s Satyananda Yoga teaching class that she experienced deeper benefits.

  She says: “I felt so balanced and calm afterwards and I realised that that’s how you are supposed to feel after yoga – not activated as I had been after other styles of yoga and unable to get to sleep when I got home.”

And so Alison enrolled in the Academy of Yoga Science at Mangrove and completed her two year Diploma in 2010.

One practice which Alison always found powerful – regardless of yoga styles – was Yoga Nidra. And the Satyananda training dedicated several hours to teaching and exploring this aspect of yoga.

Alison says: “Yoga Nidra is accessible to anyone – irrespective of age, fitness, health condition, race, culture, spiritual inclinations (or not!). It can be practiced in lots of ways and in various settings.”

And it became Alison’s saviour when she was suffering with chronic insomnia during peri and post menopause. She says: “I had the classic pattern of sleeping solidly for five hours and then waking up at 1am and not being able to get back to sleep for three or four hours.”

At the time Alison was living in an ashram and had to get up often around 5 am – and she became chronically sleep deprived. She says: “I would just do back-to-back Yoga Nidra at this time – and you can guarantee that it was the only time I didn’t fall asleep during the practice!”

She believes it nourished her and enabled her to have enough energy to manage demanding days in the ashram. She adds: “I still mainly practice in this way now. Though when I teach Yoga NIdra, I often slip into a practice space that nourishes me as much as those I am instructing.”

She also uses her Yoga Nidra practice when she is travelling and on those pre-COVID days when she would be on a 24 hour flight back home to Europe.

She says: “Apart from the challenge of staying awake – it is an effortless way to connect with who we are. I feel passionate about sharing this practice with anyone, and in recent years I have been training health professionals in Sydney hospitals.”


Alison Mactaggart (Mantradharma) is leading a half day online workshop and a full-day face-to-face session in Yoga Nidra for the IYTA – to find out more or book in please click HERE.



Yoga Nidra – Foundations of Transformation

Online – Zoom

Sunday, August 2, 2020

1.30pm – 4.30pm

IYTA Members $55 non-members: $65


This three-hour online session will be an introduction to what yoga nidra is and how the key benefits and effects are achieved through the stages and the practice as a whole.


Unlock the Mystery of Yoga Nidra

Sunday, October 4, 2020

9am – 4pm

Crows Nest Community Centre

Members $197, non-members: $225


The one-day workshop will enable participants to delve a little deeper into the practice and each of the stages. The focus is on understanding how Yoga Nidra supports us to learn the skills to regulate our nervous system so that we can respond more positively to life’s challenges and in the long term evolve into who we are meant to be.


Sign up now to both or either of these workshops.

Honouring Roma Blair

Sunday July 5 is Guru Poornima – an Indian Festival which falls on the full moon of the month Ashadh (June-July). This is traditionally a time to honour and pay tribute to our teachers.

As you may know, the IYTA was set up by Roma Blair – sadly Roma passed away a few months after her 90th birthday, nearly seven years ago.

But her memory lives on and so we would like to pay our respects to our founder – Roma Blair.

This article was written a few years ago after I had the privilege of spending several hours chatting with Roma.

NINETY is merely a number to Australia’s Mother of Yoga, Roma Blair. But it won’t stop her having a massive party for her 90th birthday in July.

Roma had a regular TV show and wrote many books about yoga

That’s because every day is a celebration for Roma – who has lived through the trauma of being interned in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp, enjoyed an illustrious career as a model and is credited for bringing yoga to ordinary Aussies.

At a stage of life when most people might be tempted to hang up their leggings, Roma is still practising yoga morning and night, despite suffering a fall, which has left her with a metal rod in her thigh.

And Roma is still the epitome of glamour.

For our interview she’s wearing a chic mint-green pant suit with diamond stud earrings and beige boots.

‘I’ll never dress like an old woman,’ she says.

‘I like to think and feel young.’

It is because she endured unimaginable suffering for three years in two Javanese POW camps, that she is so determined to enjoy every moment of her life.

‘Each morning I know I am lucky to be awake and I will have a happy day,’ she says.

Roma’s positive philosophy is to be patient with people and to give and do a lot for the ones you love.

But it’s not always been easy for this vivacious, auburn-haired Yogi…

The moment Roma entered the world she was born with a caul (a rare amniotic membrane covering her face).

‘You’ll never need to worry about this baby,’ the matron told Roma’s mother, Ivy. ‘She will be a most unusual child.’

Apparently a caul is auspicious and the prediction proved true – but Roma believes it has been her life that’s been unusual, not her.

One of five children, she lived a relatively carefree, happy childhood. And after winning a beauty contest, she embarked upon a lucrative career as a photographic model.

During this time she fell in love with dashing businessman, amateur boxer and ballroom dancer, Leo Ossendryver.

Leo worked in the family business, selling Persian carpets and when he and his family relocated from Sydney to the prosperous Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) Leo assured Roma that once they were settled she’d join them.

It was only after Leo had left Australian shores they discovered single women were not allowed to enter the Dutch East Indies.

The only way Roma would be able to join Leo was if they were married.

So Roma became Australia’s first proxy bride – using a little known Dutch custom.

Two simultaneous ceremonies were arranged – one at the Dutch Consulate in Sydney and the other in Jakarta. Two “stand-ins” replaced the bride and groom at their respective locations

Leo’s Uncle Nikko stood in for Leo in Sydney, while Leo’s brother Maurice was a rather less attractive substitute for Roma!

Their unique wedding made headlines across the Australian media.

And the next day, Leo sent a telegram to his new wife:

Congratulations, we were married today!

It was an unorthodox start to what would prove to be a challenging marriage.

Once Roma arrived in the tropical paradise of Bandung in West Java she was lavished with attention from both her husband and his family. And soon she fell into a relaxed routine of waking late, being dressed by maids, sharing breakfast with the family, and a late afternoon sojourn to the markets with her sister-in-law, Noeline.

Within a couple of months she was pregnant and it seemed life in their bubble of paradise couldn’t get any better.

She felt safe and protected from the ravages of World War Two, which had been going on for the previous three years.

‘We’d been certain the Japanese wouldn’t make it this far,’ Roma recalls. But the honeymoon ended abruptly on March 8, 1942, when the Japanese launched an air attack and occupied Java.

Western men were sent away while the women and children rounded up and taken to a guarded camp.

Luckily Roma managed to stay with Noeline and her three-year-old nephew, Arnold. But it was the start of a tortuous three-year imprisonment.

Both women would give birth to children in the camp. Noeline had a daughter, Shirley, and Roma, had a son, Arnold.

Roma was determined to smuggle in any kind of fresh food she could for her tiny son, knowing if caught, she risked a beating.

Brave Javanese traders hovered outside the barbed wire fences. On one occasion, Roma tucked a couple of coconut cookies into her clothes. But just as she approached the cell, she received a sharp blow to the back of her head from one of the guards.

By the time the guard had finished his assault, several of Roma’s ribs were broken, her head was shaved and she was covered in bruises.

But even this didn’t deter her and a few months later she smuggled in a root of ginger for her malnourished son. This time her actions resulted in solitary confinement. Afterwards Roma came to the conclusion that Arnold needed his mother more than he needed the scraps of food she’d been smuggling.

But starvation and beatings weren’t all Roma had to deal with. The women were expected to work long hours in the paddy fields until their feet became swollen and peeled from being immersed all day in the mud and water.

Infections, disease, malnutrition and rodents were rife in the camp, as was the constant threat of death. And then just as they thought things couldn’t get any worse, Roma and Noeline had to watch helplessly as little Shirley succumbed to fits and fever before finally passing away in the camp.

The weeks, turned to months and months to years. And finally in April 1945, a spy managed to smuggle a radio into the camp – and the women learnt the war was nearly over.

Soon after, Roma, Noeline and their two sons were rescued and reunited with Roma’s family in Sydney. But the horrors of the camp still remained. Arnold was painfully shy and as tall as his 13-month-old cousin. To him Camp was the only world he knew and adapting to the outside world was a challenge.

Eventually he and Roma were reunited with Leo – who had also endured internment in Singapore. But Arnold had to get to know his dad, while Leo was mourning the loss of his father who had died in the camp.

The following year the family moved to South Africa to make a fresh start. But the memories and nightmares continued.

Leo found it difficult to let go and Roma was plagued with health issues including agonising stomach cramps. Eventually after exhausting all medical treatments, a Chinese doctor recommended yoga.

It wasn’t the first time Roma had heard of this Eastern practice. In Camp, she’d been captivated by one of the older women, Madame Kaufmann, practising yoga. At the time Roma was drawn to the calmness and stillness she’d sensed from the woman.

So with a mix of trepidation and curiosity, Roma set out for Manie Finger’s, (Yogeswarananda) studio in Pretoria.

Instantly, Roma took to his gentle manner and simple instructions and began to attend classes almost daily. It wasn’t long before her health improved and within a year she was almost completely free of pain.

Yogeswarananda also taught Roma about the spiritual side of yoga, encouraging her to study the Bhagavad- Gita.

Under his guidance, Roma began to surrender her problems to the universe.

Sadly Leo wasn’t able to move forward as easily and they separated.

Roma didn’t give herself any time to wallow, instead she threw herself into her work as a model, and in 1954, the media dubbed her South Africa’s busiest model. But despite the glamour and glitz, Roma desperately missed home, so in 1957 she made the heartwrenching decision to leave South Africa – and her son, Arnold, then 16.

‘I hoped I was doing the right thing leaving him behind,’ she recalls. Arnold was happy in South Africa and remained with his father.

During her first year in Sydney, Roma stayed with her mother and brother and then moved to Potts Point in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. She continued to model but knew that approaching 40, she’d need to find another career.

At the time, not many people in Australia had heard of yoga and Roma was keen to spread the word about this amazing practice, which had changed her life.

Yogeswarananda was convinced Roma was a natural Yogi and teacher, so using her savings, Roma established a studio in Pitt Street, central Sydney.

It didn’t take long for the students to come – including one girl, Joy McIntosh who Roma thought showed particular promise. Roma began to coach Joy and a number of other students for teaching positions.

At the same time, Roma used her networking skills to promote yoga to a wider audience. She wrote a regular yoga column for The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror and began teaching yoga to the girls at the June Dally-Watkins School of Deportment.

By 1962, The Roma Blair School of Yoga was a huge success and Roma took her teachers to shopping centres across the state to demonstrate the art of yoga.

Then after a TV interview, Roma was asked by Bruce Gyngell to do a mid-morning exercise show on Channel Nine: Relaxing with Roma. The segment proved so popular it was run seven-days-a-week. And then another show commissioned for the early morning slot – Wake up and Live.

Roma managed to juggle her burgeoning TV yoga career, teacher training and classes with a glittering social life and another romance – with another Leo. In January 1962 they had an extravagant wedding.

Soon afterwards, Roma published her first book: Yoga in Pictures.

And Roma’s success in promoting yoga in Australia came to the attention of Swami Satyananda, who invited Roma to attend the first World Yoga Convention in Monghyr, India.

While there, she was bestowed the name Swami Nirmalananda, meaning ‘pure’ and ‘bliss.’

And at 43, Roma became Australia’s first female Swami.

Satyananda’s intention was clear – Roma was to spread the message of yoga from door to door and shore to shore in Australia – which, of course she did admirably!

In 1967, believing Yoga needed standardisation, she established the: IYTA – International Yoga Teachers’ Association.

‘I am very proud of it,’ she says. ‘It was my brainchild and the fact I’m still acknowledged and remembered makes me feel good!

The IYTA was designed to teach the teachers and provide a network of yoga contacts worldwide. That year, Roma organised the first World Yoga Convention in Australia at Camp Yarrimundi, Richmond. She also wrote another book; Yoga for the Family and with Joy McIntosh, produced two records: Learn to Relax and Wake up and Live.

Three years later with the Australian IYTA thriving, she set up a branch of the IYTA in Singapore.

But Roma’s love of Yoga began to cause cracks in her marriage and eventually Leo Kogos and Roma went their separate ways. For Roma it underpinned the message from the Mahabharata: no-one belongs to me; I belong to no-one.

And so Roma focused her attention on the IYTA – developing Teacher Training, regular workshops, conventions and a magazine for members – International Light.

Then in the early eighties, Roma met businessman, Joe Lubrano and fell head-over-heels in love.

In 1982, they moved to Gold Coast, Qld, and they couple began to work with a local charity group, The Giraffes – so called because they stuck their neck out for others.

But after a wonderful 15 years together, Joe eventually succumbed to a brain tumour, leaving Roma heartbroken.

Roma has now moved into a quieter phase of her life.

‘It’s time for me.’ She says. ‘But I still have time to do things and to be there for people.’

Her son, Arnold is still in South Africa and the two have a close relationship. Roma is particularly close to her granddaughter, Arnelle.

He parents and siblings have passed away, but Roma says she is surrounded by love.

She is no longer formally involved with the IYTA, but remains an avid reader of International Light and maintains her daily yoga and meditation practice.

She is amazed by just how popular yoga has become and delighted with the work still carried out by the IYTA. ‘I think the IYTA is wonderful,’ she says. ‘It really is the best thing I ever did.’

Roma celebrated her 80th with an extravagant party – finishing the night with her party piece – the splits! But sadly her days of doing the splits are now over.

Earlier this year she fell, injuring her leg, but despite having a rod in her thigh, she still practices a series of standing postures, followed by sitting poses and a 20 minute meditation – twice a day.

And as for her 90th?

‘The theme,’ she tells me, ‘is pink. Everyone needs to wear something pink, whether it’s a scarf or an entire outfit.’ And Roma will definitely be dressing up for the occasion.

Her brown eyes sparkle and her skin, barely lined, has a rosy glow – which she attributes of course to yoga (and to the moisturiser she applies regularly!).

‘That’s one of the good things about getting old,’ she laughs. ‘You have lots of time to moisturise!’

Her other beauty tips are to avoid the sun, remove make-up at night and never dress like an old woman!’

As she heads off to meet friends for lunch, I know there is no chance of that…

Roma’s life is detailed in the book: Roma – from Prison to Paradise, by Rachel Syers and Karin Cox, 2004, New Holland.

This story is based on information from the book and an interview with Roma Blair.



Roma’s tips for yoga teachers:

* Never think you know it all, as none of us ever do.

* Always be on time and dress presentably

* Don’t tell your class your troubles – you’re there to help your students and not yourself!



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,

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

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

Woman studying 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
    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 [email protected]

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

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.

2019: What a year!

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


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.


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.


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.


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

“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

A Yin Series for Spring

Feeling a little restless? Then it could be the transition from Winter to Spring, help ease your mind and body into the new season with this nurturing Yin sequence

The Chinese believe that the seasons have a direct influence on our mind, body and hence the organs of the body, with relative excess qi and blood in different organs, meridians and collaterals in different seasons.

In spring the extra qi and blood heads to the liver organ, you can see it as the yang qi in the body starts expanding and growing and moving to disperse upwards and outwards. From a mental perspective, you feel growth, expansion, ideas that start embracing new opportunities and allowing an enthusiastic energy to flourish.

But be warned, the Chinese ancients have an old saying, for good health, you are best “Muffling the body in spring and freezing the body in autumn” – so wear the proper amount of clothing to keep the body warm to resist wind and cold, allows the human body conform gradually to the spring climatic changes.

So, the Liver, Gall bladder and the Spring energy is sensitive to wind and draughts and you might also notice disturbances of the Gall Bladder during 11pm to 1am and for the Liver 1am to 3am (so a night on the town with plenty of wine – you might well wake in the middle of the night).

So in this series of five yin postures, we will stimulate the connective tissue along the path of the Liver meridian and provide breathing and meditations that echoes that theme of growth and expansion.


1. Wide Knee Child Pose (Tadpole)

A good starting point to find the ground and bring your mind to the mat. In this pose I have chosen not to have props and keep it simple. Take care with those with knee issues and support your body weight as needed to take the pressure out.

Breathing: Soft Chui or Golden Thread breath: Passively in through the nose and soft, slow, steady, smooth exhale through pursed lips.

Feeling the body soften as you exhale. This is a descending energy bringing you to the mat – and nurturing your foundation ready to grow.

2. Shoe Lace

Folding left leg over right – feel the pressure along the inner leg and groin. If there is tightness in the hips (or pain in your knees, sit on a
folded blanket. Alternatively sit with legs crossed (NB: care with hip replacements).

Apana Mudra Link thumb to middle two fingers – little and index straight

Gertrud Hirschi (in Mudras: Yoga in your Hands) suggests that used regularly this mudra stimulates the liver and “The power of the liver gives a person patience, serenity, hope and a vision for the future.”

Repeat the other side. And then release the hips coming onto your hands and knees, close your eyes and move with a simple cat/cow or as your intuition suggests.

3. Dragon

Before starting this pose, get a feel for the meridian path of the Liver. The liver meridian begins at the inside of the nail of the big toe and runs along the top of the foot. It climbs the front of the ankle and up the inside of the leg until the pubic area. From here it curves around the external genitalia and goes into the lower abdomen where it enters the liver and gall bladder. Rising higher it branches into several directions with one branch connecting to the lung meridian. Rising still higher it follows the throat and connects with the eyes before branching again – one across the cheek and circles the lips with the higher one crosses the forehead to the crown where it links with the GV meridian.

See how the Dragon pose finds a way to follow the path from the foot to the chest. Then, use the breath to “brush and clear” with your awareness. Inhale up the meridian and exhale back down. The Chinese phrase “yi tao, qi tao” comes in handy here and translated suggests – where the mind/intention goes, qi follows.

So, from hands and knees step left foot to hands and slide the right foot/knee back. Feel appropriate pressure to the groin to the left and an open tension to the right. Chest can rest on your left thigh. Hands to the floor or on blocks. If you are hypermobile you might like to have a bolster under the back thigh to lean into. Neck issues keep the alignment and draw the crown of the head forward and up.

Often when I practice Dragon Pose, I pause between the left and right side, to lie in Savasana and feel the energetic changes that the pose has given and then repeat on the other side and feel again.

4. Butterfly


Finding a comfortable seated Butterfly. I love the noodles supporting my shins. You might also like to have a folded blanket under your pelvis if your hamstrings are tight.

The Wood element contains the power and pleasure of springtime, of new beginnings, of tackling and shaping visions of the future.

“Let us close our eyes and imagine:

A walk in nature, perhaps a nearby woodland… be with your family… appreciate the flowers… and scenery around you (pause)… Together with your family, imagine yourself begin to skip – feeling youthful and light… maybe beginning to sing and dance… Feel a sense of lightness… Freedom… See the sunlight in shafts of light enchanting the scenery in glades… Feel the gentle breezes and hear the stirring of the branches above your head… See the bright fresh new leaves… hear the birds calling excitedly from the boughs above… Enjoy a sense of harmony with the nature.

5. Savasana

Rest in Savasana and allow the effects of the postures, breathing and visualisation to resonate through your being.

Sarah Manning was trained by Bernie Clark and has been teaching yin yoga teacher training since 2008 in Shanghai, Australia and Singapore.

Reference for further exploration of this theme:

    1. Bernie Clark: The Complete guide to Yin Yoga
    2. Bernie Clark: www.yinyoga.com
    3. Ted Kaptchuk OMD – The Web That has no weaver – Chapter 3 – The Organs of the Body – Liver and Gallbladder characteristics
    4. Mudras by Gertrud Hirschi – Apan Mudra page 74
    5. Sarah Powers – Insight Yoga – Chapter 8 – The Liver and Gallbladder
      1. “The Taoists thought a healthy liver chi so central to well-being that they nicknamed it “the general of the army”. It is the military leader
        who excels in strategic planning, making sure the flow of energy within us happens harmoniously.; Liver chi co-ordinates and regulates
        the movement of chi everywhere within us, which is responsible for creating an easy-going disposition and internal atmosphere.
      2. Liver chi balances the emotions. When we have a liver chi imbalance, we have a propensity for uneven, irregular emotions; chronic anger; explosive
        impulsivity; a defence of personal boundaries and awkward social behaviour.
      3. When we are experiencing liver chi imbalances it is helpful to diminish our preoccupation with our irritations and gently turn to our feelings.
        Increase our sensitivity towards ourselves and how to stay attentive and connected to our bodies.
      4. A healthy Liver chi is related to our capacity to make plans and put them into action, exerting a sense of control. The essential feature is
        flexibility and an ability to change and adapt. When there is frustration in the system it is hard to think or plan.
      5. An excess of liver/gallbladder chi we tend to make rash decisions and when depleted we experience hesitation and timidity.

Meet John Shaw

John Shaw is manning our IYTA stand at the 2019 Sunshine Coast Yoga Fest and will be presenting a Hatha Yoga class at the event.

He says: “I will be teaching a gentle Hatha yoga class to give new and also experienced students the experience of exploring the breath and being in their bodies with movement and stretching.”

John began practicing yoga in 1996 with Lesleigh Camm in Toowoomba. With Lesleigh’s encouragement he did the IYTA’s diploma of Yoga Teaching in 2000-2001. He then taught with Lesleigh at her school until 2012 when he relocated to the Sunshine Coast.

John now teaches one small class each week and says: “Yoga has changed my life and made me a more confident person and I have made many great friends in that time.

“I was lucky to have great teachers through IYTA during my course with Moina Bower as president.

“Over the years besides Lesleigh, people such as Matthew O’Malveny, Louise Wiggins have been great influences on my teaching and I have been lucky to do workshops with Donna Fahri, Michael Lee, Dr Ananada Balyogi Bhavanni and many others associated with IYTA.”

Would you like to get involved and help out at IYTA?
Please contact us – we’re always looking for volunteers!

Meet Gary Drummond

Gary Drummond has come on board to help manage the increasing array of Post Graduate courses offered by the IYTA. Gary is working alongside Olivia Hammerschmidt on the IYTA’s Yin, Seniors, Pre and Post Natal and Meditation and Pranayama courses.

Q: What does your role involve?

I am managing the Seniors and Meditation & Pranayama courses while Olivia takes care of the Yin and Pre and Post Natal Yoga courses.

It’s early days but my new role at the moment is ensuring our students have support before and during courses. I assist with any questions and follow up with the instructors when need be. Once a student purchases a course / workshop I set their access up. I am also responsible for assisting with setting up the workshops for those courses.

Q: Why did you decide to take on the new role?

I have learnt recently to not overthink things, as in I try to follow my gut response (first response). When I was informed about the role I said yes straight away, so intuition.

Q: Why should people consider doing the post graduate courses?!

Post graduate courses are one way of staying current about what is happening in the yoga space. All the IYTA instructors are leaders in the yoga world so we are really fortunate. One of the great things about the courses and workshops is that you meet lots of other people, so therefore it’s also an opportunity to really immerse yourself in yoga and learn from other students.

Q: What do you do the rest of the time you aren’t working in this role?!

My hobbies are taking photos and this year I had a book of my photos printed, so that was very cool.

Q: Any other jobs?

I call them my “Portfolio of Revenue” so lots of jobs to make up my earnings. I work as a project manager at Telstra Broadcast Services 4 days week. The Telstra job being currently my main “investor” at the moment!

Other jobs include: teaching yoga at Manly Yoga, setting up a mens’ yoga and circle at Manly Yoga with another bloke, setting up an international men’s group online.

Working as a qualified life coach and writing a book. So there’s a lot going on!

Q: your personal yoga practice?

I practice pranayama and meditation everyday as well as doing my own yoga practices.

Contact Gary at: gary [at] iyta.com.au

Canberra Sangha

If you’re lucky enough to live in the ACT, then you are invited to attend the next Sangha event:

When: Sunday 4th August 2pm–4pm

Where: Chifley

Trauma Informed Yoga teaching – Marg Riley
3pm to 3.30pm
Break for afternoon tea (bring something to share).
3.30pm to 4pm
Kirtan led by Marguarita Vanoosten on guitar (please bring your musical instruments)

Following the August event, the Canberra-based Sangha is keen to run one final meeting for the year in late October early November.

What’s been happening in the Canberra Sangha

A Dru Yoga Energy Block release and Yoga Nidra have been suggested as a way of rounding the year off. If you would like to contribute by presenting one of these or have some other topic you wish to explore, we would like to hear from you.

If you are interested in coming to a future Sangha but are unable to make this one please get in touch. We would love to see as many yogis participate so please RSVP via this email as space is limited.

Many hands make light work and we recently farewelled long standing committee member Glynis Whitfied, who has taken off for her 4wd life adventure. If you would like to volunteer on the committee please give me a call to learn more about how you can get involved.

Martha Luksza, IYTA’s ACT Representative

Remember to check the IYTA website regularly for news, tutorials, further study, discounts, job opportunities, articles and other workshop offerings that you may be interested in attending.

Please feel free to send your ideas, suggestions and comments by either calling or emailing ACT Rep Martha.

NB: For safety sake we don’t publish personal contact info on general blog pages, so if you don’t have Martha’s contact details, please contact us and we’ll connect you.

Meet our SA rep, Kathryn Chambers

I completed my IYTA 460 hour Diploma in Yoga Teacher Training in December 2018, which I undertook after much research of yoga trainings on offer both in Australia and overseas. I started the course to dive deeper into learning more about yoga and its many aspects and wasn’t sure if would take up teaching yoga but as the course unfolded my confidence and desire to teach grew.

As I work full time in executive management, I’m not about to open a yoga studio sometime soon but I have been holding free weekly yoga lunch time sessions at work which keeps me honing my teaching skills.

I have also held a yoga class over the Easter long weekend in a community hall at Second Valley on the beautiful Fleurieu peninsula which was such a lovely experience that I’ll be holding more classes in other locations.

My style is simple and gentle, coordinating movement with breath and providing a safe, relaxing, fun and nurturing space. I reside in beautiful Adelaide and noticed that IYTA did not have a state representative for SA so I’ve put my hand up.

I look forward to getting together with other IYTA graduates in SA to brainstorm some ideas for Yoga workshops and events, so this will be my first task.

Kathryn Chambers 0437790595

Go to Kathryn’s facebook page