Am I ready for Yoga Teacher Training?

It’s one of the most common questions asked.

When considering yoga teacher training, it is natural to believe we need to be able to hold a perfect headstand with ease or sit comfortably meditating in lotus pose for hours.

It is natural to ask yourself “will I be good enough?” The truth is, if you love yoga and feel a burning desire to learn more, then yoga teacher training is for you.

One of my favourite parts of my job is when our students and graduates share their stories. Our inspiring yoga teacher Annie Kirkman shares her biggest fear and her experience of studying at The Yoga Institute.

“Will I be good enough?”

If you find yourself asking this question, let us reassure you that you’re not alone! Most students considering teaching will ask themselves this question.

Video Interview: Annie Kirkman
Yoga is not about the perfect warrior”

“The moment I walked in on my first day of training I realised very quickly this course was going to be about much more than learning how to do the perfect warrior. What blew my mind was the depth of the yoga teachings that we got to understand. It took me about five minutes to realise I was in the right place.”

This brought tears to our eyes, music to our ears and warmth to our hearts…..we love you Annie!”

Watch NOW


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 and Webinar details
Email or call me: (02) 9929 2774

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

Kirstie Christensen ❤|
Course Coordinator 

2018 Highlights in Review

by Michael de Manincor


What a year!!! So much has happened….


2018 has been another big year for everyone at The Yoga Institute, and our Director, Michael de Manincor. As the river of yoga continues to flow, nourishing the lives of many people, we see familiar river-scapes and new pathways, finding its way into unchartered waters. Here are a few of the many highlights for us throughout 2018, many of them as first offerings throughout this year. In fact, most of them are new, apart from our well-established Teacher Training course.    

Course Graduations

  • Yoga Teacher Training: recent celebrations for almost 50 graduates from our Diploma level (500 hr) Teacher Training course. We have now been offering teacher training for almost 20 years, and our focus always remains on the quality, depth, and transformative experience, to keep the river flowing.
  • Wagga Wagga: in partnership with Divine Wellbeing, we also completed our first teacher training course in Regional NSW.
  • Yoga Therapy Training: our first group of students have now completed our newly registered Graduate Yoga Therapy Training course.
  • Heart of Yoga Courses: extraordinary in-depth experiences of personal growth and transformation. Another newly developed course in 2018.

Retreats and Holidays

  • Graduate Reunion Retreat: our first ever reunion retreat for graduates of The Yoga Institute, returning to Govinda Valley. More to come next year…
  • Heart of Yoga Retreat: held at the Quest for Life property in the beautiful Southern Highlands.
  • Savour Italy: a mindful experience “savouring” the charms and experiences that only Italy can offer.
  • Heart of Africa: another mindful travel experience, in the wildlife parks of Africa.


Professional achievements and university connections of our Director, Michael de Manincor

  • New Academic Appointment: Following the success of his PhD, Michael has recently been appointed as the first ever Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Mind-Body Integrative Medicine at the new Westmead premises of NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University.
  • Michael is also the lead in development of yoga and other mind-body therapies at the newly established Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) centre – the first of its kind University research-based Integrative Medicine centre in Australia. This opens the door for the emerging field of yoga in integrative medicine.
  • Michael has also been invited to join an international work-group with the World Health Organisation (WHO), for establishing benchmark standards for yoga teacher and yoga therapy training.


Conference presentations

  • Psychiatry Conference – New Zealand: Michael’s presentation of research in yoga and mental health at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry (RANZCP) annual congress in New Zealand – 2nd year in a row!
  • Yoga Australia Conference – Keynote presentation by Michael
  • SYTAR – Yoga Therapy conference: Virginia, USA



  • Celebrating Desikachar – Michael was an invited guest at a commemoration of the 80th birthday of TKV Desikachar, with many of the world’s leading yoga teachers, at Kripalu, USA. An unforgettable experience!

Looking forward to a another year of connecting the dots of our work and our hearts 



It’s Graduation Time: 2018 Student Reflections

‘Class of 2018’

As we approach the end of the year, with ‘Class of 2018’ graduating tomorrow, we start to get a little sad to say farewell to our special group. As teachers and facilitators, we have mixed feelings, from sentimental, proud to extremely excited for our new flock of yoga teachers to spread their wings into the yoga world.

It’s at this point in the training course, the group seems to be the most vocal. The constant chatter coming from the lunch room and class room is filled with gratitude, appreciation and stories of reflection.

I asked some of the students to share their reflections and here are just a few that make our hearts sing!

“Gonna miss this crew so much!! When I signed up for yoga teacher training over a year ago, I didn’t realise I’d be signing up for lifelong friends as well.
This year has been transformational for each of us in so many ways. This may be our last week together as yoga teacher trainees but our journey has only just begun.” Natalie H


“Yoga has help me navigate through the complexities and challenges of everyday life. I’d like to thank The Yoga Institute for my amazing journey this year. I am truly thankful and grateful and am looking forward to an amazing 2019 being a yoga teacher. Thank you for a wonderful year of growth and learning.” Jess C


“At the beginning of the year I started with a fear of public speaking. I was really nervous about the idea of teaching yoga to a big group of people. The course at the Yoga Institute is intelligently structured in a way that gradually and slowly introduced us to teaching and speaking in front of groups over the year. I felt fully supported in my teaching journey, to the point where I am now teaching yoga classes with a sense of confidence and joy. The Yoga Institute helped me find my voice.” Tanya C


“Yoga has given me the tools to process stress, build resilience and be able to self regulate my mind and body that is a constant witness to trauma and in a constant state of hyper vigilance due to my line of work.” Anonymous


“I embarked on my journey to become a Yoga Teacher with The Yoga Institute as new mother of a 3 month old, with the hope it would provide me with some “me-time” to study Yoga as well as a qualification at the end of the year. I didn’t intend to teach Yoga, but as the year unfolded and we transitioned from ‘students of yoga’ into also becoming ‘teachers of yoga’, I felt competent and confident to teach.
This course has helped me learn so much more about yoga, has facilitated strong friendships, supported me during my transition into motherhood and provided me with qualifications to move into a new career as a yoga teacher.
I cannot thank Michael, my mentor Ute, the whole faculty and team at TYI enough for their contribution to bringing Yoga into my life and the world.” Anna P


This is why we do what we do! Thank you for sharing your kind words….we look forward to watching you spread your wings!

Thinking of studying yoga? Join our next information session or webinar to find out more.

PODCAST: J. Brown Yoga Talks with Michael de Manincor: “Kaleidoscope of Wisdom and Science”

Michael de Manincor – “Kaleidoscope of Wisdom and Science”

“J. Brown’s “Yoga Talks” podcast is probably the most popular and informative podcast program in the yoga world. 

As well as interesting conversations with many of the world’s leading yoga teachers, J. has created a platform to open up discussions on many important issues in modern yoga. These issues range from deep philosophy to scientific research, training standards to ethical and professional behaviour, yoga-extremism to yoga-therapy, instagram and social media to the modern business of yoga.
Whilst many of us have been engaged in similar conversations amongst our own networks of peers, colleagues and students for many years, J. has opened up these issues for conversation with the broader yoga community, perhaps the world.  It is my pleasure to be part of these conversations with J. in this week’s podcast episode.” Michael de Manincor


Why Is Yoga Therapy Gaining Attention?

By Lisa Grauaug

As a Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist I’ve been really interested and inspired to watch the growing interest in yoga therapy. This interest isn’t just coming from within the ‘yoga world’. As the health sector is becoming more open and accepting of the therapeutic benefits of mind-body therapies, yoga continues to gain traction.

There are a number of contributing factors at play here. One of the most influential is a societal shift and increasing interest in natural approaches to health and healing to complement western medical treatments, including the growth of Integrative Medicine.

There is also continued growth of published clinical research providing evidence on the benefits of yoga for a range of health conditions – to include back pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia and its ability to reduce symptoms for respiratory conditions such as asthma and reduce some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

At the same time, Yoga Therapy as a professional practice distinct from Yoga Teaching is growing. The number of graduate Yoga Therapy training programs is on the rise, as is the number of International Yoga Therapy Conferences.

It is without a doubt that Yoga Therapy is finding its place as a practice to consider as a health care intervention.

So What Exactly is a Yoga Therapist?
Yoga Therapy is a mind-body intervention; a Yoga Therapist requires diverse knowledge and skills, a level of expertise and acknowledgement that Yoga is a practice available for everyone, including students with a variety of health conditions and life challenges.

As part of a Yoga Therapy training you will learn and develop skills that enable you to intelligently offer mind-body practices to enable and support individuals with a wide range of presenting health conditions and life challenges.

A Yoga Therapist’s knowledge, approach and skills are based on source Yoga teachings and Yogic principles, integrated with biomedical and current evidence-based western medicine. Yoga Therapy is a comprehensive, holistic approach that considers all aspects of a person – to include body, breath, mind and lifestyle.

How Does the Yoga Therapy Process Work?
The Yoga Therapist approaches health and healing by educating and empowering individuals with a range of skills so the person can take better care of self. The client is the ‘doer’ and with this enabling process they experience a sense of control, rather than helplessness, in their ability to make a difference for themselves.

A fundamental aspect of a Yoga Therapist’s work is in the assessment phase where all aspects of the person are considered and “no stone is left unturned” – this includes observational, examination and functional assessment. This assessment process ensures the development of an appropriate practice and this aspect of the Yoga Therapists work is threaded throughout the therapeutic process. Ongoing review and refining is an essential part of Yoga and Yoga Therapy.

Yoga Works Best When it is Person-oriented
Yoga Therapy training provides a comprehensive and systematic framework to work with clients one-on-one. Yoga Teachers embark on this path to develop skills and knowledge to more fully support their clients and students.

Essentially Yoga works best when it is “person-oriented”. Given the multi-dimensional nature of the person and that clients often present for Yoga Therapy with multi-faceted histories, it may be a challenge to know where to begin. It is indeed an advanced skill of knowing where to start and deciding what is an appropriate practice to ensure an optimal outcome. This skill set is developed in one’s Yoga Therapy training and particular attention is given to this in the professional mentoring component.

A Yoga Therapy trainee who recently completed our Foundations of Yoga Therapy Course is amazed at the benefits her case study client reported. We love hearing these stories to remind us what positive benefits Yoga can bring to people’s lives and the impact our graduates are having on the people they work with:

“Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Personal Practice case study. It has helped me commit to some yoga practice at home and I really feel a whole lot better for it. I love that it has been personally designed for me concentrating on my weaknesses, i.e. lower back pain, my core strength and my breathing. I have definitely noticed that the core exercise with the reverse breathing have helped with my lower back pain and also assist me moving into some poses which were difficult before. My abdominals also feel tighter as a result so this is a huge bonus. I will continue to enjoy my personal practice at home.”

Interested in Yoga Therapy Training? Learn more about The Yoga Institute’s upcoming Foundations of Yoga Therapy Course and Yoga Therapy Training Course

Student Reflections: Women in Yoga

Written by Jessica Charlton (teacher trainee 2018)

Meet Jess:

Jess is a current yoga teacher trainee, who is in the final term of her 500 hours of training. 

She is a mother of two teenage children who embarked on her yoga teacher training with the a particular interest in yoga for carers and using the tools of yoga to support all aspects of life. Having danced, Jess naturally loves all the asana poses but she has found particular interest in discovering the mental benefits. Now she REALLY just wants share her skills and knowledge to help people.

“Yoga has help me navigate through the complexities and challenges of everyday life.” Jess C

Here we share Jess’s History of Yoga assignment ‘Women in Yoga.’

Women in yoga. Krishnamacharya paves the way

Krishnamacharya gave his support and offered opportunities to women interested in the study and practice of yoga. “I’m happy to fight” said Krishnamacharya over women undertaking studies of yoga. “In difficult times rules have to be modified because in difficult times every rule has an exception” Sri T. Krishnamacharya.

When Krishnamacharya first was introduced to Indra Devi in 1937, he declined when she asked to be a student due to her being a westerner and a woman. Yoga was a practice for males and women were not taught or involved in yoga or vedic chants. Devi being persistent and a personal friend of the Prince of Mysore, became Krishnamacharya’s student in 1937 after the prince strongly encouraged Krishnamacharya to take Devi on as a student.

Krishnamacharya made life very difficult for Devi and expected her to keep up with the male routine, hoping she wouldn’t cope and leave. He implemented a very strict routine for Devi involving strong discipline, long hours of practice and dietary restrictions with only certain foods being allowed. Devi met every challenge and Krishnamacharya realised that she was there to stay; she was his student for a year.  After completing a year of study under Krishnamacharya, Devi was encouraged to teach yoga and spread the ancient discipline. This is exactly what Devi achieved spreading yoga to the western world. I find Krishnamacharya’s openness and adaptability to teaching women and changing his firm beliefs on this progressive.

Krishnamachary’s son T.K.V. Desikachar describes how Krishnamacharya’s  rules about women changed and was quoted as saying at the age of ninety eight “I think if we do not – encourage women, the great Indian tradition will die because most of the Brahman’s are not following the vedic rules and regulations and are all becoming  business people.”Krishnamacharya was also the first to teach women vedic chanting and Mala Srivatsan was one of his first female students performing vedic chants. What a legacy Krishnamacharya has left and even though he never travelled to the west he achieved the gift of sharing the yoga discipline with the world through his students and his teachings.

Devi initially went to China where she earnt the name “Mataji” meaning mother. Then moving to America, she taught some very famous people developing a following in yoga. Devi reached many people even, eventually legalising yoga in Russia, traveling there in 1960 to convince the Russian Government that yoga is not a religion. Devi was the first westerner to teach yoga in India and has written many books.  Devi travelled to many countries and lived in Mexico for many years giving training courses in yoga; she finally settled in Argentina and spent the rest of her life there. Passing away at age 102 on April the 24th2002. Devi managed to break all the cultural boundaries and spread the message of yoga. The training she received from Krishnamacharya of the ancient discipline of yoga was a gift that was so beneficial to the western world.

T.K.V. Desikachar when asked about his father and how he actually did much to encourage yoga for woman agrees. He advised that his mother Namagiriamma practiced regularly but was not actually taught and Krishnamacharya was never seen teaching his mother. His mother however, was able to correct her children’s postures and had learned the texts even though she didn’t have a high level of education, Namagiriamma’s sister also practiced yoga and accompanied Krishnamacharya on his tours and lectures. The whole family did yoga including his sisters who also assisted in class. T.K.V. Desikachar explains that one of his sisters is a yoga teacher as is T.K.V. Desikachar’s wife.

Devi became a female pioneer in yoga but also was instrumental in educating the western civilization in the ancient discipline. Devi, a natural communicator, spread the yoga discipline to the western world. Krishnamacharya believed that yoga can transform society as a whole; although quite orthodox in the beginning surrounding the teaching of yoga to women and westerners, his opinions changed.

There are many benefits that yoga can bring to one’s life, and it has certainly benefited me. I have been encouraged enough to want to be a yoga teacher, to really understand the discipline of yoga and be able to assist others on their journey. I’m grateful for the steps that others have taken before me to inspire me to follow this path. I believe it is important to highlight the decisions that Krishnamacharya made to expand the learning of the art of yoga to women and westerners. He was absolutely progressive and although people at first may make judgments at his initial refusal to take on Indra Devi as a student, he remained true to the vedic texts. Krishnamacharya changed his opinion to adapt to an evolving world. In 1937 yoga was new to the western culture and he supported and wanted the western culture to benefit from these practices. Krishnamacharya paved the way for the practice of yoga to not be lost and to expand the discipline beyond India. T.K.V. Desikachar mentions that his father’s greatest transformation was the transition to the support of women in yoga and had a belief that women and children are the future. As a result of this transformation my aunt became a personal pupil of T.K.V. Desikachar in 1974 and I am able to undertake my studies as a yoga student.

Thanks fort sharing Jess ❤

What does Michael de Manincor have to say? 

“Yoga has always evolved in ways that resinate with different who have different needs throughout history. This evolution has always maintained the connection with it’s roots in the authentic teachings. The challenge is for us to do the best we can to allow the authenticity of these profound teachings to remain in the modern evolution of yoga, and the role of women is very important to ensure this. ” Michael de Manincor

How can we support you? Join our next yoga teacher training information session or webinar with Michael de Manincor: MORE INFORMATION AND BOOK MY PLACE 

200hr yoga teacher training? What is going on?

Written by Dr Michael de Manincor

If you are interested in doingor offering a 200hr yoga teacher training course, here are some things you might like to consider. I’ll share some of my thoughts and experience from being involved in teacher training for the past 25 years and at the end of this article I have recommended a relevant and very interesting podcast with J Brown.

How the 200hr Training Model Evolved

200hr yoga teacher training courses have become very popular. It is interesting to know that this training model evolved from what was happening in the fitness industry in America about 30 years ago. 200hr training courses were primarily intended for people who were already qualified fitness instructors and wanted to include yoga in their classes or gyms. Upon completion they would be known as Yoga “Instructors” – fitness instructors teaching some yoga postures. At the same time, to become a Yoga “Teacher”, it was recognised that 200hrs training was simply not enough, and a minimum of 500hrs of training was required.

The difference between a yoga instructor and a yoga teacher, and the original intention of doing 200 or 500hr courses was soon lost or forgotten, and more and more yoga schools started offering 200hr training courses for people to become yoga teachers quickly. All this happened with Yoga Alliance in America several decades ago and has since become the accepted norm in many countries.

More recently, Yoga Alliance introduced registration of 300hr courses, to bridge the gap between 200 and 500hr courses. Currently, in America, schools can offer registered courses that are 200hr, 300hr, 200 + 300hr, or straight up 500hr.

The Evolution of Yoga Teaching Training Standards in Australia

In Australia, soon after all this was happening in America, senior yoga teachers and teacher trainers came together to form the Yoga Teachers Association of Australia (YTAA), now known as Yoga Australia, and agreed that 200hrs was not enough training to become a yoga teacher. An initial standard of 320 hrs, over a minimum of 1 year was established. This soon became 350 hrs (half way between 200 & 500). I was President of Yoga Australia when this was established.        

Confusion Over Yoga Alliance ‘Certification’

Not surprisingly, people soon became very confused or simply were not aware of all this. Many people from Australia were going to America (or other more exotic places) to complete a 200hr course, and returning to Australia to set up their own 200hr training courses, registered with Yoga Alliance in America (or, to add to the confusion, a clone organisation calling themselves Yoga Alliance International, with branches such as Yoga Alliance Australia – nothing to do with Yoga Alliance). These courses were often promoted as “Internationally” accredited or certified. Unknowingly, this is mis-information. Firstly, courses are not certified or accredited, only registered – there is a difference! Secondly, there is no such thing as international registration (accreditation or certification). It simply meant that these courses were registered in America, not Australia.

Eligibility for Yoga Teacher Registration in Australia – 350hr Minimum

Many people who love yoga and the amazing benefits it brings to their lives, want to deepen their experience and learn more. One way of doing this is to sign up for a short 200hr teacher training course (often in an exotic location), even if they do not want to become a yoga teacher. These courses can offer a wonderful and enriching experience, sometimes truly transformative or life changing. However, many people finish these training courses and realise that they do not have the depth of knowledge, skills or confidence to become a yoga teacher, whether they originally intended to or not.

This is a very common experience. They also find themselves in the situation where they cannot become registered as a Yoga Teacher in Australia, because they do not meet the minimum 350hr (1 year) training standard. So, they need to do more training (which they often feel they need anyway to be able to teach with confidence), with an additional 150 hrs training required for registration with Yoga Australia. After doing another teacher training course (often called a “level 2”), people often tell me that they wish they had completed a more thorough training to begin with.

Questioning Standards in Yoga Teacher Training

Questions and concerns around 200hr teacher training courses have been present for many years, since they were first established by Yoga Alliance. More and more people are starting to share these concerns, even though many schools have felt the need to offer these courses in order to survive financially as a business. Teachers and schools often find themselves entrenched in a mindset, business model and system that depends on these courses for survival, and struggle to find a different (better) approach. The latest development is that Yoga Alliance themselves are apparently reviewing their own training standards, and there is a very real possibility that the 200hr standard as a minimum training requirement for yoga teachers will be scrapped, in favour of more hours – not an easy move, with considerable pressure against the change, from yoga schools and the fitness industry.

Part of the ongoing concern is also related to the whole notion of “number of hours” as a training standard, regardless of how many – 200, 300, 350, 500 or more. It is unusual for any professional training standards to be based on number of hours. It is simply what happened in the yoga-fitness world in America back then, was adopted in countries where there was a vacuum with no standards or yoga teacher associations, and now seems to be entrenched. Training standards in most professions (if we can call yoga teaching a profession) are generally based on competencies – demonstration of the required knowledge and skills. Numbers of hours are nominal, not the defining feature of the standards required. In yoga teacher training, they have become the dominant feature of the standards. Regardless of the number of hours, more and more people are starting to realise that 200 hrs is just not enough.

Yoga Australia has worked hard to maintain a minimum of 350 training hrs (over 1 year), knowing that the hours were only nominal anyway, with a genuine sense of what would be best for the yoga teaching profession in Australia, rather than just naively adopt the unusual model and standards that emerged from America. This remains a financial challenge for Yoga Australia, when many teachers and training providers in Australia chose to pay money and register with Yoga Alliance in America, because their training and courses only meet the lower 200hr standard.

Why our Yoga Teacher Training is 500hrs

The Yoga Institute has been offering yoga teacher training and yoga therapy training for many years, and is recognised as one of the leading yoga training and education centres in Australia. We currently offer a Diploma level teacher training course (nominally 500hrs, which includes the foundations of yoga therapy), even though the Yoga Australia standard remains 350hrs, and 200hr courses are the most popular. We believe that a shorter course would not adequately equip our graduates with the knowledge and skills required to step out into the world and become highly competent and confident yoga teachers.

We also offer post-graduate training in yoga therapy, as well as shorter courses and retreats for people who do not necessarily want to become yoga teachers, or have not yet decided, and want to deepen their own personal experience of yoga. 

Podcast: J Brown and Karin Carlson Discuss Where to Next for Yoga Teacher Training

J. Brown of the popular ‘Yoga Talks’ podcast, and many others, have been giving voice to concerns about the issue of 200hr training standards, as well as Yoga Alliance general. I recommend listening to a recent podcast conversation with J. Brown and Karin Carlson (link below).

Whilst their concerns are largely related to the situation in America, many of the issues are relevant to what has been happening in countries like Australia, that seem to follow the American way (no disrespect to our friends across the Pacific). In their conversation, they ask the question of: Where to next? And include comments about the possibility of the whole ‘shit-show’ imploding, going more local, with no standards or registration.

You can listen to the podcast here on the Yoga Talks website, or searching for “Yoga Talks” on your smartphone podcast app, and find the most recent conversation with Karin Carlson.

W.H.O. International Working Group to Review Standards

On a more global scale, I have been invited to join an international working group of the World Health Organisation, to look at standards for yoga teacher training, yoga therapy training, and yoga research. We start in the new year, and will keep you posted.      

P.S. I will be on the Yoga Talks podcast in conversation with J. Brown in coming weeks (recorded last week). Not sure when it will be released.


Want to find out more? Join our next Teacher Training Information session to find out more:

Student Reflections: How the Yoga Sutras has helped my daily life

Written by Stefana Brunetto (teacher trainee 2018)

Meet Stef:

Stef is a current yoga teacher trainee, who is in the final term of her 500 hours of training. 

She is a young, vibrant personal trainer who embarked on her yoga teacher training with the intention to support her clients, by teaching them how to stretch and sharing some of the other benefits she had personally experienced during her own yoga practice!

Stef describes her experience after term 1 as ‘mind blowing,’ the rich yoga history and philosophies offer so much more than just the physical aspect of yoga practice. She is hungry to learn more.

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali forms the foundation of all yoga teachings and has been described as the “Heart of Yoga” and a “guidebook to life”.

Here we share Stef’s latest Yoga Sutras assignment on the klesas (the obstacles of the mind) and how it has impacted her daily life. Hearing how the teachings of yoga have impacted the daily lives of our students truly makes our hearts sing! ❤

1. Klesa-s and their effects in our minds and lives – a short summary of my understanding.

YSII.3 – avidya asmita raga dvesha abhinivesha pancha klesha
In chapter II.3 we are formally introduced to the klesa’s. These are the obstacles of the mind that prevent us from reaching Samadhi, fullness of now. These are listed as followed; avidya, ignorance; asmita, ego; raga, attachment; dvesha, aversion; abhinivesha, clinging to life or fear. In the sutras following II.3 Patanjali further explains each of these klesa’s and how they are interrelated. In The Heart of Yoga T.K.V Desikachar presents these klesa’s as a tree.

Avidya is the root of all other klesa’s. In the English language ignorance is defined as a lack of knowledge. However in the Sutra’s, Patanjali describes avidya to be a mental state where we believe our knowledge as truth rather than what is the real truth. It is our perception of what we believe to be true and is influenced by past experiences, our social and physical environments and a limited sense of self. We can look at racism as an example of this where you might grow up believing that another race or culture is evil. In your mind, with the information that has been provided to you, that is the truth, however there is good and evil found in all races and cultures.
Asmita, our ego. This is a direct bi-product of ignorance and where we identify more specifically who we are. The ego believes that we are our thought’s, our bodies, our possessions etc, however these are just instruments and do not represent our true selves. Ego is a misidentification of the non-self with the true self and is fed by our ignorance. Not only can ego give our own self a definition but it can also defines others around us. Ego defines who we are by our abundance, what we have done in the past, our jobs, and the list goes on.
Ragah, attachment towards experiences of happiness or pleasure. It is a desire, a yearning, a hunger for past experiences that the mind can have us believe is a pleasurable or happy one. We chase down these experiences or even possessions so that we can replicate this felt sense. It makes us believe that we will constantly experience the same results over and over, when really this is not the case.

Dvesah, aversion towards painful or harmful experiences. It’s the opposite to ragah and like so is influenced by past experiences. We feel anger, hate, frustration and resistance towards these experiences.

Abhinivesah is the fear or death or clinging to life. It is believed that this fear is either irrational or comes from past experiences of death that is hidden deep within the subconscious mind. Ultimately we fear anything could harm us, because in our minds we believe that worst case scenario is death, therefore we begin to have irrational fears about almost anything. When we let our minds wander freely we can travel down dark roads that lead to the end of our lives, giving us another reason why it is so important to control the thoughts of the mind.

2. Discuss how the study of Yoga Sutras has been relevant and/or helpful to you in your own experiences and understanding of Yoga practice and daily life.

Two words, EYE OPENING. When I first started this journey my knowledge about Yoga was limited to asana’s and an understanding that the breath was important. There may have been mentioning’s of the Yoga Sutras during my time in classes, but it didn’t stick or maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it at the time. After the first term I was mind blown by the rich history and philosophy that was gifted to us and amazed that this isn’t what is shared among all yoga classes. Why are we just presented with asana’s? Why are we constantly sold a full body stretch class with meditation at the end? I was frustrated to say the least after finishing my first term.

Now I have been given a snippet of the Yoga Sutra’s and I have one word in response; HUNGRY. I want to know more, I want to learn more. Just from increasing my own studies into the klesa’s has given me the ability to have a better understanding of not only my own mind, but that of other peoples, particularly those that are closest to me. It’s also provided me with a sense of freedom where I didn’t know I had felt trapped before, a freedom from own thoughts. I used to believe that I was defined by my thoughts however after a little more insight provided by the Yoga Sutra’s, I’ve come to realise this isn’t true. This is not who I am as my asmita would have me believe.

Moving into term two I began to realise something (and may have experienced an “aha”moment whilst writhing this), that this blueprint into the mind and how to overcome suffering we are provided through the Yoga Sutra’s, is only for people that want and are ready to hear it. We are sold Yoga through the body because that is what Western Culture is obsessed with so we start with asana’s. Then we begin to drop nuggets of information during our practice. Those that are ready to hear it will soak it in and perhaps go in search for more, and those that aren’t will let drop in and then fall straight back out. I believe that has been my own experience. Yoga in the beginning gave my body a sense of peace that I hadn’t felt before and the more I practiced, the more peace I felt and a sense of openness, until eventually I was ready to know more and signed up to do my teacher training. And now we are here. “Athayoganusasanam” – Now, the teachings of yoga.  

Thanks fort sharing Stef ❤

How can we support you? Join our next 8 week Yoga Sutra Studies Course with Michael de Manincor: MORE INFORMATION AND BOOK MY PLACE 

What is Yoga therapy? Reflections from SYTAR

By Michael de Manincor 

I attended the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) Symposium on Yoga Therapy
and Research (SYTAR), in Reston, Virginia, not far from Washington DC. SYTAR is probably the largest and most significant conference gathering on yoga therapy in the world, and brings together many dedicated people working in this emerging field. Most delegates are from the United States, and (despite the name being “International”), a few extras from other countries, like myself from Australia.

Throughout the whole event, I noted some FAQs on common themes that emerged. Surprisingly, the most prominent question and discussion was around “What is yoga therapy? and how is it different from yoga teaching?” The surprising bit is that although interest in yoga therapy is rapidly growing, seems like the profession is unclear about what it actually is.

Before getting into some definitions and practical applications, let’s have a quick look at the modern history of how yoga therapy has emerged, and the role of the IAYT.

Although the system of yoga is essentially about embracing the human condition and personal transformation, the healing and therapeutic applications of yoga, known as yoga cikitsa, has been around for a very long time. Throughout history, yoga teachers (acharyas) would teach suitable yoga practices to assist people with health concerns, along with dietary, medicinal and other treatments from Ayurveda. Such healing applications were part of the process of restoring a sense of health and wholeness on the yoga path. This healing process may even be part of the personal transformation experience.

Yoga has become known in the West, and growing in popularity for more than 100 years. However, the actual concept and term “Yoga Therapy” has only been in common usage for about 30 years, probably originating in the US. Now, yoga therapy is becoming an emerging field in its own right, and in the attempt to become more recognised and accepted as a “therapy” in the modern world, is being distinguished from yoga teaching. However, attempts to adequately define or describe this distinction remain unclear.

In the late 1980s, several yoga teachers in the US, including Richard Miller and Larry Payne (both of whom have PhDs, and had studied yoga in India with TKV Desikachar), observed what was happening in the development of modern yoga in America. They realised that the way modern yoga was being taught with a primary focus on the physical postures, often in large group classes with standardised approaches or styles, was generally not suitable or appropriate for people with injuries or health concerns. It was also apparent that yoga teachers or yoga instructors often only had minimal or basic training, without the necessary knowledge and skills required to teach people with injuries or illnesses. Perhaps it was too difficult to convince people of the necessity for more training and education as yoga teachers, so they decided to initiate a new and distinct professional field, and started using the term “yoga therapy”.

I am sure there were several reasons for this, but it seems that the central reason was the desire to be taken seriously by the medical and allied health professions as a recognised and accepted form of “therapy”, and to be distinguished from what had become established as an industry of yoga instructors with minimal training requirements and lack of professional standards. They then incorporated a professional association for yoga teachers with suitable training, referring to themselves as “yoga therapists”, and named the organisation the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). Whilst it seemed like a good idea at the time, there are many who look back and see that it may have been a mistake to distinguish yoga teaching from yoga therapy in this way. It is not well-known that Richard Miller wanted to name the Association as the International Association of Yoga Education (IAYE), and he confirmed this with me personally only a few days ago. However, that’s history!

Having completed my own initial yoga therapy training in America in the mid-1990’s, I attended the first SYTAR event in Los Angeles in 2007. I remember having conversations between sessions (as one does at conferences) with other delegates from Australia, and wondering how all this talk about yoga therapy was any different from good yoga teaching. One person’s response was, and I quote “yoga therapy is a tsunami. Learn to surf or get out of the way.” Whilst it may be a powerful movement, we are yet to see the aftermath that a tsunami may cause.

Back to the definition of yoga therapy. The IAYT has worked hard to provide a definition of yoga therapy, that distinguishes it from yoga teaching. This is the definition they have come up with so far:

“Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.”

Whilst there is wide acceptance of this definition, it is worth asking whether or not it provides any useful distinction from yoga teaching. I believe that we could define yoga teaching in the same way:

“Yoga teaching is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.”

We could also add “personal transformation” to either or both definitions.

Many yoga therapists have their own definition, and numerous articles have been written about the differences between yoga teaching and yoga therapy, and between a yoga class and a yoga therapy session.

Whilst it is obvious that there are some practical differences, the distinction between the role of a well trained yoga teacher and a yoga therapist, may not be significant or meaningful.

Some describe yoga teaching as something that is done in group classes, whereas yoga therapy is done in one-on-one sessions. This is not a useful distinction. Yoga teaching can be done in either group classes, or one-on-one sessions, AND, yoga therapy can also be done in group classes or individual one-on-one sessions.

At The Yoga Institute, we not only aim to train yoga teachers and yoga therapists with the knowledge and skills required to be confident and competent when they graduate, our teacher training courses actually provide the necessary foundation for further studies in yoga therapy.

Two key components to consider in this discussion are 1) whether or not some kind of assessment is made of the student’s needs, abilities, health concerns, and desired outcomes, and 2) whether or not the yoga practice or class is tailored, adapted, or designed based on that assessment, rather than standardised prescriptions or templates for whoever turns up.

I believe that both these components are essential to good yoga teaching, not just yoga therapy. Of course, this is not always the case in the way yoga is often offered in either classes or yoga therapy sessions.

Other distinctions or definitions suggest that yoga therapy is the modern melding of traditional yoga with modern medicine or other therapeutic or allied health approaches. This raises questions about whether it is really yoga. As one conference presenter put it: keeping the yoga in yoga therapy, rather than borrowing bits of yoga and adding them into other therapies.

Perhaps the distinction is not between yoga teaching and yoga therapy at all. Rather, the distinction seems to be more about the difference between what yoga teaching has become (with minimal training) and what it could (or ought to) be, with more training in its healing applications (now called yoga therapy).

Many of the issues being discussed at the conference were specific to the situation in America, but also had some relevance to other countries around the world, including Australia. It is all still very new and changing everywhere, including India.

As the profession continues to emerge and define itself, these questions and discussions will continue. Central and essential to all of this is the need for continued education and training of professionals in the field. Until then, many people will continue to gain great benefit from what is being offered (we hope!), regardless of what we call it.


Interested in Yoga Therapy Training? CLICK HERE to check out our 8 Day foundations module (2019 dates TBC)

Note: this is the first module of our 650 hour Yoga Therapy Training Course but can be attended as a standalone module.

Sleep Help: Use meditation for Better Sleep

Written by The Sleep Help Institute

Why Does Meditation Help You Sleep?

Many adults don’t sleep the recommended seven hours every night. Adequate sleep is needed for health and well being, and sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk of conditions including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and mental distress.

One reason you may be losing out on sleep is the inability to slow down and relax. The stress you experience each day can make it difficult to let go and fall asleep at night. But meditation can help.

How Meditation Supports Sleep

Meditation offers the ability to calm your mind before bed. In a recent study, mindfulness meditation was more effective than sleep education for improvement of sleep habits.

Mindfulness meditation can trigger the relaxation response, which is effective for relieving stress. In meditation, you can stop racing thoughts and avoid thinking deeply about anxiety in the past or future.

In a study of yoga practitioners, meditative yoga showed promise for improved sleep. Although middle age participants who did not practice yoga showed a decline in slow wave sleep, meditative yoga practitioners did not show a decline and experienced higher quality sleep similar to younger participants. The study suggests the practice of meditative yoga can help retain quality sleep in middle age.

When you practice meditation before bed, you set the stage for sleep. It gives your brain a chance to slow down and enjoy the quiet while shutting out distractions.

Using Meditation for Better Sleep

If you suffer from sleep difficulties, meditation can help improve your sleep quality. Follow these tips to support healthy sleep by meditating.

  • Try meditating for just 20 minutes a day. A recent study found participants with sleep disturbances were able to improve sleep quality with 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day.
  • Meditate before bed. Meditation can be used for stress relief throughout the day, but it can be especially helpful for sleep when practised just before bed. Meditating can help you fall asleep by relieving the anxiety that may keep you up at night.
  • Stay on task. Although you may be concerned about maintaining focus while meditating, it’s ok for your mind to wander as long as you get yourself back to the task at hand. Let go of thoughts of tomorrow, today, or yesterday.
  • Don’t stress about sleep. It can be difficult to relax when you know you don’t have much time to get the sleep you need. Banish looking at the clock and avoid counting down the hours you have left to sleep. Instead, focus on relaxation and letting go so you can make the most of the time you have to recharge.
  • Practice healthy sleep habits. Meditation can support better sleep, but it’s not a replacement for healthy sleep habits. You can’t expect good sleep to come from meditation if your sleep practices aren’t otherwise supportive of healthy sleep. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends, and go through the same bedtime routine each night. Make your bedroom a healthy sleep environment with by finding a mattress that’s right for your needs and the darkness, quiet, and cool air your body needs to sleep well at night.

And remember:   “Breath is a wonder drug.” T.K.S Desikachar

How we can support you?

Join our upcoming Heart of Yoga 3 month Programme in September. Find peace and transform your life by applying Yoga’s ancient wisdom for modern living.

 CLICK HERE for more information. 


Related article: Relax Like a Boss: Stress Management Guide

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