Meet Narelle – our VIC rep

narelle portrait picture

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







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.



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