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READY, SET, STOP How to take a long sabbatical (and return)

Escape to


JANIE ’s Larmour Zen Ki Yoga Sequence PLUS: Kitchari cleanse, Broga, Kundalini for Spring,parenting and much more


TRAVEL Thailand ISSN 1837-2406 0 7


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ISSUE 54 A$7.95 NZ$8.50 inc. gst



Power Living chooses to regularly host its yoga retreats at Komune. The staff are polite and offer exceptional, swift and friendly service. Komune is the ultimate choice for us. - National Programs Team, Power Living

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B A L I ,



Janie’s journey Janie Larmour is taking the world by storm.

In full bloom Use Zen Ki Yoga to tone for spring time

Stuff we love Earthly delights for health and happiness.

Just be Meditating on just being can help you feel whole.

Ready, set, stop Three well-known yogis on how to take a long sabbatical.


What to expect when...’re expecting: a guide to yogic pregnancy.

Setting boundaries Learn to say no.

Spring fare A Latin-American feast is sure to spice up your spring.

Hua Hin, Thailand The ultimate healing journey.

Interview The effervescent Maria Kirsten.

56 19

october 2016




SPRING INTO KUNDALINI Improve your vitality this spring.


AYURVEDIC KITCHARI FAST A simple and nourishing spring cleanse.


AMAZING UBUD We visit the yoga capital of Asia.


BROGA Meet the Aussie boys of yoga.


PARENTING Spring clean for happy, healthy kids.


MEET MY TEACHER Melbourne based teacher Michelle Jayne.



LIFESTYLE Flying High ... Yoga for air travel!


HOME PRACTICE A home practice to help you live with intention.


POSES OF THE MONTH How to move from Utkatasana to Garudasana.


ANATOMY How to prep for supported shoulderstand.


48 27

OFF THE MAT Exploring the mysterious practice of Shatkarma and Vastra Dhauti.

8 10

58 86 66

ON THE COVER Photography by Belinda Rolland


12 14




Embrace new beginnings this spring.


Here comes the sun

editor’s letter

I S S U E N O 5 4 . O C TO B E R 2 01 6


Contact Media PTY LIMITED ABN 20 097 242 807 PO Box 582 Robina Town Centre Qld 4220 Tel: (07) 5568 0151 EDITOR

Jessica Humphries SUB-EDITOR

Spring has sprung

Louise Shannon ART DIRECTOR

Angela Reeves


AS I WRITE THIS I’m settling back home after a two-week holiday in Bali. After spending the winter months abandoning my physical practice in favour of doting on my newborn nephew, overdosing on kitchari and indulging in enormous amounts of rest, this little getaway was the perfect re-introduction to moving my body. And my oh my did it feel wonderful! Sometimes I forget how connected the body and mind are. But after a big binge on daily practices and vegan eats, I began to notice myself feeling lighter, happier and more present. I fell in love with my practice and my self all over again. And that’s one of the many things I adore about yoga. Coming back home to it. It doesn’t matter how much time we’ve spent apart, and for what reasons. The subtle changes in the relationship only make it more delicious. For whatever I lose in the evolution of my practice, what I gain is infinitely enlightening as time inevitably brings us closer. I move away from the physical and grow in other ways, so what I have to offer when I come back to my mat is more than

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just a strong, flexible body. I can come back home to my breath and my body and remember why I came to the practice in the first place. So the love affair begins all over again and I feel myself getting gloriously starry eyed at the extraordinary places we can go together. The possibilities are endless and it feels like a new beginning; like spring. Spring is the perfect time to welcome fresh starts, develop new habits, let go of the old and manifest some magic. We’ve got you sorted with Kundalini Kriyas for Spring (p.21), a nurturing Ayurvedic kitchari cleanse (p.24), some delicious seasonal recipes (p.66) and your guide to embracing new beginnings (p.56). We also caught up with driven and down-toearth Janie Larmour from The Centre of Yoga (p.34) who shares some of her favourite Zen Ki poses for spring. But it’s not all about moving, shaking and creating. Remember the importance of slowing down too (p.48). Find yourself a nice patch of sunshine and soak up the goodness of this issue. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed being part of its creation. JESSICA HUMPHRIES Editor

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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.



Loraine Rushton, Tamsin Angus-Leppan, Diana Timmins, Duncan Peak, Lorien Waldron, Janie Larmour, Chris Dixon PRINTER

Printed by Webstar Print Australian Yoga Journal is published and distributed eight times a year by Contact Media Pty Limited, under 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 Media. All rights reserved. Vegetarian Times content, which appears in this magazine, is copyrighted © Cruz Bay publishing Inc. All Rights reserved, reprinted with permission. Subject to national and international intellectual property laws and treaties. Vegetarian Times is a registered US trademark of Cruz Bay Publishing. This publication may not be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. Copyright of all images and text 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. ACTIVE INTEREST MEDIA CHAIRMAN & CEO Efram Zimbalist III PRESIDENT & COO Andrew W. Clurman EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & CFO Brian Sellstrom EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS Patricia B. Fox DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL LICENSING Dayna Macy @ CRUZ BAY PUBLISHING, INC. PHOTO: SERG MYSHKOVSKY/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

october 2016


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.


October 5-November 6, 2016 BodyMindLife's 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training is led by Kat Clayton and Wanderlust headliner Noelle Connolly, with the expert knowledge and support of our guest teaching team. Unique and accessible, the training takes place in our world-class, dedicated facilities, giving you with the space to become empowered as a teacher. Certified by Yoga Australia and Yoga Alliance, the course will strengthen your personal practice – physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll learn the safe and classical alignment of the yoga postures, how to intelligently sequence

and lead classes, and build your teaching skills with personal feedback and coaching. Through the study of yoga philosophy, breathing and meditation techniques, hands-on adjusting and anatomy and physiology, you will connect to yourself and make new friends who will support you on your teaching journey. You will dive into the business of yoga, and find out how to thrive with the support and guidance of teachers’ practices, assisting programs and ongoing education in the studio community.

BodyMindLife 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training October 5-November 6, 2016 BodyMindLife Surry Hills Cost: $3490 Early Bird: $3190 (By August 6, 2016) The course is open to all but places are strictly limited. For information and registration please go to

Level 1, 84 Mary Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010 T. +61 2 9211 0178 |

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We are so delighted by the response our Facebook friends had to our last issue featuring the inspiring YogiDunx! With close to 1000 likes and over 100 comments we’re feeling the love. Here are some of our favourite comments: Absolutely love the cover! And even better it has some fantastic stories, classes and food. Thank you for a daily dose of yoga bliss in the pages of your mag – Hannah Gibson. Good to see the men for a change. We need to change the stereotype in my view! Well done. – Liz Kraefft Let’s keep having Aussies on the cover of Australian Yoga Journal. – Sara Evans Great to see a man on the cover. It would be great to have diverse yogis on the front in different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, abilities etc. to show that yoga really is for everyone. – Louisa Caine I think it’s a very powerful move. This man opens many pathways often not explored by men. Self enquiry is now open to a larger market so this is very pleasing to see. – Dan Ballard

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connect EVENTS

What’s On Your essential guide to what’s on in the yoga world Ekam Yoga Festival Port Macquarie September 18 Enjoy a day of yoga, music events and a sustainable health & living expo at a new annual regional yoga festival. Choose from a great range of classes and music events brought to you by experienced local and Australian-wide teachers and musicians – learn, be inspired, connect, relax and deepen your experience of yoga.

Deepen your Practice Sydney September 19-23 Facilitated by the experienced teachers at In Yoga, this series of sunrise workshops will help to advance your knowledge in all things yoga. Yoga Destivalogaday.

Festival of Dreams

Gold Coast September 6-12 Designed to provide you with the basic principles, history, theory, practice and delivery of iRest – an evidence based ancient transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry that releases negative emotions, calms the nervous system and develops a greater sense of equanimity.

Yin Yoga Workshop

october 2016



September 9-11 Join Sarah Manning as she shares her passion for Yin Yoga. Learn the elements of a balanced Yin Yoga practice, incorporating Yin safely into a general yoga

Upper Brookfield Retreat October 7-10 Swāmi Muktibodhānanda will bring to light the ancient models of Yoga Nidra and Yogic Meditation with her modern humour, incredible wisdom, intelligence and mastery on the

Yoga Fest

Sydney October 7-9 This boutique festival brings together experts in health, wellbeing and spirituality for 3 fun days of seminars, workshops, soulful entertainment and inspiring exhibitions. Elevate and celebrate life!

Bali Vegan Festival

Sunshine Coast October 29-30 Enjoy yoga, dance, massage, meditation, tasty food, market stalls by the lake and a plethora of yummy yoga classes and workshops.

Mudras, Mantras and Modern Marketing Workshop

Living Yoga Retreat Thailand September 10-17 Nourish body and soul with BodyMindLife’s Noelle Connolly and Kat Clayton at The Living Yoga Retreat on Koh Samui. Open to students and teachers of all levels, and those hungry to learn can immerse themselves in 50 hours of teacher training.

Yimi Yoga Nidra & Meditation

Ubud October 7-9 A global event celebrating all things organic, macrobiotic, raw and vegan. Uniting world-class vegan chefs, yoga teachers, healers, musicians, comedians, environmentalists and vegan lifestyle enthusiasts from all walks of life and all across the globe.

Sydney November 18-20 Explore the powerful effect of using mudras and mantras with Louise Wiggins, and learn how to market yourself successfully as a yoga teacher with Mary-Louise Parkinson. Got an event on? Send your event details to along with a high-resolution image.


IRest Level 1 Training

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Online Classes available for everyone! Become a member of My Health Yoga TV & practice at a time that suits you! First 30 days free!

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Yoga Studios t/FX'BSN Brisbane t#SPBECFBDI Gold Coast CLASSES 7 DAYS Beginners, Vinyasa, Yin, Restorative, Pregnancy, Beginners Courses

th l t t IN THE NOW

Expand Your HORIZONS Divine Goddess

DIVINE YOGA SPACE IN SEMINYAK, BALI The heart of Seminyak is home to a beautiful space, owned by our Australian friends Divine Goddess. Next time you’re in Bali be sure to stop by this little pocket of goodness. Sitting in the raw, vegan café, Divine Earth, you’ll find solace from the busy streets outside while your worries drift away. Right next door there’s a shop with all your favourite DG outfits and jewellery, and upstairs there’s a cosy yoga studio that offers a smorgasbord of your favourite styles, with a big focus on Ashtanga – including daily Mysore classes. The studio is popular amongst visitors and expats – so a perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded yogis and nestle into the inviting community.

Freedom Float Centre

FLOAT YOUR WAY TO FREEDOM ON THE GC You’ve heard that floating is the new meditation, and there are so many amazing float spaces popping up. We love Freedom Float Centre on the Gold Coast. Their stylish, futuristic pods will transport you to ultimate calm and tranquillity, and they offer yoga too!

october 2016



Byron Yoga Centre’s 12-month part time 800 hour Certificate IV in Yoga Teaching is gaining national and international recognition. Aussie students can now apply for Austudy to support their yoga studies whilst living in beautiful Byron Bay. And international students can qualify for a 12-month student visa. Students can soak up the Byron lifestyle whilst immersing themselves in 20 hours of yogic studies per week. Designed by BYC Founder John Ogilvie, the course aims to develop students’ knowledge of all things yoga - from asana to philosophy and beyond.

the latest IN THE NOW

Dreamtime Yoga

Presented as the new Vertical Yoga, bouldering improves flexibility, gets your heart rate up and reinforces the mind-body connection through similar movements to the ones you move through on the mat. Alex Cox-Taylor, owner of Urban Climb and Exercise Physiologist, opened a series of revolutionary bouldering fitness gyms recently and is noticing an influx of yogis taking up bouldering. All Urban Climb gyms also feature yoga classes, as these two practices are seen as going hand in hand. There are stacks of bouldering gyms popping up around the country and Urban Climb is set to expand nationally in the next year. Find a class near you and get on the yoga climbing bandwagon!

Fur Baby Mumas Rejoice Have you been wondering what to dress your pup in for Doga? Well, we’ve found just the solution. Just when you thought the yogis couldn’t come up with any more outrageous ideas (there’s already Disco Yoga, Beer Yoga and Naked Yoga) we introduce you to…drumroll please…matching yoga gear for you and your four-legged friends! This women’s dance and yoga clothing brand, designed in Australia, noticed that more and more customers were posting social media snaps with their pooches. They could see the fur babies getting involved in mum’s yoga practice but without the trendy activewear. And so with that, Active Creatures Paws was born. This fun concept is sure to get some tongues talking and tails wagging. You can grab your matching outfits now at



Ana T Forrest & Jose Calarco

october 2016

The International Yoga Teachers Association predicted it in their trends for 2016 and now Ana T Forrest and Jose Calarco are making it a reality – combining the wisdom of Australian traditional Indigenous ceremony with yoga. Founder of Forrest Yoga, Ana, and world music pioneer from Descendance Aboriginal Dance Theatre Jose, have joined forces to bring new teachings from the Dreamtime, stories, songs and dances from Aboriginal culture to set and guide the intent for yoga asana and help students move deeper into the spiritual elements of the practice.


the latest IN THE NOW


october 2016

A rustic warehouse space in Waterloo has just opened its doors as a new donation based yoga studio. The studio aims to create a non-intimidating environment that’s accessible to everyday people, particularly students struggling with depression, anxiety and PTSD. Founder of COMMUNE Waterloo, Sam Ali, explains that friends had recommend he try yoga and meditation to deal with his own stress, but that he felt put off by intimidating and expensive looking studios. “It wasn’t until I went to a studio in Brooklyn and everyone was wearing trackies that I tried it and it was a really eye opening experience for me. I was blown away by how I felt after that class and I wanted to bring a really accessible and affordable kind of yoga back to our community.” As the popularity of yoga and meditation increases it is often out of reach to those students who need it most. Commune aims to increase awareness around wellness for everyday people from all walks of life and backgrounds. “The response to the project has been fantastic and we’re very excited to get this off the ground,” says Ali. Classes on offer at Commune include Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin taught by passionate teachers who bring their own unique styles and appeal to a broad range of students.


With so much time spent on devices these days, the digital detox is becoming more popular as people crave time to disconnect from the over stimulation of an increasingly digital world. Villa Flow has created a serene space that gives you the freedom to unplug. And they’re not all talk. You hand over your devices and gadgets on check-in and surrender to time off-the-grid. Your stay is complemented by yoga, treatments, nutritious food and nurturing activities in the beautiful tropical surrounds of east Bali. Sounds pretty lush to us!

VEGANS HAVE THEIR BURGER AND EAT IT TOO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia has rated Sydney’s Soul burger the number one vegan juicy ‘beef’ burger. This nutty plant-based patty has has celebrity chefs and media raving, and the vegans are happy too! The hearty burger is crafted from a medley of plant-based goodness and topped with mushrooms, capsicum, creamy vegan cheese and herbed mayo. Part of PETA’s motto is that “animals are not ours to eat.” The vegan burgers promise to satisfy even the most carnivorous cravings, and Sydney’s not the only place offering mouth-watering alternatives to the traditional meat patty. PETA’s Australian Associate Director Ashley Fruno says, “all the juicy plant-based burgers on PETA’s list prove that reliance on animal protein is old-fashioned and that the future of food is sustainable and cruelty-free.” Here here! To check out PETA’s list of accolades for National Burger Day go to

the latest MEDIA


eva Premal & Miten’s new album has shot to umber one on the iTunes world music charts the US, Canada, Germany and Switzerland. corded during their 2014-15 world tour, the album gives yoga practitioners, meditators and music lovers an opportunity to experience the transcendent energy of these live events. Deva’s soothing, surround-sound renditions of ancient mantras are elegantly interspersed with intimate, moving ballads by Miten


If you’ve been to Sadhana Kitchen in Sydney you’ll be familiar with some of the delicious recipes from The Naked Vegan. A simple tool to help readers cultivate health and vitality through the power of raw vegan creating. Enjoy preparing and feasting on 140+ plant-based recipes for the ultimate health and wellness. $30

YIN IN YOUR POCKET Best selling book Serenity Yin Yoga by Swedish author Magdalena Mecweld is now available as an app. Containing all 30 yin yoga poses that are read by the author and accompanied by beautiful images and text. You can compose your own sequences and share with friends as well as discover poses for specific ailments and situations. $10.99. Available on apple and android app stores.


7 day Detox, Yoga and Conscious Living Retreat Refresh, Reboot, Renew and Reprogram October Sunday 16 – Saturday 22

We invite you to join us on a week’s immersion of learning and experiencing the essential tools to restore and revitalise your health. Detox and invigorate with 5 days of organic smoothies followed with 2 days of plant based cuisine. • Practical food demonstrations & recipes • Tools for overcoming cravings & addictions • Sprouting and tray greens, dressings, salads, dehydrating, desserts and treats. • Daily nutritional and lifestyle lectures include: Health versus disease, Detoxification, Improving gut health, protein, carbohydrates and fats A daily therapeutic yoga program will be tailored to facilitate the detoxification process (suitable to all levels including absolute beginners). Facilitated by Lance & Susan Schuler and Ella Winkless. Venue: Inspya Yoga Studio, Lot 1 Natural Lane, Broken Head Cost: Early bird before August 1 $950 Full price $1050


This cookbook with a twist will teach you how to eat in harmony with your body’s hormones. Written by Australian Personal Trainer and TV chef Penny Lomas, the book is available digitally or in hard copy and provides you with 89 delicious, metabolism-boosting recipes as well as lifestyle tips for women. From $29.95

Further details and bookings Contact Ella for further information and accommodation options T: 0431 320 090 or


ver the years, thousands of guests from around the world have experienced our hospitality at ONEWORLD retreats. Now, we are taking this venture to a higher level - ONEWORLD ayurveda.

Ayurvedic Healing Centre

Dedicated to authentic Panchakarma - the ultimate and most effective healing experience in the science of Ayurveda. Run by professionals with a loving and caring team, giving each guest a memorable healing experience. Our individual programs are carefully put together by highly qualified doctors in Ayurvedic medicine and include therapeutic massages, deep detoxification techniques, herbal medicines, personalised diets, yoga, meditation and lifestyle transforming experiences.

ONEWORLD ayurveda offers 7/10/14/21/28 days Ayurvedic Panchakarma healing programs. See our soft opening offer:

The rice terrace view from the Ayurvedic healing centre



yoga on


A little asana and meditation can be the perfect antidote to summer-travel angst and aches. Enter the growing number of US airports offering yoga and meditation. JetBlue recently held free one-hour yoga classes at JFK International Airport. Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Burlington international airports have all added dedicated yoga spaces—complete with complimentary mats—to their departure areas. And the Albuquerque and San Diego airports offer meditation spaces. The trend is yet to catch on in Australia, find some space and try these practices from internationally renowned yoga teacher Annie Carpenter: PRE-FLIGHT Sucirandhrasana (Eye-of-the-Needle Pose) while seated, to stretch your hip rotators and outer thighs, and relieve low-back tension. Do this in-flight, too, if you have the legroom. october 2016


POST-FLIGHT While waiting for your luggage, put one foot on the baggage-carousel edge or a chair and do a modified Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose) to open your hamstrings. ELIZABETH MARGLIN






NEW meditation stools and colourful cotton blankets Order online now or call us on 03 9888 6677 597 Canterbury Road Surrey Hills VIC 3127


Kundalini yogi Harjiwan shares her favourite practices to increase energy and improve vitality. Breath of Fire

october 2016


One of the most amazing, direct and powerful ways to re-energise our systems is through the breath. In Kundalini Yoga we use many specific pranayam techniques as well as dynamic Kriyas (yoga sets or meditations) to bring about a very specific result. In winter, as the days are short and cool, and nights longer and cold, we naturally go into a space of inward reflection and it’s a time of year to go within. As we move into spring, we start to feel more elevated and alive. These feelings can be supported and increased with yogic practices. We need to increase our ‘inner fire’ and stimulate the navel point for motivation and vitality. One simple way is to practice ‘Breath of Fire’ daily, which gives us the fire of life. Breath of Fire is a fundamental breath in the practice of Kundalini Yoga and an ancient breathing technique designed to energise, increase inner heat and literally ‘burn away’ sluggish feelings, foggy head and an unmotivated state. It is a rapid rhythmic breath with no pause between the in and out breaths - essentially like one long breath.When first learning Breath of Fire, focus on doing no more than light ‘sniffing’ and  maintaining a beautiful constant rhythm. This will ensure that your technique does not become jerky, that you don’t hyperventilate or over emphasise the exhalation.Remember to place equal emphasis on both the inhalation and exhalation.  


As you become more experienced add more power to the ‘sniffing’, making it a powerful, dynamic, rhythmic breath in and out through the nose. Be sure to keep the face, shoulders and jaw relaxed; the power for this breath comes from the navel to the diaphragm. The navel point is stimulated through the practice of this pranayam. Breath of Fire opens up our lungs, eliminates toxins, pollution, impurities and mucous from the tissue linings in the lungs, oxygenates the blood, moves out stagnation and strengthens the entire nervous system, making us feel alive, connected and thus inspiration fills our every cell.  Breath of Fire is also magical at helping with the dropping away of negative habitual patterns. For example comfort eating which can spiral us into a deeper state of mental fog and tiredness. Habits like these can be replaced with the practice the Breath of Fire for five minutes and the urge disappears,  leaving you feeling  energised, alert and re-balanced. 

october 2016

The Practice


To practice Breath of Fire, come to sit with a tall straight spine in either half lotus, full lotus or a comfortable seated position. Apply Jalandhara Bhand (Neck Lock) to ensure the spine is in alignment. Now, begin to ‘sniff’ in and out of the nose rhythmically placing even emphasis on the in and out breaths with no pause. To begin make the breath light, paying attention to the rhythm of the breath.You should listen to the rhythm of your ‘sniffs’ and keep them at a good steady pace.As you continue the rhythmic in and out sniffs from the nostrils, observe that your navel moves back and forth in a pumping action with the navel moving back towards the spine

on the ‘out sniff’ and then releasing on the ‘in sniff’. Breath of Fire does take practice to perfect. Over time you’ll crave this practice for its energising effects are immediate in as little as three minutes. Breath of Fire is not to be practiced during pregnancy or during the first three days of menstrual cycle.

Kundalini Yoga Froggies This is a dynamic Kundalini Yoga exercise that can be practiced on its own and is also regularly practiced in sequence with other postures and exercises in specific Kundalini Yoga ‘Kriyas’. Its benefits are many and you will feel the magic straight away.

BENEFITS • Builds stamina and endurance • Tones and lifts the buttocks • Develops long, lean, strong muscles in the legs  • Draws toxins out from the legs and moves stagnation • Assists in elimination • Improves circulation to the extremities  • Lengthens and stimulates the vital life nerve • Improves flexibility  • Builds the VMO muscle (for healthy knees) • Clears blockages in the Sacral Chakra ~ the ‘Svadhisthana’ • Channels the sexual energy from the lower chakras to the higher chakras • Releases stored energy to make you feel great • Rejuvenates the brain & eyes 

The Practice Come into a squat position with your heels pressed together on the balls of your feet with the toes angled out 45 degrees. Your heels stay pressed together and off the ground throughout the exercise. Knees are bent as deep as you can go and spread apart, with your

buttocks ideally touching the backs of your heels. Your face is facing up. Place your fingertips on the ground between the knees, which are spread. Inhale deeply as you raise your hips up. Keeping the fingertips on the ground, lean into your hands and straighten your legs. Your buttocks should be up, with your nose coming as close to your knees as possible. Pull your navel right up into your spine. Exhale as you come back down into the squat position—bringing your heels as close to your buttocks as possible, your face facing upward. Repeat until you have done 26–54 Kundalini Yoga Froggies. Then build it up until you can do 108 reps.

TIPS • If you can’t quite keep your fingertips on the ground as you straighten your legs then try placing a few blocks under your hands to elevate the floor height until your life nerve lengthens out and your lower back adjusts. • Keep your breath powerful and strong through the nose on both the inhale and exhale. • As you inhale and rise up straightening your legs, pull powerfully on your navel point. • Be mindful of how it feels on your knees and build up slowly. Be conscious of the flow of movement and rhythm of your breath. • Kundalini yoga froggies are awesome to practice if you need to sit at your computer for a long time, before a meditation practice or if you are having trouble sleeping. • Before any Kundalini Yoga practice tune-in with the ‘Adi Mantra’ 3 x – ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO – to create a sacred space in which you are guided by your higher consciousness and not the ego.

HarJiwan’s offers highly specialised mentoring programs for women online and in person assisting women to live in selfempowerment, vitality and happiness. She is a Kundalini Yoga teacher, healer, wellness facilitator & founder of HarJiwanYoga & WOW Vortex (an online mentoring program for women) She teaches workshops, masterclasses and intensives nationally and in Byron Bay. To find out more about her WOW programs and HarJiwan’s work go to


AYURVEDIC Kitchari Fast A Simple and Nourishing Spring Cleanse By Lorien Waldron

Steps to your Kitchari Cleanse aka ‘digestive holiday’:

1. Choose whether you want a ‘digestive In Ayurvedic medicine, the key to holiday’ for 1, 2, 3 days or more. I feeling great in your body and mind is recommend starting with 1-3 days if good physical and mental digestion. you’re new to eating a mono diet. When we get stressed, run down, too 2. Look at your calendar and find a time busy, experience lots of emotion, or during the month where you have space just get out of our regular routine, with no big deadlines or social events it is often our digestion that gets out of happening. Choose your dates and write balance first. With our modern-day them in your diary so you can mentally routines, it is easy for the strength of and emotionally prepare yourself. Cleansing our digestive fire to be compromised. requires ‘detachment’ and often there This can lead to feeling congested, can be emotions associated with ‘letting heavy and sometimes tired. It is often something go’, such as your favourite during these times that we feel the raw chocolate afternoon treat or morning need to do a ‘detox’ or ‘cleanse’, and for smoothie. It is wise to be kind and good reason. understand that things may come up Our body does so much for us every during your cleanse, talk to your body day to make sure everything works in and simply be patient with yourself and harmony and balance. By simplifying the process. — Tip: talk to your the food we eat for a single day or a few body and let it know that you love it and days in a row, we can give our body time are going to give it a nourishing rest, so to relax and put precious energy that it knows that you’re not going to starve! would normally go into digesting complex 3. Get into action! Shop for your ingredients meals - into healing, rejuvenating and and then cook up a pot of Kitchari (the rebalancing. recipe was in the last issue of YJ) either If you are feeling out of balance and the night before your cleanse, or the needing a rest, eat Kitchari for a few days morning of, so that your delicious Kitchari to give your body a ‘digestive holiday’.

is ready to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner as soon as you are hungry. Heat up extra Kitchari in the morning and take it with you in a food thermos so that your warm, nourishing Kitchari is ready to go and with you as soon as you get hungry and start searching for food. 4. Sip on warm water and ginger tea during the day while cleansing to gently assist in warming your digestive fire and supporting your body’s natural healing abilities. 5. Once you’ve completed your Kitchari cleanse, continue to eat light, soupy, easy-to-digest foods for the next week so that your body can gradually adjust to more solid foods again. Avoid cold and heavy foods and listen to your body. You may find that Kitchari becomes your best friend and an easy, nourishing yogi meal that you enjoy having on a regular basis. …It is a staple meal in my house! Extra cleansing considerations: Consider consulting a qualified Ayurvedic consultant, practitioner or naturopath when embarking on any cleanse. During your cleanse, you may choose to use herbs and therapies that help to promote improved digestive function. It’s important to have a holistic picture of what is going in your life, so that you can find the cause of any imbalance that is occurring. Educate yourself so that you can be empowered to make necessary changes that support your true nature! LORIEN WALDRON is the founder of Check out her eBook available on the website or connect on social media @ wholesomelovinggoodness for simple Ayurvedic lifestyle tips and organic whole food inspiration + education.



october 2016

“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” ~Ayurvedic Proverb

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Eat, Play,



ARRIVING IN UBUD felt like coming home. This little yoga paradise is colourfully vibrant, with so much to see and do especially around health and wellness. Ubud is a must-visit for any travelling yogi. I could easily have spent a month exploring the many deliciously healthy cafes and amazing yoga studios. It was my second time in Ubud, and two years after my first visit it felt pretty much the same – in a familiar and inviting way. In true holiday style I easily forgot what day it was and wasted hours wandering around finding fun places to eat, getting massages, bargain hunting, sunbaking and yoga-ing. It’s easy to accumulate a handful of favourite digs and spend your days at the same places, but with a goal in mind, I set out to discover as much as I could of the Ubud yoga world in the relatively small amount of time I had, especially given the abundance of wholesome, yogic goodness to discover.

YOGA Of course my first stop was Yoga Barn – Ubud’s biggest yoga studio that feels like a small village. Arriving at Yoga Barn I felt aware of my urge to fit in. Beautiful, svelte yogis laughed and socialised, or floated into one of the many yoga classes. It’s true, Yoga Barn is the place to be and the place to be seen for all the young, Lululemon clad yogis. But there are so many pockets of magic within it, and as soon as I began exploring the classes I was soothed by the teachings of some of the most inspiring yogis I’ve had the pleasure of practicing with. There are lots of beginner friendly classes too, and you can just as easily leave your trendy threads at home and practice in shorts and t-shirt. Yoga Barn is home to four yoga shalas (two that are hired out for private teacher trainings and retreats), a healthy café, juice bar, healing centre

and shop, as well as chic bungalow accommodation with beautiful rooms and a relaxing pool area. All of this is surrounded by pockets of lush rainforest, fields, streams and natural beauty right in the heart of buzzing Ubud. The shalas have huge windows that show off the luscious nature, and there’s an authentically Balinese feel to the design. A beautifully shabby spiral staircase accesses the top shala, and as you wander up to your class you can admire the ponds of fish swimming beneath. The teachers at Yoga Barn are world-renowned and there’s an abundant class schedule of up to 17 sessions a day comprising of yoga, kirtan, ecstatic dance, sound healings, meditation and more. During my first class, my teacher Bex spoke about Bali being a place of offerings, and how that energy infiltrates the community. This resonated strongly. That same morning


october 2016

By Jessica Humphries

ahead and make a booking. His classes came highly recommended by yogi friends, and apparently this guy is the real deal. He also teaches regularly at a nearby Ashram, Ashram Munivara. If you’re feeling drawn to more of a retreat experience One World Retreats host luscious, relaxing yoga retreats throughout the year at their stunning cliff-top centre, just a stone’s throw from central Ubud. Other classes that came recommended by my yogi friends but I didn’t get a chance to visit (I may have been distracted by the amazing, vegan food) were Frog Lotus and Taman Hati – where a Balinese teacher offers classes in his family compound.

EAT Ubud is a playground for yogi foodies. Many cafes are at least vegetarian and have a huge variety of vegan options as well.

from the classroom windows. This down to earth, cosy space was full of students of all levels and was inviting and accessible. I took a class with a Balinese teacher whose cues and energy were encouraging and clear. A short stroll from the hustle and bustle, Ubud Yoga House sat amongst the rice fields, so I could combine a morning of yoga and rice field wanders (a popular tourist activity in Ubud). The serene studio felt authentic and well established, with views overlooking the rice fields and several traditional styles on offer. I attempted to attend a class with Ketut Arasana at Ubud Bodyworks, but was turned away as the class was full. Don’t you know who I am? I felt like yelling. Now move aside and let me in! Instead I sulked away and gently reminded myself of the opportunity to surrender, then drowned my sorrows in a chai tea. The moral of the story? Email

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at a cafe I watched as a woman performed her morning offering ritual, something that became part of the landscape of Bali. Offering bowls filled with flowers lined the footpaths, and the role that ritual plays in the culture is inspiringly beautiful. When I visited Radiantly Alive it was pumping. This spacious studio with two beautiful light filled shalas and windows looking out onto rainforest green (despite being in the middle of the city) was packed with devoted students. American expat and owner Daniel shares his knowledge and passion through his signature style RA. A must visit for any serious yogi, and of course there are plenty of options for beginners on the expansive timetable of up to 7 daily classes. A visit to Intuitive Flow was absolutely worth the walk up the many stairs to arrive, I reflected as I admired the expansive view of the Ubud treetops


Radiantly Alive

The Practice, Canguu

Yoga Barn

Intuitive Flow Radiantly Alive

Clear Cafe

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Yoga Barn Guesthouse


Down to Earth Café had an infuriatingly abundant menu that made it impossible not to experience a little food envy. Think macrobiotics, vegan and raw (plus a few indulgent options) in a bright and airy upstairs space. There’s also a health food store downstairs with all of your home favourites and more. Just across the road, Kismet was authentically Balinese with a vegetarian menu. I couldn’t go past the Asian bowl with tempeh skewers and still dream about that glazed tempeh with peanut sauce. Atman is a bungalow style café with something for everyone – including a huge vegetarian menu and a great selection of kombucha on tap. It’s also a perfect place for people watching. Kafe is where I spent most of my time. This trendy space is filled with digital nomads and expats, and has an amazingly yogic menu including kitchari for breakfast and every raw desert you can imagine. All of the above are within easy walking distance of Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive – the most central yoga studios. As I moved further towards the busy streets of Ubud I found Seeds of Life Café with all sorts of healthy treats and yoga classes on offer too. In the same street, Biah Biah was a real treat with

lots of Balinese indulgent offerings with a cosy, buzzing atmosphere. It was great value (the cheapest place I discovered), and the line out the door didn’t deter me from indulging in a deliciously authentic meal. Clear Café had temporarily relocated when I visited, but was one of my favourite places the first time I was in Ubud, and a delight to go back to. The amazing healthy smoothies and vegan menu are served in beautifully chic surrounds. If I had to choose a favourite, it would have to be Alchemy Bali. Maybe it was the huge hill I had to walk up to get there, but this place just felt special. Alchemy served the mother of all smoothie bowls (think subway but for vegan smoothies) for breakfast in a deliciously quiet pocket of Ubud.

PLAY With so much to explore, no yogi is at risk of getting bored in this bustling yoga playground. I spent the time between vegan indulgence and yoga wandering around the rice fields, hunting for bargains at the Ubud Art Market and moseying about. If you’re not into bargaining, there are plenty of airconditioned shops with set prices and a plethora of yoga fashion stores. Utama Spice is home to lots of essential oil goodness and the best, most natural

The Practice, Canguu

incense. Ganesha Bookshop is just across the road from the Radiantly Alive studio and sells lots of yoga reads that you can later sell back for half price. My favourite central place for massages was Zen Bali Spa, on the path towards Yoga Barn, but there are so many spas and treatment spaces to explore. Away from the hustle and bustle, Bali Botanica Spa (bookings are a must) offers amazing traditional Balinese and Ayurvedic treatments (the Ayurvedic Shirodhara will change your life). The fun doesn’t stop there. There are plenty of offerings of ecstatic dance, ceremonies, traditional Balinese rituals and healings, cycling tours and so much more. Join the Ubud Community on Facebook with over 40,000 members to stay up to date with local news and events. When I left Ubud I felt invigorated and in love with my practice again. With a slightly heavy heart I left a place that I could easily call home. After only a week I’d found myself in a comfortable groove and eased into a routine that felt so yogic and natural. It had been so easy to delve back into the healthy, active life that I’d abandoned over the winter months and I felt noticeably lighter and more energetic. I romanticised over my next visit (there’s always Spirit Fest in March) as I tucked a little piece of Ubud in my heart to take home.

Canguu – The new Ubud?

Down to Earth Cafe Yoga Barn

Canguu is Bali’s latest up and coming yoga mecca. With more and more studios and healthy eateries popping up, this beach town is a must-visit for yogis, and just a short drive from the airport. Desa Seni is a mystical eco village that offers enchanting accommodation as well as regular yoga classes open to guests and visitors. A popular addition to any yogi’s Bali to-do-list, the space values yogic philosophies in every aspect of its running and the classes are taught by highly respected, quality teachers. The Practice is a beautiful new studio with breezy indoor/outdoor shalas that overlook the rice fields. This is truly one of the most beautiful studios I’ve ever been to with a dedicated following of communityfocused yogis who stay for chats and tea after class. Samadhi Bali is the local, well-established and highly respected Ashtanga studio/café that also hosts farmers markets every Sunday morning. Check out funky vegan cafe Peloton Supershop and Shady Shack for bungalow vibes and a big menu with lots of yogi options. Just a short drive away is Seminyak, home to Aussie owned Divine Goddess – a cosy yoga studio, shop and vegan café that’s definitely worth a visit for its great teachers and beautifully yogic retail therapy. I sat at the vegan café for hours enjoying the serenity whilst observing the hustle and bustle outside.

Komune –

Komune Komune

Ubud Yoga House

october 2016

After a busy week in Ubud, I needed a holiday after my holiday, so headed a short drive away to the small village of Keramas, home to Hotel Komune Bali – a hub for surfers, yogis and health & fitness enthusiasts. Here, two worlds collide deliciously, as surfers gather around the cocktail bar overlooking the beach and yogis retreat to the Health Hub for a macro biotic bowl as the sun sets. You can create your own retreat experience, and there’s something for everyone – which is ideal for yogis whose friends or partners are perhaps more into surfing than om-ing. The big yoga shala was perfect for my morning stretch with the resident yoga teacher, but fitness fanatics can head to the gym for a fun workout to start the day. I would while away the days wandering through the community gardens, indulging in sublime spa treatments and relaxing by the luxuriously lazy swimming pool.

A playground for surfers and yogis



Boys of Meet the Australian BOYS


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or have been without internet and social media for a while, then you know that the boys are all about yoga now. And it’s a great thing that the Boys of Yoga project has now landed on home soil. Michael James Wong, International yogi and founder of Boys of Yoga, has recruited some of the best and brightest yogis here in Aus (and NZ) to help lead the movement on this side of the world, encouraging more men back into the practice.

Introducing just a few... DUSTIN BROWN Pro surfer, ninja master, lululemon ambassador and yogi, Dustin is based in Melbourne and is the co-owner of Warrior One Yoga.

BENNY GOULD R’N’B DJ, corporate runaway, backpacker and yogi, Benny is based on the northern beaches of Bondi and is the co-owner & founder of Bondi Yoga House.


october 2016

Music man, coffee addict, introvert and yogi, Adam is an American who now calls Sydney home. He’s a senior facilitator at Power Living and shares his yoga through asana and music.


ABOUT THE FOUNDER Michael James Wong is an international yoga teacher born in New Zealand and raised in California who now calls London home. With a background in athletics, high adventure sports, dance and movement, his yoga practice began in the early 2000s after moving to Sydney. Michael now travels the world teaching and sharing his own experiences and knowledge of yoga.

There’s more to come, so keep up to date with the boys by checking them out on social media @boysofyoga or visiting the website There you can also read more about the boys. To join and support the Aussie movement, head to

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SPRING CLEANING For Happy, Healthy Kids! By Loraine Rushton

october 2016

MOST of us think of cleaning our homes, our cupboards and closets, but it’s more important to clean out our bodies when it comes to springtime. This is especially important for kids to avoid the typical springtime ailments such as hay fever, asthma, breathing difficulties and flus. Too often we think of these conditions as something that can’t be avoided and we have to suffer through. Over the years, I have worked with countless children and teens and through a combination of nutrition and yoga therapy have watched each malady disappear. To them and their parents it appears as a miracle, when in fact, it’s simply preparing the body for the transition of spring. So, to keep a spring in your step, here are my top five ways to spring clean your body. I invite you to take this on as a family and enjoy the increased energy levels and lightness of spring.


1. Twisting Twists are fabulous for helping to squeeze out the liver and function correctly.

2. Roly Poly Bear Ask your child to lie down on their back with their hands interlaced behind their head and knees bent. Tell them to squeeze their knees together as they exhale and drop their knees side to side. Tell them, “imagine you are a bear who has been hibernating in winter and you are slowly waking up.”

3. Windscreen Wiper Starting from lying on their back with their arms out to the sides in airplane arms and palms pushing down,tell your child to flex their feet and pull their chin down. They lift one leg and as they breathe out, swing it across the body and out to the side like a windscreen wiper washing the car windows.

4. Cobra Twists Nothing beats cobra for stretching open the belly and by adding a twist we give the liver a good cleansing squeeze. From Cobra, ask them to “look over your shoulder. Can you see your feet?” Kids love to visualise looking behind at the flowers, grass, insects, or other imaginary animals, all of which they can hiss at!

5. Rocket Tell your child to sit with their legs out wide.They slide a hand down one leg until they can grab hold of an ankle or foot. Bringing the other arm overhead into a side stretch we count down from 10 to zero. The fun is blasting off to the other side.

6. Seated twist Staying in the same position and keeping the legs wide, tell them to exhale and twist around to the side and smell the flowers, grass or say hello to the insects they visualised earlier.

Spring is a time of awakening and rebirth and it is the time to create for the future. A beautiful exercise to do to create for the upcoming year is to plant a seed and ask your child to visualise a wish they hope for the year. As they plant the seed they also plant their desire. The magic is in watching it grow as their wish also unfolds.


Get up, get out, get moving. To kick-start the body’s cleansing process in spring, start the morning with a joggle. What is a joggle you may be asking? It is a slow bouncing jog, which also helps the digestive organs, increases circulation and respiration. An alternative would be a few rounds of faster paced sun salutes and done with song, makes it more fun for younger kids.

Foods To Avoid Two foods that contribute to the problems of spring are sugar and dairy. Dairy tends to clog the system and create excess mucous and exacerbates any respiratory difficulties. Sugar, as we are leanring more and more, is simply toxic and you don’t put toxins in while you are cleaning them out.

Foods To Increase The organ most responsible for cleaning the body in spring is the liver. To nourish the liver and keep it clean while it is cleaning you, some of the best foods are leafy greens, such as bok choy, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, pak choy and Chinese cabbage. Steam them, boil them, fry and juice them. I even have a friend who makes kale icy pops for her four-year-old and he eats them like they are ice cream!


The top six ways to spring clean your body

om EXPERTS I have been practicing asana for some time now, and am becoming more interested in the philosophical aspects of yoga. I’ve done some reading, but am interested to learn more about the relationship between the physical practice and the spirituality, and how to understand the Answers your questions about stress and vitamin B12. Can you help?

Have questions for the experts? Send them to

Let me use the simple example of tree pose with bandhas (body locks) and pranayama (breathing exercises) in helping you to understand the connection between the physical and spiritual/philosophical. Whenever I do tree posture I always think of my favourite book ‘The Tree of Yoga’ by my old teacher Sri BKS Iyengar. In this book he draws on the analogy of the Ashtanga yoga and the eight (8) limbs of a tree, where Yama is represented by the roots and the way you treat the world and Niyama is represented by the trunk of the tree and way you treat yourself; and so on until he eventually compares Samadhi to the fruit of the tree. Taking the physical practice further, you can begin to practice Uddiyana and Mula Bandha in Vrksasana (exhalation

retention with chest expansion and abdominal contraction in the tree posture.) This process can be done while breathing or while not breathing. It is where the expansion of inhalation or pretend inhalation moves your consciousness towards the infinite immensity of the universal macrocosm, and the contraction of the exhalation or pretend exhalation moves your consciousness towards the infinite smallness of the universal microcosm. Then it makes at least some practical sense that yoga is the realisation that our individual consciousness is one with the universal consciousness. The more you practice and study, the more you will understand the connection between the physical practice and the spiritual philosophy.

Simon Borg-Oliver is a co-director of Yoga Synergy, one of Australia’s longest running and most respected yoga schools. Their style is based on a deep understanding of anatomy, physiology and Hatha Yoga. Simon, a registered physiotherapist, is also a research scientist and university lecturer. He has been teaching since 1982 and leading workshops and conferences interstate and overseas since 1990.



october 2016

Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something about

she was working as a personal trainer, training international celebrities and business professionals in Kings Cross to support her (then) acting career. Five years later, in 1997, she was studying acting and working in New York as an intern for John Leguizamo, a high profile actor who she met at a dinner with Baz Lurhmann, Leonardo Dicaprio, Toby Maguire and Davie Blaine. She was rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, but still uncertain about the future of her career.

“You can’t get caught in a trap of not feeling good enough. You have to learn to trust your intuition and be honest with yourself.” During her first yoga class she had a moment of insight and decided that yoga teaching would be a great new career path. She says, “personal training was getting a bit monotonous and I felt there had to be something else.” After returning to Australia, she saw an advert in the paper for a Japanese style yoga teacher training. “It was down the road and fitted my schedule so I signed up. I guess yoga found me rather than the other way around”, she recalls fondly. After completing her training, Janie spent nine years travelling from East to North, studying with her many teachers in order to understand and refine her practice. During this time she passionately immersed herself in this practice that fascinated her. She says, “I was astonished at the changes in my body shape and how I could actually strengthen my internal organs and make real changes to my health.” Janie opened The Centre Of Yoga in

2006 and was soon teaching up to 25 hours a week. During this time, she developed a keen passion for anatomy, and wanted to incorporate more of this into her teachings. She says, “I was taught in my yoga teaching that a lot of my anatomy training and PT work was wrong, null and void, and naively for a short time I believed that. I discounted what I knew in order to take on this new esoteric knowledge. I would hear my inner voice telling me what to say so I started to apply the anatomy. It was amazing the difference in results I was getting.” Janie’s enthusiasm is contagious as she shares her passion for anatomy, “I’ve had teachers do my specific Anatomy & Movement for Yoga Teachers course who were only taught meridians and energy and have amazing break throughs because now from learning proper applied anatomy, they understand the stuff they’ve been teaching for the last 10 years. Comments like ‘I’m so embarrassed I’ve been teaching without knowing this before’ are not uncommon.” Janie is passionate about sharing her learning with students completing their Zen Ki Teacher Training, not only from a physical perspective but an emotional and philosophical one. “I teach all of my teacher trainers not to get caught up in any teacher’s ‘guru’ status. The more someone seems perfect, the further away from that they usually are. You can never know everything. Knowledge takes time. You can’t fast track it. On the flip side, you can’t get caught in a trap of not feeling good enough. You have to learn to trust your intuition and be honest with yourself.” Her passion for yoga comes from a deeper passion to help people. She says, “so much human suffering (emotional, physical and psychological) can be alleviated by moving your body in the right way. You just need the right recipe!”

october 2016

THE FIRST TIME I spoke with Janie I was surprised at the wisdom in her voice, a contrast to the youthful blonde I’d seen in pictures. Since then, we’ve become easy friends, running into each other at festivals and enjoying a quick embrace followed by chats about the ironic busy-ness of our yogi lives. During these few years of knowing one another we’ve shared stories effortlessly, as only two endearingly open and honest yogis can. Janie Larmour, 44, is a personal trainer-cum-yogi, and owner of Sydney’s The Centre of Yoga, where she teaches Zen Ki Yoga, her own style based on a Japanese practice that’s inspired by healing massage, Zen shiatsu and the meridians. She runs a studio, hosts her own teacher trainings and travels the world sharing her knowledge of this fascinating style, which she passionately combines with anatomical wisdom. She has released 28 yoga DVDs and has created specific healing courses for back pain, period pain, weight loss and more. Janie is not your typical peace, love and mungbeans type yogi. She’s strong willed, super fit, pragmatic and to the point. Combined with her girl-nextdoor approachability, contagious enthusiasm, frank sense of humour and open heartedness she’s easy to love. There’s something very honest and real about this yogini, and it’s delightfully refreshing. Not one for being a part of the scene, she says, “I try not to get to caught up in it. I’m very down to earth. I don’t get into this ‘I’m a yoga teacher, so therefore I am perfect’ – far from it. I try to maintain a balance and still enjoy life.” Janie’s passion for keeping her body healthy and strong began in her teenage years, when she was a springboard diver, competing nationally and internationally, and training with some of Australia’s best. In her early twenties

The driven girl-next-door yogini shares how she’s taking the world by storm with her unique style of yoga


In full

Using Zen Ki Yoga to tone for spring time



Zen Ki Yoga (a registered trademark) is a Japanese form of yoga that is very focused on the core. It is based on Traditional Chinese/Japanese Medicine and changes its focus with each season. In spring time the liver and gall bladder meridians are the focus, which work on detoxing the blood, flexibility in the mind and body, keeping our joints healthy, opening and lightening the body and getting rid of excess winter weight. Use this energising sequence incorporating a range of meridians for balanced wellbeing to tone the internal organs prepare for the warmer months. In Zen Ki Yoga we don’t really have official names for poses as they are more associated with meridians and depending on the focus, many poses will stimulate or relax several meridians.

Pose 1



Feet are close to the bum with knees and ankles together. Interlace your hands behind the head with your elbows and shoulders on the floor. Ensuring you keep your knees squeezed together, exhale and take your knees to the right, keeping your left elbow and shoulder on the floor. The left foot should come off the floor because it’s glued to the inside of your right foot. Inhale come back to the middle and exhale to go to the left with the knees. Repeat in a soft fluid side to side movement for 8 – 10 times. You must keep your knees together strongly for the whole time like you are holding a 5 cent piece between them. This is the part that makes your belly work with your back.


october 2016

This move will open your sides, get your belly working with your spine and get some blood flow through the lower back and pelvis ready for the rest of the sequence.

Pose 2 Using this bladder meridian (water element) and stomach/spleen meridian (earth element) move to squeeze out old blood and energy from the lower back, open the front of body and stimulate the meridians that rule our digestive system.


Pull your feet just wider than your body beside your bum and if you can reach and grab your ankles. Only hold your ankles if you can keep your heels on the floor and your chin down so the neck remains long. If you can’t reach, simply press your palms on the floor near your sides.Try and make your feet parallel (pointing straight ahead). Exhale as you lift your bum as high as possible, keeping your heels pushing down. We are after the big round arch under your back. Inhale to come down and bring your lower back to touch the floor (so scoop the pubic bone up slightly). Repeat going up and down for 8 – 10 repetitions. This is quite a rapid movement. You will probably get 10 repetitions done in 6-7 seconds. If you don’t flatten your back before arching again, you are not getting the energy transfer through the discs of the lower back that we are after. When you are up high, you squeeze blood out from your lower back and when you come down, the fresh blood and energy comes into the discs between the vertebrae. If we are unable to get an arch in our back it shows us our spleen energy is not functioning as well as it could be. Our spleen has a major influence on our digestive system, menstrual cycle and period pain.


Pose 3 Small intestine meridian (fire element). This will develop belly strength (your core) on a very deep level in your lower belly.


Pull both of your knees in close to your chest. Pull your feet back strongly until your Achilles tendons are stretching strongly. This switches on your meridians, gives access to the deep, lower belly and protects your lower back (there are meridian points on the kidney and bladder meridians in the back of your ankle that relate to your lower back). Straighten out your right leg to the ceiling, keeping your left knee as close to your chest as possible. Point your left knee to your chin and NOT out to your shoulder. Even though this is only about an inch in space, it’s the difference between accessing your belly above your pubic bone (what we want) and tightening your sides (not what we want). Exhale as you lower your straight leg to an inch of the floor, then inhale and lift it back up, keeping the knee locked out straight. Repeat 10 times. Hold the last one 2 cm off floor and then inhale lift 4 cm, exhale back down to 2cm high, inhale up 4 cm etc and repeat 20 times—if you can! Pull knees to chest and rest for a few moments to get your breath back, then repeat on the left. Then hold both knees at your chest again to rest until your breath comes back to normal.


You might need to do less of these to start. Ensure you keep your bent leg as close to your chest for the deep belly power, however, if it hurts your back, this means your belly has given up and your back muscles have taken over, so you need to put the bent leg foot on the floor (just the toes if you can, but your entire foot otherwise). As you build your belly strength you will need to do less of this. Only put your foot on the floor if the back starts to hurt. If your belly hurts—keep going! It’s important to keep your straight knee completely straight during the leg lifts otherwise you will be using your psoas muscle more than you are using your belly.



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Pose 4 Stomach/spleen meridians.



Go back to the starting position of pose 2, holding your ankles, but keeping the bum on the floor. This time take your right knee down toward your left foot by rolling onto the inside of your ankle trying to get the inside of your right knee to touch the floor, without letting your left knee drift outward. Your left big toe must stay on the floor and your left knee stays pointing slightly in. Stay conscious of how far your knee will let you go. Don’t force the right knee too far down or you will hurt your knee. You should feel a stretch across the top of your thigh, but no sharp pains in the knee. Inhale to bring the knee back up and then repeat taking your left knee in and down. Repeat each knee counting for 10 (5 on each). Press and hold each one down for a second or so. When we can’t get the knee to the floor it tells us our digestive system is not functioning as well as it could. While resting in savasana for a few minutes notice the energy in the front of the legs. The stomach meridian runs through all the most front points of the body, from the cheek, the corners of the mouth, the nipples, the belly just out from the navel to the outer front of the thigh, down the muscle just on outside of the chin bone to the second toe. It is very much our first connection to the world and what is in front of us, so it rules our ‘awareness’ of the self, our surroundings, what is coming up and happening around us. After resting, pull your knees to your chest, lift your head and rock and roll to come up and onto your belly.

Pose 5 This is great for weight loss working our intestines, kidneys and one of our spring meridians—the gall bladder, which is responsible for metabolising fats. Lying on your belly, take your feet just wider than your mat and your tuck toes under, pushing through your heels so that your legs lock out straight and knees are off the floor. Interlace your hands behind your back and try to get your palms together, squeezing them so your chest opens and your shoulder blades squeeze toward each other which will assist in activating the small intestine meridian running through the shoulder blades and down the big muscles along the back. Exhale to lift your upper body, keeping your feet on the floor. Lift your hands slightly off your bum and reach them back as far as possible. Inhale down 3-4 times. Hold the last one up and ensure your arms are still lifted. Inhale, then exhale and swing your upper body to the right, keeping your chest level (bring the shoulder toward the thigh) and your two hips down (move from the waist, not the bum). As you swing the torso to the right, your hands will flick to the left. Inhale to the middle then swing to left (hands flick to right). Repeat this quickly without stopping in the middle for 10 – 20 reps. You should end up with carpet burn on your belly if you do it right. Come down and rest until your breath returns to normal with your hands by your side, palms up, toes turned in, heels out and head to one side.





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3 Pose 6a


The next two are great for toning the waist, building strength in the lower back, kidneys and bowels. The kidneys and bowels are organs of elimination. We also access the gall bladder as we swing the body for fat metabolism. Still on your belly, bring your hands beside the chest. Make sure your wrists are up against your ribs just below the chest muscles/ breasts and elbows pointing up and toward each other. Bend your right knee out and press that foot into the left thigh, so that your heel is above the knee and the ball of the foot is below the knee (no higher). Your hips, if tight might become uneven which is okay, but try to level them as much as you can. Exhale to lift your hands and upper body off the floor, using your back muscles. Keep your foot pressing firmly into the leg and the straight leg stays on the floor. Inhale down and exhale to lift 8 times. Hold the last one up of the floor and keeping the chest level (and wrists against ribs) swing your upper body to the right, inhale to the middle and exhale to the left. Repeat this without stopping in the middle 10 times. Then repeat on the other side.

Pose 6b This is exactly the same as the last pose but stronger. This time interlace your fingers so the webbing of the hands comes together. Lift the elbows with your face still on the floor and lift your upper body from here. When you come down each time, don’t drop your elbows. When you swing side-to-side keep the chest and elbows level. Come out of this and rest or if you leave this out until you get stronger, rest after #6 on the belly the same as #5. You may chose to do A and B on the right before moving to do both on the left side or do A, have a rest and then do B.

Pose 7 Kidney stretch. This will relax the lower back, the kidneys and switch off the adrenal glands to bring us back to ‘relax mode’, as we are usually in a constant state of fight/flight which is our sympathetic nervous system. This is a great one to do by itself at the end of the day. If you can’t be bothered doing anything much, DO THIS POSE. If you are in fight/flight mode (sympathetic nervous system) when you come home, you can’t digest your food properly and you don’t rest/sleep as well as when in relax mode, with your parasympathetic nervous system on.


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Hold this and breathe through the nose for about 45 seconds. Try and level up the pelvis and relax into the stretch. Rest for a moment until you feel warmth, tingling or pressure in your mid-back/kidney area on the side of the body, then repeat on the left. This warmth, tingling or pressure you feel during the rest is your kidney and adrenals relaxing and letting go.

Pull your right knee to your chest, lengthen out your left leg and pull your left foot back strong. Hold over your toes and onto the padding of the right foot with your right hand. Place your left hand on top of the left thigh, stretching your fingers down the front of your leg toward your kneecap. Take your right leg as straight as you can to the ceiling, keeping your right leg in line with your right shoulder. It doesn’t matter if you can’t straighten the leg as long as the left leg (on the floor) is straight and lengthening, and the fingers are down the left leg to activate the kidney meridians more strongly. Keep holding over the toes onto the padding of the foot though. When you hold your toes, you feel all the ligaments and tendons in the bottom of your foot become rigid, which tightens the back of the leg. Soft toes = soft back of leg = faster flexibility.


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Pose 8 Small intestine sit-up for tone and weight loss. This will strengthen your small intestine so that it works efficiently. The small intestine is where you absorb most of the nutrients into the bloodstream so it’s important that it works well. Unfortunately, most of us have an expanded small intestine. Sometimes it’s more expanded on one side and that is the side you will find the hardest in this pose. Do extra on the harder side. Lying down on your back, bend your right knee out to the side placing your heel above the knee and the ball of the foot below the knee (no higher or lower than this). Keeping both shoulder blades on the floor, slide around until you can hold your right knee with your right hand. Make sure you go all the way around to the point were you can press your fingertips into the groove just below the knee cap. Hold over the kneecap, not the inside or outside of the knee. Push through your straight leg (left leg) with the foot pulled back strongly. Your left hand sits on your belly just below your navel. Inhale to the hand on the belly and as you exhale, try to sit up without lifting your bent knee or your straight leg. It doesn’t matter if you only lift your head and shoulders and squeeze into your belly. You could also have someone hold your straight ankle and your bent knee so that you can sit all the way up until you can do it yourself. Inhale to come down slowly (don’t collapse). Sit up 10 to 15 times each side and then do 10 extra on the harder side. Make sure when you come down that you keep your hand over your knee with the fingers in the groove at the base of the kneecap (don’t let your hand slide off the knee otherwise you miss the work into the small intestine). Also don’t roll down onto your shoulder to come down. Even though we are bent sideways, you want to come up and down as level as possible.

Pose 9 This is great for the liver and gall bladder (wood element) – the spring meridians, but also the intestines by twisting and cleansing.

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Come up into shoulder stand and bring your legs into a position like you are sitting in a chair upside down. Bend your elbows so your hands are at the back of your waist. Twist from your waist slowly to the right and left, exhaling to each side and inhaling to the middle. Go as far as you can on each side keeping the upper body still. When you twist make sure your feet remain above your knees not above your buttocks, so that your feet are drawing a semi-circle on the ceiling. This will ensure the spine stays stacked above itself as you twist. Come to the middle, roll down from this slowly and rest for a few moments on your back. If you have discomfort in your back you might want to repeat pose 2 here after you have rested.





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Pose 10 This will strengthen your bladder and pelvic floor. It will tone your bum, your lower back and develop your deepest core muscles. Lie on the floor with elbows bent and close into the sides of your body, pressing into the floor. Take your legs as wide as you can and lock them out with the toes pulled back so that your heels come up off the floor (this doesn’t mean lifting your legs though). Your heels are up because your feet are pulled back strongly and you are pressing the back of your knees down. We are going to attempt to lift the bum (it probably won’t make it off the floor), but we are not going to use the heels at all—we want to push them forward to lengthen the spine as we strengthen it. Roll your legs inward slightly so you come slightly onto the inner calf muscle, this will give you deeper access to strengthen your pelvic floor! Pressing on those inner calf muscles (not heels) exhale to lift your bum. Your heels continue to push away from you—they DON’T slide up the mat to get your bum higher—this is dangerous for your spine—remember, lengthen to strengthen. Inhale to lower down, but don’t collapse. Keep your feet pulled back the whole time and go up and down x 4. Hold the fourth one and try to lift your right leg, keeping your bum in the air, then lower it and try to lift the left leg x 2 each. Don’t expect to be able to do the leg lifts right straight away. But when you are able, your bladder is at it’s strongest. To make this easier, repeat this entire move with your legs hip width apart then you can work towards getting wider with your legs. The wider they are the more difficult it will be, like adding weights at the gym. Make sure you rest in savasana. Even if you can’t do the whole thing properly, you will still strengthen your bladder and pelvic floor. The bum lift alone will give you strength, but also the ‘attempt’ of lifting the leg will give you lots of bladder strength. Don’t cheat as you’ll switch off the bladder meridian if you push your bum down to lift the leg; the “attempt” will give you deeper access to the bladder and pelvic floor.

Pose 11



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Lie down, bringing your feet above your chest and hold over your toes and onto the padding of your feet (same way as for the kidney stretch, but both feet at same time). Press your bum toward the floor using your belly muscles—don’t allow your feet to drift to your bum to get it down though. It’s more important for your heels to be above your chest than your bum down, then it’s more important for your bum to be down than for your knees to be straight. Attempt to get your knees a little straighter but only as far as you can without your bum lifting up. The stretch should be through the bum, lower back (if tight) and right at the top of the hamstrings, then through the legs. Hold this for 45 seconds breathing calmly through the nose and let the legs go. Rest in savasana.

Bladder meridian stretch to relax your entire spine, nervous system and lower back and buttocks after the last pose.


Stuff we Our favourite yoga goodies on and off the mat!

Body 1. Weleda Wild Rose Body Oil Smell like a summer breeze with this lusciously indulgent body oil. $29.95

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2. Be Serene Oil Blend This yummy blend by Be Genki is ideal for savasana or bedtime. Pop it in your oil diffuser and let the worries of your day drift away. $38



4. Redmond Earth Paste So you need to dollop a little extra on your toothbrush than usual, but this is the real deal. No nasties toothpaste that’s good enough to eat (the way it should be)! Made in the US, but available at healthfood stores around Aus. $11




Treats 5. Exercise Tea These all-natural exercise teas from The Organic Trainer are designed to give you a natural high! The Australian made goodies blend together ingredients that help your body recover post-yoga. And they’re delicious!! $26.95 6. The Chocolate Yogi Get ready for a serious flavour sensation. These vegan, raw choccies are seriously ah-mazing! They’ve got a fun range to excite your taste buds and are made with ethical, loving goodness. Yum! From $3.75


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3. African Black Soap This versatile bottle of goodness can be used for hair and body, it smells divine and is deliciously affordable. Alaffia’s Authentic Black Soap is made from a centuries-old recipe of handcrafted shea butter and West African palm kernel oil. And it’s fair trade! $8.39


Style 7. Divine Goddess Goodies Harness your inner Goddess with this long sleeve top ($89) from the new organic cotton collection and tootsie tights ($99). 8. Lululemon Men’s Tank This Metal Vent Tech Tank is designed with the active yogi in mind, and perfect for father’s day. $65


Accessories 9. Trainer Tea Flask To go with your exercise tea, The Organic Trainer also have this nifty little tea flask to take your loose leaf on the go. Seriously handy, and beautifully made. Finally a bio cup for tea lovers! $39.95



11. Nirvana Meditation Stool The natural simplistic design of this stool invokes tranquility and stillness before meditation even begins. Designed for kneeling, this stool helps keep your spine upright for ease in meditation. Made from sustainable bamboo and plywood.

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10. Yogi Peace Club Round Mat The first of its kind (it’s round!), these beautiful, eco friendly mandala mats are designed in Aus with the yogi and meditator in mind. And they double as a picnic blanket or beach mat. $149.99


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Tap into a sense of

unchanged well-being Meditating on what it means to just be can help you feel healthy and whole. By Richard Miller PhD

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LIFE, WITH ALL ITS UPS AND DOWNS, can distract you from experiencing the joy of simply being—a state of body and mind in which you feel whole, healthy, grounded, and deeply connected to yourself and everything in the cosmos, without the need to fix, change, or heal anything. Meditation is designed to help you achieve this state—to look past distractions, and experience what already is and always will be harmonious and peaceful about yourself. In other words, we practice meditation not to become whole, but to connect to our existing wholeness. When you’re out of touch with this inner peace, you’ll always feel like something’s amiss. But when you’re in touch with it, you can feel within yourself a constant state of well-being and equanimity.


How to just be

Wholeness is your birthright. You are innately more than a limited individual person; instead, you are spacious, even as you affirm healthy boundaries with yourself and others. And you’re beyond the limits of thought and time, even as time and space continue. As wholeness, you can feel complete, even as your desire to obtain knowledge and form social relationships continues. Simply put, it is possible to feel fulfilled, even as you strive to do more. With a regular meditation practice, you can learn to call upon this feeling amidst your daily life—while eating, talking, playing, and working. Knowing and feeling your innate wholeness, especially in the face of day-to-day tasks, is a doorway to true health and well-being. And when you are in touch with your wholeness, other innate aspects of yourself, such as love, kindness, compassion, joy, and peace, naturally arise.

So, how do you tap into these feelings? The first step is to affirm your intention to do so. The second step is to glimpse the surprisingly accessible universal life force that animates every atom, molecule, and cell throughout your body and the cosmos. The third step is to practice and nourish the feeling of simply being. This is easier than most people think. Being is the feeling of presence you experience when you are momentarily still, or when you pause between two thoughts, two breaths, or two actions. It’s the truly wonderful feeling you experience after you’ve finished a task, before moving on to your next task, or when you sit back and take a timeout to rest, breathe, and experience the delight of having absolutely nothing to do. Simply being when you bask in a deep inner sigh of “Ahhh .... ” You can use the following two practices to access this feeling.

PRACTICE 1: The feeling of being Take a moment to relax your jaw, eyes, shoulders, arms and hands, torso, hips, and legs and feet. Then rest your attention on the sensations created by the gentle expansion and release of your belly as breath comes into and flows out of your body. As you’re resting here, between two thoughts or two breaths, notice where and how you experience the sensation of being. You may experience being as an internal feeling of warmth, or presence in your belly, heart, or other parts of your body. Keep your attention on these sensations as you read the following terms commonly used to describe being. Do any of these words describe your experience? Peaceful … calm … loving … secure … heart-centered … easeful … grounded … connected … spacious … well-being …. Write down words that best describe your own sense of being.



Being human

There are five special inquiries that you can ask at the beginning of every meditation to help deepen your experience of well-being. These inquiries can reveal your deepest psychological and spiritual health, harmony, and wholeness. Take time to fully experience each inquiry before moving on to the next. Find a comfortable position, either lying down or sitting. Allow your senses to perceive the sights and sounds of your surroundings, the touch of air on your skin, and the sensations where your body makes contact with the surface upon which you’re resting.

First Inquiry: As being, how do you describe where being is located? As being, do you have a distinct centre or physical boundary? See if you can feel present in your physical body, yet also spacious and unbounded at the same time. Second Inquiry: As being, how do you describe your experience of time? Notice that when you’re simply being, your thinking slows down. As thinking slows and even momentarily stops, you may feel yourself momentarily outside of time, without a past, present, or future. Third Inquiry: When you are fully present, is there anything that will make you any better than you already are? Notice how, when you are simply being, you’re perfect just as you are. Feel how your core being doesn’t need or want anything, even as your body and mind crave things. Fourth Inquiry: Is this feeling of being unfamiliar, or is it something you’ve always known? Notice how just being is a familiar feeling that you’ve always known, although you may have ignored it until now. Fifth Inquiry: As being, is there anything that would make you more complete than you already are? As you are able to rest, remaining undistracted for periods of time, it’s possible to feel complete and whole, just as you are. It may take a bit of practice, but with time these innate feelings can surface for us all. After exploring these five inquiries, take a few more moments to simply rest as being. Experience yourself as spacious, beyond time, perfect, connected, and complete—just as you are. Then, when you’re ready, affirm your intention to continue experiencing this innate feeling of well-being, even as you now go about your daily life. Richard Miller, PhD, is the founding president of the Integrative Restoration Institute (, co-founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and author of iRest Meditation and Yoga Nidra. This is his third in a series of 10 columns designed to help you create a lasting and impactful meditation practice.

PRACTICE 2: Go Deeper

Then, feel your body as a field of vibrant energy, while enjoying simply being.

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Being is natural to all of us, yet most people never take the time to simply experience the presence and aliveness of being. Taking this time opens a doorway for you to feel unchanging inner peace, calm, equanimity, groundedness, security, joy, compassion, and love. This is because when you’re present, negative thoughts and feelings turn off.




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Taking a breakâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;from teaching, from work, from life as you know itâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;seems like it should be easy, yet it can be one of the most difficult things to actually do. Here, three well-known yogis share the rewards and challenges of their sabbaticals. Plus, expert advice to help you decide if taking a break is right for you.


The gifts of



FOR THE LAST 18 YEARS of my 22 years as a yoga teacher, my schedule has included traveling some 250 days a year. I’ve been to 48 out of 50 states in the United States and visited more than 35 countries, which means I’m on countless airplanes and in as many hotel rooms; I wake up jet-lagged most mornings, trying to recall which city I’m in. Then, I push the furniture against the walls to do yoga. Don’t get me wrong: to say it’s an honour to be able to share my passion for yoga with so many is an understatement. I am in the unique position of being able to do exactly what I love, travel the world, meet new and wonderful people, and make a living while doing it. Yet about a year ago, I started using the word “exhausted” a lot when asked how I was doing, and I was getting sick more frequently. I was resistant to seeing friends when I was home, telling them I wanted to “conserve my energy.” It was clear to me that I could not sustain this nonstop schedule. What’s more, I turn 50 this year, and I’m a big believer in honouring the milestone moments in life. This is an opportunity to look backward and forward at the same time. I wanted to take time to reflect on what I’ve learned spiritually and emotionally, and to see if there are some ideas or beliefs I need to tend to, understand better, or let go of. So I began to rearrange my schedule to include taking a four-month sabbatical at my home in Los Angeles. My intention is to step into this next level of maturity with a lot of awareness and proudly embrace my role as a mentor and leader in a way that I might not have had the confidence to do as a younger teacher. In order for me to approach this process consciously, it’s important to take time to “check in” by meeting with some of my old teachers, reflecting, processing, and fully opening myself to whatever is next on my path. As I write this, I’m in the middle of my sabbatical, doing for myself what I teach others to do: practicing self-care and taking time for deep personal

It’s time to do for myself what I teach others to do: take time for deep, personal reflection. reflection. We must all do so in order to be balanced, grounded, open, and harmonious in our work and relationships. Whether you have four months or four hours is ultimately irrelevant. What is important is that you create a doable regimen that supports your health and wellness—emotionally, physically, and spiritually—and commit to it regularly. With each passing day of my sabbatical, I feel healthier and more grounded and inspired. I know that this replenishment will have a huge and positive impact on my teaching. What that impact might be I am not investigating right now. In this moment, I’m enjoying the deep rest that comes when you take true time off and turn your attention inward, toward what is important: the relationship you have with yourself, with others, with the planet, and with God.



I TOOK A BREAK FROM TEACHING yoga a few years ago because I lost my voice. Not literally; rather, in that way Writing Down the Bones author Natalie Goldberg describes: “Your voice lives within what you’re most passionate about.” I’d been teaching vinyasa for years but had started looking forward less and less to my classes, and I found all sorts of excuses to sidestep my own practice. My heart wasn’t in it and neither was my body, which just wasn’t “performing” how I’d come to expect. How could I possibly teach anyone anything when my inflexible hips made Lotus Pose impossible? How could my 6o-year-old body inspire my young students eager to get their Hanumanasana on or tuck their leg behind their head? But most important, how could I also convince these students that none of these feats mattered when suddenly they’d taken on such meaning for me?


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Smart tips to SAVE FOR YOUR SABBATICAL BY MEGHAN RABBITT Taking a sabbatical may sound like an incredible experience, but first you should make sure you can actually afford it. According to Brent Kessel, a dedicated yogi, author, and financial planner who has taken two sabbaticals himself, it’s crucial to ensure that forgoing your pay won’t drive you into a financial hole. “The whole point of a sabbatical is to interrupt your go-to patterns for long enough to see what’s serving you and what’s not,” he says. “You can’t fully do this if you’re stressed about your money.” Here, Kessel shares advice on how to plan financially for your time off:

TIP 1:

TIP 2: Beef up your emergency savings. While the plan should be to pay your bills and withdraw spending money from your dedicated sabbatical savings account, it doesn’t hurt to build your emergency savings. That way an unexpected event— say, your car breaks down or your air conditioner causes water damage—won’t jeopardise your time off. Most experts recommend having 3 to 12 months’ worth of living expenses in emergency savings. Choose a number that’s realistic for your budget and gives you peace of mind.

TIP 3: Guesstimate how much you’ll spend during your time off. For some, taking a sabbatical means spending more time at home and less money on things like petrol and green smoothies. For others—especially those who decide to travel—a sabbatical could mean spending more money. Get a sense of this before you take your sabbatical, so you can be specific when it comes to your savings. “Once you’re clear on your intention, you’ll be better able to plan for the financial part,” says Kessel.

few minutes, I noticed several women putting their mats down near us, and they started to practice in rhythm with Marty. When we finished, Marty said, “You know, I think I like this yoga stuff.” I asked her why. She said, “Weirdly, I suddenly saw my body, but not its broken parts. I saw my body from the inside, and it was whole.” In that moment, I realised that I had just spent the last hour deeply connected to our collective experience without once judging, or worrying about my own body. At the end of our week together, Marty placed both of my hands on her heart. She said, “OK, Sparrowe, this retreat might have touched my heart. But you? You touched my soul.” I knew then that despite my body not being able to do what it once could, my heart was my gift. That retreat, and my experience with Marty, brought me back to my mat—and, eventually, back to teaching—and reminded me that my wisdom, born of experience, was my offering. These days, I’ve reclaimed my voice, and my teaching mirrors who I am in this body, in this moment: a combination of strength and receptivity, infused with the wisdom I’ve gained and the love I have for this ancient practice.

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Yoga is about creating a relationship with ourselves, diving deep into the very fabric of our being to discover our truth and to make friends with all that we are. I taught and spoke about that, but when I dove deep and listened closely, I wasn’t sure I could really get behind this philosophy anymore.I discovered the truth alright, but I didn’t like what I found. I forged a relationship with myself, but hardly a loving one. So I hung up my mat and stopped practicing; I also gave away my classes and stopped teaching. About six months into my sabbatical from yoga, I remembered that I had a commitment to teach at a weeklong retreat for women battling cancer. So off I went to meet 65 women. To my surprise, I slipped easily back into teaching, but what really inspired a renewed sense of commitment to my own practice was a conversation I had with “Marty,” a rough-and-tumble older woman who was much more comfortable on a Harley than a yoga mat. Riddled with cancer, she could barely move, but she wanted to do yoga in hopes that it could heal the shame she felt for her once-strong body. During one session toward the end of the retreat, Marty and I were seated on mats next to each other, and we simply began to move slowly and gently. After a

Open a “sabbatical” savings account. You’ll need a certain sum of money that you can easily access in order to pay your bills when you’re not getting a pay cheque. “I recommend setting up regular, automatic transfers into a separate savings account so you can watch this money grow, and then taking your leave when you reach your target number,” says Kessel. Consider an online savings account, which often have the best interest rates.


A sacred


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THE FIRST TIME I TOOK A SABBATICAL from teaching was in 1997, when I was about to turn 40. I went to India for just two months—which seemed like an eternity as I planned for it, yet was so very short in reality—when I had the opportunity to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. Every morning a group of about 40 of us would gather for our beloved sweaty asana practice, and in the afternoons there was an informal session with Guruji. Sometimes it was storytelling, sometimes a truly moving dharma chat, and sometimes he’d simply read the newspaper and we’d hang around hoping for a bit of wisdom. One of those afternoons, a young man who’d just arrived from California asked Guruji, “Who is god?” This is when I witnessed one of my favourite laughs ever—a whole-body, big-belly, throw-your-head-back laugh—which, frankly, was a bit startling considering it was coming from my teacher, a guru

whom I’d expected to be ever serene. Through his laughs, Guruji replied, “God is everywhere! So many gods!” Then he slapped the wall behind him and cried, “God is here!” He then touched his chair and said, “God is here!” Then he pointed to several of us sitting on the floor: “And here and here and here!” Finally, he sat back and sighed, saying, “So many gods: Vishnu, Ganesha, Lakshmi, Shiva—just choose one!” Guruji’s command of English was limited, and I don’t mean to put words in his mouth. But what I gathered from that exchange was a profound faith in the truth that god—or Spirit, if you prefer—is indeed everywhere, and that one expression is not more or less than any other. In that moment, I learned that the knowing of the existence of Spirit is the reason we practice and is, at once, the practice itself. This insight, and the ongoing awareness that there is no outer goal to be reached, has been a doorway for me into acceptance and forgiveness. There is no asana to master, no meditation to complete. The practice, whatever form it takes, is simply a loving inquiry that continues to circle us back to the present moment in which Spirit can be known. Now, nearly 20 years later, I’m taking

another sabbatical. Essentially, I am taking a break from traveling for work—no weekend workshops, festivals, or trainings for about four months. While I will teach a couple of classes each week near my home, my schedule is pretty darn sparse. My wish for this time is to set aside to-do lists; to stay out of airports with their rushing, waiting, and inevitable delays; and to get out of planning mode and just be. I want to allow more time for my morning practices of pranayama and meditation, and have more energy for my afternoon asana. I want to stare at a blank calendar and invite the cat onto my lap. I want to stare at a blank page and write. My deepest wish is this: that in allowing the pause in my work schedule, I’ll invite the pause in every breath I take. The yogis teach very clearly that it is in the pause between each inhale and exhale that transformation is possible. Consider the great teaching of the four phases of the breath: inhale, pause, exhale, pause. The pauses, or gaps, allow time for reflection. We might look at it this way: inhale, I am conscious of the breath, exhale, I am aware of no breath. In the first pause, we can experience, fully and viscerally, that we are alive; and in the second pause, we can experience—


“This insight, and the ongoing awareness that there is no outer goal to be reached, has been a doorway for me into acceptance and forgiveness.”

without anxiety—the truth that this might have been our last breath. This pause at the end of every exhalation invites our awareness of the impermanence of all things—of life itself. In fact, this fourth phase of every breath has a name in Sanskrit: the turiya, meaning the “fourth.” This state is described as being one with the Self, with the infinite. As we are more comfortable with the pause—and with the truth that though the body is transient, the spirit is immutable—we sense the presence of god in all living things. A sabbatical, however brief or extended, is simply a metaphor for creating spaciousness in our busy lives and in each moment. It’s a way of creating a ritual, a sacred pause to invite the remembrance that indeed god is here, and there, and everywhere. For me, this recent sabbatical has shifted my attention from being driven by all the myriad ways my work role fills my life to the act of being—of living simply each day. This time has served to deepen my faith in the sacred pause and has reminded me that it is always here, to be accessed in each breath I take.

INSPYA Yoga Teacher Training Byron Bay February 6 – March 3, 2017

IT’S A CHECK-IN – NOT A CHECK-OUT Four important questions to ask yourself before you take a sabbatical Yes, taking a break can be one of the biggest gifts you give yourself. But it can also mean a major change in your lifestyle—both for you and your loved ones. That’s why it pays to explore and identify your intentions for taking a break, says Megan Ford, MS, LMFT, a financial therapist at the University of Georgia and president of the Financial Therapy Association. “When your schedule is turned upside down and you’re perhaps less available in ways that you usually would be, it can be disorienting for those you love,” she says. “So, like any major transition or decision, deep reflection before you make the leap is important.” To help clue you in, Ford suggests asking yourself the following questions:

Lance Schuler (Principal teacher)


This Level 1 Teacher Training Course has been designed, refined and successfully implemented around the globe over the past 10 years. INSPYA Yoga has trained over 1500 yoga teachers worldwide. We are catering to those aspiring yoga practitioners who wish to establish a sound and professional foundation as a yoga instructor that has both heart and an international reputation.

“Essentially, you need to be honest about what you’re hoping to get out of the experience,” says Ford. Do you just want to relax? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are you trying to escape something? “Getting clear on what’s driving your desire for time off can help you see if, in fact, you truly need a sabbatical—or just a vacation,” she says.

This course is 200 contact-hour program and has a dual certiication process:

2 SHOULD I DO A TEST-DRIVE FIRST? Suddenly finding yourself with big chunks of unstructured time can be challenging, especially if you aren’t used to it. So it’s no surprise that facing days during which anything is possible can be daunting. “I recommend taking a two-week vacation before committing to a months-long break, to see how you operate with no structure,” says Ford.

3 AN I LEAVE WORK IN A GOOD PLACE? Ford says that the last thing you want to do is leave your co-workers or manager hanging—especially if you want a job to return to. The key is planning: get ahead on assignments, ask co-workers to cover for you on major projects, and talk to your boss in-depth about what could come up while you’re away—and how you suggest it be handled. “If there’s a risk you may not have a position when you wcome back, that’s something to really consider,” she says.

4 WHAT MIGHT I HAVE TO GIVE UP? Taking a long-term break from your routine means you may have to make sacrifices, like adhering to a strict budget or using up all of your paid time off (read: no break later in the year when you’re fried). And while these concessions may be worth it, you’ll still want to list them beforehand, and then assess whether or not your sabbatical is still merited, says Ford. “The more realistic you are about all that your sabbatical will entail, the less likely you’ll be to get sidetracked by the unexpected— and the more you’ll get out of your time off,” she says.

ABOUT OUR AUTHORS: Seane Corn is a yoga teacher in Los Angeles. Linda Sparrowe is a yoga teacher and writer in Providence, RI. Annie Carpenter is a yoga teacher in San Francisco.

1. RYT-200 Yoga Alliance 200-hour Accreditation 2. INSPYA Yoga Certificate 200-hour Accreditation The diversity of the teacher-trainers and the international experience of the INSPYA-Team create a platform of learning with such depth and excellence for a training that excels in every component. All of our teachers have been practicing yoga for 18 years or more, and have taught on teacher training programs for at least 10 years. Our course-materials are also a stand out, featuring around 750 pages all up (Asana + Philosophy + Pranayama + Anatomy). This teacher training will be held at INSPYA Yoga’s home, only a few kilometres from Byron Bay. Our awe-inspiring property hosts a fully equipped yoga studio, which opens out to lush gardens, abundant in seasonal organic fruit and vegetables. Welcome to the INSPYA-family! Venue: Lot 1 Natural Lane, Broken Head

For further details, please visit our website: Or contact Ella directly: 0431320090 |


What to expect when you’re


A yogi’s guide in the journey to motherhood By Tania Morgan

Despite having been through comprehensive prenatal yoga teacher training, as a first time mum I was suddenly much more cautious and a little apprehensive about my own physical practice. How much twisting is too much twisting? Is Down Dog really enough of an inversion to cause a concern? My advice to pregnant yogis is to do what you feel comfortable with, trust that as the weeks progress you will become more and more confident with your changing body, and as your baby grows, it too will become more settled, making it safer to practice many of the poses you love.

I always knew that my journey into motherhood would open a whole new pathway of self-discovery and learning. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would start with baby in utero. As a teacher I would often let riff about the art of surrender, but frequently during my pregnancy I had to remind myself to be the student. I had to let go of the ego attached to particular poses, transitions and styles of class (or not making it to class at all if my body way craving rest - especially in the first trimester). Juggling hormones, work and life leaves little energy for non essential tasks. Stick to meditation or yoga nidra during these times if you still desire a connection to your regular practice. Taking time for you and your baby does not make you a bad yogi or a fraud. It means that you are tired and that’s ok!

and then suddenly are 10cm shy of the floor, it’s normal to feel surprised or even disheartened. Fitting into your favourite pair of yoga tights just isn’t going to happen forever. Instead of feeling fat and frumpy, take it as a fun opportunity to dig out those colourful travellers pants from your trip to Bali / South America/ anywhere exotic and for goodness sake be comfy!

Minimise negative self-talk

Connect with your new physical shape

On the mat we are encouraged to embrace the gentle and vulnerable sides of our soul. When you have the added responsibility of bringing a new, innocent being into the world it is very common to have your fears and anxiety amplified as you attempt to take a tight grip and control life. This is both a protection and coping strategy as you venture into the unknown. Observing these thoughts as they arise, talking about them and acknowledging them helps to recognise that they are not real.

In pregnancy you can go to sleep and wake up feeling like you grew double your size! Pregnancy really is an amazing teacher in being present. You aren’t just encouraged to take each day as it comes but are forced to. If you usually can touch your toes

Tania Morgan is the founder of YUM YOGA, a studio offering small classes and big love in Melbourne’s western suburbs. She is also a Leadership and Life Coach supporting clients through major life change. Find more information at


Pregnancy paranoia

Practice what you preach

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THERE IS NO SHORTAGE of advice, support or resources to guide yogis in their physical practice during pregnancy. However, as a yoga teacher myself, when I fell pregnant last year, what I didn’t anticipate were some of the emotional and spiritual transitions that occurred as my sweet baby grew inside me. If you are expecting a new addition to your family, here are a few things that you may notice with your practice on your journey to motherhood, and some tips on how to work through them.





Embrace new beginnings this spring


WE ARE ALWAYS CHANGING. It’s both a universal constant and something that we can truly count on. What we were yesterday will gradually evolve into what we are today, and what we are today will progress into what we will be tomorrow. Each season brings a particular frequency with its own reminders and gifts to offer. Spring can bring great insight around renewal, regeneration, and the impulse toward new growth. It brings encouragements of change, metamorphosis, and a sense of lightness. With all that influx of life force, things seem to take on new life. If you listen closely, you may even hear the voice of spring whisper, “This is the first day of your life, a new beginning, and on this new day, what will you do? Who will you be, and how will you share? How will you participate? What joys can you open yourself up to, and what gifts can you share openly on this new day? Now if you choose to heed the call, there’s work to be done. If you accept the challenge to change and begin anew, you must also be willing to do the work to let go of the old, releasing old patterns which can take time, healing and patience. As life presents this opportunity to change and grow, how will you step into that process?


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By Chris Dixon

Here are a few ideas to get started.

In your meditations, see if you can touch a sense of freshness by practicing releasing old stories and worn out patterns and surrendering into the present moment. You can even use an affirmative mantra like: “Breathing in, I feel fresh, I am renewed. Breathing out, I feel light, I am clear.” You are becoming your best self, and this season is a perfect time to tune into your vision, and lift your vibe to carry your way onward into your journeys. As you embark on this natural evolution, know that you are deeply and intimately connected with life around you all the time. Perfect in all your imperfection, whole and complete within all the moving aspects that make you who you are. Spring’s best gifts can remind you of this consistent interconnection, and as the days get longer and warmer, may you find yourself happy and at peace with the newness of spring, sharing in on the excitement of constant growth and change. This is yours to enjoy and share. Stay positive, keep light, and enjoy the encouragements of spring as it blooms into new beginnings. Chris Dixon is an international yoga teacher, who has an artful passion for practice, and a healthy appetite for adventure. Originally from Southern California, you can now find Chris around Melbourne and Byron Bay, teaching, surfing, or strumming a guitar.

• On the mat, explore details and nuances that you haven’t noticed before by bringing in curiosity and playfulness. See if you can approach your practice with a child-like wonder, or meet the mat like someone visiting for the very first time. There is always space to bring more awareness into the way your body moves and aligns, the way your breath changes shape, and the way that your conscious attention brings you into the moment.

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“As you embark on this natural evolution, know that you are deeply and intimately connected with life around you all the time.”

• In your daily practice, see if you can bring a beginner’s mind to where you are as if it’s the first time you’ve been there. Let this encourage you to see with fresh perspective, accept all change in yourself and in others, and find peace in the moment exactly as it is. When you accept so deeply, everything takes on a new light and suddenly new places, people, and experiences can be seen and felt. Try taking a different route to work, speaking to a stranger, trying a new healthy food choice, or getting outside to breathe in the fresh air and feel your feet on the ground. It’s the little things that count.




of setting boundaries When you can’t say “no,” it’s easy to burn out. The secret? Listen to your body to find your natural limits—along with core power, strength, and inner peace. FOR THE LAST 18 YEARS the setting of a boundary down to the tiniest detail—how you’d leave a dinner date with that emotional-vampire friend at 8 p.m. on the dot, say “no” to the boss who asks you to do just one more thing, or finally make time to tap into your creative wisdom— only to find yourself veering off course yet again? Most people have: It’s part of our common humanity. But when we allow our boundaries to be undermined or overturned too often, our well-being suffers. We feel stressed, disconnected, even ill. The good news is that with practice, and using yoga and mindfulness as guides, we can learn to develop strong boundaries. What’s more, they can bring better health, emotional balance, creative fulfillment, stronger relationships, and an evolved sense of compassion. Blogs and books devoted to boundaries often make it sound simple: If you feel depleted, just say “no.” They define boundaries as the outer limits of what we should do for others or tolerate in their behaviour. When we’ve crossed that line by saying “yes,” we feel taken advantage of and burnt out. This is a good start, but to truly understand the process and to set healthy boundaries, it helps to think of boundaries as a system.

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Our boundary system


Imagine an apple with three layers. The outermost layer (the apple’s skin) is the easiest to see and relates to behaviour: the time you give to help a friend or partner, or how much you pile onto your own plate. Do you pour creative energy into someone else’s career plan and neglect your own? When setting boundaries on this level, we often face overwhelming guilt, thinking that we’re letting others down. Rather than giving in, think of this guilt as

an affirmation that you’re on the right track. The middle layer (the flesh of the apple) is interpersonal: To what extent do others’ moods influence your own? Do you ever come home in a good mood, for instance, only to have your partner’s black cloud of bitterness blanket the rest of your day? When you feel someone’s emotions as though they were your own, you may be filled with the urge to relieve their suffering now, no matter the emotional cost to yourself. The key is to feel compassion without taking on their suffering. The innermost layer of boundaries (the apple core) is intrapersonal: It involves your connection with your deepest self. How linked are you with your body in each moment? When you meet someone whom all your friends like, do you disregard your body’s signals—the clenching in your abdomen or the tightness in your throat— that tell you that this person isn’t safe for you? When we lack boundaries at this level, we often have nervous system imbalance (think anxiety and depression). The trick to forging these innermost boundaries is to cultivate deep embodiment: the ability to be present with sensations as they change from one moment to the next. Many people fear that setting strong boundaries will make them seem or become uncaring. Paradoxically, however, it actually helps us be empathic in a healthy way. Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, who has researched boundaries for years, has found that setting limits allows us to be more, not less, compassionate. Try the yoga sequence and meditations on the following pages to help find your natural boundaries. You’ll start to recognise and trust your gut feelings and radiate truth, affecting you and others in a positive way!

Our body's natural boundary systems Our physical body has its own barrier systems that are essential to optimum health and can serve as a barometer for setting limits. Here are just a few: • The autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls respiration and heart rate, among other things. It constantly scans our inner and outer environments to decide what’s safe and when to sound the alarm. When it’s out of balance, we become vulnerable to anxiety and depression. • The immune system assesses what’s “me” and what isn’t; if it detects something foreign, it mounts a response to fight it. When this system is out of balance, we get sick often or suffer from autoimmune conditions.

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• The enteric nervous system (ENS), often called our “second brain,” determines what’s nourishing and what causes inflammation. This system not only controls our digestion, it also plays a key role in immune response. And it helps regulate mood. When it’s out of whack, we get gut disorders, bacterial and mood imbalances, and more.


Build boundaries

Step 1: Regulate your autonomic nervous system (ANS). When it’s on overdrive, everything seems to trigger a fight-or-flight response, making it difficult to tune into your body’s boundary-related red flags, such as physical discomfort when you’ve mistakenly said “yes.” Effective ways to calm your ANS include nasal breathing with a longer exhale (which slows the heart), restorative poses, and mindfulness.

Step 3: Develop energy and awareness in your enteric nervous system (ENS). Think of your ENS as the epicentre of your inner boundaries—your “gut check,” literally. Practices that develop core strength, release tight connective tissue, and promote awareness of sensations (e.g., satiety and inflammation) help you connect with your gut intelligence.

Step 2: Cultivate embodiment. Once your ANS is settled, you can practice embodiment, or present-moment awareness that’s felt in the body. Emerging research in neuroscience shows that when we practice embodiment, we can turn down the volume on

As you work through these elements, you’ll feel, and set, your boundaries with greater clarity. And other people in turn will read your inner strength and challenge you less strongly and less often.

Tap into your bodily sensations and emotions to become aware of them and to better understand how the following yogic practices and the people you interact with will affect you. Lie on your back with your knees bent, one hand on your heart and one on your abdomen. Close your eyes and breathe slowly through your nose as you explore the following self-inquiry: » Are you present in your body in this moment? Can you feel the sensations of your breath? The ease or discomfort in your muscles and tissues? (It’s OK if you can’t; asking is the first step.)

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» Notice the depth of your breath. Rapid breathing can signal nervous system overdrive. Slower breathing indicates rest-and-digest mode, which is conducive to setting healthy boundaries.


negative narratives and build a more solid sense of self. This body-based mindfulness helps us stay rooted in our own experience, know more quickly when a boundary has been violated, and feel strong enough to honor our truth. The best ways to create embodiment? Meditation that focuses on the body and mindful movement.

» Notice the speed of your mind. Do your thoughts channel-surf? A speeding mind often means rising anxiety. » Note any tension in your abdomen, home to your ENS, or “belly brain.” Tension here can change your gut microbiome, increase anxiety, and make it hard to set boundaries. » Then notice the level of energy in your body. This will help you recognise when you are depleted and need deeper self-care. » Bring awareness to your emotions: Are sadness, anger, or anxiety present? If so, do they feel like yours, or do they come from someone with whom you’ve recently interacted? When you’re done, slowly open your eyes.


As a psychologist and yoga teacher who helps people set healthy boundaries, I’ve learned that to have true staying power, boundaries need to happen from the innermost layer out. There are three components to this—and the yoga sequence that begins on this page incorporates them all.

This pose helps develop core awareness and strength—helpful for setting boundaries. Come to Tabletop, with your wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips. Put slightly more weight into your left knee, and bring the right knee an inch or so off the ground. Hover here for 3 breaths, drawing your lower abdominal muscles toward your heart. Then, keeping your hips as level as possible, use your core muscles to circle your right knee several times to the right, and then the left. After several circles in each direction, hover the knee one inch above the mat again for 3 breaths. Exhale to release; repeat on the left side.

1 Symptoms of nervous system hyper-arousal: Feelings of anxiety, increased heart rate, shallow and rapid breathing, and tight muscles and connective tissue. 2 You are often exhausted, even after a good night’s sleep. Your energy reserves are depleted, and self-care seems elusive. 3 Negative stories are on repeat in your head, or you tell them to anyone who will listen. These stories are often about the selfishness of others, and reflect resentment about the people you are helping. You feel like a victim, while others are to blame. 4 You feel intense emotions that seem disconnected from your own experience and more linked to other people’s feelings. This is called “emotional contagion”—you catch others’ emotions the way you would the flu. 5 You feel out-of-body, ungrounded, and almost ethereal—despite a regular yoga practice—and find it hard to connect with your inner truth, detect your needs, or even figure out what you want for dinner.

From Tabletop, walk your hands forward and come to Plank Pose on your knees. Exhale and draw your deep abdominal muscles up toward your heart to help engage Uddiyana Bandha, or an abdominal lift. You can add Mula Bandha—or a pelvic-floor lift—as well, if you practice it. If you can coordinate the breath and bandhas, practice straightening one leg into full Plank Pose, and then both legs. Stay in your version of Plank for 8–12 breaths. Then, place a block the long way between your upper thighs. Exhale, engage your bandhas, and squeeze the block. Repeat for another 8–12 breaths.

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This core-strengthening pose connects you with your center, which is where you’ll feel your limits and start to reset your boundaries.

signs you need a little boundary CPR


Are you an empath? This pose strengthens your core and helps you feel grounded and centered. The freedom and deeper embodiment of this pose are an added bonus when you feel forced to calibrate your emotions to others’ expectations. Begin in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Hold this position and draw your right knee to your chest. On an exhalation, engage your bandhas and draw your shoulders forward over your wrists, with the knee moving toward your right elbow; you’re now in Hanging Plank (pictured). On your next exhale, place your right foot on the mat, halfway to your hands. Hold here for several breaths. Then balance your weight on the base of your left fingers (rather than your left wrist). Grab your right ankle with your right hand; inhale and lift your right foot an inch off the mat. Hover here for a few extra breaths, if you wish. Then exhale to engage your core again, and bring your right foot between your hands. On your next exhalation, return to Down Dog. Repeat on the left side.

While many of us are affected by emotional contagion, some people feel others’ emotions to the nth degree. If this sounds familiar, you might be an empath, and your wonderful qualities, when left unchecked, can compromise your health. Here are four telltale characteristics of empaths:

 It’s tough to know where you leave off and others begin, or which emotional experiences are yours and which come from others.  You’re often not in your body. For empaths, all that “feeling into” the experiences of others can mean that you dissociate.  You’re prone to nervous system overdrive. It doesn’t take much – sometimes just a crowded, loud party sends your nervous system into alarm.

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 You have trouble with intimacy. Your relationships are filled with intense interactions. You get so entangled that making a clean break from someone is often the only way to get the space you need.


This pose offers grounding and stability. The occipital traction stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from your brain to your abdomen and helps calm the nervous system. From a lunge, pivot and plant your back foot in a Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) stance. Rest your right forearm on your right thigh. Try to stack your left shoulder over your right shoulder, and gaze straight ahead. Bring your left hand to the ridge of your occiput (where your head meets your neck) and place your thumb and pointer finger on either side of the back of the head just under the occipital ridge. Isometrically draw your occiput and cranium away from your sacrum, just below your lumbar curve, and root down through your back heel. Engage the bandhas, if you practice them. Hold for 12–20 breaths. Exhale to return to Down Dog. Repeat on the left.

This pose combines a core body challenge, a drawing-in of energy toward your center, and balancing—all beneficial for developing internal awareness.

This variation of Child’s Pose is relaxing after activating the core body. It also stimulates the vagus nerve, calms your nervous system, and brings energy into the body.

Sit on a block with your knees bent. Place your hands around the tops of your shins. Pull your knees toward your chest, and your feet toward the block. Lift through your torso and the top of your head. You have the option to practice the bandhas on each exhale. If you can breathe deeply and engage your core, lift your heels off the mat. To add even more of a challenge, place your hands at your heart in Anjali Mudra. Keep your neck and face relaxed, and continue to draw your lower abdomen up toward your heart. Hold for 12–20 breaths.

Come into Child’s Pose, with your forehead on a block. This stimulates your vagus nerve and signals your nervous system to relax. Bring your thumbs to the front edge of the block, palms facing down, with the rest of your fingers to the sides of the block. Pin your knees with your elbows. Feel your energy draw inward and replenish you. If your thoughts are active, lengthen your breath to further slow your heart and balance your nervous system. Stay here for 1–2 minutes, or longer if possible.

Therapeutic ball work (or self-bodywork) is a bridge to embodiment. It releases muscle and tissue tension, soothes the nervous system, and helps us better sense our physical boundaries.

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Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place a block under your head. Place two tennis or yoga-therapy balls on the right side of your body, between the bottom of your back ribs and the top of your hip. Breathe deeply. If you end up holding your breath or resisting the stimulation, it may be too much—pad the balls with socks or use a folded washcloth instead. Setting limits on the right level of stimulation for you directly relates to boundaries off the mat. Slowly tilt your body to the right. You can also gently draw your right knee toward your chest to intensify the sensation. Breathe for a couple minutes, moving gently in order to access different parts of your right QL, a deep core muscle. When your body feels satiated, remove the balls and rest. Feel the connective tissue on your right side “fluff” toward the mat. Repeat on the left; each side may need a different level of stimulation.


This pose helps release abdominal tension. Fold your blanket 3 times the long way so it forms a long and narrow fold, with some amount of thickness. Kneel on your mat. Wrap the blanket around your body like a cummerbund, with the rounded edge just beneath your lower rib band and the non-uniform edge just above your pubic bone. Place an extra mat or a folded or rolled blanket under your ankles to raise them off the mat. Lie face down and wrap the ends of the blanket across your back in an X shape. Place an eye pillow under your eyes or forehead, or make a pillow with your arms, and rest your head. You can also place your arms alongside your body.

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Self-compassion has been shown to reduce stress hormones, anxiety, and depression, and to increase emotional resilience.


Lie on your back with a bolster underneath your knees. Place at least one bolster on top of your body the long way. Wrap yourself and the bolsters in a blanket. Place an eye pillow over your eyes: This stimulates your oculo-cardiac reflex, which slows the heart and activates your parasympathetic system, or rest-and-digest response. Then, practice my embodied version of a self-compassion practice, derived from the work of Kristin Neff, PhD, a professor in the educational psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin: » If you are going through difficulty, acknowledge that this is a moment of suffering … only a moment. » Remember that all beings have these moments of challenge or difficulty. Everyone has them; you are not alone. » Inquire where in your body difficulty might be living in this moment: Which part or parts of your body house this suffering right now? » If it’s accessible, bring your hands to that part or parts of your body. Direct the breath to where your hands are.

OUR PROS: Teacher Bo Forbes, PsyD, unites yoga, mindfulness, neuroscience, and psychology. She is the founder of Embodied Awareness, an online education company whose mission is “wellness through embodiment.”Forbes is also the author of Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practices to Relieve Anxiety and Depression. Learn more at Model Newsha Rostampour is a Colorado-based vinyasa yoga instructor and DJ.

Learn to ID whose emotions you’re feeling This practice, the Empathic Differentiation Exercise, is the icing on the cake, and is particularly useful for empaths. It is most effective when you’ve just had an experience of emotional contagion—when you’ve been “infected” by someone else’s emotions and can’t figure out how you feel. Directly following an intense interaction with someone, begin the Body and Mind Check-In. You already know what it feels like when your own emotions are present in your body, and where they are present. Now ask yourself the same questions, adding the following: Is there a “humming” in my nervous system, or a vigilance that indicates it’s turned on at full volume? After the charged interaction I’ve had, is anything different from what I typically feel during my Check-Ins? If the emotions you have in this moment of contagion feel markedly different in nature, or you feel them in a different place in your body from where your own emotions normally live, they likely belong to the person in question. Once you identify this, it’s immediately empowering. You can use your breath to release emotions that are not native to you. As you inhale, feel their intensity and where they are located. As you exhale, cultivate a willingness to let these emotions go, without forcing them out of your body. Do this as long as necessary; you’ll find that once you’ve identified emotions as not belonging to you, they’re easier to release than you might imagine. Practice often. Try to find a quiet space for this practice whenever you are triggered by another person. Practice for as often and as long as you need in order to feel calmer and more embodied.

TEACHER TRAINING • Sydney, Byron Bay, NSW andTuscany, Italy • Registered with Yoga Australia for Health Fund recognition • Yoga Alliance certified • Online training with a face to face practicum • Benchmark training since 2000 • Learn to teach safe and effective multi- levelled classes

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Story by Valerie Reiss | Recipes by Mariela Ramirez Photography by Jennifer Olson

october 2016


GROWING UP IN THE USA, MARIELA RAMIREZ ate many meals with ingredients straight from her Cuban grandma’s farm in Miami, Florida. The property was full of tropical fruit trees—avocado, mango, lime, and mamey sapote (a fruit with creamy flesh that tastes similar to paw paw). “I’d wake up on weekends and get eggs from the chickens, and my grandma would scramble them with cheese and ham and put it on Cuban toast that my grandfather would buy from a local bakery,” says Ramirez, now 25. Her grandmother would add a tomato-avocado salad and make shakes with mangoes. “So, some of my meals were farm-to-table, but the Cuban version,” she says. Yet much of the other traditional Cuban and Colombian food Ramirez grew up eating was less healthy: yellow rice flavored with MSG (a sodium-heavy food additive); salty canned beans; and meat that was either fried or covered in thick, savory, high-fat sauce. Not only was obesity prevalent in her family, but Ramirez (who goes by Mari) found herself overindulging in this type of fare when she was stressed. As a result, in high school, after she quit cheerleading, she found herself gaining weight and feeling less flexible. Then a cousin brought her to a yoga class. “I went in sneakers, completely clueless as to what yoga was,” says Ramirez. “But I loved it. I wasn’t expecting such a soothing and relaxing experience.” Though her practice wavered in high school and college, yoga is now a refuge for her. “I treat yoga as essential to the way I live,” she says. “My body releases endorphins

Chef Mariela Ramirez, winner of the 2015 US Yoga Journal–Natural Gourmet Institute Scholarship, cooks traditional Cuban and Colombian dishes with a creative and healthy twist. Here, she shares how yoga inspired her to become a pro chef and get healthy, plus a nutritious Latin-American feast sure to spice up your spring.


arroz con pollo SERVES 6

Arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) is a staple dish in every Latin-American household. Unfortunately, it’s now commonly made with spice packets filled with MSG. Instead, Ramirez opts for fresh oregano, turmeric, and saffron to achieve the same authentic flavour. Research suggests that oregano and turmeric have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, while saffron may help prevent post-exercise muscle pain or weakness.

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kg organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces 3 tbsp olive oil 1 medium onion ¾ red capsicum ¼ bunch corriander, plus extra for garnish 1½ cloves garlic 4 cups organic, low-sodium chicken broth 1½ cups brown basmati rice Juice of 2 limes 1 bay leaf ½ tbsp chopped fresh oregano 2 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp minced fresh turmeric (or ¼ tsp dried turmeric) 1 tsp cumin

½ 3 1 ½ 6 2

tsp cayenne saffron threads, crushed cup frozen peas cup jarred pimiento peppers (or use capsicum) Manzanilla olives limes cut into wedges, for garnish

Unwrap chicken breasts, pat dry with paper towel, and season with salt and black pepper. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil; cook chicken in batches, flipping once, until browned and almost cooked through, 5–10 minutes. Remove chicken from pot. In food processor, pulse onion, capsicum, corriander, and garlic until finely chopped and evenly combined. Add mixture to pot you used for chicken and cook over medium heat until onions are fragrant and translucent, 10 minutes. Add broth, rice, lime juice, bay leaf, oregano, garlic powder, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and saffron to pot; bring mixture to a boil. Add chicken; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 1 hour. Add frozen peas, pimientos, and olives, stirring until warm. Fluff rice with fork and divide among six plates. Garnish each plate with a lime wedge. NUTRITIONAL INFO 457 calories per serving, 13 g fat (2 g saturated), 45 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 42 g protein, 228 mg sodium

watermelon mojito smoothie Instead of using rum and simple syrup, Ramirez opts for summer fruits and chia seeds for a fibre boost. 2¼ 1½ ¾ 15

cups watermelon chunks cups frozen strawberries cup frozen banana chunks fresh mint leaves Juice of 1½ limes 1½ tsp lemon zest ¾ tbsp chia seeds 4 lime wedges, for garnish

In a blender, combine watermelon, strawberries, bananas, ¾ cup water, 6 ice cubes (optional), mint leaves, lime juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Particularly juicy watermelon can add a lot of water, so if the smoothie seems too thin, add more ice cubes until you get a thick texture. Divide among four glasses; top each with chia seeds and a lime wedge. NUTRITIONAL INFO 86 calories per serving, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 23 g carbs, 4 g fibre, 1 g protein, 5 mg sodium

S E R V E S 4 ( A B O U T 2 4 O Z TOTA L )

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during my practice at Hot Yoga House Miami, and during Savasana I just meditate.” Ramirez says she leaves the studio happy and with a clear mind, and that her practice has helped her develop more self-compassion. “I try not to be so hard on myself when I can’t do what the girl one mat over can do—I go at my own pace,” she says. After yoga class, Ramirez finds that she applies this kindness to her journey with food and cooking, and she thinks critically about the foods that are nourishing her body and fueling her day—something that started while attending the University, studying public relations. She began tweaking ingredients in family recipes she’d gotten from her Colombian mum. “I noticed how much sugar and salt were going in, and I decided to make healthy changes,” she says. “The first step was swapping white rice for brown, and it went from there.” Ramirez began to host dinner parties for friends, who dubbed the gatherings “Mari’s Kitchen.” This evolved into a popular Instagram account, which, after she graduated, morphed into a business cooking Latin-inspired meals for clients (while maintaining a public-relations job). “My goal was to make food healthier and not sacrifice flavour,” she says. Still, Ramirez struggled with her weight, stress eating and not practicing what she preached. “My PR job was taxing, and I spent long hours prepping meals for clients,” Ramirez recalls. She had no time to focus on exercise or, ironically, her own nutrition, even while helping others to eat better. By the time Ramirez was 2o, both her father and sister had undergone gastric bypass surgery to address obesity. At age 22, Ramirez did a BMI test at the gym that showed she was near the obese range. “I freaked out,” she says. “I didn’t want to have to take drastic measures like my father and sister.” She was also concerned that American Latinos in general are at high risk for obesity—78 percent of Latino adults in the States are overweight or obese, compared with about 67 percent of whites, according to the 2o15 State of Obesity report. So Ramirez renewed her focus on healthy eating and rebooted her yoga practice. During one particular hot yoga class in 2o13 she was asked to set an intention, and she dedicated her practice to healing her troubled relationship with food. “I made an oath to myself to not give up,”


mango-avocado pico de gallo crostinis MAKES ABOUT 20 CROSTINIS

Pico de gallo is a traditional Mexican salsa. Serve it on a whole-wheat baguette instead of fried tortilla chips, and give it a Cuban twist by replacing tomato with sweet mango. The salsa with creamy avocado infuses healthy fats. 1 20 ¼ 1 ¾ ¼ ¼ ½ 2 1 1 1

whole-grain baguette, cut into 2-cm-thick slices cup olive oil cup diced mango cup diced avocado cup finely chopped red onion cup chopped corriander Juice of 1 lime jalapeño, finely chopped garlic cloves, minced tsp cumin tsp coriander tsp kosher salt

Heat oven to 200°. Brush baguette slices on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper; bake on a baking sheet until light brown, about 7–9 minutes. In a bowl, combine mango, avocado, onion, corriander, lime juice, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, coriander, and salt. Spoon mixture onto bread slices and serve immediately. NUTRITIONAL INFO 128 calories per 2 crostinis, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 14 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein, 297 mg sodium




Canned beans

Dried beans or low-sodium, organic canned beans

The sodium in most canned beans makes it worth subbing in dried beans or a low-sodium version. A cup of regular canned black beans has 920 mg of sodium—or 38 percent of our daily max amount.

White rice

Quinoa, brown rice, or freekeh

White rice is stripped of fibre and has 4 g protein per cup. Quinoa has 8 g protein per cup; freekeh and brown rice have 6 g per cup.

Store-bought sofrito sauce

Homemade sofrito

Yellow rice (white rice with flavour packet)

Brown rice with fresh or dried turmeric

Avoid corn syrup, artificial flavors, and MSG. Sauté 2 diced yellow onions, 2 diced red capsicum, 12 minced garlic cloves, and a handful of chopped corriander in 2 tbsp olive oil for 12 minutes. Those traditional Spanish yellow rice packets are loaded with everything from MSG to sugar, with 820 mg of sodium per 1/3 cup Add turmeric and get a super-food, anti-inflammatory boost.

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Chef Mariela Ramirez grew up eating meals featuring chicken, rice, and beans. But in those platters often lurked health threats: trans fats, mega-doses of sodium, preservatives, and too many calories. After developing healthful remakes for herself and clients, she’s found a way to keep and even improve robust flavours, all while losing the junk. Here, she shares four of her favourite swaps.

Valerie Reiss is a writer based in Massachusetts who writes about yoga, health, and delicious food (

vegan flan SERVES 6

Flan is typically made with eggs, condensed milk, and whole milk. In this vegan version, Ramirez swaps the dairy for light coconut milk, tofu, and agar (a sea vegetable that adds a gelatinous texture). And instead of heavily processed sugars, she uses maple syrup and Sucanat sugar, an unrefined cane sugar that retains its molasses content, preserving trace amounts of iron and calcium. This flan is still a sweet splurge, but the swaps nix some sugar.

1 1

cup Sucanat sugar cups light coconut milk tbsp agar cup extra-firm tofu cup maple syrup tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes tbsp cinnamon, plus extra for garnish tsp vanilla tsp salt Coconut slices, for garnish

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the sugar and ¼ cup water, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves into a golden simple syrup, 2–5 minutes. Fill the bottom of each cup of a large muffin pan with 1 tbsp simple syrup.

In a medium saucepan, bring coconut milk and agar to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, stirring constantly, until agar fully dissolves, 10–15 minutes. In a high-speed blender, blend coconut milk–agar mixture, tofu, maple syrup, coconut flakes, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt until mixture is smooth. Pour coconut-milk mixture into muffinpan cups and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Place muffin pan in a shallow hot-water bath to loosen flan from bottom of pan, 15 seconds, then flip pan onto a flat surface, such as a cutting board or large tray, to pop out the flan. Garnish with cinnamon and coconut slices, and serve. NUTRITIONAL INFO 128 calories per 2 crostinis, 8 g fat (1 g saturated), 14 g carbs, 2 g fibre, 3 g protein, 297 mg sodium

½ 2 1 ½ ½ 1½ ¼

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she says. “I’ve lost nearly 15 kilograms, and I feel energised and centered.” But despite her successes, Ramirez felt like she’d hit a career plateau. She came across an essay contest for a $15,ooo scholarship to the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts’ Chef’s Training Program in 2o15, co-sponsored by the school and US Yoga Journal. “The school embodied everything I stand for when it comes to cooking: picking whole foods and eating to heal the body,” she says. “I was so excited when I won the scholarship. My hard work had paid off.” The home cook closed her business and quit her PR job before diving into the six-month session in New York City. Ramirez learned everything from knife skills to how to use natural ingredients, including “playing with seaweed.” Her fellow students came from a wide geographical base, introducing her to other cuisines and giving her a solid network of fellow chefs for support. All of this helped her gain confidence. Now Ramirez is back in Miami, working as a line cook for Giorgio Rapicavoli, winner of Food Network’s Chopped, and building her culinary know-how. While she’s focused on becoming a better cook, she’s dreaming of eventually doing something big for the community through healthful food with Latin flavours. “It might be artisanal products at your local organic grocery store or a food truck that serves creative recipes,” she says. As Ramirez refines her skills and incubates her dreams, she has also refocused on what matters the most to her: family. Thanks to her nudging, Ramirez’s parents have switched their daily white rice for quinoa and freekeh (grains with more protein, fibre, and iron). “They say that it tastes almost the same, and that these swaps have helped them feel healthier,” Ramirez says. She’s also steered her mum toward probiotic-rich kombucha for gut health, and has given her parents’ pantry a makeover. To get a taste of Ramirez’s healthy takes on Latin-American cuisine, enjoy these four recipes—straight from Mari’s actual kitchen. The tropically inflected, spiced-up results come from blending the best of her childhood eats with ingredients from the modern, healthful kitchen. Perfect for parties, the dishes pack big flavor—cumin, chiles, lime—and lots of juicy produce. In a word: ¡Delicioso!


your practice HOME PRACTICE

A home practice to help you

live with intention AT THE START of most yoga classes, the teacher asks you to call to mind your intention—someone or something to help inspire your practice. When you do this, it acts like an inner compass, guiding your attention to whatever quality you’d like to embody as you move through your asana. When you don’t set an intention, however, you tend to default to go-to habits and routines, which may take you away from self-awareness. The following two sequences are designed to empower you to set an

By Amy Lombardo intention for your day, and then to let go of the day so you can relax deeply before bedtime. The morning practice gathers your energy for the day ahead, while the evening practice releases mental clutter so you can get a restful night’s sleep. As you flow, remember to focus on the quality of energy you want to bring to the experience. The hope is that this will help make you more conscious of the choice you have in where your attention goes, as well as help you stay connected to that freedom, both on and off the mat.


When we first wake up, we have a clean slate— a whole day ahead of possibilities. Use this sequence to prep your body and brain to greet the day with mindfulness and intention. Go through the whole sequence once on your right side, and then repeat on your left (where applicable), starting with the second pose.

1 Marjaryasana/Bitilasana Cat-Cow Pose Start in Tabletop: on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. On the inhale, arch your spine so that your belly releases to the floor as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. On the exhale, reverse the move by rounding your back toward the ceiling as you press the floor away. Start this wavelike movement from your navel to establish a place of inner connection deep within yourself. During your day, make a point of reconnecting to this inner compass. Repeat the flow 6 times, or more if you’d like.

2 Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose, with twist On an exhale, push back from hands and knees into Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Use the next inhale to lift your right leg into the air, and then bend your knee while twisting your torso to the right. Lengthen fully from your hands through the lifted knee. Stay here for 3 to 5 breaths; as you hold this pose, imagine that every part of you is saying an unwavering “Yes!” to the experience. Notice what a full-body “Yes!” feels like so you can practice it during your day as well.

OUR PRO Teacher and model Amy Lombardo is a yoga instructor and life coach in Los Angeles who trained extensively in Anusara Yoga. She has also received significant training in the vinyasa, hatha, and Yin styles of yoga, as well as in tai chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction. Lombardo is also the co-founder and co-director of Karma Krew, a yoga-based nonprofit that sustains a nationwide grassroots network of socially conscious yoga studios and practitioners. For more information, visit


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Morning routine

3 Alanasana, with Garudasana arms

4 Virabhadrasana II

5 Viparita Virabhadrasana

Warrior Pose II

Reverse Warrior Pose

Crescent Lunge, with Eagle Pose arms

From Crescent Lunge, drop the back heel, with the foot parallel to the back edge of the mat or turned in slightly. Raise your arms to shoulder height and keep the front knee directly over the ankle. Keep your gaze and body relaxed, even as the pose becomes more challenging. This is great practice for cultivating calm even as you focus intensely on a specific goal. Breathe deeply for 3 to 5 breaths.

On your next exhale, drop the back hand to the back thigh. As you slide the hand gently down the thigh (without gripping), lift actively through the top arm. (Optional: Tilt the head slightly and gaze toward the top hand.) Maintain the 90-degree bend in your front leg. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

6 Uttanasana

7 Urdhva Hastasana

8 Tadasana

Standing Forward Bend, with shoulder stretch

Upward Salute

Mountain Pose

On an inhalation, come to standing with arms fully extended overhead, palms facing each other. Root down through the feet as you lift through the sternum and each side body to slightly arch the spine into a gentle backbend. Can you feel the rebound of energy move back up your legs as you press down into the floor? Notice how even in this full-body reach youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still deeply supported by the earth under your feet. Take this feeling of support with you throughout your day. Breathe deeply for 3 to 5 breaths, or until the stretch feels complete.

On your next exhale, bring your hands together at heart center. Relax your eyes and jaw. Lift gently through the sternum while simultaneously anchoring down through your tailbone. Nestle your shoulder blades on the upper back and keep your chin parallel to the floor. Feel the energy flow freely from head to toe as you hold the pose for 3 to 5 breaths.

On an exhale, step the back foot to meet the front while folding at the hips. Interlace the fingers behind the low back; roll the heads of your shoulders back to squeeze the tips of your shoulder blades together. If possible, let the interlaced hands pull away from your back, increasing the stretch across your front chest. Keep a slight bend in the knees, and lengthen through the spine to create a clear line of energy from seat to crown. Literally and metaphorically take your gaze to the heart, tuning out the outside world to reconnect to your intention. Today, what quality within you would you like to embody? Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

Practice tip Hug your legs into the midline, which allows more freedom with the backbend. Think of other places in your life where creating a firm foundation might cultivate more freedom.

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Straighten your lifted leg and step it through to your hands; press up to Crescent Lunge, with the front knee aligning over the front ankle. Bending the arms at the elbows, cross your right elbow beneath the left, resting it in the crook of the left arm. See if you can adjust your forearms to link your hands as well. Once your arms are linked, gently float the elbows up and arch into a slight backbend as you lift through the sternum. Hold for



your practice HOME PRACTICE

Evening routine

At the end of your day, yoga is a great way to release your grasp on your agendas and open yourself to receive rest, nourishment, and restoration. These poses wind down the body physically and energetically, so you can truly practice the art of being.

1 Uttana Shishosana

2 Parsva Balasana

3 Pavanamuktasana

Extended Puppy Pose, with shoulder stretch

Thread-the-Needle Pose

Wind-Relieving Pose

Return to Tabletop and find a neutral spine. On an inhale, lift the right arm high to the sky, opening the torso to the side while keeping your hips pointed down toward the mat. On the exhale, thread the right arm under the body, twisting the torso until the right shoulder and right side of your face touch the mat. Relax into the twist for 5 to 10 deep breaths, pressing down into the left hand to increase the intensity as you see fit. Repeat on the other side.

Lie on your back with your legs outstretched and your arms at your sides. On an exhale, draw the right knee into the chest, holding the leg close to your body with your hands wrapped around the knee or shin. Lift your head off the floor, bringing it as close to your right knee as you can. Hold the stretch for 5 to 10 breaths while breathing into the back body. When ready, release the right leg and repeat on the other side.

Start in Tabletop. Place your forearms on the mat with the palms flipped up toward the ceiling. Keeping your arms firmly planted, begin to walk your knees back until your arms are fully outstretched. Rest your forehead on the mat as you isometrically drag back on the forearms and keep the seat high. Let the day metaphorically slide off your back in this pose. Hold for 5 to 10 deep, slow breaths, or for as long as you’d like.

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Practice tip Imagine yourself melting into the floor in this pose. Now that the day is over, what do you need to let go of to restore a grounded sense of energy to your body and mind?


4 Supta Padangusthasana

5 Supta Matsyendrasana

6 Sukhasana

Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, variation

Supine Twist

Easy Pose, with meditation

From your back, extend the right leg into the air perpendicular to the floor, grasping behind the thigh with your hands. (If you can’t fully extend your right leg, bend at the knee while keeping the thighbone perpendicular to the floor.) Flex both feet and keep the sacrum grounded. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths, and then release the leg. Repeat on the other side.

From your back, exhale and draw the right knee into your chest; extend your right arm onto the floor at shoulder height while gently guiding the right knee across your body until your torso twists, keeping your shoulder blades pressing toward the floor. You might turn the gaze toward the right hand as you hold the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Close your eyes, and turn your attention to the rhythmic flow of your breath; no matter how many different thoughts arise, keep returning to your breath. Use this to quiet the mind in preparation for a restful night of sleep. When you feel ready, complete the pose on the opposite side.

Come to a cross-legged seat on the front edge of a thickly folded blanket. Pull back your buttock flesh until it feels like you’re grounded through both sitting bones. Rest your palms gently on your knees or thighs. Close your eyes and bring your full attention to the breath. With each inhale, imagine that you’re calling back any of your power you may have unknowingly given away to others during the day. With each exhale, imagine that you’re breathing out whatever energies or attitudes no longer serve you. Stay with this meditation until you feel an inner sense of balance emerge.

Practice tip With each exhale, feel the sacrum press more fully into the floor. On each inhale, imagine drinking energetic nourishment up from the earth and into your body.




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Poses of the month How to move from Utkatasana to Garudasana By Robyn Capobianco


} utkata = fierce · asana = pose Fierce Pose, more commonly known as Chair Pose


Instruction 1 Stand with your feet together, hands on your hips. To create the stable platform needed for this deep squat, find the center of balance in each foot. Play with shifting your weight between the inner and outer edge of each foot as well as between the ball and heel, until

october 2016

you find the sweet spot. You’ll know you’ve found it when you feel a “tripod effect”—a sense of equal pressure between the bases of the big and little toes and your heel. Keep your weight evenly distributed between each leg.


2 Exhale as you bend your knees, sending your buttocks behind you as you sit on an imaginary chair. When you can no longer maintain the tripod effect in your feet, stop bending your knees. Engage your

legs and hips by gently pressing the legs toward each other and hugging the hips toward your midline. 3 Raise your arms overhead, with your palms facing each other. If your low back starts to overarch (you’ll feel a sensation of pinching or compression), draw your low ribs toward your hip points until you feel your pelvis level out. Just don’t overdo it—you don’t want to overcorrect to the point that the top of your pelvis tilts backward. Finally, create a sense of space equally across the front and back body by spreading your upper back, externally rotating the shoulders, and widening across the chest. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths. 4 To exit the posture, push firmly through your feet to extend your legs, and then release your arms down by your sides.

DON’T lift your toes; instead, keep them grounded. Similar to insect antennae, toes provide the sensory feedback needed for body awareness. Lifting your toes diminishes this feedback.

DON’T round your back; instead, hinge at your hips. Keep a slight feeling of Upward-Facing Dog Pose to keep your chest open and spinal muscles engaged.

Our Pros Teacher and model Robyn Capobianco, MA, E-RYT 500, is a corrective-exercise specialist; her classes are a unique blend of self-myofascial release, classical yoga, and corrective exercise interspersed with splashes of science. Capobianco’s work is inspired by her studies with Jill Miller, Sianna Sherman, Richard Freeman, and Douglas Brooks, as well as by her formal education in integrative physiology. She is also a doctoral student in the Neurophysiology of Movement Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is investigating the neuromechanics of stretching and yoga. Learn more at


Strengthens the muscles in your thighs and feet; increases ankle mobility; tones your core muscles. TIP: Don’t lift your toes; instead, keep them grounded. Similar to insect antennae, toes provide the sensory feedback needed for body awareness. Lifting your toes diminishes this feedback.

your practice YOGAPEDIA

Modify Utkatasana if needed to find safe alignment for your body. If your ankles feel tight ...

If you have shoulder pain ...

If you have knee pain ...

TRY a placing a rolled-up mat under your heels. This will reduce the amount of ankle dorsiflexion (in which your feet reach toward your shin) needed and will allow you to find more ease in the posture. Start by tightly rolling up about half the length of your mat (less if your mat is really thick; more if it’s thin). Place your feet together, with your heels atop the roll and the balls of your feet on the floor. Spread your toes to widen the base of support.

TRY keeping your hands at your heart as you come into the pose. Press your hands firmly together as you widen evenly across your chest and back. You can work your shoulders by maintaining this pressure in your hands while gradually lifting them up toward the ceiling, with palms still pressed together. Stop at the point of discomfort. This is also a great modification if you have a tendency to round through your low back.

TRY performing the pose against a wall. Most of our joints allow for rotation, gliding, or both. The goal with managing knee pain is to mitigate the amount of excess rotation (torque) and glide (sheer). When you use the wall to support your body weight and limit knee flexion (bending), you reduce both torque and sheer at the knee joint. Start with your feet hip-distance apart and your back about one foot from the wall. Hinge at your hips until your buttocks touch the wall, and then release your back to the wall. Slide down to your level of comfort, but don’t bend your knees past 90 degrees. Keep the knees directly above your ankles. Your hands can be overhead, on your hips, or at your heart.

TAKE A LOAD OFF Each of your arms is equal in length to about 35 percent of your height, while both arms combined account for approximately 10 percent of your weight. When you bend forward with your arms raised overhead, you both lengthen and redistribute the weight of your upper body. This increases the load that the muscles of your back, hips, and hamstrings must support and overcome. The hamstrings are hip extensors as well as knee flexors. When you tilt forward excessively, you over-elongate the already-taxed hip extensors and compromise their ability to contract optimally. This leaves the spinal muscles to pick up the slack. So be kind to your spine and take a load off: Instead of leaning forward aggressively, aim to keep your torso mostly upright and your arms lifted toward the sky, or your hands pressed together at heart center.

Stretch your legs and hips, strengthen your core and upper back, and improve your balance in these prep poses for Garudasana. Gomukhasana, with Garudasana arms Cow Face Pose, with Eagle Pose arms

Instruction Come to Tabletop, with your hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips, and tops of your feet against the mat. Slide your right knee left until both knees’ inner edges touch (both are still on the ground). Wrap your left leg around and atop your right leg so your knees line up; slide your feet away from each other, slightly wider than your hips. If your inner thighs protrude forward, use your hands to rotate them behind you. Gradually lower your hips to the floor, to seated, with hips between legs. You can place a prop under your buttocks to support your hips. Bring your arms in front of you, bent to 90 degrees. Swing your left arm beneath the right, and spiral your right hand and forearm around the left until your hands touch in Eagle Pose arms. Hold for 10 breaths; switch sides.

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Stretches the sides of the hips and upper back




Spinal Balance

Prasarita Padottanasana


Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend, with twist

Improves core strength and balance; enhances proprioception (awareness of the body’s position in space)




From Tabletop, stiffen your core as if putting on an imaginary corset. This results in front-to-back and side-to-side tightening. Raise your right arm parallel to the floor and in line with your shoulder, palm facing left. Lift your left leg until it’s in line with your hip and parallel to the floor. Hug the lifted limbs toward each other without actually moving them—making an isometric contraction—to enhance core engagement. Hold for 5 breaths; switch sides. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Take a wide stance with your feet parallel, approximately 3 to 4 feet apart. Ground equally through the inner and outer edges of your feet. With your hands on your hips, inhale to lengthen the spine; exhale as you hinge forward. Release your hands to the floor. Create stability by isometrically drawing your legs toward each other and pressing down from the outer hips through the outer feet. With your left hand, grab your right outer shin and pull it to your left, stretching and strengthening shoulder and back muscles. Stay for 5 breaths; switch sides.

Stretches and strengthens the inner and outer legs and mid-back

Move step by step into Garudasana with strength and balance. Benefit Improves balance; strengthens your inner thighs and ankles; stretches your calves and upper back

Instruction 1 Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with your hands on your hips. Lift and spread the toes on your right foot while grounding down through its ball and heel; press the toes down to create a solid foundation. Bend your knees and sit your hips back slightly.

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2 Lift your left leg and cross it over your right thigh. Snake the toes of your left foot around the back of your right calf. Alternatively, you can place your toes on the floor or a block beside your standing foot. Take a few breaths here to find your balance. It’s important to recognise that balance is a dynamic, not static, process, meaning you will experience fluctuations throughout the pose. Try not to get discouraged. Direct your drishti, or gaze, to a single point, which will help you to calm and focus your mind. 3 Goalpost your arms by lifting them to shoulder height and flexing your elbows to a 90-degree bend; bring your arms in front of your chest while drawing your shoulder blades away from each other. Put on your imaginary corset to tighten your core. Keep your gaze and breath steady and relaxed.



Garudasana Garuda = mythic king of the birds · asana = pose Eagle Pose

4 Cross your left arm underneath the right, and then wind the right forearm around the left. Bring your palms together, with your fingers pointing up. Keep your torso upright and shoulders in line with your hips. Re-engage your shoulder blades by broadening across your chest.

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Stay safe To avoid injury in Eagle Pose, maintain a keen awareness of the integrity of your core. If at any time you feel as though you cannot engage your core muscles, back off until you can feel the equilibrium between expansion and contraction. Trying to sit too low may cause the top of your pelvis to tip forward and your low back to overarch. You’ll know you’ve gone too far if you feel a compression or pinching in your low back, or if your belly is expanding, breaking out of that imaginary corset. As with all standing poses, your feet are your foundation. If you feel the weight start to deviate too far forward or backward from the tripod sensation, back out until you regain your base stability.

5 To deepen the posture, try lifting your arms up toward the sky while maintaining integrity in your shoulders and core. You shouldn’t feel as though your shoulders are crowding your neck or that your low ribs are lifting away from the front of your pelvis. Play with sitting deeper into the squat, being mindful to maintain the tripod effect in the standing foot and a neutral curve in the lumbar spine. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths before returning to Mountain Pose; repeat the posture on the other side.


your practice ANATOMY

october 2016

} 80

Body of knowledge How to prep for—and properly prop—Supported Shoulderstand, for a happy, healthy neck. C1 (ATLAS)

By Dr Ray Long

IN LIGHT ON YOGA, B.K.S. Iyengar wrote that the importance of Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) cannot be over-emphasized. “Sarvangasana is the Mother of asanas,” he wrote. The pose is said to flush out the lymph nodes, help regulate blood pressure and heart rate, strengthen the diaphragm, and stretch the chest muscles. Yet despite these benefits, many practitioners steer clear of Shoulderstand. The primary concern is that Shoulderstand puts too much pressure on the neck, or cervical spine, which can lead to injury. While there are situations in which Shoulderstand is expressly not indicated—say, if you have high blood pressure; a neck injury; glaucoma; or a cervical spine condition, such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or degenerative disc disease—many yogis can safely find comfort and ease in this inversion, or a modified version of it. Think about it this way: most of us can touch our chins to our chest, as in Jalandhara Bandha (Chin Lock), without discomfort or injury. However, when you’re in this flexed-neck position and then add the weight of your entire body, the pose can become dangerous. The key to staying safe is to ensure that you place your weight on the tops of your shoulders and the backs of your upper arms as you stack the shoulders, hips, and legs in a vertical line. To do this, it helps to understand the anatomy of the neck. The cervical spine is comprised of seven vertebrae that move with each other to flex (forward, as well as side to side), extend, and rotate the neck. The uppermost cervical vertebra, C1, is called the atlas; it has the greatest mobility for flexion and extension, with about a 5o-degree range of movement between it and the skull (occiput). Add to that the range of movement of the vertebrae under C1 (C2 through C7), each of which flexes and extends about 1o degrees, and you see how the neck is actually quite mobile. While this mobility is fine continued on page 82

C2 C3

C4 C5




T1 T2







Prep the shoulders, chest, and spine Gomukhasana Cow Face Pose This arm position will begin to stretch the shoulder flexors. Find your seat, press the back of your lower hand into your back for 5 seconds, and then gently work your hands closer toward each other to deepen the stretch. Hold here for 30 seconds. Alternate sides; repeat for a total of 3 rounds.

Purvottanasana Upward Plank Pose, prep

Bridge Pose This posture increases flexibility and strength in the thoracic spine. From your back, bring the thighs toward parallel by pressing feet into the mat and attempting to drag them apart. Then, press into the feet to lift the hips, hold for two breaths, and come down. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions each.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

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This pose stretches the shoulder flexors and pectorals. From a seated position, place the hands 12 inches behind you, fingers toward your buttocks. Bend your elbows slightly to protect your wrists. When you feel a stretch in the chest, fix the hands on the mat and attempt to isometrically drag them toward the buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds; release for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.


your practice ANATOMY

Salamba Sarvangasana Supported Shoulderstand, with chair

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This alternative provides many of the same benefits of the full inversion, but it leans the body weight on to the chair, not your cervical spine. Set up your blanket as shown (or use one folded blanket under each shoulder). Support your weight on the edge of a chair that’s been placed against the wall. If it’s comfortable, enhance the shoulder-opener by reaching under the chair to grasp its back legs, or by letting your arms come out to the sides. To exit, press your feet against the wall to lift your pelvis off the chair, move the chair to the side, and come down.


continued from page 80 when we’re sitting or standing—with only the weight of the head on the neck—imagine Shoulderstand, with all of the body’s weight resting on a neck in full flexion. You can see how that could strain the neck’s intervertebral ligaments. What’s more, a sudden slip or tumble could take the neck beyond its normal range of motion and result in injury. The trick to keeping the bulk of the weight on the shoulders (and off the cervical spine) is to have flexible, open shoulders. If the shoulder flexors and adductors are tight, you won’t be able to comfortably reach your arms behind you, which in turn will cause the spine to round, the chest to collapse, and your body weight to push into the back of your neck. To prepare for Shoulderstand, you must first open the chest and front shoulders, including the pectorals, anterior deltoids, coracobrachiales (long, slender shoulder-joint muscles), and biceps. This allows the arms to extend more fully behind you during Shoulderstand—in turn enabling your hands

and elbows to become like a doorstop, bolstering the back and distributing your weight over the tops of your shoulders and the backs of your upper arms, which lightens the load on your cervical spine. Now a word about blankets, which many yoga teachers suggest using to safeguard the neck in Shoulderstand. In my opinion, the blanket-stacking method can actually increase pressure in the lower cervical spine, because it focuses the flexion of the cervical spine onto the C5 and C6 vertebrae, which are at shoulder level when in Shoulderstand. If the shoulders, hips, and legs can’t stack in a vertical line, your body weight will concentrate in the neck’s intervertebral ligaments from C5 down to the first vertebrae of the thoracic spine (T1), while C4 and higher drape over the edge of the blankets in an unnatural curve. To attempt to correct this, many practitioners move their shoulders closer to the edge of the blankets. However, this increases the chance that you’ll slip off, suddenly bringing your body weight onto your fully flexed cervical spine.

The solution: support the shoulders without over-flexing C5 through T1. Try using two folded blankets stacked on either side of the spine to support the shoulders, which creates a channel for the cervical spine and maintains a natural curve in the neck. Or practice with a chair supporting your lower back and legs, which reduces pressure on the cervical spine. The growth of yoga is certainly bringing increased awareness of the potential for injury. Of course, avoiding harm is essential to the practice, yet too much worry leads to a fearful mindset— not to mention missing out on beneficial asanas. Rather than abandoning poses like Shoulderstand, explore preparatory poses like the ones on page 54 to make the final pose more structurally sound. OUR PROS Teacher Ray Long is an orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga, a website and book series dedicated to the anatomy of yoga. Model Nicole Wienholt is a Boulder, Colorado–based hot yoga teacher and the co-owner of Yoga Pod.

in piration MEET MY TEACHER




Melbourne based yogi Michelle Jayne is passionate about yoga on and off the mat

What inspired you to the practice? Movement came naturally to me, so when I did my initial 200hr training in Perth, I was introduced to a whole different perspective on the inter relationship of the body/mind experience. I loved the esoteric aspect of my initial training, the introduction to the Chakra system, the experience of how our thoughts turn into our reality, the small patterns of movement that turn into bigger expressions of how we show up in the world. These offerings fascinated me, and I was hooked to continue this path of seeking. This seeking outside of ourselves leads us back to the truth within.

How do you take your practice ‘off the mat’? For me taking yoga off the mat is about

What’s the best yoga advice you’ve ever been given? I had a really interesting experience when Maty Ezraty was in town only this year. She said something along the lines of ‘mind your own business’. Pretty simple hey? Yet at the moment she said it, I was allowing my sensitivity to be captivated by what others were going through energetically, which meant I had abandoned my own experience of it. The timing of that very simple statement was quite profound, and to this day has really reminded me to be in awareness of what is unfolding for me rather than getting involved somehow in others’ psychic unfolding. This is so important to realise as a teacher of yoga.

Do you want to shine a light on your teacher? Send nominations to

Michelle shares her favourite things Quote: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

Biggest Inspiration: Ana Forest, Seane Corn and Shiva Rea.

Food: At the moment, Kitchari. I am obsessed. I make a big batch and literally have it for lunch and dinner every day.

Travel Destination: Give me sun, sand, ocean and nature and I am a happy girl. I have travelled extensively and my favourite of all the places I have been is probably Spain. It has it all.

Guilty Pleasure: Surely every girl’s guilty pleasure is chocolate, yes?

I have been dancing since I was three. Dancing was an expression that allowed me to tap into something that was non-verbal, yet I could feel the experience of dance moving through my whole body.I danced for a long time and had some amazing experiences.I settled in Perth for a few years and started my own dance company. When I returned to my hometown of Melbourne, I felt a shift occurring, like the dance needed to be explored in another direction. I initially got into the fitness industry teaching Body Balance, and eventually started teaching yoga.

my personal integrity and taking responsibility for the way things are in my life. The relationships I have, the opportunities and losses that occur and the ability to meet life exactly as it is. Another off the mat experience is the issue of control.Of working at letting things unfold as they do, rather than believing in some way it should happen according to my plan.Life is a funny thing isn’t it? You always get exactly what you need when you need it.It seems that each circumstance reveals a deeper truth if you have the tenacity to see it out to the end. I am also hugely inspired by Seane Corn’s Off The Mat Into the World program and am always open to supporting and working alongside organisations to raise awareness for their core message.

october 2016

Who were you before you were a yogi?



The forgotten


october 2016

Exploring the mysterious practice of Shatkarma and Vastra Dhauti with Nick ‘Sadashiv’ Bradley


HATHA YOGA is a full system comprising of asana, pranayama, meditation, philosophy, mudras and shatkarma. The shatkarams are the six purification techniques mentioned in the ancient yogic text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. In modern day yoga, the practice of asana is very prevalent, and all the other facets are practiced to a certain degree, but shatkarma seems to be forgotten about and left in the texts. Interestingly the Hatha Yoga Pradipika says, “Do shatkarma first then asana”. Why would the Rishis’ place such high regard for these obscure and sometimes grotesque cleansing techniques? Are we missing out by not following this guideline? Looking into the example of one shatkarams, Vastra Dhauti, highlights a few potential answers. In Vastra Dhauti, the yogi swallows twenty-one feet of cotton thread down the esophagus, behind the beating heart to the stomach. He churns his full stomach with nauli (yogic cleansing) then gently pulls the cloth out in under ten minutes before the cloth moves into the small intestines. Apart from being a good party trick, obvious benefits would be the cleansing of the inside of the esophagus and stomach by giving it a good scrub as well as all the benefits of nauli kriya (yogic cleansing technique). However, if we look deeper into our anatomy and physiology the effects are profound. The stomach is positioned under the diaphragm on the high, central left part of the abdomen. Its function is to grind and break down food, predigest proteins, and emulsify fats, which it achieves through peristaltic contractions and gastric secretions. The secretions are mucus, bicarbonate, hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen. From the parietal cells in the stomach walls intrinsic factor is secreted—this is critical for the digestion of vitamin B12 (a very important vitamin for everyone, especially vegans/vegetarians). Is this how the vegetarian yogis maximised their B12 levels crucial for energy production in the body? There is an extremely important and significant nerve called the vagus nerve which runs from the brainstem, down our neck, the back of the tongue, the throat and continues down circling

energetic. We have all felt butterflies in our stomach at a nervous time! The emotional attributes of the stomach when it is working well are goundedness (the earth element), supplying the body with nutrition and feeling nourished in life. But when it is not working well nervousness, worry and anxiety take over. In the Ayurveda system of India the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) can be used to describe the effects of Vastra Dhauti and the shatkarmas. When practiced with saline water it is said to take out kapha (mucus) but when it is done soaked in milk it has the effect of taking out pitta (excess heat or stomach acid). Depending on the dosha dominance of the yogi, Vastra Dhauti can be used to help balance these doshas in the body with their yoga practice, the food they eat, the seasons and the environment they live in. Hopefully this information has changed your appreciation for a yogi’s breakfast! Vastra Dhauti was taught to me by my guru Yogrishi Vishvketu from Rishikesh, India, who shares the same passion and enthusiasm towards all the shatkarmas as I do. He also practices and teaches all aspects of traditional Hatha yoga as a complete system. He has won Vastra Dhauti competitions in India, being able to swallow the 21 feet of cloth down in 60 seconds! Please do not try this unless you are under the watchful eye of an experienced teacher. Dr Nick Bradley is an Osteopath, yoga teacher, co-founder of Akhanda Yoga Australia. He runs workshops and teacher trainings alongside his wife and co-founder, Radha Rani Bradley in Australia’s Gold Coast Hinterland.

could be strengthening the conscious connection to have control over the vagus nerve and its functions by continuously overriding the gag reflex. Possibly Vastra Dhauti is a gateway technique to learning how to stop your heart? On a more physical level, the stomach sits under the heart and diaphragm. On every breath the stomach moves down and up and with general movement of the human torso (like walking). The famous French osteopath Jean-Pierre Barral has based his whole practice and many books on this observation of the movement of the organs. He explains how on average the liver would move up to a kilometre each day, the kidneys 800 meters and so on. So if these organs develop adhesions and don’t move in their normal free way, other parts of the body have to compensate and overwork, which can lead to restrictions in range of motion, back and neck pain, etc. Barral says,“Ninety percent of musculoskeletal dysfunctions in the body have a visceral component.” So in a way, shatkarmas are freeing and opening the body from the inside out in the same way that asana does from the outside in. The stomach, embryologically, is formed from what is called the yolk sac, which starts off being outside the body. The embryo then folds in on itself including the yolk sac inside forming the intestinal tube from the skull to the tail. Due to this, the stomach has remanent fascial connections all the way from the thorax to the cranium. Therefore freeing up the stomach can have an effect on all these structures above and below. In yoga we can never separate the physical from the emotional and

october 2016

around the esophagus supplying almost all the body’s organs with the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (NS). The parasympathetic NS is the “rest and digest” part of the autonomic NS opposing the “fight flight” of the sympathetic. The parasympathetic NS is what we are trying to induce in yoga to bring us into a peaceful, restful meditative state, increasing blood supply to the organs, stimulating organ activity and digestion. Our heart rate and breathing rate reduces and the muscles of the body relax. Mastering control over this ‘autonomic’ nerve could be incredibly powerful. In Desikachar’s ‘Yoga of the Yogi’ he describes how Krishnamacharya (the guru of Pattabhi Jois and Iyengar) could demonstrate the technique of stopping his own heart-beat in front of a western physician. The way he would have been able to do this is through control of the vagus nerve. In modern day science the vagus nerve is receiving a large amount of interest due to it’s importance in mind-body functions. It has been coined the “enteric” or thrid part of the autonomic NS The vagus nerve makes up what is called the brain-gut axis, which is about the relationship between the mind and the digestive tract. Studies have shown how disruptions to the mind affect the gut and disruptions to the gut affect the mind. When the vagus nerve is not functioning well (like at times of chronic stress), it can manifest in poor gut function, poor gallbladder function and reduced secretion of pancreatic enzymes, suppression of organ blood flow and suppression of the intestinal immune system which can lead to a “leaky gut”. The leaky gut creates inflammation, which enters the blood stream and makes it’s way to the brain, decreasing function and the cycle continues. A recent study on mice demonstrated this when a brain injury was inflicted a leaky gut developed shortly after. The vagus nerve also stimulates the release of gastric secretions (mentioned above). The first obstacle the yogi must face with Vastra Dhauti is the gag reflex, which is also controlled by the vagus nerve. To do this you must have a conscious control over a mechanism that normally takes place by itself. The key phrase from the famous neuroplasticity book The Brain That Changes Itself is: “neurons that fire together, wire together”. So with this in mind the yogi



An ultimate healing journey to

Hua Hin, THAILAND By Meghan Rabbitt



october 2016

I COULD FEEL THE HOT, WET TEARS STARTING TO WELL behind my eyes, and willed them not to fall. After all, what the heck did I have to cry about? I was on a mat getting a Thai massage—in Thailand. Life was good. Three days earlier, I’d checked in to Chiva-Som International Health Resort, where I was introduced to a small army of practitioners, including massage therapists, skin-care specialists, a naturopath, and an acupuncturist, all working to help me feel my best by the end of my five-night stay. How was it that in this moment, fully relaxed with the smell of orchids and jasmine wafting in the air around me, I had to harness all of my energy to keep from weeping? The small, strong Thai man working on my tight muscles was on to me. Even though I’d been on my stomach for the first part of my treatment, he knew something was up. When I turned over, and he placed my ankle on his shoulder to help me release the tension in my hamstring, it happened. I read his nametag—Mana—and thought how similar it was to the ultimate caretaker’s name, Mama. Then, he looked into my watery eyes and, just like my own mother would have done, whispered, “It’s OK. You can cry.” So I did. As I sobbed, Mana continued to excavate the untended wounds of my broken relationship, which I’d been storing deep within. When he was finished, I held my hands in prayer at my heart and bowed my head, as is the custom when saying hello, goodbye, and thank you in Thailand. It’s a beautiful tradition— one that reminded me of the ritual in yoga, in which you offer the same gesture as you say Namaste: “The light within me honors the light within you.”


october 2016


Travelling to THAILAND? THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN BANGKOK Visit Wat Pho, Bangkok’s largest and oldest wat (Buddhist temple) and get a massage at the adjoining Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School.

IN KRABI Stay at Phulay Bay for luxury accommodations, and go island-hopping on a traditional Thai fishing boat in the clear waters of the Andaman Sea.



I walked away embarrassed by my emotional release, yet grateful it had happened. I felt lighter and more grounded—as if I’d just shed one layer of the sadness that had, without my realising it, been dulling my inner light. I knew exactly what Mana had unearthed as he stretched and kneaded my muscles. Just one year earlier, I’d been in a different foreign country, Ireland, living with my boyfriend. Aaron was my first love; we’d met when I was studying in Dublin during my junior year of college and broke up only because I had to leave to finish my degree. Thirteen years later, the wonders of the Internet had brought us back together, which felt like destiny. So I moved to Ireland to give relationship 2.o a go. We were happy—for a while. And then the unraveling started to happen. Anger, resentment, and sadness dulled the joy. I hung on, trying hard to make things work, but at a certain point it became clear we weren’t going to make the turn. So I left. In the months that followed, distraction was the name of my game. I travelled. I buried myself in work. I snuggled up with my anger and resentment like a favourite blanket, comforted by the protection those emotions provided against the real culprit—grief. When I arrived in Thailand, Aaron was far from my mind. After all, I was there for ultimate self-care, with a blissfully packed schedule of yoga, massage, milk baths, acupuncture, and ancient Ayurvedic treatments like shirobhyanga (Indian head massage) and dry skin brushing. Chiva-Som makes it easy to shake off stress the

instant you walk through their front doors. Upon check-in, you meet with a health care advisor to design a program that takes into account all of your health, spiritual, and emotional considerations and goals. From weight management to general wellness, detoxing to establishing a regular meditation practice, the resort allows you to customise a healing plan so you can truly assess your current wellness and create a long-term blueprint for getting healthier and happier. When I met with my counselor, who

“And then the unraveling started to happen. Anger, resentment, and sadness dulled the joy. I hung on, trying hard to make things work. ” probed with questions aimed at my health and emotional status, my answer was unwavering: “I feel great—never been better.” And as far as I knew, I was great. He put me on the yoga plan— complete with private asana and meditation sessions—after I told him about my daily home practice. All this yogifying combined with local, organic Thai food and the water from as many young coconuts as I could drink nourished me from the inside out. Which is why my tears during that Thai massage felt particularly unexpected. I mentioned my upwelling during my appointment with Jason Culp, ChivaSom’s in-house naturopathic doctor, but he wasn’t as surprised as I’d been. After I explained my emotionally draining year

and how busy I’d been keeping myself, he gave me a knowing nod. “We are capable of storing memories in the body as easily as we store them in our minds,” he told me. The kicker, he explained, is that while we may think that the fallout from a negative experience has passed, it might be that we haven’t fully dealt with it. It’s genius, actually: when we’re in emotional overload, we deal with what we can—and the body stores the rest until we can face it. Not surprisingly, it’s in the quieter moments, when we give ourselves the time and space to slow down and really drop in to our innermost thoughts and physical sensations, that the “stuff” we’ve been avoiding bubbles to the surface. By distracting myself from my post-breakup grief, I’d been trying to outrun it and pretend that it hadn’t affected me in profound ways. I was also brushing off the fact that the end of my relationship had dimmed my inner light—and altered my vision for the future. Not only had I lost a man I loved and the feeling of being deeply cared for, I also had to face the fact that the future I’d imagined for us would never happen. It was no wonder that my grief had caught up with me when I slowed down in beautiful Chiva-Som, holding my hands in prayer and bowing my head in Namaste countless times a day. It wasn’t just the massage that had helped me lean into the tough stuff; it was also the fact that I was deep in self-care mode, in a place that felt safe and serene, and where the people caring for me let me know in their own gentle way that it was time to face my sadness. On my last day at Chiva-Som, I woke up before dawn to walk the beach as the


october 2016

Spend time with Thailand’s elephants at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, which facilitates street rescues. goldentriangle.

sun rose over the Gulf of Thailand. Each morning, Buddhist monks walk the sand with silver bowls for their alms-giving, hoping to receive offerings of food in exchange for a blessing. I brought a basket of fruit with me that morning and placed my offering in a monk’s bowl. As I kneeled and held my hands in Anjali Mudra at my third eye, the monk blessed me. Though I couldn’t understand what he was saying, his sing-song prayer told me everything I needed to know. No matter his wish for me, I had one for myself: to continue to rediscover the light within me so that I can see it— and honour it—in everyone else.

NOT-TO-Miss Treatments Chiva-Som offers a variety of 5- and 10-day programs that support you on your path toward better physical and emotional health. In addition to the standard treatments you’d expect at a luxury health resort, there are a handful that are unique to Chiva-Som, including: BACK-SCRATCH THERAPY: After a light, rhythmic back-scratching by hand, a therapist gently runs a wooden comb down your back and then finishes by dry-brushing. The treatment fosters deep relaxation, boosts circulation, and promotes lymphatic drainage.

CHI NEI TSANG: Thailand’s unique abdominal massage—a specialty at Chiva-Som—gently massages the internal organs, with the therapist clueing in to areas that might be congested and negatively impacting your body’s energy. It’s ideal for physical ailments (such as sluggish digestion and irritable bowel syndrome) and releasing negative emotions.

EAR AB REFLEX This gentler intro to Chi Nei Tsang uses reflexology points on the ears in addition to a soft abdominal massage. The practitioner targets points tied to the associated organs in the body to encourage energy flow, stimulate circulation, strengthen immunity, and more.

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“If you can begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.”

october 2016

Jiddu Krishnamurti

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in ir ti n AYJ INTERVIEW body, this existence, this mind, is to be used to support your life’s great work, which could be writing a novel, painting pictures, raising kids, whatever, then you look at stability and immunity and it really frames your practice. I think of myself as a relationship counselor for people and their bodies. They come to class disconnected, no longer knowing how to get back the joy and confidence they used to experience. Tired and in pain, they see their bodies as separate from themselves. My classes get people listening to their bodies and finding pleasure and joy in the connection. Yoga is a really good way to age well and feel better and more beautiful without judging it externally because we feel more present in our bodies, more in control of singular muscles and functions, and more able to self regulate.

Body of Work The effervescent founder of “Yoga for Adults”, Maria Kirsten, 50, is passionate about making yoga safe by teaching people to take responsibility for their own yoga experience. Maria started her yoga journey with Yogalates and has since expanded her expertise into yoga therapy and occupational therapy. Teaching out of her Lennox Head studio and leading teacher training workshops in Japan, Maria uses her extensive anatomy training to help people connect with their bodies, to sense when a pose is wrong for them and to make appropriate choices. She sees yoga asanas as a means for allowing us to do our “life’s great work”.

october 2016

By Tamsin Angus-Leppan


How did you first come to yoga? In 1988 when I was 22 I was at uni and I went to a yoga class with a skinny Indian man. It was the first time I felt like my body and my mind were in the same place at the same time, something settled. He was a very ethical lovely man, he wasn’t attached to performance, he was a process guy, I liked him a lot. I moved with my husband to Australia when I was 28 and I found Yogalates with Louise Solomon. I

did my first training in 2000, with a six month old baby and a two and half year old and it took seven months. Yogalates was perfect for a postnatal hypermobile body.

What do you teach? I call my thing “yoga for grownups”. You are a grown up when you have responsibilities to things other than yourself. When you decide that this

Because I found yoga and became a yoga teacher with a young family, I was blown apart and busy. There was a time when I was doing handstand dropbacks and things like that. And there was this moment that happened when I thought, where does this stop and circus tricks begin? The Yamas and Niyamas that sit beneath the asana really facilitates your great work. With this revelation I was ready to embrace the householder stage of life. I couldn’t go to all the flash workshops, I really felt guilty sneaking away from my kids, and I really take the dharma of my existence as a mother and a family member seriously, so that was my main focus. So that kept me back from going wild. I had a period when I tried to do too much. Maybe yes I was on the map yoga-wise, but it wasn’t satisfying at all. Now the end of my raising kids is happening and I suddenly feel I’ve got all the time in the world to do what I want to do as a yoga teacher and I really want to be here for my family. My satisfaction is when the penny drops in someone’s mind, when I can see that a connection is made and they might use it. That’s it.


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