Lucy Karnani on the J.Brown Yoga Talks Podcast, January 2021

The highly-sought after Lucy Karnani, coauthor of Connecting: Conscious Communication for Yoga Teachers and Therapists (and faculty member of The Yoga Institute), talks with J about utilising tools for understanding connection and communication.

Lucy and J have been interacting for some time and this recording (made on 11 January 2021) was an opportunity for them to connect and discuss her background in facilitating communication, the importance of values and motivations, levels of listening, and the link between our experience of practice and being able to share it with others in a way that is helpful.

Listen on Apple podcasts:

Lucy Karnani & J.Brown – Conscious Communication

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. 

Details

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

What have our students experienced studying with us in 2020?

It’s clear that 2020 has been one of the strangest and most challenging years for so many. Our 2020 cohort of Teacher Trainees were just a few weeks into their studies when the first Covid-19 restrictions were announced.

With so much uncertainty as to how long the pandemic would last or what it would mean for how we live our lives, our students stepped into the uncertainty.

They continued on their path of learning about and embodying the ancient wisdom of Yoga and how it can be applied to modern lives.

The stories of how studying with us has supported students through the many challenges of 2020 are truly inspiring:

“While 2020 has had many peaks and troughs, completing my yoga teacher training through The Yoga Institute was certainly the highest peak! in a year marked by much turbulence and chaos, the course was very grounding for me. Not only have I grown in terms of my physical asana practices, I have also depended my knowledge of yoga philosophy, discovered the many benefits of pranayama and meditation and built my confidence as I embark on teaching yoga classes of my own. I am really thankful to the wonderful team at The Yoga Institute for providing me with this opportunity.”

2020 Teacher Trainee

“The team at The Yoga Institute have gone beyond and above during this year of Covid, always moulding and adapting to whatever restrictions are thrown their way. I felt Covid did not impact my yoga studies due to the support and diligence of The Yoga Institute.” 

2020 Teacher Trainee

“Whilst on stand down, studying yoga is what kept me grounded (and sane!). I initially joined the course as ‘life enhancement’ to sit alongside the rest of my life. But I have walked away with a completely transformed mindset and new found purpose in life. Not only has my life been enhanced, but all those around me are benefiting from it too.”

2020 Teacher Trainee

How we support our students through uncertainty

If you are concerned about the uncertainty that 2021 might bring we want to assure you that our teacher training course will not be hindered. Not only have we ‘adapted and moulded’ to the restrictions and changes, we have been working hard enriching our students learning experience in so many ways. Our online learning platform has more content, we have

  • Developed additional material, both written and video
  • Shared new resources 
  • Online classes are now available 
  • Zoom classroom sessions are recorded and available to watch and rewatch! 

Community and safety is important. Where possible we are conducting training in person and we have hygiene measures and physical distancing in place for the safety of our students and faculty.

We have tools and processes in place to move classes to an online format when needed and students are able to access course materials and session recordings via our online teaching portal.

Importantly, our students receive care and individual attention from our faculty and their mentor to make sure they feel supported throughout their time studying with us.

Taking care of our mental health has never been so important. The development of a personal practice and one-on-one mentoring our students receive as part of their studies has been a lifeline for many:

“I initially started doing the course to improve my posture but it became so much more than that. It has assisted me with a holistic approach to living, helping not only my physical body but also my mind. Helping me stay calm through a very trying year.”

2020 Teacher Trainee

“The course changed to suit Covid conditions and the support I received from my mentor was par to none. Our mentors are like mothers… we all thought we had the best one! We always had someone to support us through our yoga journey”

2020 Teacher Trainee

“I’ve benefited immensely from the one-on-one mentoring which allowed me to practice yoga, pranayama and meditation throughout lockdown and beyond. Completing this course is the best thing I have done in years and I’m truly excited about where it will take me!”

2020 Teacher Trainee

If you LOVE Yoga and are curious to learn more, come along to our next Information Session – it’s free! Book Now

You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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

REGISTER HERE

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: teachertraining@yogainstitute.com.au 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 (emergerecovery.com).

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 joshcaple.com/events 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.

(https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/pdfs/surveys/SleepHealthFoundation-Survey.pdf)

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!

Update: We’re staying flexible

We hope that you and your loved ones are managing OK in these challenging times.

What is happening at The Yoga Institute?

In response to the pandemic, we had made the decision earlier in the year to temporarily deliver all our training online via a combination of live online classes and self-paced learning. 

With the easing of restrictions here in NSW, we are now able to do training in person once again and have implemented a range of hygiene and physical distancing measures to ensure the health and safety of students and faculty.

Where are things at now?

Most of our courses already included an online component so we’ve been able to adapt quickly to a hybrid face-to-face / online model and stay flexible as the circumstances change. The feedback from our students about our online training has been incredibly positive and we are also really enjoying coming together (safely) in the classroom again.

Will there be a permanent shift to ‘fully online’?

We greatly value the sense of community that comes from being together. Whilst we acknowledge there are many ways to foster that online, we plan to continue offering training that includes face-to-face classroom learning for key components of our programs.

Can I complete the whole course online?

At this stage, no. Our intention is to come together in the classroom wherever we are able to do so safely. There are certain aspects of our teachings that benefit greatly from a face-to-face component. Therefore, you won’t be able to complete all of your studies online.

More questions?

If you’d like to learn more or have specific questions, please email us at teachertraining@yogainstitute.com.au or phone on 0477 021 219.

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