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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Trauma informed yoga teaching

This was a short session to encourage teachers to think about how yoga practices may impact on their students who have experienced trauma.

Some background was provided to form a context for the practical approaches:

Why teach yoga through a trauma informed lens?

Research indicates around 90% of the population experiences trauma at some point in their lifetime; between 8-20% develop PTSD as a result. (Bessel van der Kolk and David Emerson)

“Trauma refers to any threatening, overwhelming experiences that we cannot integrate…  after such experiences we are often left with a diminished sense of security with others and in the world and a sense of feeling unsafe within our own skin.” (Pat Ogden)

Experiences that are commonly associated with trauma – developmental (through child abuse/neglect, living with domestic violence), war zones/conflicts as military personnel or civilians, domestic violence, first responders, refugee experiences, natural disasters, accidents and through working with people who have experienced trauma.

Trauma may impact on many levels: physiological, energetic, emotional, behavioural, mental, physical and interpersonal. Across all koshas in fact.

Specific impacts may include hypervigilance, disconnection from bodily sensations, loss of rhythms, loss of trust, past is often present and an exaggerated startle response. Loss of bodily autonomy, loss of choice, boundaries have been disrespected. Suppression of breath, abdominal inhibition, diminished core strength, locked jaw- all of which inhibit breath. There can be a sense of shame about selves/bodies.

Yoga- asana/pranayama/mindfulness/meditation have been hailed as solutions for all that ails us and have been adopted joyously, wholeheartedly and uncritically by many well-meaning people, but they can be very tricky for people who have experienced trauma.

“It is naive at best, harmful/dangerous at worst to assume that any and all yoga practices including breath work are inherently healing for and helpful for trauma survivors.” (Caitlin Lanier)

During the session Marg very briefly addressed the overall goals and general principles of Trauma Informed Yoga classes.

Some practical approaches which can be implemented in general classes as well a specific trauma specific groups were suggested:

  • Offer choice in all practices. Use invitational language and language of inquiry such “when you are ready”, “notice, feel, be curious” to encourage making effective choices and develop interoception.
  • Use slow, mindful movement to foster present moment awareness and a sense of safety.
  • Focus on function rather than alignment for movement and asana to assist in reclaiming/befriending the body. Choose asana/sequencing carefully to support students to move towards safety and comfort.
  • Respect boundaries, avoid walking behind or lingering. Stay in view and let students continually assess for safety.
  • Suggest stabilizing anchors in the environment eg: open eyes, pay attention to surrounds to shift attention towards something external if a student is feeling dysregulated.

We practised seated mountain, sun breath, standing mountain and tree pose through a TIY lens. The session was completed with a grounding exercise which might be useful if someone was dissociated at the end of class.

Whilst this experience did not prepare us to become dedicated teachers of TIY, it did encourage us to understand that we can have an impact as yoga teachers and that it is important to stay within our scope of practice for everyone’s safety.

A full day session is planned for 2020 to enable IYTA members to understand the nature and impacts of trauma, provide an opportunity for more experiential work and a chance for further discussion.