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YOGA TRAVELS Take your practice to the world

STOP, BREATHE, MEDITATE Calm your mind, enrich your life

JUST CONNECT Poses & principles for modern living

editor’s letter

OK, it’s time for the truth ... I’m not a guru or a yoga instructor or a seasoned

In The Yoga Experience, our aim is to give you

meditator. I’m not vegan or an expert in body-

tools to help you make your own discoveries. Our

mind medicine. I can’t put my legs behind my head

writers are experienced yoga instructors who live

(and don’t know anyone who can!), I don’t wear

in the real world and bring great compassion to

hypnotic tights and, to be frank, I’m really not cool.

their personal and professional practice. They’ve

However ... I love yoga. I love yoga because it

interviewed well regarded yoga teachers, delved

brings me home. I love yoga because, through

into yogic texts and drawn on years of practice

breathing and moving and quieting the mind

to bring you hands-on advice, helpful posture

through meditation, I can experience for a

sequences and a deeper insight into this inspiring,

moment that sensation of being connected, of

connecting, wonderful thing we call yoga.

bringing this body and this mind together with

Think of us, perhaps, as akin to that moment

something I can only call spirit.

when you open your eyes at night and, gradually,

It’s such a peaceful, calming feeling and it’s

start to make out the edges of objects where

helped me to live a more grounded, conscious,

once there was darkness and where, in time, there

joyful life in a space that was once inhabited by

will be light. If you’ve picked up this magazine,

what I can only describe as a stressed-out self-

you’re sitting somewhere on that continuum. We

punishing crazy lady with an immensely tired mind.

hope we can make yoga more clear for you.

Over 15 years, I’ve found yoga and lost it, picked

We also hope that, through yoga, you can come

it up again and tossed it, practised it fervently

to love and appreciate the perfect imperfection of

and run away from it because I didn’t like being

your body. That's why we're giving up to AU$1000

with myself. Yet, I keep coming back to it. Like the

of sales to The Butterfly Foundation, to support its

concentric growth rings running to the heart of a

valuable work improving the lives of those affected

centuries-old tree, there are so many layers to this

by eating disorders and negative body image.

ancient Indian wisdom; and, the more I learn about

You don’t need to be a hermit on a hill or

yogic philosophy and practice, the more I find

spiritually savvy or taut and toned to practise

there is to learn — and the more yoga becomes

yoga. You just need to be the beautiful, enquiring,

relevant to my daily life. It’s quite the exploration.

very human you. Enjoy the experience.

Editor Danielle Kirk





Straightening out your sankalpa


Plan your yoga year


Anatomy of the subtle body

Set your intention for your practice and

Nourishing, adventurous and enlightening

Tap into a powerful source of wellbeing

connect with the essence of your being.

travel experiences to help you fill your calendar.

simply by learning to work with your prana.




What I wish I’d known

The heart of yoga

The yogic plate

Yogis Simon Borg-Olivier, Leanne Davis,

An exploration of the foundation of yoga:

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, seeks

Donna Farhi, Nicky Knoff and John Ogilvie

the eight limbs.

to restore balance in your life first and foremost through food.

share their wisdom. 38

Too busy to meditate?

Meditation and breathing techniques are


Mix up your yoga practice with five

powerful ways to improve your state of mind

Every body is a yoga body — and yoga

thoroughly modern trends.

and quality of life.

can help you make peace with yours.




Off the beaten mat

Beyond the “yoga body beautiful”


Yoga for spiritual balance

Yoga for sex

Yoga for summer

Postures to help you balance your practice

Discover the sacred nature of sexual love

Yoga and Ayurveda to help you keep

and delve into your true essence.

and expression through yoga.

your cool when it’s hot outside.




Yoga for creativity

Yoga to manage conflict

Yoga for travel

Access your inner spirit by using yoga

A yoga toolkit to help you handle conflict

Stay calm and centred while on a trip

and meditation to create space.

in a positive and constructive way.

with this yoga travel kit by your side.




Yoga for good posture

Yoga for fears

Yoga for happiness

Use your asana practice to help keep

Face challenges in yoga to help you tackle

We’re all seeking our bliss, and yoga

your spine straight and strong.

fears and obstacles in daily life.

can be a wonderful way to find it.




Yoga to ease headaches

Yoga for compassion

Seeking the light

Don’t put up with headaches — use yoga

Cultivate compassion for self and others

Yogis Hillary Adrian Han and Duncan Peak

to help ease or eliminate them.

with a restorative asana sequence.

discuss what it means to live your dharma.



Yoga for sleep

Yoga for the third trimester

Let restorative and meditative poses soothe

Navigate your final stage of pregnancy

your body and mind for a sweeter slumber.

with the aid of gentle yoga.


The yoga science



Yoga source

Recent yoga-related scientific research.

Yoga products from our advertisers.



What’s on

Get your yoga on at conferences, festivals, talks and more, at home and abroad.

The conscious yogi

Yoga resource guide

We review ethical, eco-friendly yoga gear.

A directory of holistic products and services.



The yoga library

The wordsmiths

Yogis share the books that have

Say hello to the experienced, compassionate

influenced their own practice.

yoga writers who've contributed to this issue.



the research

Science shorts Researchers investigate the ancient practices of yoga, meditation, pranayama and more. Compiled by Danielle Kirk

Yoga keeps chins up

Postures for PH

Yoga for prenatal depression

A new study involving 98 women in

Pulmonary hypertension (PH), or

Prenatal depression can negatively impact

advanced stages of breast cancer shows

increased pressure in the arteries of the

the physical and mental health of both

yoga can help relieve depression in

lungs, is a debilitating and devastating

mum and bub — and almost one in 10

such patients. Researchers assigned a

disease. Little is known about the use of

Australian women experience it, statistics

60-minute yoga intervention to 48 women

non-drug approaches such as yoga and

show. A recent study sought to find if

while 53 in a control group underwent

meditative breathing to treat PH — and

yoga could help manage this condition.

supportive therapy over 24 weeks. All

researchers wanted to see if these could

Researchers analysed the results of six

patients underwent surgery followed by

help. Over eight weeks, three PH sufferers

randomised controlled trials into the

radiotherapy (RT) or chemotherapy (CT),

used a Yoga for PH DVD, YouTube video

effects of yoga on a total of 375 pregnant

or both, during this time. Twenty-nine

segments and an app designed with

women aged predominantly between 20

women failed to complete the study, due

suitable modifications — chair yoga,

and 40. When compared with women who

to disease progression, physical injury or

intermediate yoga with a chair assist and

received standard prenatal care, standard

less than 60 per cent attendance. Results

experienced yoga — then documented

antenatal exercises, social support etc,

show that, while there was an overall

their exercise regimen and observations.

depression levels significantly reduced in

decrease in self-reported depression for

They answered a health-promoting lifestyle

yoga groups. Further, two forms of yoga

both groups following surgery, RT and CT,

questionnaire at the start and end of the

were used in the trials — purely physical

the yoga group experienced a significant

time, and underwent breathing and fitness

yoga and integrated yoga, which included

decrease in depression scores, leading

tests. All patients reported decreases in

breath exercises and meditation — and the

researchers to conclude that yoga has

anxiety and joint pain and improvements

review demonstrated that it was integrated

possible antidepressant effects in breast

in health-promoting behaviours at the end

yoga, rather than physical-exercise-based

cancer patients.

of the eight weeks. Researchers emphasise

yoga, that reduced depressive symptoms.

that, as this was a small study, the results Source: Indian Journal of Palliative Care

aren’t statistically significant; however, it does indicate the benefits of studying the feasibility, efficacy and safety of a modified yoga program on a larger scale.

Source: Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine



Source: BMC Psychiatry

the understanding “For those who have an intense urge for Spirit and wisdom, it sits near them, waiting.� ~ Patanjali

set your intention

Straightening out your sankalpa When you become aware of your heart’s deepest longings and your true nature, and bring this awareness into your yoga practice, you can manifest an authentic, meaningful life. Words Veronica Joseph

resolutions are often founded on the idea

to lead a more meaningful, spiritual life that

At the start of a yoga class or meditation,

that we are not good enough, that our lives

reflects this. A sankalpa is not something

the teacher often asks students to set

are lacking in something or that we must

you lack and aspire to achieve. Instead,

a resolve or intention for their practice.

change who we are to become “better”.

it speaks to your heart’s longings and

Some might be able to come up with a

These ideas are not conducive to yoga,

acknowledges your being.

resolve instantly, which may or may not

which is why yoga doesn’t involve making

be forgotten by class end. Others might

these kinds of resolutions. Instead, in yoga

need within us to fulfil our sankalpa — it’s

be left slightly stumped, and rightfully

you set a sankalpa, which is based around

just a matter of fostering the energy and

so — the practice of intention setting, or

the crazy notion that you are already

willpower inside to achieve our full potential.

creating a sankalpa, is not something you

enough. The word “sankalpa” comes

We each already have everything we

Yogic practices such as yoga nidra

can do off the cuff. A sankalpa should be

place you in the ideal state of mind so

reflective of your heart’s deepest longings

you can cultivate the sankalpa seed deep

and your true nature. It acts as a guiding

within. Such deep relaxation also focuses

force to help you to live a meaningful life,

on nourishing the sankalpa so it may

which means you must take the time to

manifest on a conscious level. Ultimately,

reflect and look within to find it.

the practice of sankalpa feeds into yoga's overall purpose: to help each of us achieve

What’s your purpose?

a level of self-realisation or enlightenment

Setting goals or resolutions in life is

by uniting all layers of our being and living

something we all have probably done at

in a way that is true to this. At its essence,

one time or another. Have you noticed,

the sankalpa is a guiding force that helps us

however, that often these goals —

become more balanced, happy and fulfilled.

particularly New Year resolutions — tend to focus on the negative? We might not

from the Sanskrit words san, meaning a

Know thy self

realise it but many of the goals we set

connection with the highest truth, and

Now that you understand what a sankalpa

focus not only on changing what we do,

kalpa, meaning vow. Thus, a sankalpa is

entails, the next challenge is to establish your

but also often on who we inherently are.

a commitment to live according to your

own. Often, you may be asked to recite a

highest truth or spirit — who you truly are.

sankalpa at the start and end of yoga nidra,

For instance, common resolutions such as the need to lose weight or to

Unlike the resolutions you may be familiar

or sometimes at the beginning of asana

get a promotion at work are aspirational.

with, sankalpas work on a deeper level.

practice. Generally, though, you don’t get any

However, from a yogic point of view, the

Setting a sankalpa plants a seed or focus

time to actually think about your sankalpa

motivations behind these may be seen as

in the depths of your unconscious to help

and what it really means or should be. Many

material or driven by ego. These kinds of

you realise your true nature and guide you

students might quickly come up with a



set your intention

they can act as stepping stones to finding

and living in accordance to this across

your sankalpa. A sankalpa should focus on

all aspects of your being — physically,

what’s beyond thoughts and feelings. For

emotionally, mentally or spiritually —

prompt some reflection or help you to

instance, if you hear “I want a better job”,

becomes second nature.

word your own:

think about how this might impact your

 I am spiritually awakened

life. What is the feeling you want to achieve

be reserved for yoga nidra, however. You

 I honour my spirit

from this desire? What is its deeper,

can recite it during pranayama (breathing

 I am healthy and whole

underlying purpose guiding you in that

exercises) or meditation, or call upon it

 I am compassion and love

direction? Perhaps a better job would give

when you need to remember to align your

your family security and mean you won’t

daily life and choices with your true nature.

What’s your sankalpa? Sankalpas are unique to each person but here are some starting points that may

Traditionally, it is said a sankalpa

Your sankalpa does not just have to

should not be changed until it is realised.

need to worry as much. Maybe it will give

Having said that, however, it’s not the

you a greater sense of accomplishment

sankalpa doesn’t seek to change your life

easiest thing to hone in on your true

and self-love towards yourself. This, then,

overnight. It works on a much deeper,

essence the first time around! As you

could translate into a sankalpa such as: “I

spiritual level to help you connect with

continue in your practice, look at your

am compassion and calmness.”

your essence. The practice of yoga and

sankalpa in more depth and allow it to

The answers to these questions are

It is important to remember that a

sankalpa setting is all about self-realisation.

evolve as you start to become more

something you must look within to find,

Once you realise your heart’s desire, you

attuned to your inner self.

and must be your own. Taking the time to

can bring out your best. A sankalpa is a

look for the feeling behind the intention will drill down into the true heart’s desire. positive-sounding statement that they forget

Living your sankalpa Try integrating some of these actions into

about by the end of practice, and then come

Reciting your sankalpa

your day to increase awareness of your

up with something completely different the

Once your sankalpa starts to form in your

sankalpa and actively live in a way that’s true

following week.

mind, focus on the wording. Phrase your

to it outside of meditation or yoga nidra.

sankalpa so it is positive, clear and concise.

 Repeat your sankalpa to yourself

However, to create a sankalpa that reflects both what you want to achieve out

Your sankalpa reflects your heart’s desire

throughout the day, particularly during

of your practice as well as your intrinsic

and who you already are, so it should

times when you need to draw upon

self, you must take the time to reflect and

be stated in present tense. For instance,

strength. Keep it written on your desk,

look within. When you have clarity of mind,

rather than saying, “I want to be a happier

fridge or nightstand as a reminder.

such as during periods of self-reflection or

person”, try, “I am happiness itself.”

meditation, your intention can come forth

Then, nourish and reaffirm your sankalpa.

 Make a list of realistic actions and behaviours you can focus on to help you live according to your sankalpa.

more easily. Use these times as chances to

Traditionally, it's repeated mentally three

reflect on your values. Think about what is

times with determination, conviction and

 Take time for self-reflection, even once

most important about yourself or how you

confidence at the start and end of yoga

you have a sankalpa. Reflect on your

want to live your life. Think about where

nidra. In this state, you are neither awake

actions and times when you may have

you are now, or where you want to be.

nor dreaming and are more aware and

moved away from your sankalpa. Use

This isn’t something you need to rack your

open, so your sankalpa is more easily

brain about. In a quiet, meditative space,

absorbed into the subconscious mind. Yoga

allow these thoughts to come to you and

nidra also focuses on quieting the mind's

sit with them. Just remember to be patient

fluctuations, which prevent the sankalpa

and listen so you can hear the message

from growing — and thus prevent you from

reminder of your nature and your path, and

from within, and allow a sankalpa to form.

working towards your higher purpose.

allows you to unite the many layers of your

What if you don’t hear anything? Or

By continually reaffirming the sankalpa

this inner reflection as a chance to become more aware of your choices, and of your true nature.

being so this can seamlessly translate into

maybe you hear something that sounds

in yoga nidra, you nourish it and allow it to

day-to-day life. This means the sankalpa

more ego-driven, like some of the

manifest from within so it may eventually

is something you are constantly moving

“resolutions” we mentioned earlier. While

present itself at a conscious level. When

toward (subconsciously) and/or always

these may not reflect the heart’s desire,

this happens, following your true path

living (consciously).



For the

of your life...

collective wisdom

What I wish I’d known Embarking on a dedicated yoga practice and becoming a yoga teacher can have a major effect on how you live your life. Here, people in the know share advice that would have helped them along their own yoga journey. Words Lucy Cormack

Your yoga practice is vitally important

getting stronger and more flexible and

Developing awareness reaps the benefits

to your overall wellbeing — but how is it

to breathe more. Flexibility, strength and

The most obvious benefits of doing yoga

for those who teach you all the moves

fitness are just by-products of doing good

on a physical level are increased flexibility,

and shapes that you make on your mat?

yoga, not its goal. I wish I had known

strength and energy. The less obvious

We’ve spoken with five yoga experts to

right from the start that you can do good

benefits are that communication between

find out what they wish they’d known on

yoga in a way in which you can tense

body and mind is enhanced and your bodily

starting their personal yoga practice and

less yet become stronger, stretch less but

awareness develops. This awareness then

before they pursued a career teaching

get more flexible, breathe less yet have

shifts to the mental and emotional level,

yoga. From finances to time management

more energy and think less but get more

which is when you start to see the usefulness

to investing in your personal practice and

focused and intelligent.

of the yamas and niyamas (moral disciplines

ongoing study, here’s what you need to

and personal observances) in your everyday

know if you’ve ever considered becoming

You have to remove the blockages

life. This shift and growth in consciousness

a yoga teacher.

that come with over-doing things

eventually allows you to harmonise and

My yoga practice aims to bring

resonate with other people and the Earth.

wholeness to my life by creating

Simon Borg-Olivier will be leading a 200-

connection, not just within my body

hour teacher training in Sydney later this

but also between my body and mind

year. For more details about this and other

and with my self and the world. On a

training courses, visit

mental and emotional level, I practise in a manner that allows me to communicate both within and outside my body without over-thinking. To facilitate SIMON BORG-OLIVIER

the flow of energy and information

Co-director of Yoga Synergy

through the body, you have to remove

Flexibility, strength & fitness

the blockages of energy that exist

are not the goals

within it. These blockages include: over-

What I really would have liked to have

tension and over-stretching (through

known before I started practising yoga

incorrect posture and/or movement),


is that yoga is not about tensing and

over-breathing and over-thinking. I try

Director of Viniyoga Australia

stretching muscles and breathing more.

to eliminate each of these things during

Yoga provides the opportunity to be

Unfortunately, many people often end

my practice while making my passionate

steeped in the culture of India

up damaging themselves both physically

best attempt to increase communication,

For me, yoga represents a lifelong

and physiologically when they think

circulation, strength and mobility in a

personal passion of physical, mental and

that the ultimate aim of yoga is simply

completely gentle way.

spiritual discovery and the yearning to



collective wisdom

keep returning to India throughout my

part of every day indulging in these areas of

myself to that study because, like yoga,

life over and over to be steeped in the

enquiry. This part of my practice keeps my

becoming an accomplished horsewoman

culture. Professionally, it has provided me

passion for yoga teaching alive and forms

is an infinite apprenticeship. I would also

with a life of great rewards from seeing

the basis of my attitude to life. It sounds like

like some uninterrupted time, just to enjoy

students’ lives improve through yoga

a lot on paper but just some time, maybe 10

life without the demands of so much

and meeting wonderful people in the

minutes of each day, is invaluable.

travel and highly scheduled time. I’ve led

teaching community and in my travels

Leanne Davis will be leading a one-year

an incredibly disciplined life since I was

to India. Currently, my work with Yoga

teacher training in the Krishnamacharya

very young, so I fancy that I am living my

Australia (as its vice president) gives me

tradition. For more details about this as

life in reverse and working my way back

an opportunity to give back to the yoga

well as Sunshine Coast retreats, Vedic

to a happy, carefree childhood.

world some of what I have learnt and to

chanting and Yoga Sutra studies, visit

work with dedicated and inspiring people.

Even discipline can be a distraction I can honestly say that I have practised

Consider your financial needs if you’re

almost daily since my first experience

thinking of becoming a yoga teacher

with yoga. I wish I had realised that the

Like many teachers of my time, I

practice was about self-nourishment

didn’t exactly “decide” to become a

because my early years of practice were

yoga teacher. Yoga teaching was not

really harsh and, to some degree, quite

a profession undertaken for financial

punitive. From the outside, it probably

means but something we were asked to

looked like supreme discipline, but I think

do by our teachers, as there came a time

I was using all those controlled practices

to contribute back to others what we


to hide from deeper issues. I started yoga

had been taught or to take over some

Author of Bringing Yoga To Life

practice when I was 16 years old and

responsibility from our teachers after

Time is extremely limited — make the

very much needing some ballast in my

many years of dedicated practice and

most of your daily practice

life. I needed to find a means to feel safe,

training. I am often challenged by the

My yoga practice is different each day,

secure and peaceful in myself because

industry of yoga and the issues around

depending on my needs. If I am very tired,

my family environment and my school

how we move forward with continuing

I may do a long restorative practice or a

experience were deeply unsettling at that

the teaching of yoga, to keep it alive and

long yoga nidra (deep relaxation). Some

time. In my innocence, it amazed me that

help others, while balancing the financial

days I spend more time in meditation,

something so simple as moving with the

needs of teachers. In a parallel universe,

other days I can feel that the demands of

support of rhythmic breathing could have

I would have loved to develop my

working on my farm and training horses

such an immediate positive effect, so I

interest in music in much the same way

requires me to attend more to my body.

clung to the practice like someone out of

as I have with yoga: studying, practising,

Ultimately, the function of a yoga practice

the boat clinging to a life raft.

performing and teaching.

is to nourish us on every level, so I aim to

Donna Farhi will be leading a women’s

come out of the practice in better shape

yoga retreat in Christchurch, New Zealand,

than when I went in.

in January 2016. For more details about

Study of the Indian texts keeps the passion alive

the retreat and other intensive, visit

My practice involves asana (postures),

It’s about teaching people

pranayama (breath work) and mantra

As for what I would have liked to know

meditation to maintain my wellbeing and

before becoming a yoga teacher, I wish I

alleviate any tension that accumulates

had known that it’s about teaching people,

through work and constitutional patterns.

not teaching postures or practices. If I

I have a great passion for Sanskrit, Vedic

wasn’t teaching yoga, I would be studying

chanting and the study of the Indian texts

horsemanship and dressage full time with

such as the Upanishads, Patanjali’s Yoga

a living master. I hope I still get a chance

Sutras and The Bhagavad Gita, so I spend

to spend a few years just to devote


“Flexibility, strength and fitness are just byproducts of doing good yoga, not its goal.”


collective wisdom

Teaching is such a joy and so gratifying,

yoga not only calmed my mind while I

I cannot imagine doing anything else.

was practising asana but it also had a

Nicky Knoff is an invited teacher at the

noticeable effect on my daily life. I wish

second Super Retreat in Govinda Valley,

I’d known how profound the benefits of

NSW, taking place on 7–11 October,

pranayama and meditation are. For years,

2015. For more details about the retreat,

I pounded my body, aiming to advance


my asana practice in the belief that this was what it took to be an advanced


yogi. I thought the benefits — physically,

Founder & co-director of Knoff Yoga

mentally and emotionally — would be

Practise every day

greater the more I progressed in postures.

Practising the eight limbs of yoga is a

Mostly, all I developed were injuries! I now

great discipline. Because there is such a

see it is developing mindfulness in the

broad range of modalities, it is possible

practice that leads to progression. Doing a

to practise every day, and that is what I

short and simple sequence with presence

recommend. What about illness or injury?

is what makes a practice dedicated.

Even more reason to practise therapy now — there is always something we can do.


If you’re a teacher, don’t let your

This is probably the most difficult lesson

Founder of Byron Yoga Centre

own practice suffer

to teach our students. “Injured? Ill? Come,

Your understanding of yoga

The most common pitfall I’ve seen over

we shall do a therapy session together. If

fluctuates over time

the years is that, when someone begins

you do not feel better after, I shall refund

My current view on what yoga means

teaching, his or her own practice suffers.

you the money you paid.” In 45 years, I

to me is radically different from what it

I was lucky that my teaching journey

have never had to give the money back!

would have been 30 years ago. When

had a gentle start. I was only teaching

I started yoga, it was simply the asana

about three classes a week so I still had

Good teachers are good students

classes I went to several times a week.

plenty of time and energy for my own

From the very first class, the eight limbs

Now, my view is that the aim, the

practice. What I also wish I’d been aware

of yoga became a passion. I am a student

meaning of being human is to improve,

of is the importance of developing and

foremost, and it was never my intention to

grow, change and ultimately to transform.

maintaining a relationship with a living

teach. I only started teaching when there

Yoga is a powerful vehicle to achieve this.

master. I feel my main teachers have been

was no one else around to take the class.

I now only do a fairly short daily asana

long-passed yogic philosophers. I was

Once, in Tokyo, Bikram Choudhury

practice and focus on pranayama and

briefly influenced by Shandor (Remete)

(before he was famous and before hot

meditation. I also spend an equal amount

and, out of all the teachers I have met

yoga) was having visa trouble. In those

of time on the study on yogic philosophy.

over the years, I most resonate with Eve

days, he was there in the class from 5am

As I live onsite at the Byron Yoga Retreat

Grabowski. I do wish I had made an effort

to 11pm and you could go at any time to

Centre, there is always the opportunity

to travel to her teachings more frequently,

practise with him. He was the one who

for a lively philosophical discussion

perhaps even moving to Sydney to be

first said to me, after I had finished my

around the dinner table with our resident

near her ... but living in Byron Bay and

practice, “Please stay and be here a few

teacher trainees, retreat guests and Byron

being in such a strong yogic community

hours and teach the others for me.” I was

Yoga staff.

has been an education in itself. John Ogilvie will be leading an 800-hour

horrified and replied, “No, Bikram, I am not a teacher, I am a student.” He told me I was

Choose your postures wisely

Certificate IV in Yoga Teaching through the

only doing it to help him out. So I did it,

I started asana in about 1981 and was

Byron Yoga Centre. For more details about

and I was amazed how interesting it is to

initially interested for fitness and health

this, including options for a seven-week

get other bodies, other people and other

reasons. I soon became drawn to a regular

intensive or 12-month part-time study, plus

mindsets to practise asana, pranayama and

practice as I experienced the benefits

bridging course options for Level 1 and

meditation. It is a whole other dimension!

on my stress levels, and I found that

Level 2 graduates, go to




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mix it up

Off the beaten mat Yoga has an ancient lineage but it is also ever-evolving. Here, we explore five emerging trends that thoroughly modern yogis are using to mix up their asana practice. Words Meggan Brummer

Yoga is a practice that began more than

While the flying forms of yoga differ

practice and to cater to the everyday

5000 years ago in the East, but it has

from each other, they all include the use of

athlete. It is a combination of yoga, Pilates,

only become mainstream in Western

a suspension system, typically a special kind

calisthenics, dance and gymnastics.

society in the past 20 years. Now there

of hammock, which supports up to 300kg

are so many different styles of yoga; some

of weight. The hammock (which could

Yoga in Sydney, loves the way her spine

have been passed down from great yogic

be made from non-stretch or low-stretch

feels when she practises this “flying yoga”.

masters with millions of students, others

nylon, Lycra or silk) has two support chains

“It has great therapeutic benefits and a

have evolved from yoga teachers who

hanging down from the ceiling to less than

lot of our regulars come in to relieve

decided to set out in their own direction,

one metre from the floor and is adjusted to

back pain,” says Yeun, who explains that

challenging what’s familiar to yogis and

your preferred height, normally between

hanging upside down in the hammock

yoginis and stirring discussions on what

your waist and shoulder.

decompresses your spine and creates

yoga really is.

The hammock acts like a swing,

Evangeline Yeun, director of House of

lots of space and freedom there. “Some

At every stage in its unfolding, yoga

supporting your hips when you do

students also come in because they can’t

has had its non-conformists. Some people

forward and backward bends and

do a floor-based yoga class because

strongly prefer the traditional approach

enabling you to hang upside-down

of injuries, back pain and too much

and feel protective over the word “yoga”

without putting pressure on your head

compression on their joints.”

being used for new yogic trends which

or spine in the way you would in a

they feel don’t fully honour the true

classic inversion, “which can lead to back

AntiGravity Yoga are that it gets you off

essence of yoga. Others are excited by

and neck pain and injury over time”,

your major joints, improves your circulatory

fresh ideas that break from the norm.

explains Joe Miller, a New York–based

system, keeps your spine supple, healthy

Whatever your stance, it’s fascinating to

yoga teacher who leads anatomy and

and young, and reverses the flow of blood

see this evolution in progress.

physiology training.

to your brain. “It also brings out your inner

So what’s happening in today’s world

For Yeun, other major benefits of

child — and it’s fun,” she says. Inverting

of yoga trends? Here, we share five for


is calming and relaxing for your nervous

you to explore.

Started in 2007 by New Yorker

system, so AnitGravity Yoga can also help

Christopher Harrison, AntiGravity Yoga is

improve sleep-wake cycles and alleviate

Flying forms of yoga

currently received with most enthusiasm

stress, anxiety and depression.

Flying forms of yoga, or aerial yoga, are

in the US, but is gaining more momentum

gaining momentum. AntiGravity Aerial

in other parts of the world such as Europe,

yoga class, though. Lawyer and yoga

Yoga and Unnata Aerial Yoga are some of

South America and Australia.

teacher Leanne Varga says, “The

Know that this isn’t your standard

the more recognised brands that combine

AntiGravity is a fitness system that

yoga and a sense of flying, yet aerial yoga

was created by gymnasts for the sake

but yoga wasn’t part of it, except for the

classes of all types keep appearing at

of exploring the air and has since been

single om chanted at the end. There was

yoga festivals and on studio schedules.

modified to aid yoga practitioners in their

no pranayama breathing practice, breath



AntiGravity class I attended was fun,

awareness or yoga knowledge, and I felt

make sure you’re not overly hungry so

SUP yoga

unable to really let go and relax with the

that you don’t get “light-headed” when

In the 1940s, when Waikiki surfers stood

constant pop music.”

you’re upside-down. Unnata Aerial Yoga

on boards, navigating their way through

is not recommended for individuals who

the waves with a long paddle, stand-up

AntiGravity challenging at times but really

Model Maddy King, meanwhile, found

have high blood pressure or cataracts

paddleboarding (SUP) was born. Stand-up

enjoyed getting into positions that would

or are pregnant, or anyone for whom

paddleboard yoga (SUP yoga) is a more

not normally be possible. “I found the

hanging upside-down could cause medical

recent development, started when yogis

class to be more acrobatics in a hammock

complications or discomfort.

began practising their asanas (yoga poses)

rather than a traditional yoga class, but ...

Growing rapidly, Unnata Aerial Yoga is

on 10- to 12-foot-long boards. SUP yoga

this would probably change from teacher

now taught in 25 countries, predominantly

can be practised on an ocean bay, a lake or

to teacher. Overall I thought it was a great

in the US but also in Austria, Brazil, Canada,

even a river (providing it’s moving slowly

experience. It would be good to add to

Costa Rica, Cyprus, Finland and Saudi

enough), which is why it’s most popular

my exercise routine to mix things up.”

Arabia, by yoga instructors who have been

anywhere that’s warm and near the water,

trained by Dortignac.

particularly in Australia and Hawaii.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be young, strong and flexible to practise this new yogic trend. However, it’s not suitable for everyone. Pregnant women, people with extremely high or low blood pressure, glaucoma, heart disease or anyone who has any recent back injury or surgery should find another style.

You’re not doing tricks and gimmicks while you’re raised off the ground, you’re practising traditional yoga poses, both in the air and on the mat.

Unnata Aerial Yoga Unnata is the Sanskrit word for “elevated”, meaning both spiritually and physically elevated. Founded by Michelle Dortignac, who has 20-plus years of yogic teaching, meditation practice and movement and aerial arts performance, Unnata Aerial Yoga offers “authentic yoga, and works with gravity to relax and realign your body, centre your mind and uplift your spirit”. In this flying form, you’re not doing tricks and gimmicks while you’re raised off the ground, you’re practising traditional yoga poses, both in the air and on the mat with the use of a silk hammock, which enables gravity to do a lot of the work for you. Dortignac feels that using the hammock first enables students to perform a pose, then take the memory of what that felt like to the mat, where they do the same pose. No previous aerial, acrobatic or yoga experience is necessary if you want to practise Unnata Aerial Yoga but, to prepare for class, you’re asked to allow any food in your stomach to fully digest and to



mix it up

“When yoga is combined with SUP you get a greater core workout, better balance training and, of course, you get to be out in nature, which is great for overall stress release,” says Jodelle Fitzwater, a sponsored SUP pro athlete who currently teaches in the US. On the water, the yogi has to let go of control or wanting to do everything perfectly. If the current changes, or if your weight isn’t evenly distributed front-toback or side-to-side, you may suddenly find yourself in the water, so you’re not in control and your asanas won’t be as perfect as they may be on land. Doing yoga on a surface that’s constantly in motion strengthens muscles that aren’t called on in everyday practice, but the challenge isn’t just physical. SUP yoga requires a different quality of focus, not just when you’re in a pose, but when you’re moving between poses. Bringing your foot forward as you move from a downward dog into a lunge, for example,

certain injuries may limit your ability to do

Traditionally, yoga is a solo practice

can shift your board a few inches forward,

SUP yoga, as with other yoga styles there

of self-study: there’s you, your mat, your

so you need to constantly be adjusting

are modifications that can accommodate

body, mind and feelings. But, in acro-

your weight, making tiny movements and

an individual’s needs.

yoga, there’s all that plus someone else,

focusing your gaze on a point somewhere in

and so it becomes more about building Acro-yoga

trust between strangers and partners. In

Different forms of acro-yoga — a fusion of

acro-yoga, you’re encouraged to embrace

relaxing in savasana (corpse pose) is quite

yoga and acrobatics — have been around

vulnerability and curiosity and there’s a lot

a different experience to on land. You’re

for hundreds of years. You can even find

of emphasis on having complete faith in

lying there, in the sun, your hands resting

videos on YouTube of the great master of

someone else to support your body. Each

in the water, being rocked by the waves.

modern yoga, Krishnamacharya, doing acro-

partner takes on the role of either “flyer”

You won’t be able to let go as deeply as

yoga, for example. More recently, though,

(the person in the air) or “base” (the

if you were on the ground, but there are

two schools of branded acrobatic yoga

one on the ground). In addition to the

different benefits to both. On the water,

have emerged: AcroYoga Montreal and

flyer and the base, you might also have a

you’re soaking up the prana (life force)

AcroYoga Inc. Dancers Jessie Goldberg and

“spotter”: someone who has an objective

from the ocean and from nature; on land

Eugene Poku created AcroYoga Montreal

view of both partners and whose role is

you could be sinking deep into yogic

in 1999, uniting acrobatics, yoga and dance;

to ensure that the flyer lands safely if they

sleep (yoga nidra).

AcroYoga Inc. was formed in California

slip and/or to make recommendations to

by acrobat Jason Nemer and circus arts

both partners to improve their form.

nature, like on the horizon or a rock or tree. At the end of SUP yoga practice,

According to Matt Worley, yoga teacher and Kirtan devotee, SUP yoga is suited to

teacher Jenny Klein — both dedicated yogis

most people but it’s advantageous to have

— in 2003, bringing together acrobatics,

shapes and sizes, your bodyweight and

reasonable body awareness and some level

yoga and Thai massage. Now there are

the force of gravity have a significant

of core strength — being able to do a sun

hundreds of certified AcroYoga teachers

part to play — enhancing the stretching

salutation is a great starting point. While

throughout the world.

and strengthening of the yoga pose for



While it’s a trend that’s feasible for all

mix it up

the partner who’s in the air. While one

wooden hoops to stay connected to the

alignment and is a fun tool to play with in

partner is “flying”, the other is completely

elements of nature,” she says.

balances and standing poses.”

passive, perhaps even having a restorative

There are three parts to the practice

experience, and this role makes acro-yoga

of Hoop Yoga: learning the postures, their

making movement and exercise really

more accessible to people who otherwise

names and their meaning; learning how

accessible for children and teens to help

might not do it. However, yoga teacher

to weave them together into a flow; and

them build self-confidence, concentration

and health writer Eva Norlyk Smith, PhD,

then weaving together the postures in

skills and to find balance.

suggests in an article on yoga injuries for

your own way in order to share a story.

The Huffington Post that, because acrobatic

In Native American ceremonial

when practising new yoga forms include

yoga classes are more vigorous than many

hoop dances, the hoop is used as a

clarity of mind, joy and freedom. She also

traditional yoga practices, injuries in them

constant reminder of the circle of life.

loves that there are no rules. “Although I

appear to be more common.

Dancers use it to create formations of

give guidance with hoop techniques and

what’s in nature (animals, insects etc),

yoga poses, my classes are designed to

of acro-yoga he thought it looked like

just as is done with the body in the

be fun and to let you explore and move

awesome fun and just had to try it.

yoga asana practice. Dorfman uses the

your body however you want.”

From there he got totally hooked, and

hoop-dance concepts to slow down the

now instructs acro-yoga — as well as his

movements into a meditative therapeutic


classes in SUP yoga and yoga of the more

balance of controlled movements and

All of the trends mentioned so far have

traditional variety. “Acro-yoga blends the

storytelling. “It’s a way towards self-

arisen abroad but there’s at least one

wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of

expression,” she says.

Australian trend that may well take off

When Matt Worley first saw pictures

acrobatics and the loving kindness of

Gloria Tong, teacher of Hoop Yoga

For Tong, Hoop Yoga is also a way of

Major benefits she has experienced

around the world.

healing arts,” says Worley. “It’s a practice

Sydney, feels there are a lot of similarities

that cultivates awesome strength and

between hooping and yoga. She was

Madina Tanekeyeva discovered that it’s

spatial body awareness, trust, playfulness

drawn to how both practices can be

really hard to find time to do yoga when

and community. You get to develop

grounding and calm when you need them

you’re a mum. One day, she decided to

connection to both yourself and others

to be, but also uplifting and playful when

do her practice while wearing her baby

… and to build your communication skills. It enables people to step outside their comfort zone and to then do what they thought was impossible.”

Hoop Yoga There are many versions of hoop-assisted yoga asana popping up around the world, according to American yoga instructor Pippa Dorfman. Schools that have been popularising this form include Hoop Yoga,

in a baby carrier — and in that moment

Dorfman uses the hoop-dance concepts to slow down the movements into a meditative therapeutic balance of controlled movements and storytelling.

HoopVinyasa, Hoop Dance Yoga and Hoop Yoga Sydney. In Dorfman’s hoop-assisted yoga, most

As a yoga practitioner and teacher,

“marsupiyoga” was born. Marsupiyoga is a yoga sequence developed for parents who carry their little one in a “pouch”, hence the name. It is based on traditional basic yoga asanas that are suitable and comfortable to perform while you’re wearing your baby or toddler in a carrier. Marsupiyoga allows parents to develop their bond with their child, calm their mind, strengthen their core and improve their balance, flexibility

you have a different energy. “On any given day my yoga and hooping practice will

and blood circulation. Because marsupiyoga means you can

popular on the west coast of the US,

be different so, when I combine the two, I

practise yoga while having close physical

she merges the cultural ideas of Native

have a very fulfilling way to stay centred,”

contact with your child, you’re not the only

American hoopdance with the Indian

says Tong. “In both practices, you can

one who benefits: your child also gets to

practice of yoga asana. “Hoop Yoga utilises

really go with the flow, follow your breath

participate in the routine and to acquire a

the hoop throughout the asana flow (without

and move your body how it wants to

firsthand experience of yoga. And, for the

ever spinning the hoop at high velocities

move. Using the hoop in traditional yoga

most part, the child does not disrupt the

around any part of your body), while using

postures also helps you to focus on your

practice because they’re part of it.



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Plan your yoga year Fancy a spot of surfing with your yoga? Dream of living the ashram life in India? Want to celebrate conscious living with other passionate people? Here are our picks for the top yoga travel experiences for the year ahead. Words Veronica Joseph


If your plan for 2016 involves seeing Australia (and perhaps

Eat, sleep, yoga, repeat all year round at these top festivals in

the world), nourishing your health and wellbeing and finding

Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

enlightenment, we’ve got you covered! From weekend festivals to high-end retreats, secluded ashrams and adventure-filled


wellness experiences in Australia and abroad, here are some

Celebrate mindful living at the festival that is fast becoming

yoga treats to nourish you in the year ahead.

one of the biggest celebrations of mind, body and spirit on the planet. At Wanderlust, you can get your dose of yoga and meditation while taking in nature, enjoying live music from top artists, feasting on local and sustainable delights and listening to enlightening speakers from around the world. Don’t miss out on this weekend that will do your soul some serious good. Where: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, New Zealand and international locations When: Thredbo: February 18–21, 2016; Great Lake Taupo, NZ:

Get your dose of yoga and meditation in stunning locations with Wanderlust.

February 4–7, 2016; Sunshine Coast: 15–18 October, 2016. More locations and dates to be announced soon

Photography Ali Kaukus & Brook Ready

Find out more:




Evolve Yoga Festival

Be sure to explore the beautiful grounds, which include hidden gardens, a private beach and a centuries-old cave that was once inhabited by Buddhist monks.

Melbourne’s Evolve Yoga Festival brings together local and international speakers, instructors and wellness warriors for an exciting weekend of music, yoga, dance and mindfulness. The Evolve Yoga Festival prides itself on being an affordable one-day gathering uniting yoga practitioners of all styles and levels. Enjoy an open-air yoga class, discover new therapies and modalities and shop ethically and locally at the Evolve marketplace. Where: Melbourne and Byron Bay

Byron Spirit Festival

When: Byron Bay: January 23, 2016. Melbourne: Late 2016, exact

Byron Bay is the ideal location for this festival which celebrates

date to be released soon

not only mindfulness, but is all about fostering and nurturing

Find out more:

community spirit and living. The Byron Spirit Festival brings together yoga teachers, Tantra masters, musicians and healers from Australia and abroad for a weekend that is sure to be transformative and uplifting. Enjoy a range of natural health and mindful workshops, live music, Ayurveda and whole foods in this celebration of community. Where: Mullumbimby, NSW When: Check the website for dates Find out more:

BaliSpirit Festival The BaliSpirit Festival is on the bucket list for many yogis, and with good reason. Who wouldn’t love a week of yoga, dance and music in one of the world’s most beautiful and peaceful locations? Taking place in Ubud over one week, the BaliSpirit Festival allows you to experience yoga and dance classes from some of the world’s best teachers by day, and exciting world musicians by night. A range of amazing yogis have already been confirmed for the 2016 festival, including Australia’s own Simon Borg-Olivier, among others from around the globe. When: March 29–April 3, 2016 Where: Ubud, Bali Find out more:

India Yoga Festival Ring in 2016 with the India Yoga Festival. Taking place on Music, yoga and discussion at Evolve Yoga Festival.

the sun-kissed beaches of Goa, the festival blends together traditional yoga with Western styles and methods. Inspiring swamis from India and abroad will be sharing their teachings in a forum that will be ideal for those looking to get in touch with the traditional and philosophical sides of yoga. Be sure to take part in traditional practices such as sunset kirtans and fire pujas in this immersive spiritual experience. Where: Goa, India When: January 7–10, 2016 Find out more:





The International Yoga Festival

YogaFest will be celebrating its 10th year in 2016, and it’s sure

Parmarth Niketan is one of Rishikesh’s most famous ashrams

to be a big one. Join fellow yoga enthusiasts for this two-day

and the location for the week-long International Yoga Festival.

festival featuring a diverse range of workshops, gentle and

Participate in more than 60 hours of yoga classes and get a

challenging yoga classes of both traditional and modern styles,

taste of authentic yogic traditions in this festival, which also

pranayama, meditation and kirtan. Get lost in the array of

follows an ashram-style daily routine — including 4am starts!

market and food stalls and also take in some massage therapy,

With traditional Indian lunches, inspiring lectures and meditative

Bollywood dancing classes, qigong and more.

and uplifting satsangs, the International Yoga Festival is for the

Where: Brisbane, Qld

yogi truly looking to deepen their practice.

When: 2016 dates yet to be confirmed

Where: Rishikesh, India

Find out more:

When: March 1–7, 2016 Find out more:

ASHRAMS Visit India for a real ashram experience — or find one closer to home to nourish your spirit.

Vipassana Meditation Centre Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques and this intensive, residential 10-day course is for the yogi serious about their practice. Participants must follow a Code Enjoy a group yoga class at YogaFest ...

of Discipline including practising absolute silence of the body, speech and mind for the entire course. Vipassana focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body and, by removing participants from distractions, this retreat allows them to observe the reality within and lead them into their own spiritual

Participate in more than 60 hours of yoga classes and get a taste of authentic yogic traditions in this festival, which also follows an ashram-style daily routine — including 4am starts!

discovery during their stay. Where: Vipassana centres can be found in each state in Australia as well as Auckland, NZ, and many locations worldwide When: Courses run regularly throughout the year. Ensure you are able to stay the complete 10 days Find out more:

Govinda Valley Govinda Valley, just 60km south of Sydney’s CBD, offers a ... or relax outdoors with delicious food.

tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. A range of retreats is held throughout the year, from yoga and meditation to drumming and massage workshops. You can also put your skills to good use by volunteering or WWOOF-ing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) at Govinda Valley while participating in retreat programs, enjoying nature walks at the nearby Royal National Park and savouring the Ayurvedic, vegetarian fare. Where: Otford, NSW When: Yoga retreats announced for January 3–8 and February 29–March 6, 2016 — with more to come Find out more:




Yoga Peeth

Sivananda Ashram (Beacon Yoga Centre)

Located on the banks of the holy River Ganges, Yoga Peeth is

If you’re in Western Australia, be sure to join a study group,

an idyllic and peaceful location to get in touch with nature, and

attend an inspiring talk or visit a regular yoga class or meditation

yourself. Stay for a one- or two-week retreat to get a taste of

session at the Sivananda Ashram. A range of events and

the traditional yogic way of life, while enjoying activities such

workshops are held through the year at the ashram. Come for

as rafting, trekking and local sightseeing. Your daily routine

a spiritual discussion on all things yoga or, if you’re looking for

includes lectures from yoga masters, meditation and chanting and

some time out, enjoy the complete experience of ashram life

delicious sattvic-cooked meals. For those looking for a longer stay,

with a short-term retreat stay.

check out the 200-, 300- or 500-hour teacher training courses.

Where: Beaconsfield, Western Australia

Where: Rishikesh, India

When: A range of programs is held throughout the year. Be sure

When: One- or two-week retreats or teacher training courses run

to check out the weekly Sunday satsungs and monthly full moon

regularly throughout the year

havan ceremony

Find out more:

Find out more:


Spend your days surfing on Bali’s best beaches and practising daily yoga in an openair studio overlooking lush, tropical gardens.

Treat yourself. Unwind, de-stress and indulge with an holistic retreat in some of the world’s most inspiring locations.

Como Shambhala Estate In the heart of Ubud, the Como Shambhala Estate is a tropical

Kamalaya Koh Samui

escape for those looking to truly relax in the lap of luxury.

Switch off and take some much needed me-time while enjoying

Como Shambhala Estate’s resident experts, including a yoga

Koh Samui’s stunning white sand beaches and Kamalaya’s

teacher, Ayurvedic doctor and dietitian, will tailor your stay to

Personal Yoga Synergy Retreat. Programs are tailored to the

complement your personal wellness goals. Along with a range

individual’s skill level and goals, and can be customised with a

of yoga options including asana, pranayama and meditation

range of holistic medicine and spa and healing therapies. Be

classes, you also have the opportunity to enjoy adventure and

sure to explore the beautiful grounds, which include hidden

cultural activities including Balinese wisdom, dance and craft-

gardens, a private beach and a centuries-old cave that was

making classes, aqua therapy, rock climbing, rice field trekking

once inhabited by Buddhist monks as a place of meditation and

and more.

spiritual retreat.

Where: Ubud, Bali

Where: Koh Samui, Thailand

When: Retreats run throughout the year

When: The Personal Yoga Synergy Retreats, as well as other

Find out more:

retreats, run throughout the year Find out more:

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat

Gaia Retreat & Spa

Relax and regenerate at this eco-friendly retreat located in

Daily yoga is a staple at Gaia Retreat and Spa. Opt for the

the hinterland of the Gold Coast. Mornings at Gwinganna are

yoga “Focus Upgrade” for a highly personalised program. Yoga

peaceful yet energising, with a qigong class as the sun rises,

sessions are one on one to focus on your individual practice and

followed by a hike or walk through the vast 200-hectare grounds

technique and enhance strength and flexibility. Enjoy pranayama

of bushland and rainforest. Choose from a range of fitness

breathing exercises, yoga classes, guided meditation and relaxing

activities including yoga, Pilates or creative dance class, all while

Ayurvedic treatments, including shirodhara, during your stay. The

enjoying nourishing food, wellness seminars and consultations,

stunning grounds offer an inspiring and nourishing environment

and soothing spa therapies.

in which to relax and reflect.

When: Tallebudgera, Qld

Where: Brooklet, NSW

Where: Various retreats and packages available throughout the year

When: A range of retreats is available throughout the year

Find out more:

Find out more:




Prema Shanti Yoga & Meditation Centre

Bush Creek Buddha

Talk about scenic. The Prema Shanti Yoga and Meditation

Bush Creek Buddha’s weekend yoga packages are ideal for those

Centre is located in the heart of the Daintree rainforest, and

looking for a short getaway in Victoria’s picturesque countryside

just a stone’s throw from the beaches of the Great Barrier Reef.

with all the added luxuries. This boutique resort caters to

The retreat program is flexible so guests can enjoy rainforest

a maximum of eight guests to ensure a truly individualised

walks, freshwater swimming holes and luxurious spa treatments

experience. After your personalised Iyengar-style yoga classes,

alongside daily yoga and meditation.

you have the opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds and

Where: Cape Tribulation, Qld

surrounding townships. Spend the afternoon bushwalking, horse

When: The program runs seven days a week, all year round

riding or simply unwinding and relaxing.

Find out more:

Where: Taggerty, Vic When: Weekend retreats are held several times each month

Meditating amid the rainforest at Prema Shanti.

Find out more:

EXPERIENTIAL RETREATS & EVENTS Like your yoga with something extra on the side? Here are some “yoga-plus” experiences that will make your year.

Aro Hā Want a wellbeing adventure? Located on the South Island of New Zealand, Aro Hā combines sub-alpine hiking with vinyasa Surf Goddess Retreats

yoga and dynamic movement. Complemented with delicious

This women’s surf and yoga retreat offers the perfect balance

vegetarian cuisine, healing bodywork and daily mindfulness

between a fun group holiday and a truly customised wellness

practice, this seven-day intensive getaway is designed to

experience focused on your own personal development and

jumpstart your health and unlock the keys to good living. The

wellbeing. Spend your days surfing on Bali’s best beaches and

program is ideal for solo travellers, couples or friends of all fitness

practising daily yoga in an open-air studio overlooking lush,

levels who are passionate about nature, adventure and wellness.

tropical gardens. You’ll also get to experience the other delights

Where: Glenorchy, NZ

of Bali, from reef snorkelling to visiting an elephant sanctuary to

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Soulfit adventures takes you to sublime natural locations ...

Soulfit Adventures Soulfit Adventures offers holidays and retreats with a yogic twist. Taking place in a number of exotic locations not too far from home, including Bali, Cambodia and Laos, Soulfit Adventures combines luxury yoga retreats with cycling, hiking and other adventure-filled activities. Spend your days travelling and exploring by bike, and relaxing with yoga and a massage. For those looking to explore further afield, Soulfit Adventures also runs holidays to Italy and France. Where: Bali, Cambodia, Laos, France and Italy When: Cambodia: January 30–February 10, 2016. More dates and locations to be released Find out more:

... and incorporates yoga into your travel adventures.

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Where: New York, US

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Radiance Yoga Retreats

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Where: Various locations

and Italy are on offer in 2016


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Strala Yoga

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set the scene

The heart of yoga Indian sage Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga form the foundation of yoga practice. We explore each of these principles as well as how you, as a modern-day yogi, can apply them in daily life. Words Mascha Coetzee

It is no secret the popularity of yoga is

Respondents commonly indicated

The eight limbs of yoga, discussed

spreading fast in Australia. Your osteopath

they started doing yoga for health and

below in more detail, comprise moral

mentions the benefits you might gain from

fitness reasons and continued practising

disciplines and personal observances

yoga, your neighbour always talks about

for stress management. The survey results

(yamas and niyamas), postures (asanas),

his practice, you see people doing yoga

concluded: “Regular yoga practice may

breath work (pranayama), ability to

outside, then you notice a new yoga studio

have a protective effect on health and

turn inward (pratyahara), concentration

popping up in your suburb — and you join

longevity due to associated lifestyle

(dharana), meditation (dhyana) and the

a yoga class to see for yourself why so

choices including healthy eating, regular

state of fulfilment and blissful absorption

many people rave about yoga.

physical activity, vegetarianism, reduced

(samadhi) — the ultimate goal of yoga.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics

smoking, reduced alcohol consumption,

The first five limbs of yoga are

backs up with facts what you’re

greater spirituality/religiosity, reduced

described in the second book of The Yoga

witnessing. Its Survey of Participation in

stress and other mental health benefits.”

Sutras named Sadhana Pada, the book

Sport and Physical Recreation for 2011–

on yoga practice. The final three limbs are Yoking body, mind & spirit

presented in the third book, named Vibhuti

did yoga in that period, making yoga the

Such findings help give a scientific basis

Pada, the book on accomplishments that

eighth most popular physical activity

to the connection between the physical

can be achieved through yoga practice.

among the female population, and those

practice of yoga and its effects on the

figures are increasing. The numbers of men

mind and broader lifestyle, as the body–


practising yoga are also on a rise.

mind awareness organically develops with

Yamas relate to the relationships you have

regular practice.

with yourself and others, and are defined

2012 states that nearly 299,000 women

So what makes yoga so popular here? Between June 2005 and January 2006,

And that's no wonder, as yoga means

as moral disciplines by which the society

RMIT University conducted an extensive

“union” and is an ancient, well-tested

should live by. There are five yamas that

survey of 3832 people, of whom 2567 were

system of philosophies and practices, the

teach to live in harmony and peace with

yoga practitioners and 1265 yoga teachers.

foundations of which were laid thousands

yourself and the external world.

Researchers found that 61 per cent of the

of years ago in The Yoga Sutras of

respondents’ yoga practice time was spent

Patanjali, a yogic text in which the eight

performing postural sequences and 29 per

limbs of yoga form the core of the practice.

cent of the time was devoted to breathing

It was through this text that, in

Ahimsa: non-harming Ahimsa is the central principle of the eight-limbed path of yoga and is defined

techniques, relaxation and meditation. The

around 200AD, the Indian sage Patanjali

by “not causing pain” to all beings. As

most common reasons for starting yoga

presented the world with an integrative

Patanjali explains, it means not engaging

included: stress and anxiety reduction (58

step-by-step system of ashtanga, or eight

in violence towards others, neither in

per cent), mental health issues (36 per

limbs, directing practitioners of yoga to

action nor speech, as well as not causing

cent), musculoskeletal problems (27 per

work towards achieving the union of the

physical, emotional or psychological harm

cent) and women’s health (10 per cent).

body, breath, mind and spirit.

to yourself and others.



set the scene

artists’ works, overconsumption of natural


and destructive comments you make

resources and not sharing the possessions

There are five niyamas, or personal

towards yourself, plus the more subtle

you no longer use with those in need.

observances, which are directed inward

Ahimsa encompasses the judgements

expressions of harm the world is engaged in, such as the existence and support of

and encourage yoga practitioners to take Brahmacharya: appropriate use of vital/

good care of their bodies and minds.

factory farming and sweatshops, the use of

sexual energy

toxic products that harm the environment,

Brahmacharya is the most misunderstood

Sauca: cleanliness

violence on TV, gossip and anger.

of the yamas, as it is often translated as

Sauca implies purification of body, speech,

“celibacy” and confuses “householder”

mind and surroundings. Cleanliness of

encourages you to contemplate any

yogis — people who are dedicated to

the body involves hygiene and a diet

aspects of violence you may cause.

yoga practice and are in relationships

of pure, natural foods free of additives,

It requires compassion, courage and

and/or have families. Practice of

preservatives and toxins. Purity of speech

a commitment to making mindful

brahmacharya in modern life invites

includes abstention from harsh language,

choices in your life daily, be it the way

yoga practitioners to be mindful of

gossip and judgements. Cleanliness of the

you conduct self-talk, food you choose

their sexual energy expenditure and

mind is achieved by cultivating positive,

to eat, entertainment you favour,

advises yogis to form meaningful and

kind thoughts, surrounding yourself with

transportation you use, or social and

intimate relationships and to practise,

inspiring people and choosing forms of

Practice of ahimsa in modern life

political causes you support.

entertainment (books, TV programs etc) that nourish your mind. In relation to your

Satya: truthfulness

surroundings, practice of sauca involves

In the second yama, satya, Patanjali

maintaining a tidy, uncluttered home that

instructs to be committed to truthfulness

brings more peace and order to your life.

in thoughts, words and actions. Sincerity and integrity of speech lies at the heart

Santosha: contentment

of satya. Truthful communication and

Santosha is the ability to be content, at

honesty in action form a solid base of any

peace and grateful for what you already

relationship, community and government.

have, refraining from greed and desire. It

As Bhavana Ram puts it, truthfulness is

is the practice of patience, acceptance of

“instinctual knowing within us”.

reality for what it is and abstention from

Practising satya is not always easy

anger and frustration.

but, by being mindful of your thoughts

as Frank Jude Boccio writes in his book

and speech, you can develop a deeper

Mindfulness Yoga, “sexually responsible

Tapas: austerity, self-discipline

connection to your inner voice as well

behaviour free from exploitation,

Tapas translates to “heat”, which long-

as the ability to recognise delusion and

aggression and oppression”.

time yoga teacher Donna Farhi refers to

to follow your truth in the relationships

as “burning enthusiasm”. She elaborates:

you have with others and yourself, the

Aparigraha: non-greed/non-hoarding

“Like a focused beam of light cutting

friendships you form, your career and the

Modern society measures wealth by its

through the dark, tapas keep us on track,

lifestyle choices you make.

financial success, possessions and social

so we don’t waste our time and energy on

status. While material possessions can

superfluous or trivial matters.” Inspiration

Asteya (non-stealing)

be enjoyed, aparigraha teaches not to be

and motivation ignite tapas in you, which

Practice of asteya is defined by not

defined by them and not to accumulate

expresses itself in increased self-discipline

taking anything that has not been freely

what is not necessary. Deeper application

and commitment to your yoga practice.

given to you. That doesn’t only include

of aparigraha involves generosity by

theft of physical objects, it also involves

sharing and giving away the things you

Svadhyaya: self-study

greed, depriving your friends or family

do not need, not overusing the world’s

Svadhyaya comprises the study of the

members of time and energy, plagiarising

resources and practising gratitude for the

self, self-enquiry, as well as the study of

other people’s ideas, illegal copying of

abundance you already have in your life.

the relevant scriptures. Study of yogic



set the scene

scriptures activates your reflective skills,

While physical perfection is not the

In her article published in the Evidence-

enhancing your development as a yoga

goal of yoga, the postures are a way to

Based Complementary and Alternative

practitioner, where the process of self-

develop inner awareness and body-mind

Medicine Journal, Kyeongra Yang, PhD,

enquiry invites you to face yourself by

connection and increase flexibility and

reviewed 32 studies on yoga published

revealing your inner nature.

strength, plus release tension and improve

between 1980 and 2007. Her research

general health and wellbeing. Ramamurti

concluded that yoga practice was

Isvara pranidhana: devotion to

S Mishra, MD, in The Textbook of Yoga

generally effective in decreasing body

a higher source

Psychology, explains: “Yoga postures

weight as well as reducing blood pressure

Often translated as “devotion to God”,

and exercises must be smooth, calm and

and glucose and cholesterol levels.

this niyama causes confusion in the minds

peaceful because yoga prepares a student

of some beginner practitioners. Yoga is

to control his body, not to kill [exhaust] it.”

a practice that in no way advises which

Asana practice can also help improve

Pranayama: breath regulation Prana means “breath”, “vital energy”,

spiritual ideal or form you should follow,

your posture and balance, together

“life force”, while ayama is translated

align with and surrender to (pranidhana).

with the functions of the digestive,

as “extension”, “restraint”, “control”.

Thus, the higher source (isvara) should

cardiovascular, immune, respiratory and

Pranayama is the extension of life

be looked at as your personal choice of

reproductive systems. In addition, yoga

force which also includes the breathing

and connection to the divine, whether it

has proven to be effective as therapy,

exercises widely used by modern yogis.

is formless — as cosmic consciousness, emptiness, ultimate reality or higher intelligence — or has a form — such as Buddha’s nature, the Christian God, Jesus, Krishna, Tao or something else that resonates with you. Surrendering to the higher source means to practise humility, and be present and mindful of the reality. In daily life, isvara pranidhana can be applied by showing respect to those with greater knowledge than yours, releasing

Do you notice how your breathing

The literal meaning of asana is “comfortable seat”, implying that one is able to maintain that position with steadiness and ease and so prepare for prolonged periods of seated meditation.

the ego-controlled reactivity, recognising

becomes forced or choppy when you are angry, frustrated, nervous or agitated, and how calm, deep and smooth it feels when you are in a relaxed state? Ancient yoga masters appreciated the role of the breath, its dynamics and close connection to the mind. This led them to develop a range of pranayama methods, some of which can relax your nervous system, calm the mind and reduce stress levels, while others can boost your energy levels and increase

the divinity in all beings and taking time to

helping to heal the body from various

sit in stillness to unclutter and quieten the

health conditions including chronic back,

mind and witness the silence within.

neck and shoulder pains, arthritis, obesity

the positive effects of pranayama practice.

and hypertension.

Professor Luciano Bernardi of the Italian

Asanas: postures

A large-scale research study on the

cognitive functioning. Current scientific research confirms

University of Pavia wrote in a study

Although Patanjali never mentioned the

curative effects of yoga conducted by

published in the British Medical Journal

health benefits of the postures in his text,

Robin Monro, PhD, in London involved a

in 2001 that slowing the breath to six

he emphasised the importance of asana,

survey of 2700 people who used yoga

breaths a minute could positively affect

placing it third in his eight-limbed system

asana to treat their conditions. The results

heart rate variability as well as reduce

of yoga. Asana means “comfortable

showed that 94 per cent of the participants

blood pressure and the activity of the

seat”, implying that one can maintain that

suffering from anxiety, 100 per cent of the

sympathetic nervous system (the “fight

position with steadiness and ease and so

alcoholic participants and 98 per cent of

or flight” response activated by stress),

prepare for prolonged periods of seated

respondents with back disorders found

producing favourable psychological effects

meditation, which can be achieved when

yoga practice beneficial, while 90 per cent

by activating the parasympathetic nervous

the body is healthy, strong and free from

of the participants who were recovering

system (“rest and digest”).

toxins, tension, pain and stiffness. Asanas

from cancer, dealing with duodenal ulcers

are thus essential to a modern-day yoga

and experiencing arthritis and rheumatic

Journal for Alternative and Complementary

practitioner preparing for meditation.

conditions found yoga helpful.

Medicine, showed that the practice of



Other research, published in 2009 in the

set the scene

kapalabhati (stimulating skull-shining

Dhyana: meditation

pain and gain better control over the

breath) can improve the focus and

Dhyana comes from the Sanskrit word

brain’s processing of pain and emotions.

mental performance of a practitioner,

dhyai, which means “contemplate” or

while a preliminary study published in the

“meditate”. Dhyana is a state that Patanjali

of meditation is still to come as Harvard

Association for Applied Psychophysiology

describes as “continuous flow of cognition”

Medical School psychologist John

and Biofeedback Journal the same year

and which can be understood as “effortless

Denninger has recently found that mind-

showed that nadi shodhana (alternate nostril

concentration on watching the mind”. It

body techniques can switch on and off

breathing) can decrease blood pressure.

results from the fifth and sixth limbs: sense

some genes related to stress and immunity.

More exciting research on the effects

withdrawal and concentration. Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses

Multiple research studies reveal

Samadhi: blissful absorption,

Pratyahara is the fifth limb of yoga, and

benefits of concentration and meditation


a method of developing control over

practices. A recent study conducted by

Samadhi, often translated as

the senses and focus of the mind. This

the University of California in the US

“enlightenment”, is the highest of the

limb is a helpful tool for the modern-

concluded that mindfulness meditation

limbs and the culmination of the practice

day yogi living in the fast-paced world

practice can decrease levels of the stress

of yoga. Samadhi is an ability to be

of smartphones, media, loud music, fast

hormone cortisol. According to Tonya

wholly and fully absorbed in the present

food and traffic jams; for the yogi who’s

Jacobs, a postdoctoral researcher at the

moment. It is the state of pure awareness

constantly bombarded by phone calls, text messages, advertisements and emails and experiences overwhelm and sensory overload. To practise pratyahara, you may decide to cut down on your exposure to external stimuli such as TV, social media, noisy environments and mindless magazines. Rather, you may choose to spend more time drawing your attention inward, embracing silence and nature, cultivating positive thoughts and gratitude, and

and oneness with the universe, which

Practice of ahimsa in modern life encourages you to contemplate any aspects of violence you may cause. It requires compassion, courage and commitment to making mindful choices in your life daily.

nature, swimming in the ocean, meditating or through a prayer or love-making. Swami Satchitananda comments in his translation of The Yoga Sutras: “In meditation you have three things: meditator, the meditation and the object meditated upon. In samadhi, there is neither the object nor the meditator … meditation culminates in the state of samadhi.”


mindfully practising asana, breathawareness and self-enquiry.

some may experience when walking in

UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, “This

The eight limbs of yoga equip you

is the first study to show a direct relation

with valuable, practical tools for living

Dharana: concentration

between resting cortisol and scores on

in harmony within society, treating

In yoga practice, dharana is acquired

any type of mindfulness scale.”

yourself and others with compassion and

with practice and refers to the ability

Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder

understanding, taking care of your body

to maintain single-pointed focus on the

of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the

and mind by observing personal ethics,

object of your choosing. That object

University of Massachusetts Medical

committing to self-study, developing

could be: breath; a physical object, such

Center, and Richard Davidson of the

mindful focus, remaining disciplined in your

as a flame or a picture you focus your

University of Wisconsin demonstrated in

practice, withdrawing from the external

eyes on (the tratak method); sounds,

a paper in the Psychosomatic Medicine

stimuli and turning awareness inwards.

through observation or repetition of

Journal that practising mindfulness can

mantra; thoughts; physical sensations

improve overall wellbeing by increasing

practising the eight-limbed path of yoga,

you experience in the body; and/or the

self-esteem, calmness and happiness.

one can purify the body and the mind,

emotions you feel.

In another paper, published in the

Patanjali teaches that, through

attain physical and emotional health, and

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2013,

begin to understand the science of yoga,

is a preparation for the seventh limb of

the researchers revealed that mindfulness

where the union of the body, heart (soul)

yoga: meditation.

exercises help people to deal with chronic

and mind becomes possible.

Practice of dharana, or concentration,



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stop, breathe, meditate

Too busy to meditate? Do you feel you have no time to meditate — or even to breathe deeply? Your quality of life is directly related to your mind-state, so simply taking the time to calm that monkey mind can help enrich your existence. Words Meggan Brummer

Some people feel they are too busy for

of or glorifying the past — and even the

meditation or that meditation is for people

glorification comes with a sense of “but it’s

Also, the long-term effects of having

who aren’t busy — but, really, it’s the

not like that now”. According to a US study

it pumping through your system on

busiest people who most need, and can

by Harvard researcher Matt Killingsworth,

a regular basis are poor health and

benefit from, meditation. Mahatma Gandhi

our minds wander 46.9 per cent of the

poor performance. What meditation

said, “I have so much to accomplish today

time. This vacillation puts a lot of strain on

and breathing practices do is enable

that I am going to meditate for two hours

your nervous system, depletes your energy

you to switch off the sympathetic

instead of one.” He knew and understood

and means you miss a lot of the beauty

nervous system and turn on the body’s

the powerful effect that a daily practice of

and joy of life.

parasympathetic nervous system, moving

meditation can have.

Adrenaline is not needed for success.

you into the “rest-and-digest” state: Meditation & its effects

relaxed but alert, focused, happy, calm

who’s busy or ambitious to benefit from

Kate Baltrotsky, a 32-year-old school

and full of energy.

meditation. It can benefit anyone who

teacher by profession and stay-at-home

wants to improve the quality of their

mum from the Gold Coast, says: “After four

perception, your observation skills. When

mind, their energy levels and the ability

days of being on an intensive meditation

your mind is calm and clear, it’s easier

to remain centred in turmoil. And who

course during which we meditated every

to notice things that your mind wouldn’t

wouldn’t want that?

day, I felt so deeply rejuvenated. It was

otherwise notice, and this increased

as though I’d had my mind scrubbed on

perception and self-awareness can

related to the state of your mind, so doing

a washing board … I felt squeaky clean —

create profound changes in your life. For

practices that improve your mind-state,

inside and out. It totally redefined my idea

example, imagine how it would be for

like breathing techniques and meditation,

of what a holiday really is.”

you if you were able to see your negative

Equally, you don’t need to be someone

The quality of your life is directly

will automatically improve the quality of

Meditation also sharpens your

What Baltrotsky describes includes

emotions objectively as they occurred,

your life. What else might they affect? Your

some of the other classic benefits that

as if you were looking at yourself from

relationship with yourself and others, your

many meditators experience: sharpness,

another person’s point of view. In this

communication skills, the way you see

clarity and calmness of the mind. However,

position, you don’t identify with the

things, your ability to make good decisions

most of us spend much of our day, if not

negative emotions as being what you are

and your overall enthusiasm towards being

the whole day, in what’s called the body’s

or who you are (eg, an anxious and fearful

fully alive and engaged with life.

“sympathetic” mode: a state in which

person). Instead, you see yourself as

we are driven, anxious, on-edge, with

someone who, in that particular moment,

between past and future — it's either busy

Most of the time your mind vacillates

the hormones of flight-or-fight pumping

is simply experiencing anxiety.

remembering an event or planning another

through our bodies. In this mode, our

for down the track. Neither of these

heart beats faster, our adrenaline is high,

observe a negative emotion arising in

states is particularly joyful: we’re usually

our breathing is often shallow and we feel

you, and then watch the journey of that

anxious about the future and regretful

pressured, stressed, rushed.

emotion internally, you have the ability to



When you’re able to objectively

“There have always been people who felt that there is much more to life than what appears to the senses, and there have always been adepts who have shared their own findings about the inward journey.”

choose whether to express or act on that emotion. This is a hugely beneficial skill for any human being and allows you to have some say over your emotions and the consequences of them. Just imagine how that could affect your relationships! To quote psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” those things. These days, even when life

did before the effects of meditation

there. Just last year, a Harvard study

The benefits of meditation don’t stop

seems chaotic on the surface, there is

become measurable. The latest research

showed that mindfulness meditation

an underlying sense that everything is

shows that meditation can affect your

actually resulted in increased grey matter

OK. There seems to be a natural joy that

mind in a measurable way when you

density in the hippocampus, an area of the

bubbles underneath everything.”

accumulate just 100 minutes.

brain associated with memory and learning.

The amygdala is the part of your brain related to your emotions. It is especially

What about the breath?

meditation and yoga instructor with the

active when you perceive a threat

Your breath is a powerful tool. You may

Art of Living Foundation, different types

(irrespective of whether that threat is

have noticed that your breathing pattern

of meditation appear to have different

real or unreal). When your amygdala is

changes as you experience different

effects. The effortless type of meditation

activated, it takes over and shuts down

emotions. When you’re sad your out

in particular, such as the simple breath-

part of your brain so that you literally

breath is long, when you’re angry it’s hard,

focused meditation of sudarshan kriya, he

stop thinking — instead, you tense up

when you’re anxious your breath is short

says, reverses the detrimental impact of

and react. That’s great if a tiger is running

and shallow and when you’re happy it’s

stress and slows down ageing.

at you; not so great if you’re losing

long and light. Ashtanga yoga teacher

your cool with your boss. An MRI study

Richard Freeman explains, “The mind and

pranayama, Dale has experienced far

conducted on monks who had done more

the inner breath swim together like two

greater calm and ease in life. “I was quite

than 10,000 hours of meditation showed

fish in tandem.” Because of this intimate

stressed out at uni and in my younger adult

that, through meditation, you can down-

link between your breath and your mind,

life and took to alcohol and recreational

regulate something as primitive as the

you can dramatically influence the state of

drugs,” he says. “Meditation saved me from

amygdala and, the more practice you

your mind and emotions once you know

that in my mid-20s. I think pranayama,

have, the more effectively you can do it.

how to work with your breath.

According to Chris Dale, a senior

As a result of meditation and

meditation and asana helped tremendously to reverse a lot of the damage done by

The good news is that you don’t have to meditate for as long as those monks


Different yogic breathing practices affect your mind and emotions differently.


stop, breathe, meditate

Some simple practices include: full yogic

us.” Within it, there is a simple yet profound

breathing, ujjayi breathing (breath of

healing capability. Some of the many

victory), bhramari pranayama (humming

benefits of yogic breathing practices are

bee breath), kapalbhati pranayama (frontal

that they can dramatically increase your

brain cleansing breath), nadi shodhana

energy level and free you from (or at least

pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) and

reduce) depression, anxiety, stress and

bhasytrika pranayama (bellows breath).

trauma. Millions of people have turned their

Most of these practices are short and

lives around completely through breathing

can be learnt easily during a regular yoga

practices and the main reason for this is

class, others take much longer and need to

the connection between breath and mind.

be taught over a period of days. What they

When you work with your breath, you’re

have in common, though, is that they must

actually working with your mind.

be practised without strain, on an empty

Many people use these practices before

Some of the many benefits of yogic breathing practices are that they can dramatically increase your energy level and free you from (or at least reduce) depression, anxiety, stress and trauma. first practised sudarshan kriya my mind became still. For the first time ever I was

stomach (three hours after a meal) and

meditation and there’s good reason why:

able to meditate effortlessly, without all the

under the guidance of a trained teacher.

certain breathing exercises can take the

restlessness that I’d experienced when I’d

mind to the door of meditation and are

sat to meditate before.”

Roger Jahnke, OMD (oriental medicine doctor), author of The Healer Within,

a great aid for any meditator from any

writes, “The breath is a link to the most

tradition. Padideh Fazelzadeh, a 31-year-

Origins of meditation & pranayama

profound medicine that we carry within

old naturopathy student, says, “When I

“We tend to associate the origins of yoga and meditation particularly with the Indian subcontinent,” says Dale. The conventional wisdom is that yoga originated in the Indus Valley — including present-day Pakistan, northwest India and some regions in northeast Afghanistan — about 5000 years ago. The evidence for this is soapstone seals depicting figures in recognisable yoga postures. While in India yoga techniques were systematised in the most sophisticated way, other ancient cultures in China and Tibet understood the profound link between breath and mind and that altering breath patterns was a powerful way of healing and of leading the mind to meditation. However ancient these practices, yoga is innate to the human nervous system. Babies move in and out of different asanas, mudras (hand positions) and breathing patterns and these are part of their natural development process. There are also reported cases of people with no background in yoga doing yoga poses and pranayama spontaneously during techniques like cathartic breathwork and in recovery from traumatic events. Dale feels that we humans have a fundamental urge to turn our attention inwards. “There have always been people



stop, breathe, meditate

who felt that there's much more to life than what appears to the senses, and there have always been adepts who have shared their own findings about the inward journey.”

Tips for beginners Fancy starting meditation and breathing practices? Here are some tips:  Find a teacher and approach that you resonate with and stick with it. It’s OK to shop around in the beginning but, once you find something you like, practise it diligently, without mixing it with other approaches.  Avoid “get rich quick” schemes in the field of pranayama and meditation.

Are meditation & pranayama

 If people promise you instant enlightenment or charge huge sums of money, walk away.

yoga essentials?

 Avoid forced practices that are very effortful.

One of the beautiful things about yoga is

 When choosing a guru/teacher or mentor, don’t just look for someone who

the diversity of viewpoints and teachings.

has done a yoga teacher training course. Look for someone who is fully and

Most yoga schools will acknowledge

authentically living the yogic knowledge. Someone who has money can give

though that The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

you money, someone who has knowledge can give you knowledge — but only

is the key text yoga is based on. The

someone who is established in peace and wisdom, or who is enlightened, can

opening verse of the Hatha Yoga

show you the path to freedom.

Pradipika, one of the most important texts on hatha yoga, makes it clear that the purpose of hatha yoga is a means

shouldn’t even start practising asana

relaxation can be a very nice entry to yoga

to achieve raja yoga, that is, the physical

until you have mastered the yamas and

and a good initial first step.

practices aimed at preparing the system

niyamas. This would mean that, before

for stilling the mind.

you pitched up to a yoga class to practise

everything in yoga is attainable through

yoga poses, you’d need to not be harming

asana, I personally feel that nearly

limbs: yama (rules for social conduct),

yourself or anything on the planet (non-

everyone would benefit from practising

niyama (guidelines for personal conduct),

violence), be physically clean and have

some pranayama and meditation at an

asana (postures), pranayama (breathing

a mind free from tensions, be content,

early stage in their practice, as long as

practices to expand the life energy),

patient and forbearing, be dedicated to

they learned under someone who knows

pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses),

understanding the self and be dedicated

what they’re doing,” says Dale. Pranayama

dharana (focus), dhyana (meditation)

to God or the divinity. Actually, it’s

and meditation, combined with an

and samadhi (an equanimous mind which

through the practice of meditation and

understanding about the mind and how

has transcended mental activity). (For an

pranayama that all these qualities can

to manage it, are very effective tools with

in-depth look at each of the limbs, see

effortlessly blossom in you.

which to create health, happiness and

Yoga, according to Patanjali, has eight

p32.) When you look at these principles,

“While it’s certainly helpful to be able to

“While there’s a minority view that

harmony on every level of your being.

it’s obvious that asanas are just one of

sit properly with your spine straight without

many aspects of yoga and its true essence

discomfort, you don’t have to be able to sit

A word of caution

includes all eight limbs.

in padmasana (lotus pose) for three hours

While the risks would be less than the

or have mastered all of the major asanas

chance of getting injured in a yoga class,

as sequential, teaching that you have to

before learning pranayama, which is the

there are legitimate grounds for caution

master asana before you can move on

position of some schools,” says Dale.

with the practice of pranayama. “I have

Some teachers view the eight limbs

to practising pranayama. Other schools

People who just practise asana will

had some people coming to my yoga

of yoga and teachers feel that Patanjali

definitely experience some benefit to

and meditation classes who have got

referred to these eight aspects as limbs

their health and state of mind, but there’s

themselves into trouble trying to practise

precisely because they all develop

much more to yoga than asana. You

pranayama from a book without proper

together rather than as steps. Just as your

could practise asanas for many years and

guidance,” warns Dale. “However, learned

body functions best when all your limbs

maintain and improve your physical and

from a teacher who has been authorised

are present, yoga is best when all eight

mental health, but still be unhappy and

by a lineage and who themselves are an

limbs are part of your practice.

disturbed in your mind and emotions.

advanced practitioner of the practices

If the eight limbs are sequential, the logical conclusion would be that you

However, asanas practised by themselves diligently with a balance between effort and


they teach, there are minimal risks and tremendous potential benefits.”


free your prana

Anatomy of the subtle body You’re aware of your physical body, but what of the energetic body at work within and around these tangible bounds? By learning to work with this “subtle body”, you can tap into a powerful source of wellbeing. Words Mascha Coetzee

Have you ever wondered why yoga makes

nadis, as well as the spinning energy

defecation, menstruation, ejaculation, child

you feel so good? Have you ever taken a

conduits known as chakras, which are

birth and expenditure of sexual energy.

moment to reflect why you feel so vibrant

aligned along the spine within sushumna

yet relaxed at the end of a yoga class, or felt

(the central energy channel). Sarah Powers

Exercise to experience prana

teary and emotional while in a yoga pose?

from the Insight Yoga Institute describes

& apana vayus

Why is that? What helps you recognise

chakras as being “the lungs of the energy

Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position

that your energy levels are low on the days

body”, which have “specific functions

on the floor or on a chair. As you inhale,

when you are not your 100 per cent? How

that affect our overall wellbeing in various

slowly raise your arms up above your

can you define and regulate that energy

ways [physically, emotionally, mentally

head, feeling the uprising energy that

contained within? Yoga has the answers.

and energetically]”.

raises your chest flowing from the belly

You came to the Earth with the physical

upwards as your arms ascend (prana

body, yet also you were born with another,


vayu). As you exhale, bring your arms

less tangible body, which in yoga tradition

Five primary and five secondary sub-divisions

down, noticing the downward-flowing

is known as the subtle or energy body. The

of prana, called vayus, are described in the

energy with the descent of your arms

energy that circulates within and around

yoga tradition. Vayus translates as winds or

(apana vayu).

you is the life force called prana in the Indian

airs of prana, which flow in specific directions,

yoga tradition and qi in China. Yoga and the

responsible for the movements in the body,

3. Udana vayu

disciplines like acupuncture, reiki, tai chi and

and can be cultivated by becoming aware of

Udana vayu is the ascending energy of

qigong are based on regulating prana in

them. The major vayus are described below.

five senses. It governs the region of the

order to restore wholeness and bring health

neck, throat and head and is responsible

and vitality into body and mind. Yogis see

1. Prana vayu

for speech, erect posture and sensory

prana as a force that sustains all life.

Not to be confused with the vital life

responses of the body.

As described in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, an

force prana, prana vayu is the upward-

ancient yogic text, practising certain yoga

rising energy, associated with inhalation,

Exercise to experience udana vayu: ujjayi

poses, breathing techniques, chanting and

fluid and food intake, which spreads

breathing with a sound in the throat

meditation help release stagnant energy and

through your heart and lung region,

This exercise will allow you to experience

free the flow of the vital life force (prana).

governing respiration and boosting

the energy and sound emerging from your

Take a deep breath through your nose ... and

energy levels.

throat, while also calming the mind and

exhale through your mouth. Notice how nice,

soothing your nervous system.

expansive and relaxing it feels as, together

2. Apana vayu

with filling your lungs with oxygen, you

Apana vayu is the downward-flowing

savasana (corpse pose) or sit comfortably

enrich pranic flow within your body.

energy of exhalation, active in the pelvic

cross-legged on the floor or a cushion with

floor and lower abdominal region. It

your spine erect and your eyes closed. Take

governs elimination processes: urination,

a few deep breaths through your nose.

Prana is distributed throughout the body through energy pathways called


To start the practice, lie on the floor in


free your prana

Now begin ujjayi breathing practice.

Exhale and bend your knees over your

length of the spine to the crown of the

Although it is commonly done through

toes, squatting down and extending your

head and controls the chakras. In many

the nostrils, it is helpful to learn it first

arms out parallel to the floor and pushing

lineages of yoga, including tantra and

by breathing through the mouth. As you

the palms away from the centre of the body.

hatha yoga, it is said that kundalini (the

inhale, open your mouth and create a

Notice the outward-moving energy as you

highest form of prana) flows through

“gasping” sound, drawing the air in. Then

enter goddess pose (utkata konasana).

that central nadi.

slowly exhale through your mouth, making

Inhale, come out of the pose by

The ida nadi flows on the left side of

the sound “hahhhh”, closing off your glottis

straightening your legs and bringing your

the central sushumna and is associated

(the space between your vocal cords)

hands together, with palms touching at

with the left nostril, and hence the right

and breathing mainly through the back of

the heart centre, paying attention to the

hemisphere of the brain. Ida refers to

your throat, as if you are trying to fog a

energy moving inwards.

the cooling, feminine moon energy and

mirror. Repeat a few times, connecting to

Repeat a few times.

the sensations at the back of the throat

is linked to intuition, compassion, a nurturing nature and empathy.

and listening to the sound you produce on


inhalations and exhalations.

As established above, the winds (vayus)

the sushumna nadi on the right and

After that, close your mouth and

The pingala nadi runs alongside

of prana flow in various directions

corresponds to the right nostril, and

breathe through your nose while

through multiple pathways in the body.

therefore the left hemisphere of the

continuing to make the audible sound

Those pathways, known as subtle energy

brain, which is more analytical. The

in the back of your throat on both

channels, are referred to as nadis in yogic

pingala nadi carries stimulating solar

inhalations and exhalations.

texts. BKS Iyengar in his book Light

energy; it is active and masculine.

on Pranayama also adds that nadis are

While most yoga lineages agree on the

4. Samana vayu

“channels which carry air, water, blood and

functions of the major three nadis, each

Samana vayu is the inward-moving

other substances throughout the body”.

yoga tradition describes the direction of

balancing energy dominating the navel

While the comprehensive treatise

these subtle energy channels differently.

region between the chest (prana vayu)

on hatha yoga Shiva Samhita mentions

and the pelvic area (apana vayu). It

350,000 nadis, most tantric texts claim

governs homeostasis, metabolism and

there are 72,000 nadis in existence. Three

digestion. The movement of samana

are considered to carry most significance:

happens when prana and apana vayus

sushumna, ida and pingala.

unite and, when balanced, results in vitality and healthy digestion.

Sushumna is the major nadi, which originates at the base of the spine (muladhara chakra), travels inside the

5. Vyana vayu Vyana vayu is the outward-extending energy permeating the whole body and governing the circulatory system of the body. It manages the muscular system and physical movement as well as controlling other vayus, distributing the energy throughout your body.

Samana vayu is the inwardmoving balancing energy dominating the navel region ... and, when balanced, results in vitality and healthy digestion.

Exercise to experience samana & vyana vayus: goddess pose (utkata konasana) Step your feet wide apart (about 90– 120cm) and turn toes out 45 degrees. Keep legs straight and bring your palms together at the heart centre. Inhale here.



free your prana

Some yoga schools, including the Bihar School of Yoga together with TKV

Exhale through both nostrils.

(together with yoga exercises you can do to

Close your right nostril with the thumb

balance them) in the chart opposite.

Desikachar in The Heart of Yoga, among

and inhale gently through the left nostril.

others, support the view that ida and

Then, as you release the right nostril, close

various numbers of petals. This is related to

pingala criss-cross the central axis of the

the left nostril with the tip of your ring

the concept that, like a flower, chakras can

spine at the locations of the six chakras: at

finger and exhale slowly through the right

open or close within your body according to

the base of the spine, just above the trunk,

nostril. After that, inhale slowly through the

the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual

at the navel point, in the heart area, in the

right nostril, close the right with the thumb,

state you are in. When the chakra's energy in

throat and between the eyebrows.

open the left nostril, and exhale through

the chakra is stagnant or blocked, it triggers

the left. This completes one round.

physical and psychological responses

Other yoga traditions say ida and pingala nadis begin at the base of the spine, flowing up either side of the central sushumna nadi. Hence why Dr Hiroshi

Do eight to 10 rounds, completing your last round by exhaling through the left nostril. When you finish nadi shodhana, release

The chakra symbol is a lotus flower with

manifesting as imbalances and malfunctions of that chakra. For example, one person with a deficient

Motoyama’s research, published in his

your right hand and breathe naturally

fifth (throat) chakra might be overly shy,

book Theories of the Chakras, reveals that

through both nostrils for eight to 10 cycles

fearful of public speaking and have difficulty

none of the seven yogic texts he analysed

of breath, observing the changes created

communicating, while another person with

— including Yoga Chudamani Upanishad

by this breathing exercise.

an excessive throat chakra would talk too

and Yoga Shikka Upanishad — discuss the fact that the nadis cross at the chakras. As prescribed in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “The yogi who has thus overcome fatigue by practising asanas [postures], should begin practice of purification of the subtle nerve, the nadis, manipulation of

much, may lie or be unable to listen. Both

Just like a flower, the chakras can open or close ... according to the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual state you are in.

prana, pranayama [yogic breathing] and

indicate blockages in the same chakra, but are expressed in different forms. That same person may also suffer from frequent colds and have thyroid problems manifesting as malfunctions of the fifth chakra. So, to unblock the throat chakra, that person would choose to focus his or her

mudras [symbolic gestures] to invert


attention at its location, examine the

the subtle energies in order to deepen

Chakras, translated as “wheels” or “discs”,

qualities, the colour and element associated

meditation practice.”

are the spinning energy centres aligning

with it, chant the seed sound ham and

along the length of the spinal cord that

include camel, plough, shoulder stand and

Practice to purify the nadis: nadi

influence one another, energise and

fish poses in his or her yoga practice.

shodhana (alternate nostril breathing)

connect the physical and subtle bodies.

This breathing exercise restores the

The seven-chakra model developed in the

Exercise: introduction to working

equilibrium between the nadis, balances

11th century, which is used in this article,

with the chakras

both hemispheres of the brain and calms

was described in the tantric text Sat

Examine the chakra chart on the facing

the mind. It is recommended to practise

Cakra Narupana, teachings of which were

page. Identify the chakra which might be

nadi shodhana on an empty stomach.

translated, commented on and brought

blocked in your body, noting the factors

To start the practice, sit comfortably

to the West by Sir John Woodroffe (also

that have prompted you to decide on the

cross-legged on the floor or a cushion with

known by his pseudonym Arthur Avalon)

imbalance in that particular chakra.

your spine erect and your eyes closed. Take

in his book The Serpent Power: The Secrets

a few slow breaths, equalising the length of

of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga.

your inhalations and exhalations.

Chakras receive, store and convey

Sit comfortably. Bring awareness to the location of the blocked chakra, feeling the sensations in the area of your body linked

Bring your right hand into Vishnu

specific information in the form of prana

mudra by folding your index and middle

and carry certain physical, psychological

fingers into the palm. During this practice,

and energetic qualities. Each chakra has

chakra in its location in your body. Chant

you will use the thumb of the right hand to

its own unique location, purpose, sound,

the seed sound corresponding to that

close the right nostril and the ring finger

colour, symbol, element, balanced qualities,

chakra. Include the suggested yoga poses

to close the left.

malfunctions and shadows, described

in your asana practice.



to that chakra and noting its behaviour. Visualise the colour associated with that

free your prana

First chakra: muladhara

Second chakra: svadisthana

Third chakra: manipura

(base chakra)

(sacral chakra)

(solar plexus chakra)

Meaning: Root support

Meaning: Sweetness

Meaning: Lustrous gem

Purpose: Foundation

Purpose: Movement and connection

Purpose: Transformation

Location: Base of the spine

Location: Lower abdomen

Location: Solar plexus

Colour: Red

Colour: Orange

Colour: Yellow

Symbol: Lotus flower with four petals

Symbol: Lotus flower with six petals

Symbol: Lotus flower with 10 petals

Seed sound: Lam

Seed sound: Vam

Seed sound: Ram

Element: Earth

Element: Water

Element: Fire

Qualities when balanced: Good health,

Qualities when balanced: Good mobility,

Malfunctions: Ulcers, diabetes, digestive

vitality, stability, loyalty, trust, feeling of safety

emotional intelligence, healthy boundaries,

problems, hypoglycaemia

and security

responsible relationships, ability to change

Qualities when balanced: Confidence, good

Malfunctions: Weight and knee problems,

and experience pleasure

sciatica, constipation, arthritis Shadow: Fear and insecurity Yoga Asanas: Warrior I and II (virabhadrasana A and B), triangle (trikonasana), eagle (garudasana), chair (utkatasana), knees to chest (apanasana), bridge (setu bandhasana)

Malfunctions: Tight lower back, kidney and bladder issues, frigidity, impotence Shadow: Guilt, absence of boundaries Yoga Asanas: Warrior II (virabhadrasana B), hip circles, extended side angle pose (utthita parsvakonasana), bound angle pose

self-esteem and self-discipline, playfulness, balanced, responsible, reliable, warm personality Shadow: Shame, greed and anger Yoga Asanas: Boat (navasana), seated spinal twist (ardha matsyendrasana), bow (dhanurasana)

(baddha konasana)

Fourth chakra: anahata

Fifth chakra: vishiddha

(heart chakra)

(throat chakra)

(third eye chakra)

Meaning: Unstruck

Meaning: Purification

Meaning: Command centre

Purpose: Love and balance

Purpose: Communication and creativity

Sixth chakra: ajna

Purpose: Pattern recognition

Location: Heart

Location: Throat

Location: Between eyebrows

Colour: Green

Colour: Bright blue

Colour: Indigo

Symbol: Lotus flower with 12 petals

Symbol: Lotus flower with 16 petals

Symbol: Lotus flower with two petals

Seed sound: Yam

Seed sound: Ham

Seed sound: Om

Element: Air

Element: Sound, ether

Element: Light

Qualities when balanced: Compassion,

Qualities when balanced: Good listening skills,

Qualities when balanced: Good intuition, perceptivity,

love, empathy, self-love, peacefulness, strong

clear communication, creativity

imagination, memory and visualisation skills

immune system

Malfunctions: Sore throat, stiffness in the neck,

Malfunctions: Problems with eyes (vision),

Malfunctions: Asthma, hypertension, heart

frequent colds, thyroid and hearing problems

headaches, nightmares

disease, problems with lungs

Shadow: Lies, insecurity, inability to express

Shadow: Illusion and confusion

Shadow: Grief and attachment


Yoga Asanas: Downward-facing dog (adho

Yoga Asanas: Cobra (bhujangasana), upward-

Yoga Asanas: Neck rolls, camel (ustrasana),

mukha svanasana), together with alternate nostril

facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana), bridge

shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana), plough

breathing exercise (nadi shodhana) (described in

(setu bandhasana), fish (matsyasana)

(halasana), fish (matsyasana)

the nadi section on the facing page)

Seventh chakra: sahasrara

Primary sources: Judith Anodea, Wheels of

(crown chakra)

Life: The Classic Guide to the Chakra System

Meaning: Thousand fold

and Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology

Purpose: Understanding

and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self

Location: Top of head Colour: Violet, white Symbol: Lotus flower with 1000 petals


Seed sound: Om

The subtle body is intangible yet it

Element: Thought

inevitably permeates the physical body

Qualities when balanced: Good perceptive and

and has a strong impact on your mind,

analytical skills, intelligence, open-mindedness, wisdom, elevated levels of thoughtfulness,

health and overall wellbeing. Use the

awareness, broad understanding and connectedness

information presented here to get excited

Malfunctions: Depression, confusion, apathy,

about your yoga practice, look deeper

difficulties learning

within with heightened curiosity, explore

Shadow: Attachment Yoga Asanas: Headstand (sirsasana), if it is in your

your physical, psychological and subtle

regular practice, together with a seated meditation

dimensions, and develop the practice that

on “following your thoughts”

fits your beliefs, needs and lifestyle.


nourish yourself

The yogic plate Food is energy and, while yoga warns not to obsess about diet, eating in a conscious, ethical, harmonious way can help you on the yogic path. Words Kylie Terraluna

“Ayurveda suggests that change in the

natural healing system there is. Ayurveda

loves you. These love vibrations enter you

consciousness of one individual, either

seeks to restore balance in your life first

through the food.

positive or negative, influences the

and foremost through your food.

consciousness of all humanity. Thus, it is

Before eating, give prasad: an offering to the universal consciousness, set out on a

the responsibility of every human being to

Prayer of love

separate plate, with a prayer. Then, evenly

allow a radical change in his consciousness

Yoga warns not to obsess about diet, as

divide the food onto plates of all those

in order to bring about transformation in

the attachment distracts from the goal of

partaking in the meal. Feed animals and

the universe.” ~ Dr Vasad Lad

liberation. Yogic eating involves consuming

plants in your care before feeding yourself

seasonal, local and organic foods free from

and, wherever possible, share sacred dishes

Nothing affects your prana (life force)

harm, pesticides, chemicals, additives,

of food with those in need. Food offered

more than food; food is prana. While

preservatives and packaging. Eating

with reverence for the receiver brings

you may be spiritually evolving with

denatured, pre-packaged and instant

humility to you and is a thankful act to the

an exquisite yoga practice, it remains

or fast foods strikes a discord with your

universe for your life.

limited if what you eat is out of harmony.

spiritual self, disconnecting you from

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, the

nature. As much as possible, eat food

observe and ingest the sights and sounds

science of self-knowledge, is the oldest

prepared with love by someone who

around you, as well as the smells, sounds

In your prayer, take a moment to

and textures of the food before tasting. Slow your breath and prepare your body

Your yoga practice & eating Eating lightly accentuates the peaceful discipline of yoga. It’s best to practise yoga on an empty stomach due to the squeezing and releasing action the poses have on your digestive system, and for the ability to be mentally clear and at peace when your stomach is empty. You will gain the most from your practice by doing this. If you absolutely must eat, consume an apple or cucumber or another whole, light fruit only. The exception to this rule is with the pose vajrasana, thunderbolt pose. This is the only pose that can be performed directly after eating and will aid digestion.

with calm awareness. If possible, eat in silence and in a clean environment, free of distractions. If eating in company, honour the silence between conversations to practise mindfulness with each bite. Savour the taste, texture, colours and aromas, feeding the senses throughout the meal. Peaceful eating enhances your food's

Thunderbolt pose (vajrasana)

nutritional availability; you literally absorb

Sit on your heels, feet and knees together, hands resting on legs. Mindfully observe

more nutrients from it. Where possible,

your breath. Take your abdomen back towards your spine, lift up your spine and relax

eat with your clean hand (traditionally the

your shoulders down. Sit in vajrasana for 10 minutes or more after a meal, particularly

right-hand fingertips) to enliven the sense

when consuming heavier foods.

of touch. If your food is too hot to touch, Ayurveda says it is too hot to eat. After eating, stroll in nature to aid digestion.



nourish yourself


strong. When agni is weakened by

activated will increase the digestive fire. You

Most spiritual seekers are vegetarian,

improper eating, your ability to digest

can activate the pingala nadi yourself prior

and all yoga traditions advise avoiding

food becomes impaired and ama, or toxic

to eating by lying down on your left side for

meat for the path of ahimsa, or non-

waste, results. Accumulated ama is the

a few minutes, blocking the left nostril with

harm. In yoga, it is believed that, when

cause of all disease.

the third finger or, as Dr Svoboda suggests,

you eat meat, you are ingesting the pain

Dr Lad explains that taste depends

casually slinging your left arm behind your

and trauma of the animal at the time of

on your agni. Use spices to cleanse the

chair for a few minutes before the meal.

death. You can still eat meat and practise

body and enkindle agni. Spices promote

Eating with the right hand also activates the

yoga, but the path of ahimsa needs to be

digestion, especially of ama, which is

pingala nadi for good digestion.

considered wisely in your choices of what

made up of food you previously ingested.

and how you eat. Ayurveda provides for meat-eating preferences, with guidelines for how to lighten this heavy food. In the Sutra Sthana, the ancient Ayurvedic text,

You can enkindle agni in the following ways:

Ayurveda suggests to fill one-third of the

 Drink tea made of cumin, coriander

stomach with food, one-third water and

and fennel

one-third air, and to eat the equivalent

 Drink tea made of ginger, black pepper,

Charaka guides to give meat juice to

cayenne pepper and curry

those who are “wasted, convalescing,

 Drink tea made of cinnamon,

emaciated, deficient in semen or desirous of strength and complexion”. Ayurvedic physician and expert Dr Robert Svoboda ( explains that, in this ancient text, Charaka also says, if you do eat meat, choose only the animal that is

Meal size

cardamom, ginger and clove  Add a pinch of asafoetida (the gum extract of a tree) when cooking lentils  Use cardamom, in small quantities, on vegetables or in a tea  Try cayenne pepper on food, especially

of no more than two handfuls of food in one sitting.

Eat for your dosha Your dosha is your Ayurvedic body type. Most people are one dosha or a combination. Eating in accordance with what harmonises your doshas will keep your yogic aims in harmony and help

“slain while roaming in its natural habitat”,

heavy foods like meat, lentils and cheese

and avoid meat of the emaciated, very fat,

 Use ghee (clarified butter) with your food

accelerate your yoga practice towards peaceful living. When making changes to

very old or very young animals.

 Use turmeric in cooking

your diet, do so gently to give your body

 Chew roasted cumin powder at bedtime

and mind time to adapt.

Pioneer Ayurvedic physician Dr Vasant

The pingala nadi


Lad ( advises that fruit

In yogic energetic anatomy, pingala nadi

Vata people are unusually tall or short

juice should not be taken at meal times;

is the solar channel, and ida nadi is the

with thin frames and narrow shoulders

rather, taking small sips of water while

lunar channel. Eating when pingala nadi is

and/or hips. When imbalanced, they can


eating is “nectar that aids digestion”. Ayurveda also promotes the avoidance of drinking large quantities of water after a meal, as it hampers digestion by diluting the digestive juices. Climate affects the amount of water the body requires. Icecold water is poison to the system and too much water can result in fluid retention and additional body weight.

Enkindling agni: the sacred fire within Agni is the biological fire that governs metabolism, digestion and elimination. Agni “cooks” the food internally. For good health, your agni needs to be



nourish yourself

Yogi tea recipe 2 tsp freshly grated ginger 4 whole cardamom seeds 8 whole cloves 1 whole cinnamon stick

spicy foods such as peanut butter, sour

altogether. Eat only when hungry and

fruits, bananas, papayas, tomatoes and

drink only when thirsty. Hunger signals an

garlic. Coconut oil is cooling for pitta.

enkindled digestive fire and, by drinking,

Ayurveda suggests three meals a day,

you douse it. Never overeat.

with four- to six-hour gaps.

Your main meal is best eaten when pitta is at its highest, around 11am, since

8 cups water Kaphas

pitta is the seat of digestion. Ayurveda

Kaphas are usually heavier-set or stocky,

also advises to eat lightly in the evening,

Boil until half the liquid remains. Add

with large eyes and damp/cool skin. They

by 6pm if possible, and to go to bed

the milk after the mixture has cooled

are slow to move and gain weight easily.

before 10pm. Dr Lad suggests a glass

and drink.

Sweet, sour and salty tastes should be

of raw, warm milk with ginger taken at

avoided as they increase bodily water.

bedtime is nourishing to the body and

Choose pungent, bitter and astringent

calms the mind.

¼ cup cow’s milk

be highly strung and fatigue quickly. Vata

tastes instead. Kaphas need to eat

types need a warming, grounding diet

light fruits such as apples and apricots,

The gunas & living foods

— including sweet, sour and salty foods

pomegranates, cranberries, basmati rice,

In yoga and Ayurveda, the gunas (sattva,

— to maintain peace. Vata should avoid

sprouts and chicken. Reduce bananas,

rajas and tamas) are the qualities in nature

bitter, pungent and astringent substances

avocados, melons, coconut, dates,

that affect your mind. Yoga aims to move

in excess as these increase air, causing gas.

papayas, pineapples and dairy products,

you towards a sattvic, pure diet that is light

Avoid chilled foods. Good food choices

as well as sweet potatoes, tomatoes and

and alive. The more yoga you do with peace

are sweet fruits, avocados, coconut,

zucchini. Sweet is the heaviest taste and

and right intention, the more you may find

brown rice, red cabbage, bananas, grapes,

needs to be avoided for kaphas, as well as

your diet naturally progresses this way.

cherries and oranges. Avoid too many

cold foods and milk products, which are

dry foods that aggravate, such as apples,

also heavy in Ayurveda. Limit nuts and

While salads are sattvic, Ayurveda

melons, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant,

seed intake and use pungent spices such

considers raw salads heavy and difficult to

ice-cream, beef, peas and green salad.

as pepper, cayenne and mustard seeds.

digest. Raw salad can aggravate the vata

Vegetables are best cooked. Vata do

Kaphas take the longest to digest food so

dosha. However, some raw vegan foods

best eating soups and stews, and food

they only need to eat twice a day at most,

can be pre-digested, enabling easier

combining is important for this delicate

allowing a six-hour gap between meals

digestion, for example through soaking

constitution. Examples of incorrect food

and avoiding snacking completely.

and activating raw nuts, and massaging

combinations are eating meat, fish or sour

Sattvic foods are closest to nature.

leafy greens in oil with your hands. In

fruits with milk. Vata needs to eat regular,

Eating seasonally

general, Ayurveda suggests cooking food

small meals, three or four times a day, with

During the summer heat, when pitta is

and eating raw salads in small doses only,

snack gaps of two hours between meals.

high, avoid hot, spicy or pungent foods

with the exception of the strong pitta

for all body types. During the autumn

constitution. Examples of sattvic foods


winds and dry season, when vata is at its

are alkaline-rich fruits and vegetables,

Pittas are often medium build, with

peak, avoid dry fruits, high-protein foods

sprouts, pulses, nuts, seeds (eg quinoa),

strong appetites and strong-willed, fiery

and vata-increasing foods for all body

grains (eg corn, wheat, rice), natural

personalities. Pittas should avoid sour,

types. Winter is the kapha season, so we

sweeteners (eg maple syrup, apple juice

salty and pungent foods that aggravate

need to eat warming foods and avoid cold

concentrate), herbs and herbal teas.

bodily fire. Pittas need sweet, bitter and

drinks, ice-cream, cheese and yoghurt.

astringent foods such as cucumbers,

Rajasic foods overstimulate and disturb peace for the yogi. Rajasic food

melons, mangos, avocados and oranges,

Ayurvedic timing for meals

includes onion, garlic, radishes, coffee,

sweet fruits like pears and plums,

Rise during vata time, before 6am, to avoid

tea and stimulants, refined white sugar,

vegetables including green, leafy vegies,

feeling sluggish (6–9am is kapha time). It

soft drinks, pungent spices and highly

sprouts, sunflower seeds, asparagus and

is best to eat breakfast between 7am and

seasoned food. Sattvic foods prepared

mushrooms. Reduce fatty, salty, sour and

8am, and kaphas should avoid breakfast

in a rushed manner and eaten mindlessly



nourish yourself

Meal-time prayer Annam Brahma Raso Vishnu Pakto Devo Mahesarah Evam Jnatva Tu Yo Bhunkte Anna Dosha Na Lipyate • The creative energy in the food is Brahma,

agni. Dr Svoboda suggests eating a

taken in the form of tea, they will help

mono-diet (single food or beverage) for

enkindle agni and burn away toxins.

one day per fortnight, or once a week.

Always fast under medical guidance

Long fasts are considered unhealthy in

and, if you feel weak, discontinue. Fasting

Ayurveda, he explains, “because they

is recommended during fevers, cold,

encourage degeneration of the body’s

constipation or arthritic pain.

tissues and loss of cohesion between

For vata, Dr Lad advises fasting for

• The nourishing energy in the body is Vishnu,

Dr Vasant Lad’s tips for healthy eating

body and mind”.

no more than three days, as any longer

 One teaspoon of grated fresh ginger with a pinch of salt is a good appetiser.  Drinking lasso (buttermilk) together

• The transformation of food into

may increase fear, anxiety, nervousness

pure consciousness is Shiva,

and weakness. A fast of more than four

with a pinch of ginger or cumin powder

days aggravates pitta, increasing the

assists with digestion.

• If you know this, then any impurities in the food you eat will

fire element, causing anger, hate and

never become part of you

dizzy reactions. Kaphas, however, can do prolonged fasts. “They will feel a pleasant sensation of increased lightness,

also become rajasic. Ayurveda does not

greater awareness and an opening of

suggest removing all rajasic foods. Garlic,

consciousness. Clarity and understanding

for instance, is used to enkindle agni and

will improve,” says Dr Lad.

is warming in winter. Tamasic foods can promote an

If you choose to do a juice fast, drink about one litre to six cups of juice diluted

 A teaspoon of ghee with rice helps with digestion.  Excess intake of cold drinks reduces resistance and creates excess mucous.  Store water in a copper vessel, or put copper pennies in water. This water is good for the liver and spleen.  Taking a nap after lunch increases kapha and body weight.  After sex, milk heated with raw

imbalance in the constitution, leading to

with water. Try:

anger for imbalanced pitta, for instance,


Grape juice for vata

cashews and raw sugar promotes

and inertia for imbalanced kapha. Tamasic


Pomegranate juice for pitta

strength and maintains sexual energy.

foods include “dead” foods: foods that


are overcooked, undercooked, burnt, bad

Apple juice for kapha According to Dr Svoboda, Ayurveda

Source: Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing

tasting, unripe, overripe, putrefied, stale,

teaches that during a fast, certain herbs,

unclean, barbecued or preserved. Meat,

such as ginger, black pepper, cayenne

Recipes for a yogi

eggs and fish are also considered tamasic.

pepper and curry, which have medicinal

To help you nourish your body in a yogic

value, may be used to help neutralise

way, five well-regarded yogis have kindly

toxins in the system. If these herbs are

shared their favourite recipes. Enjoy!

Food combining lessens the rajasic or tamasic qualities of some foods, such as adding cardamom to your coffee to reduce its acidity. Cooking fish with coconut or fennel and/or serving it with lemon will lighten it, and can lessen a pitta aggravation. Heavy foods (meat, milk and raw salads) should form at most one-third to one-half of a meal. Heavy foods or kaphaproducing foods should not be eaten after sunset. Mung beans and rice are examples of light food.

Eat, with love Your food choices, its presentation and your intention when eating have a direct impact on your state of mind and ability to maintain equanimity. This directly affects your yoga practice and its ability to liberate you from attachments. Balance is required for harmony. Honour the earth for its bounty, prepare your meals with peace, make an offering to the divine and pour love into the food, allowing it to infuse your being with love. “Cook” the people together with love through sharing the meal. Enjoy the wonderful aromas of spices when cooking, mindfully savouring every sensation. Keep your food light, offer prasad, give thanks, feed others, balance your doshas and regularly rest your digestion for reverence and peace. Allow your consciousness to embrace the simple, yet sacred act of yogic eating


with love. Eat well. Om prema (love).

Taking a break from eating allows the digestive system to rest, enkindling your



nourish yourself



cools the heat and covers all six of the required

tastes for a balanced meal. Once the initial

Kitchari is basic to the

On a recent trip to central

cooking is under way, add fermented red bean

Ayurvedic lifestyle. It is easy

China, I was amazed at the

and chilli sauce. Fermented bean paste is found

to digest, provides protein-

sensational food. Diet is a

in many of the North Asian regions and is an

rich complete and balanced

key feature of this ancient

important source of enzymes for digestion.

nutrition, promotes strength and vitality, and

and vibrant culture. Zhou, a mixed grain and

nourishes all the tissues of the body. Kitchari is

bean porridge that’s eaten for breakfast or as a

marinated daufu are combined with sliced black

balancing for all three doshas and satisfies all

centrepiece at lunch, quickly became my staple.

fungus for the second dish. I marinated this

six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter. ½ cup split mung dhal or red lentils, washed & drained

fortifying delicacy in a dashi and tamari stock. Zhou

Cumin seeds and ginger warm the otherwise

1 cup mixed black rice, millet, whole mung

cooling effect of the daufu. Fermented black

beans & split lotus seeds Palmful of red dates

½ cup basmati rice, washed & drained

8 cups of water

4–6 cups water, depending on how you like it

Sugar or salt, to taste

bean lifts this dish with its salty taste, making it ideal for a winter lunch. For the greens, I use chrysanthemum leaves served with blanched walnuts, and the steamed

1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil

dumplings are mixed vegetable and shredded

1 small green chilli, seeded & chopped

Cook mixed black rice, millet, mung beans, lotus

2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped

seeds and red dates in the water. It should have

½ tsp turmeric

a soupy texture. Add salt or sugar as preferred

½ tsp black mustard seeds

when serving. Both these additions help reduce

½ tsp cumin seeds

vata symptoms, but you may not want either.

½ tsp fennel seeds

This dish provides an easily absorbed complete

¼ tsp fenugreek seeds

protein meal. The lotus seeds and red dates

1 pinch asafoetida

provide support for the organs and blood.

1 cup chopped vegetables (optional)

Fresh firm daufu (tofu) and five-spice

turnip. Also at the table are deep-fried tofu balls.

In the photograph (right), I’ve served this

1 tsp salt

with a dish of bok choy, cooked with carrot and

Wedges of lemon, to serve

soaked, sliced shiitake mushrooms. I start with a little ginger and coriander seed, then add a touch

Heat ghee or oil. When hot, add mustard seeds.

of garlic. This combination assists circulation,

When seeds start to pop, add ginger and chilli and fry for 1 minute. Then add cumin seeds and fennel seeds and fry quickly. Add fenugreek seeds and fry until lightly brown (if too dark,


it will be too bitter). Quickly add pinch of


1 tin coconut milk

asafoetida (asafoetida helps digest lentils and

Coriander, to serve

This dhal is the perfect winter

Fry onion, garlic and spices in a generous

warmer and a balanced meal

amount of oil for 5 minutes on a medium heat

cube is fine too)

dispel gas). Cook for 1–2 seconds. Next add lentils and rice, and stir to coat in oil and spices. Add optional vegetables and the turmeric. Toss around in spices, then add water. Bring to

for the whole family. Panch phoron is an Indian

in a large pot, until onion is translucent. Add

a boil then simmer, covered, for 20–30 minutes

five-spice blend that typically includes fenugreek,

tomatoes and stir for 2 minutes. Add stock and

until lentils and rice are tender (red lentils cook

fennel, black mustard seed, cumin seed and

lentils. Bring to the boil and cook for 25 minutes

faster than mung dhal).

nigella seed. It’s this spice blend that really lends

or until lentils are very soft.

Add salt then season with lemon or lime (this

the delicious flavour to this recipe. You can find

step is important, as it allows you to absorb iron

it in Indian supermarkets. I don’t usually add chilli

from the legumes).

to my dhal but a pinch or two is nice if you like

After cooking, add coconut milk for a rich, creamy finish. Garnish with coriander and serve.

yours hot. Olive or vegetable oil 1 large onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic 1 generous tbsp panch phoron 1 tin tomatoes or equivalent fresh, chopped tomatoes 2 cups orange lentils (soak in water for 3–5 hours before you cook, then drain) 1L vegetable stock (I make my own but a stock



nourish yourself


1 cup cauliflower

1 tbsp chopped mixed herbs


1 cup broccoli

½ tsp black pepper


2–3 leaves silverbeet, finely chopped

2 tbsp minced green chillies

½ cup parsley

1 cup buttermilk, rice milk or soy milk

I love the simplicity of this soup. With just a few different

3 tbsp rice bran oil Heat oil in a heavy-based pot. Lower flame. Add

¼ cup grated cheese

vegies we get a full range of colours, with ginger

asafoetida. When sizzling, add mustard seeds.

to light the digestive fire, turmeric for the heart

As the seeds crackle and pop, add cumin. After

Preheat oven to 220°C. Combine polenta, flour,

and spices to provide minerals. The texture of

1 minute, add ginger, turmeric, chilli, paprika, salt

baking powder, salt, paprika, asafoetida, spices,

the cornbread is a great contrast and everyone

and pepper. Cook for 2–3 minutes.

chillies and herbs. Whisk together buttermilk

loves it.

Dice carrot, pumpkin and add, with 1L of water. Bring to the boil. Dice sweet potato and

and oil. Combine dry and moist ingredients to form thick batter. Mix in cheese.

Simple Vegetable Soup

add. Reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

1L water

Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Add

and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Slice

2 tbsp oil

to pot. After 5 minutes, add silverbeet. Cook

and serve warm with vegetable soup.

1 tsp asafoetida

until broccoli and cauliflower are just softening.

1 tsp black mustard seed

Adjust seasoning or add more liquid as required.

2 tsp cumin seed

Spoon mixture into a well-oiled baking dish

Stir in chopped parsley just before serving

1 tbsp grated ginger

and serve with organic ghee.

1 tbsp grated turmeric 1 red chilli, chopped

Golden Spicy Cornbread

2 tsp paprika

1 cup polenta

1 tsp salt

½ cup plain flour

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp baking powder

1 cup carrot

1 tsp salt

1 cup pumpkin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 cup sweet potato

½ tsp asafoetida


2–4 tbsp cold-pressed oil (olive, hemp seed, pumpkin) This salad has been my main

Chop all ingredients into pieces finer than

meal (and the majority of my

1cm and place in a large bowl — first lettuce,

food) for the past 30 years. It’s

then herbs and sprouts, and finally tomatoes,

different to most salads in that all the ingredients

avocado, salt, lemon juice and oil. Leave your

are chopped very finely, there is no salad dressing

food in the layered state until just before you

and the salad is mixed: “massaged” and warmed

eat it.

to body temperature with your clean hands. This method not only helps to predigest

When ready to eat, mix the salad with clean hands. Best results are achieved if you

the salad and make the temperature more

thoroughly mix the top ingredients (avocado,

appropriate for your digestive enzymes, it makes

tomatoes, sprouts, herbs) first to form a

it more tasty, easier to eat with a spoon, more

“dressing”. Then loosely mix the top layers with

filling and less likely to produce internal gas. The

the lettuce.

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, is the oldest natural healing system there is. Ayurveda seeks to restore balance in your life first and foremost through your food.

ingredients are ideally organic and can vary daily. 1 large whole lettuce, finely chopped 1 bowl fresh herbs (eg rocket, basil), finely chopped 1 bowl sprouted grains (eg alfalfa, sunflower, lentil), finely chopped 1 large ripe avocado, finely chopped 4 tomatoes, finely chopped 3 tbsp freshly squeezed juice

Photography Kane Skennar, Kylie Terraluna, Simon Hunter, Anita Reilly

½ tbsp Himalayan rock salt



organic ecofriendly Yoga and Meditation Props

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love your body

Beyond the “yoga body beautiful” If you think your thighs are too big, you aren’t bendy enough or your dancer’s pose is way too off-balance for yoga, think again. Every body is a yoga body — and this valuable practice can help you make peace with yours. Words Kylie Terraluna

“Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in

balance with yoga, not everyone is going

the heart. Chit is universal consciousness.

to look exactly like the models portrayed

that “yoga body beautiful”? We are all

It also means ‘unlimited knowledge’.

by the yoga industry. In classes, some yoga

affected by cultural expectations, the

Everything you can imagine and beyond

students seek out and feel more at ease

achievement-oriented, competitive,

is in that.” ~ Nischala Devi

with a teacher who is clearly comfortable

perfection-driven, status-seeking,

Why would someone strive to achieve

in an “imperfect” body, because it makes

external-focused nature of society. The

Do you think you need to have a lean,

the practice more accessible. Yet mostly,

path of yoga is to awaken and transcend

lithe physique to do yoga? Does being

students will find, in an effective yoga

social pressures of how you are meant

flexible mean you’re a “good” yogi? What

class, how their yoga teacher looks

to look and behave, and come to a deep

is the “yoga body” and how has image

becomes less relevant than what their

knowing and acceptance of who you are.

become so important in the Western

teacher can teach them, and how they as a

That can only happen through practice.

yoga world? Let’s try to untangle this

student feel during and after the practice.

entwining of concepts.

Yoga was brought to the West through

As she continued to be photographed and consumed by the public, Seane

a male lineage of spiritual practitioners

Corn felt the pressure. “I felt the

The yoga body

from India; however, it has been embraced

insecurity that many women feel — that

Seane Corn is an American celebrity yoga

more often by women in Western

I didn’t stack up, wasn’t pretty enough,

teacher, founder of Off the Mat and Into

countries. In 2012, a national Yoga in

wasn’t thin enough, wasn’t perfect

the World, an organisation dedicated to

America study showed that, of the 20.4

enough. I felt inadequate.” She wanted

conscious, sustainable activism. She is

million people in the US practising yoga,

to do something more positive with

also a contributing writer to Yoga and

82.2 per cent were women. The 2012

her celebrity status. Now, as a 47-year-

Body Image: 25 Personal Stories about

results of a Yoga in Australia survey,

old yoga teacher, she reflects on her

Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body. In the

conducted between 2005 and 2006,

past and says, “I’m glad to now be in a

book, Corn apologises for the ways she

show the typical survey respondent in

position where I can raise awareness ...

perpetuated the beauty myth as a young,

Australia was a 41-year-old, tertiary-

yoga brings us into a deeper relationship

photoshopped yoga model: “I was thin,

educated, employed, health-conscious

with self, but this can never be obtained

flexible, strong, pretty and white. I fit into a

female (85 per cent women). Against this

if we continue to marginalise people

mainstream ideal that could be marketed

backdrop, the notion of the yoga body

based on their appearance. We need to

and used to help commercialise yoga.”

has come to be: a mostly thin, young,

evolve the standards of beauty to be

female, Caucasian, hyper-flexible, athletic

more inclusive and representative of the

yoga is for every body type and, while

body type, practising challenging yoga

myriad shapes, sizes, colours, genders

your body will naturally come into its own

poses, often in lingerie-like clothing.

and ages that exist.”

Corn and others make the point that



love your body

Body image In Yoga and Body Image, co-editor Melanie Klein defines body image as “an ideal image of one’s body, an image that is intellectual and subjective. This psychological image of one’s body is shaped from a lifetime of observations, experiences and reactions from others, such as family members, peers and the media. Race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, size, age, class and physical ability all play significant roles in the formation of one’s body image.” Klein explains that, too often, the image in the mirror is a “grossly distorted image of ourselves influenced by our experiences, interpretations and expectations”. A dissatisfaction of the body and

of the body beautiful has infiltrated the

reach nirvana’ ideal”, but this is not what

compromised self-esteem results,

yoga industry here, not only through

yoga is about. “It is a process of getting

grounded in illusion.

the commercialisation of yoga clothes

over yourself,” she says, a process of

and media images but also via a new

working on avidya, which translates as

peace with their bodies and minds

generation of young, thin, female teachers

ignorance of the true nature of reality.

through yoga. It voices anorexic issues,

using Instagram pictures of their bikini

dissociation with the body and how yoga

bodies in advanced poses to sell their

The eightfold path

brings you home to yourself. It voices the

classes. Nikola Ellis, owner of Adore Yoga

Yoga is many things; an eightfold path

invisibility that larger-bodied women feel

in the Sydney suburb of Mosman refers to

set out by Patanjali in the ancient text

in yoga classes, and how to be inclusive.

this issue as the “pornification of yoga”.

The Yoga Sutras. The eightfold path

The book seeks to help readers make

The contributors’ personal stories talk of

Ellis notes that you can’t separate yoga

encompasses ethical precepts, posture,

shame, self-worth, feelings of ugliness

from the culture in which it’s practised.

breathing, withdrawal of the senses,

and disempowerment, and how yoga

“We live in a society with images of

contemplation, meditation and bliss. This

can make you whole again. It covers

women being sexualised, and the cultural

unfolding yogic lifestyle liberates you

gender issues for men and women, sexual

baggage is being superimposed on the

from an over-identification with the body

preference, weight, age and ethnicity, and

yoga tradition,” she says. “When you see

and the mind, and takes you beyond

encompasses yoga for all walks of life.

an image of a woman, you immediately

misunderstanding to a spiritual place

Its release coincides with a growing

objectify her because that’s how we see

of peace. Constant images of the “yoga

movement in the US, the Yoga and Body

women’s bodies.” She doesn’t blame the

body”, however, have their impact and, as

Image Coalition, which promotes a t-shirt

younger teachers but says, “[Most] mature,

Nikola Ellis points out, people can either

for all shapes and sizes that says: “This

well-trained, experienced, knowledgeable

strive to achieve the perfect yoga body or

is what a yogi looks like.” In the States,

yogis are not putting their tits out on

turn away from yoga altogether, feeling

there are conferences on body image and

Instagram. A younger generation of

that this is a practice that is not for them.

yoga, and curvy yoga teacher trainings

women and men have grown up seeing the

designed to effectively teach larger

portrayal of themselves in a particular way

welcoming all body types. It needs to

bodies in yoga classes.

as normal; they see it as a good way of

feel inclusive in order to affect significant

promoting what they are selling.”

change in society. Yoga can liberate you

In Australia and New Zealand, body image is just as much an issue, yet rarely discussed. The pervasive notion

According to Ellis, “the yoga industry sets up a ‘just try harder and you can


Yoga can and does include everyone,

from negative body image issues, from self-loathing to honouring your body


love your body

for what it is. To do that, you need to

relaxation pose).” He explains that, at

qualifications of a yoga teacher.” He says

step out of the mainstream influence a

his studio, “Classes are welcoming and

an advanced yoga teacher is: “Someone

little and cultivate listening to your own

un-pushy. We are strict on safety and

with resilience in life, who really knows

intuitive wisdom. When body image in

injury checks.” O’Brien voices his concern

themselves. Self-knowledge or self-

yoga is not addressed, it infiltrates classes

about teachers not being able to provide

enquiry is at the heart of yoga, and far

and community and leads to further

for students’ individual bodies: “With an

more important than self-improvement.

separation, competition or disassociation.

explosion of yoga teachers with almost no

An advanced yogi can handle themselves

Yoga is about diversity and unity, a uniting

training these days, most people don’t know

in any situation.”

of consciousness where you come to

how to modify the poses.”

realise that separation is an illusion, and

At Qi Yoga, he continues, the culture is unpretentious. “We question men when

that ultimately we are all one. The yoga

The “yoga selfie”

they take their shirts off. People of all ages

industry surely needs to be authentic to

As the “yoga selfie” rises, O’Brien explains

are accepted and I don’t care if you are

the intentions of the practice itself.

that people get caught up in social media

a size 2 or size 20.” The key to yoga, he

pressure, where the number of “likes” you

says, and as a start to break free of the

Ethics in yoga teacher training

get becomes a measure of self-worth

body image entrapment, is to focus on

Insufficient teacher training contributes to

and the most "beautiful" shots get more

self-enquiry during the pose, to focus on

the body image problem, Ellis says. “Ethics

response. “We become hijacked by images

how it feels rather than how it looks.

isn’t taught in a 200-hour teacher training,”

and are losing the very thing we are trying

she explains. Teaching and demonstrating

to uncover,” he says. “Yoga should set you

yoga’s ethical precepts of yamas and

free, but it has been subverted because of

Linda Sparrowe ( is an

niyamas (moral disciplines and personal

societal norms and a competitive world ...

author, well-known yoga teacher, former

observances) can be an effective buffer

I always teach to never confuse someone

editor-in-chief of Yoga International and

against body image issues arising in classes,

who is bendy with someone advanced; this

past managing editor of Yoga Journal.

as these ethics take yoga into relationships

has no bearing on whether they're happy.”

She explains in the book Yoga and Body

and make it a way of life. When they're left

O’Brien also warns, “Don’t confuse

out, yoga is devoid of deeper elements of

likes, followings and bendability with

how we treat ourselves and others. Yoga teacher and PhD student at the Australian National University, Gina Woodhill, is concerned about the damage that narcissism and social media is doing to the yoga industry, saying, “A lot of people get caught up in ego and showing off on social media.” This is a problem because it strips yoga of its real, spiritual goals and benefits. “To be a yoga teacher requires more humility than anything else,” she says. Woodhill calls for a regulation of the industry. Ellis notes that there are guidelines in other professions but “nothing in yoga to mitigate against unethical behaviour”. Mark O’Brien, owner of Qi Yoga in the Sydney suburb of Manly says, “Yoga has become about envy and status and attainment through looking as good as you can as you rock a handstand, rather than how you hold savasana (lying-down



The practice

Image that yogis can get stuck on the physical body, often those parts we hate,

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love your body

 Aim for calm acceptance through

“when we practise asana devoid of any

what advertising tells us what to do, wear

meditative aspect”. When this happens,

or consume. In Yoga and Body Image she

softening and yielding in the poses,

“we lose connection with our breath, our

writes, “Can I really blame the media for all

through a dedicated, spiritual,

intuition and our deeper selves”. Sparrowe

these body image issues? No, I blame my

also refers to the “bastardisation of yoga”,

tenuous connection to a deeper spiritual

a phrase coined by Melody Moore, PhD,

core ... the truth is that radical acceptance

a clinical psychologist in the US who

and cultivation of secular spiritual

specialises in treating women with eating

connection require a dedicated effort ...

spent your life hating your body, it may

disorders. It “keeps us in a state of being

radical self-acceptance and self-love are

take some time to liberate from self-

‘not enough’ and tethered to whatever

your birthright, and you can reclaim them.”

loathing. Surrender to the process with

limitations we deem unacceptable”, explains Sparrowe. Yoga is about surrender, gentle

Yoga, Sparrowe explains, doesn’t

embodied journey inward.  Listen to your body. You are the authority on your own body experience.  Be patient with yourself. If you have

a yoga teacher you respect and who is

promise to whittle down the size of your

capable of taking your practice beyond

thighs or smooth out your wrinkles. Yet, “It

the superficial.  Be part of a peaceful movement that

release, peace and freedom so that the

can radically change your relationship to

sympathetic nervous system reaction

those thighs or stop you from obsessing

reclaims your body as your own, not an

of fight and flight calms down, and

about your neck. In order for that to

object to be consumed or objectified.

the parasympathetic nervous system

happen, however, you need to spend some

Practise non-harm of other women

is rebalanced in order for people to

time learning how to appreciate the body

when viewing their images to heal the

experience joy. Then real and immediate

you have. The best way to do that? Step

rift embedded in our culture towards

difference can be felt in people’s lives.

onto the yoga mat.”

women and their bodies. Practise yoga

When a softening of language is used

on and off the mat for an authentic life

in yoga classes, and mirrors are removed,

To begin ...

practitioners can interiorise rather than

Here are some ways to make peace with

looking for external judgements. In

your body and mind through yoga:

subtle movements in yoga to help

addition, an attitude of non-harm needs

 Enquire into your yoga teacher’s

internalise the experience. Find beauty

that leads to your own wholeness.  Focus on the body sensations and

to be fostered with every breath in

training and ongoing explorations of

within and beyond culture, in the deep

every pose. It is up to the yoga teacher

yoga. Find a teacher with experience

core of the self.

to foster a sanga, or yoga community,

or, if they’re a beginner teacher,

based on liberation and non-harm. If your

one who is mentored by someone

remind yourself that love is your true

yoga class is about external body issues,

dedicated to their yoga practice and

nature. Express your divinity through

perhaps you need to question whether

can guide the beginner teacher.

humility within your yoga body. Say, “I am

what you are practising is actually yoga. A strong practice can be a loving one,

 Seek classes that offer alternatives in

When ready, during your practice,

ready to awaken to the divine expression

poses. This demonstrates the teacher

that I am: a being born of and intimately

with the right intentions. The key is to

has a deeper understanding of yoga

connected with the entire universe

listen to your body, not demand from

practice and an ability to adapt the

from within. This divinity is light source.

it, and tune in to its needs. Your body

sequence to the needs of the students.

I reclaim my yoga body as a sacred

can experience the joy of movement

Look for a teacher who can guide you

expression of divinity. I allow for healing

safely for injury-free yoga.

of karmic patterns and conditioning to

and the challenge of the pose without comparison. Yoga practice should

 Find a class that fosters a body-

take place through the loving expression

embrace sthira and sukha: relaxed effort

positive environment that does not

of non-judgemental yoga practice. I allow

in the postures and a breathing practice

push students beyond their limits.

my body to be a natural, health-giving

with meditative, focused enquiry. This is

 Practise yoga with an intention for

what hatha yoga feels like. Harvard-educated physician and

expression of divine love and live from that

healing, joy and love. Replace negative

place in my heart. I am a powerful, loving,

thoughts with your breath when they

living being of divine proportions, ever

bestselling author Dr Sara Gottfried

arise. The more the practice moves you

grateful for this life in this body as I express

reminds us to look inward and listen to

to peace, the more you can start to

and evolve my spiritual purpose with love.”

what our bodies need instead of following

embody self-worth and self-love.



Om shanti (peace).

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the practice “Practice is an effort to still the mind’s fluctuations in order to silence the consciousness.” ~ Patanjali

balance your spirit

Yoga for spiritual balance It’s true that yoga can have a positive effect on your life, even if you step onto the mat only once a week, but lasting balance requires a more frequent practice. Start the inner journey with these wonderful asanas. Words Veronica Joseph

We’ve all heard about the spiritual balance yoga offers, but what

daily life is the recipe for enlightenment. (For more on the eight

exactly does this entail? It doesn’t necessarily mean donning a

limbs, turn to p32). However, let’s bring our focus to the third

saffron robe and giving up all worldly possessions. Instead, the

limb, asana, and its role in striking that spiritual balance.

spiritual balance you can achieve with yoga can help you look within and reach a deeper understanding of yourself and your

The purpose of asana

true nature.

Asanas make up just one of the eight aspects of yoga. However,

Yoga can help you achieve spiritual balance in different ways.

as one of the more popular limbs, they are a good place to start.

It might be through the study of yogic philosophy or practising

They also bridge the physical and mental spheres and act as the

asanas and meditation as a way to achieve greater awareness of

springboard to explore other yogic concepts.

the body, mind and soul. Don’t expect to feel a profound sense

According to Patanjali, the purpose of asanas is to prepare

of spiritual balance if you’re only attending a class every so

the body and mind for meditation. The sutras state that one has

often. Progression down the spiritual path, both on and off the

mastered an asana when the pose can be comfortably held for

mat, can only really be achieved through regular and sustained

three hours. Don’t worry — we won’t be going that far! However,

practice. Slowly but surely, your yogic journeys can help you

this does allow you to see the process at play. Asana practice

reach a better understanding of the essence of your being. In

begins at the physical level. We then learn to cultivate the mind

the process, you can learn how to connect on a deeper level and

by stilling the thoughts and fluctuations, withdrawing the senses

cultivate the inner qualities of the poses in yourself.

from the external environment and looking deeper within to the centre of our beings, the soul. This way, we achieve the total

Balancing the eight limbs

benefits of a pose: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Patanjali wrote yoga’s foundational text The Yoga Sutras more

The rhythmic, repetitive movements and non-competitive,

than 2000 years ago and, in it, outlined the eight limbs of yoga.

largely non-verbal nature of asana practice add to the meditative

These consist of yama (social discipline), niyama (self discipline),

and spiritual experience. Connecting with the practice and

asana (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense

focusing the mind in the present moment can also help bring out

withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and

the inner qualities of the postures, such as confidence, stamina,

samadhi (union with God). Integrating each of these limbs into

clarity, concentration and willpower, and allow these to be



balance your spirit



balance your spirit

stability that will allow a deepening of your practice. In the intermediate level, ghatavastha, the mind begins to unite with the body. It is in this stage that you start to delve into the more mental and spiritual benefits of yoga as practice begins to encompass a reflective and meditative focus. This greater sense of focus means cultivating awareness when it comes to the breath, muscles, alignment of the body and so on. Here, you can travel further to your energetic body, the pranamaya kosa, and pay greater attention to the breath and actively cultivate pranic energy in the pose. The manomaya kosa, the mental body, also comes into play when you attempt to still and silence the mind. As you begin to focus yourself in the pose and synchronise movement with the breath,

Nishpattyavastha ... is the stage of liberation where the mind, body and soul become one. At this point, asanas become meditative, spiritual and effortless.

cultivated in ourselves. These can work on a deeper level, at the spiritual centre,

In the third stage, parichayavastha,

for the purpose of transformation and

the vijnanamaya kosa — the intelligence

development. You can also draw on these

or wisdom — and the body become one.

qualities in day-to-day life to help you find

Your intelligence body helps cultivate

balance and understand your true nature.

deeper insight into your consciousness and greater self-knowledge. Before you

Moving toward spiritual

reach the innermost layer, you must

balance on the mat

eliminate the impurities and trappings of

So how can this actually be achieved

the intelligence, such as the ego. You also

through asana practice? As we travel along

have the opportunity to connect with the

the yogic path of spiritual transformation,

deeper qualities the poses embody.

we progress through various stages and

Nishpattyavastha is the final stage,

also start to integrate and harmonise our

which introduces atma, the soul. This is

kosas, the body’s five sheaths of existence.

the stage of liberation where the mind,

Advancing in your personal practice

body and soul become one. At this point,

and balancing these layers offers great

asanas become meditative, spiritual and

potential for spiritual growth.

effortless. Once you have travelled through

The first of these stages is known

the various sheaths and established

as arambhavastha. This is generally

harmonisation, the anandamaya kosa — the

a beginner’s stage in which yoga is

bliss or divine body — awakens, creating

practised at an anatomical level. Here,

wholeness and allowing the spiritual self to

you work with the physical body, the

radiate throughout all layers of our beings.

annamaya kosa, and the focus primarily


these kosas interact and harmonise.

Progression through these various

lies in understanding the posture and

stages and sheaths can come almost

its movements. It is essential to grapple

naturally, albeit gradually, with committed

with the basics and get the correct

and sustained practice. This means, if you

foundations to attain the comfort and

are attending a class once a week, you


balance your spirit

Slowly but surely, your yogic journeys can help you reach a better understanding of the essence of your being.

is awake”. However, you may prefer a

mat. Here, the focus will be on asanas that

more general resolution, such as “My

help ensure a balanced practice, including

health is optimal”. Repeat the sankalpa

twists, forward bends, inversions and

to yourself mentally to set the tone and

backbends. These selected asanas also

purpose of your practice and to awaken

embody and instil certain qualities and

deeper spiritual awareness. (For more on

virtues that will help you look deeper to

sankalpas, turn to p10.)

your spiritual centre and achieve growth and greater insight into your nature.

should also dedicate time and effort to

A balanced practice

practise at home to ensure the quality of

Essentially, a yoga routine that

beyond the physical element and focus

your progress.

encompasses regular asana, pranayama

on the deeper benefits and qualities. The

In the poses that follow, try to go

and meditation practice can be beneficial

key is also to maintain regular practice.

Spiritual balance off the mat

in paving the way toward greater spiritual

Try integrating these at home with other

When you awaken your spiritual potential

balance and awareness, on and off the

postures and form a consistent routine.

on the mat, it can in turn flow into the course of your daily life. We often associate spirituality with higher ideals or qualities such as compassion, love and generosity, to name a few. Our sense of spiritual connection is unique to each of us and can manifest in many ways, such as an enhanced feeling of empathy toward others, a sense of purpose, fulfilment and bliss, or a natural rapport or awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. Asanas, in general, are known for their calming effects. Along with this, certain poses help foster qualities such as compassion, stamina, concentration, patience and endurance. Practising with greater awareness can allow you to achieve these deeper benefits that contribute to your sense or experience of greater spiritual connection off the mat. The qualities nurtured in asana practice are beneficial when it comes to understanding yourself and the world, and offer an opportunity for spiritual growth, guidance and balance in daily life.

Creating the mindset At the start of practice, try making a sankalpa, a short, positive resolution. Ideally, the sankalpa will be an affirmation that will help further your journey down the spiritual path. For example, your sankalpa might be “My spiritual potential



balance your spirit

Downwardfacing dog

Downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) This pose really gives the yogi a chance to look within. Place the palms and soles of the feet on the floor so the body creates an inverted letter V. Push up from the palms, lengthen from the sides and lift up the pelvis. Feel the stretch running down the calves as you attempt to bring the heels onto the mat. Slightly rotate the shoulder blades inward to avoid completely collapsing into this pose. Close the eyes and direct the gaze to the navel or the anja chakra, located at the eyebrow centre. Feel the strength and stability coming from your foundations. The focus and concentration required make this a beneficial pose for cultivating willpower.

Warrior II

This single-pointedness helps cultivate feelings of serenity, acceptance and positivity when it comes to life and everything around us.

Tree pose

Warrior II (virabhadrasana II) The warrior poses are a dynamic series known to increase inner strength and confidence. Step the feet apart so there is significant distance between the legs. Bring the hands to the sternum and then extend the arms outwards. This will help get your alignment correct. Rotate the right foot out and slightly turn in the left foot. Inhale and bend the right knee so it is aligned directly above the ankle. Keep the back leg straight and set your gaze on the right palm. Feel the energy radiating up from the feet, engage the core and stretch out from the fingertips. Feel the courage and determination of the warrior.

Tree pose (vrksasana) Begin in a standing position and bend the right knee, bringing the sole of the foot on the inside of the upper left thigh. Keep the right foot from slipping by grounding it against the thigh. Hold onto the ankle and, once you have your balance, place the hands in prayer at the chest and Intense forward stretch

then slowly raise the arms above the head. As you raise the arms and lengthen the body, feel your confidence soar. Balancing postures like tree require a great deal of concentration and determination as it’s easy to lose your footing and give up altogether. These poses helps foster trust and confidence in yourself to help you conquer on a deeper level anything that might be throwing you offbalance in life.

Intense forward stretch (uttanasana) Stand upright, feet together. Raise the hands up and maintain the stretch going toward the fingertips. Bend from the waist, stretching the trunk and arms forward as you bring the hands down. First, lengthen the spine away from the body and then exhale, bringing the head close to the legs. Observe the consciousness and intelligence of the pose as



balance your spirit

you lengthen from the back and then from the sides as you go deeper

Easy pose

into the forward bend. Forward bends also soothe and relax the body, so become aware of the flow of energy in this pose. As you bring the head closer to the legs, withdraw your senses from the external environment and internalise your awareness.

Easy pose (sukhasana) & twist (parivrtta sukhasana) Sukhasana is known as the cross-legged pose. Gently roll the pelvis forward, rest on the sitting bones and lengthen the spine. Touch the index finger to the thumb and rest both hands on the knees. Close the

Seated twist

eyes and focus attentively on each breath. This meditative pose aligns the spine, allowing prana to flow evenly throughout the body. Allow the mind to relish the present moment. This single-pointedness helps cultivate feelings of serenity, acceptance and positivity when it comes to life and everything around us. To go into the twist, bring the right hand just outside the left knee. Place the left hand behind either the left hip or the spinal column for a deeper stretch. Lift from the base and elongate the spine. Initiate the twist from the abdomen and rotate the head to look over the left shoulder. As you twist deeper, allow the energy to rise and feel yourself discovering new horizons. Twisting on both sides allows equilibrium to return to the body.

Bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana) Backbends are often given to patients suffering from depression as

Bridge pose

they have far-reaching effects, including the ability to create uplift and clarity — beneficial qualities for spiritual transformation. Lie on your back and bend the knees. Place the soles of the feet on the floor at roughly hip distance apart. Bring the arms resting beside you or grab hold of the ankles with each hand. Inhale and lift the hips up. Gently walk the shoulders in. As the chest lifts and expands, feel the breath naturally deepen and the enhanced sense of vitality and contentment. Shoulder stand

If you can overcome the fear of performing an inversion, you have the strength and stamina to tackle life’s obstacles. Shoulder stand (sarvangasana) Lie on your back with your hands by your side. Lift both legs up. Use your arm strength to lift the lower back off the mat. Support the hips or, if possible, the upper back with the hands. Straighten the legs and bring the chin closer to the chest. Focus your gaze on your toes. Feel the body lengthening and blood flowing throughout. Inversions can be daunting for many people but they offer great benefits. If you can overcome the fear of performing an inversion, you have the strength and stamina to tackle life’s obstacles.



get creative

Yoga for creativity Using yoga and meditation to clear time and space in your mind, as well as in your day, is an optimal way to access your inner creative spirit. Words Meggan Brummer

A group of small boys stood at the foot of

Tapping into the source of creativity

you naturally feel tired, depleted, sad

a coconut tree excitedly throwing stones to

When your mind’s not relaxed but is

and unenthusiastic. In any of these states

dislodge the coconuts. Despite several hits,

loaded with lots of ambition, feverishness

it may be very difficult to get into the

the coconuts refused to fall. An old man

and desires, ideas don’t flow properly. A

creative flow. However, when your prana’s

who was watching smiled knowingly — he

peaceful, happier, more dynamic mind is

high, you feel happier, more enthusiastic

knew the secret. After some time he called

one of the many byproducts of practising

and closer to the creative principle of

the boys over and said, “Don’t throw your

yoga regularly.

existence. So how can we raise our prana?

stones directly at the coconut. Throw them where the coconut connects to the tree.” Direct actions or attempts to be

Intrigued by the changes yoga induced in his writing and imagination, Jeff Davis — writer, creativity consultant

Simply by: • Eating high prana foods (fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, pulses

creative can be like aiming straight at the

and past faculty mentor at Western

coconut. Another way in is needed, a way

Connecticut State University in the US

that encourages creativity to arise in you,

— completed his yoga teacher training

and for many a regular yoga practice is

and then dedicated time to testing

just that. By yoga, I mean yoga asanas

the innumerable ways in which yoga

(poses), prananyamas (yogic breathing

complements a creative life. He even

• Having cold showers and ocean swims

techniques), meditation, relaxation and

wrote a book about how yoga can move

• Being in silence regularly

applying the yogic knowledge that’s been

writers into creative immersion and

• Getting enough sleep

passed down over thousands of years.

help them change mental patterns that

• Chanting

sabotage creativity.

• Listening to inspirational speakers

What is creativity?

“Yoga is helping thousands of

and legumes) • Avoiding foods low in prana (tinned, microwaved, non-vegetarian foods) • Avoiding foods that have negative prana (onions, garlic, eggplant)

and music • Practising meditation and yogic

Creativity doesn’t just include the

writers to facilitate and design their

glamorous achievements of genius

own creative process — rather than to

breathing techniques

artists, musicians, dancers and writers;

be at the whim of random flashes of

More than any of these, your breath is

it could be realising and implementing

‘inspiration’, moods, or energy peaks,”

your most powerful and effective tool for

any good idea. It could mean inventing

says Davis. It’s hardly surprising that the

raising prana in a short amount of time,

a variation on a recipe, the style in

number of workshops integrating yoga

increasing your creative potential. These

which you teach or sell something or

with writing and art has exploded.

days, people are so busy and their minds

your ability to have a deeper, more

so clogged and occupied that often they

authentic general awareness that leads to

Higher prana means increased enthusiasm

have no time to be with their selves, but

originality in the way you display flair and

Prana in Sanskrit means “subtle life-force

spending time with your self in this way

imagination in your everyday life.

energy”. When the prana in you is low,

leaves your mind centred and still.



get creative



get creative

For chef Tim Thornton, regularly

smoothly, too, not just your creativity. And,

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says prayer is

practising yoga, yogic breathing

on the days when you’re so busy you don’t

speaking to the divine while meditation

techniques and meditation is a recipe

know which way to turn, remind yourself of

is listening to the divine. When you

for a happier, more tranquil existence.

that lovely quote from Ghandi: “I have so

meditate, your mind achieves a more

One of the benefits he has noticed is an

much to do today I’m going to meditate for

restful state than it does when asleep.

enhanced creative streak. “Over the years,

two hours instead of one.”

It’s that time when you can put aside

I lost my ‘me time’ and allowed myself to be carried along with the momentum of life and chasing money. Since connecting with these practices, I’ve been delighted to sense that I have time to do more of the things I enjoy ... and I take the time to do them as well as I can, which is part of the creative process.” In Sanskrit, the word “yoga” means union. When creativity blossoms from inner stillness, everything feels harmonious,

mundane ways of thinking about solutions

Through yoga you come back to your creative childlike nature, that state in which you’re natural, free from stresses and strains, free from worries or concerns about what people might think of you.

unified and effortless. Creativity cannot

and dive deep into the stillness and silence within you, dipping into your self. The more you do this, the more potently you create an ideal inner environment from which creativity can emerge because, when your mind is relaxed deeply, ideas are free to recombine with other ideas in novel patterns and unpredictable ways.

Residing in the present

come out of one who’s too busy, worried,

Creating the inner environment

Powerful creativity is an authentic

over-ambitious or lethargic. The right

We’re used to thinking really hard when

response to the present moment and

combination of balanced activity and rest

we want to come up with or develop a

through the practice of yoga, especially

kindles creativity in you.

creative idea but the more relaxed you are

through pranayama, the mind comes to

the more likely you are to receive creative

reside more and more in the present.

The importance of consistency

ideas and solutions. “When there’s not

Very often our thoughts are connected to

I have to emphasise that, whatever

a lot of clutter in my mind then a lot of

some incident in the past or anxiety about

your yoga practice may be, it’s the daily

really fun and creative ideas pop up and

the future but, when the mind is free from

consistency of a practice that counts.

creative solutions come to me,” says Bree

this constant, tiring oscillation, it comes

While a once-a-week class may leave

Ledgard, owner of a cafe and lifestyle

to rest in the moment. In those moments

you feeling good for some time, doing a

store. “It all happens in those moments

when you’re in the flow, completely

practice periodically or only doing it when

when I’m completely relaxed and in the

absorbed, time becomes limitless and

you feel like it means you’ll miss the deeper

present moment. When I practise yoga,

creativity blossoms.

benefits of the practices. Most people

specifically a combination of yoga poses,

begin doing yoga once or a few times

pranayama and meditation, I really notice

A sense of timelessness

weekly, which is a great starting point, but

my mind coming into a still space.”

When you’re happy, your mind expands

it’s better to practise for a short time every

“Since practising yoga, meditation and

and time appears short. Conversely, when

day (even if it’s just for 10 minutes) rather

sudarshan kriya regularly, I’ve noticed that

you’re unhappy, your mind contracts and

than for an hour once a week.

I’m more in harmony with myself, with

time appears long; and when your mind

nature, and my creativity comes from a

has equanimity you transcend time. To

don’t feel like it that you most need it —

Actually, it’s often the times when you

deeper and more profound space,” says

escape from time, many people resort to

and time seldom presents itself to you on

Bhavini Vyas, a classical singer. Creativity

alcohol, sleep, drugs etc, but these dull

a golden platter. There are almost always

can best express itself through you when

your mind and when your mind is dull it’s

potential distractions so you may have to

an adequate space inside you exists. By

unable to experience the self. In samadhi

reprioritise things to make it happen but,

space I mean an inner stillness, a sense

(no-mindedness, timelessness), a state

once you’ve established a regular discipline,

of expansion and lightness into which

of ultimate bliss reached through the

the positive payoffs make it so worthwhile.

creativity can blossom. Yoga practices,

practice of meditation, you experience

With a daily practice, you may well find

especially meditation, are effective at

your true self, the ultimate space for

that everything else in your life flows more

creating that space.

creativity to arise.



get creative

Returning to your childlike nature From the time we’re born, life is a creative adventure. Creativity flourishes as we begin to explore, experimenting and trying new things. As children we’re much more concerned with enjoying the process than “getting it right”. We’re less concerned with perfection. Through yoga you come back to your creative childlike nature, that state in which you’re natural, free from stresses and strains, free from worries or concerns about what people might think of you, and in this carefree state your creative energy is rampant.

Opening your chakras When your chakras are blocked, prana cannot flow smoothly through you and your creativity becomes stifled. Your sacral chakra, located about two inches below your navel, governs sexuality and creativity. When this chakra’s functioning well, you experience enriched creativity. If it’s blocked, you might have difficulty tapping into your creativity or manifesting your projects, and both sexual and creative frustration may occur. A blockage here can also manifest physically with lower back pain, sciatica, reproductive system problems, lowered libido and urinary problems. Yoga practices help increase the prana, improving its potency and opening the centres so it can permeate your being.

A yoga routine for creativity Before you begin the following short yoga practice, here are some guidelines: • Practise in a clean room that has crossventilation and fresh air. • Reduce potential distractions such as telephones. • Wear comfortable, loose clothing. • Avoid drinking during your practice. • Practise on an empty stomach. • Always warm up for at least five minutes before you start, making sure your limbs and muscles are loose and warm. Shake and move your whole body and then warm up your joints by rotating them in all directions.



get creative

Humming bee breath

Humming bee breath (bhramari pranayama) Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Place your index fingers on the inner lobes of your ears. Take a deep breath in through your nose and as you exhale slowly make a gentle humming sound. Complete three rounds.

Cat stretch pose (marjarasana) variation Come onto your hands and knees in the cat pose. Inhaling, stretch your left arm out in front and your right leg back, keeping them parallel to the ground and reach out. Hold for five long breaths. Cat stretch pose variation

Repeat with the right arm and left leg. Do this three more times and then relax.

Cobra pose variation

In samadhi (no-mindedness, timelessness), a state of ultimate bliss reached through the practice of meditation, you experience your true self, the ultimate space for creativity to arise.

Cobra pose (bhujangasana) variation Lie on your stomach. Place your chin on the ground, hands clasped on your back. As you breathe in, lift up your head and upper body. Hold for five long, slow breaths and then relax with your head to one side, arms by your side.

Downward dog pose (adho mukha svanasana) Downward dog pose

Move your buttocks onto your heels and stretch your arms as far forward as you can, placing them shoulder distance apart. Breathe in and then, as you breathe out, lift your buttocks and straighten your legs. Hold for five long, slow breaths and then lie down on your stomach and relax with your head to the opposite side from before, arms by your side.

Bow pose (dhanurasana) Take hold of your ankles. As you inhale, raise your legs and head. Bow pose

If possible, lift your thighs off the ground. Hold for five long, slow breaths and then relax with your head to the opposite side from before, arms by your side.

Gas-relieving pose (pawan muktasana) Lie on your back and bring your knees up close to your chest. Inhale and then, as you exhale, lift your head to your knees. Hold for five long, slow breaths and then relax with your arms by your side.



get creative

Dancing Shiva II (natarajasana II)

Gas-relieving pose

Bring your feet close to your buttocks, a little wider than hip distance apart, arms slightly away from your body. Take a breath in and then, as you exhale, gently drop your legs to your right and turn your head to the left. Relax here for five long breaths and then do the same on the other side.

Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) Sit comfortably with your spine straight, head in a neutral position. Place your left hand in chin mudra (see image at bottom right) Dancing Shiva II

and rest it on your left leg. Now place your right hand in position, ring finger resting lightly on your left nostril and the thumb resting lightly on your right nostril. Lightly close your right nostril and take a slow breath in. Then close your left nostril and slowly exhale through the right. Inhale through your right nostril and then slowly exhale through your left. This is one round. Complete nine rounds and then sit quietly with your eyes closed. If you already have your own meditation practice, this is a good time to begin it, as nadi shodana prepares the mind for meditation. If you don’t have a meditation practice, then sit quietly for 10

Dancing Shiva II

minutes, effortlessly observing your thoughts and your breath.

Other yogic tips for enhancing your creativity • Observe silence. Take the time to be in mouna — silence. Once you’ve experienced deep silence you realise how much energy you waste through incessant talking. Silence allows you to begin the journey inwards, to go deep within your self. According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “Deep silence is the mother of creativity. When you listen, listen to something more. Listen Nadi shodhana A

not just to the sound but to the silence as well.”

Nadi shodhana B

• Deal with feverishness. When we become feverish and anxious about not feeling creative, the freshness and space that creativity needs are destroyed. When you’re in the grip of feverishness about the results of your actions, sleeping, listening to flute music, bathing or swimming in cold water and, last but not least, meditation and breathing techniques can help. • Be aware of the link between creative and sexual energy. You may have noticed that, when you’re absorbed in doing something creative, sex is not so compelling. Of course sex

Chin mudra

itself is not bad but, when sexual energy is dominant in you, creative energy diminishes. If lust is getting in the way of your creativity, practise pranayama and eat a vegetarian diet, moderate in quantity. • Do something irrelevant. When you’re in the creative process, regularly drop what you’re doing and do something completely irrelevant. While decorating your house, take some time to mow the lawn or go shopping. This will enhance your creativity.



stand tall

Yoga for good posture Better posture can give your aching back a break, open up your lungs to allow in more oxygen, raise your energy levels and boost your confidence. Let yoga help get you out of your slump. Words Veronica Joseph

Many of us spend an ever-increasing amount of time hunched

extends beyond the physical. When considering long-term

over computers at work or home, lounging in front of the

practice, a strong spine and good posture are essential to

television and doing (or rather sitting through) a range of

maintain the stability needed to hold an asana for a greater

other activities that don’t offer sufficient lumbar support. Our

length of time so the full benefits of the pose (both physical and

sedentary lifestyle reinforces these poor postural habits, making

mental) can be achieved. According to the ancient yogic texts, the

back pain one of the world’s most common ailments. Yoga,

purpose of asanas is to prepare the body and mind for meditation.

however, offers a way to help.

Therefore, a straight, strong spine also plays a role in helping one

Posture is important and is not something that should be

to practise meditation successfully, without distraction.

ignored. Think back to the days when your mother constantly reminded you to pull your shoulders back and stand up straight.

The logic of prana

She had a point. Poor posture can lead to a range of other

Wherever you are at this moment, try this exercise. Round your

ailments. In particular, it is linked to and can further intensify

back and slump your shoulders (if you were already in this

back, neck and shoulder pain, muscle tightness and spasms, lack

position, we’ve accomplished step one — making you aware of

of bodily awareness and poor breathing habits, to name a few.

the problem). Now, breathe in and notice how much air you are

The spine is the central axis of the body and in yoga it plays a

able to inhale. Then, straighten out your spine so it’s tall and

pivotal role in all postures or asanas. However, when considering

erect. Open your shoulders and chest and try taking another

correct posture and alignment, we must focus on the core

breath. You’ll notice here that you are able to take a longer, fuller

and pelvic floor, along with the spine. Alignment has a flow-on

breath. This is because poor posture impacts on your breathing.

effect in the body. When we engage the pelvic floor and core

When we slump, the bottom ribs are pushed down into the

we can almost naturally feel the chest opening and the spine

abdomen. In effect, rib movement is compromised and the lungs

lengthening and extending.

become restricted and unable to work to their full potential. In

Asanas that engage these areas together realign the spine,

this hunched position, our ability to receive oxygen is limited and

enhance bodily awareness and ingrain habits for good posture.

additional pressure is placed on the spine.

By also working with poses that increase the strength and

Yoga, by improving bodily awareness, encourages good

flexibility of the spine, we can help prevent slouching and avoid

posture, opens up the chest and lengthens and strengthens

the ailments that come with poor posture. Plus, there are many

the spine. This allows room for the lungs to work to their full

benefits to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, including

capacity, meaning we are able to take slower and deeper

preventing bladder problems and enhancing sexual enjoyment.

breaths. In turn, this increases prana levels.

As we can see, good posture technically refers to a state of

Prana is the life force or energy that sustains all living things.

muscular and skeletal balance. However, in yoga this balance


Increased prana levels mean more oxygen will be transported


stand tall



stand tall

to the body’s cells and carbon dioxide will be returned to the heart and lungs as deoxygenated blood. Energy passages and chakras located along the spinal cord are also stimulated by the breath and help transmit prana evenly throughout the rest of the body. When there are blockages in these energy passages, disease can manifest. Therefore, the balanced flow of energy ensures the harmonisation of the body and its systems and contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing. Many yoga asanas that work wonders for posture and the spine also increase confidence and inner strength as they literally and figuratively help you stand tall. Many of these postures stimulate the manipura chakra in the midspine associated with our inner fire and dynamism. With your chest open and spine tall and straight, you’ll be able to notice improvements when it comes to movement, energy and confidence.

Maintain your natural curves Although good posture requires a straight spine, your vertebral column has natural curves that need to be maintained. These include gentle forward curves in the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) region and mild backward curves in the upper back (thoracic) and sacral/coccyx region. This loose S shape makes a natural, healthy curve. A common feature of poor posture includes a hunched upper back, known as “kyphosis”. In this, the head sits too far forward, creating a “gooseneck” and placing strain on the upper back. Another common feature of poor posture is extreme sway or excessive lumbar curvature in the lower back. Poor posture from these extreme curves compromises the balance and mobility of the spine. The muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia in the chest and neck can constrict, potentially compromising nerve function and cause strain, joint pain and disc problems, along with a range of other ailments. Correcting poor posture involves engaging the feet, legs, pelvic floor, abdominals, chest and spine to reestablish proper alignment and foster bodily awareness. Along with this, focusing on asanas that improve spinal and core strength and flexibility works to achieve greater stability, balance and, eventually, the harmonisation of the mind and body. Note: Remember to release these postures steadily and in the same manner in which they were entered.



stand tall

Cat-cow stretch (marjariasana) Come on all fours with your arms shoulder distance apart and legs hip distance apart. Gaze forward and allow your spine to have a natural dip. This is its neutral point. On an inhalation, push your stomach down and lift your head up so your spine is concave. Make sure you initiate the movement from your pelvis. Then exhale and arch your spine in the opposite direction and draw up your pelvic Cow pose

floor. Allow your head to face downward. Complete several rounds, synchronising your movements with your breath. As the pelvic floor muscles are linked to the lower back, they also play a role when it comes to posture. This pose helps to establish correct spinal alignment from head to pelvis and also opens the chest, shoulders and lower back to help improve spinal flexibility and strength. The lifting and stretching sequence in marjariasana further creates a massaging action, which enhances the suppleness of the vertebrae and releases tension in the back.

Cat pose

Mountain pose (tadasana) This position will help get your foundations correct and align your spine. Begin by standing upright with your feet together and your hands slightly

Mountain pose

away from your thighs. Bring your attention to your base. Imagine your foot is like a car with two wheels on each side. Ground those wheels into the floor so your weight is evenly dispersed and balanced. At the same time, there should be a gentle arch on the soles of your feet. Once your base is set, activate your legs so you can feel the energy flowing from your feet. Your thighs and calves should be engaged and your kneecap can be lifted upward. This creates a rebounding effect in the pose. Draw in your hips and lift up from the pelvic floor. Engage the core muscles, lift the sternum and open the chest, but don’t let your ribcage come too far forward. Feel your spine extending and lengthening. Gently peel back your shoulders and take your blades slightly in. Your head should be directly centred and balanced between the two shoulders with your chin parallel to the floor. Stay in this position for several minutes with your eyes closed and focus on your breath. Tadasana is a beneficial pose to begin practice as it cultivates bodily awareness. It’s also known as an instant confidence booster as it

Warrior I

lengthens your entire body.

Warrior I (virabhadrasana I) Standing positions, including virabhadrasana, generally work to make you more aware of your posture. Begin in the centre of your mat in tadasana. Step forward with your right foot. Your left foot should be at a roughly 45-degree angle with the mat. Bend your right knee so it comes directly over your right ankle. The right knee can point slightly outwards towards the right baby toe. Bring your hands in prayer on your knee and then raise your arms over your head. Be sure to maintain the knee-over-ankle action. Imagine you are holding onto a rope and pull up from the pelvis through to the elbows and fingertips. Remember to activate your left leg and make sure it is straight. Complete on both sides. This pose not only strengthens, but improves confidence and stamina.



stand tall

Triangle pose

Triangle pose (trikonasana) Begin in tadasana. Step your feet apart so you have significant distance between your legs and extend your arms so your palms are facing downwards. Turn the right foot directly out to the side and rotate the left foot inward so it is on a slight angle. Keep the legs engaged. Bend from the waist and bring your right hand to your right foot. Keep your left hand extended directly above the shoulder. Turn your chest and waist upward. Actively lengthen your spine toward your head and feel the expansion through the pelvic floor. Set your gaze on the thumb of the left hand as this will give a gentle neck rotation. Hold the pose for several breath counts and release. Repeat on the opposite side. This pose will help to open your chest, shoulders and hips while extending your spine. It also works to stabilise your legs and upper body.

Camel pose (ustrasana) Ustrasana is a backbend, meaning it opens the chest, thoracic spine and the hips and hip flexors. The pose is great for strengthening the back muscles and improving posture. Begin in vajrasana by sitting on your shins with your heels outside your buttocks. Place your hands beside your hips on the floor and stretch upwards to align your spine. Then kneel and bring your knees and feet hip distance apart and place your hands on your hips. Extend the right hand up. Inhale and on an exhalation, gently bend your back and place your right hand on your right heel. Lift up through the pelvic floor and chest and allow your shoulders to curl gently down. Your hips should be square and facing the wall in front of you. Keep your neck straight at all times. For a gentle variation, bring a block outside your ankle and rest your hand here. For a stronger stretch, simultaneously bring both hands on each foot. Coming into camel pose

Half spinal twist (ardha matsyendrasana) Certain asanas work to strengthen weak back muscles and increase the flexibility of the spine to avoid slouching and encourage good posture. Ardha

Spinal twist

matsyendrasana is one such posture and is beneficial for fostering awareness of the spine and improving the function of the spinal cord. Begin in dandasana, sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, toes pointing upright. Bend your right knee and place it over your left leg. Then bend your left knee and rest your foot just outside your right hip. Place your right hand behind your right buttock. This helps ensure the back is straight. Then lift your left arm, placing it on the outside of the right knee. Bend your left elbow and rest your hand on your chest. Lift your upper body and then twist, starting from the lower abdomen, rotate your head and look over your right shoulder. Even out the twist by completing on the left side.

Many yoga asanas that work wonders for posture and the spine also increase confidence and inner strength as they literally and figuratively help you stand tall. T H E YO G A E X P E R I E N C E


stand tall

Props for posture

A "rope jacket"

Props can be used in various ways to help you stand tall. Using a yoga strap to create a “rope jacket” can help encourage good posture. Place the strap behind your upper back and hold onto each end. Bring the ends over your shoulders and cross them in the back. Be sure the strap is fairly tight and not twisted. Again, grab hold of the ends and pull down on them. You will feel your chest expanding and gentle traction in your upper back. Wearing the strap for just a few minutes every day will help you become more aware of postural alignment so you can naturally maintain this stance.

Meditation for prana Now that you have more awareness of your spine you can try pranayama, or breathing exercises, to take advantage of the wider space you have in your chest and further increase your prana levels. Sit in lotus or any meditative posture. Here you can simply focus on your breath, paying attention to the air as it naturally enters and exits your body. Alternatively, you can choose to inhale while mentally counting to four and slowly exhaling to the count of eight for several rounds. Breathing exercises and meditative positions will further help you become more aware of your spine as it’s essential your back is tall and straight throughout practice.


Using a yoga strap to create a “rope jacket” can help encourage good posture.


ease the pain

Yoga to ease headaches Sometimes a headache makes you less inclined to any form of exercise. However, the right yoga practice can help you ease or eliminate this debilitating problem. Words Meggan Brummer

What causes headaches?

emotions (anger, jealousy, envy, judgement, stress), which affect

If you want to do something to ease your headaches, you first

the middle frontal ridge of the cerebral cortex. Kapha-type

need to understand why you’re getting them. Although most

people, with their inclination towards emotions such as greed,

headaches are caused by muscular tension, there are countless

possessiveness and depression, tend to experience emotionally

other reasons why you might feel like your head is caught in a vice.

related headaches in the inferior frontal area.

According to Ayurveda, a complete system of natural healing,

Furthermore, any imbalance in your doshas will negatively

regular headaches are usually a direct consequence of your

affect your health and can also cause headaches. Migraines

lifestyle, including what you’re eating, how much stress you

and headaches, for example, are seen as resulting from an

experience, whether or not you’re getting enough exercise and

imbalance involving both vata and pitta. The pain of pitta-related

rest, the environments you spend time in and your emotional state.

headaches very often begins at the pitta time of day (10am–

Ayurvedically speaking, you’re made up of a combination of

2pm), when the fire element is at its highest.

three doshas: vata (air and space), pitta (mostly fire with some

You might also get headaches if you have allergies to

water) and kapha (mostly water with some earth). Usually you’re

insecticides, disinfectants, perfumes or hair dyes, or are exposed

a combination of two of these, with one dominant dosha. Also,

to carbon monoxide, pollen, tobacco and alcohol. Or the cause

your constitution brings with it specific physiological traits and a

could be physical: from referred pain or from infections in your

predisposition to experiencing certain emotions, which could be

teeth, gums, nose or throat. It may even be from something as

what’s causing your headache.

simple as being dehydrated, not having good digestion, being

Vata-type people, for example, tend to experience vata

exhausted or from your spine being misaligned.

emotions such as anxiety, fear and insecurity; these cause

Your posture can cause headaches. If you sit in front of a

headache pain in the superior frontal ridge of the cerebral

computer screen much or all of the day, for example, you’re

cortex. Similarly, pitta-type people tend to experience pitta

automatically more likely to develop muscular tension, which



ease the pain



ease the pain

leads to headaches — especially if your workspace isn’t ergonomically supporting your posture. According to chiropractor Margaret Holiday, the most common cause of headaches is the forward-head position, with rounded shoulders, a curved upper back and the accompanying muscular tension. As you can see, the explanation Ayurveda gives for the cause of headaches can range from simple to serious, so if you suffer from headaches regularly you may want to begin by getting a diagnosis from a medical doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions.

What can I do to ease the pain? Take a painkiller? While taking a painkiller may take away your headache, bear in mind that whenever you take one it disturbs your doshas. Disturbed doshas typically lead to other health issues, so all you’re really doing is creating short-term gain (relief from your headache) but long-term pain (ongoing headaches that will potentially lead to more serious health issues). Until you find out and deal with the root cause of your headache you might be covering up a deeper problem that needs addressing. Dr Tomas Brofeldt, MD, believes 75 per cent of all headaches arise from muscle tension in the back of the neck, specifically the semispinalis capitis muscles, due to problems in posture. He treats head pain using yoga poses that correct posture. When bad posture, neck tension and stress are at the root of your headaches,

could make a huge difference to your headaches.

yoga can definitely help ease your pain — and you don’t

Ideally, have a one-on-one yoga class with a trained

need to become a yoga fanatic.

yoga teacher who can design a routine specially tailored

Simply practising a few yoga poses and breathing

to your individual needs and Ayurvedic constitution.

exercises, and a few minutes of meditation, every day

Otherwise, doing a gentle hatha-based yoga class in a room that hasn’t been heated (heat increases pitta and could bring on headaches in pitta-type people) can help.

Yoga to ease your headaches When you have an acute headache, it’s best to avoid

When bad posture, neck tension and stress are at the root of your headaches, yoga can definitely help ease your pain — and you don’t need to become a yoga fanatic.

inverted poses and to do simple asanas such as those that follow. (You could also practise poses such as camel, cobra, cow, boat, bow, bridge and spinal twists.) Once the pain has subsided, vata and kapha headache types can benefit from inverted poses such as shoulder stand, downward dog and double angle pose. After practising asanas, finish your practice with yoga nidra (yogic sleep), followed by the breathing practices and 10–20 minutes of meditation.



ease the pain

Consciously working on your breath is a very powerful way of reducing the stress and tension in your system and easing the discomfort of headaches. Palm tree pose

Palm tree pose (tadasana) This pose is great for easing headaches that are caused by

Palm tree pose variation

muscular tension in the neck region, as it helps to alleviate energy blockages between the lower back and head. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Relax your arms by your side. As you inhale, raise your arms above your head, interlock your fingers and turn your palms upwards. Look straight ahead, keeping your eyes relaxed, your gaze soft. After a few breaths, raise your heels off the ground as you inhale. Stretch towards the sky. If you feel comfortable, do this pose looking up at your fingers. Stay here for between 30 seconds and 1 minute, breathing slowly, deeply and easily. Then inhale and, as you exhale, slowly lower your arms. This is one round. Complete 10 rounds.

Double angle pose (dwikonasana) Because this pose helps relieve tension between the shoulder blades, it’s great for people whose headaches Double angle pose

are caused by bad posture. Stand straight with your feet one foot apart. Interlace your fingers behind your body. As you inhale, gently raise your chin. As you exhale, bend forward from your hips and lift your arms, keeping them straight. If you have back problems, either avoid this pose or do it with your knees bent to reduce pressure on your lower back. Hold this pose for about 10 seconds, keeping your neck and body relaxed and breathing deeply. To move out of the pose, breathe in and look up, then, on your next inhalation, come up to standing position.

Hare pose (shashankasana) This pose helps calm an overactive mind, common in headache sufferers, bringing fresh blood and oxygen into your head and soothing your nervous system. It’s good for calming anger and inducing a peaceful state of mind. If you have very high blood pressure, a slipped disc or vertigo, don’t do this pose.



ease the pain

Hare pose

Sit on your heels and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, bend forward and place your head on the ground, keeping your arms by the sides of your body. If your head cannot reach the ground you can rest it either on a rolled-up towel or you can make your hands into loose ďŹ sts and place your head on them. Now relax completely in this position. If possible, stay here for up to 3 minutes. If not, stay for as long as you feel comfortable.

Yoga nidra Hare pose variation

Lie on your back with your eyes closed, arms by your sides. Now gently and effortlessly take your awareness through the different parts of your body from your feet up to your head. Take 5–10 minutes to do this. Then roll onto your right and come up to sitting position for the following breathing practices.

Breathing exercises (pranayama) Margaret Holiday believes dysfunctional breathing patterns contribute to headaches, and clinical psychotherapist Richard Miller has noticed that headache sufferers often have upper respiratory, shallow breathing. Consciously working on your

Yoga nidra

breath is a very powerful way of reducing the stress and tension in your system and easing the discomfort of headaches. For Arati Joshi, a technical officer at the Institute for Clinical Pathology and Medical Research at Westmead Hospital, learning the sudarshan kriya breathing technique had a huge effect on her health. She went from having around three migraines a day to no more than one a month since practising this method daily. While sudarshan kriya is a longer breathing technique learnt over a series of days, the following

Nadi shodana

techniques are great for headache sufferers, especially where headaches are stress-related.

Hare pose ... helps calm an overactive mind, common in headache sufferers, bringing fresh blood and oxygen into your head and soothing your nervous system. T H E YO G A E X P E R I E N C E


ease the pain

Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) Sit comfortably, spine straight, head in a neutral position. Place your left hand in chin mudra (rest your hand on your left leg, palm open to the sky, thumb and forefinger lightly touching). Now place your right hand in front of your face with your ring finger resting lightly on your left nostril, your thumb resting lightly on your right nostril. Lightly close your right nostril and take a slow breath in through your left nostril. Now close your left nostril and slowly exhale through the right. Inhale through your right nostril and then exhale through your left. This is one round. Complete nine rounds and sit quietly with your eyes closed. If you already have a meditation practice, this is a good time to do it, as nadi shodana prepares your mind for meditation. If not, sit quietly for 10 minutes, effortlessly observing your thoughts and your breath.

Breath of victory (ujjayi breathing) Sit with your eyes closed and body relaxed. Now take your awareness to your breath. Gently contract the muscles in the back of your throat until you hear a sound similar to that of a baby snoring. Lengthen your breath and keep it light, without force or strain. Begin by practising this for up to five minutes, working up towards 15 minutes. You can practise this while lying down but it’s more beneficial to practise it in a sitting position with eyes closed.

Meditation Having a regular meditation practice

What else can I do?

digestive fire is highest (between

10am and 1pm).

vegetarian diet, increasing your

not only reduces your chances of developing a headache in the first place, it increases your body’s ability to eliminate a headache when you get one. Research conducted by Herbert Benson, MD, Helen P Klemchuck, AB,

reduce the incidence of headache by at least 37 per cent and that certain forms of meditation can completely eliminate headaches.

Support your body ergonomically.

intake of fruits and green vegetables.

If you work at a computer, place your

Avoid rich foods (especially cheese,

computer screen lower than your

chocolate and alcohol), caffeine, fried

eyes, or angle it downwards to relieve

foods, spicy foods, processed foods

strain. Make sure your forearms are

and leftovers. Drink 10–15 glasses of

parallel to your desk. Avoid slouching

fresh water every 24 hours.

and John R Graham, MD, shows that a regular meditation practice can

Mind your diet. Follow a simple

Avoid the triggers. Learn to identify

and jutting your head forward. •

and avoid what triggers your headaches. Pitta-type people often

Get enough sleep. Aim for 6–8 hours a night.

Manage emotions. If you tend to get

get headaches when their pitta

tense or angry regularly, do something

(fire) is high. This could happen

to manage this. For example, learn

if they have had too much sun or

meditation and breathing techniques

have failed to eat lunch when the

and practise them daily.



sleep soundly

Yoga for sleep Put down the sleeping pills and pick up your yoga mat ... sleep is but a few stretches away. Words Veronica Joseph

If you’re tossing and turning and longing

bring your focus to the restorative poses

Why is sleep important?

for a night of uninterrupted, blissful sleep,

and meditative practices that soothe the

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep

there’s good news for you: yoga can help

body and mind. The intention here is not

can do — and it’s terrible what a bad

— and it doesn’t even require you to break

so much to improve strength or flexibility,

night’s sleep can do. It’s no secret that

a sweat. Sleeplessness is a situation many

but rather to loosen the muscles and

after a sound night’s sleep you typically

of us are all too familiar with. You’re lying

ease the mind to place you in the ideal

feel energised and alert, while poor sleep

in bed, staring at the clock and watching

state to be ready to sleep. But, before we

leaves you feeling like you are running on

the minutes tick by. At the same time,

get into the yogic practices, let’s look at

empty and often irritable and disengaged.

you’re replaying your day in your head or

why sleep is so important.

thinking about what tomorrow will bring.

Sleep is so important because it offers the body a chance to rejuvenate. Sleep,

How much sleep do you need?

in fact, has been called an anti-ageing

running through your mind combined

There are many different numbers thrown

mechanism as it allows the body’s cells to

with a tense and tight body leaves you

around when discussing how many hours

heal and replenish. It is a dynamic process,

feeling restless and far from the peaceful

we should sleep. The truth is the number

during which the brain is at work. Among

state you want to be in before going

differs from person to person and will

the many functions the brain assists with

to bed. But help is at hand via a series

also vary according to age. Babies, for

during sleep are regenerating tissues,

of gentle stretches combined with

instance, require around 16 to 18 hours

normalising hormone levels, restoring

breathing exercises that will do wonders

a day as they undergo greater levels of

depleted energy reserves and replenishing

for relaxing the body and mind and

cellular growth. School-aged children and

the areas of the brain responsible

preparing you for sleep.

teenagers need about nine to 10 hours of

for emotional and social functioning,

good sleep, while adults generally need

information retrieval and the preservation

about seven to eight hours.

of emotional memories.

An endless stream of thoughts

When you use yoga to particularly address sleep problems, you need to



sleep soundly



sleep soundly

As a result, if we do not receive

sleeping issues due to physical pain or

adequate good sleep there can be

discomfort as a result of a particular

repercussions such as fatigue, poor focus

ailment, your teacher will be able to

and concentration, irritability, mood swings

advise certain asanas to help relax these

and, in the long run, a shorter life span due

areas of the body so you aren’t tossing

to the effects on many aspects of health.

and turning throughout the night. Although yoga has great benefits when

Inside insomnia

it comes to aiding sleep, just remember

Yoga as an insomnia treatment is a

not all postures are ideal for relaxing the

comprehensive topic in itself. However, as

nervous system. Backbends, for instance,

insomnia is a common sleeping problem,

are invigorating and awaken and open the

we’ll cover the basics. A number of factors

body, so it’s best to refrain from these.

can contribute to insomnia, one of the most common being stress. Insomnia commonly afflicts people whose nervous systems are in an almost constant state of stimulation in which the fight-or-flight response is activated. When in this onedge state, the body’s stress response can be easily set off. Consequently, insomniacs produce higher levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Studies have found yoga can reduce high levels of cortisol. As a result, yoga’s ability to calm the nervous system and the mind illustrates the potential it can offer those afflicted with insomnia. Asanas and meditation, in particular, can reduce muscle tension and fluctuations of the mind to help ensure a satisfying night’s rest.

How yoga aids sleep Yoga and meditation are not instant cures for sleeping problems. However, regular practice can assist when it comes to falling asleep and getting better-quality sleep. There are many yoga poses or asanas that are ideal to help you get to sleep as they relax the central nervous system. These are largely restorative poses. They are poses of surrender in which you let the tightness of the muscles melt away and the mind to completely relax. Forward bends are known for their relaxing, stress-relieving qualities and thus are useful here. For those who have



sleep soundly

Cultivating breath awareness relaxes the body and offers a point of focus but will not overstimulate the mind. It’s the yogic alternative to counting sheep.

a basic exercise, breathe in deeply through the nose. Allow the exhalations to be twice as long as the inhalations. However, be wary of extending your exhalations to a point where it is uncomfortable. Keep it at an easy level and maintain this pace and focus on every breath. Although breathing exercises are very beneficial for preparing the body for sleep, it’s important that they are the right type. Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) or ujjayi (whisper) breath are effective techniques here. Steer clear of energising practices such as kapalabhati (forehead cleansing technique), which awaken the body.

Practices for bedtime Focus on the exhale

During the day we build up a lot of stress

Learning to quieten the mind offers great

in our bodies and minds. For instance,

benefits in any yoga practice, especially

some people accumulate stress in their

when it’s to help ensure better-quality

backs or necks. If you don’t do a lot of

sleep. In yoga, great emphasis is placed

physical activity or you spend long hours

on bringing your focus to and extending

sitting in front of the computer, stretching

your exhalations to help foster a sense of

out tight limbs with yoga and releasing

relaxation. Putting aside a few minutes to

stress and tensions stored here can make

cultivate breath awareness before going

all the difference.

to bed helps calm the fluctuations of the

If you are sick of trying unsuccessfully

mind. Cultivating breath awareness relaxes

to enter the land of nod, following are

the body and offers a point of focus but

some simple asanas and yogic practices

will not overstimulate the mind. It’s the

you can try for blissful sleep. The following

yogic alternative to counting sheep.

poses are largely restorative, reclining

Deep, diaphragmatic breathing soothes

poses that create an ideal mindset and

the sympathetic nervous system and

will have you clear, calm and ready for

increases carbon dioxide levels. This also

sleep. Yoga props such as bolsters and

slows the heartbeat, helps the body and

blankets can also be used in these poses

mind rest and, ideally, gets you to sleep. For

to ensure they are truly restorative.



sleep soundly

Easy pose

Sleep ... offers the body a chance to rejuvenate. Sleep, in fact, has been called an anti-ageing mechanism as it allows the body’s cells to heal and replenish.

Easy pose (sukhasana) Twists can be dynamic and invigorating. However, seeing as our purpose is restoration and relaxation, keep this pose very gentle and use it to stretch out the spine and release any stress accumulated there. Sit cross-legged. Bring the right hand just behind the right hip. Place the back of the left hand outside the right knee. Lengthen the spine upward, then start twisting from the lower abdominal and rotate the head over the right shoulder. Keep the twist soft. Close the eyes and relax. Forward bend

Forward bend (paschimottanasana) This is a gentle variation of the forward bend and resembles more a forward stretch. Sit on the mat and extend both legs in front of you. Raise the arms up. Lengthen the spine and enter the forward stretch. Rather than go into the full forward bend where the head comes close to the knees, keep it gentle. Bring the hands to the feet. Keep the head up. Continue to extend the spine Reclining cobbler’s pose

and look forward.

Reclining cobbler’s pose (supta baddha konasana) Begin sitting upright. Touch the soles of the feet together and let the hips open. Slowly lower the back and recline on the floor. Relax your arms at your sides with the palms facing upward. Close the eyes and focus on your eyebrow centre. Breathe slowly.



sleep soundly

Supine twist

Supine twist (jathara parivartanasana) Lie on your back with the legs extended. Bend the left knee and pull it across the body over to the right side. Extend the left arm at your side. Keep the shoulders on the mat and ensure the extended leg remains straight.

Gas-relieving pose (pawan muktasana) Gas-relieving pose

Lie on your back. Bend the knees and bring them close to the chest. Wrap the arms around the legs and gently rock side to side. This pose massages the pressure points on the spine and also places gentle pressure on the abdominal organs.

During yoga nidra, you stay awake and move your consciousness from the external world and redirect it inward so you can penetrate into deeper levels of awareness.

Yoga nidra

Try yoga nidra

yoga nidra is said to promote a more

deeply, focusing on your exhalations to

Yoga nidra is a complete science in

relaxed state of sleep than is otherwise

help foster relaxation.

itself, so we’ll just offer an overview of

obtained. This isn’t to say that yoga

the practice here. Yoga nidra is also

nidra should replace sleep, but it is a

practice involves rotating your

known as yogic sleep. It is a restful state

useful practice to try if you have trouble

consciousness and bringing awareness

of awareness in which you practise

sleeping or even as a prelude to sleeping.

to particular parts of the body. To

pratyahara, or sense withdrawal. During

There are many yoga nidra CDs and

foster awareness of a particular point

practice, you stay awake and move

transcripts available in which a voice will

of the body, simply bring your focus or

your consciousness from the external

guide you through the practice.

direct the breath to the area and feel it

world and redirect it inward so you can

For a basic yoga nidra practice, assume

From here, a typical yoga nidra

becoming relaxed and soft. Do this for

savasana. Rest on the back. Let the arms

each individual part of the body. For

Most people lose awareness within

rest at your side, palms facing upright.

instance, start at the toes and then direct

the ďŹ rst few minutes as they enter the

Bring some distance between the legs

your focus to the ankle, knee, calf, thigh

state of sleep. Yoga nidra extends and

and let the feet splay outwards. Gently

and so on. Move up the leg to the chest,

preserves your awareness. During yoga

close the eyes and completely surrender.

arms and eventually to the head. Maintain

nidra, alpha waves predominate. As alpha

Let the body melt into the mat and

a relaxed state of awareness and do not

activity is characteristic of relaxation,

release any tension. Breathe slowly and

allow thoughts to penetrate.

penetrate into deeper levels of awareness.



gain intimacy

Yoga for sex Are your mind, heart and soul able to give and receive energy and peace through sex — or is your sexy time one-dimensional? Discover the sacred nature of sexual love and expression through yoga. Words Kylie Terraluna

In the modern world, sex is everywhere. Sex sells and is big business. Sex is splashed

ejaculation. Yet there is another way. Katie Manitas of Jivamukti Yoga

across almost every screen and billboard you

interprets brahmacharya as not harming

see. It feels good to be sexy, to be desired.

another through your sexual activities.

Yet sex sold in the spirit of raunchy fun is

Donna Fahri, author of Yoga Mind, Body &

without the intimacy the soul longs for.

Spirit, translates the concept as an energy

The pervasive cheapening of the

exchange or merging energies with God,

sacredness of sex in society leaves many

“a kind of omnidimensional celebration

feeling empty and spiritually void in their

of Eros in all forms”. Heart of Yoga’s Mark

sexual relationships. One path to deeply

Whitwell asserts that life is about making

satisfying sexual experiences and genuine

use of desire, not suppressing it. In The

love from intimacy is through your sacred

Promise: Love, Sex and Intimacy, he

yoga journey.

teaches, “Your Seven-Minute Wonder: a gentle pranayama (breathing) practice

• Ahimsa (non-harming) through selfacceptance and compassion in sex • Satya (truthfulness) through honest communication of each other’s needs • Asteya (not stealing) by respecting someone’s sexual boundaries • Aparigraha (not grasping) in your sexual desires • Sauca (purity) through cleanliness and simplifying clutter, to allow the sacred to be felt • Santosha (contentment) in sex and sexual partners • Tapas (burning enthusiasm) so sexual

Brahmacharya: connecting

with simple asanas (postures), promising

desire doesn’t wane, especially when

with the divine self

greater intimacy in all relationships,

career, children or hobbies take over

In the classic yogic text The Yoga Sutras

especially your sexual relationship, when

of Patanjali, one key ethical principle is

performed daily for three months.”

brahmacharya. This is usually translated as

From this perspective, brahmacharya

• Svadhyaya (self-study) as self-reflective consciousness in sex • Isvara pranidhana (celebration of the

sexual abstinence. Yogic celibates take a

shows you how to use your sexual energy,

vow not to engage in any sexual practices

making it a consciously joyful act. You can

in thought, word and deed in order to

apply all other yamas and the niyamas to

precepts separately and explore them

redirect the powerful sexual life energy for

this key ethical concept in thought, word

deeply through your sexuality and sexual

spiritual purity rather than lose it through

and deed. Apply:

responses to life.



spiritual) through devotion in lovemaking You can take each of these ethical

gain intimacy



gain intimacy

Yoga for sex

of what you can offer each other. In this

connection with a partner if/when the

An authentic yoga practice of asana,

act of offering without expectation, you

time comes.

pranayama and dhyana (meditation) can

transcend cultural sexual dysfunction and

remove barriers that prevent you from

allow the loving act of sex to become

seeking enlightenment or something

connecting with your own divinity. Yoga

a yoga practice in itself, developing

outside of yourself, but becoming intimate

is not about striving for an end goal or

awareness, respect and intimacy.

with the divine self that is already perfect

forcing yourself beyond what you are ready

Senior hatha yoga teacher Eve

Mark Whitwell says life is not about

within you. He says intimacy with another

for; neither is a deeply satisfying spiritual-

Grzybowski talks of the humility

is not possible until you experience

sexual experience with someone you love.

and devotion to the relationship a

intimacy with your own life, “with your

commitment to sexual union brings,

own body and breath”.

In yoga practice, if you surrender to the present moment, practise joyfully without

particularly after an argument. Someone

judgement, challenge yourself safely

has to surrender, she says. A sexual


and allow the breath to move you closer

relationship based on devotion, generosity

Diane Riley of the Australian School of

to knowing the universal self, you can

and mental flexibility improves all other

Tantra explains tantra as a way of life.

move into lasting peace and happiness.

relationships in your life.

Combining the heat of the genitals with

Sex can do the same while providing an

the warmth of the heart and the cool bliss

intimate and joyful connection with your

Going solo

of meditation, tantra integrates all aspects

partner (or yourself) as a divine human

If you are not in a loving sexual

of yourself. Tantric practices are about

connection and expression of love.

relationship with another, you can still

giving and receiving sexual energy for

When you approach sex with

use these guidelines by yourself. Get

more soulful sex.

conscious awareness and become mindful

to know your desires, likes and dislikes.

in every moment, you let go of striving

Use the breath to find intimacy with

program how to combine the body, heart,

for sexual performance and instead

the self through asana and pranayama

mind and soul within yourself, then with

become open and generous in the spirit

in preparation for a deeper sexual

your partner through lovemaking. A sense



Riley teaches couples in her Love Works

gain intimacy

of timelessness and boundlessness, and a

is recommended to promote strength

in line with an authentic yoga journey. Use

deep connection with all things can occur.

and maintain sexual energy.

the breath to connect to and enjoy your

In preparation for sex, Riley suggests you:

sexual partner and find the divinity of

1. Set a sacred space for lovemaking.

Other benefits of yoga for sex

2. Become present with each other

Yoga attunes you to the intricacies of your

your true self that resides in us all.

body and mind and generates feeling

Yoga for sex sequence

3. Devote and set an intention.

on many levels. It awakens your senses

This sequence opens your mind, heart

4. Connect and open at the heart,

to subtle vibrations. Yoga prepares you

and soul for giving and receiving energy

through the breath and movement to feel

and peace through sex. Make an intimate

5. Practise passionate sexual embrace.

deeper connections and greater pleasure

connection with the breath throughout

6. Commune ecstatically in body, heart

during sex. It also increases blood flow

the practice, inhaling and exhaling equally

and strengthens the pelvic region. Yoga

and honouring the pauses or breath

enhances the endurance, flexibility and

retentions within the pose and between

strength required for a wider variety of

the poses. Let go of striving and begin

through breathing.

verbalising words of love.

and soul.

Kundalini Katie Manitas of Jivamukti Yoga says

your practice with an intention in humility

kundalini yoga is often incorrectly

and energetic openness, in the spirit of

thought of as sex yoga. Yogi Bhajan, the

joyfulness for deeper spiritual and sexual

creator of kundalini yoga, emphasised

connection with life. Please switch on the bandhas if you

monogamous relationships and deeper sexual commitment. He warned that any

are familiar with them. Bandhas are three

sexual relationship you have stays in your

specific muscular contractions and energy

energetic body for the rest of your life, so

locks in the body. Mula bandha (root

choose your partners wisely.

lock) lifts the pelvic floor while moving

Manitas explains that sexual problems,

the abdomen back towards the spine.

disorders or negative experiences can

Uddiyana bandha (diaphragm lock) moves

create a hole in your aura. In kundalini

ribs away from hips and upper abdominals

yoga, a master teacher can prescribe

back towards the spine. Jalandhara

specific kriyas (sets of kundalini yoga

bandha (chin lock) moves front of the

postures) to heal this damage. Sex has the

throat back towards back of the throat to

potential to either enhance or deplete our

lengthen the back of the neck.

energy, depending on the intention and emotion behind the acts of intimacy.


sexual positions as well as longer duration.

Ayurveda recognises sex as an integral

Yoga releases tension, heals and supports

part of life (dinacharya). According to

the nervous system and balances the flow

ayurveda, nourishing the sense organs in

of energy in the ida and pingala nadis

preparation for sex is important not only

(channels) within you.

for intimacy but to satisfy and permeate

Sexual energy is a sacred life force

consciousness. Ayurveda texts suggest

to be embraced, whether you choose

flowers, soft silk clothing, sweet perfumes,

celibacy or sexual intercourse. Approach

light, nourishing food and sweet music.

your sex life with an intention of light

Ayurveda believes excessive

and love, embracing peace, passion and

indulgence in sex dissipates the ojas (the

desire in an honest and intimate way. The

living fluid of life found in the tissues

trust, openness and sacred yogic tools

of the body), weakening the immune

you bring to your sex life will give you

system. Drinking homemade almond milk

deeper, soul-satisfying sexual experiences


In this act of offering without expectation, you transcend cultural sexual dysfunction and allow the loving act of sex to become a yoga practice in itself, developing awareness, respect and intimacy.


gain intimacy

The trust, openness and sacred yogic tools you bring to your sex life will give you deeper, soul-satisfying sexual experiences in line with an authentic yoga journey. Swaying palm tree Stand in tadasana, or mountain pose, feet together and legs engaged, bandhas on. Inhale and stretch arms above the head, palms together, shoulders down. Exhale, taking arms to the right, Swaying palm tree

keeping hips centred and turning chest and abdomen slightly upwards. Hold position, then inhale, coming back to original position, stretching upwards, shoulders down. Exhale and repeat on the left side. Link movement with the breath, becoming intimate with sensations of breath and movement in your body. Allow the breath to initiate the movement for six rounds.

Downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) Place hands on floor, fingers facing forward and evenly spread Downward-facing dog

on mat. Step feet back one leg length distance from hands. Lift sitting bones and draw inner legs up towards the groin. Inhale into all fours or cat position, knees on the floor working the bandhas. Exhale, come back into downward-facing dog, holding the pose and working legs and bhandas. Repeat movement sequence six times with breath.

Dolphin On all fours, hold hands together, fingers interlocked, elbows Dolphin

slightly less than shoulder width apart. Exhale and lift knees off the floor, walking feet slightly towards hands. Lift shoulders away from floor. Keeping head off the floor, work with the breath, moving the body forward over the hands on the inhale, then back to original position, lining up the shoulders and elbows on the exhale. Work dynamically back and forth with the breath. Rest in child’s pose, knees together, forehead on floor, arms alongside body, buttocks towards heels.


Locust (salabhasana) Lie on stomach, head on floor, arms at sides. Internally rotate thighs, then equally lift forehead, chest and legs off floor. Hold position and breathe slowly and steadily. Increase height of backbend on inhale if comfortable. Release on exhale and relax in child’s pose. This pose strengthens spinal muscles so is good preparation for

Child's pose

a variety of sexual positions. It also stimulates abdominal organs and relieves stress.



gain intimacy

Camel (ustrasana) Kneel with knees hip width apart, turning thighs in slightly. Place the hands on back of the hips, fingers facing down. Move hips forward, pressing front of thighs backwards as you lean gradually into a back arch. Stay here or place hands on soles of feet. Move upper torso forward to open your chest. Allow head to drop back when in full pose. Breathe and hold pose for a minute.


Rest in child’s pose. This pose strengthens the back and stretches the deep hip flexors and entire front of the body.

Upavistha konasana with a twist Sit with legs at 90-degree angle. Flex feet towards you, energise legs and press knees down. Inhale, pivot from hips to come forward with a straight spine, resting hands in front. If achievable with a straight spine, hold feet. Work with the breath, hold position for a minute, ensuring knees are squarely facing up. Use a folded blanket to sit on if necessary. Come back to centre, lift spine, then twist from hips to the right, placing hands on either side of right leg. Exhale and increase the twist. Continue to work with the breath in this way. Come back to


centre and repeat on left side. This pose stimulates the abdominal organs, calms the brain and releases the groin. The twist sends fresh oxygenated blood to

Upavistha konasana

the spine.

Seated forward bend (paschimottanasana) Sit at the edge of a folded blanket with legs straight and together. Flex feet towards you, inhale and raise arms above head. Exhale and fold forward from the hips with a straight spine, keeping bandhas on, looking downward. If possible, hold the outer edges of feet. Stay in the pose for a minute, working with

Upavistha konasana with a twist

the breath. This pose stimulates liver, kidneys, ovaries and uterus, relieves stress and stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings.

Feel connected Following the sequence, lie down to rest and renew your entire body and mind, allowing each cell to absorb the benefits of the

Photography Seda Ada

yoga practice. Finally, come into a seated meditation position and Seated forward bend

place your hands in prayer position at your heart centre in the middle of the chest. Feel peace, stillness and small movements through breath, intimacy and connection with your body, mind and soul. Express gratitude for the opportunity to develop self-love and connection, for greater sexual union as a path for human intimacy and knowing of the divine. Namaste.



be constructive

Yoga to manage conflict It’s inevitable that conflict, either internal or external, will occur in your life. Fortunately, your yoga practice can help you deal with it constructively. Words Veronica Joseph

Whether at work, home or even within yourself, it is inevitable

This causes issues in terms of moving forward toward a positive

that conflict in some form will arise in the course of your daily

resolution. Dvesa (aversion) is an emotional repulsion manifesting

life. In Western society we are very fortunate that the conflict we

as prejudice and hatred, which makes it difficult for us to grow

experience is not generally the violent, life-threatening type that

and learn from life’s experiences. The final affliction, abhinivesa,

people in some countries are exposed to. Instead, it commonly

translates to fear of death or clinging to life. Abhinivesa refers to

manifests as a conflict of egos or a conflict of ideas.

our ambition of self-preservation, which leads us to continually

Conflict is impossible to completely avoid, so the key lies in

perpetuate the ego. It really underpins all the other afflictions

managing it effectively. Here, we will take a look at conflict and

and, by mastering this, you can free yourself from the obstacle

how it arises from a yogic point of view. We’ll then discover how

fear presents and maintain your presence of the mind.

yogic tools of breathwork and asanas can help you calm your

The five afflictions can help you understand, on a yogic level,

mind and look within, so you may approach and deal with the

the elements and emotions at the source of a disagreement or

situation in a positive and constructive way.

conflict. When you are in a state of imbalance, the afflictions and the ego dominate. Your ego is your source of pride. It must be

The five afflictions

heard. It must be right. It must be defended. The limited mindset

BKS Iyengar, one of the world’s foremost yoga teachers until his

that comes with this prevents you from moving forward.

death in 2014, referred to five afflictions that are interwoven into

BKS Iyengar taught that, as you practise yoga, with the

the fibre of all beings. When you are in a state of disharmony or

ultimate purpose of connecting with a force greater than

imbalance, these patterns of disturbance or afflictions manifest

ourselves, life’s afflictions and obstacles interfere with you less.

and can exacerbate and run riot in particular circumstances, such

Yogic practices seek to find balance and allow you to look within

as a conflict.

and find greater perspective and meaning. The concentration,

The first of the afflictions, avidya (ignorance), refers to

reflection and inward absorption that come with this can help

lack of understanding that prevents us from seeing the truth.

you master the afflictions and problems of the conflicted,

This is something we are commonly guilty of in any sort of

imbalanced self and unlock the inner strength and clarity needed

disagreement. This leads on to asmita (pride, ego). When

to tackle the issue at hand.

you refuse to see the other side of the coin in a conflict or disagreement, your pride can cause you to stick to your guns,

Conflict & ahimsa

to never admit you are wrong and to never back down. The next

Although you may now have an understanding of how conflict

affliction, raga, refers to attachment. This attachment might be

arises, it’s inevitable that it will emerge throughout various points

to physical, material objects or could mean an inability to let go

in your lifetime. Thankfully, yogic philosophy offers some insights

of something, whether it be past experiences or points of view.

into dealing with conflict constructively.



be constructive



be constructive

Eventually, the acts of nonviolent resistance and the principles of ahimsa contributed to disarming the British and saw India gain independence.

For many of us, the ego is the most

allows us to open our hearts and minds. When

intimate part of us we know. So it makes

you experience conflict, the aspect of non-

sense that during a clash of egos or a conflict

physical violence is important to remember.

of opinions you take everything personally,

All of us have been guilty of thinking and

become defensive and often turn to anger.

saying negative things about someone we

Sometimes, you express anger in the form

have had a disagreement with. These negative

of a verbal retaliation or repress it and dwell

thoughts are not constructive and don’t come

on it with negative thoughts. You may direct

from a good place. That’s why ahimsa stresses

these thoughts against the person or issue in

the need to draw on non-violent principles of

question or even at yourself for not handling

compassion and love when dealing with the

or saying something as you intended. The

thoughts, actions and expressions of others,

anger you express here, in yogic terms, can

as well as ourselves.

be considered a form of violence, or himsa, which does not practically manage or find a resolution to the conflict.

One of the best known examples of ahimsa

When you speak ill of others and harbour

is Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent resistance.

negativity, these actions eventually end up

Under British rule, Indians were subjected to

hurting you — they’re a form of self-violence.

great injustices. They suffered bloodshed and

Just think of all the tension, stress, frustration

mental and physical subjugation at the hands

and even depression that build as a result of a

of their colonisers. Despite the great cruelty

conflict. Whether you express it or bottle it up,

and brutality experienced, Gandhi refused

all that agonising and worrying takes a toll on

to respond in kind. Instead, he conducted

your body and mind.

hunger strikes, boycotts, marches and civil

Ahimsa refers to the practice of non-


Applying ahimsa

disobedience campaigns that empowered

violence. This means both physical and non-

the Indian people. Eventually, the acts of non-

physical violence toward others and yourself.

violent resistance and the principles of ahimsa

There are many layers to ahimsa, but essentially

contributed to disarming the British and saw

it teaches truth, love and understanding and

India gain independence.


be constructive

People may tend to think of ahimsa

want to practise pratyahara, or sense

as being passive, but it requires great

withdrawal. This is when we take our

inner strength. It’s not about rolling

awareness, our senses and our feelings

over and submitting, but it’s not

inward to allow ourselves to open up

about being self-righteous either. It’s

and truly experience inner peace.

about letting go of the ego, pride and attachment to these ideals. In a dispute, even when you are in

Focusing on your breath allows you to temporarily take your mind off the issue at hand. In a conflict, we are often

the right or dealing with someone who

faced with questions of how to act

is irrational, drawing on the principles

or deal with an issue. In turn, this can

of ahimsa can allow you to practise

create an internal conflict that stirs up

humility and compassion so you gain

all sorts of feelings. It can tear us up

a better understanding of others and

emotionally, with thoughts and worries

the world. Rather than dismiss one

forever rolling in the back of our

person’s point of view because it does

minds. The clarity that comes with the

not match with yours, take it on board.

concentration yoga and breathwork

Rather than resort to negative and

allow lets us keep a presence of the

destructive thoughts and actions, look

mind. If we can attain a clear, open

for positive and constructive solutions.

mind and get past its afflictions, we

By approaching conflict and other struggles with an open heart and mind, you can learn to rise above the ego

have a much better chance of finding a resolution that will benefit all. Taking that negative energy that has

and afflictions and gain a much richer

arisen as a result of a conflict or that

understanding of yourself and others.

has caused the conflict, and looking

In turn, you can better approach the

within, will help you calm these forces

situation at hand and grow. This can be

and disturbances. This doesn’t mean

easier said than done, so first you must

they will altogether quell or suppress

cultivate the right kind of mindset.

any feelings you have; instead, it might give you the perspective and clarity to

If we can attain a clear, open mind and get past its afflictions, we have a much better chance of finding a resolution that will benefit all.

The power of the breath

deal with it in a productive manner, one

Whether you are facing conflict within

that perhaps involves ahimsa.

yourself or with another person, yoga is a wonderful mechanism to help

The warrior within

calm your body and mind. The breath

Yoga asanas can further help you

plays a crucial role here. In yoga, we

cultivate a calm and collected mindset.

often tell students to “take a deep

I have chosen the following poses

breath” or to focus on the exhale.

for their combination of restorative,

This is because a deep, full breath

balancing and energising effects.

produces a deep, full exhalation. This

The selection from the warrior series

creates a calming sensation and a

literally releases the spiritual warrior

quieting effect in the body and mind.

within you, associated with courage,

Try simply inhaling to the count of

confidence and stamina. I’ve also

four and exhaling to six. Open your

included some balancing poses so you

chest and take a deep breath so the

can find peace in the opposing sides

belly expands. Now, prolong your

of your body, and restorative poses,

exhale and allow your stomach to fall.

which will give you a chance to look

During this exercise we ideally also

within and focus on the breath.



be constructive

Your ego is your source of pride. It must be heard. It must be right. It must be defended. The limited mindset that comes with this prevents you from moving forward. Warrior I (virabhadrasana I) Begin in tadasana, mountain pose. Step your left foot back so there is a

Warrior I

considerable amount of distance between your feet. Rotate your left foot so it is on a 45-degree angle. Bring your hands to the hips and ensure they are square. Bend your right knee so it comes directly above the ankle. Keep your knee pointed slightly toward your right little toe. Then, inhale and lift your arms up to the ceiling. Shoulders should be relaxed, but the stretch should actively continue up the arms. Keep your back leg straight with the left foot firmly on the mat. Hold for up to

Warrior II

a minute and repeat on the other side.

Warrior II (virabhadrasana II) Begin in tadasana in the centre of the mat. Step or jump your legs apart. Raise your hands and bring the fingertips together so they meet at the sternum, then outstretch the arms. Rotate your right foot out 90 degrees and bring the left foot in slightly. Exhale and bend the right knee over the ankle. Do not let your torso move too far right. Keep it centred and lengthen the

Warrior III

spine upward. Do not let your arms drop. Keep them in a straight line.

Warrior III (virabhadrasana III) Lift up your hands and bring them down to the floor in uttanasana, forward bend. Lift your head up, then raise your right leg so it makes a 90-degree angle with the body. Keep the leg straight and in line with the hip. With both hands on the floor, attempt to square your hips so they are centred. Then inhale, keep your arms Forward bend

straight and lift them so they are in line



be constructive

with the extended right leg. Keep the balancing leg strong and straight. Maintain the harmony of the pose.

Forward bend (paschimottanasana) Sit with legs extended in front of you. Raise both hands on the inhale and exhale, bringing your hands towards your feet. On the inhale, lift your head and lengthen the spine forward. On the exhale, soften and Forward bend

lower your head toward your legs. Keep the spine straight and focus on the breath and the lengthening and softening motion.

Ahimsa stresses the need to draw on non-violent principles of compassion and love when dealing with the thoughts, actions and expressions of others, as well as ourselves. Child’s pose

Child’s pose (balasana) Begin in vajrasana, sitting on your shins on your mat. Start to lower your forehead to the mat and then outstretch your arms. Walk your fingers as far away as possible so the stretch runs from shoulders to fingertips. Keep your elbows elevated off the mat. Focus on your mind’s eye. For a gentle stretch, walk both hands over to the right side and hold. Then walk them over to the left. This is a pose of surrender Child’s pose

where you release the ego, calm the mind and let go of any pent-up emotions.

Eagle’s pose (garudasana) This pose is about balancing opposing sides to find harmony in the body. Standing upright, cross your left hand underneath the right. Bend the elbows, wrap your arms around each other and bring the palms together. Bend your knees and bring the left leg over the right. Lift your elbows so they are at shoulder height

Eagle's pose

and maintain complete concentration.



meet challenges

Yoga for fears Just as fear can manifest in many ways, yoga can provide you with many ways to overcome it. Words Veronica Joseph

Picture this scenario. You’re in a yoga class and

asanas, such as backbends or inversions, are

the teacher announces that everyone is going to

obstacles in themselves. The key to these poses

practise a headstand. Do you a) rub your hands

doesn’t just lie in strength. It’s about finding

together and immediately get into position or b)

perfect balance and harmony. Once you find

cringe and say, “I don’t think so!”? If you love a

the courage to attempt the pose and you find

challenge and go for the first option — good for

that alignment, you’ll realise the challenge really

you. Just remember to always practise safely. If

wasn’t that big after all.

you choose the latter, you are potentially missing out on a great opportunity. After all, taking

What is fear?

advantage of the challenges that spring up in

Fear isn’t always a bad thing. We need to have a

yoga can help us face the fears and obstacles

certain degree of fear to alert us of danger and

that also arise in our everyday lives.

protect us. This “healthy” fear is the kind that

In yoga, when people avoid poses or refuse

prevents us from walking into oncoming traffic or

to do them altogether, fear is at play. Different

stops us from touching a dish hot from the oven

conditions or ailments can prevent you from

with our bare hands.

practising particular asanas, or poses. However,

However, in many cases, fear gets to a point

it’s not uncommon to find people who are

where it is unhealthy. Generally, our fears aren’t

otherwise healthy and, in some cases, even have

connected to life-threatening situations but

a few years of yoga experience behind them but

more fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of

turn down the challenge of certain poses, simply

change or fear of being unable to meet society’s

saying, “I’m afraid” or “It’s too hard”.

expectations. These fears are paralysing and can

Lifting your feet over your head or bending

hold you back from achieving your full potential.

over backward is understandably a far cry from a natural position so there is a perfectly legitimate

When fear manifests

fear of falling and injuring yourself. However,

Fear can manifest differently for different people.

when practising yoga with the assistance of a

Fear can often also mean stress, nervousness,

teacher or using props to create a modified pose,

anxiety, anger or sadness. Many of us know

we have to learn to put our faith and trust in

fear as the feeling of butterflies in the stomach,

not only someone or something else but, most

tension in the neck and shoulder or even as

importantly, ourselves. Yoga’s more challenging

sleepless nights when worry is on the mind. You



meet challenges

can’t banish fear altogether. Fear will

we start to think the fear isn’t as easy to

What’s your fear?

naturally arise during your life. However,

destroy as the original thought would

Do you fear failure? Are you frightened

when it does, you can learn to master

have been. These fears arise as we are

of public speaking or scared of heights?

it so it does not dominate us. Many

rooted in a mindset that focuses on

Are you afraid of putting trust in others

people refer to F.E.A.R as False Evidence

past actions (often with regret) and the

— or in yourself? Think about what you

Appearing Real, so what can you do

“what ifs” of the future. Chewing over

fear or the obstacles that may be holding

about it? Face Everything And Rejoice!

these thoughts isn’t constructive, so it’s

you back in life. Write them down on a

important we cultivate greater awareness

piece of paper or say them aloud. This is

Yogananda said fear is created when

The great yogi Paramahansa

and garner faith and trust in ourselves.

simply a way to define your fears and set

we mull over certain thoughts. These

To do this, we need to relax the body

you on the way to triumphing over them.

become rooted in the subconscious and

and mind, which is where yoga and

Of course, yoga is not a magical cure,

super-conscious mind and, eventually,

meditation can be of great help.

but certain poses can help you on your



meet challenges

way. Although poses such as inversions and backbends offer a great chance for emotional transformation, they are rife with obstacles when it comes to practising and maintaining the positions. It is precisely because of the challenge in store that these poses are also known to instil confidence, stamina and poise. Yes, standing on your head might seem daunting at first, but once you do it, what’s preventing you from applying for that new position at work or training for that marathon? If you can tap into that confidence, that inner strength you didn’t know you had, it can do amazing things on an emotional and spiritual level.

Prepare yourself When fear arises in yoga, it often comes from a deeperrooted place. For instance, it might be symbolic of our fear of opening up emotionally or represent our unwillingness to face our obstacles. Confronting these fears and barriers requires us to step out of our comfort zone, which is naturally something we resist doing. Rather than throw us in the deep end, yoga gives us the challenge and opportunity to step beyond our boundaries at a level we decide and offers a chance for greater spiritual inquiry while we’re at it. By attempting asanas that were once thought beyond our reach, such as inversions and backbends, we can transform our

practice and allow those benefits to translate into our

The great yogi Paramahansa Yogananda said fear is created when we mull over certain thoughts. These fears arise as we are rooted in a mindset that focuses on past actions (often with regret) and the “what ifs” of the future.

everyday lives as well. In yoga, we might excel in the final pose or we may lose our balance, just as when we face obstacles in life there may be success or failure. Regardless of the outcome, it’s a chance to learn and grow. The act of conquering the fear and facing the obstacle is an achievement in itself. In turn, it might give you the courage to do something you’ve never dreamed of or give you the motivation to tackle a goal you’ve been putting off for too long. Like life, yoga is a journey. When you muster the courage, confidence and willpower to tackle your fears, you harness your full potential and, in turn, evolve and grow.



meet challenges

The benefits

release emotional energy while opening

So now you're familiar with the emotional

the upper back, chest and shoulders. They

and mental benefits of these poses, let’s

can also help us better deal with stress

look at their effects on a physical level.

and thus help create a better mindset for us to meet our fears and obstacles.


“Healthy” fear is the kind that prevents us from walking into oncoming traffic or stops us from touching a dish hot from the oven with our bare hands.

Inverted poses are just that — poses

Asanas for fear

which invert the body and turn it upside

Remember, yoga is an individual journey.

down. As a result, inversions reserve the

Some leap at the chance to do a

effects of gravity, rejuvenate the mind

headstand while others dread it. Even if

and help to tone the internal organs.

you are enthusiastic, safety should always

Inversions boost circulation in the body. In

be your biggest concern. If you are a

particular, they allow for increased blood

newcomer, practise under the guidance

yourself to face the fear of the pose

flow to the head, including the brain and

of a teacher, take the poses gradually

by taking it in pieces or through

eyes, which improves their function.

and never rush into them. Your progress

modifications can gradually help you

However, at the same time, allowing

should be gradual and there’s a range of

reach a higher level of awareness in


poses you can try before building up to

both your practice and personal life. The

In yoga therapy classes, backbends

a greater challenge. Similarly, if you feel

following asanas seek to do exactly that.

are given to patients suffering from

like you aren’t ready for an inversion or

depression as they are literally and

backbend, that decision lies with you. No

poses, keep them fresh by adding a new

figuratively uplifting. They are known to

one should force you otherwise.

challenge. For instance, try to hold the

If you are already familiar with these

position for longer, add a variation or attempt the full pose. If you feel you have any conditions that may prevent you from practising inversions or backbends — for instance, spinal problems — seek the advice of your yoga teacher for alternative poses to try. So let’s put these asanas into practice.

Warming up & recovery Traditionally, inversions and backbends are done towards the end of a class. As they are physically demanding poses, ensure you warm up sufficiently and also practise other standing and sitting poses before getting to these. After an inversion or backbend, remember to slowly retreat into utthita balasana, or the extended child’s pose. This reverses the stretch and gives you a chance to relax. For this pose, bend the knees and rest the shins on the mat. Walk the arms forward and lower the forehead down. Keep the elbows elevated off the mat so you still get the benefit of a stretch in the recovery pose.



meet challenges

Wall backbend Stand one to two feet away with your back to the wall. Raise your hands over your head. Arch your back and bring your palms to the wall with the fingertips facing downward. Start to bend your knees, walk your hands further down the wall and open up the chest. Go as deep into the bend as comfortable and hold the pose. To exit, slowly walk your hands back up.

Wall backbend

By placing your hands over the heart in this mudra, you are concentrating your energy at the spiritual centre to help foster awareness and give you the courage to tackle your barriers.

Camel pose (ustrasana) Camel pose

Bend the knees and come on your shins. Square your hips to the front. Raise the right hand up to the ceiling and curl back and bring the left hand to the left foot. In the full pose, bring both hands to the feet. Lift up from the chest. Keep the neck long.

Half wheel (ardha chakrasana) Lie on your back. Keep the knees bent and feet on the mat. Place the palms down and roughly in line with the ears, fingertips pointing toward the shoulders. Inhale and lift the hips off the mat. Place Half wheel

the crown of the head on the mat. Let the chest open. In the full pose, straighten the elbows and lift the head off the mat.

Plough (halasana) First, enter shoulder stand (sarvangasana). Lie on your back then raise both legs. Lift the lower back off the mat and support yourself with both hands. Extend and straighten the legs upwards. From the shoulder stand, enter halasana by lowering one foot onto the mat. Then bring the foot back up and lower the opposite leg. Continue this repetitive movement or, if comfortable, bring both legs down Plough

at the same time and interlace the fingers behind the back.



meet challenges

Half handstand (ardha adho mukha vrksasana) Use the wall as a prop for this pose. Start by coming onto all fours and bring your feet close to the skirting on the wall. Spread your fingers apart. Lift your knees off the mat and start to walk your feet up the wall. Allow your body make a right angle. Keep the shoulders aligned as best as you can with the wrists and let the head drop downward. Half handstand preparation

Half headstand (ardha sirsasana) Create a tripod base. Bring the elbows onto the mat and interlace the fingers. Lower the crown of the head down and let the fingers cup the back of the head. Lift the knees off the mat and walk the feet inward so you assume a downward-doglike pose. Attempt to lift one leg at a time and maintain your balance. Release and repeat on the other side.

Ganesha mudra Complement these asanas by finishing with a meditative pose. This mudra is named after the Half handstand

Hindu elephant god, Ganesh, who is known as the remover of obstacles. By placing your hands over the heart in this mudra, you are concentrating your energy at the spiritual centre to help foster awareness and give you the courage to tackle your barriers. Choose any seated meditative pose and bring the left hand in front of the chest with the palm facing forward. Lift the right hand, palm facing inward, and grasp the fingers of both hands together. Keep the elbows elevated and place the hands over the heart. Combine this with deep, steady breathing. On the exhale, pull the hands apart but maintain the mudra. On the inhale, continue to maintain the grip but release all tension. Repeat six

Half headstand

times, then switch the position of the hands.

Extended child's pose

By attempting asanas that were once thought beyond our reach ... we can transform our practice and allow those benefits to translate into our everyday lives as well. 109


be compassionate

Yoga for compassion Yoga teaches we are connected as one so, when others suffer, it impacts your own ability to develop serenity. Developing compassion thus becomes about helping the whole. Words Kylie Terraluna

If everyone consciously practised compassion, the world would

(ahimsa), truthfulness (satya) and non-possessiveness

be a happier place. Yet defences can flare in place of compassion

(aparigraha) — in thought, speech and action — towards

when you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of others’ suffering.

someone you are having trouble with, then applying detachment

However, when you pause and allow in the suffering of others

to the outcomes (vairagya), you are more able to maintain a calm

with tolerance, without becoming that suffering, you discover

state of mind and refrain from getting caught up in an argument.

that compassion is human nature and has tremendously positive

This opens you to greater clarity of the situation so you see the

effects on who you are. The Dalai Lama says, “If you want others

other is suffering. Then, using the powerful practice of asana

to be happy, practise compassion. If you want to be happy,

(postures) and pranayama (breathing), you cleanse and discipline

practise compassion.”

your mind, thereby grounding and calming you to actively utilise

Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for

the wisdom needed to better deal with the situation.

another, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate their

Asana practice makes you intimate with your own pain in

suffering. It is not pity, being paralysed by another’s suffering or

a safe way so you are open to the pain of others. A lack of

helping out of duty without empathy. Compassion moves you

compassion may have deeper reasons behind it. It may be that

to action, is free of judgement and criticism, and utilises wisdom

to provide compassion to others lets your guard down so much

that comes through spiritual practices such as yoga.

that painful experiences you have not dealt with come flooding

In The Yoga Sutras, Patanjali refers to compassion (karuna)

to the surface, leaving you feeling vulnerable. These are times

towards those who are suffering as one of the four brahmavihara:

when a regular yoga practice can assist you to heal past hurts

ways of being in relationship with others. The other three ways

and help move you through current difficulties.

are to rejoice with the happy, be friendly to the virtuous, and be

If you are in need of compassion, connect with all those in the

impartial to the faults and imperfections of others.

world who may be suffering in a similar way. Understanding that

One of the five kleshas (causes of suffering) is asmita —

others are suffering just like you helps you to feel connected and

seeing yourself as separate or divided from the rest of the

not alone in your particular challenge, making it easier to deal with.

world. Patanjali explains that this separation is an illusion and

If you see someone suffering (whether loved one or

creates suffering. It can also immobilise you from performing

stranger), hold an image of them as you let go into your yoga

compassionate acts. However, with regular practice, you begin to

poses. Dedicate your practice to alleviating their suffering and

honour spirit in every living being so that compassion becomes

ask for the wisdom to act compassionately for this individual.

about assisting another as a part of your own self. This enhances

When you allow space for it, this wisdom will reveal itself.

your life and brings spiritual wealth and peace to you.

Compassionate acts aren’t always about giving money. The

Difficulties that arise with others become opportunities to

connection and care you give to another are tremendously

work with the ethics of yoga. By practising non-violence


healing in themselves.


be compassionate



be compassionate

Starting a compassion practice

This restorative yoga sequence helps cultivate

Begin each day with a moment of stillness and

compassion with supportive backbends that

cultivate compassion for others in the day ahead.

gently open your heart to emotion in a nurturing

Sit quietly in a cross-legged position with a

way. Begin with the compassion contemplation

straight spine. Take your awareness inward to

listed above. Finish with the described meditation

focus on your breath. Chant Aum (Om) three

as a powerful agent for change in your life.

times. Bless this day and express gratitude for

For this practice, you need a mat, a strap or

all you have in your life. Allow tolerance and

belt, two firm blankets and two bolsters. If you

fearlessness to enter your being.

don’t have bolsters, use three additional blankets

Say, “May I be an expression of peace in

or beach towels in place of each and fold neatly

every moment throughout this day. May I

to the height and length of the bolster shown.

develop awareness and have the opportunity

Ensure there are no kinks in your bolster shape

to practise compassionate acts with wisdom in

so you are lying over an even surface.

relationships today. May all beings everywhere be free of suffering. May they be happy. Om

Note: Many of these poses are not suitable during pregnancy.

shanti, shanti, shanti (peace).” Then sit for a few moments in silence, allowing these words to resonate through you. Throughout the day, slow down. Notice the people, your surroundings and environment. Breathe. Allow yourself some space every day for spirit. Consciously practise using the yamas and niyamas (ethical precepts) and the four brahmaviharas in thought, word and deed. Become aware of where you lack compassion. This selfenquiry is crucial to bringing about a change of habit in your dealings with other people. At the end of the day, check in with how successfully you managed to embody peace and compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and enquire where you could have acted with more compassion. Be thankful for every moment as an opportunity to live a compassionate life and become serene and benevolent.

What is restorative yoga? Restorative yoga uses props and involves staying in each pose for at least a few minutes. It gives you the space to slow down and feel nurtured, to allow layers of tension to melt away. When you rest deeply in the poses it frees your mind from stress, balances your sympathetic (fightor-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) nervous systems and restores your being.



be compassionate

With regular practice, you begin to honour spirit in every living being so that compassion becomes about assisting another as a part of your own self.



be compassionate

Reclining bound angle pose (supta baddha konasana) Place a three-fold blanket on a bolster as a firm pillow. Sitting with buttocks against the back of bolster, bend your knees and place soles of feet together. Loop the strap around the hips near the sacrum (not lower back), over the top of the thighs and under the ankles. Pull the strap to a comfortably tight position. Gently recline back over the bolster on an exhalation. Adjust position of blanket so it is under your head and neck, not your shoulders. Rest your arms to the sides, palms up. Allow your body and mind to Reclining bound angle pose

rest deeply as you naturally lengthen your breath and sigh tension away. Feel your chest opening as you relax into the bolster. Rest for a few minutes, slowly come up to sitting and remove the strap.

Mountain brook pose Position a three-fold blanket and a half-folded, tightly rolled blanket on your mat. Lie over them, adjusting accordingly so the rolled blanket sits under your shoulder blades and the three-fold blanket becomes a pillow for your head and neck. Place the bolster under your knees. Bring the arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Rest deeply, breathing slow, steady breaths as your upper back softens and releases into the pose. Mountain brook pose

If uncomfortable, reduce the height of the rolled blanket then continue the pose. Stay in the pose for a few minutes if you can, then release by removing the rolled blanket and lie flat for a few moments to neutralise the spine.

Supported bridge pose (supported setu bandha sarvangasana) Position two bolsters lengthways on the mat. Sitting on bolsters, strap the thighs together just above the knees to secure internal rotation of the femurs (thigh bones). Lie over the bolsters so the edge is pressing against your mid-thoracic spine and your shoulders and head are resting on the mat. If your lower back feels uncomfortable in the pose, bend your knees up, resting your feet Supported bridge pose

on the bolster. Allow this backbend to open you emotionally and provide space in your life for compassion for the self and others. Breathe into your heart centre with love. To release from the pose,

Reclining twist with a bolster

gently come off the bolsters, remove the strap and lie flat for a few moments to neutralise the spine.

Reclining twist with a bolster Sit with the side of the left hip touching the edge of the bolster, knees bent, feet together and swung behind to the right. Gently twist the torso to face the bolster. Inhale. On exhalation, fold your body over the bolster. Turn your head to the left. Stay in the pose for a few minutes, then release and repeat on the other side. If you need more height, place additional blanket(s) on the bolster.



be compassionate

Forward virasana hugging bolster Sitting on the knees facing the bolster, separate your knees to the width of the mat and bring your big toes to touch. Bring the bolster in between your legs. Inhale. On exhalation, pivot from the hips and fold yourself over the bolster. Turn your head to the left. Wrap your arms around the bolster, hugging it. After a while, turn your head to Forward virasana hugging bolster

the right. Slowly release from the pose.

Legs up the wall (viparita karani) Line up the bolster or folded blankets close to the wall on your mat, leaving a small gap between the wall and the bolster. Sit sideways on the edge of the bolster with the left hip touching the wall. Bring the legs up the wall as you bring the head and shoulders to rest on floor. Adjust so the buttocks are touching the wall. Strap the thighs together just above the knees to allow you to rest deeply into the pose. Apply compassion and love to yourself as you give over to the healing Legs up the wall

benefits of this pose, flushing your circulatory system and detoxifying your body and mind, refreshing and balancing your energies. Relaxation pose

Relaxation pose (savasana) Lie on your back with the bolster under your knees to further relax your body into the pose, palms facing up on the floor. Scan your body and consciously release tension from the feet up. Then keep your mind focused on your breath. Breathe compassion into every cell in your body.

Meditation for compassion

the Tibetan Buddhist compassion

compassion, through their free and

The Dalai Lama speaks of a meditation

chant, om mani padme hum (roughly

blessed food-relief program Food for

called “the practice of giving and

translates to “the jewel is in the

Life, to the homeless and others in

receiving”. It helps bring compassion

lotus”). This chant during difficult

major cities throughout Australasia

for all beings, including those you don’t

moments can transform your mind for

and the world. The karuna acts of

know. “Visualise taking upon yourself

compassion over time.

Sivananda Math aim to promote

Photography Tawfik Elgazzar

all the suffering, pain, negativity and

• Display pictures of inspirational

self-sufficiency in poor Indian

undesirable experiences of other sentient

figures who embody compassion,

communities. These acts are not seen

beings and giving away or sharing

such as the Dalai Lama, Jesus,

as charity but “the worship of God in

with others your own positive qualities,

Mahatma Gandhi, Mother

human form based upon the highest

such as your virtuous states of mind,

Theresa, the Goddess Tara and

your positive energy, your wealth, your

Patanjali. Contemplating how they

happiness and so forth,” he explains. This

would compassionately deal with

unique talents for compassion in the

contemplation enhances your feelings of

your current situation will also bring

world. Start simply, do the practices

compassion to you.

and feel greater happiness and peace

compassion, which is necessary before acting to alleviate another's suffering.

vedantic teachings of Atmananda”. • Consider where you can use your

• There are endless opportunities to

enter your life. As Donna Fahri says in

give back with yoga philosophy

Yoga for Everyday Living, “We are all

Other uses of yoga to increase

guiding your compassionate acts. You

living the same life.” Compassion for

your compassion

can raise money through yoga

yourself, your loved ones, strangers is

• Add a chant to help increase

classes for charities such as Yoga

equal. We are all the same universal

Aid. The Hare Krishnas apply yoga of

self, merely differing expressions of it.

compassion in your life, such as



prepare for birth

Yoga for the third trimester The last trimester of pregnancy is a time to nurture yourself so that you feel centred and relaxed in preparation for giving birth. Gentle yoga can help you navigate this sometimes challenging stage. Words Meggan Brummer

Practising yoga through your pregnancy is a wonderful way to

Your blood pressure may increase and you may feel even

nurture yourself and your baby and to prepare your body and

more breathless than before as your baby’s growing body

mind for the many exciting and challenging life changes that

reduces your lung capacity. You may find it difficult to find a

being a mum can bring. As you practise yoga through your

comfortable position to relax and sleep in and so already you’re

pregnancy, you’ll probably find that what works and feels right

being prepared for any sleepless nights ahead after baby’s birth.

for you in the initial stages can be quite different from what

During this time, yoga can help you to make yourself more

works and feels right as you move through the final trimester

comfortable and increase your ability to be with your discomfort

towards labour. The advantage for you is that your intuition

without the inner resistance and struggle that could otherwise

is typically very strong during this time, so it’s easier to get in

prevent your mind from being able to relax. More than ever, this

touch with what’s right for you.

really is a time of nurturing, of turning inwards and connecting

As the body and mind go through some major changes,

with yourself, your inner strength and your innate wisdom, and

“women often feel quite tired and unwell in their first trimester,

yoga can help you do just that.

so it’s generally a time to do a very gentle yoga practice,

A regular yoga practice enables you to become familiar with

focusing on pelvic alignment for optimal placental implantation,

using not only your body, but also your breath and your voice in

and including heaps of restorative and relaxation practices,” says

ways that can greatly improve your labour experience. One of

Korin Kritzinger, doula and yoga teacher. “The second trimester

the most useful skills in labour is your ability to remain centred,

is the ideal time to focus on building strength, especially in the

focused and relaxed in spite of the strong sensations, and regular

legs, so this is the time for a more vigorous practice, which can

yoga practice cultivates this type of awareness.

include sun salutations and deeper squats.”

“Through yoga a woman can become so comfortable in her body

During your third trimester (between 34 and 40 weeks),

she can truly embrace the beautiful combination of experiences that

you’ll be experiencing more heaviness in your body as your baby

childbirth provides her with — those of being at her most powerful

grows and your body moves towards preparing for birth. For

and most vulnerable at the same time,” says Kritzinger.

many women, this is a time of dealing with the discomfort of

What’s more, the benefits of practising yoga go beyond your

the final leg of pregnancy. You may experience back pain, loose

pregnancy and birth. “Taking time out to nurture yourself and

sacroiliac joints, the discomfort of a widening pubic symphysis

your baby through yoga and meditation can also help reduce

and other joints resulting from the relaxing hormones (relaxin)

the risk of postnatal depression,” says Katie Brown, yoga teacher,

streaming through your system.

doula and mother.



prepare for birth



prepare for birth

example, you may want to avoid those

Breath of joy

poses that have the knees move apart.

This is a great way to increase your

• Focus on letting go. More than

ever-decreasing lung capacity. Stand

ever, now is a time of letting go

with your legs as wide as they need to

and surrendering and for softening

be so you’re comfortable and bend them

physically as your prepare for your

slightly. As you inhale, take your arms

baby’s birth. Bring this attitude to your

back, expand your chest and stretch

practice so it becomes an increasingly

all the way through your arms and

familiar state for you.

fingertips. As you exhale, give yourself

• Keep cool. During pregnancy, your

a big hug, dropping your chin to your

body temperature is higher than

chest. Do this as many times as you like,

normal so you will feel hotter than

for at least five breaths.

usual. Avoid doing yoga in a heated environment. Instead, practise in a

Spiralling movements

comfortable environment with fresh

Bellydancing originally started as a

air and cross ventilation.

pregnancy dance, a dance of fertility.

• Reduce potential distractions. For instance, the telephone.

“Moving the pelvis in circular figure-eight motions, and moving the hips, mimics

• Wear comfortable, loose clothing.

the movements of labour,” says Maha Al

• Avoid drinking during your practice.

Musa, teacher of bellydancing for birth.

• Practise on an empty stomach.

“These movements help baby’s head to

• Spend some time warming up.

be massaged down onto the cervix.”

Warm up your body for at least

As you get closer to your due date

5 minutes. Walk around, move your

it’s a good idea to spend some time

limbs, loosen your joints a bit and

doing yoga poses and movements that

warm up your muscles.

rotate your hips. These will keep your pelvis relaxed and mobile, your muscles

Yoga sequence for your third trimester

and ligaments loose and free of tension

In the third trimester, Kritzinger generally

and create more space for your baby to

Guidelines for yoga practice

recommends a slower practice of more

descend into your pelvis in an optimum

• Do only what feels right. If you’ve

gentle postures, with an emphasis on

foetal position. You may also want to

never practised yoga before, it’s fine

opening, releasing and creating space,

get yourself a fitness ball — they’re

for you to start in your last trimester.

focusing on breathing techniques and

great to sit and move on in a seated

Even just a few weeks of yoga practice

positions that can be used in labour.

spiralling motion.

towards the end of your pregnancy can be fantastic preparation for the birth of your baby, provided it’s under the guidance of a trained teacher and that you listen to your body, doing only that which is comfortable. Because the experience of being pregnant can be so hugely different from one woman to another and from one pregnancy

More than ever, this really is a time of nurturing, of turning inwards and connecting with yourself, your inner strength and your innate wisdom, and yoga can help you do just that.

to another, every pregnant woman will have positions that feel right for her and others that don’t. If you’re having issues with your pubic symphysis, for



prepare for birth

Standing hip rotations

Standing hip rotations

Stand with your feet as wide as you need them to be comfortable, keeping your knees slightly bent. With your hands on your hips, rotate your hips. See if you can keep your shoulders and upper body still and focus on keeping the movement just in the hips and belly. As you bring your hips forward, inhale, exhaling as you move them backwards. Do as many as you like, about 10 in each direction or more if it feels good.

Hammock positions Forward bend

While lying back may seem relaxing to you, it’s best to avoid this position, especially during these later weeks, because it slows down the flow of blood to the placenta and could encourage your baby to move into a position that may make your birthing experience more difficult. Instead, spend more time in positions that bring your baby into a hammock-like position. This will help your baby be in the optimum position with his or her back facing away from your spine. Poses here include forward bends, child’s pose, cat stretch and any

Kneeling hip rotations

movements done on your hands and knees, including crawling around on all fours at home.

Forward bend Bend forward and place your hands flat on a table, standing with your feet comfortably wide, knees slightly bent. Now relax your head, close your eyes and gently take your awareness to your breath, keeping it long and smooth. Stay here as long as

Kneeling hip rotations

you’d like to.

Kneeling hip rotations Take position on your hands and knees, knees as wide as they need to be to be comfortable. Now rotate your hips in a bellydance-like circle, breathing in as you bring them forward and exhaling as you take them back.

Cat pose variation

Cat-cow pose variation Take position on your elbow and knees, knees as wide as they need to be comfortable. As you inhale, look up, let your back sink down; as you exhale, take your chin to your chest and draw your belly inwards, giving baby a gentle squeeze. Do this Cow pose variation

as long as you like, for at least five breaths.

Child’s pose Relax in child’s pose, moving your knees apart so there’s room for baby, resting your head on either your hands or fists or the floor. If you’d like, place a bolster or rolled-up blanket between your buttocks and heels. If your pubic symphysis is open and



prepare for birth

Child's pose

sore, avoid this position. Relax here as long as you’d like to, eyes closed, awareness inwards.

Exploring sound Your vocal folds have an uncanny similarity to your cervix and vaginal opening. When your mouth and vocal chords are relaxed, your cervix is also relaxed. Following are ways you can use sound to your advantage.

Experiment with sound Chanting mantras (ancient Sanskrit chants) or making Humming bee breath

your own sounds during both pregnancy and birth is one of the most powerful and effective ways to attune to your breathing, enable relaxation and focus so you can deal with pain positively and bring a sense of liberation to your mind. “Practise making sounds with your voice so that, when the time comes, you’ll feel comfortable allowing yourself to make noise during labour and birth,” says voice empowerment coach Ganga Karen Ashworth. “It will open up the way for your baby and make your journey a lot more comfortable too.”

Bhramari pranayama (humming bee breath) Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Place your index fingers on the inner lobes of your ears. Take a deep breath in through your nose and, as you exhale slowly, make a gentle humming sound. Complete five to 10 rounds. If you’re uncomfortable you can practise this lying down with your arms by the side of your body.

Find your breath Establishing a deeper and more familiar connection with your Nadi shodhana

breath is a great way to not only nurture your baby in utero, but also to prepare your mind for labour and motherhood. Your breath and mind are intimately connected; whenever you work consciously with your breath you’re working with and having a positive impact on your mind and emotions. For many, the journey towards labour holds varying degrees of fear and apprehension and the work you do with your breath can ease that journey and help dissipate the fear. However your birth may unfold, conscious breathing will help you stay centred and connected to yourself and your baby.

Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) Many of the regular yogic breathing techniques are not recommended for pregnant women. Nadi shodhana is an especially good breathing practice for pregnant women. Sit comfortably, spine straight, head in a neutral position. Place your left hand in chin mudra (hand open to the sky), your



prepare for birth

thumb and forefinger lightly touching, resting it on your left leg. Now place your right hand in front of your face, your ring finger resting lightly on your left nostril, your thumb resting lightly on your right nostril. Lightly close your right nostril and take a slow breath in through your left nostril. Now close your left nostril and slowly exhale through the right. Inhale through your right nostril and then exhale through your left. This is one round. Complete nine rounds and then sit quietly with your eyes closed. If you already have your own meditation practice, this is a good time to begin it as nadi shodhana prepares your mind for meditation. If you don’t have a meditation practice, sit quietly for 10 minutes, effortlessly observing your thoughts and your breath.

Meditation for mums-to-be

Alternatively, if you really want to lie on

Meditation is a wonderful way of enabling

your back, just tilt slightly to your left side

yourself to move more gracefully through

and place a pillow under your right hip to

the final trimester towards labour. As

prevent vena cava compression.

you move towards labour land, your

whatever you feed your mind affects you and baby. • Listen to flute music. Flute music is great for soothing both you and baby. There are many different types of flute

awareness may naturally become more

Other tips for your last trimester

music out there and you’ll prefer some

inward. To deepen this journey and

• Avoid wearing black. Colours affect

to others, so find something you like. • Nap whenever you need to. It’s so

cultivate a more centred and peaceful

your mind and mood in different ways.

state of mind, develop the habit of doing

Surround yourself and your baby with

important to get good rest in the last

daily meditations. If you’ve not yet learnt

beautiful colours, both in the clothes

trimester of your pregnancy. If possible,

how to meditate, take the support of

you wear and in your surroundings.

take short naps (30–60 minutes)

some guided meditation CDs.

• Spend time in nature. This will increase

during the day to make up for lost

your connectedness with yourself and

sleep. Don’t feel guilty doing this; both

Final relaxation

with the natural rhythms happening

you and your baby will benefit from

Beyond week 20 of your pregnancy,

around and within you.

the rest.

whenever you lie on your back your

• Take extra care with your diet. Make

• Drink raspberry tea. Some

uterus presses against your vena cava

sure you’re including lots of foods that

practitioners recommend drinking

(the large vein that carries blood from

are high in prana (life-force energy):

raspberry leaf tea throughout your

your body back to your heart). This

fresh organic vegetables, fruits, nuts,

pregnancy; others suggest drinking it

reduces the flow of blood to baby,

pulses, legumes and milk.

from 32 weeks on. “This tea is thought

slowing his heart rate and possibly

• Sit leaning forward. If you’re

causing a drop in your blood pressure. Lying on your side, preferably your

to have many properties, including

watching television or working at your

those that are beneficial for pregnancy,

computer, create a hammock position

childbirth and breastfeeding,” says

left, is not only better for the blood

for baby to help baby move into an

flow but can also encourage optimum

optimal position for birth. Do this by

foetal positioning in the later stages of

swivelling an office chair around and

yourself with those people, including

pregnancy. When you relax at the end

sitting on it backwards.

and especially care-givers, who

of your yoga practice, to make it more

• Avoid violent movies and books.

midwife Jane Palmer. • Keep good company. “Surround

believe in your inner strength and

comfortable, place a pillow under your

Choose to watch films and read stories

capabilities to be a mother,” suggests

abdomen and/or between your legs and

that are light-hearted, full of humour

Jane Hardwick Collings, author of

then close your eyes for 10 to 20 minutes.

and free from violence. Remember that

Ten Moons.



stay cool

Yoga for summer Summer’s balmy days are too precious to waste on overheated emotions. Try adopting the ancient principles of yoga and Ayurveda to keep your cool when it’s hot outside. Words Veronica Joseph

What’s not to love about summer? It’s a holiday

cold qualities, suggestive of autumn and winter.

season in which you get to spend more time

Kapha is associated with the watery, earthy

with friends and family. It’s a time for travel and

elements of spring, and pitta is characterised

exploration and the days are longer and warmer,

by a hot, sharp and forceful nature indicative

meaning you can head outdoors to relax by the

of summer. Our individual constitutions usually

pool during the day and enjoy a barbecue and a

consist of a blend of all three doshas, with one

shandy or two during the balmy nights.

being more dominant than the others. This is why

Despite the many positive attributes

creating balance and harmony in the body and

associated with summer, according to yoga

mind is so important.

and Ayurveda it is also a time when the fire

As summer heats up, you are likely to

element in your body, or pitta as it’s known,

accumulate excess pitta (the same would apply

is at its highest. Pitta is associated with hot,

to the other doshas in the relevant seasons).

intense, sharp and forceful qualities — much like

Therefore, if you already possess a pitta

the sensory experience of the summer season

prakriti (nature), you’re at an even higher risk

itself. Pitta is not a bad thing but it is important

of becoming out of balance. Thankfully, yogic

to balance it out so you can stay calm and cool

and Ayurvedic principles can help you maintain

during summer. So let’s take a look at how yoga

the harmony of the body and mind to create a

and its sister science, Ayurveda, can help us

healthier and happier you.

beat the heat. Feeling hot, hot, hot Yoga, Ayurveda & the seasons

As pitta is a fiery element, during summer a

According to the ancient science of Ayurveda,

pitta imbalance might manifest in the form of

our bodies are composed of three elements

rashes and inflammation of the skin, ulcers,

known as doshas. These include vata (air), kapha

heartburn, odorous sweating, insomnia, irritability,

(water) and pitta (fire). The doshas are influenced

impatience and anger. Pitta governs digestion and

by seasonal changes and each of these elements

the metabolism, so there is a high chance fire may

has its own unique characteristics. Vata, for

flare up in the small intestine and the stomach,

instance, is associated with dry, rough, light and

leading to a range of different complaints.



stay cool



stay cool

Although you might associate summer

fiery external environment with a similar

day, we instinctively know nothing beats

with being relaxed and chilled, increased

internal disposition. A way you can

a tall drink of water or some fresh fruits.

fire or pitta can make us feel angry,

counter the summer weather and a fiery

However, we need to make sure we have

aggressive, demanding and pushy. Just

nature is to create a lunar current within

nourishing and appropriate foods for the

think of how irritable and whingey some

your body. This means adopting practices

season. Carbonated or ice-cold drinks,

people get when the temperature reaches

that are cooling and will calm your system

for example, may quench your thirst but

a certain point. Summer can make us hot

and increase your energy levels so you

they can take out the pitta fire completely,

and bothered for a reason.

can truly enjoy summer.

which could lead to indigestion.

As you can see, the degree of a pitta

In this day and age we are fortunate

Remember, pitta is not bad. It just

imbalance, or any doshic imbalance for

enough to be able to simply flick on a

needs to be balanced, especially in

that matter, can vary significantly. Severe

switch for a fan or air-conditioner to

summer when it can reach its highest.

cases may require you to consult a

immediately cool down. However, for a

practitioner. However, for those just feeling

holistic approach, we have to go deeper

when it comes to summer eating.

overheated and agitated, yoga offers some

to achieve the best results. Ancient yogis

• Ayurveda speaks of the six rasas or

easy practices to help you cool down.

created their own cooling practices to

types of taste. These include sweet,

Here are a few things to remember

help balance their pitta levels. Let’s take

sour, salty, bitter, hot and astringent.

Keeping your cool

a look at how diet, the breath and asanas

The rasas relates to the perception of

As summer days are typically sticky and

play a role in this.

food on the tastebuds as well as the

hot, you must cultivate the opposite

final reaction in the stomach. Sweet,

environment inside the body to balance

Cooling foods

bitter and astringent tastes are best

yourself out. Pitta is driven predominantly

Food is a vital component of your

when it comes to summer eating and

by the solar force. As summer itself

summer yoga routine. There are specific

balancing pitta. Greens such as rocket,

already embodies this element, you must

foods you can integrate into your diet to

radicchio and mint make great summer

try to quell the pitta inside you; the last

cool down. A lot of this we already do

salads and perfectly fit into the

thing you want to do is meet the hot,

naturally as the seasons change. On a hot

acceptable rasas for summer.



stay cool

• Foods that create heat in the body

The breath

should be avoided, including garlic,

Certain pranayama (breath control)

onions and spicy and sour tastes.

exercises should also be integrated into

• Keep things light and cool and avoid

your summer routine. Sheetali breathing

heavy foods. Try out foods that you

is the epitome of what we’re talking

don’t need to cook for very long and

about when it comes to cooling down.

even things you don’t have to heat at

Taken from the Sanskrit word sheetal,

all before eating.

meaning cooling, this practice reduces

• Take advantage of seasonal summer

body temperature and stimulates the

produce and eat plenty of fruit and

parasympathetic nervous system to

vegetables with high water content.

induce muscle relaxation.

Although you might associate summer with being relaxed and chilled, increased fire or pitta can make us feel angry, aggressive, demanding and pushy.

These might include melons, apples, pears, berries, cucumbers and leafy

Summer yoga practice

to concentrating on the intricacies of

greens. These are light, nutritious and

Asana practice in summer is not about

your movements, muscles, alignment

easy to digest.

pushing yourself to extremes to get

and breath. A restorative, calming yoga

• Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water.

the perfect beach body. Traditionally,

practice is ideal for this time of year.

Fresh juices and coconut water are also

Ayurveda recommends lightening the

Keep in mind that according to

beneficial. Avoid caffeine.

workout load in the summer as pushing

Ayurveda it’s also best to exercise in the

• Herbs and spices can also reduce pitta

yourself beyond your capacity will build

early morning or, if that’s not possible,

and work well in summer salads. Try

heat in the body and that means excess

in the evening at sunset. Exercising in

using coriander, mint, fennel, cumin,

pitta. Summer is therefore a great time to

the middle of the day should be avoided

cardamom and anise.

change your focus from intense exercise

as this is the hottest time of day and exposure to the sun should be limited. As we’ve mentioned earlier, practices that are considered to be lunar or cooling and focus on removing heat from the body are very beneficial in reducing pitta. Forward bends, twists and mild backbends all stimulate the abdomen, a major pitta centre, and help cool the body. Remember to be careful with inversions, arm balances and other practices such as khapalbati breathing that build heat in the body. These poses can still be practised, but go easy on them and try to counter them with cooling poses.

Asanas for summer As summer literally warms us up, our bodies are already more flexible and pliable before we even begin our practice. This means we have a chance to go deeper into asanas but it also presents a chance to exercise restraint and slow down. It’s important to strike that balance. Keep this in mind when practising some of these poses for your summertime routine.



stay cool

Standing forward bend (uttanasana) Begin standing in tadasana, mountain pose. Ground your feet on the floor, activate the leg muscles and lift up through the sternum. Inhale and raise your hands above your head. Feel the stretch running all the way up to the fingertips. Exhale and slowly lower your hands toward the mat. If you can’t reach the mat, hold onto any point of your leg. If you feel comfortable, inhale and slowly bring your head closer to your legs. Keep your back straight. Standing forward bend

Wide-leg standing forward bend (prasarita padottanasana) Another great pose for lowering pitta. Step your feet apart so there is quite a bit of distance between the legs. Bring your hands to your hips. Bend at the hips and lengthen forward through the spine. When you reach the halfway point, bring your hands onto the mat, roughly shoulder distance apart. Continue to exhale, bend the elbows and bring the crown of the head onto the mat. A block or folded blanket Wide-leg standing forward bend

can be used if you cannot reach the floor.

Reclining spinal twist (jathara parivartanasana) Lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended. Now, bend your knees and hug and bring them to your chest. Release the arms and extend them out to the side, but keep the knees bent. Inhale and bring your knees to the left side, stacking them on top of each other. Turn your head to look in the opposite direction. Keep the shoulders and shoulder blades in contact with the floor. Feel the stretch across the abdominals. Repeat on right side. Reclining spinal twist

Bridge (setu bandha sarvangasana) Backbends are invigorating but use this pose as a chance to focus on the breath and relax. Lie on your back with both knees bent. Keep your arms by your side. On an inhale, lift your hips off the ground. Slightly walk your shoulder blades in as you continue to lift your hips. Keep both feet parallel to each other and don’t allow them to point inward. Grab hold of the ankles or interlace your hands together so your knuckles face the back of your heels. Breathe deeply. A block can also be placed under the lower back to really let you relax


in this pose.



stay cool

You must try to quell the pitta inside you; the last thing you want to do is meet the hot, fiery external environment with a similar internal disposition. Half moon (ardha chandrasana) With all the talk about lunar currents and cooling poses, it’s no surprise we’ve included ardha chandrasana here. Some schools of yoga might refer to ardha chandrasana as a balancing pose, whereas others refer to it as a lateral stretch. We’ll be focusing on the latter. Begin standing in tadasana with a slight distance between your feet. Keep your arms by your sides. Raise your right arm up, bringing it close to your ear. Exhale and start to walk the

Half moon

left hand further down the side of the leg, reaching toward the knee. In the process, allow the right arm to diagonally stretch past the ear and over to the left side. Keep the arm straight and the hips square. Repeat on the other side.

Pigeon (eka pada rajakapotasana) Begin on all fours. Keep the right knee bent and slide it forward between your hands. Now, start to straighten and slide the left leg to the back. Once the leg is extended completely, start to walk the hands slightly backward. Peel the shoulder blades back and open the chest. Keep the spine elevated and lift up through the pubis. Repeat on the other side. Pigeon pose

Sheetali breathing exercise Try this exercise by beginning in a seated position such as padmasana (lotus pose) or a simple crosslegged pose. Roll your tongue and inhale through the mouth. Keep the tongue rolled and continue to exhale through it again. You’ll be amazed at the effectiveness of the technique. The air passing through the tongue is immediately cooled, as is the rest of the body after several rounds. For those who can’t roll their tongues, try parting the lips slightly and gently poke out your tongue to achieve the same sensation. Regardless of which method you use, try to follow the pattern of inhaling to the count

Sheetali breathing exercise

of four and exhaling to the count of six.



travel well

Yoga for travel While travel can be a wonderful, mind-expanding experience, it can also lead to physical and mental stresses — making it the ideal opportunity to get your yoga on. Words Kylie Terraluna

“You know how it is. Sometimes we plan a

any form of travel is considered a vata

Yoga before travel

trip to one place, but something takes us

activity and has the potential to throw

A full yoga practice the day before travel is

to another.” ~ Rumi

you off-balance, regardless of your

key to release tension so you can start your

specific Ayurvedic constitution. Vata has

journey with a calm, relaxed mind. Choose

Picture this. You’re on a road trip.

the properties of air and space, governs

a gentle, warming, grounding practice

Romantic visions of rural vistas with

movement in the body and influences the

that keeps you moving slowly with short

majestic, salted seascapes come to mind.

other doshas. Travelling at unnaturally fast

holding poses. Focus on steady breaths

You face traffic, sore eyes, neck and

speeds can affect your nervous system

and devote your attention to the practice.

back pain. Or perhaps you’re travelling

responses, mental clarity, sleep, circulation

by air. Your flight is grounded. You’re

and hydration.

held captive in a small cabin space

Yoga tips mid-travel

Dr Rama Prasad of Ayurvedic Elements

Seated alignment & spinal health

with pressurised air and mounting

recognises the need to prepare for travel

To lessen spinal compression from sitting

stress all around and within you. Then

for a minimum of two weeks beforehand,

for long periods, become aware of your

you remember: you prepared for this.

by eating large, healthy breakfasts and

posture. If you are short, take a footrest on

You packed a yoga travel kit to calm

lunches, reducing grains and potatoes,

the plane as it’s important for circulation

and centre you, leading you on an

and skipping dinner or eating only a

and alignment that your feet touch the

inner journey during your outer travels.

light soup if needed. He says preparing

floor. Bring awareness to your posture. Are

Fancy that — the excitement, stress and

through diet reduces anxiety so that your

you consistently leaning to one side? How’s

upheaval of travel actually providing the

adaptability improves and travel doesn’t

the position of your lower back — are you

perfect opportunity for a practice in yoga.

destroy your health.

raising and rounding your shoulders? Ask,

The yoga travel kit detailed below

Dr Prasad suggests taking a 30-minute

“How am I feeling right now while I sit this

focuses on your body, mind and self

hot bath after a self oil massage the day

way?” Once you catch yourself sitting

before, during and after travel. It consists

before travel, and rehydrating with small

incorrectly, you can change your posture

of yoga poses and practices, Ayurvedic

sips of water while minimising solids

and hence your emotional wellbeing.

dietary suggestions, breathing exercises,

during the trip. On long flights, he advises

mudras and meditations.

sleeping as much as possible, taking

For correct seated alignment

melatonin or St John’s wort to help if

Plant your feet firmly on the floor, weight

Ayurvedic approach to travel

needed. If you follow his suggestions, Dr

distributed evenly, press into the balls

Travel can increase anxiety, amplifying

Prasad asserts you are unlikely to suffer

of feet and lift the inner arches. Move

the kleshas (afflictions of the mind). In

jetlag nor get sick with travel bugs, as

abdomen back towards the spine, lift

Ayurveda, the science of self-healing,

your gut health will be optimal.

pelvic floor up, move lower ribs away



travel well



travel well



travel well

from hips, lift spine, roll shoulders back

(non-harm), aparigraha (non-greed),

Arriving at your destination

and down, move front of throat to back of

santosha (contentment) by accepting

Regardless of how you travel, as soon as

throat to lengthen back of neck. Imagine

the situation, tapas (burning desire) to

your feet touch the ground, pause. Take

your head is lifting off your shoulders.

commit to practising yoga while travelling

a moment to consciously reconnect and

Commence pelvic tilts forward and back,

and isvara pranidhana (surrendering your

feel grounded with the Earth.

with pelvic floor lifted and abdomen drawn

efforts to a higher source, or God).

in below bellybutton towards the spine.

The physical yoga sequence will

Restorative yoga involves resting in yoga positions over props and is

This lubricates your spine, preventing a

calm and centre you. The breathing and

immensely healing, helping your body

sore back.

meditation practices help you become

and mind to recover from the effects of

more tolerant and relaxed. Work with

travel and jetlag. Inverted or raised-legs

For joints & circulation

each practice for a decent duration to

positions help reduce swelling in the feet

Follow the in-flight guidelines for leg-calf

gain maximum benefit.

and legs, pumping fresh oxygenated

exercises to keep the blood flowing while

• To relax the mind, focus on the breath.

blood back through your entire system.

in your seat. Seek medical advice before

Encourage your breath into your

travelling if you are at risk or concerned

belly. Breathe in and out through the

ideal post travel:

about deep-vein thrombosis.

nose. Any time your mind wanders,

• Viparita karani (legs up the wall)

gently acknowledge it without

• Setu bandha sarvangasana

chair, including circling the ankles in both

judgement, then bring your awareness

• Supta baddha konasana

directions, flexing and stretching the toes

back to your breath.

• Upavista konasana over a chair

Practise joint-relieving exercises in the

Restorative poses such as these are

and whole foot, and circling the wrists,

• Practise the so ham mantra meditation.

shoulders and neck as often as you can.

Mentally breathe in “sooooo” up the

• Savasana Wherever the destination, let yoga

spine; breathe out “hummmm” down

help you arrive in the present. Enjoy the

For your eyes

the spine with each breath. This is a

(inward) journey.

Yoga eye cupping can make eyes feel well

hamsa meditation, which asks, “Who

nurtured and less sore. Vigorously rub

am I?”, with the response, “I am That.”

your palms together to generate heat,

• Do bhramari breathing, or humming

Yoga travel sequence This sequence is designed to release

then cup your warmed hands over closed

bee breath. Place your hands on

your upper and lower back, shoulders,

eyes for a few moments. Repeat every few

your head, thumbs closing off ears.

neck, groin and thighs from the stresses

hours while awake on the plane or resting

With closed mouth and eyes, gently

placed on the body during travel and

at a pit-stop when driving.

breathe out a long humming sound

to bring balance, grace and calm to your

on exhalation. Continue this long

being. Follow up as soon as possible by

For your neck

humming breath for several minutes,

lying down in viparita karani, raising your

Notice whether you edge your head

sitting quietly afterwards.

legs up a wall with buttocks touching

forward when driving. This repetitive strain

• Carry with you soothing kirtan (yogic

the wall, or resting in savasana, lying-

affects the nerves in your neck and blood

chanting) or chilled-out yoga music,

down relaxation pose, with an eyebag

flow, and creates neck stiffness. As often

such as The Future Sound of Yoga, Edo

over your eyes.

as you can, move front of throat to back of

and Jo, and Deva Premal and Miten and

throat to lengthen the back of your neck.

Krishna Das. These uplifting words and

your eyes and quietening your mind.

sounds will rebalance and inspire you.

Dedicate your yoga to joyful, peaceful

For your mind

• Yoga nidra is a specific set of guided

Commence your practice by closing

living and present moment awareness.

Be conscious of how you relate to yourself

instructions that’s traditionally done

Perform the activities outlined above

and others. If you are impatient or angry,

lying down but can be practised seated

under Seated Alignment & Spinal Health

work with your breath and consciously

quite effectively. Listen to a downloaded

for your joints and seated alignment.

practise the ethics of yoga: being mindful

recording with your earplugs in.

Stretch your neck to one side, shoulders

of treating self and others with respect

Note: If you are driving, do not

down, bringing your ear towards your

and care. Contemplate and practise the

perform meditations until you reach

shoulder to stretch the opposite side of

yamas and niyamas, in particular ahimsa

your pit-stop.

the neck. Repeat on other side.



travel well

Arms clasped behind

Arms clasped behind & garudasana arms

Garudasana arms

In seated alignment, clasp hands behind you, rolling shoulders together and down. Pull abdomen back towards spine, work arms together and move straightened arms away from body. Breathe for three to six slow breaths. Continue for garudasana arms, crossing arms in front so right bent arm rests inside left elbow, holding onto whatever part of the hand or arm you can. Bring hands together if possible. Elbows at shoulder height, inhale and as you exhale move elbows away from you. Hold pose, breathing into it for a few breaths. Release and change position with left arm resting inside right elbow to repeat. These shoulder releases can be done as often as required throughout the journey.

Bharadvajasana variation

Bharadvajasana variation Seated, inhale and lift spine. Exhale, place right hand towards back of chair, left hand on outer edge of right leg, palm facing up. Check knees are together on twist so left knee isn’t forward of right knee. Keep weight evenly spread across both feet, inhale then exhale, twisting to right, follow with your gaze to the right. Work with breath, twisting further. Exhale to centre, repeat on left side.

Warrior I in the aisle or at a pit-stop Step right foot forward, left foot back one leg-length,

Warrior I

turning left foot in, 45–60 degrees to the right. Inhale, arms up, hands together, square hips. Exhale, bend right knee over right ankle, keeping back leg straight. Stretch up through arms, abdomen back, looking up at thumbs. Breathe deeply in pose for three or more breaths. Exhale and release for other side.

Dancer's pose (natarajasana) Standing on right foot, bend left leg, reach and hold left foot with left hand. Stretch right arm up, energise right leg, lift spine up, abdomen back. Begin to move your left leg up and Dancer's pose

back directly behind you for a deeper stretch. Breathe and hold the balance for three to six slow breaths. Place right hand on wall to help with balance if needed. Repeat on other leg.

Forward bend (uttanasana) Stand. Exhaling, pivot from hips, bending forward with straight legs. Relax, head down. Bring sitting bones forward towards ceiling. Hands touch floor or hold opposite elbows. Breathe for three to six slow breaths. Exhale, bend knees to come up slowly.



travel well

Lotus (padmasana) preparation

Forward bend

with urdhva hastasana arms Sitting on a chair, place left ankle on right thigh, foot turned up. Ensure right leg is perpendicular, knee facing forward. Lift spine, raise arms above head, palms facing each other. Inhale. Exhale, pivot from hips to bend forward with straight spine. Slightly tuck chin. Inhale, lift spine, come a little further forward with each exhalation. Exhale to release for other side. Note: If bent knee hurts in this position, raise left knee up or come out of pose.

Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana)

Lotus preparation

Nadi shodhana is a pranayama (breathing) practice that balances the nadis (energy channels) in the body. Place index and third finger between eyebrows as shown, thumb on right nostril, fourth finger on left. Breathe in through both nostrils to begin, then close off left nostril with fourth finger, breathe out through right nostril. Breathe in through right nostril, close off right nostril with thumb, releasing fourth finger, breathe out through left nostril. Breathe in through left, close off left, breathe out through right. Continue breathing in this way for as long as is comfortable, ending the practice by breathing out through the right nostril.

Nadi shodana

Nadi shodana close-up

Pushan mudra

Pushan mudra close-up

Pushan mudra Continue into pushan mudra position. This mudra (hand gesture) is about nourishment and taking in light. On right hand, tips of thumb, index and middle finger are on top of each other, fourth and fifth fingers extended. On left hand, tips of thumb, middle and fourth finger are on top of each other, remaining fingers extended. Place hands on knees with straight elbows, lift spine. Mentally repeat the affirmation, “I thankfully accept everything that is good for me, let it have its effect within me, and release everything that is spent.” This mudra with affirmation, from Gertrud Hirschi’s Mudras:

Photography Tawfik Elgazzar

Yoga in your Hands, is described as being useful for digestion, absorption of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide, regulation of the autonomic nervous system and detoxification, and it is excellent for nausea.

End your session by choosing a meditation practice outlined earlier in the For Your Mind section, such as the so ham meditation, yoga nidra or listening to recorded kirtan music.



find bliss

Yoga for happiness Lasting happiness isn’t something you can find through external achievements. You need to look within to find your bliss — and yoga can be a marvellous tool for discovering it. Words Kylie Terraluna

“The quest for human happiness is

of passions. The happy path of yoga is

good about yourself, resulting from your

like looking around for a candle while

selfless, filled with joyful intention, applied

practice bathing you in peace, even amid

sitting out of doors in the sun.”

wisdom and right understanding. Yoga is

adversity. The surrender has a yielding

~ Paramahansa Yogananda

meant to be liberating, not forced.

quality and bypasses the ego. You realise

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the

you are already divine. Once firmly

Everyone wants to be happy, but what

ancient, authoritative text on yoga, highly

established and consistently practised,

did happiness mean to the ancient yogis?

values detachment and renunciation

this relief, peace and happiness leads to

Could you have lost your way on the path

(vairagya); a commitment to practice

samadhi. After a long time, liberation and

to true happiness in this time-pressured,

(abhyasa); avoidance of attachment,

bliss are graced upon you and maintained

materialistic society?

addiction and aversion; cessation of

through the practice of yoga.

The Oxford Dictionary uses synonyms

desires; and remaining even-minded

for happiness like contentment, pleasure,

toward pleasure and pain. Let’s not

Study the self

joy, wellbeing, delight, rapture and bliss.

misinterpret this: it is still a happy path

Without svadhyaya, the study of the self

The ancient yogis would agree: this is the

and occurs slowly over time.

and yogic scriptures, it may be unclear

state of happiness and, yes, it’s flourishing.

whether your desires are spiritually right

The difference lies in translation for

How to be a happy yogi

for you and connected to your dharma,

living. Ecstatic bliss in yoga is samadhi,

Patanjali considers avidya, ignorance or

your life’s path. You don’t need to feel

a heightened experience of oneness,

lack of spiritual knowledge, as the root

guilty or bad about your desires; instead,

an unexplainable, divine joy that comes

source of all unhappiness and sorrow. A

try to aim them towards fulfilling your

from the expansive connection to all.

yogi acquires discriminative wisdom and

life’s purpose.

Yogananda says it’s “like millions of

spiritual knowledge, drawing on the niyama

earthly joys crushed into one”.

(rule) of isvara pranidhana: surrendering

Practise contentment

your efforts to oneness or God to live a

Santosha means contentment without

be found in focusing on the pursuit of

happy life. You detach from the outcomes

excess. It involves accepting your life and

outer achievements only, like career,

when you feel divinely supported for

enjoying simple pleasures. Contentment

travel, possessions and relationships. It

your efforts and release them without

reduces the grasping attachment and

is found through practices that lead you

judgement or condemnation.

aversion cycle. Combined with satya,

The depths of happiness cannot

inward towards your centre. Inner bliss

Aparigraha — non-grasping, non-

truthfulness, santosha gives you courage

and connection of a deeply spiritual

greed and non-coveting — leads you to

to change a difficult or unhealthy situation

nature cannot be achieved with rigidity,

contentment and self-acceptance. You

in your life, leading to greater harmony

demand, excess, suppression or rejection

can let go of grasping when you feel

and tranquillity.



find bliss



find bliss

Practise cleanliness

Bring relaxed effort to the postures

Practise sauca or cleanliness for your body and mind. Cleanse

Sthira and sukha applies relaxed effort, or “attention without

your mind of negative thoughts and reactions and cleanse your

tension”, to yoga postures. It is firm but calm, active yet relaxed.

body for healing so you can meditate without pain. When you

Advanced yogi Simon Borg-Olivier ( suggests

feel far from happy within, be honest with yourself and practise

living so it’s as easy as possible for your mind to choose

isvara pranidhana again; continue on the path forward.

happiness. In asana practice, ensure the body does not feel under threat by reducing sympathetic (fight or flight) output

Practise the four attitudes

and increasing the parasympathetic (rest and digest) response.

Happiness is found in right thought, word and deed in

Then your mind will reflect a flexible, strong, balanced body that

relationship with others. According to Patanjali, there are

moves freely, says Borg-Olivier. He teaches students a 12-point

four powerful attitudes for cultivating happiness as well as

check in the body during asana that ensures a parasympathetic

reducing suffering:

response, such as being able to move fingers and toes, relax the

• Maitri: friendliness and happiness to the virtuous

neck, soften tummy, check you can swallow, blink and roll your

• Karuna: compassion to the sorrowful

eyes. This protects against fear and aggression so you can make

• Mudita: rejoicing with the happy

the mental choice to be happy.

• Upeksanam: equanimity or indifference to the errors of others Aim for purity

These attitudes can prevent negative thoughts forming and avoids taking things personally. Yogananda says, “Joy awakens

Sattvic living is a joyful state that denounces impurities. When

compassion in the heart. It makes one long to infuse divine bliss

you try to force this state, it is no longer sattvic. Sattva is gentle,

into those who are weeping in sorrow.” Keep positive prana

relaxed discipline, practised in a loving, unattached way. Bring

moving throughout the community by restraining and avoiding

yoga incrementally into your life to gently shift your state of

toxic conversation and gossip about others and yourself. This

being towards aligning with joy. This is ahimsa, the nonviolent

spreads happiness and honours everyone to be their best.

path, and is far more honest and uplifting than beating yourself



find bliss

into submission. The sutras explain,

Find your community

Make joyful intentions

“When nonviolence in speech, thought

Satsanga is the company of likeminded

Bring joyful intentions to your day,

and action is established, your aggressive

others committed to finding sat, the real

your interactions, your work, your

nature is relinquished and others abandon

and true. Sanga refers to association,

practice, your life. Before dawn, if

hostility in your presence.” The quest for

joining, and promotes destruction of

possible, contemplate the day ahead

yogic happiness is merely revealing the

delusion. Find an uplifting community

and connect with the sacred quietude

joy within by coaxing your being into the

to join. Attend yoga classes, workshops

of daybreak, expressing gratitude for

safety of relaxed effort, applying discipline

or retreats to build your community of

life and your day’s tasks. Bring joy to the

for positivity in your life and removing

likeminded others on the same path.

responsibilities of the day and gratitude

fear. Then you find the joyful state of who you already are.

for joyful awareness. Breathe and relax. Follow the happiness sequence below.

Practise yoga nidra A sankalpa is a resolve you make during

In the evening, review the day’s

Eat consciously

yoga nidra to bring divine happiness to

events and contemplate where you

The food you eat affects your state of

your life. The deep relaxation of this lying

could have chosen happiness in your day

happiness. Eat little. Learn prakriti, your

down guided visualisation process is

with kindness. Celebrate the happiness

individual Ayurvedic constitution, and eat

transformative for the habit of happiness

you achieved without attachment to

accordingly of seasonal, local and sattvic,

and letting go of suffering. You can

it. Prioritise relaxation and freeing the

pure food to nourish you with prana. Eat

practise with a CD, free online recording

mind from constant thinking. Include

what you need with joy and gratitude.

and in yoga classes. (For more on

a restorative pose prior to bed such as

This contributes to your nourishment in

sankalpas, turn to p10.)

viparita karani, legs up the wall pose.

happiness and prepares you for samadhi.

Enjoy the sunshine, the changing Meditate for happiness

seasons of life, and may you be happy and

Meditate with joyful intention and allow the

free. Namaste.

experience of simply sitting for meditation to uplift you. If you can’t still your mind,

Happiness sequence

that’s OK. Swami Shankarananda in Happy

As you practise the following sequence,

for No Good Reason suggests you “have

allow the state of happiness to seep

the meditation you are having” and to “be

through your pores and submerge your

with the emotion you are having”. Even

soul in the ecstasy of movement, prana,

if you feel angry, Shankarananda advises

power and divine joy in being alive.

to sit with the negative emotion while calming the mind and focusing internally. Once awareness develops and you can find peace at your centre, the intensity of the negative emotion will subside through the meditation process.

When you still feel unhappy Take solace in an uplifting yoga practice and do whatever you can to nurture your spirit to make it easy to choose happiness. If you can’t feel happy, monitor your self-talk, be gentle on yourself so you

You can let go of grasping when you feel good about yourself, resulting from your practice bathing you in peace, even amid adversity.

can keep moving forward in a positive way. Seek the guidance and support of a skilled yoga teacher you resonate with.



find bliss

Gesture of knowledge

Gesture of knowledge (jnana mudra) Sit in a comfortable seated position, lift spine. Make a closed circle with index finger, touching first thumb joint on each hand as shown. Extend other fingers, hands facing up, wrists resting on knees. The closed circle represents unification of Atman, individual soul, with Brahman, universal soul. Close eyes and repeat, “Divine knowledge enriches my soul and fills me with sacred wisdom. Divine wisdom leads me to joy, a place of peace and purity within my heart.” Connect with the natural breath. Sing the happiness chant below for a few minutes with joyful awareness. This powerful, unifying chant centres your intentions for happiness within the hearts of all. Listen to a free online recording for rhythm, pace and pronunciation. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and

Tree pose

may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” Warm up the joints, circling ankles, knees, hips, wrists, shoulders and neck. Perform a few rounds of surya namaskar, salute to the sun.

You don’t need to feel guilty or bad about your desires; instead, try to aim them towards fulfilling your life’s purpose. Tree pose (vrksasana) Standing, firm thighs and place weight evenly across feet. Lift right foot and place sole of foot against inner left Warrior II

thigh. Bring hands above head, shoulders down. Draw right hip down, square navel and chest to centre, find a drishti point of concentration to focus your balance. Breathe. Feel strong and balanced as your internal gaze focuses on peace inside your heart. Bring foot and hands down simultaneously. Repeat on other leg.

Warrior II (virabhadrasana II) Standing, step feet one leg-length apart on mat. Turn left foot out to 90 degrees, right foot in to 45 degrees. Line up left heel with inner arch of right foot. Inhale, raise arms to shoulder height, extending to sides. Exhale, bend left knee, stacking knee on top of ankle, straighten and energise right leg. Continue breathing, turn right hip slightly towards the left, turn chest back to centre.



find bliss

Warrior III

Gaze beyond third finger of left hand. Breathe. Embody a peaceful warrior spirit of courage and strength to combat suffering and reveal the true, joyful self. After a couple of minutes, bring feet together. Change sides and repeat.

Warrior III (virabhadrasana III) Standing hands in prayer mudra, step right foot back one leg-length. Inhale arms up, exhale, bend left leg as you pivot forward, raising right foot off floor to hip height, bringing torso in line with extended leg. Straighten left leg, align hips, stretch arms out in front, keeping neck in line with spine. Breathe. Slowly release and repeat on King of the pigeons

other side.

King of the pigeons (eka pada rajakapotasana) On all fours, bring right knee forward to floor, behind right hand. Bring your right foot in front of left straightened knee. Straighten left leg behind you. Work the right foot towards a perpendicular placement to the right knee if possible. If hips are tight, bring foot closer to torso to alleviate the stretch. Square hips and bring hands together in prayer mudra at heart centre. Breathe. Slowly release back to all fours, repeat on other side. Note: Do not do this pose if you have knee or Reclining spinal twist

sacroiliac injuries.

Reclining spinal twist (supta parivartanasana) Lie down on back, shift hips to right. Raise right knee to chest, straighten left leg along floor. Take right leg across torso to left side of body. Bring arms out to side at shoulder height, turn head towards right. Hold outer right knee with left hand, keep right shoulder on floor. Bring knee back to centre and change for the other side.

Supported bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana) Position two bolsters lengthways on mat. Sitting on Supported bridge pose

bolsters, strap thighs together above knees. Lie over bolster so head and shoulders rest on floor, and mid-

Photography Tawfik Elgazzar

thoracic spine presses into edge of bolster. Bend knees up if lower back feels uncomfortable. Close eyes and enjoy this restful pose. Turn your gaze inward toward your heart centre, allow joy and peace to awaken within your being and life. Let layers of tension melt away. After a few minutes remove strap and bolsters and lie flat in savasana, lying down relaxation posture. Feel contentment arising within you, joyful serenity for the practice of yoga and the happiness it can bring to life.



live your dharma

Seeking the light Is it possible to live your life’s purpose, your dharma, in this world of distractions? A traditionalist and a modern yogi discuss what it means to live the yoga dharma. Words Kylie Terraluna

“Being awake means being Light Beings in

karma to work towards enlightenment.

the now; living our dharma in the present

Her philosophy is steeped in decades of

moment.” ~ Hillary Adrian Han

spiritual practice and, during the fasting course, she teaches students to “look

How can you live the yogic dharma within a

from a portal of emptiness (sunyata) at

culture conditioned for consumerism, where

self without judgement or attachments;

partying and drinking are the norm and

unconditionally accepting where you are”.

distractions are everywhere? Are you living your dharma as part of your yoga practice? Join the discussion with two yogis on

“To me, there is no greater dharma than fasting, or upavasa, up with God,” she says. “The body, mind and spirit are

the path, a traditionalist and a modern-

given a tremendous opportunity to go

day yogi, who shine light on what yoga

back to the beginning of what it means to

dharma means and how to live it today.

be truly pure and empty ... when we fast, we become present and grateful for the

Hillary Adrian Han “We are just like our ancestors, as they too were seeking the light.”

simple virtues of our humanness.” Out of the four purusarthas (Vedic aims of life), dharma is the most encompassing and most difficult to interpret. It has many

Hillary Adrian Han is a traditional yogi,

meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism and

completely devoted to practising a yogic

Jainism. From her studies, which involved

lifestyle since the late 1960s. She lives in a

a 30-year project translating Thai Buddhist

bungalow at the edge of society by the sea

Dharmic texts to English, Hillary says, “It

in Thailand, remote yet available for those

is evident that the word ‘dharma’ goes

who seek her. Her message is to serve and

beyond our Western mind and conception,

inspire her students with the guidance they

and there is no definitive translation.

need to break away from the samsara (life cycle) of the system and be truly free. She sees the yoga dharma as closely

“My definition of dharma is nature, the laws of nature, the duties that any entity or part of nature must abide by to follow

connected with nature, in tune with

those laws of nature, and the effects that

simple living for liberation. In line with this,

occur through either following those

Hillary runs Dharma Healing International

duties according to the laws of nature,

(, a fasting

or not. In practising a life of yoga, we

program that emphasises letting go of old

express our dharma in harmony with the



live your dharma

“When we become one with Mother Nature we learn who we are, we find our dharma; we reflect, internalise and can find peace.”

flow of conscious awakening. Being close

was medically discharged from the

to nature supports a yogic life of dharma.

army, Duncan refocused on business

When you are truly present, there is no

management. “The [yoga] teaching part

time or space in the mind for fear; the

was such a big accident,” he recalls. “I’ve

presence of oneness is strengthened by a

always been a strong leader and it wasn’t

total immersion in the divine.”

a hard skill to start teaching ... I can see it

To live dharma today, Hillary teaches, “Depart from your linear perspective of

was my dharma, what I was meant to do; I had to accept it.”

time, money and energy; step out from the

Up until that point, Duncan’s life had

attachments that hold you back, that trap

been influenced by the army. He'd grown

you and prevent a healthy lifestyle and

up with a father who was also a military

the awareness of your higher divine self as

man so, when Duncan turned to yoga, it

being interconnected and one with all.

took courage and commitment. “For a

“To live a life of dharma, one must make

male like me with tattoos, it was a process

it a priority above other less life-enhancing

because I had to let go of a lot of out-

activities, above unhealthy relationships

of-balance but comforting masculinity

and addictive social behaviours. When

— and it wasn’t cool to do yoga for a big

you take one little step in the opposite

masculine guy in 2004. It was an uphill

direction, you are moving toward amazing

battle; I was trying to convince a lot of

rewards. Nature is who we are,” assures

people that it was a cool thing to get into.”

Hillary. “Even the yoga asanas originally

Duncan says it has been his purpose

were representations of nature’s creatures:

to serve the yoga industry by setting the

the snake, locust, fish, camel etc. When

example of establishing studios and letting

we become one with Mother Nature, we

contemporary vinyasa (flowing) yoga

learn who we are, we find our dharma; we

evolve. Now it’s done. “I have completed

reflect, internalise and can find peace.”

that karmic phase in my life and I now know there is something greater,” he says.

Duncan Peak

“People who become successful have a

“This is how the modern world has evolved.

responsibility to be generous and do some

[Yoga philosophy] used to be so dry and

good with their money, to work towards

now it seems a lot more theatrical.”

being more self aware, heal the world and give as much love to children as they can.”

Self-described modern yogi Duncan Peak

According to Duncan, a Power Living

is the owner of Power Living Australia

one-hour yoga class is “a physical

Yoga, or PLAY (, a

workout that equates to tone and beauty

successful yoga brand with eight studios in

and spiritual presence that brings a

operation, enjoying an annual turnover of

transformation. We don’t go into the

AU$10 million. Author of The Modern Yogi,

deep spiritual work; we are more about

Duncan feels closely connected to dharma

being present and mindful, rather than

and the path of service dharma brings.

the transcendence. We get people clear

He speaks of his own transformation that

on their mental chatter and the constant

surrendering to dharma has offered.

reactivity, and to question their thoughts.

Dharma, as Duncan describes it, is “your spiritual life purpose; it is living moralistically, in line with the spiritual

This provides insight to look at life in a different way. “We encourage people to have faith

law so that everything you do is from

that everything is perfectly as it’s meant

your dharma”. Years ago, when he

to be right now for you to be at peace.



live your dharma

For any yogi who wants to evolve, you need to know you are totally in charge of your inner state at all times.” Living the yoga dharma If you seek to live your yoga dharma, Hillary shares 10 steps to help you on the path: • Slow down, place the mind with each step in life, bringing a mindful presence throughout each day. • Give up toxic substances (meat, alcohol, coffee, processed carbohydrates, addictive pharmaceutical and recreational drugs). Cleanse old karmic attachments stuck in the body, emotions, relationships and attitudes. • Introduce healthy, organic, plant-based raw foods as your main diet. Incorporate proper food combining, eat small meals and practise mindfulness when buying,

intention, right direction, right speech,

mission — and act on them. To know

preparing and eating food.

right action, right effort, right livelihood,

the cosmic laws and grasp your unique

right mindfulness and right meditation.

dharma, settle consciousness through

• During daily meditation, before walking away from the cushion, affirm being a

• Be grateful for your life, even if you are

yoga practice, listen and live in harmony

channel of light, focusing on oneness,

suffering, as being grateful is likely to

with the intuition found in being one

God consciousness, universal peace,

reveal the cause of your suffering and

with the natural elements and the whole

the appropriate path to alleviate it.

universe. Slow down, purify, seek the light,

emptiness and equanimity. • Commune with nature whenever you

• Choose a profession that you feel happy

be one with peace.

can, letting go of the material world of

with and where you feel grateful for all

gadgets, work and agendas.

compensation. Meditate on seeing that

the modern lifestyle? Duncan suggests

• Centre yourself in a yoga practice in

Does the notion of dharma fit with

the money — and all material abundance

being real about modern-day pressures,

which you unconditionally accept where

you receive — is divine substance, and

disciplined and honest about the impact

you are and who you are, and have

that it is your dharma and karmic yoga

your choices will have, and then making

patience with your growing ability to

to express compassion by channelling

your own decisions. These decisions, he

master the asanas as best you can. Be

that abundance forward toward a

says, are made in accordance with your

open and encouraged from within, and

venture worthy of your love to serve.

commitment to spiritual progression at

In addition, Hillary says, “Yogis need

that time in your life.

from those who you respect, to help you transform various aspects of your life

to grasp a depth of presence that

that don’t honour a pure yogic dharma

encompasses as many dimensions and

being to be healthy and live your dharma.

lifestyle and connection to the divine.

perspectives of consciousness as one

“To be liberated, to awaken our ‘immune

• Engage in activities that provide you

Hillary asserts it is your right as a human

is capable of incorporating into that

intelligence’, to become enlightened

with an opportunity to forgive, where

moment. Being a yogi means living in

beings, we are required to take excellent

forgiveness allows the other person and

union with nature and the divine universe.”

care and be attentive to everything in our

thus yourself to be free. Find ways to

Dharma is in your nature and the

life,” she says. As for her own purpose,

express your compassion, charity, love

righteous duties you are required to

Hillary says, “My goal in life is to be a pillar

and kindness to others (even enemies)

perform in this life to abide by cosmic

of divine light and a rock or a wave as

without conditions and expectations.

law. To live the yoga dharma is to awaken

often as I can. This has become a privilege

to those righteous duties — your spirit’s

that I am immensely grateful for.”

• Follow the eightfold path: right T H E YO G A E X P E R I E N C E



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THE PLACE The Byron Yoga Retreat Centre is a tranquil eco haven on the outskirts of beautiful Byron Bay. Accommodation is simple, clean and comfortable. The site has a wonderful ambience of peace and serenity. With a heated 20m mineral-salt swimming pool and the beautiful beaches of Byron Bay just an easy walk or bike ride away, this is a great place to unwind and recharge.


ethical yoga gear

The conscious yogi While yoga may not be about looking good in Lycra or showing off your new mat, functional clothing and props can help you feel more comfortable in your practice. We’ve tested some ethical, eco-friendly items to see how they perform. Words Kate Duncan & Danielle Kirk NagnAta Yoga Bag The nagnAta yoga bag is truly a piece of art. Created by Byron Bay designers Holly and Laura May, each bag uniquely expresses the rich, cultural diversity of our world. With the nagnAta bag slung over my shoulder, the walk to my yoga studio becomes quite the experience: I’m met with compliments and questions about the bag and its design, which I happily answer with a smile. I’d say it would be these kinds of moments that nagnAta hopes to create with its bags: a conversation deeply rooted in cultural awareness, creativity and spiritual expression, even if just for a moment. Each bag is created from old textiles from India and Afghanistan and features intricate hand embroidery work, block printing and vegetable dyes. Embellished with old metal, mirrors, beads and coins, the bags give new life to traditional textiles and help celebrate the beauty and meaning Mukti Grounded Mat & Travel Mat

of indigenous handcrafts and traditions. KD

I felt like all my Christmases had come at once while


testing these Mukti mats. Their pared-back charcoal simplicity is beautiful, as are the ethical and eco-friendly principles underlying their production, and a cream carry strap — which doubles as a prop during yoga — was included with each. Score! All Mukti mats are sweatshop free, so you can be confident you’re not benefitting from someone else’s misfortune. The Grounded mat is made from a blend of biodegradable, non-Amazon-harvested, natural tree rubber, jute and cotton, while the travel mat — a whisker-thin 1.5mm — is made from just the rubber. The 4mm-thick Grounded mat is reversible: rubber and jute fibres on one side make it good and grippy for a dynamic practice, while the other side’s soft rubber-cotton coating is lovely for slower sequences. The travel mat is incredibly light, nice and long, and great for tucking in your tote for heated classes when you’re on the go. DK W:



ethical yoga gear

Dharma Bums Higher-Waisted Printed Yoga Legging, Retro Sports Bra & Freedom Flow Sports Tank I’ve always been a believer in utilitarian yoga outfits: oversized singlets, multipurpose black tights, a stern sports bra that prohibits escape … However, Soul Song Crescent Moon Meditation Cushion The Soul Song Crescent Moon meditation cushion is a fantastic

after testing this Dharma Bums outfit, I may change my ways. The coral tones of

addition to my meditation practice. Shaped in a half moon with a subtle

the sports bra, tank top and rose quartz-

downwards slant, it encourages healthy spine alignment and helps give

print leggings are so vibrant, I can’t help

softness and length to my neck. It’s been cleverly designed by Soul Song so

but feel upbeat while wearing them.

the pelvis tilts forward, allowing for a natural curve in the lumbar and cervical

The tights are soft and silky and fit like

spine and a supported lower back. At first, I found the feeling of sitting so

a second skin — and their higher waist

upright unnatural but, as my upper body relaxed and my hips opened, my

means I don’t have to keep hitching them

meditation deepened. The cushion is 100 per cent Australian made, filled with

up as I progress through poses. The tank

buckwheat husks and light to carry. It would be a great help for anybody who’s

top has an inbuilt shelf bra so you can

interested in beginning or maintaining a meditation practice. KD

wear it alone, but I wear it with the sports


bra underneath for extra snugness. What’s even better is that Dharma Bums clothing is made in Australia in small, family-run

Stretch Now Bamboo Block

businesses by workers who are well

Blocks are wonderful additions to your yoga practice. If

respected and fairly paid, and that care is

you’re struggling to hold a pose, find a calm and steady

taken to follow eco-friendly practices. DK

breath or are out of alignment, a block can help you get


the most out of your asanas. This sturdy Stretch Now bamboo block allows for a strengthening, stabilising and challenging yoga practice. It’s firm and perfect for triangle or half-moon postures, when the floor is not yet in reach but your dedication is unwavering. I use it in bridge or child’s posture as a wonderfully restorative option; you can also use a block to gain deeper access or reach in backbends or balance postures. I find that, while this block isn’t as forgiving as the foam ones I’ve used before, it’s supremely supportive, surprisingly light and smooth. Plus, it’s made from environmentally friendly, sustainable bamboo — great for the environment and your wellbeing. KD

Photography Kate Duncan




ethical yoga gear

Stretch Now Organic Cotton Yoga Bolster A bolster — a long, stuffed, fabric cylinder that's designed to support you during certain yoga poses — can be a lovely aid during a slower, restorative practice. With its peaceful white flora and fauna designs printed on a khaki background, this Stretch Now bolster doesn’t just help restore my body, it comforts my eyes as well. It also pleases my mind because the filling and the removable, Soul Song Organic Wheat Heat Pack

washable cover are both made entirely from

I’m a big fan of heat packs and the healing warmth they provide; they can ease

organic cotton. Cotton is one of the most

a cramped belly, soften sore muscles or keep you warm under the covers on a

heavily sprayed crops in the world so, when

cool night. But, recently, I’ve discovered the beauty of a heat pack in yoga. The

you purchase organic cotton, you’re helping

Soul Song heat pack is lovely to wear across the eyes in savasana, allowing for

reduce harm to the environment and harm to

a deeper exploration of your inner world. It’s beautiful across the feet in viparita

your health too. I use this bolster for gentle

karani (legs up the wall) as it provides a warm, weighted massage for the soles

post-work and pre-bed yoga postures — for

of the feet, something that’s unusual but wonderfully therapeutic. It’s also

example, placing it along my spine during

lovely to sit on, giving the pelvis a subtle tilt, or to place underneath the hips,

savasana or beneath my head and chest

providing a little lift and ease. The heat packs are Australian made, vibrantly

in child’s pose. It’s nice and firm, so I feel

designed and filled with organic wholewheat grain, making it a lovely addition

supported and don’t roll off, and the 75cm

to your yoga practice and natural remedy first-aid kit. KD

length and 22cm diameter seem just right. DK



LovEarth Yoga Mat, Thin & Thick LovEarth’s focus on lessening the ecological footprint of yoga in Australia is contagious. When it’s time for a new mat, the LovEarth team request your old yoga mat back so they can distribute them to community yoga groups that serve disadvantaged populations all around Australia and New Zealand. Plus, you receive a YogaPass to practise at certain yoga studios. LovEarth yoga mats are made from natural tree rubber and jute and come in either a thick version or a thin travel size. I tested both types and found each mat gave a tight grip and was soft on the wrists. Both mats have an impressive length and are light in weight, fully biodegradable and free from nasty toxins. Each time I roll out my LovEarth yoga mat, I choose to give myself and the environment some much-needed love and care. KD W:



ethical yoga gear

Nikita Handmade Champagne Celebration Micro Plain Yoga Mat Bag Nikita Handmade’s vision is to provide a lasting, reliable income for families affected by human trafficking in the Cambodia province of Kampong Speu. Nikita Handmade salvages boutique fabric samples from high-end fabric manufacturers and employs locals on a good wage to sew them into beautiful, unique yoga mat bags. I find that the bag is durable, made from quality materials, lightweight and great for all sizes of yoga mat. It even has a detachable pocket on the front, which was perfect for my eye pillow and keys, and was something other yogis complimented me on. When you purchase one of these bags, your dollars are directly helping prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation. By creating fair work opportunities, training, mentoring and real-life coaching for people living in extreme poverty in Cambodia, the lovely folk at Nikita Handmade are truly changing the world, one lovingly sewn patchwork square at a time. KD W:

Ethical Creations Arena Pant & Ponchito These two items are from the Choclo Project clothing range: an initiative of the Choclo Project, which fosters the creativity of underprivileged children in Peru and provides workshops to teach the youngsters valuable skills. The children's drawings are transformed into graphics that are then printed on products such as yoga pants, tops, crops and tights — all distributed in Australia by Ethical Creations. Profits from the sale of these items help finance other projects that allow the kids to grow up in creative, safe environments. The Arena pant — made from 95 per cent organic cotton and five per cent elastane — is soft, comfortable and versatile, and feels wonderful when flowing through asanas. The vibrant, beautifully designed ponchito also encapsulates everything yoga represents. Made from delicate Pima cotton produced by Peruvian farmers, who are given fair and equal Photography Kate Duncan

opportunities, free eye testing and farming equipment, it’s soft, warm and lovely to wear during meditation — and makes the perfect savasana blanket. KD W:




The yoga library Want to learn more about yoga? Dedicated yogis share the books that have greatly influenced their own practice.

INSIGHT YOGA Sarah Powers Sarah Powers’ Insight Yoga presents her unique approach to yoga, which skilfully integrates yin and yang yoga and mindfulness practices, interweaves ancient yogic practices with Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, and links human anatomy and physiology with Chinese traditional medicine’s meridian theory. The result is an exciting, complete guide for yoga practitioners of all levels. Powers also has an Insight Yoga DVD, including more than four hours of holistic practice material. In her book, Powers explains the main principles of yin practice and divides the book's “yin” section by the yin/yang meridian organ pairs. She describes, with great precision, the organs’ physical attributes and the energetic, emotional and mental qualities of their chi (vital force), before outlining the channels of the connective tissues associated with the organs and meridians as well as the yin sequences targeting them. Powers then introduces yang practices, with the first sequence aimed at beginner yogis. She goes on to look at yogic breathing techniques and guides the reader through mindfulness meditation practices. This book is of great value to all yogis.

Words Mascha Coetzee







BKS Iyengar

Rod Stryker


Astadala Yogamala, which translates to

The concept of The Four Desires comes

Donna Farhi

“The Garland of the Eight Petals of Yoga”,

from the Vedic tradition’s purusartha,

Bringing Yoga to Life is a beautiful and

is a series of eight volumes released by

which is basically the means for the

timeless book that I keep coming back

Sri BKS Iyengar in 2008. This work amply

consciousness to realise its fullest

to. Farhi takes you on a journey through

fulfils Iyengar’s wishes that these books

potential by pursuing your destiny and

the yogic path, learning to transform

would become “a source of reference and

fulfilling your unique purpose. In The Four

what may start as a physical practice into

research” for all who are interested in yoga

Desires, Stryker describes yoga as all

a lifestyle. She guides you through the

— from inquisitive beginners to ardent

life, not just part of it, and gives strong

inevitable roadblocks and teaches you

practitioners and would-be teachers.

reason to believe that, when you desire

how to find time for practice, even when

something, the universe is going to give

it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

These generously photographed volumes demonstrate the pragmatic range and full

you the opportunities to achieve your

depth of Iyengar’s yoga teachings — both in

desires — so long as you are able to let go

understanding of how yoga helps you

practice and philosophy — through a series

of who you think you are (ego), which is

reconnect with your body and innate

of broad-ranging articles. Also included are

essentially the aim of yoga.

intelligence, learn to trust yourself and

question and answer sessions, interviews,

Containing plenty of real-life examples

More specifically, you gain an

your instincts and also cultivate your

articles on the techniques and therapeutic

from people who’ve followed the exercises

inner teacher. Farhi writes that you need

applications of yoga, and a precious diadem

within its pages (or not), The Four Desires

to learn to balance effort and surrender

of Iyengar’s aphorisms and thoughts.

allows you to decode what is going on in

and, above all, realise that “the practice

This unparalleled work supplements

your higher self, revealing the possibilities

should serve you; you are not a servant

the others by BKS Iyengar (such as Light

you have to change your life if you make

of the practice”.

on Yoga) that are now known worldwide

the right choices.

Overall, it’s an excellent guide for

as benchmark texts. Volume 8 includes a detailed and useful index that, via English

anyone wanting to delve deeper into Words Lucy Cormack

yoga philosophy, explore yoga as a

and Sanskrit, ranges from acrobatics and

lifestyle, cultivate inner awareness and

asana to yoginis and the zodiac.

live in the present moment. Suitable for beginners through to advanced students,

Words Arjun von Caemmerer, assessor

Farhi grounds Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in

with the BKS Iyengar Yoga Association

modern life.

of Australia ( and founder of Hobart School of Iyengar

Words Claire Nettley, president of Yoga

Yoga (

Australia (







Paramahansa Yogananda

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


Named as one of the best spiritual books of

Based on a series of 33 talks, Ashtavakra

Paramahansa Yogananda

the century by HarperCollins, Autobiography

Gita is a book of commentaries by

Paramahansa Yogananda was a very

of a Yogi has been in continuous publication

spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the

down-to-earth yogi who shared his

since 1946 by The Self-Realization Fellowship,

profound and enlightening conversation

wisdom on how to handle worries,

a group started by Yogananda himself.

that took place between King Janak and

emotions and life’s fears and challenges in

Ashtavakra thousands of years ago. King

an easy, practical manner — and the way

before embarking upon my yoga-teaching

I first found this book 25 years ago,

Janak wanted to know the ultimate truth

he has presented it all in this world classic

career. Way ahead of its time, Yogananda’s

of life and Ashtavakra is the sage who

is fascinating. Yogananda has presented

teachings and experiences are still relevant

was chosen to be the one fit to reveal it

classic discourse on reincarnation and

today. He transcends religious dogma,

to him. The conversation they have is said

soul evolution, the different aspects of

explaining that the basic teachings are the

to be the most enlightening conversation

the mind, even the atoms, in an easy-to-

same: unity, love, respect and compassion.

that has ever taken place, and has been

understand yet in-depth way.

He includes personal interviews with

referred to many times as the highest

Mahatma Gandhi and other leading global

knowledge on the planet.

spiritual leaders, from all different faiths.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the

My two aunts gave Man’s Eternal Quest to me at a young age. Soon after, I was given Yogananda’s Autobiography of a

Art of Living Foundation, presents

Yogi by another aunt, who was on the path.

to live and teach in the west, is considered

Ashatavakra Gita in an engaging and

It further helped me to cope with life’s

the “father of yoga”. His teachings follow

captivating manner, making profound

challenges and inspired me to truly believe

the true path of yoga: a balanced body,

yogic knowledge easy to understand and

in this great yogi’s philosophy. I recommend

mind and soul.

apply to your life. This book is one of the

this book to my students worldwide and

true yogic gems, an invaluable tool for any

have gifted it to many others, all of whom

book, “I keep stacks of Autobiography of

person who’s earnestly longing to know

have given wonderful feedback.

a Yogi around the house, and I give it out

the ultimate truth.

Paramahansa, the first master of yoga

George Harrison once said of this

Full of humour, wit and wisdom, Man’s Eternal Quest is written in a very user-

constantly to people. When people need ‘re-grooving’, I say ‘read this’, because it

Words Meggan Brummer

cuts to the heart of every religion.”

friendly way and tugs at your heart. It’s a must-read for anyone seeking God and a

I couldn’t agree more.

spiritual lifestyle.

Words Mary-Louise Parkinson, president

Words Farida Irani, founder of

of the International Yoga Teachers

Ayurveda Yoga Australia

Association (









BKS Iyengar



BKS Iyengar, one of most influential yoga

Judith Lasater

Georg Feuerstein, PhD

masters of our time, wrote many books

What would hatha yoga be today

Georg Feuerstein, PhD (1947–2012),

throughout his life. However, Light on

without the work of Judith Lasater? This

was an influential yoga practitioner and

Life stands out for its practical approach

classic book from 1995 led the way for

scholar who wrote more than 30 books on

to understanding the role of yoga in

“yoga prescriptions” of Iyengar yoga to

mysticism, yoga, tantra and Hinduism. Dr

achieving wholeness and inner peace

become familiar ground in hatha classes

Feuerstein worked tirelessly, and with great

in day-to-day life. In this book, Iyengar

everywhere. With care and intelligence,

humility, to convey the authentic spirit and

takes you on an inward journey through

Lasater provides a doorway into

real meaning of traditional yoga to a wider

the body’s five sheaths or layers of being:

restfulness; an embodied understanding

audience. A prolific writer, he explored

the physical, energy, mental, intellectual

of the immensely healing and nurturing

yoga's philosophy, history and practice,

and divine bodies. He has an engaging,

benefits of gently flowing over yoga

decoding its sprawling heritage into a

warm and sometimes even humorous

bolsters and blankets for everyday life.

modern context, relevant in the current day.

way of breaking down the more esoteric

Among his most popular books, one

Relax & Renew is your number-one

and complex philosophies of yoga

classic resource on how to embrace

stands out: The Manual for the Philosophy/

encountered in this journey, in a manner

restoration as the antidote to stress.

History Segment of 200–500-Hour Yoga

that is easy digest yet profound and

It includes detailed explanations of

Teacher Training Programs. It is considered

relevant to yogis in this day and age. Light

restorative sequences for common

a milestone in the yoga industry. Its

on Life is a must-read for experienced

ailments such as back and neck pain,

purpose is to enable yoga teachers to

yogis and newcomers looking for a

insomnia and jet lag, as well as befriending

train their students in the philosophical/

practical spiritual guide, or simply an

this soothing form of yoga during

historical aspects of yoga as part of

uplifting read.

menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.

their 200- to 500-hour teacher training programs. This side of yoga teacher

It’s a timeless teaching resource for yoga Words Veronica Joseph

students and teachers alike. So have the

training is often inadequate but, since yoga

courage to relax deeply and let this master

is a continuum of theory and practice, it is

teacher guide you on “being there” and

important to cover the philosophical and

coming home to yourself.

historical aspects properly. Words Kylie Terraluna Words Sal Carrello, ERYT, member of the board of directors for Yoga Alliance Australia (



yoga source

Yoga source Yoga King Bolsters



Treat yourself and the planet with Yoga

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Aromacare essential oils are a perfect

King’s famous yoga bolsters. Durable and

yoga and Pilates. Twenty-seven years in

accompaniment to support

attractive, the bolsters are constructed

development, it’s where East meets West;

your yoga practice. These

with removable organic cotton covers

yoga therapy unites with core Pilates and

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and densely filled with environmentally

functional biomechanical moves, creating

oil products help invigorate,

friendly kapok. Browse and shop online

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rejuvenate and relax. See

for a large range of yoga and meditation

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cushions, blankets and much more.

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Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat Gwinganna is an innovative wellness destination that offers you the chance to switch off, relax and refocus on your health. Learn how to become resilient in our fast-paced, high-tech world at this award-winning organic retreat. W:

Infused Crystals My Health Yoga

Crystals have been used for thousands of

Established in 1998, My Health Yoga

years for many reasons and the benefits

offers a holistic nine-month part-time

are multi-level. Central Park Infused

yoga teacher training course in Brisbane,

Crystals is a new and exciting product

the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast

range to support your daily nurturance, or

and online. The school has supported

home/spa experience. Made in Melbourne,

Ethical Creations

more than 2000 graduates through this

the products include candles, room and

Ethical Creations is run

transformational journey while offering

body sprays and essential oils.

on a voluntary basis

classes seven days a week.


and, as the Australian


distributer of Choclo Project, donates 10 per cent of profits from Choclo Project clothing sales to children’s charity projects both locally and abroad. Pictured is the Pared tank top, RRP AU$55, and Dibujo pant, RRP AU$99. Model is Georgia Fish, Australian WQS professional surfer and mentor for Choclo Project. W:



yoga source

Yoga Food

Radiance Retreats

The Yoga House

Yoga Food is the ultimate superfood

Even if you have

Radiance Yoga Wellness Retreats with

and protein blend. A certified-organic

never done yoga

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and vegan all-in-one, it’s delicious and

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quick to mix into your favourite juice

yoga at The Yoga

with beautiful nature walks, healing spa

or smoothie. It is packed with extra

House allows you to feel immediately

therapies, healthy meals, core strength

greens, omega vitamins, antioxidants and

comfortable. It teaches you to get to

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know your body’s abilities and limitations

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and to make quick but lasting changes to

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Stretch Now Stretch Now offers a range of quality ecofriendly yoga equipment to suit all yoga practitioners. Its popular organic cotton bolsters come in more than 20 different colours and patterns. RRP AU$60. W:

Wellness & Yoga Retreats in Byron Bay Treat yourself to an affordable healthQigong: the new yoga?

boosting retreat at Byron Yoga Retreat Centre. The three- or eight-day programs

Kuvings B6000 Whole Slow Juicer

Qigong, the Chinese equivalent of

include yoga and wellness sessions,

Taste the difference with the Kuvings

yoga, often described as “meditation in

relaxation by the heated swimming pool

B6000 Whole Slow Juicer (RRP AU$599),

movement”, is extremely effective for

and healthy vegetarian meals featuring

the first cold-press juicer to juice whole

calming the chatterbox mind, revitalising

produce grown in the organic gardens.

fruit and vegetables. There is no better

energy reserves, loosening the spine


way to retain and absorb more nutrients.

and joints, increasing mental clarity

It is stylish, quiet,

and assisting with recovery from illness,

easy to clean and

accidents or surgery.

has the strongest


motor on the market. What’s more, it comes with a 20-year warranty on the motor and a five-year warranty on the parts. T: +61 2 9798 0586 W:



the resource guide

The resource guide A directory of products and services for mind, body and spirit. WIN! 1 of 10 copies of Katie Brown’s Ten Minute Tone DVD We have 10 copies of Katie Brown’s Ten Minute Tone DVD (RRP AU$24.95) to give away. This DVD features a series of 10-minute yoga routines — designed for different parts of your body and times of day — and relaxations written and presented by senior yoga teacher Katie Brown. Perfect if you are travelling, short on time or simply have a spare 10 minutes! Visit or to find out more. For your chance to win, simply tell us, in 25 words or less, what are your favourite yoga poses for relaxation? Send your answers on the back of an envelope to:

The Yoga Experience Resource Guide Giveaway #1 Reply Paid 75687 North Ryde NSW 1670

Conditions of Entry: 1. Entry into this competition implies full acceptance of all conditions of entry, including the instructions on how to enter. 2. Entry is open to all residents of Australia and New Zealand. Employees and immediate families of the promoter, associated companies and agencies associated with this promotion are ineligible to enter. 3. Entries close last mail on February 12, 2016. The winners will be notified by mail or email. 4. Entries should be mailed to The Yoga Experience Resource Guide Giveaway #1, Reply Paid 75687, North Ryde NSW 1670 Australia. 5. We have 10 Ten Minute Tone DVDs to give away. 6. Prizes will be posted to the winner within 4 weeks of notification of winning. 7. Prizes are subject to availability, are not transferable or exchangeable and cannot be taken as cash. 8. The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes will be awarded on the basis of merit. Chance plays no part in determining the winners. 9. All entries become the property of the promoter. The entries may be entered into a database for future promotional, marketing and publicity purposes, unless otherwise stated by the entrants. If you do not wish to be entered into this database, please indicate this on your envelope. This will not exclude you from entry to the competition. Please refer to the Privacy Note below. 10. No responsibility is accepted for lost, misdirected or delayed mail. Privacy Note: With your permission your details may be recorded so we can send you information about similar publications/services from Universal Magazines or carefully vetted third parties. Universal Magazines is committed to National Privacy Principles. We do not sell data to list brokers. If you wish to see our policy, go to and look under ‘Privacy’ or call us on +61 2 9805 0399.

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The wordsmiths

Meggan Brummer

Lucy Cormack

Born in Zimbabwe, Meggan has been

Melbourne-based yoga teacher Lucy

practising yoga since she was four years

Cormack has more than 12 years’ yoga

old. In 1999, she left London and the

practice behind her, having started in her

corporate world and travelled the globe

teens. Her gurus, Swami Sivananda and

for a year, searching for a way to make her

Swami Vishnudevananda, condensed the

life meaningful and fulfilling. She became

essence of yoga into the five principles of

a yoga teacher in Varanasi — India’s city

proper exercise, proper breathing, proper

of light — during that time and, after that,

relaxation, proper diet and positive thinking

her life changed extensively. After a year

and meditation.

of working in Zimbabwe as a yoga teacher and journalist, she moved to live in Australia. Meggan is currently a stay-at-home

and her greatest privilege is assisting her teacher, Judith Lasater, with Relax and

mum living in Sydney who’s constantly

Renew Restorative Yoga teacher training

balancing motherhood with a variety of

when she comes to Australia. “My self-

interests and work. She’s a civil celebrant

practice is such an important part of me

(, a corporate

living yoga to the best of my abilities,” says

wellness consultant and an internationally

Lucy. “It is an honour and a joy to practise

published writer. Her greatest passion,

and to share these tools through classes,

however, is volunteering as a teacher of

workshops, writing and living a yogic life.”

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s work, teaching his

You can find out more at

Happiness Program and the Art of Living Yoga Course (, which are now recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and taught in 3000 cities worldwide. Other interests of hers include: blogging about parenting (MegganMamma: Discovering How To Remain Healthy, Happy And Sane Through Mammahood,, spending time with her three-year-old son Joshua, being in nature and making time — no matter what — to meditate and do the sudarshan kriya every day. You can contact Meggan at


Lucy has been teaching yoga since 2009



Mascha Coetzee

Veronica Joseph

Kylie Terraluna

Mascha is a yoga teacher, holistic health

Veronica Joseph is a freelance writer and

Kylie Terraluna is a regular contributor

coach, nutrition assistant, linguist,

yoga teacher based in Sydney. She has

to WellBeing, a writer, yoga teacher

meditator, passionate traveller, animal

been practising yoga for 10 years and

and mother of two young and adorable

lover, wellness blogger, Sanskrit and

trained as a teacher in India, the home

beings of light. Kylie has been teaching

Ayurveda enthusiast and a dedicated

of yoga. Veronica is passionate about

yoga since 2003 and, before following

practitioner of ashtanga vinyasa and yin

sharing the teachings of yoga in a way

her writing dharma, she specialised in

yoga. She also has a strong commitment

that is engaging and easy to understand,

children’s yoga and teacher trainings.

to continuing her education in all aspects

particularly for those new to the practice,

She holds an Advanced Diploma of Yoga

of yoga, holistic nutrition and wellbeing.

through her writing.

Teaching through Nature Care College

Mascha attended her first yoga

Forever a student, Veronica enjoys

class in 2007 while still working in the

studying traditional yoga philosophy

in restorative yoga. She also has a

education industry, with the hope yoga

and modern-day approaches to deepen

Bachelor of Arts in English/History from

would help her deal with stress, restless

her own practice. When she’s not

the University of Sydney.

sleep and inability to calm her mind. It did

practising yoga or meditating, Veronica

much more than that. Before starting her

can be found travelling, cooking or

the guidance of Acharya David Frawley

practice, Mascha suffered from a series of

playing with her dogs. She also works in

through both the Ayurvedic Yoga Wellness

mini-strokes and migraines, had digestive

marketing and communications for an aid

certificate and Ayurvedic Astrology courses.

issues and a weak immune system. Yoga

and development agency in the not-for-

She has a passion for combining yoga

has helped her look within, improve her

profit sector.

and Ayurvedic wisdom and practices for

health and learn to relax. Yoga is for everyone, Mascha

Find out more about Veronica on her blog A Lotus in Mud,

and received extensive additional training

Kylie furthers her Vedic studies under

harmony, spice and sensual, beautiful, spiritual living. She loves delving into the

believes, and she’s passionate about

roots of Vedic wisdom, uncovering secrets

sharing her knowledge. She teaches

and mysteries for universal truths, living and

from the heart and aims to enhance

teaching the practices for universal love and

her students’ journeys by combining

present-moment awakening.

physical aspects of hatha vinyasa and

Kylie teaches WellBeing’s Yoga

yin yoga with conscious breathing and

Immersion Weekends for Love and

mindfulness meditation.

Happiness, empowering you to live

Mascha lives in Launceston,

your bliss with harmony and health. Her

Tasmania, where she teaches yoga

message is one of love and simple living

and runs wellness workshops. You can

in tune with nature. Kylie is available for

email her at coetzee.mascha@gmail.

workshops, conferences, classes and

com or visit,

private consultations. You can contact her and

at and find out

more at




What's on 2015

December 11–18,

January 23,

March 19–20,

Date yet to be confirmed,

Tamilnadu, India

Byron Bay, AU

Surfers Paradise, AU

Sydney, AU

5th International

Evolve Yoga Festival

Yoga Australia Conference

Future Sound of Yoga

Ayurveda Conference February 4–7,

March 29–April 3,

September 7–13, AU


Great Lake Taupo, NZ

Ubud, Bali

The Butterfly Foundation’s Love

Date yet to be confirmed,

Great Lake Taupo Wanderlust

Bali Spirit Festival

Your Body Week

Brisbane, AU



February 18–21,

May (dates to be confirmed),

Thredbo, AU

Joshua Tree, US

Date yet to be confirmed,

Thredbo Wanderlust

Shakti Fest

October 2–5, Broken Bay, AU

Sunshine Coast, AU

Kundalini Yoga Festival

Sunshine Coast Yoga Festival


February 19–21,

May 14–15,

Auckland, NZ

Sydney, AU

International Yoga Festival

Australian Yoga

Therapy Conference


October 15–18, Sunshine Coast, AU

Date yet to be confirmed,

Sunshine Coast Wanderlust

Mullumbimby, AU

Byron Spirit Festival

February 25–28,



Hawaii, US


Oahu Wanderlust October 22–25,

Date yet to be confirmed,

San Jose, US

Sydney, AU

Exploring the Nature

Evolve Yoga Festival

March 1–7,

Bakti Midwest

of Consciousness

Rishikesh, India

June (dates to be confirmed), Madison, US

The International Yoga Festival Date yet to be confirmed,

June 21, Global

October 25,

Whistler, Canada

Melbourne, AU

Whistler Wanderlust

March 10–13,

Evolve Yoga Festival

Sedona, US


Sedona Yoga Festival

July 21–24,

Telluride, US

October 27–28,

Date yet to be confirmed,

Sydney, AU

Cape Town, South Africa

March 18–20, Mt Martha, AU

Mind & Its Potential

SpiritFest Africa

Seven Sisters Festival

International Day of Yoga

Telluride Yoga Festival

September (dates to be confirmed),


January 7–10, Goa, India

Joshua Tree, US

India Yoga Festival

Bhakti West


what's on

EDITOR Danielle Kirk Ph +61 2 9887 0640 EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Kate Duncan DESIGNER Shant Safarian NATIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER Kirsti Rae (Couper) Ph +61 2 9887 0369 QUEENSLAND ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Amy Frank Ph +61 488 424 232 SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SALES & MARKETING Sandy Shaw Ph +61 8 8342 5989 VICTORIAN ADVERTISING MANAGER Tracey Dwyer Ph +61 3 9694 6403 ADVERTISING PRODUCTION CO-ORDINATOR Hannah Felton Ph +61 2 9887 0376 ADVERTISING SENIOR DESIGNER Martha Rubazewicz MARKETING CAMPAIGN EXECUTIVE Kye Blackett Ph +61 2 9887 0326 PUBLISHER Janice Williams COVER CREDIT Getty Images

CHAIRMAN/CEO Prema Perera PUBLISHER Janice Williams CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Vicky Mahadeva ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Emma Perera ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Karen Day CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Mark Darton CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kate Podger EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION MANAGER Anastasia Casey PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE Nerilee Chen PREPRESS MANAGER Ivan Fitz-Gerald MARKETING & ACQUISITIONS MANAGER Chelsea Peters Subscription enquiries T: 1300 303 414 Circulation enquiries to our Sydney head office: (02) 9805 0399 WellBeing Yoga Experience Issue 1 is published by Universal WellBeing Pty Ltd, Unit 5, 6–8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113, Australia. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd, Singapore. Distributed by Network Services, phone: (02) 9282 8777. Editorial advice is non-specific and readers are advised to seek professional advice for personal problems. Individual replies to readers’ letters by consulting editors are not possible. The opinions expressed by individual writers in WellBeing Yoga Experience Issue 1 are not necessarily those of the publishers. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This magazine is printed on paper that comes from a mill that satisfies the requirements of ISO 14001. *Recommended retail price $14.95 ISSN 1832 – 813X Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXV ACN 003 026 944



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The Yoga Experience  

Make your own discoveries with The Yoga Experience. Hands-on advice, helpful posture sequences and insights into this inspiring, connecting,...

The Yoga Experience  

Make your own discoveries with The Yoga Experience. Hands-on advice, helpful posture sequences and insights into this inspiring, connecting,...