Author: Natalie Bowcutt

Story of Transformation: Dani Laucht

The Beginning

My first contact with Yoga was over ten years ago, when studying at a small university in Germany. I felt incredibly overwhelmed, confused, unable to breathe properly and sore after my first yoga class. I quickly decided that this seemingly new, hippie trend, called Yoga, was not meant for me.

A few years later, a friend suggested I attend a yoga class with her and this time the experience was completely different. The teacher touched on the pillars of this ancient philosophy and sparked my interest immediately.

When moving to Australia with my husband in 2011, I left my dear family, long- lasting friendships, great colleagues and an enjoyable job behind. I was struggling to find my place in this new life and was constantly ‘searching’ for something, but not knowing what it was. During this unsettling time, I completed several fitness degrees, ran group fitness classes and worked as a personal trainer as well as my existing school teaching job. The regular yoga classes provided an anchor in a mentally and emotionally challenging, exhausting and turbulent time.

The moment everything changed

At seemingly the peak of my fitness and wellbeing, only aged 30, I suddenly felt immense pain in my right foot. I was soon diagnosed with early onset arthritis. Being told that I simply had to “live with it”, I went into total denial and instead, researched complimentary healing modalities. I then decided to complete a yoga teacher training to educate myself about this ancient philosophy and the healing power it could provide.

Becoming a yoga teacher

During this first yoga teacher training, in the middle of a session, I was overcome by a warm, comforting feeling of ‘coming home’. Right then and there, I knew I had arrived and that this was exactly what I had been looking for. From that day on, my passion for yoga grew and further education followed.

I completed my second Yoga Teacher Training at The Yoga Institute. This saw me develop a daily, personalised yoga practice that changed from purely asana (postures) to a more reflective and mindful practice. Under the guidance of my experienced mentor as well as the studies of the Yoga Sutras, I started to slowly unfold the layers of my own existence and to work through painful issues and experiences, buried deep within me.

A rollercoaster of emotions, thoughts, enlightening and disheartening moments followed. Six months later, after my diagnosis, I was completely symptom free.

I don’t believe that yoga transforms. Instead, I feel that yoga helps and supports you to bring back your true, inner self.

Working as a full-time yoga teacher

In December last year, driven by my passion and a deep sense of purpose, I resigned from my school teaching job. I am now working full-time as a yoga teacher!

I now teach:

  • Yoga and mindfulness programs to primary school children
  • Classes at a private boys High School
  • General yoga classes at studios
  • Yoga for scoliosis classes
  • Chair yoga in an aged care centre
  • One-on-one yoga with people from different backgrounds and with various health challenges

I now understand the importance of a wholistic approach. I truly listen to each individual’s story, enabling me to guide and empower my clients on their unique paths.

Thanks to both the 150h Upgrade Course and Yoga Therapy Training provided by The Yoga Institute, I feel well equipped with a wide range of yogic tools to not only teach general yoga classes and personalised practices but to be comfortable and confident to work with individuals with specific health challenges.

I had no idea how this training would open so many possibilities. I feel incredibly lucky to have stepped onto this path, supported by such a caring community and guided by an incredibly knowledgeable, kind and experienced faculty, taking my understanding to a whole new level.

I am now in a great position to take advantage of the opportunities to work therapeutically, as they arise.

 


Learn about our 8 day Yoga Therapy Foundations module:
More information

 

Do you really know Yoga if you don’t know the Yoga Sutras?

Written by Natalie Bowcutt

I was clueless for years

I started practicing Yoga sporadically around 8 years ago, more regularly in the last 5 or 6 years.

I began practicing in a variety of Yoga classes, my first love being, what you might call, ‘vinyasa flow’. I loved the fluid, ‘dance-like’ quality of the movements. In some cases, I experienced a new sense of focus after class and in others it triggered strong emotional responses, like ‘crying my eyes out’ or ‘low level rage’.

I experienced Yoga and it was creating change. I didn’t need to know the ancient philosophy, I knew it affected me in some way, although I wasn’t exactly sure how or why.

I sensed there was more

After some time, I found myself yearning to learn more. This led me to enrol in a teacher training course at The Yoga Institute. This is when my life really started to change. Previously, I had enjoyed and gained benefits from practicing Yoga but it wasn’t until I understood the whole system that I deepened my understanding of what was causing me suffering in my life.

This was achieved through my studies and being guided through the development of my own personalised practice.

In education, when you know ‘the why’ and then practice it, embody it, it is much more powerful than if you are simply ‘led’ through the practice.

When you are studying to become a teacher, this is incredibly important. There are teachers and there are teachers. As a yoga teacher, having a solid understanding of the entire system and framework of yoga allows you to guide people into a deeper understanding of their being and what causes them suffering – be it physical, mental or emotional.

Sharing the transformative power of Yoga

I have had the good fortune of being able to work one-to-one with many clients and have witnessed the profound transformation that can occur when a truly integrated approach is taken.

There is so much more to the system of Yoga than ‘making shapes’ on a rubber mat. As a teacher, a thorough grounding in the Yoga Sutras is essential to be able to guide students in their practice and apply the principles of this ancient ‘guide to living’ to address the challenges of our modern lives.

The Yoga Sutras is not just The 8 Limbs

There are 195 Yoga Sutras. These concise descriptions detail the whole system of Yoga and how it works to bring positive change to our minds and our lives. Focusing on just one part of the system of Yoga, such as asana (the physical poses), could be compared to choosing one verse or chapter from The Bible, The Tanakh, The Quran or the Tao Te Ching and living life according to that small piece of the whole picture.

  • Asana appears just once (referred to 3 times) in 195 Yoga Sutras
  • Only 20 of the 195 sutras are dedicated to the explanation of ‘The 8 Limbs’

This puts ‘The 8 Limbs’ into perspective as a part of the system of Yoga. Whilst the 8 Limbs are important, they are not the entire story, they are part of a much larger whole.

Most teacher trainings make some reference to the Yoga Sutras and the majority of those references are about ‘The 8 Limbs’.

Understanding Yoga Philosophy transformed my teaching

My experience as both a student and teacher of yoga has been deeply enriched through study and understanding of the Yoga Sutras. I have been able to apply what I’ve learned to know myself and to understand the workings of my own mind and then take that out into the world to be a better teacher. Connecting with others and helping students in their own process of transformation has been an incredible experience.

If you want the ability to guide people through real transformation, it is essential to dedicate the time to the study of the philosophy of Yoga and how it can be applied to the individuals you are working with.


The framework for The Yoga Institute’s teacher training and yoga studies courses is based on the fundamental principle that knowledge and understanding of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is essential to competently and confidently teach Yoga to others. And for students to gain the full benefit of all the system of Yoga has to offer.

As well as teaching the Yoga Sutras through our teacher training courses, we also offer standalone Yoga Sutra Studies courses for yoga teachers and yoga students, and a personal practice course for keen students who want to deepen their practice but aren’t interested in teaching.


Join us for an Information Session

It’s a fantastic way to meet the team and ask questions about becoming a yoga teacher or about our teacher training and yoga studies courses:

 

 


Upcoming courses:

Yoga Teacher Training Diploma

Yoga Sutra Studies  

Will I ever sit comfortably in Hero’s pose?

Written by Kaye Tribe

Have you ever thought, will I ever sit comfortably in Hero’s pose? And if I keep on stretching, will this change?

The answer is, it Depends. Kaye Tribe explores why.

This is a very common question from many Yoga practitioners.

Why is it so challenging?

The position of the bony articulations of the hip joint in the human body can vary considerable from one individual to the next. The thigh bone (or femur) also undergoes considerable changes from birth to becoming an adult. These changes will affect the ability of each individual to move their leg forward and backwards (flexion and hyper-extension), out to the side (abduction) and to turn the leg inwards and outwards (medial and lateral rotation).

The infant skeleton is made up of mostly cartilage. It is immature bone and it has not yet been calcified. This makes the bone fairly flexible.

Babies are packed inside the uterus tightly, particularly in the last few weeks before birth. Most foetuses are in a crossed-leg position in the uterus. This position affects the how our legs will look when we are born.

Throughout childhood, the thigh bone and lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) will continue to change and move towards what is considered ‘normal’ for the adult.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coxa-valga-norma-vara-000.png

When we are infants, the angle between the shaft and the neck of the thigh bone is approximately 140 degrees (image on the left) and is described as the angle of inclination. This angle reduces as we learn to walk to approximately 125 degrees which is considered normal in the adult body. An angle of 5 degrees either side of that measurement is also considered to be within a healthy range – 120 degrees to 130 degrees. An angle outside of that range is named either coxa valga (larger than normal) or coxa vara (smaller than normal).

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/7182362_fig1_FIGURE-1-The-anteversion-angle-is-the-angle-between-the-projection-of-the-neck-axis-onto

There is another angle that indicates the amount of rotation that occurs in the thigh bone and this angle changes from about 30 degrees in an infant to approximately 15 degrees in the adult body. Most research suggests that excessive rotation of the thigh may be due to the position of the child in the uterus and the resulting imbalance in tension of the muscles that control movements of the hip.

The result of an increased rotation on the thigh bone is an increased ability to medially rotate the thigh compared with the ability to laterally rotate the thigh and it is referred to as excessive anteversion. This photo illustrates the chosen seated position of a young child with excessive anteversion of the thigh bone.

An adult body with excessive anteversion will find Hero’s Pose an easy pose to hold due to the internal rotation of the thigh bone in that pose. This adult will also experience an easy cross-legged pose as not-so-easy due to the inability to laterally rotate the hip comfortably.

Alternatives to offer

https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/hero-pose

So, your ability to sit comfortably in any pose may be due to the shape of your thigh bone and the position of your hip socket rather than stiff or chronically shortened muscles.

You could replace Hero’s Pose with Easy Cross-legged pose, or Half Lotus pose or any seated pose that is held for longer than a few minutes.

Get to know your teacher: Lisa Grauaug

Meet Lisa Grauaug

What brought you to Yoga?

Being curious and my partner was spending a lot of time teaching Yoga and attending classes.

How long have you been teaching for and where did you train?

I have been teaching since 2004 and completed formal Yoga Teacher training at The Yoga Institute in 2009. I have continued personal studies and professional development with Saraswathi Vasudevan (Yoga Vahni) and completed Yoga Therapy Training with Ganesh Mohan (Svastha Yoga and Ayurveda).

 What is your area of interest/speciality/plans for the future?  

I really enjoy working with students over a period of time, whether this is with Yoga Teachers in training, in classes or in one-one sessions. As I value observing students develop in their practice and understanding of what Yoga has to offer. I have a particular interest in Yoga generally, Yoga Therapy,  Women’s Health with a particular interest in teaching Yoga during pregnancy.

Passions? 

Family, reading, learning, travel, being in nature, ocean swimming and walking.

Biggest challenges?

I love my work and find it quite absorbing and inspiring, so finding the right balance between work and home-life can be a healthy challenge.

What would you like to share about yourself, that is unrelated to Yoga ?

I have always been an avid animal spotter, whether it is insects, birds, whales, dugongs, kangaroos, platypus, wombats, echidna, hippos, and elephants (I know not so difficult in the right location). Later this year I am heading to a national park in Central Kalimantan to observe Orangutangs.

Where / when can we experience your teaching?

I am on the faculty at The Yoga Institute, I teach a range of classes at Cammeray Yoga  & or in Africa (March 2018) where I am co-facilitating a Yoga Safari in Tanzania.

Is 200 Hours Enough to Teach Yoga?

Yoga Psychology and the subtle mind-body-breath-life connection

Reading the article (see link below) written by The Yoga Journal, on the effectiveness of a 200 hour teacher training, compelled me to to share why we do what we do.

https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/200-hours-enough-teach-yoga

The Yoga Institute offers a faculty of teachers with over 25 years of experience. We believe, through providing professional support and guidance, that extraordinary education is the way to guide people to becoming great Yoga teachers.  A 200 hr course might be a great personal experience, but we do not believe it can provide the level of training required to become a confident and competent yoga teacher.

Have you done a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training course?

No doubt:

  • It was a great experience
  • you loved all the yoga
  • it was with a great group of like-minded people
  • you made new friends and great connections

 “I now not only have a deeper understanding of the role of an instructor of asana but a deeper desire to become a great yoga teacher someday. Knowing the difference of these two things has been a part of my growth as an individual during this course and has created the visual of where I see myself in years to come.” Jenna Cameron, Level One Upgrade Student

However, do you feel like you need more training to become a confident and competent (dare we say, great) yoga teacher, as well as becoming a registered yoga teacher in Australia?

Have you felt (or even been told) that you now have your “training wheels” as a yoga teacher?  And felt like having “training wheels” is not enough to go out there and teach?

At The Yoga Institute, we meet many, many people who have completed a basic 200hr teacher training course, and they all say the same thing: “It was a great experience, but I feel like I need to have more training to become competent and confident as a yoga teacher.”

Would you like more knowledge, skills, competence, confidence, and actual teaching experience as part of your training?

We have responded to feedback and offer courses that include:

  • more yoga philosophy – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – much more than just the 8-limbs
  • more pranayama & meditation
  • how to plan/design different types of yoga practices
  • building relationship with a personal and professional Mentor
  • guidance in the development your own personal Yoga practice
  • specific training to guide students in the development of their personalised yoga practice – like becoming a Yoga Teacher Personal Trainer
  • time for reflection and opportunity to ask questions
  • time to enhance knowledge, and integrate this with confidence into your own practice and as a teacher of Yoga

A personal journey from imprisonment to freedom

Mental health concerns are a common problem in our modern lives. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1 in 5 people will have experienced a mental health issue in the past 12 months.

Julia Conchie (Jules), a recent graduate of The Yoga Institute, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and describes how in the past she would often need to take up to 3 weeks off work, during a bout of mania. After her most recent onset she only cancelled teaching 2 Yoga classes: “I still taught. I am able to manage.”

This personal journey is an inspiring and hopeful story of the transformative power of a dedicated yoga practice, in managing and improving mental health.

A trip cut short kicks off a cycle of depression and mania

Always an ‘over-thinker’ as a young girl, Jules worried over the slightest thing. This carried on into her young adulthood travels on a long-planned trip to the USA. She was already experiencing ‘low mood’ while she was there and then the trip was cut short.

Jules found herself back in Australia, her ‘trip of a lifetime’ prematurely ended, with no money, no job and surrounded by friends that had moved on to the next stages of their lives. She hit an all-time low. A low she didn’t come out of for four months.

After that period of depression, summer came around and she started to feel better, she felt so good, in fact, that she signed up for multiple triathlons, to learn to play ice hockey and swimming, all on top of a busy work and social schedule. She felt so good she could finally take on the world again!

By the time winter rolled around, she was back in the depths of depression. This cycle repeated for another year. She would wonder “how can I be on top of the World one minute and the lowest of the low, the next?”

The ongoing cycle leads to a diagnosis

This was eventually diagnosed as bipolar disorder. It was 2003.

Jules continued to experience regular bouts of what she now understood as ‘mania’ and ‘depression’ for several years.

She would wake up at 3am with such empowering thoughts, she would write reams and reams of paper for hours at a time. On one occasion, she wrote for so many hours, her pen ran out of ink but continued for several more hours, believing she would be able to hold it up to the light and read the imprinted page.

She believed she could solve the problems of the medical industry, single-handed and had the key to the problems of the world. She got how people like Eckhart Tolle and Buddha found their highest levels of mind and wanted to share with the world. Thoughts of grandeur raced through her erratic mind.

Hitting rock bottom

By this time, Jules was working as a wine maker, which included long hours and high stress. Around 4 years ago, following one particularly stressful period which induced a manic state, Jules had a breakdown at work and burnt out.

When asked what the turning point for her was, she answers definitively: “Desperation. It had gotten so bad, I couldn’t go on living in that way.”

Finding some relief through Yoga

Around that time, she came across an article written by Michael de Manincor, Co-Director of The Yoga Institute. It was about the healing capacity of the breath. This sparked her curiosity and she began a daily breath practice. She chose a short activity she had to repeat several times during her work day, in a laboratory at the time, and linked that with her breath practice. Practicing conscious, complete breathing for only about 20 seconds each time. This added up throughout the day and gradually it lengthened and smoothed her breath. She was committed to bringing her attention to her breath whenever possible.

The benefits of Yoga were obvious to her and her family, which inspired her to embark on a Yoga Teacher Training course with The Yoga Institute in 2016. Despite being triggered into episodes by the challenges of her studies, she found such a resonance with the teachings, particularly that of The Yoga Sutras (philosophy), she knew she had to continue.

During the in-depth Yoga Sutras studies, she experienced many ‘ah-ha!’ moments with constant recognition: “that is me, they’re describing!” She started to find real insight into what she had been experiencing.

Using awareness and other Yoga tools to manage episodes

Through her personal practice, study and ongoing support from family, friends and her course mentor, Jules slowly became more and more aware of the subtle changes in her mood, and was able to self-regulate with increasing ease.

She recalls the time in her pranayama studies when she felt mania symptoms approach and was able to use the technique they’d been taught that day and “breath her way out of it”. This was a real breakthrough! She was so excited to share the news with her mentor.

Jules admits this has not been an easy journey for her. Despite all the daily practice, her medication and study, she still experienced two episodes last year and one this year. The difference is, she no longer feels it’s appropriate to call them classic ‘mania’ or ‘depression’ because the severity of the episodes has lessoned.

Her newly developed self-awareness enables her to notice, with fine attunement, if she has been elevated by one ‘rung of the ladder’ allowing her to take appropriate medication before an episode escalates.

Experiencing a new sense of peace and freedom

Only two weeks prior to this interview, she describes for the first time, having a felt sense of ‘peace’; not mania, not high, not low or depression but a calm, stable sense of peace, even if only for a fleeting moment.

“Thanks to my ongoing practice, I am finally finding some peace and freedom”

Written by Natalie Bowcutt

The New Science Behind Yoga

The follow-up to the original film “The Science of Yoga”

Last year we shared with you the short film “The Science of Yoga” which featured interviews with a number of leading thinkers and researchers in yoga, meditation and the mind-body connection, including Michael de Manincor of The Yoga Institute.

Uplift have now released a second film “The New Science Behind Yoga”. This once again brings together the leading minds in the field to discuss how the benefits of yoga are now being validated by mainstream medicine and western science.

The effects of yoga on mental health

The film includes commentary from Michael de Manincor on the results from his research into the effects of yoga on mental health:

“We have an extraordinary capacity today to measure the most minute, subtle changes in energy that we didn’t even have 10 or 20 years ago.”

“One of the reasons that I’ve gotten back into the science, back into doing research into this area, is because people talk about the extraordinary benefits that yoga has brought to their lives, and in some cases quite literally saved their lives, and that’s a very personal experience. To bring some science to do clinical trials and bring some evidence to that, may lead to policy change, it may lead to reconsideration of what people who are having a hard time can do for themselves.”

“The whole methodology of yoga itself has come from a scientific approach. It’s all about trying something, observing the effects, and then trying it again and observing whether you get the same effects. So it really is a scientific methodology in and of itself.”

“We ran a clinical trial to evaluate the benefits of a yoga practice for people who suffer from either depression or anxiety. We found a 33% reduction in the measure of the severity of depression, a 26% reduction in the severity of anxiety. We found a 34% reduction in psychological distress.”

“We also found improvements in a number of areas of psychological functioning. That included a 13% improvement in a measure of resilience, a 20% increase in a global measure of mental health and mental functioning and a 12% increase in what’s called the flourishing scale, it’s a measure of how well people see they’re going in their lives, psychologically and emotionally. Each of those measurements were statistically significant compared to the control group in each of those measures. They either continued or improved further after an additional six weeks.”

Yoga for Scoliosis: It depends

The practice of Yoga is recommended for scoliosis. Which type of Yoga will depend on a few things…..

Scoliosis is a visible curve in the spine that goes sideways (laterally). This curve may be a single or a double curve and there can even be a twisting of the vertebrae mixed in with the sideways bending of the spine.

Side-ways curvature of the spine is more common than one may think, especially amongst women, and usually presents as a sideways curve in the thoracic, middle area of spine. Scoliosis effects approximately 1- 3 percent of the population.

There are two categories of scoliosis to consider.

The first type is postural scoliosis and can be caused by a difference in leg length or repeated poor posture over a period of time.

The second type is referred to as structural scoliosis and is often the more challenging type. In this group the cause may be unknown, related to some congenital factor, neuromuscular issue or bone abnormality.

Scoliosis presents with varying degrees of curvature and patterns. Scoliosis is not necessarily a significant issue for all individuals, this may depend on the  degree of deviation or curvature and whether the condition is progressing.

Presentation  

Often people with scoliosis present because of a noticed muscular imbalance, with effects on their range of movement, generalised stiffening or varying degree’s of back pain may be an issue.  In severe cases ones breathing may be affected.

A Yoga practice is recommended for scoliosis.  

The treatment of Scoliosis is a grey area and there are mixed opinions on what works best. However, there is great support that yoga and exercise has a positive role to play in the functional management of scoliosis and as a preventative to progression.

Generally, there are no restrictions to the yoga practice (exceptions may apply such as spinal surgery). Here are some basic suggestions and points to focus on when designing a practice.

  • It is important to observe the person while they are practicing the postures, to really determine appropriateness and what posture is having the best effect on the spinal curves.
  • Scoliosis is an asymmetric condition therefore it is suggested to work with asymmetrical postures to counter this effect.
  • Given the muscular imbalance one will be offering both strengthening postures and movements that enhance range of movement.
  • What feels better may not necessarily be the best, guidance from a skilled Yoga Teacher is recommended.
  • A practice that cultivates a nourishing self-care experience.

Scoliosis and Yoga Research

Dr Loren Fishman published a study in the Global Advances in Health and Medicine (2004) that looked at the benefits of side plank and the effect on the curves of Scoliosis patients.

This study claims that with the regular practice of side-plank, where the person maintained the posture for as long as possible with the convex side of the spinal curve facing down, that after 3 months there was a reduction by %30- %40 in the spinal curves.

Dr Fishman (MD) believes that the convex side is the weaker of the sides. “That being the side where the ribs splay out like spokes of a wheel.” By coming in to side plank pose one is asymmetrically strengthening the quadratus lumborum, iliopsoas and paraspinal muscles of the convex side, reducing the curve.

At this stage this research provides the only peer reviewed study available, thus it recommendations are definitely worth considering and trialling.

 

Reference: “Serial Case Reporting for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis,” Dr. Loren Fishman, Karen Sherman, Eric Groessl. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, September 2014, Vol. 3, No. 5: pp. 16-21

 

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, Yoga Australia Member

Yoga for Surfers

TKV Desikachar, son and student of T Krishnamacharya, friend and teacher of The Yoga Institute’s Founding Director, Michael de Manincor, used to regularly teach that yoga is not only good for general health and well-being, it can help improve many areas of our lives, including our golfing ability. He never mentioned surfing, but the same applies….

Read on to find out……

Strength vs Flexibility

Any repetitive activity that builds strength can come with its challenges of flexibility. Suring is no different.

Too much strength can cause inflexibility and too much flexibility can lead to instability. This is particularly important for surfers as it’s essential to stay quick and agile, as well as have the strength and stamina to paddle either out in rough surf or to gain speed quickly to catch waves.

What to make flexible?

Thoracic & lumbar spine (upper and lower back)– cat/cow pose, focusing on mobilising the top segments of the spine to ensure mobile paddle position. Lower (lumbar) spine also can become tight and overworked, and will need a good stretch and release.

Hip flexors & Hamstrings – low lunge, tucking the tail bone to access lengthening of hip flexor and tilt the buttocks back in the forward bend to release hamstrings.

What to make strong?

It’s important to move dynamically in and out a few times to prepare the body before building strength by holding.

Legs (particularly quads and glutes) – chair pose, pressing into the heels to help engage buttocks

Abdominals & arms – Plank pose and apanasana, controlled movement to build strength

Back – cobra to strengthen and stabilise the back

Breathe for Big Waves

The breath is a very powerful tool to assist with stability, energy and stamina. The more effective we breath, the more effective your ability to surf. The key is to moving and maintaining long, steady rhythmic breathing.

Whether or not you are used to surfing big waves, most surfers would have experienced times when they wish their breath could go on for longer.

The main aim of pranayama is to consciously extend the breath, making it smooth and steady will not only allow you stay under water for longer but also access a sense of calm in your body, even under pressure. The breath effects ever single system in your body.

When working with the breath, it’s important to work gradually for it to be sustainable, but also to avoid creating and negative impact on the nervous system (fight or flight).

  • Anuloma Ujjayi – lengthen the exhale
  • Vinuloma ujjayi – bring the inhale to meet the exhale
  • Breath Retention on exhale
  • Breath retention on inhale

Each step of this process can take months and advised to work with a professional who is skilled at working with advanced pranayama techniques.

Under Water Calm

As divers can testify, the slower you breath, the more focused you become and the longer you can stay under water for, it is no different with surfing. Yoga can help you to maintain and calm and focused mind even in the most stressful of situations, including being dragged under a wave.

 

Written by Natalie Bowcutt

Get to know your teacher: Len Gillespie

 

 

What is your name? 

Leonard Gillespie. You can call me Len if you like.

What brought you to Yoga?

Mainly an interest in the body beautiful and how I might develop it in as many ways as possible. Yoga practice was integral in my recovery from serious illness and learning to be kinder to myself.

How long have you been teaching for and where did you train?

I began teaching yoga privately in late 2014. Ive trained with quite a few teachers over the years starting with meditation as a teenager and formal Yoga teacher training most recently with the Yoga Institute (advanced Diploma) and Svastha Yoga and Ayurveda (Yoga Therapy). I’m a bit of a workshop junkie and am never disappointed to receive new information from a different angle.

What is your area of interest/speciality/plans for the future?

At this time, primarily, teaching courses to groups and Yoga Therapy to individuals.

Passions?

Almost anything physically or mentally challenging! I’ve tried and enjoyed lots of sports and hobbies – my favourites being reading, writing, astronomy, model making, ice skating and skiing (Snow). Yoga is an amazingly good fit for somebody like me as it combines the mind and the body – whats not to love?

Biggest challenges?

Creating and maintaining a Family! Being a husband, a father and seeing my daughter Emily through her studies. Changing many of my bad habits to get well after being very, very sick.

What would you like to share about yourself, that is unrelated to Yoga?

I love a good challenge and becoming as good as I can at varied pursuits. I have trained and worked as a graphic artist, a computer network administrator and consultant.

Where / when can we experience your teaching?

Currently I am teaching courses for WEA Sydney, Classes at BlueFit Lane Cove and Cammeray Yoga along with One to One private sessions through Atha Revolution, in the Sydney metro area.

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