Find Refuge from an Overwhelming World

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

By: Judith Hanson Lasater via Yoga Journal

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

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

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

Finding Acceptance

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

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

Click HERE to read the full article


Meet The Author: Judith Hanson Lasater

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

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

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

Tap into the Healing Potential of Yoga

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

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


The Health Benefits of Yoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read publication: CLICK HERE


How can we support you?

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

Have questions’? Email or call: kirstie@yogainstitute.com.au 0477 021 219

Finding words right now is not easy

The devastation and loss of lives, homes and our precious bushlands has been painful beyond words.

We would like to acknowledge the Australian bushfire crisis here in our home country and the shocking effect this is having on our people, our land and our wildlife. We would also like to acknowledge the impact on people’s mental health and sense wellbeing and recognise the countless acts of courage, heroic rescues, simple acts of selflessness and community in the wake of this national disaster.

We send blessings and prayers to all beings and our land. We hope this disaster, this wakeup is managed with intelligence and care. It certainly is amazing to see the national and global support for this crisis. 

Feeling helpless? How can you help?

During this time of devastation it is natural to experience despair, anger and even blame. Try to shift your attention to inspired action, together we can make monumental change in this new decade, here are three ways…

1. DONATE MONEY

This may seem impersonal or indirect but it’s what our local charities and communities need the most.

Support your local fire service:

Support the local wildlife:

Support disaster relief:

Support affected businesses and communities:

2. SEND A LETTER TO YOUR LOCAL MP

A single letter may not change anything – but thousands will. If you are disappointed in our governments’ climate inaction, now is the time to speak. On Saturday, Anna Rose Richards drafted a letter Australians can send to their local MP demanding action in the wake of our bushfires. Having worked in parliament for four years, Anna felt it was important that Australians know that in the long term, legislative change is crucial.

In the days since Anna drafted it, the letter has gone viral. Politicians can’t and won’t ignore the call of voters, so it’s time to make our priorities clear to them. Read Anna’s full post here and get the template letter here.

3. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME

If you’re closer to the affected areas, consider helping your local disaster relief organisation with whatever time you can offer. Here are a few suggestions but we but recommend doing your research to see what’s available locally.

  • BlazeAid
  • Foodbank
  • The Salvation Army
  • Red Cross
  • St Vincent De Paul Society
  • Your local Rural Fire Service
  • Your local wildlife rescue service

The devastation is unfathomable, and the fires continue to burn, remember any small act of kindness counts.

The devastation is unfathomable, and the fires continue to burn, remember any small act of kindness counts. 

​​​​​​Read this article: ‘16 Acts of Kindness that’ll Make Every Aussie Proud’

With love and compassion, The Yoga Institute Team

Meet The A Team

Here’s your chance to meet The Yoga Institute’s talented, passionate and highly experienced Yoga Teacher Training & Yoga Therapy Training Faculty on a deeper level!

We asked each faculty member the same 5 questions, so you can truly see their unique personality, perspective, and experiences shine.

Michael de Manincor

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute?
Brief??? 40+ years worth … many wonderful and sometimes challenging teachers and experiences. 
Most significantly, studies and practice in India, under the guidance of my teacher and mentor, Mr TKV Desikachar.
Founded The Yoga Institute in 1999 (originally called Integrative Yoga, then Yoga Sanga), and have remained Director for 20 years.

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice? 
Whilst I love the practices of asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting and more, the study and sharing of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras constantly keeps me both amazed and humbled about what these teachings offer us in understanding our human condition, suffering, and opportunities for personal and collective transformation.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up?
Seeing the journey of change and transformation in people’s lives.

4) Where’s your happy place?
At home, in the ocean, in a forest, or in Italy.

5) What are your qualifications?

  • BA (Hons, Psych), Grad Dip Ed, M Psych, PhD
  • Registered Senior Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist, Yoga Australia
  • Registered Psychologist, AHPRA

Lisa Grauaug

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute?
I have been involved with The Yoga Institute from creation. My involvement has been diverse – I love it this way. From being a student, to working in the office, right through to hosting an array of events, being part of the teaching faculty and more recently developing Graduate Yoga Teacher training and Pre & Postnatal Yoga Teacher training. 

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice?  
I have practiced Yoga since my late twenties, initially drawn to the fun gymnastic nature of the physical postures & from here I began asking the question well what is Yoga ? I soon realised that to understand this there was further study required. I then spent many years learning from a number of amazing teachers, continually feeling inspired by the richness and depth of Yoga philosophy. I have now come to a place that the intellectual pursuit of Yoga is endless, realising that being with my own yoga practice is what is most rewarding – which has now become part of my everyday. Through my continued study, curiosity and dedicated practice Yoga has provided me with a personal unfolding, and with this it has brought many realisations. I truly hope that with the practice I will grow old with the wisdom that the children and the world needs in this moment.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up?
Teaching groups, teaching individuals. Having the opportunity to share Yoga and then seeing the benefits it brings to peoples lives. I also really value collaboration and value the diverse faculty at The Yoga Institute.

4) Where’s your happy place?
At home, being with family, friends, travel and beyond this a simple life, -I love the water and swimming.

5) What are your qualifications?

  • Bachelor Applied Science (Nursing) specialising in Neonatal Intensive Care
  • Bachelor of Psychology followed with a Master of Psychology (Counselling)
  • Registered Psychologist (AHPRA)
  • Certified Yoga Teacher (Yoga Australia) , Certified Yoga Therapist (Yoga Australia & IAYT)

Kirstie Christensen

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute? 
When it comes to unlocking the transformative power of yoga, we
all have a story. For me, a fractured spine initially led the way. I had an accident in my twenties and the residual effects of my injury were complete frustration in my inability to move, and chronic pain which was affecting my emotional and mental wellbeing. Yoga became a journey of self-reflection; a life changing place where I could use my physical body as a vehicle to improve my mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I commenced my studies at Nature Care College, before completing my Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Yoga Teaching at The Yoga Institute. I left a corporate job in 2014, with no plans in place. My first stop was back to my second home, The Yoga Institute. I stared covering classes, which lead to a Teacher Training Coordinator role. Being a small business I wear many hats, including marketing, mentoring and most recently the General Manager hat. I feel so grateful to work with a beautiful, supportive and inspiring team, of people.

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice?
Yoga is a like a toolbox, it is made up of simple, life long and invaluable tools that anyone can learn. The practice of yoga gives me clarity and calm in the chaos of my everyday life. Yoga is a gift I feel so grateful to have been given.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up? 
Life lights me up! I am a curious person, I love to learn and love to share. Teaching yoga to tween and teen girls is my latest light up! As a mother of three girls, it is my mission to empower girls to feel motivated, enthusiastic, brave and confident.

4) Where’s your happy place?
Yoga has taught me to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. I am at my happiest with my three beautiful girls somewhere in nature, we love camping in the bush, surfing in the ocean, skiing in the mountains and getting crafty in the backyard.

5) What are your qualifications?

  • Diploma of Yoga Teacher Training
  • Advanced Diploma of Teacher Training
  • Level 1 iRest Training
  • Current yoga therapy student

Gill Kamsler

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute? 
My first introduction to yoga was in the early 1980’s. Weekly classes and workshops quickly became an integral part of my self care.
Yoga teacher training introduced me to Krishnamacharyas’ teachings and a connection to The Yoga Institute. I discovered breath centered practice and felt like I’d truly come home.
At the Yoga Institute, as a faculty member, I have taught general classes, modules on meditation, sound & mantra- also mentoring students on the teacher training programmes. It’s inspiring being part of a team of people dedicated to teaching and supporting others brought together through yoga.
My personal path of study is ongoing, and I value sharing what I’ve learned and experienced. The classical Yoga tradition is ancient but still extremely relevant today and the depth of knowledge is to be shared- it’s not ours to hold onto.

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice? 
Having raised 3 kids (now adults!) and continuing to experience the rollercoaster of life, yoga has been a lifeline- supporting me to be aware of myself & the ongoing changes around me. With this awareness comes mental steadiness and the ability to step back and form clear choices. Teaching and practicing with focus on the breath brings a deeper level of mindfulness which washes into all we do- both on & off the mat.
Yoga practice provides us with a lens or philosophy to help view and understand life, relationships and ultimately the mind. Through study of the Yoga Sutras, we gain tools to improve ourselves- to naturally be more kind, compassionate, joyful & ultimately steady of mind.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up? 
Teaching, studying and sharing my love of Yoga!

4) Where’s your happy place? 
I prefer to think of the contentment that comes from within rather than happiness- which is often based on something external that changes- like our senses. We can feel a sense of contentment in all that we do- it comes from letting go of sensory seeking & connecting to our internal quietness or steadiness. So I try to carry contentment on the Yoga mat and off.

5) What are your qualifications?

  • Diploma of Yoga Teacher Training
  • Modules 1-7 Yoga Therapy, Sound for wellbeing
  • Win Yogic Mindfulness
  • Minding the speech
  • 4 years (plus ongoing) study of Yoga Sutras.

Lucy Karnani

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute? 
I came to yoga, or rather yoga came to me, in the late 90’s while I was living just outside New York City. I practiced with increasing frequency throughout the next decade; predominantly by attending classes. In 2009 I learnt the amazing benefits of a daily personal practice when I was introduced to a specific pranayama, breath and mediation series which I committed to for 90 days. After having experienced a whole milieu of health challenges (some of which needed specific medical intervention) I found myself feeling truly well and vital in my mind and body for the first time in over 10 years. Inspired by this, I completed my first YTT in the USA and soon after moving to Sydney in 2011 found my way to the The Yoga Institute where I studied further with Michael de Manincor. In this last decade I have had the great good fortune to study with many teachers both here and in the USA such as Richard Miller, Leslie Kaminoff, Ganesh Mohan, Amy Weintraub, VidyaMa Caroline Dell’Uomo, Devarshi Steven Hartman, Donna Farhi, Heather Plett and many more. Given my background in the corporate world where I coached, trained and consulted in face-to-face communication skills, Michael asked if I would develop workshops in this area for yoga teachers and therapists and as such I have joyfully been part of the TYI faculty since 2012.

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice?  
The greatest benefit I have gained from my regular personal practice is an ability to slowdown, pause, come in the moment and be in the witness – after which I can more consciously make choices about what I say or do next. The movement and breath aspects of my practices have also helped my still sometimes “health challenged body and mind” become and stay strong, flexible and vital. I also get a lot of personal joy and nourishment from teaching yoga – both to small groups and individually.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up? 
Spending time with like-minded and like-hearted people who are curious about this journey called life!

4) Where’s your happy place? 
With my family when everyone is getting along 😀!?

5) What are your qualifications? B App Sci – Physical Education

Ute Koehler

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute? 
My passion for Yoga started when I was in my teens. I very soon developed a love for this ancient practice and its many styles and tools. After completing my first teacher qualification in a Power Vinyasa Style, I have continued my studies with The Yoga Institute. Under the guidance of Michael de Manicor, I have completed the year long Diploma of Yoga Studies & Teacher Training as well as the Advanced Diploma of Teacher Training. Since then, I have continued my practice and the study of yoga including yoga therapy (3 year course), yogic mindfulness and the Yoga Sutras. Apart from teaching general classes, I focus of teaching seniors with the aim of healthy ageing.
I am committed to teaching and sharing Yoga, making it accessible for each and every individual, whatever their experience.

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice?  
My yoga practice has encouraged me to become more mindful in my daily life. A regular yoga practice is so effective in helping you with a wide range of illnesses and stressful situations. It is so much more than ‘just a simple exercise or stretching routine’. Using the breath to connect the mind and the body has such a powerful impact on the mental wellbeing. For me that was one of of the key factors that I have learned when training with Michael.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up? 
Learning more about the philosophies, world views and teachings that emerged in ancient India. I also enjoy long walks in nature and spending my time with my family and friends.

4) Where’s your happy place? 
If we try to define ‘happiness’, the dictionary would probably say that it is a ‘state of being’. I am personally not too sure about that – I would rather refer to it as a temporary emotion. Happiness is centered around what you think will bring you happiness, but as life shows, it might never be enough. Once we acquire or find what we think will make us happy, it tends to loose its meaning very quickly. So very often people spent their lives in this never ending pursuit of happiness. I therefore think that the expression ‘contentment’ is much better. Striving for contentment, a state of balance, allows your mind to focus on living a more meaningful life – not a life in constant pursuit. And that place can be everywhere.

5) What are your qualifications?

  • 200hrs Power Vinyasa
  • Diploma of Yoga Studies and Teacher Training & Advanced Diploma of Teacher Training with the Yoga Institute
  • 3 years of Yoga Therapy studies
  • Yogic Mindfulness Training
  • Studies of the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita
  • Certificate in Restorative Yoga and Meditation

Rosie Caunt

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute? 
I have been practicing yoga for 35 years and teaching for 20 years.

I have been involved with The Yoga Institute since it was Yoga Sanga around 17 years ago. I taught a little on the teacher training course then and a lot on the Friday course when The Yoga Institute began. I taught asana pranayama meditation sometimes energetics and professional yoga teacher. I also had my own studio for 10 years or so in Lindfield then Mona Vale.

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice?
Yoga for me is about the way I live my life. How I interact with everyone and the environment and how I care for my body and mind.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up? 
Teaching and training mentoring running workshops lights me up. My creativity flows and I love that. I also love to ocean swim and read. I am a curious person and enjoy to keep learning

4) Where’s your happy place? 
My happy place is in the water and camping in the bush.

5) What are your qualifications?

  • Cert in Education
  • B ED hons
  • Cert 4 in training
  • Cert in health yoga
  • Kinesiologist
  • Certificate in studies of death and dying
  • Yoga therapist
  • Thousands of hours of yoga training (Some with Desikachar and Kausthub Desikachar)

Kristen Melville

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute? 
I started practicing yoga in 2002 and ten years later I took the plunge and completed the diploma of yoga teacher training at The Yoga Institute to deepen my understanding and practice.

The following year I started working a few hours per week for The Yoga Institute to help with marketing. This work is small in terms of number of hours per week but huge in terms of passion and meaning for me.

Having experienced the power of personal practice and these teachings, I love being part of this beautiful team of people and putting this out into the world. It’s wonderful to be marketing something I believe in so strongly and helping more people experience The Yoga Institute.

2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice?  
An ability to stay steady and grounded and connected regardless of what life brings.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up? 
Learning more about the mind and meditation and snow skiing!

4) Where’s your happy place? 
Nature is my happy place, especially in the mountains or the ocean.

5) What are your qualifications?

  • Diploma of Yoga Teacher Training
  • Masters of Marketing
  • Certificate of Digital Marketing
  • Certificate in Meditation Facilitation

Michela CaselliMichela Caselli - Yoga Teacher, Teaching Yoga for Children Trainer

1) Please write your brief yoga history and involvement with The Yoga Institute?
In 2010 I enrolled in the Advanced Teacher Training Course with The Yoga Institute. The same year I started teaching general classes and in 2015  I joined the faculty and mentor team. My dream came true in 2016, Michael and I, with our family heritage and love for Italy achieved our dream of running yoga retreats in Italy. Savour Italy has since been an annual retreat. 

2) 2) What’s the greatest benefit you have gained from your yoga practice?  
The understanding that it’s all in my hands, that the change I desire in my life depends on me. My daily personal practice plants the seed for my transformation.

3) Personal shoutout! What lights you up? 
It lights me up to see people passionate for something and making efforts to contribute to their direct environment.
It lights me up finding the time to be in the ocean and see that every single wave is different and I have to adjust to their uniqueness.
It lights me up dancing in the lounge room with my husband and and my son.
A proper made TiramisuIt lights me up… very rare thing in Australia!

4) Where’s your happy place? My family 

5) What are your qualifications?

  • Master degree in International and Diplomatic sciences
  • Diploma in Business
  • Diploma of Yoga Teacher
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Italian Diploma of Sommelier

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

Pranayama Course Sydney

Prāṇāyāma: The Breath 101

Use the breath to stay calm.

Conscious deep breathing works like a brush and helps to clear and focus the mind. It sweeps and cleanses your body and mind, releasing you from tiredness, fogginess, poor attention and stress. Incorporating pranayama in your yoga practice improves awareness and is an essential element to help you create space for energy, clarity, calmness and concentration.

Content from T.K.V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga

Yoga recommends two possible ways for achieving the qualities of sukha, comfort and lightness, and sthira, steady alertness. The first is to locate knots and resistances in the body and release them. The second possible means for realizing the concept of sthirasukha consists of visualising the perfect posture.

Prāṇāyāma: The Breathing Exercises of Yoga

The word prāṇāyāma consists of two parts: prāṇa and āyāma. Āyāma means “stretch” or “extend,” and describes the action of prāṇāyāma. Prāṇa refers to “that which is infinitely everywhere.” With reference to us humans prāṇa can be described as something that flows continuously from somewhere inside us, filling us and keeping us alive: it is vitality.

The Forms of Prāṇā

There are five forms of prāṇa, all having different names according to the bodily functions with which they correspond. These forms of prāṇa are:

  • udāna-vāyu, corresponding to the throat region and the function of speech
  • prāṇ a-vāyu, corresponding to the chest region
  • samāna-vāyu, corresponding to the central region of the body and the function of digestion
  • apāna-vāyu, corresponding to the region of the lower abdomen and the function of elimination
  • vyāna-vāyu, corresponding to the distribution of energy into all areas of the body

Agni, the Fire of Life

What happens within this movement of prāṇa and apāna? According to yoga we have a fire, agni, in the body, situated in the vicinity of the navel, between the prāṇa-vāyu and the apāna-vāyu. The flame itself is constantly changing direction: on inhalation the breath moves toward the belly, causing a draft that directs the flame downward, just like a fireplace; during exhalation the draft moves the flame in the opposite direction, bringing with it the just-burned waste matter. It is not enough to burn the rubbish; we must also rid the body of it. A breathing pattern where the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation is aimed at providing more time during exhalation for freeing the body of its blockages. Everything we do to reduce the rubbish in the body is a step in the direction of releasing our blockages.

Practical Aspects of Prāṇāyāma

The object of prāṇāyāma practice is to emphasize the inhalation, the exhalation, or retention of breath. Emphasis on the inhalation is called prūaka prāṇāyāma. Recaka prāṇāyāma refers to a form of prāṇāyāma in which the exhalation is lengthened while the inhalation remains free. Kumbhaka prāṇāyāma focuses on breath retention. In kumbhaka prāṇāyāma we hold the breath after inhalation, after exhalation, or after both. Whichever technique we choose, the most important part of prāṇāyāma is the exhalation.

Prāṇāyāma Techniques

Women and Yoga
  1. Ujjāyī– In one prāṇāyāma called ujjāyī, or throat breathing, we deliberately contract the larynx slightly, narrowing the air passage. Ujjāyī translates as “what clears the throat and masters the chest area.” Ujjāyī breathing has many variations.
  2. Nāḍī Śodhana– We breath in through the partially closed left nostril, breathe out through the partially closed right nostril, and repeat. The name of this breathing technique is nāḍī śodhananāḍī is the passage or vein through which the breath and energy flow; śodhana means “cleansing.”
  3. Śītalī– During inhalation we curl up both edges of the tongue so that it forma a kind of tube, then we breathe in through this tube. During inhalation the air passes over the moist tongue, cooling down and refreshing the throat. In order to be sure that the tongue remains moist, we roll it back as far as possible against the palate during the entire exhalation so that the next breath is just as refreshing as the first. This technique is called śītalī prāṇāyāma. Śīta means “cool.”
  4. Kapālabhātī– In this practice we deliberately breathe faster, and at the same time use only abdominal breathing, not chest breathing. The breath is short, rapid, and strong. Kapāla means “skull,” and bhātī means “that which brings lightness.”
  5. Bhastrika– The word bhastrika means “bellows.” In bhastrika breathing he abdomen moves like a pair of bellows. If one nostril is blocked, then we draw the air in quickly through the open nostril and breath out strongly through the blocked one.

The Gradual Process of Prāṇāyāma

When we take up the practice of prāṇāyāma, we should proceed gradually, step by step. Because we are starting something new, directing our attention toward the breath-not the body-it is important to rest for several minutes after we finish āsana practice and before we begin prāṇāyāma. The time between āsana practice and prāṇāyāma practice is not just to rest the body it also helps the mind to make the transition from one practice to the other.

Breath Ratios

It is possible in prāṇāyāma to fix the ratio between the inhalation, the retention afterward, the exhalation, and the retention after that. The many possibilities for these ratios can be divided roughly into two categories:

  1. The inhalation, the exhalation, and the breath retention are all the same length-we call this samavṛtti prāṇāyāma (sama means “the same” and vṛtti means “to move”). This type of prāṇāyāma practice is good for people who use a mantra in their breathing exercises; they can make the inhalation, the exhalation, and the retention of the breath = last for the same number of mantra repetitions.
  2. The different phases of the breath are of different lengths-we call this viṣamavṛtti prāṇāyāma. The general rule in this practice is to let the exhalation be twice as long as the inhalation.

Focus on Prāṇāyāma

There are certain techniques that will help us maintain concentration in prāṇāyāma. In concentrating on the breath, we can focus on the flow of the breath, the sound of the breath, or the place where the most work is occurring. The latter will be determined by the phase of breathing we are in.

Want to find out more? Join our next Teacher Training Information session to find out more: https://yogainstitute.com.au/teacher-training-information-sessions/

Ayurveda Recipe: Ghee

What is Ghee?

Ghee is an amazing substance with countless benefits to our body and mind. It has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years due to its numerous medicinal properties. Ghee is highly clarifed butter. It is made by cooking butter until the water has evaporated, and then removing the dairy solids. Research shows that ghee contains the least saturated fat of any fatty substance. The process of making ghee removes 100% of the hydrogenated fats and 75% of the saturated fats from the butter. Unlike butter, ghee helps to stimulate the healthy flow of fluids throughout the body. Butter can congest; ghee removes blockages. No other substance stimulates the flow of bodily fluids as ghee does.

Benefits of Ghee

  • increases digestive fire and improves absorption and assimilation
  • strengthens the brain and nervous system
  • improves memory
  • lubricates joints and connective tissue and makes the body more flexible.
  • strengthens the immune system while decreasing heat, acidity and inflammation that occurs due to excess pitta.

How To Make Ghee

Only One Ingredient!

  • One pound of unsalted butter (preferably organic)

Directions

  1. Place butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a clean, dry spoon to prevent sizzling or browning until all butter melts.
  2. When the butter has melted, increase heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the surface is covered with froth/foam, stir one last time and reduce heat to very low.
  4. Simmer, undisturbed, uncovered, until solids have sunk to bottom and turned from white to golden brown and a thin crust of transparent butterfat remains on the surface. Ghee will smell like movie theater popcorn at about this time, and it will grow quiet with just a mere rumbling, bubbling sound.
  5. Allow ghee to cool for approx. 1/2 hour so that you can handle the pan without burning yourself.
  6. Slowly and carefully, remove pan from heat and without disturbing the solids that have collected on the bottom. Pour the liquid through a sieve lined with triple-layered cheesecloth or single muslin cloth or my favorite unbleached paper towel). Place the sieve over a kitchen funnel. Pour into a sterile, dry, wide-mouthed glass jar/container (such as mason jar). Avoid disturbing solids at the bottom.
  7. You can keep the bottom solids for adding to soups, sandwich spreads, veggie dishes, etc., but they must be stored separately and refrigerated.
  8. Allow ghee to cool completely (to room temperature) before adding lid. Then, cover tightly and store at room temperature in a cool, dry, dark place. Can be stored for years at a time;
  9. Store ghee at room temperature. Ghee contaminates easily, so always use a clean, dry utensil when dipping into the jar.

BONUS: Water will contaminate it. If this happens, mold will grow on the surface; simply scrape it off and continue to use. Since this process of cooking the butter removes all the water, if you undercook ghee, it will mold easily; however, overcooked it will burn. A touch of light browning, on the other hand, can lend a delicate flavor.

Want to learn more Ayurvedic recipes? Sign up for The Yoga Institute’s Monthly Ayurvedic Workshop!


Meet Your Facilatator: Eleni Tsikrikas

Eleni discovered YOGA as a means for reducing stress in 1995 while practicing law in Sydney, Australia. Smitten, Eleni completed the Sydney Yoga Centre’s teacher training course. In 2000, Eleni quit the legal profession to teach Yoga full time. In 2004 Eleni moved to Los Angeles and began intensive study with Robert Birnberg a senior student in the T. Krichnamacharya lineage. The major focus of her studies is the “Yoga Sutras of Pantajali” the guidebook dedicated to creating a satvic mind.

Eleni is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, CAS, a Pancha Karma Specialist PKS. She runs a private ayurvedic practice and teaches “Ayurvedic Skills for Living” courses in Silverlake and Sydney. She is a faculty member of The Yoga Institute in Sydney and at California College of Ayurveda, where she teaches and mentors students. She continues to pursue her passion for herbs, studying with renowned herbalist KP Khalsa. Eleni has completed the educational component leading to qualifications as a Western Herbalist. She is presently working on the accreditation process for the American Herbalist Guild.

Eleni passionately believes food is medicine and is looking forward to sharing her passion at The Yoga Institute with a monthly Ayuveda Workshop.

Recipe Share: Almond & Honey Oat Bars

One of The Yoga Institute’s teachers, Gill Kamsler, made almond & honey oat bars for a recent teacher’s get together. Gill is ALWAYS making delicious food, she has a real reputation around the centre for her cooking! 

Ingredients

Make it your own and try adding coconut!

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup siivers of roasted almonds
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1/3 c berries
  • 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbs butter

Steps

Less then 10 minutes of prep time? Say no more!

  1. Grease and line a standard sized (approximately) 17X28cm rectangular baking tray with baking paper, allowing the edges to overhang.
  2. Place the peanut butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter into the thermomix bowl.
  3. Mix for 5 minutes 80 degrees, Speed 2 or until the mixture has thickened slightly.
  4. Add the oats and almonds.
  5. Mix for 30 seconds on Reverse, Speed 2 or until the mixture is very well combined.
  6. Add the berries into the mixture and stir with spoon.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray and press down very firmly with the back of a spoon.
  8. Place the tray into the fridge for 2 hours.
  9. Take out and cut into long bars.
  10. Place the bars into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Gill’s Advice

  • It’s a thermomix recipe but I think you could do the first part on the stove top, then combine everything in a mixing bowl.
  • As the bars have butter, they stay firm when taken from the fridge- but may not hold for too long.
  • If you’d prefer oat slices instead of bars, make the same recipe in a bigger pan!

Enjoy!


Ayurveda 101

Welcome to Ayurveda 101!

Ayurveda = people’s medicine

Ayurvedic practitioner, Eleni Tsikrikas, filmed at The Yoga Institute to explain the basics of Ayurveda to you.

Here’s some key highlights:

What is it?

  • Natured based, energetic, system of medicine
  • All therapies and tools that Ayurveda utilizes come from nature
  • Nature is the true healer and anything can be used to reinstate health

Why does it matter to me?

  • It’s holistic-body/functions/mind and emotions/spirit
  • Focuses on whole person in the context of life/relationships and environment
  • Empowering

Treatment

  • Person centered and prevention
  • Reduce symptoms
  • Reverse cause

Tools

  • Lifestyle medicine
  • 3 main pillars-food digestion, sleep, and energy
  • Sustainable for individual-moderate practices to sustain

“Ayurveda is reconnecting with your body’s natural intelligence” -Eleni Tsikrikas

 

Want to learn more?

Watch the full YouTube video

 

 

Meet Eleni for yourself at The Yoga Institute’s Monthly Ayurveda Workshop

 


Meet your facilitator: Eleni Tsikrikas

Eleni discovered YOGA as a means for reducing stress in 1995 while practicing law in Sydney, Australia. Smitten, Eleni completed the Sydney Yoga Centre’s teacher training course. In 2000, Eleni quit the legal profession to teach Yoga full time. In 2004 Eleni moved to Los Angeles and began intensive study with Robert Birnberg a senior student in the T. Krichnamacharya lineage. The major focus of her studies is the “Yoga Sutras of Pantajali” the guidebook dedicated to creating a satvic mind.

Eleni is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, CAS, a Pancha Karma Specialist PKS. She runs a private ayurvedic practice and teaches “Ayurvedic Skills for Living” courses in Silverlake and Sydney. She is a faculty member of The Yoga Institute in Sydney and at California College of Ayurveda, where she teaches and mentors students. She continues to pursue her passion for herbs, studying with renowned herbalist KP Khalsa. Eleni has completed the educational component leading to qualifications as a Western Herbalist. She is presently working on the accreditation process for the American Herbalist Guild.

Eleni passionately believes food is medicine and is looking forward to sharing her passion at The Yoga Institute with a monthly Ayuveda Workshop.

Graduate Story: Laurin Vassella 2011

Meet Laurin…

Laurin is a graduate from The Yoga Institute’s teacher training program. She has gone on an amazing journey after completing the program and wants to share it with future graduates. Read below in our question and answer styled blog post. Thank you for sharing Laurin and keep doing what you doing!

“Two people can come out of The Yoga Institute and teach completely differently because you are sharing you and you are sharing your heart.”

 


Laurin’s Journey

When did you graduate The Yoga Institute’s teacher training? I graduated the program in 2011.

What did you do once you graduated the program? A month after I gradated, I gave birth to my daughter so home life was quite busy. Following that, I became a cover teacher at a gym called Fitness First.

Are you currently still a cover teacher? I was given a permanent class after awhile and then a friend of mine offered me a teaching job at her studio. A year later, she shut down her studio and gave her students to me. The close connections I made with the students, inspired me to eventually open my own studio.

Watch Youtube video ➙ ➙ 

 


Laurin’s Passion For Teaching Children

How’d you get into working with children? I have two children so kids were always a part of my yoga career, because I was always surrounded by them. They experienced my first yoga class before my students ever even touched it.

Is it hard to teach with your children in class? It was quite tricky discipline wise to get them all to work together. It was a challenge but it worked in the sense that they started to bring yoga into their life a lot more. There were thing’s I was starting to teach them in class that they were starting to translate in the house, and how they were talking to their friends, and things like that.

How do you incorporate children into your studio? I began by teaching tweens in the studio. The two rules were you can’t gossip and you can’t put yourself down. They feel like my children now too.

Watch Youtube video ➙ ➙ 


Yoga’s impact on Laurin

How has yoga helped you over the years since you graduated? Three and half years ago, I was a surrogate for my brother and his husband. Deep meditation is just part of what I do now to feel closer to baby Felix. Yoga transforms itself into what you need if you listen.

Did being pregnant affect the style of yoga you partake in? I changed my yoga to not be so much about my body but more about my mind. I had to change how I was thinking and ground myself in to being what I was grateful for.

Did yoga help you grow closer to baby Felix? My yoga became ingrained with Felix. We just talked and were together. Yoga brought me back into that connection that I needed to have to what I do with him now. When he sees me it’s like he never left me and we go straight back into our bond.

Watch Youtube video ➙ ➙ 


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

Ayurvedic Cleansings

The Yoga Institute’s Monthly Ayurveda Workshop facilitator, Eleni Triskikas, shares her tips for the perfect ayurvedic cleanse designed just for you!

Personalising your cleanse

• Decide how long your cleanse will be
• Suggested periods- Vata 7 days, Pitta 7-14 days and Kapha 14-30 days
• Pick a meal plan that you can comfortably do
• It’s ok to change from one to the other if you need more sustenance
• Take the digestive herbs before each meal and at the end of the day (ex. ginger before meals, takra between meals for absorption and Triphala at end of day)
• Make space in your life for this…..nourish your self with some self care practices such as abhyanga/oil massage, asana, get a massage, read, rest, journal, meditate, breathe deeply, spend time in nature…..

Choose from One Meal Plan

Most Cleansing Meal Plan – Kitcheree Only:  To maximize your cleanse and reap the most benefits, eat only kitcheree  This will be incredibly healing to your digestive track and extremely detoxifying. When you eat a mono diet, your body can focus the energy that normally goes towards digestion to cleansing and healing other systems.
Always eat your largest serving of kicharee mid-day when your digestion is the strongest.  For dinner, eat early and eat a small serving or sip some hot ginger or hibiscus tea. On this meal plan you can eat 4 meals per day to keep your blood sugar and energy stable.

Option 2: Kitcheree and Steamed Veggies If eating only kitcheree is uncomfortable, then add vegetables at lunch:  steamed vegetables or vegetable soup in a light, nonfat vegetable broth.

Option 3: Kitcheree, Fruit and Salad and Steamed Veggies If you are needing more than kitcheree and steamed vegetables, you can add cooked fruit in the morning with cooked cereal (such as steel cut oatmeal or cream of wheat or rice) and salad at lunch with a nonfat dressing. This plan is not as detoxifying as Option 1 and 2 above.  Salad is most appropriate in the warm days of summer and cooked greens in the colder seasons.

Recipes:

1. Kitcheree

Ingredients

  • 1TBSP sunflower/ olive oil or ghee
  • 1⁄4-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 1⁄4-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1⁄4-1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1⁄4 cup mung dahl ( you can also substitute whole mung beans)
  • 1⁄4 cup basmati rice, ( quinoa, barley, amaranth)
  • 1⁄4 tsp rock salt

Preparation

  1. In a saucepan, over a low flame, heat the oil and add the cumin, fennel and turmeric until the spices marry.
  2. Rinse the mung dahl and add to the spices and oil until coated.
  3. Add the water and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 10minutes.
  5. Add the grain to the mixture and continue to simmer for a further 15 minutes. You may need to add more water if the mixture thickens and the grain needs further cooking.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the coriander.
  7. You can eat this separately or steam some vegetables and add to the mixture. Good choices are Kale, leafy greens, green beans, zucchini, asparagus.
  8. Total cooking time is 20-25 minutes.

2. Ayurvedic Buttermilk or Takra

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup fresh cold yogurt (make your own fresh, when possible, for great results)
  • ¾ cup purified cold water (cold is important)
  • ¼ tsp. cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp. coriander leaf (also called cilantro)
  • 1 pinch of rock salt (sea salt is an acceptable substitute)

Preperation

  1. Place the freshly-made yogurt in the blender and blend for three to five minutes.
  2. Add the cold water, and blend again on low for three to five minutes.
  3. Collect and discard the fatty foam on top.
  4. Repeat blending and remove further fatty foam if yogurt still seems thick or solid white (should appear watery but cloudy in color when finished).
  5. Add the three spices/herbs and stir by hand briefly, just enough to mix the spices evenly.
  6. Serve at room temperature.

The Digestive herbs:

Ginger Root ( Fresh or powdered)

Ginger is known as the universal medicine benefiting everybody and all diseases, ( if you can say all in Ayurveda) especially Vata disorders . Ginger warms and stimulates the digestive system and the secretion of digestive enzymes. Here we use it in small amounts before each meal.

1/2 tsp dry ginger OR 1 tsp fresh ginger before each meal.

You can increase etc amounts if you need to……watch for any heat in the body! and reduce the amount. Caution with hot herbs if you have any hyperacidity, ulcers or colitis.

Triphala

Triphala is among the most common formulas used in Ayurvedic medicine. Its mentioned throughout the ancient literature of Ayurvedic medicine as a tonifying blood cleanser and gentle laxative, highly prized for its ability to regulate the processes of digestion and elimination. Triphala plays an essential role in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions.

It’s also removes the toxic wastes (Mala) of poor digestion that remain in the body, called Ama.

The routine use of Triphala each morning is thought to detoxify the body and restore the integrity of the entire digestive tract, with a perfect balance between its astringent (wound-healing), demulcent (soothing), digestive, and laxative properties.

Take 1/2 tsp ( 2-3 capsules) triphala powder each night mixed in a small amount of water. The goal is for you to have soft easy elimination in the morning. You may need to increase the dose, titrate slowly until you reach 1tsp and maintain


Meet your facilitator: Eleni Tsikrikas

Eleni discovered YOGA as a means for reducing stress in 1995 while practicing law in Sydney, Australia. Smitten, Eleni completed the Sydney Yoga Centre’s teacher training course. In 2000, Eleni quit the legal profession to teach Yoga full time. In 2004 Eleni moved to Los Angeles and began intensive study with Robert Birnberg a senior student in the T. Krichnamacharya lineage. The major focus of her studies is the “Yoga Sutras of Pantajali” the guidebook dedicated to creating a satvic mind.

Eleni is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, CAS, a Pancha Karma Specialist PKS. She runs a private ayurvedic practice and teaches “Ayurvedic Skills for Living” courses in Silverlake and Sydney. She is a faculty member of The Yoga Institute in Sydney and at California College of Ayurveda, where she teaches and mentors students. She continues to pursue her passion for herbs, studying with renowned herbalist KP Khalsa. Eleni has completed the educational component leading to qualifications as a Western Herbalist. She is presently working on the accreditation process for the American Herbalist Guild.

Eleni passionately believes food is medicine and is looking forward to sharing her passion at The Yoga Institute with a monthly Ayurveda Workshop.

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