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Australian Yoga Journal - May 2018

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more Freedom
& Happiness
& Yoga Medicine
ISSN 1837-2406
0 8
771837 240006
A$8.50 NZ$8.50 inc. gst
A Sequence
for Sobriety
Live. Know. Love.
Find your passion
Be inspired
Connect to wisdom
with local and international
guest teacher workshops,
training modules and
master classes
by Teacher Training with
through our integrated pathway
of 200hr, 350hr and 500hr
Yoga Australia and Yoga Alliance
registered courses
Nicole Walsh
Rod Galbraith
Welcome home to our community of experienced heartfelt teachers and inspired students.
Awaken your life at InYoga, an urban sanctuary in the heart of Sydney.
inyogalife | #alifeinyoga
May/June 2o18
#Metoo in the
Yoga Community
Well-known yogis share their
experiences of sexual misconduct.
Brilliant Bandhas
Understand how these energy
locks work to create bliss in the body
and mind.
Connect to
your Centre
Prenatal Perfection
The whys and hows of modifying
your practice during pregnancy.
Into the World
Take your practice off the mat by
exploring these yogic world wonders.
Sailing into
What eight years solo at sea can teach
you about awakening.
may/june 2018
Discover healing by tapping
into your Hara.
T he idea of hosting your fir st retreat can be both daunting and exhilarating. T he
fir st thing to consider is the venue. Hotel Komune Bali ticks all the boxes. Beautiful
sur roun ds, e p i c fo o d , 5 s ta r tra i ni ng f aci li t i e s and lu x u r y acco m m o d at i o n.
The comfort of your guests is crucial. Komune
features 66 impressive 4 star rooms as well as 1,2
and 3 bedroom villas plus 38, 5 star beach front
pool suites.
The Health Hub
Delicious, fresh and healthy food and world class
health and wellness facilities. This is the Health
Hub. A child free area where our award winning
chefs cater to your dietary requirements. Located
next to our 25m lap pool it’s the perfect place
to enjoy a cold pressed fresh juice after a
morning yoga session.
The Facilities
Our Health Hub facilities include 3 large yoga
shalas a fully equipped functional training gym,
sports ground, spin bikes, barre and pilates
equipment plus a full service spa for those
looking to relax and unwind with a massage or
some beauty therapy.
For more info head to:
or email us at
May/June 2o18
How a mother to be found comfort
in ‘I don’t know’.
Get to know one of the world’s
most popular yogis, and her
desire for simplicity.
Treat your favourite yoginis
with these gorgeous gifts for
Mother’s Day.
How a meditation on mortality
helped this writer to live
more fully.
Tiffany Cruickshank shares
her passion for east meets west
yoga medicine.
There’s much to learn from
Kathryn Budig entices meat eaters
with a vegan twist on the classic BLT.
How Yoga Therapy can help
you and your little ones as winter
to Ubhaya Padangusthasana
Understand your teres major
to protect your shoulders in
Yoga of 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR)
founder Nikki Myers shares a
sequence for sobriety.
Photography by Jasper Johal Photography
may/june 2018
I S S U E N O 67 . M AY / J U N E 2 01 8
Nude Yoga Girl
was one
of the most
issues ever,
opinions. The majority were
supportive and congratulatory;
some were critical, but
Sadly, some were downright
nasty towards our team and Nude
Yoga Girl herself, a young woman
who struggled with body issues
and used nude yoga and
photography to find self-acceptance
and consequently attracted a
sizable social media following.
Her struggle, her art, her
bravery and her practice should be
congratulated and celebrated, and
the potency of her underlying
message – “you are perfect the
way you are” -- should not be
diminished because of her nudity,
fame or her weight, or as one
harsh critic awkwardly described
her physique, “able-bodied”. She
is no less deserving of recognition
than our current cover yogi,
Tiffany Cruikshank, or the other 68
wonderful, perfect yogis who have
graced our covers over the last 10
years. The late Roma Blair famously
pioneered nude yoga over 40
years ago and attracted the ire of
P: 0499 019 289
the establishment and jeers from a
conservative population. While she
was undoubtedly criticised then,
today she is celebrated and revered
as a fearless pioneer and the
mother of yoga in Australia. Hypothetically, in 20 years will
the enormously popular “Robot
Yoga Teacher” be howled down
as wrong and “not yoga”?
Probably. Will we put a Robot
Yogi on the cover? Maybe.
And that’s the thing. Yoga, in
its essence, is formless, pure, and
timeless. But how it manifests in
a society depends upon the
society’s mores, cultural norms
and technological advancement.
With the advent of social media
the practice and teaching of yoga
is changing and it’s our bounden
duty as a journal to chronicle
that change. Like Rachel Brathen’s
(aka Yoga Girl) enormous
social media following (page 16),
NYG’s social popularity and
impact on yoga is an inerasable
part of the yoga landscape for the
time being, as is drunk yoga, dog
yoga, goat yoga and nude yoga
and as will be the scores of as-yet
not realised derivatives and
approaches we’ll see over the
coming years. So putting NYG on
the cover was not exploitation,
sexualisation or profiteering as was
varioulsy suggested by the critics.
It is the history of yoga, being writ
now. And everyone, all of us, is a
part of it.
Todd Cole
Jessica Humphries
Angela Reeves
Alison Cole 0411 623 425
Sam Valentine 0403 372 323
Loraine Rushton, Kelly Fielding,
Lorien Waldron, Chris Dixon
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Australian Yoga Journal is published and distributed
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license from Active Interest Media, 2520 55th Street, Suite
210, Boulder, Colorado 80301, United States of America.
Copyright © 2016 Active Interest Media. The trademark
YOGA JOURNAL is a registered trademark of Active Interest
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Bay publishing Inc. All Rights reserved, reprinted with
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not be reproduced in whole or part without the written
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sent to Australian Yoga Journal (whether solicited or not) is
assigned to Contact Media upon receipt. Articles express the
opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the
Publisher, Editor or Contact Media Pty Limited. Distributed
by Gordon & Gotch. ISSN 1837 2406.
CHAIRMAN & CEO Efram Zimbalist III
PRESIDENT & COO Andrew W. Clurman
Both the paper manufacturer and our printer meet the international standard ISO 14001
for environmental management. The paper comes from sources certified under the
Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme (PEFC). Please recycle this
magazine – or give it to a friend.
may/june 2018
Contact Media PTY LIMITED
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Eric Baum
The exercise instructions and advice in this magazine
are designed for people who are in good health and
physically fit. They are not intended to substitute for
medical counselling. The creators, producers, participants
and distributors of Australian Yoga Journal disclaim any
liability for loss or injury in connection with the exercises
shown or instruction and advice expressed herein.
Switch to island time with our expert Bodymindlife teachers in Bali. Come, relax, immerse yourself
in our 1 week retreat or build the perfect foundations and dive deeper into your yoga practice
on our 3 week 200 yoga teacher training in a stunning location.
1 W E E K R E T R E AT
2 1 J U LY - 1 0 A U G U S T AT K O M U N E R E S O R T
1 1 - 1 8 A U G U S T AT U L U W AT U S U R F V I L L A S
with Kat Clayton & Noelle Connolly
with Noelle Connolly & Christian Ralston
This immersive teacher training includes
a daily Vinyasa practice and a comprehensive
program that will give you all the tools you
need to develop a safe, intelligent yoga and
meditation practice, and the confidence
to lead students of all levels. Accredited by
Yoga Alliance and Yoga Australia.
The retreat will be defined by two long,
juicy daily yoga practices with epic
soundtracks, and plenty of time to swim,
surf, relax and explore. A mantra for the trip?
FUN! Our idea of heaven on earth is to get
away from daily life – dance, laugh, explore,
connect, but also have really good yoga!
B O DY M I N D L I F E . C O M / B A L I - 2 0 0
B O D Y M I N D L I F E . C O M / B A L I - R E T R E AT
What’s On A PRIL
Australia’s first Prana Vinyasa
300 hour teacher training
New Zealand
Spirit Festival
Byron Bay + Bali
Weekend modules held throughout the year
Auckland April 27-28
If you love Byron Spirit
Fest and Bali Spirit Fest, then you’ll be
delighted to hear about their sister event in
New Zealand. Expect both local and
international talent – from yoga teachers to
musicians offering classes and workshops,
traditional rituals and ceremonies, music,
dance, food and art.
Each module of this Prana Vinyasa training celebrates the
power of the earth, focusing on a particular element,
which inspires the flowing sequences. Modules can be
attended separately or used together towards a 300 hour
certification. A beautiful, feminine practice created by
Shiva Rea and shared by one of her longest, most
dedicated students and co-facilitators Delamay Devi.
Clive Sheridan workshops
Brisbane and Byron Bay April & May
The always charismatic Clive Sheridan is an
inspiration to so many yogis. He doesn’t
need a social media following (or even an
online presence) to attract sell-out crowds at
every workshop. Not to be missed for yogis
who are serious about their practice and
living yoga on and off the mat.
Byron Bay -
Brisbane -
Partner yoga and
massage workshop
Illawarra (Bulli) May 5
The heart brain
connection retreat
Upper Brookfield 26-27 May
Celia Roberts and Leanne Davis have
created a weekend retreat that
explores the heart-brain connection.
Bringing together the science of the
heart with interpersonal neurobiology,
the retreat promises to leave guests
feeling a little wiser with hearts wide
Tiffany Cruickshank in
Australia Sydney July 19-22
Our cover model and well known
yoga expert (with a strong focus on
anatomy and physiology) is offering
just one workshop in Australia
during her visit. The 4 day Myofascial
Release Immersion at Surry Hills’
BodyMindLife will look at myofascial
release techniques and their
application within the yoga setting.
Sadhana Yoga Immersion
Ubud, Bali June 8-21
This 200-hour program with Pilates & Yoga Styles
founder Linda Newman is a complete immersion
into yogic lifestyle. Sadhana Yoga works with three
essential practices (asana, pranayama and
meditation) with roots based on a system of
classical yoga inspired by Sri Dharma Mittra.
Bliss Baby Moving with the Womb
Byron Bay June 9
Ana Davis is offering four special women’s
workshops in her home town of beautiful Byron.
Workshops can be attended individually or
indulged in as a whole day retreat. These are Ana’s
only in-person offerings for 2018, so not to be
missed by yogis with a special interest in women’s
health. Topics covered include Moving with the
Moon, Yoga for Healthy Menstruation, Yoga for
Pregnancy and Restorative Yoga.
World Yoga Day Festivities +
Yoga Day Festival Brisbane Events around Australia
June 21 + Brisbane June 18
Yogis around Australia and beyond will gather
together to celebrate all things yoga on World
Yoga Day. Find special events in Australia’s
major cities at and
check out Brisbane’s own Yoga Day Festival at
Got an event on? Send your event details to along with a high-resolution image.
Partners, yoga teachers and
body-based therapists Sarah Ball
and Nandi Hollo will facilitate this
lighthearted workshop for couples
to cultivate connection and intimacy
through (fully-clothed) massage,
presence, playfulness and relaxation.
Byron Bay
Shop 3B, 1 Byron St
02 6685 7595
Jalan Raya Basangkasa
No 1200B, Seminyak
+62 361 730 498
Jalan Raya Pantai Batu Bolong
No 69, Canggu
+62 877 61499345
the latest
Women's Wellbeing
Practical, Ethical Periods
You’ve likely heard of the menstrual cup.
These period products pride themselves on
their reusability and lack of toxicity, and hence
friendliness towards the environment (both
inside and out). Yogis have been on the
bandwagon for a while, and aside from the
occasional feminine faux pas, they’ve received
rave reviews. After the menstrual cup,
re-useable pads and liners had their moment in
the spotlight, but we women soon grew tired
of filling our clotheslines with awkwardly
shaped materials that didn’t leave much to the
imagination. And so we were understandably
intrigued when whispers of period panties began
to surface. Yes, you read right. The latest craze in
feminine fashion is here to stay - seriously. The
subtle (and sometimes sexy) underwear is made
using special Modifier Technology, meaning you
stay dry, fresh and bulk free. It’s hard to believe
that these understated unmentionables can hold
up to 20ml/2 tampons whilst remaining dry and
cozy. Their comfort is credited to high quality
natural fibre blends. They can be popped in the
wash and onto the clothesline (and your
neighbours will be none the wiser). Check them
out at and purchase your
pair from $26.
Stretch & Glow is an online prenatal yoga space
for busy mums to enjoy in the comfort of their own
home. Founder Deb Young has been teaching
prenatal yoga for 11 years, has an honours degree
in health education, is a mother and doula, and is
also the co-founder of Wollongong’s Younga Yoga.
Stretch & Glow offers a free 5-day prenatal program
consisting of guided practices, as well as tips and
advice to complement these practices. You can
also find simple guided sessions on the home page,
and as the site continues to evolve, we look
forward to seeing more sweet offerings.
may/june 2018
Online yoga studio
for Mums to be
and yoga
With one in 10 women
suffering from
endometriosis there’s a
growing demand for
natural pain relief for the
condition. Women’s Health
Physio and endometriosis
sufferer Heba Shaheed
suggests a number of
healthy tips for naturally
managing pain associated with the condition, some of which will delight
yogis. She suggests starting the day with sun salutations to stretch the hips
and abdomen, practicing pranayama to relax the nervous system and
reduce pain, and eating a plant based diet, which is known for its
anti-inflammatory properties. See for more
information, including yoga-inspired exercise programs for endometriosis
sufferers and additional information on hormonal health, pregnancy,
menstruation and more.
Introducing Club W – the latest in
fitness and lifestyle innovation
Fitness industry leader Tony de Leede has launched an exciting new fitness
centre in southern Sydney’s Caringbah. The special centre for women only
has been specifically designed for women who crave community and
connection whilst immersing themselves in wellness, conveniently. But
wait for it – the studios are virtual, serving up group exercise classes
including yoga, pilates, dance, meditation and more. The facility offers
over 200 classes, with content delivered in five, 10, 20 and 30 minutes
across the club’s four studio rooms. There’s also a massage room and
consultation pods for some good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction.
The staff aren’t robots just yet, and with a big focus on connection, there
are hosts on site to point guests in the right direction. Leede says,
“I wanted to create somewhere I could imagine my mum or my
sister coming to get out of the house – a place that offers not
only movement, but also community.”
the latest
we dream of
Byron Yoga Centre introduce special
women’s retreats
may/june 2018
Byron Bay’s famous Byron Yoga Centre has added a new
gem to their abundant retreats calendar. The deeply
nurturing women’s health and yoga retreats led by Tabata
Ogilvie are an exploration into the cycles and rhythms of
the sacred feminine, enjoyed in the idyllic surrounds of
beautiful Byron. During these restful retreats, participants will
learn ways to modify their yoga practice for different times of
the month and throughout life stages, as well as enjoying
special rituals created with the intention to connect and nourish
through yoga, food and nurturing company. If spoiling mum is
on the cards this Mother’s Day, or you’re looking for that
much deserved treat, you can explore their Specialty Retreats
dates at
Northern Italy romance
Picture an Italian monastery, inspired by medieval villages,
perched atop a hill that overlooks a tranquil lake. Now imagine
that this dream-like village offers an enticing retreat calendar of
yoga, meditation, silence, self-enquiry and more. And if you
thought it couldn’t get any better, this awe-inspiring retreat follows
the principles of the Mandali Foundation—a non-profit organisation driven
by the vision of giving back and allowing people to connect through spiritual
teachings. So if you happen to find yourself in Northern Italy some time
soon, be sure to include a stopover in this majestic space that we’re visiting in
our dreams.
Power Living’s
yin yoga urban retreat
Love that blissed out feeling after yin
yoga? Dive deeper into this powerful
practice with Power Living’s 3-day yin
yoga immersions – coming up in
Fitzroy (18-20 May) and Bondi (1-3
June). Perfect for curious students and
yoga teachers alike, enter the gateway
to Traditional Chinese Medicine
through juicy holds plus theory and
discussion. Facilitator Truth Robinson
says, “There is so much more to our
bodies than just muscle and bone.
With yin yoga we are able to create
change in the subtle body – creating
balance and space through our
fascia, emotions and overall health.”
Plus there’s 30hrs Certification
available for yoga teachers. See
Study looks at
relationship between
yoga and body
A recent US study explored the
potential for yoga to promote body
satisfaction in a general population of
young, mostly female, adults. The study
of 1664 participants found that yoga
practitioners had higher concurrent body
satisfaction than the non-practitioners, even for
those with prior low body satisfaction. The study
concluded that practicing yoga may have positive impacts for body satisfaction,
particularly for students who had previously reported low body satisfaction, and
called for further studies in this area to be conducted. To read the full study,
head to and search ‘Yoga and body image’.
the latest
The practice of freediving is becoming more and
more affiliated with the practice of yoga, as yogic
breathing (pranayama) helps to prepare the body
(and lungs) for long breath holds and extended
periods of time under water. As yoga invites a deeper
understanding of the connection between our self
and the world around us, we yogis tend to be drawn
to the natural wonders of the world. So many yoga
retreats are now taking advantage of this, offering
everything from surf and yoga retreats,
to hiking yoga adventures. If the idea of exploring
the underwater world alongside your yoga is
enticing, then you’ll fall in love with the
Ocean Soul Yoga’s Freediving Holiday in
Indonesia’s Komodo National park this June.
The retreat invites guests to use the techniques and
philosophies of yoga to discover the magic of
freediving, and promises relief from a busy
mind and a deeper connection to the self.
may/june 2018
Tired of strict juice cleanses that require you
to starve yourself to reset and renew?
Sydney based cold-pressed juice company Prodjuice
has just launched the Reset Program: A wholesome,
nourishing program that takes cleansing to the next level.
The best part? You get to enjoy solids too! The program
has been created in collaboration with nutritionist
Jacqueline Alwill, who has also developed a recipe book
(included in the cleanse) to complement the program and
give participants the tools to continue healthy eating
once complete. The pack includes cold-pressed juices,
broths and healing tonics, all nicely packaged and
delivered to your door (with more and more postcodes
being added). Prodjuice founder Anne Durham explains
that combining healthy wholefoods with a juice cleanse
“is a great way to gently detox the body and set new
habits for the future.” So you’ll be less likely to reach for
those deep fried goodies once your cleanse is complete.
See for more information and to
sign up for your 3 or 5 day program.
New Aussie Probiotics
Good gut bacteria strengthen and maintain our immune
system. Research shows that probiotics help control
inflammation in our body that can be linked to serious
illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart conditions
and some cancers. Australian company Henry Blooms
has released an array of very tasty probiotics that
contain 6 strains of probiotics including the allimportant Lactobacillus acidophilus. Their 5-stage
probiotic/fermentation procedure offers beneficial
enzymes, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids plus
approximately 6 billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs) of
good bacteria in each 15 ml serve. Available in six
variations, including Bio-Fermented Lychee Iced Tea
with Green Tea and the very tasty Bio-Fermented
Papaya with Pomegranate. On sale at pharmacies,
health food shops for around $30 a bottle.
the latest
Media we love special Women's edition
women we understand how
imbalance in our hormones
n throw us off completely.
linda Kirkpatrick is an expert
aturopath and nutritionist who
pecialises in hormonal health,
ertility management and
miscarriage prevention, and
she’s here to save the day.
Her latest book, Healthy
Hormones, encourages a
deeper understanding of
women’s hormones
throughout their lives, while
y p
licious recipes to keep
hormones healthy naturally. Readers will be sure to feel empowered and
inspired by the gems of wisdom offered in a simple, beautiful format.
Available at for $35.
Lola Berry’s
Beauty Food
This little beauty is filled with
natural remedies and nurturing
recipes to nourish your body for
glowing skin, sparkling eyes,
lustrous hair and healthy nails.
Nutritionist, yoga teacher and
popular personality Lola Berry
believes that we really are what w
eat, and encourages readers to
drop the cosmetics and beauty
products and shine from the insid
out. There’s a ‘yoga for beauty’
sequence, delicious recipes and D
home treatments to leave you fee
indulged and revitalised. $24.99
The gift of
How to find more freedom
by embracing uncertainty.
THE MOMENT I WAKE UP, I pad down the
stairs and stand in the nursery. Light
floods in through the window over the cot.
I glance at the Ganesha statues and
elephants I’ve nestled in every possible
corner in hopes of removing some of the
unseen obstacles that no doubt lay before us.
I will become a mum in the coming
weeks. Like most new mothers, I’m
nesting and excited and scared. Though
unlike most new mums, this baby is not
with me now. I haven’t had headphones
on my growing belly, sending early good
vibes from Van Morrison. I haven’t felt
any kicks. I haven’t seen any sure signs
of there you are.
That’s because my husband, Matt,
and I will be brand-new foster parents,
and we’re currently waiting for the call.
Every time the phone rings, my hand
goes instinctively to my heart. This
could be it. While all new parents have
no idea who they will meet until their
little being arrives, we are preparing to
foster children who’ll come into our
home for a week, a few months, a year,
and hopefully even longer, eventually
adopting a child—or children—
who will become part of our family.
And now, after holding more
anticipation than I could’ve ever
imagined, all we can do is wait.
Matt and I started the journey to
becoming parents last year. When we
didn’t conceive, we saw a fertility
specialist who recommended
intrauterine insemination (IUI) and
in vitro fertilisation (IVF). That
appointment was immediately followed
by another with a financial advisor,
who threw a lot of (big) numbers at us.
Because so much was still unknown—
we hadn’t spent that much time trying to
may/june 2018
By Mary Beth LaRue
conceive, and I hadn’t seen any of
the alternative practitioners my
friends had recommended—the
paths being presented to us didn’t
feel quite right.
So we left, got an ice cream cone,
and tabled the baby conversation.
A few days later, Matt and I
were on a walk when I asked him,
“What do you think about
He looked at me with big eyes
and said, “I think it’s beautiful.”
“Yeah, me too,” I replied with
a big smile. “Really beautiful.”
Fast forward a few weeks and
we’d sought the advice of a
student of mine, named Taylor,
who is a foster-adoption lawyer.
She’d been coming to my classes
for years, always setting up her
mat front and centre. Life is like
that, not letting you miss the
important people who will
change everything. After talking
to Taylor, Matt and I met with a
foster-adoption agency and made
the big, scary, beautiful decision
to become foster parents. With
more than 34,000 children
receiving services in Los Angeles,
where we live, we thought surely a
few of these kiddos were looking
for us as much as we were looking
for them.
In addition to the unknowns
all parents face, we’re staring
down a few more. We’re not sure
how old our baby will be, and we
won’t know the gender, race, or
even what kind of prenatal care
this baby’s birth mama received.
We may foster a baby who is
ultimately reunited with his or
her birth parents; we hope to
foster a child who we’ll ultimately
adopt. We will ask questions and
get some answers, and amid all of
the uncertainty, what we know
for sure is that this will be an
education in trust. Trust that no
matter what happens, we will be
united with this child who we
thought my body would carry
and who our hearts have always
wanted to hold.
Back in the nursery that
morning, as I looked into the
crib and wondered about the baby
who’d soon lie in it, I silently
repeated my new mantra—
I don’t know—a phrase that’s
offered me more hope and
comfort than I’d ever imagined it
When we met with a social
worker to talk about the foster
system, she warned us, “You’ll
fall in love, and you might get
hurt.” Scary, to be sure, but isn’t
this true of so many things in
life? After all, so much of what’s
worth doing is a messy path for
the heart.
I’ve spent most of my life
bracing myself for the impacts
of those messes. These days, I’m
choosing to dance with
Becoming a foster parent feels
a bit like a free fall, and of course
one part of me wants to engage
with the countless worries and
what-ifs. Yet more of me is
tapping some well of wisdom I
didn’t even know I had, and one
day at a time—even one hour at
a time—I’m simply putting one
foot in front of the other, trying
to make the next right choice.
And with my eyes and heart
wide open, I’m revelling in the
I don’t know.
Mary Beth LaRue is
a yoga teacher in
Los Angeles and the
cofounder of Rock
Your Bliss. Learn more—
and read abouther foster adoption
journey at
“We’re not sure how
old our baby will
be, and we won’t
know the gender or race...”
Discover the luxury of our decadent
coconut wax blend candles,
crystal reiki and essential oil
infused body and room sprays.
Email -
Yoga’s sweetheart talks about motherhood,
#metoo, and the future of yoga
(and it’s not online or on social media).
I spend a lot of time every day just laughing and smiling
with my baby girl. There’s something so beautifully
intelligent about feeling your feelings in the moment, the
way babies do. There’s no filter or faking it. When she’s sad,
she cries; when she’s happy she laughs. I think we would all
feel a lot better if we allowed ourselves to feel things when
they surface.
I want Island Yoga, our retreat and teacher training
business, to remain a very different type of yoga experience.
The work we do is more related to personal development
than asana. Our method involves a lot of sharing— in
groups and one on one. Our trainings help people feel
whole. If we don’t feel whole, we’re always going to
feel like we’re not enough. But if you can be a whole
person, you’re going to be a good yoga teacher.
For me, yoga is now about connecting people so they
can create community. That’s really hard to do online and
through social media. I kind of hope everything spins back
around and drops off the Internet—that people loop back
into the practice of student-teacher relationships and being
in a room with other people. Social media still has a place—
for example the #metoo movement. I just wish more
teachers, especially younger teachers in the online space,
would think of social media as a way to help the world,
instead of just as a way to become a big name. There is so
much work to be done.
may/june 2018
In 2014, I decided I wanted to do something good with
the influence I had as @yoga_girl. I was sick of posting yoga
photos on Instagram. And I started feeling uninspired by the
yoga community that grew out of social media, even though
I was part of that growth. A lot of people in my life passed
away that year, so I started writing about my painful journey.
My entire Instagram following changed. I used to get
questions about yoga poses or pants, but then people started
asking for serious help—with depression and loss, eating
disorders, even suicide. I’m not a therapist, so my staff and
I began looking for people we could connect readers to.
I realised I needed to go way deeper if I was going to actually
be of service. That’s when we started (online
education), which spurred 109 World (a seva organisation),
our animal rescue, and eventually Island Yoga in Aruba.
Indulgent Ideas for
Amazing Mumas
Is there a yogini in your life who
deserves spoiling this Mother’s Day?
We’ve got the perfect gift guide
for conscious mothers
and yoga lovers…
Lumity Face Oil
Containing 32 nutrient rich plant
oils and extracts, this indulgent, delicious
smelling oil is the perfect edition to any
Goddess’s self care cabinet. $106. Mandala Living
Meditation Cushion
Akasha Weekender
These beautiful weekend bags
have everything you need –
including a strap to attach
your yoga mat! Does it get any
better than that? Made with
pre-loved textiles from
Guatemala. $289.
may/june 2018
Wanderess Beauty Box
Like the sound of a monthly beauty box delivered
to your door step? Wanderess has options
aplenty for conscious yogis who love their beauty
products. Each month they send six to seven
eco-friendly products with a theme, so you
can compare and select (then order in full
size if you so desire). The aim is for all products
to be effective and cruelty free, encouraging
consumers to go organic. $59.95 per box/month. Prinka Organic Bed Sheets
Certified organic, fair trade cotton, 375 thread count, buttery
soft luxury! Plus, Prinka donates a portion of profits to charities
world wide. Guilt free indulgence for mums who love slipping
into dreamy bed linen at the end of the day. $150 for double
(with other sizes available) PHOTO: SINNA-NYAN/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
Mandala Living boasts an
abundance of lovely yoga related
products, but we’re fans of this
dreamy mega roudie cushion –
a huge meditation cushion/
beanbag that makes a funky
and stylish edition to your
home shala. From $275.
Organic Cotton
Chambray Yoga Blanket
These cosy blankets lovingly deliver just
the right amount of weight, softness and
support. Mum will feel at one with nature as
she envelops herself in the delicious, organic
sensations of the divine natural fibres in her
yoga and meditation practice. $49
Devi Jewellery
Yogi Mums will be sure to feel
extra special with wrists adorned
with these beautiful gems
and deities. From $60.
Moeloco Designs
Yogis are lining up for these quirky thongs that
leave positive messages in the sand. And for
every pair purchased, Moeloco gifts a pair of
shoes to a child in poverty. Double tick! $40. Motherhood Essential
Oil Blend
A nurturing and comforting
blend of the gentlest and
safest oils selected for
new mothers. Ideal for
use in aromatherapy,
oil burners and diffusers,
or blended with carrier
oil for massage. Australian
made and owned.
PROlite yoga mats
These zero-waste,
sustainable and popular
mats come with a lifetime
warranty and are available
in vibrant colours that
change every season.
Travel friendly and perfect
for busy yoga mums who
like to take their practice
with them. From $105.60
Divine Goddess Mamas Bundle
Divine Goddess are thrilled to share with our
readers their first Mamas Bundle. Products
included in this bundle are the Mamas Sulha,
Goddess Sulha, Rosy Sulha, Faith Eye Pillow and
Orange TPE Yoga Mat. All wrapped up with the
sweetest discount for our beloved Mamas this
Mother’s Day. Shop online for this bundle and
more at
Organic Linen Luxury Robe
This divine robe by Elkie & Ark
has been made with mum in mind.
It softens beautifully, is good for
the planet, and is perfect for a lazy
Sunday lie in (we can dream, right?).
may/june 2018
Tap into the law of attraction with these gorgeous
affirmation abundance cards. Perfect for mums
who want to create a positive money mindset
and develop more wealth in their world. $39.95
Abundance Cards
FROM TIME TO TIME, nearly all of us
are prompted to reassess our priorities.
The trigger is usually an event or an
interaction that leads to an epiphany.
In that moment, we see the essence
of who we really are. This can spark
spontaneous and sudden growth at
a deep level, altering the course of
our lives.
One of the events that helped jolt
me awake happened in India, almost
15 years ago.
My travelling companion and I had
arrived by train at the teeming city of
Varanasi—a pilgrimage destination
for Hindus of all denominations who
believe that bathing in the water of
the sacred Ganges River remits sins,
and that dying in Varanasi ensures the
release of a person’s soul from the
cycle of death and rebirth. Many
Hindus travel to this holy city to die
and be cremated on the series of steps
leading down to the river, called ghats,
and to have their remains scattered in
the water.
On our first sojourn down the ghats,
we found ourselves near billowing
smoke. We were taken aback at the sight
of seven bodies wrapped in muslin cloth,
set ablaze. The families in mourning sat
only a few feet from the flames.
My friend and I looked for just a
moment, and then thought we should
move away. We felt like we were
intruders disturbing something very
personal. But as we turned to leave,
one of the attendants in charge of the
burning approached us and asked us
to stay. He ignored our objections and
discomfort. Instead, he led us through
the crowd and gestured for us to sit on
the steps about 40 feet from the corpses.
He left us to observe the sacred event
after pointedly delivering the phrase
“cremation is education”—an axiom
I instantly memorised.
We both sat in silent contemplation
as the afternoon sun glared through the
thick smoke. I watched the attendants
stoke the fire with long poles and even
break off charred limbs from the bodies.
As the muslin cloth burned away, I saw
the feet and hands of the bodies turn
black, and I felt moved by the weeping
of the grieving families nearby.
I decided to use this extraordinary
opportunity to engage in a form of active
meditation I had read about many years
earlier—a practice common in Tibetan
Buddhism, Hindu asceticism, and
Sufism aimed at helping one realise the
impermanence of the body. The
concept dictates that when a person truly
understands how short mortal life is,
he or she is launched into a deeper state of
reality, able to live a profoundly richer life.
The practice was simple: imagine
that the corpses were the bodies of the
people you love the most. In other
words, make it as personal as possible.
After focusing my imagination for
a while, the vision became very real.
With open eyes brimming with tears,
I imagined seven of the most beloved
people in my life engulfed in flames. It
was profoundly moving, and I found
myself grieving deeply.
may/june 2018
A meditation on impermanence showed teacher
Max Strom how to make the most of his life.
The imperative to accomplish
this is as follows: do a daily practice
of breath-centric movement, such as
asana, and emphasise breathwork.
Breathing patterns affect us
emotionally and can heal us very
quickly. Without focusing on the breath
in asana, we may become physically
flexible and strong—yet remain
stagnant in our internal world.
And most importantly, no matter how
young or old you are, live as if your
time and your lifespan are the same.
After all, we only have a few seconds
here on this earth.
The knowledge we need to transform
ourselves and our world is available.
And whether you feel ready or not,
the time is now. So live! Look at your
life. What things do you remember?
Wonderful meals—or television
shows? Long chats with loved ones—
or endless social media and texts?
When we begin to study ourselves,
we can step more fully into our
imperfect, impermanent lives.
me, and that something told me I had
better get busy. As rich and meaningful
as my life was, I knew it could be more
so. I knew that I was being tempted
by what I call the complacency of
achievement. It is a well-known trap:
when you achieve much of what you
want, you can be tempted to stay where
you are—and cease to grow. I realised I
had been holding myself back from life
due to both fear of failure and fear of
success. I needed to learn to become
truly vulnerable; I needed to take off the
armour I’d been wearing so that I could
fully complete my life’s purpose.
Emotional transformation like this
shapes our understanding of the world,
often giving us sudden insight into the
essential meaning of life, which can
cause powerful changes. Yet you don’t
necessarily have to wait for life to
present you with an extreme situation or
circumstance to accelerate your growth.
Instead, you can decide to take intentional
actions that accelerate your evolution,
so that you become wiser—faster.
may/june 2018
The next step was to imagine that
one of the corpses was my own body.
I selected one of the burning bodies
closest to me, and in my mind I
converted its identity to that of my own.
Then I watched the flames envelop and
consume it. Just as this happened, a
gust of wind whipped toward us,
blowing smoke and ash our way. As I
imagined my own body burning, the
ashes from the pyre blew into my eyes,
covering my face and hair, as if
punctuating reality. I don’t know how
long we sat there—perhaps two
hours—but I do know that on our
walk back up the ghats, in the light of
the sunset, covered in the ash of the
dead, I knew that I was going to make
some changes in my life.
My mortal life was running out.
It struck me that even if I were to live
another hundred years, my body would
one day be ash on someone else’s face.
In that moment, I realised that there
was more to do. I was being held
accountable by something deep within
Meets West
Tiffany Cruikshank in her own
words on how she started her
yoga journey, her life, loves and
Tiffany Cruikshank is an author,
passionate educator and internationally
acclaimed yoga teacher for her unique
ability to fuse the two worlds of Eastern
and Western medicine together and
apply it to the practice of yoga.
The early years of my practice were
wonderful. It was a time in yoga when
there wasn’t a lot of information or
marketing; I just practiced because I felt
better. There weren’t any studios where
I lived. As an athlete, I loved the
physicality of the practice but there was
always something more that kept me
coming back. In my late teens and 20’s, I
became more immersed in Ashtanga
and became intrigued with the physical
poses, testing the limits of my body. I
love handstands and arm balances.
When I started seeing patients at 24, I
would wake up at 4 a.m. and do 3rd
series before leading a Mysore class and
then go off to see patients all day. I loved
the challenge the practice brought; it
really inspired me and gave me a clear
way to direct my energy. I think I was
about 30 when my body finally said, “no
more”. I herniated a disc and was
forced to take a good look at my
practice. My specialty with patients has
always been sports medicine and
orthopedics and I was forced to start
incorporating what I use with patients
into my own life. I think I truly believed
at some point that yoga made me
invincible, that if I did 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
series that it would cure all my ailments.
I had just finished 4th series when I hurt
may/june 2018
Can you tell us about the evolution
of your own practice and the yoga
industry since the beginning of your
my back and it’s funny to think
that there was a sense of relief
that I had accomplished my goal.
The reality is that it wasn’t the
practice, it was my approach and
if it weren’t yoga it would have
been something else. At least the
yoga gave me the awareness I
needed to eventually heal my
Over the past decade my
practice evolved the most. From
handstands and arm balances,
feeling like I needed to teach that
because that’s what people
wanted, to just teaching what I
really believed in and finally to
what is now Yoga Medicine. In my
own practice and in my teaching,
I love to investigate and explore
the relationship between so many
things like my mind and body,
neuroscience and meridians,
anatomy and a spiritual practice,
non-judgmental awareness and
working with pain and, of course,
the power of the mind. I love to
investigate what drives our
deepest desires and needs and
how that shows up in the world.
Chinese Medicine has taught
me the value of introspection and
slowing down on my health. I love
to investigate what happens when
I shift from a place of lack (I have
to do more, I have be more, I must
do more chaturangas to keep my
arms strong…) to a place of
abundance (What do I need today?
How can I nourish/heal myself?).
In everybody there is clearly a
place for movement and a time for
stillness but it requires that we
empty ourselves of preconceived
judgements to be able to clearly
see what it is we truly need in that
moment. I never would have
guessed yoga would become so
mainstream, but I love it. As a
yoga teacher, my mission has
always been to help as many
people as I can.
How did your these studies
culminate in the creation of
your business, Yoga Medicine?
I taught all through university and
post-grad work, so when I started
seeing patients, many of my
patients were also yoga students.
I found my yoga students to be
really proactive in their health.
In fact, I still find at medical
seminars patient compliance is
always a huge topic that I rarely
deal with in the yoga world. I
think this is one of many of the
“side effects” of yoga: the yoga
lifestyle it often initiates. Yogis
are more in touch with what
their body needs and more
proactive to begin care earlier
on when needed.
As I continued seeing patients,
I found my patients who did yoga
responded to treatments more
quickly. So, I started giving what
I called “yoga prescriptions” to
my patients who didn’t do yoga
(just 1 or 2 poses or breathing
exercises they could easily do at
home). It was so effective that,
over time, I started to weave it
into the teacher trainings I was
leading, which eventually evolved
to become Yoga Medicine.
The guiding philosophy
behind Yoga Medicine is to be a
guide to our students and help
them investigate the path to
healing that is unique for them.
We do this by training our
teachers to understand both
western methodologies (anatomy,
physiology, kinesiology,
pathology) more deeply as well
as yoga specific applications to be
an adjunct to their medical care.
Our teachers are trained to work
with medical providers: not to
replace their medical care, but
to support our overburdened
medical systems. As a healthcare
practitioner, I saw firsthand the
desire for providers to refer their
patients to yoga. However, the
diversity of care and training of
teachers made it almost
impossible. Yoga Medicine is a
transparent training program
that allows doctors to see exactly
what our teachers have trained in
so they can make the appropriate
referrals. We have over 7000
teachers now around the world,
so we have a pretty wide network
of which to choose from.
Yoga Medicine isn’t a style
of yoga, but rather a deeper
training in western and eastern
concepts so that we can use both
the experience from hundreds of
30th July - 25th August 2018
This training will
leave you feeling
confident in your own
practice and ready to teach.
We believe that the best
teachers embody yoga in
their day to day life; therefore,
this course is designed to help
you dive deep into all facets of
yoga so that the teachings
become a part of your life.
The course framework and
length allows you to ingest and
digest the full yogic experience.
• Technique & Yoga Practice
• Teaching Methodology
• Anatomy & Physiology
• Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle
and Ethics for Yoga Teachers
• Nutritional Awareness
• Practice Teaching & Assisting
This is an immersive training.
The course will run from Monday through
Friday 5.45am – 4pm (times will vary for days)
Location: Soul Centre Studio, The Brickworks,
3 Brolga Ave, Southport QLD 4215
Early Bird: $3500 (until May 30th)
Full Fee: $3900
An AUD$500 deposit is due upon application
to the teacher training.
Please email
or call 0409443034 for more details
“Because ultimately, as yoga teachers, our job is to be of
service. Focus on being of service and the rest will come.”
years of yoga practices passed down to
us as well as the best of science and
research to help inform our choices and
In what ways do you feel that yoga
has helped to shape the person you
have become?
People often think of yoga as a physical
practice but to me yoga is a quality, a
way of being, an awareness of myself
and the world around me. I used to
think that when people said they
practice yoga all the time was their way
of compensating for the fact that they
were lazy or didn’t make time for the
“real” physical practices. As I go
through the stages of my life with my
yoga practice in hand, I see how
many ways it shows up in my life.
I’m not referring to a monastic life, I
still make plenty of mistakes and
enjoy the pleasures of life, but the
simple ways that yoga has infiltrated
my life.
may/june 2018
How important do you think it is
for yoga teachers to have an
understanding of anatomy?
Well I’ll start by saying that in my
opinion its very helpful but I don’t
think it’s everything. I train my
teachers in anatomy so they can start
to think for themselves. I find yoga
to often be a cookie cutter sort of
approach and the human body just
isn’t that simple. I want our teachers to
be able to work with all sorts of issues
and be more effective with this
understanding. With that said, the more
I study, the more I come back to the
simple stuff. The simple things we’ve
done in yoga for so many years are often
the most powerful. But everyone is so
unique. Our DNA, life experience,
anatomical differences, stress responses,
much less all the slow but constantly
changing parts of our bodies like our
epigenetics, connective tissue, muscular
responses, nervous system responses
and our mind.
Don’t get me started on the brain.
There’s so much new information in
science right now but there’s also so
much we just don’t know. Especially
when it comes to things like pain, the
brain, the nervous system and genetics/
epigenetics. The beauty of yoga is that
we don’t need all the answers.
The information paints a backdrop
to the person we’re working with
but ultimately their experience in this
moment supersedes it all. My advice on
enhancing your knowledge: remember
that it’s a lifelong process and if you love
it, just keep studying.
How do you balance the marketing
your yoga business, and the
philosophies of the practice?
I’m no marketing expert, I’ve always felt
strongly that I wanted our marketing to
embody what is truly meaningful to me
and not just what will get people’s
some tea or coffee in the mornings.
I love that time together!
What sorts of practices and rituals
do you integrate into your own life
for balance? As women, we are asked to be so many
things to so many different people
and we often put a lot of pressure on
ourselves to live up to some ideal we
have in our minds. If you’re anything
like me, you’re your our own worst
critic. One of my most powerful rituals
lately has been learning to do less,
examining what I really need and want
in life, taking the expectations and
judgements of others out of the equation
and, even though I rarely have a spare
minute in my day, I try to find the
beauty in the fullness of my life.
The Story of the Human Body
Anatomy of an Illness
The Secret Life of the Brain
The Brain that Changes Itself
Painful Yarns
The Brain’s Way of Healing
Buddha’s Brain
Half the Sky
The Spark in the Machine
The Second Brain
7 Secrets of World Class Athletes
The Web that has no Weaver
Between Heaven & Earth
The Sensitive Nervous System
When Breath Becomes Air
attention. Slow and steady. Yoga
Medicine is about bringing yoga into
the healthcare systems and providing
classes/teachers for people who want
to feel better, live better and really
appreciate their life. The key in
yoga business is finding what you’re
passionate about and what you’re good
at and seeing where it intersects with
the needs in your community. Because
ultimately, as yoga teachers, our job is to
be of service. Focus on being of service
and the rest will come.
When you’re not on the mat,
where might we find you?
I really love what I do so I’m a bit of a
workaholic. I’m usually on a plane or on
my computer - I spend a lot of time on
my computer. My fiancé and I can often
be found walking our dog down to get
Can you tell us about
the Yoga Medicine Seva
I grew up working at a
homeless shelter my mum ran
and then in my internship I had
the opportunity to work at a drug
and alcohol centre, a domestic
violence shelter, treatment centre
for teenagers living on the streets
and a juvenile detention centre
and I learned so much from all of
these experiences. I initially
started this project because I
wanted it to be part of our teacher
training. In the modern world of
teaching yoga, we put so much
pressure on ourselves. There are
so many more things teachers
have to do now to build and maintain
I was feeling the pressure on our
teachers and wanted to help them find
some perspective. As a woman, I’ve also
always felt drawn to the issue of sex
slavery. It’s just mind-blowing to me
that this exists in our modern world. As
a yogi, I feel strongly about giving back
to a culture that has given us so much.
The Yoga Medicine Seva Foundation
is a non-profit that funds shelters and
vocational programs in India for women
that have been rescued from trafficking.
What I love most about our program is
not just that we offer the women
empowerment through yoga but that we
also match them up with a meaningful
vocational training that gives them tools
to support themselves for a lifetime.
True empowerment.
may/june 2018
The empowering
discoveries of
menopause and
By Becky Pell
leading up to and during menopause
can be deeply challenging. In a society
which over-values the gifts of youth, we
have to find a new way to thrive in the
world as we navigate these changes. The
physical symptoms can be hard enough,
but combined with tumultuous
emotions around our experiences, these
can be challenging times indeed.
Happily, there is much in the treasure
box of yoga to carry us through.
Pratipaksha Bhavanam is a technique
meaning ‘cultivating the opposite’.
Reframing how we view these years can
offer profound help by altering our
perceptions of menopause; instead of
fearing it, we can choose an expansive
sense of ripening, as we embrace our
evolution and step into the full
expression of our feminine power. This
is a time to connect with our intuition
through practices such as Yoga Nidra,
Becky Pell is a Yoga Australia
registered Yoga Therapist
who lives in Queensland.
Her passion is helping her clients
build a yoga toolkit to make their lives a
better place to be.
journaling and meditation, and to listen
to the voice of our inner wise-woman as
she guides us into transformation and
growth. Viewing this as an opportunity
to meet ourselves on a deeper level
means we can face old regrets with
courage and see this as a new beginning.
Coming together with other women to
discuss our experiences—satsang—is
also a valuable way of connecting with
the deeper wisdom we share.
Whilst there are common physical
symptoms, we all react in our own way.
Some women find that a vigorous asana
practice helps them to ‘burn off’ excess
heat; others need a more restorative
practice than they have been used to.
Sitali and Sitkari are cooling pranayama
techniques which are a fantastic tool at
any time, and if ‘brain-fog’ and mood
swings are an issue, then Ujjayi breath
can help with regaining equanimity and
focus. At this time of change it can be
helpful to cultivate healthy rhythms in
our daily lives, perhaps by beginning the
day with meditation, or choosing a few
favourite yoga poses before bed.
It can also be valuable to examine
our relationship with uncertainty.
If you dislike it, this is the time to move
towards that aversion by trying new
things and observing the outcome. It
can be as tiny as choosing a different
coffee shop from usual; but by gradually
exposing ourselves to small
uncertainties, we equip ourselves to
cope with bigger ones.
The pancha koshas - five sheaths that describe a human in yoga
philosophy, are an empowering concept
to learn about. As the physical body
changes, it can be deeply inspiring to
understand that we are so much more
than our flesh and bones – that we are
also energy, intelligence, intuition and
spirit! As you transition to the fullest
expression of the woman you have
become, listen to that intuition and let it
be your guide!
The unfolding of menopause offers a
different kind of power, deeper and
richer than that of mere youth. And
whilst we cannot always be young, we
can always be magnificent.t
Yoga teacher Kathryn
Budig, author of Aim
True loves to get inventive
in the kitchen. Her latest
creation, a crave-worthy
carrot “bacon,” puts a vegan
spin on the classic BLT.
A vego
Carrot “bacon” BLT
“My 78-year-old, Nebraska-born father was recently given strict doctor’s
orders: no more pork or red meat. Since then, I’ve been on a mission
to help him succeed—and to make his meals delicious. Enter carrot
‘bacon.’ It’s healthy, tasty, and a crowd pleaser for meat eaters and
vegetarians alike (and I think it tastes so much better than processed
bacon substitutes). To save time, roast the carrots beforehand so you
can quickly throw your sandwich together for lunch on the go.”
large carrots
tsp bourbon
tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp smoked sea salt flakes
lemon, zest and juice
large tomato, sliced
avocado, thinly sliced
leaves romaine lettuce
tbsp coconut oil
tbsp Worcestershire sauce
tsp hot sauce
tbsp Soy Mayonnaise
slices toasted bread of your
choice (I like sourdough
English muffins)
Heat oven to 200°. Place carrots on a cutting board, and drag a peeler
firmly from top to bottom to create bacon-like ribbons.
Remove carrots, reserving marinade, and place them flat on a baking
sheet lined with parchment paper. Season with sea salt flakes. Bake on
high rack until slightly browned and starting to crinkle, 10–15 minutes.
Remove from heat, flip the carrot “bacon,” and brush remaining
marinade onto the other side. Return to oven and bake until crispy
but not burnt (check on carrots every few minutes to avoid
blackening), 5–10 minutes.
In a bowl, combine soy mayo and lemon zest and juice. Spread
mixture on bread slices and top with tomato, avocado, lettuce, and
“bacon.” Enjoy!
NUTRITIONAL INFO 463 calories/1937 kJs per serving, 27 g fat
(10 g saturated), 49 g carbs, 6 g fibre, 7 g protein, 804 mg sodium
may/june 2018
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm coconut oil. Hold a
lid just above the pan to minimise splatter. Add bourbon, letting it
sizzle, 30 seconds. Transfer oil to a bowl and whisk together with
Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, and hot sauce. Add carrots to
bowl and stir until fully coated; let sit 5–10 minutes.
Fight Flu with
may/june 2018
By Loraine Rushton
no cure for a cough, cold or flu. Yoga
therapy has a different viewpoint.
The exciting news is that you don’t
have to dread the onset of the colder
weather or suffer through any more
autumn seasons dealing with coughs,
colds, sore throats or runny noses.
I see many children who get constant
colds, who suffer terribly with tummy
bugs and parents that get hit with nasty
flu bugs or colds that seem to go on and
on and never fully go away throughout
the whole of autumn and winter.
It’s important to learn how to take
control of your own health and that of
your family and empower your kids and
classes with this exciting information.
Once you know how and what to do,
colds become a thing of the past.
Have you ever wondered why autumn is
the time of year when the cold and flu
season begins? If you have always
believed that it is due to the shift in
temperature and the onset of colder
weather, that’s only partly true.
In many states in Australia,
autumn has begun, yet we are seeing
unseasonably high temperatures. Still,
the coughs, colds, belly aches, head
colds and flu bugs have begun.
Once you understand why this is
the season for these types of illness,
you can prevent them from happening
in the future.
In the Eastern medical system of
Yoga Therapy and five-element theory,
autumn is the time of year when the
lungs and large intestine organs become
more predominant; the organs of
expansion and contraction, of
elimination and absorption.
It is the time of year when we
eliminate any excesses from summer,
build our vitality and pack the body with
minerals that sustain us and build
strong bones during winter.
ga Therapy
If, however, these organs are not
functioning well, then issues related to
these organs will occur at this time of
the year: breathing problems, asthma,
lung issues, digestive issues, coughs,
colds, flu, headaches, sinus issues,
foggy-brains and the inability to and
concentrate. These are all issues related
to the lungs and large intestine.
Once these organs are working well,
coughs, colds and flu don’t appear.
The first year I practised yoga therapy
exercises and started to eat foods that
help the gut, was the first year I sailed
through without a cough or a cold and it
is the same for the clients and children I
work with.
Because the large intestine relates
to our immune function, once it is
functioning well, it will ward off a whole
host of nasty illnesses as well. It is
commonly said that 99 per cent of
illness starts in the gut!
The good news is that the best time
to fix up any issues and improve your
Eliminate Coughs, Colds a
digestive system and lungs is right now,
in autumn.
Follow the guidelines and tips below
and you will be setting yourself, your
kids and the children in your classes
up for a healthy, vibrant year ahead.
C) Leg Lifts
Because the large intestine is directly
influenced by what we eat, the best way
to fix the intestines is by changing what
we consume.
Whole grains, like brown rice, are
the one of the best foods to rebuild the
strength and function of the intestine.
We’ve all heard of the impact that
probiotics has for the guts and the food
that will rebuild your own intestinal
flora is home-cooked miso soup. The
important tip is not to boil the miso,
but add it at the end of the soup.
Some children love miso soup
instantly, while for others it may take a
few attempts. Keep going though as the
long-term impacts are health, vitality,
a strong immune system, clarity and
If the cough, cold or flu has already
started, then start the exercises
immediately, stop eating fruit, flour
and sugar. Switch meals to hearty
soups, stews and broths: miso soup
and brown rice would be beneficial.
Lastly, add a powerful, natural
drink that is guaranteed to help: Kuzu.
Kuzu is a natural drink that has
been prized for its medicinal
properties in China and Japan for
thousands of years. Clinical studies,
done in China, have shown that kuzu
root preparations can reduce high blood
pressure, relieve chronic migraines and help with stomach issues. Kuzu can be found in most
health food shops and works by
coating the intestines and drawing
the nasties out of the system.
(See recipe below.) It is fantastic
for diarrhoea or constipation:
For runny noses, kuzu sucks all the
excess back down the body and
eliminates it, often within 24 hours,
and it is a lifesaver for general colds.
Keep drinking kuzu everyday
until the cold, runny nose, digestive
problems or flu has gone away.
Of course, if the illness persists or
symptoms worsen, see your GP.
While the intestines thrive from pickles,
grains and vegetables, there are some
foods that weaken the intestines or have
a negative impact on the healthy bacteria.
If your kids have any digestive issues
such as diarrhoea, runny noses and
constant colds, then fruit and flour isn’t
working for them and it’s best to avoid.
For constipation, coughs, colds,
headaches and breathing difficulties,
sugar, dairy and flour can exacerbate the
problem. It is often the food they crave
the most that is creating the problem.
For faster results or to knock a cough,
cold or flu on the head, try these
3 yoga therapy exercises everyday
A) Cycling
Sit with hands supporting behind.
Lean back slightly and cycle legs
forwards x 10, then to sides x 10.
B) Leg Swing
Lie on the back, with aeroplane arms,
palms down. Flex feet.
Exhale, swing one leg across body.
Inhale, centre.
Exhale, swing leg out to side. Inhale,
centre. 10 x each side.
Lie on your back.
Stretch arms back above head. Flex feet.
Exhale, lift one leg up, Inhale,
lower leg down.
Alternate. 10 x each side.
Manage your stu
any wherre you go.
With MINDBODY, all the
tools you need to keep your
yoga studio running smoothly
Dissolve 1 heaped teaspoon
of kuzu in a little cold water.
Add 3⁄4 cup of cold water
to kuzu mix.
Bring to a gentle boil over a low
heat, stirring constantly,
until it’s thickened into a
translucent liquid. Remove
from flame and drink hot.
With 20 years of experience,
Loraine Rushton is a leading
authority on yoga for children
and teens.
From managing your schedule
to mobile point of sale,
you can do it all in perfect
balance—no matter where
Schedule a demo at
may/june 2018
By Yoga Journal Staff
Rocked by stories of sexual misconduct in
the yoga community and beyond, students,
teachers, and organisations alike are
speaking out—and figuring out where we
go from here. Whether you’ve been
personally affected or simply want to do
what you can to help, here’s a place to start.
Prominent yoga teachers share personal
stories of sexual abuse.
IN LIGHT OF the recent discussion around issues of sexual
abuse and harassment that has swept the entertainment,
political, and now yoga worlds, I find myself heaving a huge
sigh of relief. As a woman who has had her own harrowing
experiences with male abuse of power, sexual assault, rape,
and betrayal of intimacy over the years, I’m relieved that
these issues are no longer taboo to discuss.
But I am also filled with sadness. I’m sad that we, as a
species, have treated each other with such callousness for
thousands of years. I’m sad that I have not always known
how to speak up, how to stand up in my own defence, or how
to take action in the defence of others.
may/june 2018
Mary Taylor
may/june 2018
There is something particularly foul about sexual
misconduct in the context of yoga. Yoga is a path of
insight into the roots of decency and desire—into both
the glorious and shadow sides of human nature. There
is a deeply personal and, for many, an intimately spiritual aspect to yoga. Students often come to yoga in a
vulnerable position, pursuing balance, calm, and a
clarity of mind. When a yoga teacher sexually abuses a
student, it is not only hypocritical, but also incredibly
damaging to the student and the tradition. This kind
of behaviour can throw sincere and innocent students
off the path for years, if not lifetimes. It is tragic. Yet
sexual misconduct within the yoga world is common.
In fact, it is well documented that my own teacher,
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, whom I love dearly, had certain
“adjustments” that he gave to female students that
were invasive. Many of these adjustments were
sexually inappropriate, and I wish he had never done
them. On some level, I also wish that I had spoken
publicly about them before now. Yet these adjustments
were confusing, and not in alignment with all the
other aspects of Jois that I knew, so I didn’t know how
to talk about them without disparaging the entire
This has been a confusing part of my relationship
with my teacher and the yoga community as a whole.
Why did he do this? Why didn’t I speak up about the
inappropriateness of his assists? Why didn’t others?
Why didn’t I make it my mission to expose his
wrongdoings as a demonstration of an irreparable
flaw in the Ashtanga system?
First and foremost, I still think Ashtanga is a
remarkable system of learning and transformation.
It is a system of practice that has worked for me and
many other students over the years. I do not see
Jois’s behaviour as a flaw in the system, but a flaw in
the man. I think this is part of the reason why, until
now, I have only spoken privately to students who ask
about this. I have such deep love for the practice—
a practice that has saved my life.
When I take a step back and turn my gaze to the
future, I see an opportunity for deeper contemplation
and an imperative to stay authentic, honest, and real.
There is a burning need to question and to look ever
deeper at ourselves, our teachers, and the yogic
traditions we love in order to find the seeds of truth
that lie within. When we place teachers on a pedestal
(or, as teachers, when we allow students to put us on
one), honest enquiry becomes impossible, and the
deep contemplative insight and compassion that is at
the heart of yoga may never arise. If the ground of the
enquiring mind becomes eroded, then deeply
destructive things—like sexual misconduct—find
an environment in which to thrive.
Today things have changed. The accounts of
sexual misconduct that at one time might have been
dismissed are now being met with open minds,
support, kindness, and respect.
Judith Hanson
I’VE HAD MANY instances of #metoo, all the way up to
attempted rape. But in the yoga context, I’ve only had one.
And that was with Pattabhi Jois. At some point in the late
1990s, he came to San Francisco to teach. We were doing
drop-backs from Tadasana (Mountain Pose) to Urdhva
Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose). He came over to help me and
put his pubic bone against my pubic bone, so I could feel him
completely. He had me do three or four drop-backs, and
when I came up after the last one, I looked around and saw
three of my students, who were in the class with me, looking
at me, mouths hanging open.
“This has been a confusing part of my
relationship with my teacher and the yoga
community as a whole. Why did he do this?
Why didn’t I speak up about the
inappropriateness of his assists?”
What happened for me is what I think happens for so
many women: I was so shocked that the first thing I did was
doubt myself. Did that really just happen? I wondered, silently.
The part that I regret is that I didn’t leave. I stayed in the
class. The next thing Jois asked me to do was something I
thought was physically dangerous for my knees. I just said,
“Namaste; no Guruji, no.” And he hit me on the head and
said, “Bad lady.”
That was the last time I saw him. It was only years later,
when pictures and videos of him assisting women became
public, that I recognised that what he was doing was sexual
assault. I thought That’s what happened to me. For a long
time, I had just brushed it under the carpet, where I had
brushed all the other instances. At the time, my context of a
male teacher was B.K.S. Iyengar, who never did anything like
that. So I was trusting. I believed, and still believe, the yoga
studio and yoga mat are sacred spaces. That’s why crossing
this boundary in class is a double-whammy upset for
Now I make my students repeat this mantra: “Trust
yourself first.” I ask them to repeat it frequently. And we talk
about what it means: that we all need to listen to our gut, to
pay attention to the deep visceral feelings that are arising
from our inner wisdom and never to disregard them. In our
culture, women are trained to ignore their intuition for a
host of twisted reasons: we fear it’ll make us seem impolite
or ridiculous. We tell ourselves, “It couldn’t be true, because
I know this person well.” If this is you, start flexing your
intuition muscle in less risky circumstances, like shopping
for new tyres. When you walk into the store, slow down and
see what your belly says, then immediately act on it. This will
help you say “no” when something doesn’t feel right in yoga.
Excerpted from Meaningful Coincidence: Synchronistic Stories of the
Soul by Alanna Zabel (AZIAM Books, 2017)
YEARS AGO I developed a passionate relationship
with a fellow yoga instructor. I’ll call him Rick.
At first, I was shy and avoided Rick’s advances—
but I was also enamoured by the energy and
attention that he was lavishing on me. He was a
revered teacher, and he was interested in me. I
was hooked.
In class, Rick would often hover around my
mat, caressing my body sensually when he was
making “adjustments.” At first, I found it
flattering, but I didn’t have the confidence and
maturity to separate my youthful desire for
attention from my logical understanding of power
abuse. The connection turned me on, despite the
fact that I always left his yoga classes feeling empty
and confused.
Rick became increasingly sexual with me in
class, almost as if he didn’t care that other students
were there. When I was in Baddha Konasana
(Bound Angle Pose), his hands would slip to my
crotch; in Revolved Triangle, one hand caressed my
butt and the other was on my chest. My attraction
and excitement around him eventually morphed
into confusion and fear. Gradually when he made
these advances toward me, I froze and became very
awkward. Rick rolled his eyes and brushed me off,
doing his best to make me feel bad for my
reaction—shaming me for not responding in the
way he wanted me to. It became clear to to me that
conscious intimacy, mutual understanding, and my
consent to his groping were all missing.
One day, I decided I was done. Done with this
silent game of power and control. Done feeling
awkward around him when he’d shame me for not
accepting his advances. Done watching him take no
accountability for his actions. Before class that day,
I made it clear that I didn’t want him to touch
me—that I wasn’t interested anymore. Halfway
through that practice, while I was in Headstand at
the front of my mat, he pushed me over. Then he
threw my mat out the window and told me to leave.
With time and deep self-reflection, I have
found compassion in deeply meaningful ways.
I’m so grateful that we’re collectively having
these conversations now. Talking about past—
and present—inappropriate behaviour is part
of our practice today. The more all of us—
teachers, students, women, and men—can see
that, the more we’ll be able to co-create a clear
path forward.
may/june 2018
Alanna Zabel
Advice from the experts
on how to navigate
turbulent waters.
“We’re still
figuring out
the best way to
respond, but
the more we
share, the
more helpful it
will be in how
we proceed.”
Elizabeth Jeglic, PhD, professor of psychology
may/june 2018
at New York City’s John Jay College
out on a seemingly continuous basis—
including reports of wrongdoing in the
yoga world—yogis everywhere have
been disheartened, if not surprised.
We’ve known, after all, that the yoga
world is not immune to horrible abuses
of power—from inappropriate assists
from Ashtanga Yoga founder Sri K.
Pattabhi Jois to rape accusations against
Bikram Choudhury. “A simple web
search will reveal that almost every
major tradition in modern yoga has at
least some experience with alleged
sexual misconduct,” says David Lipsius,
the recently appointed president and
CEO of Yoga Alliance.
But the volume of stories and
allegations exploded late last year when
yoga teacher and entrepreneur Rachel
Brathen (aka @yoga_girl) shared her
own non-yoga–related #metoo story—
and then started hearing from yogis
around the world about sexual abuse,
harassment, and assault they had
experienced during classes, at their
neighbourhood studios, and at yoga
festivals and other events. Within a
week of speaking out, Brathen had
collected stories from more than 300
yogis, many angry and confused about
what had happened to them. “I was
fielding questions like, ‘Are you
supposed to have your breasts adjusted
in Savasana (Corpse Pose)?’” says
Overwhelmed by the outpouring—
and committed to doing something
about it—Brathen selected 31 excerpts
(with consent) to share on her blog,
stripping out the names of the victims
and the accused. The accounts of
misconduct varied—from out-of-line
adjustments and being propositioned for
sex to being aggressively or violently
assaulted. Yet almost all these stories
shared a common thread: the victims
were shocked to be violated by members
of the yoga community, in what they
thought was a sacred, protected place.
“There’s an extra level of betrayal in
having someone treat you in a
disrespectful and unsafe way in what
should be a safe space,” says Peg
Shippert, MA, LPC, a licensed
professional counsellor who specialises
in working with victims of sexual
Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, who
has taught yoga since 1971, agrees: “In
the context of a yoga class, I was
dumbstruck that [sexual misconduct]
would happen, and it totally
immobilised me. I thought of a yoga
class almost like going to church, and
the thought of that happening was not
something I had ever even conceived of.”
Dacher Keltner, PhD, a professor of
psychology at the University of
California at Berkeley, yogi, and author
of The Power Paradox: How We Gain and
Lose Influence, adds that unfortunately,
there has been a long history of abuse of
power in spiritual communities in
general. “Think of the women who
killed for Charles Manson, the abuse of
» Go with your gut about what feels wrong—and speak up.
If you can, tell studio or organisation leaders and law enforcement
immediately. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, or have questions about
what may have just happened to you, there are anonymous, free resources
that can help, such as the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN).
RAINN is an American organisation with a phone hotline that can be accessed
from the US, but anyone around the world can utilise their online chat service
( The services are “not just for people who are sure they have been
victimised,” says Kati Lake, vice president of consulting services at RAINN.
“They’re also for people who are unsure if they’ve experienced unwanted
sexual contact, and for friends and families of those affected.”In Australia,
1800Respect is the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence
Counselling Line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of,
family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. The organisation
provides a 24-hour counselling service that can be accessed via phone or
online chat. Counsellors provide advice for individual circumstances, and
anyone who feels there is something not right about the way they are being
treated is invited to talk with the counsellors who can help the victim
understand their experience and access the support they need. If it feels safe,
speak up the moment something happens. “It may be scary, but it may also
be an effective tactic to stop the offenders out there,” says David Lipsius. “If
just one person stood up in class and said, ‘Please don’t touch me without
asking permission,’ the system would change.”
» Give yourself permission to be triggered right now.
Hearing the news of others who’ve been through something similar to what
you have can take you right back to your own trauma from previous abuse—
and prompt you to relive it, says Elizabeth Jeglic, PhD. “I think a lot of victims
have felt helpless in these situations in the past,” she says. “Now, many are
reporting feeling guilt and shame that they didn’t come forward before, or
they feel like they’re still not in a place where they can come forward with
details of what happened to them.” No matter what you’re feeling, Jeglic
says, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. And if you feel rocked by recent
events to the point of feeling like it’s affecting your well-being, it may be a
sign that you need professional help, such as talking to a therapist, says Annie
Carpenter. “If there’s a part of you that feels shut down or uncomfortable, you
may have some repressed emotions,” she says. “If you don’t talk about
those, they have a chance of causing more harm.”
» Support those who have been victims and want to talk.
» Double down on go-to self-care tactics, and use your yoga.
Now is the time to do whatever you usually do to feel good. “For most of us,
that often includes connecting with the network of people who’ve been a
reliable, safe support system for you in the past. If it feels right, let them know
this is a tough time for you,” says Shippert. If yoga has become something
that re-opens old wounds, listen to that, too. “This might mean not going to
your favourite class, finding another teacher, or trying private classes,” she
says. “You might also ask a friend to go with you—someone you feel safe
with.” Right now, we all need a practice that helps us feel empowered, says
Carpenter. If not asana, maybe work with a deity, such as Durga, that helps
you tap into your resilience. Or if letting your voice come out through
chanting works, do that, she says. “Use your yoga to feel strong and clear;
it’s from that place that you’ll be able to handle it all.”
While it may seem obvious to listen to someone’s story, Peg Shippert, MA,
LPC, says that listening well is one of the most important things you can
do—and it may be harder than you think. “A lot of people have a lot to say
about this phenomenon going on right now, but a victim doesn’t need to
hear your thoughts on the topic—what they need is to be heard and
acknowledged,” she says. Try not to ask a lot of questions; instead, simply
listen, and convey to them that you believe what they’re saying. “Almost
every victim of sexual harassment or assault has had experiences where they
tell someone what happened, and that person questions parts of her story,”
adds Shippert. “That is so hurtful and potentially damaging.”
may/june 2018
priests in the Catholic church, or the tradition of
polygamy in strict religious communities,” he says.
“Spiritual settings create a structure that is ripe for the
opportunity for seduction.”
Yoga is no exception. “The paradox of teaching yoga
is that it is all about relationships: the student needs
to yield to the teacher, to be receptive,” says Lasater.
“That said, students also need to be very aware that
they still have power in every situation.” On the
opposite side of the same coin, teachers must be aware
of what students are projecting on them. “We all get
triggered,” says Annie Carpenter, a longtime yoga
teacher who has a master’s degree in marriage and
family counselling. “This is where you have to do
klesha work and ask yourself, ‘What does my ego
want?’ If you’re a teacher, will your students project
onto you that you’re a healer or a sexy yoga teacher?
Or will you imagine, or even hope, they do? You have
to know how to respond to those types of projections
that will inevitably happen.”
The bottom line: we need to look at these issues and
talk about them—even though the topic can be difficult,
says Elizabeth Jeglic, PhD, a professor of psychology at
New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
whose research focuses on sexual violence prevention.
“We’re still navigating the best way to respond to these
things,” says Jeglic. “But overall, the more we can
share—with each other and with authorities—
the more helpful it will be in how we all proceed.”
When Brathen posted #metoo stories last year she
wrote: “I hope that shedding light on this issue will
[contribute] to some sort of change.” And it already
has. In cases where multiple women have spoken up
about the same yoga teacher, Brathen connected the
women (with consent) to the media and with each
other to see if, as individuals or a group, they wanted
to publicly reveal the teacher’s name or take legal
Before Brathen’s post, Yoga Alliance—a nonprofit
teacher and studio registry—had already put into
motion an ethics and conduct committee as part of its
standards review project. It had also just begun talks
with the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network
(RAINN) for recommendations on new policies on
sexual misconduct. Lipsius, also the former CEO of
the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, says the new
administration at Yoga Alliance is determined to take
on the issue of sexual harassment and abuse in the
yoga community. “I personally have witnessed the
devastating effects of abuse in a yoga community and
know that the after-effects may linger even decades
after the alleged abuser is removed,” he says. “The
simple fact is those who commit crimes must be held
accountable. There’s no excuse for sexual misconduct
or abuse of power in a yoga studio, ashram, festival,
or any other venue.”
Here you’ll find advice for teachers, students, and
yoga organisations. Consider it a start—to help us all
process the misconduct that’s occurred and take the
steps we can to prevent it from happening again.
By David Lipsius, president and CEO, Yoga Alliance
» Understand power dynamics.
Even when no malicious intent is present, energy can shift easily from
healthy classroom relationships to an unhealthy power imbalance. If
you’re a teacher, hold yourself accountable to the inherent power
dynamic at play in the yoga teacher–student relationship. At minimum,
you may be viewed by your students as a more advanced practitioner
and an experienced guide. At maximum, you may be viewed as a
master, guru, or enlightened being. Either way, do not abuse the power
that is enmeshed in the relationship. Teaching yoga comes with great
responsibility to individual students and the community you serve;
maintain an appropriate boundary, and let the yoga practices
themselves become the guru for all students.
» Ask permission before all hands-on assists.
Use consent cards (or “yes/no” discs, stones, symbols) and verbal
affirmation every time you assist a student. Every student deserves to
be empowered within their own practice. Always ask permission before
touching a student. Using clear communication, make each assist an
empowering co-creation, inviting students to choose or decline your
help, to change their mind, and to alter their answer from moment to
moment. All types of hands-on assists require consent, including
nurturing presses, manipulative adjustments, and press-point assists. To
safely support all students in each class, strengthen your skilfulness with
non-touch assists: Use precise verbal cues and invitational mirroring.
» Update, clarify, and publish your policies and procedures.
Community leaders in all settings must be explicit about what they will
do in the event of a report of assault, rape, unwanted touching, or other
misconduct in their yoga space. A well-defined response policy is
necessary to lay a clear foundation for public safety. Be clear, be precise,
and ensure that all policies and procedures are published and available
for everyone to see. Then train your staff to follow those policies and
procedures to the letter, every time. Consistent enforcement is essential
to develop and maintain a culture of safety.
» Set in place an explicit reporting structure.
may/june 2018
It’s unrealistic to think that a yoga institution is equipped to function like
a qualified law-enforcement, investigative, or judicial body. For all
reports of criminal activity, law enforcement should be notified—
without delay. Have phone numbers for law enforcement and victim
advocacy groups clearly posted. For noncriminal but questionable
activity, clarify the reporting structure within your organisation and
advise and train all employees, contractors, and students to report
violations to the appropriate human-resources professional, an
ombudsperson, security person, or manager. Effectively training staff in
reporting procedures helps employees at all levels feel empowered to
speak up against abuse.
» Acknowledge the issue of sexual misconduct,
and act as a leader.
Far too often in yoga’s history, a yoga brand, lineage, tradition, ashram,
or organisation has failed to properly acknowledge and deal with
problems related to sexual misconduct. For a better future, all yoga
institutions need to openly discuss their history and take active steps to
change the dynamics that led to alleged abuse and the alleged
silencing of whistle-blowers. Use external—not internal—experts and
support networks to address the issues. Together, we can change
cultural systems so that issues are no longer kept within the “family.”
Many thriving traditions have become stronger over the years by
learning from difficult experiences. Transparency, honesty, and truth can
be used to help educate, elevate, and inspire future generations of
may/june 2018
Yoga teacher
Carrie-Anne Fields,
from MyHealth
Yoga, shares her
non-yoga related
#metoo experience
and offers a selfhealing yoga ritual
of asana,
mudra, mantra
and meditation.
my first #metoo experience. A specialist
doctor I had been sent to for advanced
treatment for my childhood asthma
instructed my mother to leave the room
so he could perform some tests on me.
He took his opportunity to violate me
and because I was so convinced he was a
fancy doctor, I never said a word to
anyone until I was 21 years old. By this
time, my life had taken a chaotic turn as
I was acting out behaviours in an
(unconscious) attempt to unravel what
had happened to me. I was
promiscuous and had no regard for my
sacred sexual energy as I carried an
ingrained belief that it was ok to be
used, so long as I could be liked, even
if only temporarily.
Then yoga found me. Thank the stars
above. Through the powerful intrinsic
healing methods contained within a full
yoga practice, including meditation,
self-love rituals, honouring of my
physical body as a soul temple, I came to
know myself as a Goddess – a soul
having a physical experience. I knew at
my deepest core, that a Goddess needs
to be treated by herself and others with
absolute respect. A Goddess needs to
take as long as she needs to heal her
wounds, carried from her childhood
and from eons of sexual abuse trauma
energetically carried by all women.
A Goddess commands only the highest,
the purest and the most holy. A
Goddess can create her destiny of love,
peace, abundance and success on her
terms despite what others may have
inflicted upon her and what she may
have inflicted upon herself. The time is
NOW and there is always an opportunity
to start fresh and become the woman
you know you can be.
Recently we have seen an explosion
of women finding their voice through
the powerful #metoo campaign. This
campaign has seen the likes of Oprah
Winfrey stand tall in delivering a knockout speech when accepting an honorary
award, choosing to take the limelight off
herself and instead, empower every
woman with a #metoo story to find their
voice. The stories have filtered through
into the yoga world. Yoga Girl, Rachel
Bratheren, with her 2 million Instagram
followers created a forum for women in
yoga to share their stories of sexual
abuse involving yoga teachers, some
very prominent ‘yoga celebrities’,
including the now indicted Bikram
Choudhury of the famous Bikram Hot
Yoga. We all sat aghast as story after
story was told. Even the big-hitters like
from Patthabi Jois, founder of the
popular Ashtanga Yoga system, was
called into the spotlight of scrutiny with
video evidence of inappropriate
adjustments and stories of lewd
comments to pretty female yoga
students. Many have called out those
who continue to support and practice
Ashtanga Yoga, claiming that to honour
the women abused, we must take a stand
against this form of yoga that has a
rotten root system. Others chose to hold
steadfast to a tradition they claim has
supported their spiritual growth and
healing. Kino McGregor, a world-wide
recognised Ashtanga Yoga teacher,
made her own stance, stating she would
continue her practice but to support
those who chose to walk away. At the
end of the day, there is no right or wrong
choice but we must all take the time to
look and feel deeply within, to make our
own choices based on our soul knowing
and in the Native American words, ‘do
what you know to be right’.
If you find yourself in need of healing
sexual trauma or abuse, know that you
have the inner strength to move yourself
out of anguish and into freedom.
Yoga is a holistic healing system that
can offer so much ritual and insight into
how to heal and why we have chosen to
have such a painful life experience.
Ultimately, yoga will bring you back to
the awareness that you are a Sovereign
Being and you have the power to
manifest the life you wish to live, based on
your heart’s greatest wishes. You
can turn your pain into meaning and become
a leader and a healer in your own life and if it
is your path, you can support others on a
similar journey. When you reclaim the power
that you were robbed of through your sexual
abuse, you can stop the destructive and
addictive cycle you may find yourself in. It’s a
normal reaction to abuse of any kind, to in
turn start abusing yourself. You’ve been
implanted with the notion that this is all you
deserve. You feel tainted, worthless and you
feel that everyone knows you are ‘stained’ in
some way. The story in your head continues
to spin around and around and seemingly
there is no exit ramp to the now heavily
imprinted neural pathway of ‘not good
enough’. The wonderful news is this story can
be transformed. You can take the repetitive
‘broken record’ of negative inner dialogue and
smash it into a thousand pieces.
Visualise that broken record containing your
destructive thoughts breaking. Allow the pieces to
scatter and be swept away by a strong gust of wind.
Repeat this mini-meditation every time you feel the
old energy of self-loathing arise.
Join me for this beautiful
self-healing yoga ritual
of asana, pranayama,
mudra, mantra and
may/june 2018
Sit on your heels and and take Lotus Mudra by
taking Prayer Pose, then fanning out fingers, keeping
the pinky fingers and thumbs touching. Smile and
turn your inner dristhi (gaze) to your third eye chakra/
centre. Commence your yogic, three-part breathing
by inhaling from lower belly, filling and fanning the
ribcage, then chest to collar-bones and exhaling
releasing the breath until the lower belly is empty.
Continue to breathe in a full, deep, even way for a
2-3 minutes, smiling from within and receiving
Higher Energy through your Lotus cup. Visualise the
Lotus growing from the mud into the light and accept
that your pathway can be a similar journey, growing
from your personal ‘mud’, into freedom and
lightness. As you smile, feel the gratitude for your
life journey, trusting your pain is transmuting into
depth, meaning and understanding. Repeat 3 times:
“I allow myself to blossom into light and beauty”.
Smiling Meditation in Lotus Mudra on Heels:
Yin Pigeon Pose:
Transition into Rajakapotasana by taking one knee forward and the other leg extended behind. As this is a Yin pose, holding for 3-5
minutes on each side, you may wish to place a cushion under the front hip and bend the back knee in towards the front body
slightly. Continue with the full yoga breath. It is important to be comfortable yet to still feel a current of prana (energy) throughout
the body, particularly in the front leg hip and gall-bladder meridian (outside band of front leg). Metaphysically, the hips store old
emotions or ‘baggage’ (think ‘saddlebags’ in reference to the hips). This is a powerful asana to stay present to the release of stored
trauma within the hips and base chakra area. Repeat 5 times: “I now surrender and let go of the past”. Before coming out of the
pose on each side, exhale fully and deeply out of the mouth 3 times, making an audible ‘sighing’ sound to indicate to your
consciousness that you are ready for ‘Isvara Pranidhana’ (Let Go and Let God).
Restorative Reclining Butterfly Pose with Chin Mudra:
may/june 2018
Move into Supta Baddha Konasana by positioning a bolster or stacked cushions under the lower back, then reclining with heart
open, taking Chin (Consciousness) Mudra by sealing the thumbs with the index finger nails. Place the soles of the feet together
with knees dropping out to the side (take cushions under knees if needing more support since this is a Restorative Yoga pose).
Stay here for 10-20 minutes, continuing your deep, full, even, yogic breathing. This is a pose of vulnerability and will be very
confrontational if you have experienced sexual abuse. The instinct is to close inward for protection, so observe any resistance, fear
or anxiety. Move the awareness into the open heart chakra/centre and affirm 10 times: “I allow myself to Trust. I am Safe.”
Side Plank:
Goddesses must learn how to support
themselves and any pose requiring arm strength
is a wonderful bio-feedback system to our inner
selves that we are capable and powerful!
Lay on your side, and take the top leg to the
front of the body with knee bent and foot
grounded. Extend the arm out and ground the
hand, fingers spread to activate the internal
energy lines (meridians). Inhale and on the
exhale, press up into Vasisthasana. If possible
gaze up by rotating from the navel on the next
exhalation (or look down for balance or to
protect your neck). Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat
on the other side. Observe the invigorating
energy within!
Crow Pose:
may/june 2018
You are loved, you are powerful and
you are capable of rising above any
harm that has come to you in your
life. Namaste dear Yogi Goddess.
Our final asana to awaken our inner
determination and courage. It’s not important
to actually master this pose - it’s power is in
simply approaching it!
Come into Bakasana by coming from a squat
pose with hands shoulder-width apart, fingers
spread and a strong grounding action, to
rebound energy into the arm meridians.
Set your dristhi (focal point). Tilt the knees into
the back of the arms and lift one foot at a time,
ensuring you maintain your dristhi and keep the
heart open and chin tilted forward and up. Your
breath is full, deep and even. As the dristhi,
breath, and grounding of the hands come
together, you may be able to suspend with both
feet off the Earth. (Tip: use your bolster to
propel your feet off). Practice 3 times, have a
laugh at yourself if you fall out of the pose and
feel the immense joy of being YOU!
Lift your
This gentle way of accessing the six bandhas (energetic
locks) during your practice will help you experience
more freedom in your body and bliss in your life.
bandhas is to learn to control—and
seal—prana (life energy) within the
central energy channel that yogis believe
runs along your spine. As prana flows
freely along this channel, called
sushumna nadi, it brings stability and
lightness to your physical body and
helps dissolve emotional blockages in
your chakras (energy centers along
sushumna nadi)—balancing your body,
mind, and spirit.
Each bandha acts as an energetic
lock, or valve. Similar to the way that a
valve on a bicycle tire lets air in while
also keeping it from escaping, your three
main bandhas direct energy and keep it
contained in sushumna nadi. Mula
Bandha (Root Lock), associated with
the pelvic floor, pushes energy up
toward your navel while also preventing
too much of it from leaking out;
Uddiyana Bandha, associated with your
core, moves energy farther up; and
Jalandhara Bandha, located at the
throat, pushes energy down and
prevents too much energy from
escaping. When upward (prana vayu)
and downward (apana vayu) energies
meet at your navel and you activate
Uddiyana, it’s like two sticks being
rubbed together to create purifying
heat and awaken prana (also called
Kundalini), said to lie dormant at the
base of the spine.
Traditionally, the bandhas were
practiced during pranayama (yogic
breathing exercises), and muscles
associated with each bandha region
were held intensely during breath
retention. But in the past 20 years,
there’s been a shift toward teaching the
bandhas during asana, and with less
The way that I now feel and apply
the bandhas to my own asana practice
has evolved from using force, and
gripping in my body, to exploring them
from a place of release and softness. I
used to clench my pelvic floor and
engage my lower abdominals a bit
too aggressively. This never felt quite
right, and at times immobilised my
body and breath.
After a particularly enlightening
meditation retreat, it occurred to me
that the purpose of working with
the bandhas is to awaken the same
consciousness that you do in
meditation—and you gain entry to
this experience by inviting softness,
never by force. Our whole yoga practice,
including the bandhas, is a collection of
techniques for observing what arises in
the present moment without gripping
or rejecting. It is a direct experience of
awareness. My approach to the bandhas
is to release any tension held around the
edges of each bandha area so that I feel
a gentle, spontaneous rise of prana.
When I watch my students practice
the bandhas this way, I see more fluidity
in their movement and more openness
in each pose. I’ve also noticed that if I
overdo it in a pose (trying to sink too
deep in Pigeon Pose, for example) I
lose the feeling of energy in my central
channel, so my bandha work acts as a
safeguard against poor alignment and
injury. Try it for yourself with this
practice, designed to help you feel
more energetically balanced.
may/june 2018
By Esther Ekhart
Get to know the
There are three main bandhas, or energetic locks, that
run along your spinal column (Mula, Uddiyana,
and Jalandhara), two minor bandhas at your hands
and feet (Hasta and Pada), and a combo of the
three main bandhas called Maha Bandha.
Here, some tips for locating these energy locks.
Helps energy rise up through the soles of your
feet to bring stability to your legs.
Assists energy up through the soft centre of your palms to bring
strength and stability to your arms and upper body.
Moves energy up through the centre of your pelvic floor
toward your navel and keeps it from moving down.
4 UDDIYANA BANDHA Upward Abdominal Lock
Helps energy rise up through the centre of your core. This
bandha lifts energy, but it also intensifies upward energy from
Mula Bandha and downward energy from Jalandhara Bandha.
Restricts the upward flow of energy and directs energy down
toward your navel when locked with your chin toward your chest.
When Mula Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha are engaged
together, upward and downward energy meet at your navel.
With the application of Uddiyana Bandha at your belly, the
energies increase to awaken prana for purifying purposes.
may/june 2018
repetitive focus, so don’t be discouraged if
you don’t feel it on the first try. Just as you
need to practice a difficult asana many
times before you can access the full pose,
fine-tuning your attention to feel the
bandhas takes time. This basic sequence
is a great starting point, and sooner or later
you will experience an aha moment
when you feel the bandhas in your body.
Pada Bandha
& Mula Bandha
1 TADASANA Mountain Pose
may/june 2018
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
Lightly draw your thigh muscles up. Inhale
and lengthen your spine and your sides
with a neutral pelvis. This is a great pose to
begin your bandha practice, because there
aren’t many other actions to think about—
you can focus mostly on feeling the energy.
Spread your toes. On an exhalation, release
the outer edges of your feet, starting at the
base of your toes and moving to your heels
without collapsing your arches. Inhale and
feel a gentle lift up from the soft centres of
the soles of your feet for Pada Bandha. Allow
that energy to move up through your legs.
Now direct your attention to Mula Bandha:
On an exhalation, release your pubic
bone, tailbone, sitting bones, and the
circumference of your pelvic floor muscles (a
conscious, soft release to the earth without
pressing or pushing down). At the end of
your exhalation, feel the centre of your
pelvic floor, above your perineum, lifting
effortlessly. On an inhalation, feel the energy
flow farther up. Hold the pose for at least
5 breaths, connecting with the feeling of
energy moving up your central channel.
Mula Bandha
Half Standing Forward Bend
From Tadasana, inhale and lift your arms
alongside your ears, then exhale and fold
forward over your legs from your hips.
Take your arms down to the floor. Inhale,
lengthen your spine, lift your chest, and
place your hands on blocks under your
shoulders. Exhale, and release the
Hasta Bandha
Cat-Cow Pose
From Ardha Uttanasana, exhale to step
both feet back, bringing your knees
down so you’re on all fours. Place your
hands with fingers spread below your
shoulders and with your knees under
your hips. Your spine is in a neutral
position, so the natural curve stays intact
with your neck long. Exhale, and release
the circumference of your palms, the
pads of your knuckles, and the base
of your hands down to the floor. This
grounds your hands and should take
circumference of your pelvic floor. At
the end of the outbreath, and on the
inhalation, feel an effortless lift from the
centre of the pelvic floor up through
your central channel for Mula Bandha.
(If it’s hard to feel this upward flowing
energy, actively press the circumference
of your pelvic floor downward for a
moment for easier access to the upward
flow of energy. Then release any tension
you’ve created.) The gentle inversion of
this pose helps support energy flow up
your spine. Hold for 5 breaths.
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pressure off your wrists. Inhale, and feel
a gentle lift and lightness travel through
the soft centre of your palms and up
your arms for Hasta Bandha. When your
awareness is finely tuned, you may also
feel energy moving through your central
As you inhale, lift your sitting bones
and chest toward the ceiling, allowing
your belly to sink toward the floor (Cow
Pose). Exhale, round your spine toward
the ceiling, and release your head
toward the floor (Cat Pose). Repeat at
least 5 times. As you move between Cat
and Cow, continue to ground your outer
hands, while feeling energy drawing
up from the centre of your palms and
through your arms.
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Hasta Bandha, Mula Bandha,
& Uddiyana Bandha
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
From all fours, tuck your toes under so their pads are
on the mat. As you exhale, release the circumference of
your palms. Inhale, and lift energy up through the soft
centre of your palms (Hasta). Lift your knees off the mat,
and take your hips up and back. Exhale to release the
circumference of your pelvic floor, and at the end of the
outbreath, feel a moving up of energy (Mula) toward
your navel. The inverted nature of this pose also helps
you access Uddiyana Bandha, because your abdominals
relax. You may feel gravitational pull on your abdominal
cavity (a hollowing out toward your rib cage). On an
inhalation, consciously relax your abdominal muscles
and widen your rib cage, clearing the way for energy to
continue traveling upward. On an exhalation, pull more
of your abdominal cavity under your rib cage. Hold for 5
breaths. Mula and Uddiyana respond to each other on an
energetic as well as physical level. Because your internal
connective tissue connects these two areas, if something
happens in one of them, there will be a response in the
Pada Bandha, Mula Bandha,
& Uddiyana Bandha
may/june 2018
From Downward-Facing Dog Pose, exhale and bring your
right foot forward, placing it on the mat next to your right
On an inhalation, ground through your feet as you lift your
body upright. Reach your arms up overhead and arch slightly
back into a Crescent Lunge. Exhale, and stack your right knee
over your right heel. Keep your left leg slightly bent, and draw
your left heel forward over the ball of your foot.
On an exhalation, release the outer edge of the sole of
your right foot. Inhale to feel a light upward flow of energy
through the centre of the sole of your right foot (Pada). As
soon as this lift is there, you can simply keep the breath
flowing. Feel how the earth holds your weight—your joints
are just there for stability. Feel the release in your pelvic
floor as you exhale. Then inhale and feel the lift of energy
through the centre of your pelvic floor (Mula).
Support the movement of energy farther up your spine:
On an inhalation, allow your ribs to expand in all directions.
On an exhalation, keep that feeling of space in your ribs
and invite energy farther up your central channel. You
will experience a gentle muscular contraction of your
abdominals (Uddiyana). Your abdominal cavity will
move much less than it did in Downward-Facing Dog
because you’re now upright, working against gravity.
Stay for about 5 breaths. Return to Downward-Facing
Dog and repeat on the other side.
Mula Bandha &
Uddiyana Bandha
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose, variation
From Down Dog, exhale and place your right
knee in front of your right hand on the mat. Slide
your right foot in front of your left hip, with your
shin against the mat. Inhale, and prop your hands
onto blocks (on either side of you), so you can
be as upright as possible without hanging out
in your hip joints (your hips and spine should
feel connected, like they’re one unit). Draw your
legs in toward each other. Move your hips gently
in any direction (likely up) to find a connection
between the centre of your pelvic floor and
your central channel. Release the outer edges of
your pelvic floor and feel how energy flows up
through the centre of it (Mula). Widen your rib
cage and allow the energy to be drawn into your
expanded rib cage, along with a gentle muscular
contraction in your abdominals (Uddiyana). Keep
an awareness on these bandhas and feel how
they bring lightness, stability, and strength to
your hips, spinal column, and rib cage. Hold for 5
breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Mula Bandha & Uddiyana Bandha
may/june 2018
Seated Forward Bend
From One-Legged King Pigeon Pose, press your hands into the floor to lift your
hips. Swing your legs out to come to a seated position with your legs straight
in front of you and your buttocks on a folded blanket. Lengthen your spine, and
tilt your pelvis a bit forward or backward until you feel a connection between
the centre of your pelvic floor and your central channel. Exhale, and release the
outer edges of your pelvic floor. Inhale, and feel how the prana flows up and
into the central channel (Mula). On your next inhalation, expand your rib cage
in all directions. Exhale and feel that energy moving up higher, upward through
your core (Uddiyana) as you bend forward from your hips. Keep length in your
spine, and reach forward to hold your big toes. Stay for 5 breaths, maintaining a
connection to the energy flow within the central channel, which moves up with
each breath.
Maha Bandha
Easy Pose
Our Pro Teacher and model Esther Ekhart has been teaching
yoga and meditation internationally for more than 25 years
and is the founder of, an online yoga studio
offering yoga and meditation classes and resources from
renowned yoga teachers.
Draw your feet in and bring your legs into a
comfortable cross-legged position. Gently exhale,
and release the circumference of your pelvic
floor. Next time you breathe in, take a deep,
full breath from your pelvic floor—all the way
up into your chest.
As you exhale, place your palms on your
knees and fold forward. Expel all the air in your
lungs through your mouth with your tongue
sticking out. Without inhaling, come back
upright, pressing your hands into your knees
and straightening your arms. While holding the
outward retention of your breath, release the
circumference of your pelvic floor again. With a
mock or pretend inhalation (the body physically
inhales without actually taking air in), feel energy
being drawn up through your pelvic floor (Mula),
all the way up and hollowing out your stomach
under your ribs (this is the traditional Uddiyana
applied during pranayama).
Feel your chest rising to your chin. Lift from
the top of your head, lengthening the back of
your neck. Then, gently move your chin down
toward your chest (Jalandhara Bandha), directing
energy down toward your navel. When you
feel you need to breathe in again, first let go of
Jalandhara by lifting your chin, and then let go
of Uddiyana by releasing your belly. Inhale, and
release Mula. Repeat all steps 1–3 times.
After practicing these poses, rest in Savasana
(Corpse Pose) for at least 5 minutes. Observe
any shifts in the flow and quality of your
body’s energy.
may/june 2018
may/june 2018
Connect to your
Get Optimal Energy and Build Strength
by Connecting to your Hara
By Janie Lamour
body and not enough energy in the
lower body: the core and lower back.
With the increase of daily stress, use of
smart phones, computers, tablets etc,
coupled with sugar and alcohol
consumption, the energy in our bodies
accumulates in the chest, upper back
and the head, causing a higher
incidence of neck and shoulder pain,
headaches, worry, anxiety, panic attacks
and also results in a loss of connection
to ourselves, the earth and the universe.
Building power in the lower belly and
back will help alleviate many of these
issues and will allow for us to more
deeply connect to our truth: in the hara.
You can either sit or lie down and place
3 fingers together at the base of your
navel. Keeping your third finger in
place on the belly, bring your attention
to this area a little deeper within. Try to
breathe down to expand this area on the
inhalation and feel the area descend
toward the spine on the exhalation. If
you have trouble breathing deeply, just
breathe out more than usual, then
breathe in through your nose so the
breath moves into the lower parts of the
lungs. This will push down your
diaphragm and therefore expand your
belly outward slightly. Try to bring your
mind to this area. If you don’t know
what that means, just begin by sensing
the skin and the energy deeper within –
even if you just feel the belly movement
to begin with. With practice you will be
able to connect your mind to the hara
and you will be able to actually think
from there. We have similar cells in our
gut as we do in our brain.
may/june 2018
IMAGINE IF YOU were deeply connected
to your true inner-self, had great
posture, a strong bladder and pelvic
floor, were free of back pain, had
confidence and an intuitive “knowing”
what the next steps were in your life for
the most positive outcome?
This is all achievable through
building strength, getting optimal
energy flow through your pelvis and
connecting to the centre of your etheric,
or energy body, called the lower tan tien
or hara. The hara is often referred to in
martial arts and by Taoists to be the
‘seat of our soul’ and is
thought to house
every answer to
everything you
ever need to
know. This
is where
your truth
and the
this area
the more
that flows
through it and
the more you are
able to connect
your mind to the
hara, the more
effective your innate
healing power becomes.
Our modern lives have
meant that even the most
dedicated yogis have too
much energy in the upper
Our gut thoughts come from the hara
and as you probably know, your gut
thoughts are always correct.
For strength in the hara, the bladder
and the pelvic floor you can practice
legs lifts from a seated or supine
position and do boat pose. Single
supine leg lifts with your legs wide will
especially target the bladder.
In regard to Traditional Chinese
Medicine (TCM), the bladder has a
pyschological connection to confidence
and gives you a stronger sense of
yourself (who you are), allowing you
to make our own decisions and stay
in your own power. Physically, the
meridian rules your spine, nervous
system, sacrum, ankles and the
shape of your gluteal muscles.
On top of all of that, the stronger
your bladder, the stronger your sex
drive and orgasms!
Strengthening the hara will also
make your bowels and your small
intestine work more efficiently, further
adding to your deep connection and
internal power.
To have a healthy pelvis, you need good
quality blood and a healthy blood and
energy flow through the front, back
and sides. This is essential not just for
menstruating women but for every
woman on this planet to help us
stay sane, grounded and calm. Too
much strength in the belly is like a
car accident in the middle of an
intersection: nothing flows. You need
a balance of strength and flow.
Lengthening and releasing your
psoas muscle, your major hip flexor,
will give huge relief to period pain as it
has an influence on pelvic cramping
and the ability for energy to flow
through your pelvis. You can do this
“On top of all of that,
the stronger your bladder,
the stronger your sex
drive and orgasms!”
with crescent lunge and other lung
variations. Regularly opening the psoas
allows better hormone flow throughout
your entire body, aligns your spine and
also lessons PMT symptoms over time.
Releasing your outer hips and
particularly the piriformis muscle (with
Eye of the Needle or Pigeon pose) will
allow for the energy to flow through
your outer lower body and the lower
back alleviating pain from those areas.
Optimal energy flow through your
pelvis and hips allows your blood to
effectively nourish your reproductive
system and lower back and will give you
the deep connection to your self so you
can step into your true power as an
amazing, sexy and connected woman.
may/june 2018
Make sure your chest is pushed forward to make your spine
straight so that your deep, lower belly is doing the work. See
if you can let your legs go and stretch your arms above your
head, without rolling backward onto your sacrum. Make it
more challenging by stretching your arms either side of your
legs in front of you.
This is a great psoas stretch. When your
right knee is on the floor you are
attempting to pull your right waist
downward to pull the psoas open more
deeply. You can either pull your left knee
toward your chest or keep that foot on
the floor under your left bottom and
stretch your hands over your head,
keeping your ribs pulled down. It’s
important to be mindful of your knee and
not push it to the point where there is
any sharp knee pain.
The liver/gall bladder stretch is
amazing for opening up through
the back of the pelvis. Keep the leg
on the floor pointing to the ceiling
and don’t roll the pelvis. Try to
keep both buttocks low to the
floor. If you roll the pelvis, you are
twisting at the spine. We want to
open the back of the hip by taking
the leg across. This is a great one
for all women, even pregnant
Postgraduate Diploma
Yoga & Active Birth (50-150hrs)
Registered with Yoga
Australia & Yoga Alliance
Try this pose with some repetitions. Start sitting on your heels
and exhale to push your hips
forward while you hold your
ankles. Inhale to come down. Try
repeating 8-10 times. Ensure you
don’t sway your hips sideways
through the movement and this
will build some power in your
thighs where we store minerals. It
opens the entire front of the body
and squeezes out some tension
from the sacrum.
Janie Lamour specialises in Zen Ki Yoga and runs a yoga studio in Sydney and
two online yoga studios as well as popular teacher training programs. She has
been teaching yoga since 1999, personal training since 1994, clocking up 24
years of experience in health, fitness and training clients with 19 of those years
teaching yoga.
Suzanne Swan, Senior Yoga
Teacher & Founder of yogababy,
has 18 years experience
teaching pregnancy, birth &
postnatal yoga
Pre-requisite >200hrs
Yoga Teacher/trainee or
Midwife/Health professional
For more information
or to book contact:
or call 0424 755 763
Enjoying the journey to motherhood with a
safe, comfortable and blissful yoga practice
I’VE BEEN TEACHING YOGA for seven wonderful
years, and during this time have come across so
many different bodies with different abilities.
I can teach beginners with ease whilst keeping
more advanced students challenged. If you come
to my class with sore wrists or an injured lower
back I am confident in modifying your practice
accordingly. I have taught students who have a
disability, children, and my mother after a few
glasses of wine. Recently, I had a student in my
class who had just had a hip replacement.
And while all of these students challenge me
on some level, there’s nothing quite like a
beautiful, round-bellied mother-to-be
wandering (or waddling) into the studio.
Because I understand wholeheartedly how
important it is to keep that baby safe, and its
mother nurtured and nourished.
may/june 2018
By Jessica Humphries
may/june 2018
may/june 2018
For many students and teachers of
yoga, pregnancy is an anomaly;
something that we’re not quite sure how
to manage to ensure complete comfort.
Most 200-hour yoga teacher trainings
only touch on the subject of prenatal
yoga, and although new teachers are
aware of the most important safety
considerations (avoid strong twists, core
work, deep back bends and lying on the
belly), many won’t have much
experience in teaching pregnant
students (or being pregnant
As teachers, it can be a real challenge
to keep a constant eye on your one
pregnant student in a full room of fit,
experienced practitioners (which is one
reason dedicated prenatal yoga classes
are such a great idea). And as pregnant
students, understanding how to modify
your practice might possibly be the last
thing on your mind. But as more and
more research indicates the benefits of a
prenatal practice for both mothers and
babies, teachers and students will
benefit from a greater understanding of
how it works.
YOGA FOR TWO: Considerations
and modifications
Ana Davis is the founder and director
of Bliss Baby Yoga. She has been
practicing for almost 30 years, teaching
for over 20 years and training yoga
teachers in the specialised field of
women’s health for over a decade.
Ana was first attracted to teaching
prenatal yoga 14 years ago when she
became pregnant with her son.
She says, “My whole view of yoga
changed when I became pregnant.
That’s when I realised that as women
we need to approach yoga from a more
feminine place to support us through
the unique changes of our feminine
When it comes to safety during
pregnancy, Ana’s advice to students is
“to embody the awareness that they are
now ‘doing yoga for two’.” And while
that might sound like common sense,
“you’d be surprised how many women
who are so used to being active,
powerful, busy and ‘type A personality’
find it difficult to slow down during
pregnancy”, she says. “Prenatal yoga is
all about letting go of the ego, which of
course is an important preparation for
the sacrifice (surrender) that is such a
big part of motherhood…Therefore,
the overriding principle and safety
consideration that we talk about in our
Bliss Baby Yoga Teacher Training
courses is to ‘create space’.”
Ana explains that on a physical
level this means avoiding movements
that constrain or compress the belly –
such as closed twists, deep forward
bends and lying down postures on
the stomach. But there’s also a
metaphorical philosophy around
creating this space. She says, “create
the mental, emotional and spiritual
space in your life to prepare you to
become a mother.”
Katie Manitsas agrees with these
sentiments. A yoga teacher of 20 years,
doula, prenatal yoga teacher trainer
and author of The Yoga of Birth,
Katie says, “Yoga practice in
pregnancy should be completely
different to a regular yoga practice
because all the energy of your body
(prana) is engaged in the huge project
of building a human life…Lots of
meditation, yoga nidra, chanting and
restorative poses…What is going on in
the subtle/energetic body is profound
and deserves space to be honoured.”
Amanda Vella is another prenatal
yoga teacher and doula who became
drawn to the practice of prenatal yoga
during her first pregnancy in 2011.
A strong advocate for yoga during
pregnancy, she says, “Pregnancy asks
you to go inwards, sometimes for the
first time in a woman’s life, and yoga
asks the same.”
Amanda explains the importance
of taking it easy during pregnancy to
ensure the mother doesn’t become
injured, “A woman’s body is flooded
with particular hormones during
pregnancy that make her more prone
to overstretching”, she says. She
advises yoga teachers to take the
time to get to know and understand
pregnant students in class. She says,
“It’s good to know what trimester a
woman is in, about any injuries
or pregnancy conditions she is
experiencing and what her yoga
experience is like…The first trimester
is about ensuring a healthy, nourished
uterus and a firmly attached egg. This
is why deep backbends and twists are
often avoided during this time.”
In Katie Manitsas’ The Yoga of Birth, she outlines essential knowledge
for yoga practice during each trimester.
1st Trimester (months 1-3)
This is a time when pregnancies can be vulnerable and some women are advised
to take it easy, but others can exercise as normal…The key is to adapt the practice
and make it appropriate for your needs…Care should be taken with back bending
and with creating constriction in any forward bends.
2nd Trimester (months 3-6)
This is often the time in the pregnancy that many women feel at their best…
The common aches and pains of pregnancy may begin to present themselves…
but yoga can help. During this time a yoga practice that is sustainable right
through until labour can be established. This includes time for rest,
appropriate pranayama and deep relaxation.
3rd Trimester (months 6-9 or labour)
At this stage in the pregnancy many women begin to feel tired again.
Nausea, heartburn or indigestion may appear too…Common sense leads
most women to rest more as they get heavier.
Mindful modifications and
precious props
Most yoga teachers already offer
modifications in a general class, and
although these may not be pregnancy
specific, these gentler options provide
alternatives for pregnant practitioners.
Using props that are offered for the less
limber will help facilitate a pregnant
practice, making space for baby and
avoiding over-stretching.
Davis explains that props are a
pregnant woman’s friend, helping them
to “feel comfortable, supported, and
most importantly, safe…An example of
this might be Prasarita Padottanasana
(wide-legged standing forward bend).
In early pregnancy, we can still place the
hands on the floor between the feet.
But as a woman progresses in her
pregnancy, it’s preferable to place her
hands on a prop (block/bolster) and
bring the spine more at a right angle.
And towards the end of pregnancy to
rest onto a chair in a restorative
variation of this posture”, she says.
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Consider these modifications with and without props
for your students and yourself during pregnancy.
Practice this pose normally if comfortable, or to modify,
place a block/bolster beneath your forehead so that your
head is supported and your belly stays elevated.
When other students are practicing backbends on the
floor, pregnant women can modify by coming into a
backbend on the hands and knees. Start on all fours then
extend the right arm out in front and the left leg back.
If comfortable in your body, reach back and hold the left
foot with the right hand to experience an opening in the
shoulders and a gentle back bend. Be mindful not to arch
the spine too much. Hold for a few breaths then switch
sides. Alternatively, rest in a wide legged child’s pose.
may/june 2018
Practicing with feet wide (hips width or slightly wider) will
make it easier to balance and create space when folding
forward in sun salutes.
Lower the knees to the ground to protect
the lower back, and instead of coming
all the way to the floor, bend the arms
into a half push up before returning to
downward dog. Alternatively, move
through a couple of rounds of cat/cow
(pictured) (being mindful not to move
into too deep a backbend) or simply
stay resting on the hands and knees.
This pose can be practiced for pregnant students who
feel comfortable lying on their backs. To modify Bridge
Pose, place a block under your sacrum. This provides a
restorative backbend without over stretching the belly.
You can also place a bolster or blanket under the head to
keep it elevated above the heart.
Pregnant students should avoid compressive “closed’
twists. Instead, create an open twist (in a general class,
this will usually mean twisting in the opposite direction to
everyone else). For example, when in a lunge twist with
the right leg forward, instead of placing your left hand
to the inside of the right foot and reaching the right arm
skyward, rest your right hand on the floor and reach the
left arm high – like in extended side angle pose (shown).
You might like to also modify by lowering the left knee to
the ground in a lunge. For tight shoulders, place a block
under the right hand. Focus on opening up through the
chest rather than twisting from the core.
may/june 2018
Props are a delicious addition to any pregnant Savasana.
For a side-lying variation students should lie on their left
side, resting their head on a pillow, placing a prop (block
or blanket) between the knees and hugging a bolster.
Alternatively, place a bolster length ways along the spine and
lie back, bringing the head to rest on another prop so that it
stays above the heart. A second bolster can also be placed
under the knees for lower back support.
As in any yoga practice, prenatal yoga encourages us to listen
to our own unique body, to practice with awareness, and to
leave our ego at the door. By being aware of the main safety
considerations and comfort enhancers, teachers can
confidently guide their pregnant students in a general yoga
class, and students can easily modify to suit their stage of
pregnancy and individual preferences.
Of course, as with any discipline, the more knowledge we
contain the better. Pregnant students will receive the most
specialised attention by heading to a dedicated prenatal yoga
class, and teachers can delve into a deeper understanding of
teaching prenatal yoga by exploring further studies in this
particular field.
Elise Dussans is a midwife and pre and postnatal yoga teacher
trainer at Byron Yoga Centre who greatly believes
in the power of yoga to create a smoother labour experience.
She explains that not every birthing scenario is the same,
and there are no guarantees, “On the Byron Yoga Centre
Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training we ensure that students realise
the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know what
is going to happen.” But, for Dussans, a regular yoga practice
can really help. She says, “It gives women the ability to
more easily let go, yet to remain present to their birth
experience. It gives them breathing exercises to practice if they
start feeling overwhelmed. It gives them tools to be able
to listen to their body even in the most challenging times.
It gives them a deeper understanding of their body,
and assists in maintaining mobility, which allows
them to go through labour with grace.”
For more information about the prenatal teachers in this story and their offerings, see the links below.
Ana Davis Amanda Vella -
Katie Manitsas -
Elise Dussans/Byron Yoga Centre -
Mindful Birth Training
Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Baby
Michelle Papa and Jean Byrne PhD co founded Mindful Birth bringing
together their experiences as mothers, pregnancy yoga teachers, childbirth
educators and Dr Byrne’s research into mindfulness & the childbearing
period. Pregnancy, birth and parenting create tremendous changes in a
woman and her family’s life. Our trainings celebrate this rite of passage and
empower women through sharing evidence based research, mindfulness
practice and inspiring yoga classes. Each training is split into three Modules,
Yoga for Pregnancy, Post Natal Yoga and Yoga for Mindful Birth.
2018 Training dates
2019 Training
Perth: May 4 - 6, May 11 - 13, May 18 - 20
Perth, Sydney, Jakarta, Melbourne,
Singapore: Nov 3 - 11 2018 at Pure Yoga Singapore
Dubai Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai
Sydney: Oct 19 - 21, Nov 24 - 25, Nov 30 - Dec 2
Off t
When it comes to
most of us think
taking the ultimate
there are so many other destinations that can
inspire a deeper understanding of this ancient
practice. Here, Yoga Journal contributors
share their experiences in some far-off
places—as well as a few surprising spots
closer to home—that have transformed
their practices and their lives.
Into the Wild
inched closer to a clearing in the
thick bush, and our guide, Fannuel
Banda, whispered urgently to us to
stay seated—and quiet. A couple of
hours earlier, the enormous red
sun had sunk into a vast horizon,
which meant that in the pitchblack darkness, Banda had to point
his large flashlight toward what he
wanted us to see: a lion, devouring
its fresh kill.
Despite the fact that we’d been
hoping for a lion sighting all week,
my initial instinct was to look away.
I was mere metres from this
brutal feast and could practically
smell the blood. I caught a glimpse
of the poor warthog’s face, an
expression of fear still present in its
eyes, and wondered if it was the
same little guy I’d spotted earlier
that day, innocently digging his big
snout into the ground in search of
his own dinner. But I didn’t look
away. None of us on this game
drive through South Luangwa
National Park in Zambia, Africa,
did. Instead, we stayed seated and
quiet, observing this death in its
perfect, if gruesome, unfolding.
It’s admittedly strange to go on
safari, practice yoga and
meditation in the blissfully quiet
and Wi-Fi–free bush, and have this
zen-like reaction to a scene so filled
with harm. Yet what I learned
almost immediately, here and on
may/june 2018
may/june 2018
walks under
that beautiful
African sky, is that being
on safari is a lesson in being a
witness—a true observer.
The Sanskrit word for this is sakshi,
and its meaning is derived from the
word’s two roots: sa, which means
“with” and aksha, which means
“senses,” “eyes,” or “spiritual wisdom.”
We embody sakshi when we can witness
the world without getting involved in, or
being affected by, worldly things; when
we can look at our thoughts without
getting attached to them; when our
awareness can distance itself from our
ever-changing breath and bodies,
allowing us to rest fully in our true
Until this trip, I’d thought of sakshi
as a beautiful concept worthy of working
toward, yet impossible for mere mortals
like myself to achieve—at least in this
lifetime. In the weeks leading up to
my trip to Zambia, the thoughts
that surfaced in my mantra-based
meditation sessions were anything but
unimpassioned. I’d been dating a man I
falling in
love with, but
who was about to
embark on a year of travel.
And as my mind inevitably drifted
toward what might happen between
us—It will never work! Why can’t the
timing be right with this one?—I found
myself reacting as usual, rather than
softening and staying calm. Other
anxieties regularly came up around my
writing (Am I challenging myself enough
with the assignments I’m taking? When
am I going to finally start that book?), as
well as the bleak state of the world—
from natural disasters to political
decisions that filled me with resentment
and rage. And instead of watching these
unsettling thoughts surface with some
manner of detachment, I clung to them
with a fervent urgency.
This didn’t change when I arrived at
the Bushcamp Company’s Mfuwe
Lodge, where I meditated before dawn
each morning to the sounds of hippos
stomping outside my chalet and hyenas
howling in the distance.
It’s funny how the patterns of your
mind will follow you to even the most
remote reaches of the world.
Yet an interesting thing happened as
I sank comfortably into the busy-yetpeaceful pace of this safari: I started
truly observing everything around me.
In just a few days, this would shift how I
started observing the thoughts scurrying
around my own mind.
On morning game drives, we sat
quietly in the Land Rover as Banda
drove us through the bush, African
antelope leaping beside us while
monkeys scrambled up trees. We
stopped so Banda could point out the
most colourful birds I’d ever seen, some
with black-and-white, polka-dotted
wings and red breasts and others—
called lovebirds because of how they
care for each other—a kaleidoscope of
blues, pinks, and yellows.
We spotted wild African dogs,
zebras, giraffes, elephants, African
buffalo, a leopard, and on our last game
drive, the lion. Being so immersed in
this kingdom all week, with no contact
with the outside world and no agenda
other than to observe these beautiful
animals in their untouched-by-man
habitat, offered a surprising gift. By
watching the rhythms and cycles of
these creatures’ lives from a place of
pure awe, I wondered if I could
may/june 2018
Escape to Bali
“It’s funny how the
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to even the most remote
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approach the wilds of my mind’s
wanderings with the same detached
self-observation. If I could become less
involved in my emotions, would I then
become more attuned to the world
around me, and more present in
surprising ways?
On my last morning on safari, I
sat in the pre-dawn stillness from what
felt like a much different seat. My new
romance may fade or flourish. My
writing will undoubtedly ebb and flow.
The hurricanes, fires, and political
storms will surge and pass. And my
practice is to nudge my awareness to
observe it all as I did that hungry lion,
from a place of seated, quiet awe.
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on safari with the Bushcamp Company.
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Getting present
“GIVE ME YOUR HAND, and close your
eyes,” urges my guide, Mario. I turn and
look at him dubiously. We’re barely an
hour into a six-hour hike in Chile’s
Huerquehue National Park. I had taken
the lead on the well-marked Los Lagos
trail, keeping my gaze down to ensure
that I wouldn’t trip on a tree root or rock
at my speedy pace. Hiking, for me, has
always been one part moving
meditation, one part high-intensity
workout. I get lost in my own head and
connect with my breath as I climb, my
heart rate rising.
Mario’s request to play this game
irks me, as I’m starting to feel a chill.
But as I walk back toward him, I can’t
help but smile. Mario is dressed like an
old-school Patagonian explorer, down
to his wraparound Sherpa sunglasses
and oversized pack. He isn’t more than
30, but I can tell he’s wise beyond his
years—with a patience and calm I
envy. Mario reaches out one mittencovered hand to grab hold of mine.
“Now close your eyes,” he coaxes.
This seems like a dangerous game,
as the trail is about to slope steeply
downhill. “I won’t be able to see
anything,” I counter.
“You aren’t seeing anything other
than your boots at the pace you’re
hiking,” he scolds. “You don’t need to
see to be present. You need to slow
down so you can appreciate the forest.”
Like many travellers, I had come to
Pucón, Chile’s adventure-sports capital,
seeking adrenaline-fueled fun to
complement my morning yoga classes
at Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira, where I was
staying. Located in Chile’s Lake District,
this vast wilderness is considered a
mecca for kayaking, hiking, and skiing
with its crystal lakes, ancient forests,
and snow-crowned volcanoes.
Yet here I was, in one of the region’s
most famous parks, walking at a
snail’s pace with my eyes closed.
may/june 2018
Mario less than
48 hours, and
already I’m at his mercy.
“In the wilderness, trust is
instinctual,” he says with such
conviction that the tension in my jaw
and body are released as I give in and
trust him. In my self-imposed darkness,
every sense becomes heightened.
I feel the squish of the earth,
damp with snowmelt, beneath my
gaiter-covered boots.
Instead of the thumping of my own
heartbeat, I hear a different hammering.
I yank on Mario’s mitten to pause.
“Magellan woodpecker,” he tells me.
“Nature’s jackhammer.”
After 20 minutes of blindly navigating
river crossings and slick downhill
slopes, I’m instructed to open my eyes.
The scenery seems twice as vibrant as it
was when we’d started. As I take it in,
Mario pulls out a thermos of espresso.
“At this rate, we’ll be lucky to be
back by dinner,” I tease.
“But what is the rush?” he questions,
and I know he is right. Why not
relax and be in the moment?
And so I find myself, over the next
few days, applying the mindfulness I
practice each morning on my yoga mat
to my adventures with Mario. I scrap
plan to skin up
to the snowy summit
of Volcano Villarrica,
an all-day endeavour, and
compromise with a two-hour
ascent a quarter-way up by snowshoe.
When I pick up the pace, Mario teases
that my competitiveness has once again
kicked in, but I promise I’m only
moving so fast because of the cold.
Later that day, Mario surprises me
with a stop at some local hot springs,
where we spend hours soaking in
steamy waters and gazing at the surrounding forest canyon.
“And you wanted to freeze your
butt off skiing all the way to the top
of an active volcano?” he teases me.
The truth is, I skinned up that
mountain the following day. Yet with
each gruelling breath on my way up
and each exhilarating turn on my
way down, I had a newfound ability
to appreciate what was happening
in each moment.
Rather than indulging my mind
in its endless chatter, I breathed in the
crisp air, admired the way the snow
shimmered in the sunlight, and shared
a frozen smile with other skiers
schussing by. And more than a few
times, I even closed my eyes. YOGAKOH teacher trainings follow the
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A lesson in letting go
may/june 2018
Cambodia to realise what was different.
I’d traveled to Southeast Asia before.
The first day always feels the same,
no matter what the country: I’m
overwhelmed by the combination of
jet lag, thick humid air, and the utter
chaos of moped traffic; distracted by the
strange smells; and startled by the vivid
contrast of rich and poor. The third day
is usually when I desensitise enough
to start noticing the details, like an
ancient statue hidden by jungle vines
or the hawkers selling sticky rice and
On my third evening in Phnom
Penh, I was about to dig into a dish of
croaker fish tossed in coconut broth
with wild mushrooms and candle yam
when it hit me: no one here is old, and
everyone is smiling.
When I arrived in Cambodia, my
knowledge of the country extended to
the famous temple of Angkor Wat and
the fact that Angelina Jolie had fallen
hard for the place while filming Lara
Croft: Tomb Raider. The country’s mix
of Buddhist religion, archaeological
wonders, and French architecture
prompted me to read up on its history
when I got to my room at Raffles Hotel
Le Royal, an oasis of calm in the heart
of this bustling capital.
I felt a wave of guilt when I learned
that during the Vietnam War, the U.S.
undertook a covert, four-year bombing
campaign in Cambodia, devastating the
countryside and causing sociopolitical
upheaval that led to a Communist
takeover. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge,
Cambodia’s communist party, drove
anyone perceived a class enemy, or a
threat, to the regime out of Phnom Penh
and into rural areas. Between 1975 and
1979, this dramatic attempt at social
engineering meant nearly two million
people—a quarter of the population—
died. As a result, about 70 percent of
Cambodia’s population is under the age
of 30 today, which explains why I
noticed so few elderly Cambodians.
To try to understand more of this
country’s painful past, I hired a driver to
take me 20 minutes outside of the city to
the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek—a
mass grave where more than 17,000
victims of the Khmer Rouge are buried.
An enormous glass stupa containing
more than 5,000 human skulls acts as a
shrine acknowledging, rather than
hiding, the truth of Cambodia’s grim
past. The $6 entry fee included an audio
tour with devastating stories from
survivors. My eyes welled with tears
as I listened to unthinkable horrors.
That evening, on a flight to Siem
Reap, I tried to shake the haunting
images from my mind. After my
sobering history lesson and new
understanding of America’s role in the
atrocities, I felt the urge to apologise to
every local I met. Yet no one seemed to
share my heavy heart. When I visited
the floating fishing village at Lake Tonlé
Sap, a young woman waved to me with
a gap-toothed grin. The teenagers
selling fish pedicures near my hotel
danced and sang to K-pop tunes.
The next morning, Aki, a gangly
guide with Hulk-like strength, pedalled
me by tuk-tuk to watch the sunrise at
Angkor Wat, cracking jokes the entire
bumpy ride. With some prying, I
learned that he had lost his mother, two
sisters, and a brother during the
genocide; his father lost both legs to a
land mine. As the sky turned a soft
golden hue, we sat side by side on a
crumbling stone and I asked Aki if he
felt any resentment toward Americans
for bombing his country, or toward
those who had killed his family. He
smiled as he looked at me.
“Anger will not bring back my
family,” he said softly. “I am here,
watching the sunrise, in a beautiful
place with a new friend. Life is full of
What a beautiful lesson on the yogic
concept of duhkha (suffering), I thought.
While we can’t undo loss or heartache,
we can change the way we react to the
hard times we face. The people of
Cambodia haven’t forgotten their past,
but they’re also not letting it define
“Anger will not bring
back my family...
Life is full of promise.”
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Tapping the source
may/june 2018
PEW with my hands crossed in my lap
and started repeating Hail Marys out of
habit. It’s practically impossible to go to
Malta, a tiny island country just 70
kilometres south of Sicily, without
visiting more than a few of its 359
churches. And, apparently for me, it
was also impossible to sit in one of the
country’s most beautiful cathedrals and
not pray, despite it having been more
than 20 years since I’d gone to church
It did feel a little weird to pray, in a
church, to a Catholic God while on a
yoga retreat. But in fairness, this wasn’t
a typical yoga retreat. I’d traveled to
Malta with Perillo’s Learning
Journeys—a company that specialises
in spiritual travel—on a weeklong trip
focused on wellness, gastronomy, and
culture. Rather than the typical twicedaily yoga and meditation sessions
offered on most retreats, we were
encouraged to practice on our own—
and then experience the kind of oneness
with Source that happens off the mat:
the divinity you feel when wandering
around cobblestone streets, say, or
eating just-baked bread drenched in
exquisitely fresh olive oil.
To get to know Malta is to learn
about the country’s history, which dates
back to the dawn of civilisation. The
country went through a golden Neolithic
period, the remains of which are evident
in the 50 prehistoric temples scattered
around the country—all built between
3600 BC and 700 BC, making them older
than Stonehenge and the Egyptian
pyramids. Particularly interesting to our
group of yogis was learning about the
statues of female figures found in many
of these Maltese temples, collectively
known as the “Fat Ladies” of Malta.
Their generous thighs and bellies have
led some archaeologists to hypothesise
that they were fertility deities—signs
of a goddess religion that the highly
regarded mythologist and writer Joseph
Campbell once called an expression of
“that primordial attempt on humanity’s
part to understand and live in harmony
with the beauty and wonder of
As we walked through the Ggantija
Temples on the small Maltese island of
Gozo—known for some of the best
swimming, snorkelling, and diving in
the Mediterranean—I couldn’t help but
think about the vast array of world
religions and how, historically, they’ve
all served to help us seek greater
meaning and feel a connection to
something larger than ourselves.
While strolling through Hagar
Qim, a prehistoric temple on a hilltop
overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean
Sea, I was schooled in primitive design:
This stone structure, like all of the
temples I visited, had a central corridor
that cut through two (or sometimes
more) chambers, ultimately reaching a
small altar at the far end. Carved into
the stone walls were elaborate designs,
likely markings denoting the passage of
time. Stone furnishings, figurines,
and other artefacts found in these
temples, now on display in the country’s
national museums, indicate that early
Maltese society was likely a powerful
matriarchy dominated by priestesses,
female leaders, and mother goddesses.
My heart was full.
church, or yoga studio, humans have
sat—together, or alone, with the
Source—in harmony with, and in
awe of, the divinity running through
our hearts, bodies, and minds. It is how
we feel connected: to ourselves, to
each other, to the place we live, and
ultimately, to the beauty and wonder
of the Universe.
Opposite page: St. John’s Co-Cathedral;
This page: Ggantija Temples, Hagar Qim.
For more information on upcoming retreats
in Malta, visit
may/june 2018
After exploring Hagar Qim and
another nearby temple, Mnajdra, I
found a grassy perch overlooking the sea
so I could meditate. As I closed my eyes,
I felt an invigorating vibration wash over
me—the same kind of charge I feel
when I visit the Buddhist enclave in
Crestone, Colorado, or when I hiked to
Gomukh, the headwaters of the sacred
Ganges River, in India. And as I really
leaned into that vibration, sitting there
with my eyes closed beside those ancient
temples and silently repeating my given
mantra, I realised what I was
experiencing was not far from what I’d
experienced in that wooden pew in the
cathedral a few days earlier—where I
had found myself instinctively repeating
Hail Marys like an old, familiar mantra.
In that moment, it was clear that one
of the reasons I practice yoga and
meditation—arguably the ultimate
reason I practice—is to experience
shakti, the divine, cosmic energy that
moves through all of us. As a kid
growing up Catholic, I was taught to find
that energy through prayer. As yoga
classes came to replace Sunday mass, I
began looking to shakti’s many forms in
the Hindu pantheon, such as Parvati,
Durga, and Kali—powerful goddesses
whom I could call into my practice to
help me tap the universal source of
energy, power, and creativity.
Here in Malta, these megalithic
structures seemed to offer proof that
we’ve been doing this forever. No matter
the structure, whether a stone temple,
“Early Maltese society was likely a
powerful matriarchy dominated
by priestesses, female leaders,
and mother goddesses.”
Great Australasian Yoga Escapes
Seeking your own spiritual escape closer to home? Jessica Humphries
shares her favourite yoga journeys in our own backyard.
1 - Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay has long been known as Australia’s yoga capital. The expansive beaches and spiritual
offerings entice yogis from near and far, and as tourism continues to flourish, so does the yoga scene.
Where to stay: Elements of Byron boasts eco friendly luxury just a stone’s throw from the
beach. Yoga classes are offered in the morning sun overlooking the ocean and the spa
treatments are divine.
Where to eat: Elixaba is a trendy, plant based restaurant and bar tucked away in a secret
arcade that serves delicious, colourful treats.
Where to practice: Creature Yoga is Byron’s most popular yoga space, with two boutique
studios on opposite ends of town and an array of classes and workshops.
What to do: Walk the lighthouse track as you take in peaceful rainforest and picturesque
ocean views.
2 - Sunshine Coast, QLD
The Sunshine Coast is quickly becoming Australia’s new yoga hotspot, with more and more nature
loving, conscious travellers drawn to the area and some seriously serene spaces to explore.
Where to stay: Kondalilla Eco Resort is a nature enthusiasts dream, offering cabins tucked
away in the rainforest hinterland that are perfect for escaping the city. If you’re craving the
coast and a little luxury, Sofitel Noosa won’t disappoint.
Where to eat: Belmondos Organic Market is filled with healthy, ready to eat treats
and take aways from local, artisan producers.
Where to practice: Zenko Yoga have two sunny studios offering daily flow, yin and
meditation classes with some of the coast’s best teachers.
What to do: Take an SUP yoga class with Kat Harding or enjoy a hinterland hike.
Ubud is a theme park for yoga lovers! There are classes on every corner and vegan
eateries galore, not to mention the annual Bali Spirit Fest. Be warned, a trip to Ubud may
bring on digital nomad dreams whilst you plan your next move.
Where to stay: Yoga Barn is Ubud’s biggest yoga studio, also offering beautiful on site accommodation.
There’s a bursting yoga schedule and a restaurant on site, creating a village atmosphere.
Where to eat: If you’re venturing beyond Yoga Barn’s walls, turn right as you exit the property
and wander along to find an abundance of vegan eats. Clear Café is beautifully and peacefully
designed with a wealth of plant-based feasts.
Where to practice: Radiantly Alive is a centrally located studio filled with light and overlooking
lush rainforest gardens, plus an expansive timetable taught by experienced teachers.
What to do: Book an Ayurvedic treatment at Bali Botanica Spa, get your barter on at the
Ubud Art Market or take a peaceful stroll around the rice fields.
may/june 2018
4 - Canggu, Bali
This beachside town brings a range of yoga studios and nutritious cafes to the tourists
who flock to soak up the good vibes.
Where to stay: Desa Seni is a quirky eco village reminiscent of a children’s colourful dream-like
fairy-tale. The outdoor yoga spaces boast a wealth of daily yoga classes taught by world-class teachers.
Where to eat: Desa Seni’s on site café creates farm to table treats, or head into town and visit
Shady Shack for bungalow vibes and a big, wholesome menu.
Where to practice: The Practice is a beautiful space with breezy indoor/outdoor shalas that
overlook the rice fields and a dedicated following of community- focused yogis who stay for
chats and tea after class.
What to do: The yoga, massage, food and long walks along the beach are enough to keep you
entertained for weeks on end.
5 - Koh Phangang, Thailand
Who would have imagined the island famous for its full moon rage parties would one day
become a yogi’s paradise? Yoga lovers will be delighted by the wholesome treats aplenty.
Where to stay: The Sanctuary is well known for its yoga, healthy food and detox programs,
quirky accommodation and beautiful beachfront location that backs onto tranquil rainforest.
Where to eat: Green Gallery is a plant based café serving up vegan variations of traditional treats
(like cheeseburgers, fake bacon & eggs and raw cakes) with a chilled out garden space that hosts
regular, yogic events.
Where to practice: You won’t need to leave The Sanctuary for a picturesque practice, but if you’re
keen to explore try Orion Healing Centre, offering classes as well as unique holistic therapies.
What to do: There’s no shortage of adventurous activities on the island, but a sunset over the
ocean will fill your yogi cup.
3 - Ubud, Bali
I took my Yoga Teaching Career to the next
level when I completed the Certificate in
Meditation Teaching and Holistic Counselling.
I learned the science behind why meditation
works & how it can be used as a powerful
healing therapy.
I learned how to work with my students
different learning styles and how to offer
them meditations that would suit them individually.
I discovered there is a lot more to meditation
than sitting in a lotus position and struggling
to achieve a quite mind!
My ideas, my understanding, my own practise,
my level of professionalism, my income and
certainly what I have to offer my students, have
all grown significantly
The International Mediation Teachers & Therapists Association
Meditation Teacher - Meditation Therapist
Chair Yoga Instructor
Holistic Counsellor Training Courses
Find a training course provider near you !
New South Wales ~ Campbelltown
The Meditation Teachers Training College
Queensland ~ Rockhampton
Inspired Path Academy of Holistic
Healing Therapies
New South Wales ~ Sanctuary Point
The Meditation and Holistic Health
Training College
Queensland ~ Darling Downs
The Holistic Training College
Victoria ~ Narre Warren
South Australia
Mind Unlimited College
Victoria ~ Beentleigh
I Meditate College
Western Australia
Higher Branches
India (Residential Training Retreats)
Inner - Voyage College
(07) 5442 7448
r r ti
Poses of the month
to Ubhaya Padangusthasana
By Erika Halweil
Paschima = Western · Uttana = Intense stretch · Asana = Pose
Intense Western Stretch Pose (also Seated Forward Bend)
Stretches the back of your entire body, from your heels to your head; helps to open your hips;
strengthens your agni (digestive fire); creates a state of inner calm.
may/june 2018
2 Straighten your legs and place your hands
next to the flesh of your outer hips. Bring
your legs together with the insides of your
feet touching. Flex your feet by drawing your
toes toward you, and simultaneously press
out through the balls of your feet. Activate
your thigh muscles by drawing them up,
away from your kneecaps. Draw your low
belly softly toward your spine. Let your
shoulders move back, and begin to breathe
into your chest and your entire rib cage.
3 Keeping the activation of your legs and low
belly, reach forward to hold your big toes,
5 As you exhale, begin to move deeper into
a forward fold. Try not to pull with your arm
Instead, keep your shoulders relaxed. Bend
your elbows and bow your head, gazing
toward your legs. Relax your neck and let
your breath move freely.
6 Keep gently drawing your low belly tow
your spine, lifting your waist off your thigh
On inhalations, feel a broadening of your c
and a lengthening in the front of your tors
On exhalations, feel a widening in your up
back as you continue to relax your shoulde
Hold for at least 5 breaths. To exit the posture,
inhale and lengthen your torso upward while
straightening your arms. Complete a full
exhalation before releasing your feet.
DON’T let your feet or knees turn out.
This overstretches your inner knees and
1 For Paschimottanasana, begin in Adho
Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog
Pose). At the end of an exhalation, step
(or jump) to a seated position.
4 Maintaining the hold, inhale and lift your
chest, lengthening your abdomen and sides.
Gently relax your shoulders away from your
Before exploring any particular asana, first
complete at least three rounds of Surya
Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A).
the sides of your feet, or a wrist beyond your
flexed feet.
DON’T round and harden your back,
pushing your torso away from your legs.
This will create tension and inhibit your
breath, which can strain your back.
Our Pro Teacher and model Erika Halweil began teaching yoga in 1998 and has since devoted herself to the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga. Her teachers include
K. Pattabhi Jois, Tim Miller, and Eddie Stern. She lives in Sag Harbor, New York, with her husband, Corey De Rosa (owner of Tapovana Ashtanga Healing Center),
and their daughters, Milla and Neelu. She teaches at Tapovana and Yoga Shanti and offers private lessons (
your practice
ottanasana as necessary
gnment in your body.
If your hamstrings are tigh r you fi d
it difficult to focus on your breathing …
If yo
it difficult to take full, deep breaths …
TRY bending your knees. With your feet flexed, press your knees
together and bend them just until you’re able to grasp your feet.
(If this connection is not possible yet, simply rest your hands on
your ankles or shins.) Relax your neck, and bow your head toward
your knees. Gaze at a place below the tip of your nose, and focus
on the even length, sound, and movement of your breath as it
moves in and out of your lungs and rib cage.
TRY separating your legs slightly (no wider than the width of your
hips), and bend your knees, which will put less pressure on your
abdomen and diaphragm. Maintain the integrity of the posture
by keeping your feet flexed with your knees pointing straight up
in the same direction as your toes. Try to hold the outer edges
of your feet, and relax your upper back. Draw in your inhales
gradually, allowing your whole rib cage to expand.
TRY moving into the pose with a more neutral spine, allowing
an anterior (forward) tilt in your pelvis. Establish this type of
seat by relaxing your groins, moving your pubic bones toward
the floor, and widening your sitting bones. Gently draw in and
upward from your pelvic floor and low belly, which will create
internal support to soften gripping in your back muscles. If you
still feel discomfort, add a slight bend in your knees. Only go
as far forward and down as you can without creating pressure
in your back. Gradually reach for your ankles or feet (if it feels
comfortable), maintaining length in your spine.
may/june 2018
If you suffer from chronic back pain
or disc issues …
It’s important to remember that the quality
of your yoga practice is not defined by the
pliability of your limbs or the fortitude of
your physique. It’s a deeper experience that
is gifted to you through sincere effort over
a very long period of time. Yoga requires
curiosity, humility, and dedication. Patanjali’s
eight-limbed path encourages us to be vigilant
practitioners at all times. Begin by studying
and refining the ways in which you interact
with the outside world and the world inside
you. Then you can start to clarify and fortify
your body so you can enjoy these potent,
subtle practices and their endless gifts.
Beyond the body
r r ti
Strengthen your legs and cor
with these prep poses for U
Upavistha Konasana
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Increases mobility and circulation in your pelvis; stretches your
hamstrings; lengthens your sides.
Instruction A
From Down Dog, exhale and step (or jump) forward to sit down. Straighten
your legs and flex your feet. Open your straight legs away from one another
with toes and knees pointing up. Reach forward to grab the outsides of your feet
(bring your legs slightly closer if needed). Lift your torso, straighten your arms,
draw the outer edges of your feet back, and ground through your outer knees,
thighs, and hips. At the same time, press through the inside edges of your ankles
and feet. On an exhalation, move your torso forward and down toward the floor.
Relax your neck. If your head rests on the floor, reach your chin forward and gaze
down your nose. Hold for at least 5 breaths. On an inhalation, lengthen your torso
away from the floor. On an exhalation, release your feet and sit up. Proceed to B.
Instruction B
Sit tall with your arms outstretched, and lean back slightly until you feel your low
belly engage. Inhale, and lift straight legs up to straight arms, grabbing the outside
edges of your feet—or slightly bend your knees to connect your hands to your feet,
then slowly extend your legs. Keep your legs wide, lift your chest, point your toes,
and begin to gaze up. Keep drawing your waist in, breathing up into your chest.
Again, hold for at least 5 breaths.
Intense Side Stretch Pose
Tones your waist; stretches and strengthens your legs from feet to hips.
may/june 2018
Stand in Samasthiti (Equal Standing Posture). Lift the arches of your feet,
spread the balls of your feet, and ground your heels. Lift your knees,
thigh muscles, pelvic floor, low belly, and chest. Take your arms in
reverse prayer (or grab opposite elbows behind your back). Inhale, and
step your right foot behind you (about 3 feet). Turn on your heels to face
the back of your mat. Point your right foot straight out in front, and turn
your back foot out 60–90 degrees. Square your hips over your right leg.
Exhale, and fold at your hips, bringing your head toward your right
knee. Gaze at your knee until your head is connected to your leg; once
contact is made, gaze at your ankle or big toe. Lengthen your
sides and relax your neck. Hold for at least 5 breaths. Inhale to lift
your torso, and pivot to the left on your heels to switch sides.
Supta Padangusthasana
Reclining Hand-to-Big Toe Pose
Strengthens your legs and abdominals; improves circulation
in your legs, abdomen, pelvis, and spine.
From Down Dog, exhale and step (or jump) forward to sit down.
Straighten your legs, and lie on your back. Squeeze your legs
together, and point your toes. Draw your navel toward your spine.
Rest your right hand on your right thigh. Inhale and lift your left leg
to meet your left hand. Flex your left foot; hold your left big toe with
your second and third fingers and thumb. Exhale, and lift your head
and chest to your left leg. Try to draw in at your waist. Hold for
at least 5 breaths. On an inhalation, lower your head. On an
exhalation, lower your leg. Repeat on the other side.
Strengthen your abdominals as you move
step by step into Ubhaya Padangusthasana
Ubhaya Padangusthasana
Ubhaya = Both
ada = Foot
ngusta = Big Toe · sana = Pose
Big Toe Pose
Tones your abdomen; applies acupressure to your big toes
(which relate to head and brain health in Chinese reflexology).
1 From Down Dog, exhale and step (or jump)
forward to sit down. Extend your legs straight
out in front of you. Lie on your back, firm your
legs together, and point your toes. Press your
arms against the floor by your sides with palms
facing down. Gently draw in your waist on all
3 Very gently, press off the balls of your feet,
letting a smooth and continuous inhale carry
your body up to a balanced seated position.
Maintain a firm hold on your big toes, and keep
your arms and legs straight along the way.
may/june 2018
2 On an inhalation, keep your legs together
and lift them all the way overhead to the floor
behind you. Flex your feet so that your toe tips
touch the floor, with the soles of your feet facing
away from your back. On an exhalation, reach
your arms overhead to hold your big toes with
your second and third fingers and your thumbs
(as you did in Supta Padangusthasana). Try to
reach your hips high over your head, and keep
your arms and legs straight. Reach up actively
through your low back and hips, and lengthen
through your heels. On an exhalation, draw in
all sides of your waist.
may/june 2018
your practice
4 Once balanced, draw your
kneecaps up, and firm your
thigh muscles, allowing a slight
internal rotation of your upper
thighs. Press through the balls
of your feet, relax your toes
(spreading them slightly) and
lift your chest. Move your spine
slightly toward the front of your
body, without thrusting your rib
cage forward. Look up toward
your third eye. At the end of
each exhalation, gently draw in
your low belly, breathing freely
into your chest, ribs, and the
space between your shoulder
blades. Relax your shoulders
and draw them away from
one another so your neck is
an open gateway for sending
and receiving breath. Enjoy the
lightness of the posture for at
least 5 breaths.
Stay safe
In my tradition of practice (Ashtanga), there is a ready-made safety net called
tristhana, or the three supports of the practice. They go from gross to subtle.
The first support is what you do with your physical body: Keep your body still
(resist fidgeting) but stay muscularly active where the pose requires it. Your body
should be alert and fully engaged, but not rigid or gripped. This type of physical
activation will allow your body to remain receptive to the dynamic movement of
your breath within your body.
This conscious, purposeful breath is the second support and focuses on the
energetic body: Breathe through your nose, making a gentle sound in your
throat and chest. Breathe freely into the entirety of your rib cage, while gently
lifting from the center of your pelvic floor and the lowest part of your belly.
The third support is how you choose to direct your attention: Keep your
eyes open and your gaze soft and steady. By tempering the physical effort with
the energetic practice of breath and the mental and emotional practice of gaze
(attention), you’ll minimize the overdoing or overreaching that is created
through striving. Receive your practice as it is, and focus on the sending and
receiving of energy and the gift of your attention—the aspects of practice that
have a more lasting effect on the quality of your life. Take your time and be
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your practice
Protect your
Start to understand,
lengthen, and strengthen
your teres major—
a little-known muscle that
can make or break healthy
shoulders when you go
upside down.
may/june 2018
By Tom Myers
Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog
Pose) to Salamba Sirsasana (Supported
Headstand), you are basically asking
your arms and shoulders to act like legs.
But there’s a difference: your legs
are well-designed for pushing, resisting
gravity, and constantly bearing the
weight of your body as it navigates
through all types of terrain. Your
shoulders, in contrast, are built for
pulling and hanging. All the objects that
are dear to us—tools, food, loved
ones—are held by our hands and carried
by our hearts through our shoulders.
When you invert in asana class, you
turn that relationship upside down. And
doing so safely requires both precision
and adaptability. When you ask your
very mobile shoulder assemblies to
accept the compression of your body’s
weight and act like stable legs, then your
bone placement, ligament resilience,
and muscle balance all play a role in
successful, injury-free inversions.
Key to muscle balance in the
shoulders is the teres major. (When we
refer to any particular muscle, we mean
all of its fascial connections and
mechanical influences in its area of the
body.) So let’s explore the teres major’s
entire “post code.”
To find teres major, reach across and
grab the flesh that forms the back of
your armpit, with your thumb in your
armpit and your fingertips on the
outside edge of your shoulder blade.
If you slide your thumb back
and forth, you can feel the dense and
slippery tendon of your latissimus dorsi
(or lat) muscle. You can follow it as it
curves up around into the humerus
(upper arm bone). The lat comes from
your lower back, connecting into the
fascia of your thoracic and lumbar spine,
hip, and even your outer ribs, and
eventually winding into a flat, wide
tendon that attaches to your upper arm.
Under your fingertips is your lat’s
good friend, and our focus: teres major
(meaning “big round” in Latin)—a
much shorter, square muscle that runs
from the bottom corner of your shoulder
blade and joins into the humerus right
beside, and parallel to, the lat.
What you are holding when you hold
the back of your armpit is the control
panel for the proper positioning of your
shoulder in inversions. The lats and teres
major form part of the big X across your
back that I call the Back Functional Line.
This myofascial (muscular plus fascial)
line connects from the end of the lat on
your arm, all the way across your back,
to your opposite hip and leg.
While your lats are broad surface
muscles that usually lengthen and
strengthen pretty quickly with initial
yoga practice, teres major is, by contrast,
not very well known or understood in
the context of movement. The myofascial
pathway through teres major requires
more attention to get balanced. I call this
pathway the Deep Back Arm Line—
another myofascial line of connection
that starts with the little- finger side of
your hand and ends at your thoracic
The idea is to get even muscular and
fascial tone through the whole Deep
Back Arm Line. You can do it; it just
requires attention.
shoulders in
your practice
may/june 2018
TERES MAJOR IS KEY to supporting your
weight when you move upside down.
If teres major is too short, you’ll
be setting yourself up for a shoulder
injury as you load your shoulder
with more weight in increasingly
difficult or long inversions.
your practice
Myofascial back
and arm lines
in arms and legs
may/june 2018
Your leg transfers weight directly from
foot to hip, while force transmission in the arm
(see arrows) is more complex.
The Deep Back Arm Lines (yellow) run from
the tips of your little fingers up your arms,
eventually reaching your shoulder blades and the
centre of your back to your neck. The Back Functional
Lines (blue) connect to the ends of your lats, cross your
lower back, and end at opposite hips and legs.
your practice
Feel your Deep Back Arm Lines
and Back Functional Lines
the surrounding cuff of muscles. It gets
hooked to the spine by the rhomboids and
the levator scapulae. In the inversion, can
you feel this hook into the upper back
and cervical spine?
The rotator-cuff muscles—
supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor,
and subscapularis—surround the ball of the
shoulder. Lots of people get into trouble
with the rotator cuff (think baseball pitchers
and tennis players), but for yoga folks, the
trouble spot is often teres major.
So expand your awareness to the
whole Deep Back Arm Line. Where does it
feel weak? Can you feel it connecting all the
way up? Often the triceps are the weak part,
and the teres major is the overly short part,
creating a short circuit in the whole “using
your arm as a leg” thing.
You can sharpen your awareness of
teres major by practicing a short vinyasa. In
Down Dog: Ground through the outer heel
of your hand and little finger, tone your
triceps, and feel the connection build up
through your Deep Back Arm Lines. Track
the lines specifically through the back of
your armpits, through teres major, and into
the Back Functional Line.
Now move slowly through cycles
of Down Dog and Plank Pose. Feel
how the shifting angle of your shoulders,
and different weight-bearing in your
arms, travels through the Deep Back
Arm Lines to your mid spine in Plank
and extends across your lower back
and Back Functional Line as you move
into Down Dog. In Plank, these lines act
independently, but in inversions, the
lines connect through the teres major.
The key to sustaining happy inversions
lies in allowing teres major to lengthen
as you move back into Down Dog. If it
can’t lengthen, the foundation of support
through your shoulder will be lost. As you
extend your elbows, keep your humerus
bones and triceps connected to your lower
arms, but make sure your scapulae stay
connected to your back and ribs. Feel the
stretch? That’s your teres major creaking
open at last (see arrow below).
Shift onto one arm (you can drop a knee
or two to the ground) and grab the back
of an armpit to feel your teres major and
enhance your awareness of where you
need to stretch. Most people need to let
this muscle go in order to strengthen the
triceps and rotator cuffs. If you can find
teres major and let it go, you’ll become
more aware of your arm connecting to
the outside of your hand, and the tip of
your shoulder blade connecting to your
ribs. If teres major is too short, it will hook
the whole shoulder blade into your arm,
setting you up for a shoulder injury as you
load it with more weight in increasingly
difficult inversions.
OUR PRO Writer Tom Myers is the author of Ana
numerous webinars on visual assessment, Fascial Release Technique, and the applications of fascial research. Myers, an integrative manual therapist with 40 years of
experience, is a member of the International Association of Structural Integrators and the Health Advisory Board for Equinox. Learn more at
may/june 2018
BECOME AWARE of these lines when you
go upside down. Take any inversion—from
simply being on all fours in Down Dog to
Headstand or Handstand—that’s easy and
non-injurious for you.
Ground through the heels of your
hands, or your little fingers and your outer
arm bones (ulnas) if you’re in Headstand or
Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance), and
feel up through the myofascial line outside
your lower arms to the olecranon (the
point of the elbow). These are your Deep
Back Arm Lines. From here, the myofascial
connection runs into and up the triceps,
which may be insufficiently toned
in many beginning yoga students, and
unable to sustain balance with the rest of
this pathway. (Do your Plank Poses to get
those triceps posturally strong!)
From the triceps of each arm, the Deep
Back Arm Line runs into the rotator cuff
surrounding the scapula. The lats reach far
away to the back of the torso, but try to
put your mind into the shorter teres
major, which links the triceps with the
lower tip of the scapula. Can you feel your
shoulder blade at the end of your triceps?
Can you place your scapula on top of your
humeral head (the ball in the ball-andsocket joint), and at the same time pull it
down onto your ribs?
The rotator cuff, which I call the “scapula
your practice
A sequence to
Stay committed
to sobriety
may/june 2018
By Nikki Myers
for my addiction recovery and stayed sober
for eight years. Then, on a business trip to
Germany, I made a bad decision to have one
drink that led to many more. Within a week,
I found myself in Amsterdam, where I
knew exactly who to be, what to do, where
to go, and how to talk my way into getting
my drug of choice: crack cocaine.
After Amsterdam, I got back into a
12-step program and discovered yoga.
I saw all the similarities between yoga and
the 12-step program, and I eventually made
the decision to let go of the program. I
th u ht a daily ashtan a y a practic
I realised I couldn’t put the 12-step program,
which gave me a cognitive base
for recovery, in a separate box from
yoga, which gave me somatic tools. So
in 2003—after receiving training from the
Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute and
the American Viniyoga Institute—I created
Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR), which
combines cognitive and somatic practices for
sustainable addiction recovery.
The following sequence is the first one
I teach to recovering addicts. It’s also the
one I come back to most often myself,
because it’s all about building a solid
undation. In each posture, ask: Do I feel
alanced? Can I find my centre—even when
eel overwhelmed? Sustainable recovery
quires continually asking these questions
—and continually finding our ground.
2 Marjaryasana
and Bitilasana
3 Balasana
4 Bhujangasana
Child’s Pose
Cobra Pose, variation
Cat-Cow Pose, variation
Rest your chest on your thighs with your
arms stretched out in front of you—or
along your sides. If you don’t find this pose
deeply comfortable, feel free to move into
a different one that feels more restorative.
Stay here for 8 long, deep breaths. This is
the “pause button” pose, a reminder that it’s
OK to slow down when life starts feeling out
of control.
Lie on your belly with your hands beside
your rib cage on the mat. On an inhalation,
lift your chest up into Cobra Pose; on an
exhalation, lower back down. On your
next inhalation, lift to Cobra again, this time
raising your right leg; exhale to come back
down, and repeat on the other side. Then
inhale and lift both legs as you come into
Cobra. Exhale with your legs and chest
lifted; inhale and lift a little higher,
spreading your legs apart behind you. On
your next exhalation, bring your legs and
chest down. Repeat this sequence 5 times.
Come to all fours with your knees under
your hips and your hands under your
shoulders. As you inhale, find a lift in your
chest (Cow Pose, shown); as you exhale,
bring your chest toward your thighs and
your hips toward your heels, so you’re in a
modified Balasana (Child’s Pose). Repeat this
movement slowly, allowing the inhalations
and exhalations to lengthen and deepen
with each repetition.
1 Sukhasana
Easy Pose
Sit in a comfortable, seated position with your
legs crossed and your sitting bones propped
up on a blanket, bolster, or meditation
cushion. Become aware of your breath
without changing anything. Begin to deepen
your breathing, eventually arriving at a
comfortable maximum inhalation and
exhalation. Notice what’s present for you in
your five bodies: physical, emotional, thinking,
character, and heart. Stay here, breathing
slowly and deeply, for 90 seconds or longer.
your practice
6 Tadasana
7 High Lunge, Variation
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Mountain Pose
Beginning in Child’s Pose, inhale to all fours,
and then exhale to lift your knees and hips
into Downward-Facing Dog. Press into your
hands, and soften your elbows to avoid
hyperextension. Drop your shoulders away
from your ears, and then stabilise them by
bringing your shoulder blades onto your
back. Slowly move back down to all fours and
into Child’s Pose. Repeat 4 times. After your
final repetition, hold Down Dog for 8 breaths,
keeping in mind you can rest in Child’s Pose
at any time.
From Down Dog, walk to the top of your
mat. On an inhalation, press your feet into
the ground. Find your core by hugging your
lower-body muscles into your bones, dropping your tailbone toward the earth. From
your core, lift your chest and open your
heart, slowly coming to stand. With your
hips, spine, and shoulders aligned, let your
heart open, knowing your back is protected.
Stay here for 3 breaths. Then, on an exhalation, bring your hands to your heart center
in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal).
From Tadasana, step your left foot back, and
bend your right knee so you’re in a High
Lunge with your fingertips on the mat. Heeltoe your right foot to the right, and drop
deeper into the lunge, keeping your right
knee above your right ankle. To go deeper,
move your right hand inside your right foot,
and bring your elbows to the mat. Can you
find your center in this asymmetric pose? This
can help you reinforce your commitment to
finding your center when life doesn’t go the
way you want it to. Hold here for 8 breaths or
longer. Repeat on the other side, finishing in
8 Utthita Parsvakonasana
9 Prasarita Padottanasana
10 Skandasana
Extended Side Angle Pose
Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the God of War
Step your left foot back, then turn both feet
toward the long edge of your mat. Find
symmetry in your pelvis and torso here,
then turn your right foot forward and bend
your right knee, making sure it’s directly
above your right ankle. On an inhalation,
raise your arms parallel to the floor. Stay
here for 1 breath. On an exhalation, place
your right hand on a block (or the floor to
the inside of your right foot) and sweep
your left arm overhead, coming into
Extended Side Angle Pose. Hold here for 1
breath. Repeat 4 times, then hold Extended
Side Angle Pose for 8–10 breaths. Return to
a wide-legged stance, then repeat on the
other side.
With your feet 3–4 feet apart and facing
the long edge of your mat, bring your
hands to your hips. Inhale, and lift your
chest as your tailbone roots toward the
floor. Exhale, and contract your lower
abdominal muscles as you slide your
hands down the backs of your legs,
keeping your knees soft while gently
folding forward. Maintain even weight in
both feet, and keep your hands on your
ankles (or lower calves). Repeat 4 times,
then hold the Forward Bend for 6–8 slow,
deep breaths.
From a Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend,
exhale and bend your right knee. Lean toward
the right, keeping your left leg straight and
feeling a deep stretch in your inner left thigh.
Stay here for a few breaths, inhale, and come
back to center. On an exhalation, move toward
the other side, bending your left knee. Lean
toward the left, straightening your right leg.
Move slowly from one side to the other 4
times, then hold on each side for 6 breaths.
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “Your issues
live in your tissues.” Think about this as you
release anything that’s “stuck” in these areas.
When you’re finished, come to Tadasana,
then lie down on your mat, face up.
may/june 2018
5 Adho Mukha Svanasana
12 Supta Matsyendrasana
13 Constructive Rest, variation
Bridge Pose, variation
Supine Spinal Twist
Bend your knees so that the soles of your
feet are on the floor, hip-width apart below
your knees. On an inhalation, slowly lift
your bottom off the mat toward Bridge
Pose; on an exhalation, roll back down.
Repeat this rolling Bridge 3–4 times, then
hold Bridge Pose for 30–45 seconds. On an
exhalation, come back down to lie flat on
your mat, and draw your knees in toward
your chest.
Lie on your back, cross your left thigh over
your right, and stretch your arms out on
either side to a T position. On an exhalation,
begin twisting to your right as you look
to the left; on an inhalation, return to
center. Repeat this twisting action 4 times,
progressively lengthening the exhale.
Then hold the full twist for 6 breaths.
If comfortable, extend your top leg fully,
holding your calf or ankle with your
opposite hand to deepen the stretch.
Repeat on the other side.
Bend your knees so that the soles of your
feet are on the floor, mat-width apart. On an
exhalation, allow your knees to fall in toward
one another. Pause here for 2 breaths. On an
inhalation, separate your knees. On your next
exhalation, allow both knees to fall toward
the right. Pause here for 1–2 breaths. On an
inhalation, bring both knees back to centre.
On an exhalation, allow your knees to fall to
the left, pausing for 1–2 breaths. Repeat this
flow, moving your knees from one side to
the other, extending the pauses each time.
may/june 2018
Corpse Pose
Hero Pose, variation
Lie on your back with your arms at your
sides, turning your palms up and aligning
your body so you feel balanced. Relax your
shoulders down into the mat. Turn your
head from one side to the other before allowing it to find center. Relax the muscles of
your face, and then consciously invite your
entire body to let go of muscle tension. Stay
here, enjoying the sweetness of letting go
for at least 5 minutes.
Slowly come out of Savasana, and kneel
on your mat. Slide your feet apart, draw
the flesh of your calf muscles toward your
heels, and sit down between your feet (or
on a blanket, bolster, or block). Slowly begin
to deepen your breath, eventually inhaling
for a count of 6 and holding the inhale for a
count of 3—then exhaling for a count of 6,
holding the exhale for a count of 3. Repeat
this cycle 3 times, then deepen and lengthen
your breath so you’re inhaling and exhaling
for a count of 8, holding the inhalations and
exhalations for a count of 4. Repeat this cycle
of deeper, longer breathing at least 3 times,
then bring your hands to your heart centre.
16 Seated Meditation
Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes,
and return to regular breathing. Try not to
chase or fight your thoughts; as thoughts
pop up (and they will), simply let them go.
Stay here for at least 1 minute, then bring
your hands to your heart centre in Anjali
Mudra. Take a moment to notice how your
body, energy, and mind feel now.
OUR PRO Teacher Nikki Myers is
a yoga therapist, teacher, somaticexperiencing practitioner, and founder
of Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR).
Practice Y12SR with her at yogaanytime.
com/go/Y12SR. Model Bhakti White is
yoga teacher in Boulder, Colorado.
11 Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
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Voyage of
BACK? I had those thoughts after casting
off my sailboat from a dock in Santa
Barbara, California, in January 2006,
and watched teary-eyed as a handful of
my dearest loved ones blended into the
hazy winter skyline in my wake.
I’d been dreaming of this voyage all
my life. When I was nine, we took a
family sailing trip to Mexico. It opened
my eyes to what was out there in the
world; what you could see by sailboat. I
returned from that trip determined to
captain my own boat one day. Then, in
my teens, I discovered surfing and
immediately fell in love with the sport
and the idea of sailing around the world
in search of waves. The sailing journey
I’d just embarked on was an opportunity
to realise those dreams.
My college friends, Mark and
Shannon, started the journey with me,
and as we sailed down the Baja coast, I
was a wreck of nerves. It wasn’t rogue
waves or pirates I was worried about—it
was the idea of failure. I want to sail
away, surf remote breaks, learn from
other cultures, find happiness and a better
way to live in harmony with nature—but
what if I’m not strong enough? How would
I ever get over the disappointment of
failing myself and everyone who has
helped me?
Two years into the trip—after sailing
around Central America to Panama—
I decided I wanted to sail alone to the
South Pacific. I was scared of sailing
solo and being alone in general, which
felt like a sign that it was something
I needed to do. There’s a lot of physical
labour that goes into sailing.
Oftentimes, I wished I had four hands.
Alone, the boat jobs—hauling gallons
of water, getting the sails up and down
to trim, raising and lowering the
anchor—take longer and are more
complicated. But the solitude soon
felt delightful—a time and space of
pure communion with the ocean. I’m
sure it’s what keeps sailors returning to
the sea.
By August 2014, I’d been at sea for
eight years. Choosing to pursue a dream
like this has not been easy, but I have
proven, at least to myself, that with
hard work, choosing love will never lead
to lack.
I have wrinkles around my eyes
and sunspots on my skin, but I feel
beautiful. I have little money in the
bank, all of my clothing can fit in one
duffle bag, and I flush my toilet with a
hand pump, but I feel rich. This is
because I have spent the most energetic
years of my life testing my physical,
mental, and emotional capacities in
pursuit of my dream.
My years at sea have taught me that
focusing less on competition and more
on connection with myself, with
nature, and with others, gives me the
most joy. In the South Pacific, I learned
that shared laughter transcends
language barriers. The children who
gave me impromptu hugs and bracelets
from their wrists kept me hopeful when
I doubted my ability to keep sailing.
When I’d come to shore, countless
people offered a warm meal, an extra
hand, or let me fill my water jugs and
do my laundry—without any
expectations. The dolphins who sang
to me from under the hull on night
passages while I lay in my bunk
convinced me that I was never alone.
After all, while I now know I can
sail a boat by myself, I’ve also learned
that we can’t do it all on our own. And
if we think we already know everything,
we shut ourselves off to unlimited
possibilities and potential. It’s up to us
to stay curious, to keep evolving, and to
let go of what no longer serves us.
I may have set out on this voyage
with the goal of sailing around the
world, but the truth is that I have found
what I was looking for inside myself.
Adapted from Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of
Awakening by Liz Clark. Copyright © 2018 by Patagonia
Works. Used with permission from Patagonia.
may/june 2018
By Liz Clark
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