Author: Kirstie Christensen

Podcast: Holding Space for Conscious Communication with Lucy Karnani

Yoga Institute faculty member, Lucy Karnani, is a guest on podcast resource for the modern yogi, Live Like You Love Yourself, and shares her deep knowledge on the topics of ‘Holding Space’ and ‘Conscious Communication’. 

Fans of the book, Connecting: Conscious Communication for Yoga Teachers and Therapists (which Lucy co-authored with friend and colleague Jill Danks) and those that have been lucky enough to attend one of her training modules or workshops, will be familiar with the force of nature that is Lucy Karnani.  This podcast taps into more of Lucy’s pearls of wisdom, particularly as it relates to Holding Space.

Formidably adaptable and resilient, Lucy’s chameleon-like career trajectory has seen her do everything from teach scuba diving, run sales teams, and be North American CEO of a global training and consulting firm. She is also a yoga teacher, yoga therapist, trainer of yoga teachers and therapists, and a communications coach. Whew! 

The common denominator in all these forays? Her passion for and expertise around COMMUNICATION. 

Conscious Communication

Quizzed on why communication is so important in yoga, Lucy synopsises, “You can know a whole lot about a subject but if you can’t communicate it well, you’re not going to be able to share it.”  Lucy passionately believes the world needs more yoga teachers and that there is not enough of yoga’s life-changing wisdom being shared around the world. But in order for the possibility of growth and influence to take place through yoga, there needs to be an authentic connection between teacher and student, a seed that can truly sprout and be nurtured with Conscious Communication.

For yogis, mindful and intelligent communication crosses a myriad of possibilities. It may be about how you theme and construct language for a class, how proactively and without judgement you can listen to another’s story, how you set boundaries, how you use curiosity to enhance understanding, or how you simply invite people to be gentler with themselves.   

Fortunately, Conscious Communication is something that any of us can learn, and Lucy makes it her labour of love to help yoga teachers and yoga therapists step into their personal power and capability in this area.

Holding Space

So, what is meant by the phrase ‘holding space’?  Many beautiful definitions exist, Lucy offers one of her favourite explanations: “It’s being fully present with another person – without trying to fix, change or advise them in any way – with whatever is arising for them in this moment”.   She describes an example of listening to her barista tell her about his trepidation arising from the prospect of moving back to homeland after so long in Australia.  A brief moment in time, with the potential to have been nothing more than a transactional exchange, transformed into an opportunity for someone with thoughts weighing heavy on their mind, to be fully heard and feel truly ‘seen’.  “It’s such an incredible gift to feel fully listened to”, which as Lucy points out, so rarely happens with how busy our modern lives have become.  

Unsurprisingly perhaps, many of the skills for Holding Space cross over with those of Conscious Communication, but not everyone is clear on how these two concepts intersect, or how they can go about learning to better Hold Space for people. Lucy explains that these too can be broken down into learnable chunks.

Before discussing some of her tips and ideas for yoga teachers and yoga therapists, Lucy takes marksmen-like aim at a glorious kernel of truth with unwavering precision: Holding Space for others, she gently frames the discussion, is only possible when we first Hold Space for ourselves. If we don’t regularly replenish ourselves, we cannot possibly Hold Space well for others. One of many beautiful lightbulb moments from this plain-speaking and accessible communicator. 

Eager to learn more?

In this podcast episode, Holding Space for Conscious Communication, you can learn more about

  • Lucy’s journey and how she came to synthesise a program of learning for other yoga teachers, from two of her great loves: communication and yoga
  • The power of the mentoring relationship
  • The role of communication in healing, and
  • Lucy’s tips for teachers and therapists to help students relate to and trust you, and how to structure a presentation, a workshop, a yoga class.

 Listen to Episode 24, Live Like You Love Yourself, with Lucy Karnani here

Want more still? 

Don’t miss Lucy’s upcoming (and last) workshop for 2020, Presentation Skills and Workshop Design for Yoga Professionals, on 4th – 6th December, in person at our Cammeray premises. 


Date: Friday 4th – 6th December 
Time: Fri 6:00pm – 8:45pm Sat 9:30am – 5:30pm, Sun 8:30am – 4:30pm 
Location: The Yoga Institute, Cammeray
Facilitator: Lucy Karnani
Cost: $520

***limited to 6 participants***

Click here for more information and bookings

Free Webinar: Yoga, Ayurveda & Mental Health

Join us on Thursday 5 November 3:00pm – 5:30pm AEST

In the lead up to Ayurveda Day in India (observed on 13 November), NICM Health Research Institute in partnership with All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India), will co-host a FREE WEBINAR discussing the latest research in the use of yoga and Ayurveda medicine for mental wellness.

In the lead up to Ayurveda Day in India (observed on 13 November), NICM Health Research Institute in partnership with All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India), will co-host a FREE WEBINAR discussing the latest research in the use of yoga and Ayurveda medicine for mental wellness. 

Led by international research experts in yoga and Ayurveda medicine – including our own Founder and Director of The Yoga Institute, Dr Michael de Manincor – the webinar covers up-to-date evidence about the benefits of yoga and Ayurveda for mood and mental health, discussing current challenges and specific recommendations, ending with a Q&A session.

What can I learn about?

This free two-and-a-half-hour event is open to anyone with an interest in yoga, Ayurveda and mental wellness.

Speakers and topics include:

  •  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living, India
    • Health, healing and consciousness
  • Dr Antonio Morandi, President, Italian Scientific Society for Ayurvedic Medicine, Italy
    • Balancing mind with Ayurveda for a perfect global health
  • Dr Holger Cramer, Research Director, Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
    • Calming the fluctuations of the mind? State of the science on yoga for mental health and wellness in cancer
  • Dr Michael de Manincor, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia
    • Yoga research for mental health in Australia

Further details

When: Thursday 5 November 2020
Time: 3.00pm-5.30pm AEDT / 9.30am-12.00pm IST
Venue: Zoom webinar
Cost: This is a free event


We are delighted and heartened at the interest in this webinar and this very important topic. A recording of this webinar will be available soon.

Graduate Story: Emma Black 2019

Emma’s Yoga Journey

I came to yoga in the midst of an eating disorder when I was 12. I saw pictures of beautiful ladies performing crazy postures all over social media and instantly started comparing myself to them, telling myself that ‘once I can move like that, then I’ll be happy’. So I started doing yoga. 

Initially, I was too scared to go to a yoga studio as I ‘hadn’t perfected yoga yet’ which is a pretty funny concept looking back. I started following youtube videos and forcing myself to do 1 or 2 classes a day. I loved yoga but sometimes it felt like another thing to tick off my daily to-do list.  

Then one day something clicked. 

I realised that while the classes I was doing were ‘yoga’, they were only scraping the surface of what yoga truly is. I dove deep into the spiritual and philosophical side of yoga and found refuge in those teachings. 

I started to realise that I was more than just my body and more than the school grades I received – both things that I attached my self-worth to. I started to live for the sense of stillness I found through my practice and from there I started to find myself again after feeling lost for so long. 

What is Emma doing now?

I’m currently in the final week of year 12 (yay!). I graduated from the 500 hr Diploma of Yoga last year at 15 years old and have since started teaching one-on-one kids classes, holding body image and yoga retreats, and I am teaching yoga at surfing retreats. 

I’ve also just finished a 12-month long research project looking into the effect of a short yoga-based warm-up on surfing performance and injury prevention titled ‘Yoga for Surfing’.

“Everything happens for a reason” – Emma’s favourite phrase

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would become a yoga teacher, especially at such a young age. 

As hard as experiencing a mental health issue can be, I know that without going through those tough times I wouldn’t have found yoga and I would be a completely different person. 

I’m definitely a huge believer that everything happens for a reason and am SO grateful for Michael and Lisa (and all of the other teachers at The Yoga Institute) for helping me become a yoga teacher! 

How can we support you?

Our Teacher Training Course isn’t just for aspiring teachers, but for anyone who wants to deepen their personal practice and gain a better understanding of yoga.

Need more information?
Get course prospectus
Information Session details
Email or call us: 0477 021 219

Join us, together we will grow, learn and inspire.

Anatomy of a Yoga Therapy Session

By Lisa Grauaug

What is yoga therapy for?

People may seek the assistance of a Yoga Therapist for a range of issues or concerns related to their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

In some cases, a client may be experiencing a physical discomfort such as back-pain or an issue with mobility. In other cases, people might work with a Yoga Therapist to get help with poor sleep, poor digestion, to improve their breathing or to address emotional challenges or imbalance.   

How does it work?

The first phase in the yoga therapy process involves assessment, observation and history taking.

This initial step is extremely important and it requires a skilled and competent Yoga Therapist.

One of the best ways to explain the work of a Yoga Therapist is to look at an example…

A Case Study

The following case study is from the recent Yoga Anatomy and Musculoskeletal Systems module from our registered Yoga Therapy Training Course. 

The client presented asking for assistance to relieve neck and back pain.

Phase 1: Assessment & History Taking

Image 1: The client was asked to stand with a relaxed posture.

As a learning aid, we placed dots as reference points on some focal points on the client’s body to help students observe alignment.  

Overall this client has a strong constitution. Upon history taking we learned that the client spent much of his working day looking up as a housepainter.

What do you observe?

We can see from the dots that the client has a head forward posture – notice the vertical mis-alignment of the line from ear to shoulder. PLUS notice the tendency to gaze upwards.

Image 2: Over extension of the neck and was further exposed when lying down.

Further to the misalignment observed in a variety of static postures, when we undertook a range of movement assessment, we observed restricted arm movement, particularly during overhead arm extension.

As part of this assessment it was additionally observed practices to facilitate breath would also add great value.


Understanding the Client’s Lifestyle Needs

As well as taking a comprehensive case history from the client and completing an assessment including physical observation and range of movement checks, the Yoga Therapist will also seek to understand the client’s needs for their practice in terms of time, lifestyle and other factors.

Phase 2: Designing a Tailored Yoga Practice

This client expressed he was time poor and on his feet a lot. He was keen for a short practice.

Taking all of this into account, the role of the Yoga Therapist was to:

  1. Educate and bring awareness to the client about his posture.
  2. Design a yoga-based practice incorporating exercises that:
    1. Help the client experience a more upright and aligned position. These mainly focused on standing tall in axial extension and neutral spine positions.  
    2. Help to release neck and neighbouring muscles that are pulling the head into an extended position.
    3. Include passive movements to release shoulder muscles (pectoralis major) g passive lying twists (jathara parivritti).

If practiced consistently, these techniques will help the client to find relief from neck and back pain and improve both posture and range of movement.

Phase 3: Checking In and Refining

The final task of the Yoga Therapist is to arrange further sessions with the client to check in on their progress, address any concerns or questions, and make any adjustments or refinements needed for the client to gain the most benefit from their new practice.

The number of sessions needed will depend on the complexity and persistence of the issues presented.

Written by Lisa Grauaug B AppSc (Nursing), B Psych, M Psych, Adv Dip Yoga Teaching, Ayurveda Lifestyle Certificate, Perinatal Mental Health Course (USyd), Registered Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Registered Yoga Therapist (YA & IAYT), Yoga Australia Member. 

How can we support you?

Interested Yoga Therapy training ?
Yoga Therapy Foundations module (100 hours):  MORE information please
Yoga Therapy Training (650 hours): MORE information please
Private Yoga Therapy Sessions: MORE information please

Graduate Story: Josh Caple 2017

Josh’s Yoga Journey

Yoga is something I’ve come back to again and again at different times in my life for different reasons. 

I first dabbled with it when I was a teenager, I had been an elite gymnast and retired into the life of a rock climbing bum. Yoga helped to maintain some of the strength and flexibility from gymnastics and supported my climbing. Over the years I’ve managed to break my back a few times (twice snowboarding, once skydiving… the ground keeps winning and yoga has helped me to rehabilitate and manage that. 

When the passion for yoga began

I really came to fall in love with yoga in 2014. I was having a bit of a destructive journey with various substances at the time and my version of rehab was spending a month in the Peruvian Amazon working with traditional healers. It was a very intense & very confronting month, and some days it felt like the yoga practice that I was learning to cultivate was all that kept me going. A couple years later I decided it was finally time to dive deeper, I thought I’d have to go to India or back to the jungle to find the right teacher. However, a mutual friend put me in touch with Michael de Manincor, and in 2017 I started my first teacher training with his incredible 500hr program. 

Working as a private yoga mentor

There are operations of our minds that we are unaware of. These, at times, can work against us by repeating patterns of thought, feelings and actions that lead to unhappiness, or by interfering with healthy relationships.

Lately I haven’t been teaching many group classes but I really enjoy working privately with people, mentoring them in various aspects of the system of Yoga and to help them develop a personalised practice so that they can really learn to guide themselves deeper. 

Yoga really is a gift that has kept on giving and I’m intrigued to see what it teaches me next!

What is Josh doing now?

Currently I’m working in a private clinic offering Transpersonal Counselling and yoga mentoring at Qi Health and Yoga in both Manly and Freshwater. I’m also teaching a few classes and workshops. I’m also contributing to a wonderful online Yoga and Recovery program to support people recovering from addiction (

Prior to COVID, I was playing music and teaching yoga at music festivals (places like Subsonic, Burning Seed, Dragon Dreaming, Rabbits Eat Lettuce). COVID has dictated that my dancing shoes are getting a little R&R. I’m really looking forward to borders opening up again so that I can offer yoga, wilderness and adventure-based retreats around the world. 

What opportunities are there for yoga teachers?

I hear a lot of people express frustration about the yoga industry and how hard it is, which I totally get. There’s a lot of teachers, there’s a lot of studios, people are hustling for work and having to teach massive days to make ends meet.

I do think, there is a lot of opportunity if you are showing up with your own flavour to be able to share that and carve out a niche. COVID has really pushed a lot of people to engage differently which I think has been challenging for many of us in a lot of ways. It’s also wonderful in how we are seeing more people exploring different platforms and different frameworks for connecting to students and supporting themselves. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

Lots! Come connect with me and allow me that opportunity 😉 I’ve got a bunch of yummy things coming up, check out for details.

How can we support you?

Since 2001 The Yoga Institute has taught and mentored hundreds of students who have gone on to become amazing yoga teachers. We’ve grown a beautiful community of people who have changed their own lives and the lives of others through exceptional yoga teaching. We are humbled to have been part of so much positive change.

Interested in Yoga Teacher Training? get prospectus and join our next information session

Sleep is a gift from Nature

Sleep: an important consideration in personal practice design

A gift for maintaining health and wellbeing
A gift to assist in healing 

How is your sleep?

Sleep is an important area to consider in your self-care or healing regime. This is also a question that will be considered in some detail by a well-trained Yoga Therapist or Yoga Teacher, when working one-on-one with a client. 

Sleep is a vital aspect of our daily routine and a priority when it comes to looking after ourselves and others. Some sleep proponents express that sleep is one of the MOST important pillars for the protection and maintenance of health and wellbeing (Walker, 2017). 

Sleeping problems very common in adults

Despite the importance of sleep, experiencing sleep problems is very common in developed countries. Inadequate sleep (of either duration or quality) and its daytime consequences, affects 33-45% of adults in Australia. These problems occur across all age groups.


So why do we need sleep?  

The reasons are many but the bottom-line is that sleep is a fundamental support for the vital functioning of many of our bodily systems. Put simply, sleep is integral to optimal functioning and health. Sleep is the process through which we rejuvenate, repair and revive our systems. This is the time when both our body and mind go through repair and rebuilding.

What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

“…– routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimers disease. Inadequate sleep even moderate reductions for just one week – disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic.” from Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.

What is the perspective of yoga and sleep? 

In the context of yoga, sleep is considered an activity of the mind and is termed in Sanskrit as ‘nidra.’ In the state of nidra (sleep) there is “a tamasic state” of mind cultivated. 

According to yoga this ‘tamasic’ state is one of three states of mind. These states are referred to as the gunas:

  • Tamas – the ‘tamasic’ state is dull (heavy, stuck, sleepy)
  • Raja – the ‘rajasic’ state is excessive (racing thoughts)
  • Sattva – the ‘sattvic’ state is balanced (calm, ease, clarity, flow) 

As part of our humanness we all experience these mind states and they affect our functioning on both a physical (gross) and mental (subtle) level. These states of mind support us in our activities of daily life, they work individually and together to support balance and mitigate the effects of each other. 

How is your state of mind right now?

As you read this article – is your mind active and thinking about all that you can do with this information (rajasic)? Are you feeling sleepy and a little dull, ready for a nap (tamasic)? Or are you knowingly, calmly, present and focussed on all that I am sharing (sattvic)? 

The state of sattva is the middle ‘sweet’ spot – we aim to live in this state of balance as much as possible. Rather than a state of excess activity OR a state of excess inactivity. To live in these extreme states over extended periods is what leads to chronic imbalance and poor health.

Yoga and healthy sleep  

If we sleep in a state of pure TAMAS it is considered very healthy sleep. If our sleep is overpowered by tamas – no thoughts (abhava) then one wakes after a night’s sleep feeling fresh as a daisy!

A regular yoga practice can support us in reaching this deeply restful state during sleep and maintaining a ‘sattvic’ state more of the time during our waking hours.

national survey found that over 55% of people who practiced yoga found that it helped them get better sleep (Harvard Health). Other studies have looked at specific populations – particularly the elderly where insomnia is commonly experienced. It found the impact of a long-term Yoga practice had a positive effect on sleep quality and quality of life.

As always with yoga, the practices that best support someone to improve their sleep will vary considerably depending on the individual – there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer.

Sleep as an aid to healing in yoga therapy

Because sleep has such a key role in rejuvenation and healing it is an essential consideration for Yoga Therapists and Yoga Teachers working in one-one settings. As such it is an important component of what yoga teachers and yoga therapy trainees learn about in our Yoga Therapy Training program.

Questions to ask about sleep in developing a personal practice

Whether considering your own sleep or a client’s in relation to developing a personal practice, there are some important questions to explore:

  • How is the quality of your sleep? 
  • Do you wake during the night?
  • How many hours’ sleep do you normally get each night?
  • After a night’s sleep do you wake up feeling refreshed? 
  • Are you aware of / do you remember your dreams? 
  • If so, How often? What is the content of your dreams? 

As a yoga therapist, understanding these aspects of ones  sleep routine and experience is very much part of the history taking process. This information provides a holistic view and  will further assist with the  development of an appropriate practice to support a person and if required focus on better sleep.

If looking to improve your own sleep through a personalised yoga practice, exploring these questions with the help of an experienced yoga teacher or yoga therapist, will allow them to design a practice that best supports you. 

Written by Lisa Grauaug,
Course Director of our Yoga Therapy Training program

Upcoming 100hr Yoga Therapy Foundations Module CLICK HERE

Chanting is an ancient practice with mental health effects

Meet Gemma Perry. Gemma is a graduate of The Yoga Institute, she has been practicing and studying chanting for over a decade, she’s currently undertaking a PhD to try to uncover some of the science behind chanting.

By Amy Fallon Shared from ABC app

Chanting is an ancient practice with mental health effects that might apply to our busy lives.

A woman smiling at the camera

Scientific studies have found that chanting can decrease stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as increase positive mood, feelings of relaxation and focused attention.

The first time Gemma Perry tried chanting, she had no idea what to expect.

“I was at a yoga studio and everyone was chanting a particular phrase 108 times and I didn’t know what was going on,” she says.

But Perry, who was suffering from severe depression, says she found chanting to be so therapeutic she tried it again the following week.

A decade on, she’s undertaking a PhD to try to uncover if science can explain it.

Despite having been practised for thousands of years by almost every culture in the world, many consider chanting to have only spiritual advantages.

It’s only now that its physiological and psychological benefits are being accepted more widely in the West.

“Scientific studies have found that chanting can decrease stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as increase positive mood, feelings of relaxation and focused attention,” Perry says.

“It is possible that, regardless of the tradition or belief system involved in the chanting practice, chanting may have a physiological and psychological effect no matter what you are chanting.”

Repetitive vocal chanting can have a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, Perry says, as it can slow breathing and activate the vagus nerve.

“We still don’t know scientifically if it matters what you chant or not,” she says.

Chanting can improve attention and lift mood

For her PhD, Perry is studying the psychological effects of chanting from many diverse traditions, as well as the differences between styles of chanting, such as silent or vocal mantra repetition, done either individually or in groups.

According to the results of a 2016 study by Perry, Professor Bill Thompson and Dr Vince Polito, also from Macquarie University, chanting the universal mantra “Om” for 10 minutes improved attention, contributed towards a positive mood and increased feelings of social cohesion.

The study found that a positive effect and altruism increased more following vocal chanting than silent chanting.

Mental health system isn’t working

Another study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2018, found that “mantram” repetition therapy — which involves silently repeating a spiritually-related word or phrase selected by each individual from a recommended list — was effective in treating veterans diagnosed with military-related post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD).

A separate paper published last year in Federal Practitioner concluded that similar practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga aided health care workers with “small-to-moderate improvements in emotional exhaustion, sense of personal accomplishment, and life satisfaction”.

Other research has found that chanting increased cerebral blood flow in areas of the brain known to deteriorate in Alzheimer’s patients.

Perry says ancient Egyptians believed chanting encouraged flooding of the Nile and would yield successful crops, while Indigenous Australians used the practise to aid them in finding water and navigating land.

Her research has taken her to Hare Krishna, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh temples in Australia and abroad, while she’s also shared chanting practices with a high school and big corporation in Sydney.

“I’m discovering new traditions and practices all the time,” Perry says.

“Someone got in touch recently who was a Zoroastrian priest, from one of the oldest practiced religions in the world.”

Chanting combines music therapy with meditation and mindfulness

As a musician and avid music fan, Professor Thompson has benefitted enormously from meditation, which he started aged 16 after spending 12 months training under a yogi.

He is now studying a range of music-based interventions that benefit wellbeing, quality of life, and cognitive-motor functions.

“Chanting is one example of how music can enhance wellbeing and quality of life — and an interesting one, because it combines many elements of other music-based activities, but also includes meditation and mindfulness elements which may add fuel to the power of music,” Thompson says.

“Vocal group chanting provides more opportunity than silent chanting for deep connection with other people, and this might help to explain the enhanced impact on altruism.”

Thompson stresses that while chanting can bring a range of psychological and cognitive benefits, it will only work if people are genuinely interested in the practice, and enjoy it.

The perseverance, though, is worth it.

“Once you’ve practiced meditation for many years, most people tend to change the way they approach daily life, placing value on a sense of equanimity and mindfulness that is not restricted to an actual meditation session,” he says.

Chanting is simple and easy to learn!

Podcast: Good Morning, I Love You

“Allow a gentle smile on your mouth, you can kind of feel how it shifts the entire physiology. So that’s kind of a concrete, physical way of shifting into this attitude of welcoming and safety.”

Insights at the Edge’s Tami Simon speaks with Shauna Shapiro about the neurology of self-image and why conscious acts of self-compassion greatly enhance our well-being. Shauna comments on practicing mindfulness with warmth and open affection, as well as how this gradually cultivates empathy. Tami and Shauna also talk about “trusting the good heart” and the possibility of changing our baseline levels of happiness. Finally, they discuss why changing ingrained habits is so difficult and the subtle power of the daily self-affirmation, “Good morning. I love you.”

Dr. Shauna Shapiro is a professor, author, and internationally recognized expert in mindfulness and compassion. Nearly one million people have watched her TED talk called “The Power of Mindfulness,” rated one of the top ten talks on mindfulness.

With Sounds True she has written a new book called Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain for Calm, Clarity, and Joy, where she brings alive the brain science behind why we feel the way we do about ourselves, each other, and the world, and she explains how we get stuck in thinking that just doesn’t serve us. What I loved about talking with Shauna Shapiro is that here she is, a scientific researcher, PhD clinical psychologist, and she helps us understand the brain science behind how a very simple act, an act any of us can do each morning and say to ourselves, “Good morning, I love you,” might be one of the most powerful acts we can take on a regular basis.

What we practice grows stronger. Good morning, I love you.

Listen to conversation


Find Refuge from an Overwhelming World

We all get the feeling of being overwhelmed at some point or another. For some, it may be once a year while for others it’s a daily occurance. If there’s ever an article to give you the words of wisdom you need to overcome this overwhelming world we live in, it’s this one.

By: Judith Hanson Lasater via Yoga Journal

Patanjali writes in his most famous Yoga Sutra (1:2): “Yoga is a state in which the agitations of the mind are resolved.” This means that through yoga, we can stop identifying with fear and anxiety, for example, and begin to settle into the now—into an internal silence. Perhaps you have had a glimpse of this state on the mat, walking in the woods, or while worshipping or praying. This deep state of silence Patanjali describes is the residue of our practice but not the asana or meditation practices themselves. We miss the real practice when we are attached to the techniques instead of the residue, or the aftertaste of the practice. When we start to understand that the asana is not the yoga, we realize that the afterglow the asana leaves in our nervous system is the true yoga. This can lead to the radical awareness that refuge can be experienced anywhere, anytime, because it can truly be a choice.

Yoga practices help us get there. By helping to change what we are focused on, asana can become the foundation for us to find the courage and awareness to turn toward our lives with curiosity and presence—to take refuge in the moment. When we try a new, sometimes scary, pose, we are practicing courage, and when we are present to bodily sensations on the mat, we create a new habit of awareness. Restorative Yoga poses are particularly helpful. For example, time spent reposing in a supported Savasana (Corpse Pose) can reinforce that you are “enough” and have value simply because you exist. That’s because Savasana tells your nervous system that it is OK to let go: that you do not have to be doing and producing all of the time in order to feel full and content with who you are. The Savasana practice here helps foster the unimaginably important and radical understanding that you are not your thoughts. As you lie still with your eyes closed and nothing to do, all you have to focus on are your thoughts. You can learn to watch your thoughts rise and fall like clouds in the distant sky. The ability to be even slightly free from the tyranny of one’s thoughts is the beginning of moksha, or the only true freedom.

Pranayama can offer us a way into a state of even deeper contentment. Besides inhalations, exhalations, and breath retention, there is something else that you can contemplate during your breath practice: the utter silence that presents itself between the inhalations and exhalations. Focusing on the moments when you are not inhaling, exhaling, or holding your breath (the natural state of suspension in between the inhalation and exhalation) can have a profound effect on your mind and nervous system. When I practice this focus, it verifies for me that true refuge can only be found within myself and does not come from outside sources. When I’m in this state, I have no worries; I’m totally content with what is.

Finding Acceptance

If you meditate, you know too well how powerful the constant barrage of arising thoughts can be. But meditation can help you create refuge in the midst of your mind. Here are three ways it can work:

  1. During meditation, cultivate the habit of accepting things as they are. You may not like the noise outside your window right now, but you can stop fighting it with your mind. 
  2. Cultivate the willingness to love your judging mind instead of fighting it. This is very powerful. Taking time to be quiet and aware can help us see clearly that we live with a constant and unremitting critical mind. We judge ourselves with ferocity, and we judge others without surcease. It’s a radical practice to notice this and actually contemplate the opposite—loving the humanness of our judging mind. This is a form of self-care that is especially liberating. 
  3. Simply be present. Wrap yourself in the mantle of the present moment. When you sit to meditate, allow yourself to feel the moment, hear the moment, and be the moment.

Click HERE to read the full article

Meet The Author: Judith Hanson Lasater

Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.d. in East-West Psychology and physical therapist has taught yoga around the world since 1971.  She is a founder of the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco, CA, as well as of Yoga Journal magazine.  

Ms. Lasater trains yoga teachers in virtually every state of the United States, and is often an invited guest at international yoga conventions.  She is president emeritus of the California Yoga Teachers’ Association as well as the author of numerous articles on yoga and health for nationally recognized magazines.  

Her most recent book is Restore and Rebalance: Yoga for Deep Relaxation, Shambhala Press, December, 2017. A complete list of Ms. Lasater’s nine books can be found here. She has also created numerous digital courses about teaching and practicing yoga.

Tap into the Healing Potential of Yoga

There are a myriad of ways to transform your health through Yoga.

Were you aware of the array of benefits that Yoga has been shown to offer people when it comes to ones health and healing? Current research continues to support the validity of such claims (Harvard Medical publication – An Introduction to Yoga). This report reveals with clinical research that Yoga offers so much more than a physical stretch, a way to strengthen and tone your body. It in fact it has a powerful effect on your whole health.

The Health Benefits of Yoga

The list of yoga’s health benefits is quite long and continually growing and more research is done. When it comes to scientific research, yoga is a tricky topic for many reasons, the main one being that there are so many types and styles of yoga. Each style and teachers offers something a little different. Some classes are more asana (physical) focus, while others focus more on pranayama (breathing) or meditation. The bottom line is that yoga has a lot to offer.

Harvard Medical School Special Health Report “An Introduction to Yoga” dedicates a chapter offering an overview of the research on yoga’s physical and mental benefits. Listed in this chapter:

  • Reduced Stress
  • Better Physical Health
    • Reduced risk of heart disease
    • Improved diabetes management
    • Back pain relief
    • Less arthritis pain
  • Better mental health
    • A sharper brain
    • Less depression and anxiety
    • Relief for PTSD
  • Increased well-being
    • Better sleep
    • Better body awareness
    • Weight loss
    • Greater happiness
    • Youthfulness

The publication also mentions “Why yoga has so many health benefits”

  • It taps down on stress
  • It reduces inflammation
  • It tones the vagus nerve
  • It amps up immunity
  • It changes your brain
  • It turns on genes that promote health

Yoga is the perfect remedy to assist with everything from heart disease to high pressure to anxiety and depression. 

Yoga is a mind-body practice that considers the whole person.  A yoga practice may include postures – either static or dynamic movements, breathing techniques, calmative or relaxation practices, practices that enhance vitality, or more contemplative practices such as meditation.

How we approach ones Yoga practice to restore health and provide healing ALWAYS depends on the person. Often when we are limited, or suffering with our health we forget or cannot see the other aspects of our being that we can tap into. Yes – we forget our potential – a well trained and experienced Yoga teacher or therapist can assist people to awaken these other aspects of themselves and see the potential for better functioning, health and healing.

In the Harvard Medical publication on Yoga there was mention of a Clinical Cardiology study where a yoga programme was shown to increase the flexibility of blood vessels by 69% and it even helped shrink blockages in arteries without the use of medications! Now this is promising.

Without a doubt this time-tested ancient practice – Yoga – is here to stay and we look forward to continue to hear more about Yoga’s vast application and usefulness to transform health and support healing.

“Tone and strengthen your body while you lower blood pressure … ease back pain … reduce the risk of heart disease … and improve your memory with YOGA!”

To read publication: CLICK HERE

How can we support you?

Interested in teacher training? Visit our webpage
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Interested in developing a personal home practice? Visit our webpage

Have questions’? Email or call: 0477 021 219

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