Nourish and connect

Enrich your understanding of culture and connection at our upcoming IYTA retreat

We’re delighted to be hosting Jem Stone and Eve White as well as our own Ros Fogg at our annual retreat this October.

The highlight of our Retreat will be the Cultural Awareness training run by Jem and Eve, and there are also a host of other activities including a yoga movie night, yoga nidra session, daily yoga classes, nature walks and swimming and spa time.

The retreat – set amid 60 acres of pristine bushland – includes delicious freshly cooked vegetarian meals and accommodation.

Embracing the Indigenous heritage of our wonderful country and fostering a connection with the earth and nature are ways you can deepen and enhance your and your students yoga experience.

All about Jem and Eve

Jem Stone is First Nations woman, who has been gratefully living on Wurundjeri Country since 2011. She has worked in the wellness industry for more than two decades. Jem is a Yoga teacher, Wayapa Wuurrk Practitioner and Trainer, Rebirthing Breathwork Therapist and Educator, We-Al-Li facilitator, Dadirri and Meditation Teacher, Sound Healer and Cultural Consultant.

She is currently a director of Ngungwulah Aboriginal Corporation and Yaan Circle member.

She says she began the trainings, “To create reciprocity between the wellness industry and first Nations Culture.”

And she stresses the importance of learning directly from First Nations people. She says: “Learn from us not about us.”

Eve White began teaching culture through art at schools whilst also teaching yoga in yoga studios.

She would begin every yoga class with an acknowledgment and share insight into First Nations ways, which she says, “felt like a wonderful connection.”

She is part of the Yaan Circle Family and was keen to offer more in this sacred space of yoga, adding: “It felt only right to connect and honour the sacred land that we practise on.”

Eve founds her work understandably rewarding. expecialliy: “Encouraging others to dig deep and connect with the First Nations ways and witness others finding synchronicity in both these cultures and rediscovering their own unique culture.”

She advises we all embrace cultural awareness in our practice and classes, take time to connect with the land we practise on, slow down to witness nature’s symbols and allow the wisdom to flow through you passing it on to others.

Learn how and delve deeper into this profound teaching by booking into our Annual Retreat


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


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  





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.”


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






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

Want to become a yoga teacher? Here’s August’s story

Since graduating from the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga teaching a year ago, August Smits has found his niche – teaching yoga to the broader community.

August teaches four weekly classes – sharing the benefits of this ancient practice with two mens’ only classes, a yoga class for staff at the Sydney Children’s Hospital and a Chair Yoga Class for cancer patients.

August says: “Part of my philosophy is to open up yoga to a broader community. I think less than 20 per cent of practitioners are men, so two of my weekly classes are purely for men.

He adds: “Teaching yoga with honestly, generosity and compassion gives you insight into who you are.”

He says the key to teaching to the broader community is to run the practice at a slower pace and adjust everything according to who is in the class.

He doesn’t do headstands or shoulderstands. It’s the simpler poses he focuses on, but doing them safely and slowly. “It’s also lighthearted,’ he says with a smile. “And we have a lot of fun!”

Teaching yoga has given August a more balanced and fulfilling work, life balance. The 67-year old works as an architect two to three days a week, teaches yoga and spends the rest of his time relaxing with his family – including his two young grandchildren.

One of the main reasons August has been able to create this life is due to his studies with the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching. The year-long course helped him further his knowledge and passion for yogic philosophy, asanas and learn how to teach classes and adapt poses for all levels and ages.

He says: “It’s a tiny investment for such a phenomenal wealth of knowledge and experience.”

August chose the IYTA course because it was a 460-hour course. He says: “I knew that a 200-hour course would only just scrape the barrel of what there is to learn.”

He says he believes many students fall into the “trap” of enrolling in a cheaper, shorter course, but find themselves lacking confidence and not being able to fully comprehend the depth of yoga required to be able to teach.

He particularly recommends the IYTA Diploma of Yoga course because it is not commercially driven. The IYTA is a non-profit organisation so it is not based on a business model, but offers on-going support and membership of an international yoga community.

August spent time researching yoga schools as he was keen to learn in an environment which was open and friendly to a broad demographic. He said he found the course (which was held both online and face-to-face throughout 2020), physically challenging, but believes he is much fitter and self-aware as a result.

He says: “Physically I have my limitations, but I found that to be more of a benefit than a hindrance with the students I tend to attract. People can relate to me and I don’t take them anywhere that could be unsafe for their body.”

August is also quick to emphasise that age shouldn’t be a barrier to practise. He adds: “Age isn’t an issue with me personally I have a lot of students well over 65 and they’ve always got a conversation in their head that they are too old. I tell them to forget their age – and not to let it limit them.”

So if you are looking for a new challenge this year – especially if you are older – then why not discover the joy of yoga – both professionally and personally to enrich and enhance your life.

The IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga course begins in February 2023. Find out more HERE



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.





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

From yoga student to lecturer!

Rik Dawson

From yoga student to lecturer!

Two years ago Physiotherapist Rik Dawson enrolled on the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching – a year after graduating he is returning – as a lecturer!  

Sydney-based Physiotherapist Rik Dawson has always been a keen advocate for yoga, but it wasn’t until he sold his physiotherapy business that he decided to enrol in a Yoga Teaching Course.

He says: “I’d been practicing yoga personally for about twenty years and always introduced yoga to my patients and encouraged them to join classes when it was appropriate for them. And taking the course was my reward for selling my business!’

Two of Rik’s yoga teachers had recommended the International Yoga Teachers’ Association (IYTA), so he went along to an Open Day to find out more and was instantly impressed.

He says: “I really liked the spirit of the teachers and it felt like the kind of environment I would want to be in for 12 months!”

He signed up and the course quickly exceeded his expectations. He says: “I didn’t appreciate the meditation would be so well structured and paced and I really appreciated the safety and pace of the asana practice.”

He liked having a range of different teachers delivering the lectures. He says: “They all had a similar philosophy about safety and careful instruction, but slightly different approaches and class structure. It didn’t feel as if there was just one way to deliver a class – there were lots of ideas and different modifications for poses.”

He was also impressed with the support from the teachers and course managers. “I liked how they demanded us to be courageous in our teaching early – to get over our ‘imposter syndrome!’ At first, we began to deliver a five minute flow, before moving into a 15-20 minute sequence so when we needed to teach our final assessment class, I felt ready.”

Importantly Rik had the confidence to teach immediately after graduating – even when a pregnant student arrived in his class, he was able to draw on the knowledge learnt on the course and teach the class confidently and safely.

He also found the course helped his personal practice. “I had become quite passive in my own practice but since the course I’m now far more active. I am more mindful and move in a conscious way with intention. And my body has changed for the better with this approach.”

Since graduating a year ago, Rik – who is also the Vice President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association – has taught two online classes a week for staff at Sydney University where he is also doing a PHD – on developing an online yoga program for seniors.

Rik is now excited to return to the Diploma of Yoga teaching next year – as a lecturer!

He says: “I’m glad I’ve had a year to teach since graduating. As a physiotherapist I obviously have a good working knowledge of anatomy, I can give insight to how the year will unfold and as a former health business owner offer some advice about setting up a yoga business.

To anyone who is considering signing up for a yoga teaching course, Rik thoroughly recommends the IYTA. He says: “The IYTA embraces a nurturing spirit and everyone wants you to succeed and find your own way forward as a teacher.”

To find out more about the IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching CLICK HERE

Meet Narelle – our VIC rep

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Narelle Lockwood is our IYTA Victorian State Rep – she’s keen to create a state-wide community – so please get in touch! Here she talks about how yoga has shaped her life.

I’ve got childhood memories from the early 1970s of going to a friend’s house to do yoga, which I loved. But it wasn’t until my late 20s/early 30s that I was drawn back to the practise again.

It was a time in my life that was pretty hectic – I had a lot of responsibility – a job and career in the building industry and was also a step mum to three primary school-aged children.

As I was working in the Brighton area I started to look for a local yoga teacher and was so fortunate to stumble across the amazing Norma Hay-Smith – who was part of the IYTA community and a teacher trainer at the time.

I really enjoyed the stillness yoga brought to my life, time for reflection and the ability to just be able to ‘pause’ for a moment. I often recall saying in my early years of yoga that it kept me sane – balanced sanity! I am so thankful for the way Norma brought yoga into my life, and how over time, she slowly deepened my practice and knowledge with her subtle guidance.

Then five years later, I left the city and moved back home to West Gippsland in Regional Victoria so I could start my own building design business and raise my son close to the family farm. And there I attended classes with another amazing IYTA, teacher Maureen Ryan, in her purpose-built yoga studio, set in the beautiful gardens of her property.

Maureen suggested I do the IYTA yoga teacher training and become a yoga teacher – as I was one of her most regular students and had a strong practice.

At the time I wasn’t able to commit to the training as I was running my own building design business, lecturing part-time at TAFE and a sole parent to my son, Fletcher.

A few years later, when I had stopped lecturing and Fletcher was a bit older, life just seemed to open up a little and I found I had the space and time to do the training.

It turned out to be the perfect timing as Maureen was thinking of moving into retirement and so I was able to take over some of her classes. I finished the training in 2016 and have been teaching ever since.

I also love attending yoga classes wherever I travel and in pre-Covid times have practiced from New York city to Coober Pedy, from Mt Kosciuszko to the Murray river. I love experiencing yoga in different forms and from different teachers.

At the moment I teach five classes as week – including three at Maureen’s studio in Warragul and two in the salt therapy room at Buoyant Sea in Warragul.

I also teach a yoga nidra in the salt room, the floor is covered with salt, and the room is lit by Himalayan salt lamps – it’s incredibly relaxing and peaceful space. And an amazing environment for breathing and clearing the airways, and healing the skin.

I took on the Victorian State Rep role almost by accident – as the IYTA needed someone monitor the IYTA Vic emails – and somehow that has evolved into helping to organise events and attend the IYTA Committee meetings!

We had the Seniors Chair Yoga in November 2019, which was a great success, but of course the Covid restrictions has meant we’ve not been able to do much other than online workshops. We are planning to have the Restorative Yoga face-to-face at the end of January though!

I’m keen to connect with as many IYTA members in Victoria as possible. I’d love to hear from anyone – not just the Melbourne metropolitan area, but in the regions as well. I’d like to organise seasonal gatherings and workshops with like-minded people and to build a strong, supportive yoga community.


Connect with Narelle today at [email protected]







How Yoga Changed My Life

Discovering yoga was the catalyst for a major life change for IYTA Committee member and lecturer, Alana Smith

My first contact with yoga was when our high school drama teacher instructed us in a yoga nidra practice. I remember having that amazing heavy relaxed feeling permeate my whole body and I thought I was having some sort of unique divine experience! I loved it!

I dabbled in yoga over the years, but I didn’t really commit in a major way until I was having a sort of breakdown. At age 36 I had quit my job as a high school teacher because I was disenchanted by how we were filling kids with too much information and not teaching enough life coping skills. The HSC students were stressed to the eyeballs and anxiety was rife throughout the school, amongst teachers and students alike. I didn’t know what to do next. Meanwhile my love life was in tatters. I’d been engaged to Mr Wrong and then too quickly got involved with another Mr Wrong. I was deeply lost and heartbroken.

Luckily I began to take a few yoga classes at Manly Yoga. I felt instantly welcomed, nurtured and understood by the teachers. They went over and above to explain concepts, to help with technique and to ask how I was coping generally. The relaxation and meditation skills they taught were so systematic and effective. During that tough period, I found that the days I went to yoga were good days. The days I didn’t were not so good…

When I began to feel better, I realised that I had spent a lot of my life feeling anxious, like something was missing, and I was always grasping after external solutions to fill that hole – work, relationships, possessions. But the more yoga I did, especially yoga nidra and meditation, the more secure I began to feel, as if I was finally finding what I had always been seeking – inner peace.

I began to realise that these were the kind of coping skills most of us really need, and I wanted to share them with others. I started yoga teacher training at Mangrove Yogic Studies course in 2014. Funnily enough I met my beautiful husband Dom there and we were married within a year! Yoga was really delivering the goods!!!

I then switched to the IYTA Yoga Teacher Training program because I wanted to train under David Burgess, renowned master of pranayama and meditation, and I liked the integrated program of monthly study weekends and the excellent teaching faculty. That year was a highlight of my life and I eagerly began teaching as soon as I could. To get so many happy relaxed faces smiling at me by the end of the class is always a real buzz.

I must have shown exceptional enthusiasm for teaching because I was soon invited to lecture on Yoga Philosophy for the IYTA. It is such a thrill to share my passion with others who are equally as enthusiastic about the vast and deep wisdom of yoga.
I also went on to manage Manly Yoga centre in its final few years, which was a great honour as it was one of the oldest yoga schools in Sydney! It was also really tough trying to salvage a tiny not-for-profit traditional yoga centre that had been struggling for a long while. Sadly we eventually had to close after 42 years of operation, and the grief of the long-standing, loyal community was hard to bear. I certainly needed to draw on all my yoga techniques to get me through that difficult period but I still feel a great sense of belonging to that robust and caring yoga community that lives on.

Through all the ups and downs of the past ten years, I have seen and experienced how yoga can transform lives and the beauty of it is that everyone has the capacity to heal themselves. It just takes a good teacher and a willingness to stay still and breathe. I am so lucky to have found yoga teachers that strongly emphasise relaxation, pranayama and meditation. They never lose focus of what yoga is truly about: the stilling of the mind so we can be our best selves.

Alana is now running online Hatha Yoga and Meditation classes from her idyllic farmstead “Stag Hill” in Jamberoo. Feel free to get in touch with her HERE



Meet Monika – our SA rep

This is second time around for Monika Hindmarsh as IYTA SA rep, and she is looking forward to making a difference and creating a thriving community in the state. Here she tells her yoga journey…

Well it’s been a few years since I held this position but I am pleased and grateful to be back as the SA state Representative. Please let me briefly Introduce myself. Born Monika Slavikova in 1971 in former Czechoslovakia a communist country.

My life journey began in Prague where I was born. Most beautiful city in Europe. We arrived in Australia as refugees in 1980, I was eight at the time.

My yoga journey began at age 27 after a car accident, which left me with back and neck injuries. My first teacher was the beautiful Louise Wiggins. Louise also became my mentor when I decided to became a yoga teacher myself and trained by correspondence with IYTA’s Diploma of Yoga Teaching in 2003-4. At the time my study was not online it was from books and audio cassettes… how times have changed!

My dream was to teach children yoga in schools. My first experience of yoga was hiding in the back row of Louise’s class in beautiful Pt Noarlunga Surf Life Saving Club. My hamstrings resisted, my mind was full of distractions and I couldn’t wait for the class to finish! Despite all this resistance I went back week after week for 11 years straight and fell in love with Hatha yoga, Louise’s style and her very popular gentle, yet very effective classes.

I fulfilled my dream of teaching not only children in schools around Adelaide, but adults and the elderly.

I met a lot of yoga teachers in my journey whom helped me along the way like Russell, Beth, Ann and Nikki – all wonderful yoga teachers.

I have given up teaching, but not the passion for learning Yoga. Over the years I have tried most styles and recent years have been attending Shannon Stephens-Griffin’s classes which are strong Iyengar influenced classes at her Southbound gym.

Shannon has taught me inversions which I was not a huge fan of and how to gain more confidence in myself to try them. I’m hoping to get back into teaching again and recently reconnected with the IYTA to be involved in this wonderful Yoga network community here in Australia.

So here I am again a few years older and still very keen to learn more from Yoga and all of you.

Last time I was SA rep, family commitments didn’t give me much time to dedicate to the role. This time I’m all in and want to help make the IYTA a viable and highly sought after membership association that all yoga teachers and students want to be a part of.

And I believe with my experience in the Industry (Monika works full-time as Membership Advisor for a Non for profit state association: Master Builders SA), I know I can bring a lot of skills and experience to the IYTA to make it a thriving and solid business model.

I want to make a difference and help us all achieve what we set out to do together in the yoga community. So my yoga journey continues. Feeling blessed and grateful to be back.



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 and author of Letters From the Yoga Masters

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.

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]

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