Student Story: Sharon Geyer – Graduated 2020

Sharon’s Journey with yoga

I started attending Yoga classes as a compulsory part of my Diploma of Shiatsu Therapy while I was in my 20’s. While I enjoyed this, I stopped when I had my first child at 34.

I returned to Yoga 4 years ago after being diagnosed with PTSD.  Attending 3-4 classes a week at my local yoga studio I was beginning to feel like a functional human again.  I wanted more.  I wanted the knowledge so I decided I would enroll in a Yoga Teacher Training Course, not necessarily planning on teaching but to gain more insight into this powerful tool that was allowing me to heal.

I wanted to go to India and study in an Ashram however as I have a teen daughter at home, I could not do this as it involved staying at the Ashram for 7 months.  So, I began to research Yoga classes being offered in Sydney.  I went to numerous open days then deciding that, as I work for the Department of Education and I may teach yoga to primary age children, I would need to study somewhere that allowed me to join an association.  There were only two that offered times I could study so I attended open days at both.

Why the Yoga Institute?

I chose the Yoga Institute because as soon as I walked into the open day, I felt like I was at home. I also liked that the teacher training here was very thorough and as I was initially looking for knowledge, I knew a thorough teacher training course would offer me this.

The journey has been incredible. Our monthly weekends together have made myself and my classmates a little family who are in constant communication supporting each other through the various stages and developments in our lives.

Attending The Yoga Institute during Covid-19

Into my first month Covid-19 restrictions hit.  We were no longer able to study in the studio and had to go online.  I was worried that this would not give me the quality of education that I was looking for.  I need not have worried as the transition from face to face learning to zoom learning was a very smooth process.  I was also working online in my day job and this was not as smooth sailing.  I cannot thank or commend The Yoga Institute enough for this.

Once a month I meet with a mentor who is friendly, knowledgeable, and my biggest support.  I look forward to our monthly catch ups – which are also online and no different than if it was face to face.  I have a daily asana practice that was designed by my mentor who changes things as the need arises.  

This practice is part of my daily life, and I couldn’t imagine life without my daily practice.  

Before the Yoga Institute vs. after

Prior to commencing my yoga teacher training, I was doing a short daily asana, pranayama, and meditation practice. This impacted my life and my healing journey significantly. While studying pranayama and meditation at the Yoga Institute I have learnt the same tools (and so much more) that this daily practice has been giving me. I learnt these during class and part of the homework was to do the pranayama and meditation techniques and journal our experience. 

Again, this has been a big part of my healing journey, and even though this homework is complete, I continue to do these on a daily basis.

Additionally, before my yoga teacher training commenced I believed that Yoga consisted of solely asanas and that breathing and mediation were separate. One of many important lessons I have had is that yoga is so much more than asana. Yoga is a way of life, a life that is rich with endless possibilities.

I am so thankful that I enrolled in a 500-hour Teacher Training Diploma, the depth of this course has been incredible, giving me many skills that I currently use in my own daily life and plan to share with others once I graduate.

My healing, my coming home as I now call it, is the gift that yoga has given me. The use of breath in my daily asana, pranayama and meditation saved me from PTSD. Now that I have an evening pranayama and meditation practice designed by my mentor, I can finally sleep without sleeping pills. 

The next stage in Sharon’s yoga journey

I will miss my training, the teachers, my classmates, and my mentor terribly. The Yoga Institute has become somewhat of a family to me and I feel blessed to have had them as part of my journey.  If I had my time again, I wouldn’t do anything differently. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

I plan to use my teacher training by incorporating it into my job as a teacher’s aide, working with students who have behavioural issues and or learning difficulties. The impact Covid-19 has had on students has been substantial so offering yoga both inside school hours and outside of school hours at the school is my plan. I had no desire to teach adults however my colleagues are already asking for a weekly class at school for staff.

The joy that yoga brings me, the healing it has given me is more than I can put into words. I cannot wait until I can share this with others. 

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: or 0477 021 219

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

Podcast: Michael de Manincor on Sharing Yoga with the Community

Yoga Institute founder and director, Michael de Manincor, guests on this episode of Live Like You Love Yourself – recorded in April 2021and shares the evolution of his own yoga journey, against the backdrop of some of the big questions in yoga today, including what it really means to be a yoga teacher or yoga therapist today and how yoga’s temporary feelgood effects may extend to lasting changes.

With an upbringing in conventional Catholic religion, Michael de Manincor’s greatest fascination with spirituality as a teenager always lay towards the mystical, meditative side of religion, the part that included nature retreats and contemplative practices, practices he now recognises as actually being somewhat yogic. His inquisitiveness around spirituality lead him to join a Catholic order at age 18.  Following exposure to swamis of the Satchidananda tradition, who visited the Catholic order to teach yoga and support spiritual growth, Michael’s yoga journey officially began.

Curious about the concept of self-understanding (what the classical ancient Greek philosophers referred to as ‘know thyself’), inclusiveness, connectedness and pathways to healing, Michael increasingly surrendered to a new spiritual path, the holistic approach of yoga.

Personal yoga evolution

Yoga practice will tend to evolve and adapt to best support us through different life milestones. For example, what best nourishes us as a 30-year old will unlikely be exactly the same as a 50-year old, and not just in relation to asana, but also aspects such as breathwork, mantra, meditation and whether we practice more alone or with a group.  Equally, other external circumstances may trigger changes in our practice. 

The global pandemic is a fitting example: In Australia we count our many blessings (and Michael gratefully acknowledges that even during lockdown he was at least able to walk on the beach and connect with nature), but as a population, we all experienced a shift. As the term ‘social distancing’ entered our vernacular, as a society we lost a great deal of connection with people outside of our immediate household.  Many of us lost a connection with nature, and some have suffered from mental health issues, a disconnect from our very selves.   We may be needing different self-care practices to navigate the new landscape.

“Whatever works!” is a broad menu

One positive to come out of this chapter is the increased sense of awareness for many people that they need to look after themselves better in order to stay out of the doctor’s office, and there is increased interest in learning how to apply acts of self-care into daily life. 

Indeed, Michael points out that he frequently uses the term ‘self-care practices’ instead of ‘yoga practice’ these days, in acknowledgement of the immense range of self care activities that can form part of our yogic journey, that a walk on the beach or walking barefoot on grass can be a meditative experience and allow us to feel connected to something greater than ourselves.  He warmly recalls a saying of his teacher in India, Mr Desikachar, describing the personalised and holistic approach to yoga and healing as “whatever works”, and relays an anecdote of Mr Desikachar prescribing treatment to a depressed patient, to go out and take photos of beautiful things every day, invoking involuntary feelings of wonder and gratitude.  

For yoga practitioners and teachers, this chapter has also meant an explosion of online yoga with greater accessibility and opportunities.  However, the trio cautiously discuss the concept of a mental health pandemic, still yet to be truly felt and measured. 

What the world needs from yoga teachers and therapists right now

Michael would like to see the effects of yoga extend past the first few minutes of wellbeing immediately after class or after an appointment, to something more lasting.  He acknowledges that the yoga industry globally has built somewhat of a rod for its own back, projecting the physical benefits to the public as a marketing hook, and then becoming trapped in one’s own business model that sees many yoga teachers feeling compelled to spend most- if not all – of a 60-minute block of time doing asana, to match an expectation we as the industry, have created. 

While the physical benefits of yoga are widely understood, and the meditative side is increasing in profile and understanding (thanks also to concepts such as ‘mindfulness’), the trio discuss the often-forgotten link of breathwork.

Michael postulates that being a yoga teacher or therapist today is not just about classes as we think of them.  Indeed, classes of the pandemic era have been as much about people seeking a sense of community as wanting to cleanse their body or de-stress.  He proposes perhaps a new way of thinking where yoga could mean a more holistic means of self care. 

Michael goes further to suggest that while it can feel gratifying and financially rewarding for yoga teachers and therapists to collect a little following of loyal clients, there is an opportunity for a more humble approach that sees teachers and therapists acknowledge when their part in someone else’s yoga journey has gone as far as it can, and to allow that person to fledge to the next phase of their unique yogic journey, be it a different environment, approach, class or teacher. 

Lifting the bar

Michael recounts the many graduates of short teacher training courses who have come to The Yoga Institute seeking more training. Many have had wonderful and enriching experiences, but they simply do not feel sufficiently knowledgeable to confidently teach.  This observation informs the 500-hour Teacher Training programme at The Yoga Institute, but it is far from just about number of hours. 

The pandemic has seen many teacher training courses go completely online and completely self-paced.  This can be great for someone studying purely for enjoyment and personal development, but in order to go out and teach –  and the trio reference the great mantle of responsibility on a teacher if they truly want to guide other people towards transformation –  a short course simply isn’t adequate.   Michael believes in the power of a hybrid model, that combines both live learning (with at least a portion of that being physically in a classroom), with time for people to absorb and process information and experiences at home at their own pace.    He passionately believes that adequate training for yoga teachers can assist the shift in thinking needed and empower teachers to give clients a further-reaching rippling effect of yoga, out into people’s daily lives. 

Listen to episode 34 -Live Like You Love Yourself, with Dr Michael de Manincor here.

Want more still? 

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Graduate Story: Natalie Haider – Graduated 2018

Natalie’s Yoga Story

I use yoga in every aspect of my life. It’s difficult to separate myself from the yoga training, as it has become such a huge part of who I am.”

I first encountered yoga whilst i was working as a psychologist in a psychiatric hospital in 2004. Each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, I was required to lead my patients upstairs to the dining room, which was converted to a yoga space, and supervise whilst they participated. I was gobsmacked at the difference in people at the end of the 60 minute practice. They appeared calm, happy, energised, and free. It was such a visceral transformation I decided to start participating along with the patients.

Initially my personal experience with practicing yoga was intermittent at best. I was heavily involved in a range of martial arts during my 20s, training 6 days per week. If I’m being honest, I thought yoga was a little boring for my then chaotic lifestyle.

In my late 20s, I developed a realisation through my work as a psychologist that exploring the mind was incomplete without incorporating its home – our body.  This became particularly pertinent in my work the Health At Every Size (HAES) ® non-diet space with women struggling with disordered eating and body image concerns.  I started inviting more yoga into my life, however it was often heated and intense vinyasa practices that I was drawn to. I instantly hooked after I attended my first retreat! 

One retreat changed my life. It was a “Yoga for Mental Health Practitioners” retreat in Byron Bay with psychologists and yoga therapists Janet Lowndes and Michael de Manincor.  I was drawn to the retreat because I was a huge fan girl of Janet and her work.  I remember Michael leading us through a simple breath-centred arm movement and my mind was completely blown! This retreat cemented the idea that I too wanted to become a yoga teacher and eventually a yoga therapist.

I still remember the day I received the news from Kirstie that I was accepted into The Yoga Institute’s yoga teacher training course – i was beyond ecstatic! Shortly before the course commenced, i was driven into by a car as I rode my bike to work and thought I would have to cancel my training due to physical (and later psychological) injuries. I spoke to a faculty member – Natalie – in tears on the phone, and was encouraged to attend, and guaranteed that i would be looked after by my mentor Lisa and other faculty.

Turning up on day one was the scariest and best decision i’ve ever made. I felt held, nurtured, supported, and encouraged every step of the way. The teacher training experience was immensely therapeutic for me, which was not an expectation I had at all.

Each time I return to the Institute, it feels like I’m returning home. I feel so privileged to have had this learning and healing experience which has shaped not just the career i now have but my entire outlook on life. As cliche as it sounds, yoga truly is healing and transformative, and I don’t know where i would be without it.

I loved my yoga teacher training experience so much that I would happily sign up again!…though instead I am currently doing my yoga therapy Traning. Yoga is truly for every body, so don’t be put off by insta-yogi images of what you might need to look like in order to be a yoga teacher.

Natalie and her Approach to Teaching

I was surprised how quickly I went from yoga teacher training to living my dream of teaching yoga for 50% of my schedule and continuing to work as a Psychologist for the other 50%.

My teaching is a little different. If yoga isn’t adapted to suit each individual, in any given moment, then it is not yoga at all.

It’s not uncommon for me to be guiding a class through 4 or 5 different sequences at once. I might be leading someone through a sequence whilst they are seated in a chair, adapting that sequence for people seated on the floor, whilst another could be standing, and another in tabletop position. I empower my students to make choices to support their body in any given moment and want people to look like they are free styling rather than in a synchronised swimming class.

Where is Natalie Teaching?

The Yoga Foundation projects: one focusing on people experiencing mental health challenges and another for women who have experienced domestic violence;

I teach at a Private psychiatric hospital for both inpatients and outpatients; I have some private clients that I teach in person and via zoom.

I also teach for 2 yoga studios and specialise in providing accessible, body positive yoga primarily to women who live in larger bodies;

I teach a corporate chair yoga class, and I teach a one day accessible yoga module for a teacher training program.  

Thanks for sharing Natalie. You are truly an inspiration!

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: (02) 9929 2774

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

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. 


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


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 – Graduated 2019

Emma’s Yoga Journey

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

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

Then one day something clicked. 

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

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

What is Emma doing now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can we support you?

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

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

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

Anatomy of a Yoga Therapy Session

By Lisa Grauaug

What is yoga therapy for?

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

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

How does it work?

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

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

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

A Case Study

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

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

Phase 1: Assessment & History Taking

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

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

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

What do you observe?

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

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

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

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


Understanding the Client’s Lifestyle Needs

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

Phase 2: Designing a Tailored Yoga Practice

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

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

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

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

Phase 3: Checking In and Refining

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

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

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

How can we support you?

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

Graduate Story: Josh Caple – Graduated 2017

Josh’s Yoga Journey

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

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

When the passion for yoga began

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

Working as a private yoga mentor

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

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

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

What is Josh doing now?

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

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

What opportunities are there for yoga teachers?

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

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

Anything else you’d like to share?

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

How can we support you?

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

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