Changing the Face of Yoga Podcast

Hosted by Stephanie Cunningham, a yoga teacher herself who is committed to sharing yoga with anyone, especially the over 50's. Stephanie created this podcast to share how yoga can be practiced by anyone with amazing benefits. Yoga teachers themselves will share their stories; discussing why they teach, who they teach, how students benefit. Every fortnight or so, we will release a new episode. We will talk with teachers about teaching children, curvy bodies, the elderly but also those that each yoga to support students with diabetes, cancer and mental health issues.
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Changing the Face of Yoga Podcast




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May 14, 2019


100th episode released next week

Introduction: Linda Stern Lang

2:43 Teaching soft skills to medical students, to change their professional identity from medical technician to healer.

3:36 Teaching two populations now: women in their 30’s and people 55-85. Introduce the koshas – become aware of anatomy, pranic energies. Observe the body, feel breathing, heart beating, intellectual thought, mind and emotion and the bliss body (vibrational, luminous, radiant). In the practice, what do you feel not what you think. Inquiry – pause, breathe, and really notice what you are feeling – don’t attach a label to it. Our identities are wrapped up in explaining, describing, doing, thinking. Jack Cornfield, Buddhist teacher, says that sitting in your safe and sacred space allows you to be who are truly are.

8:30 Invite people to sit to notice what their body/mind needs. If your identity says that you are very active, busy, productive it may hard to accept that what your body/mind needs is to relax and restore. Allowing students to make judgements on how they feel today, don’t describe or label.

11:20 Over 55’s Intentionality/setting goals. There are more things they can no longer do than things they can do. First have them make a goal, e.g., I will be physically stronger in a year and 2) give them tools and ideas on how to take yoga off the mat. Shows them what they can do in the kitchen, while watching tV, etc. Build a relationship with yoga off the mat.

13:50 At the Academy of Lifelong Learning, teaching Doorways to Heart of Wisdom. Through asana practice, move in ways that produces queries. Tying asanas to metaphors; pranyam lends itself to talking about philosophy. Use spaciousness, finite, infinite as metaphors for what they are feeling in class, they start using that language, start seeing themselves differently.

18:34 Adult learners approach learning differently, based on their experience. Looking for something that takes the breath away, probably in nature. People are looking for an epiphany, but it is in the small things in that moment are the breakthroughs. Everything we want is not earth-shattering. As an adult learner, go to places that are uncomfortable and let yourself just sit with it or ask if the teacher can say it in a different way, or I need more information. Introduce ideas that don’t necessarily have answers, introduce ideas that people can play with. Problem solving in your normal way may not work if you are trying to simplify how you think. 23:27 Medical Yoga Symposium: Saw a notice for a symposium at the Smithsonian Institution for “Yoga – The Art of Transformation” . Contacted the curator to ask if Linda could organise a symposium on: Yoga – the Art and Science of Transformation. Asked greatest minds in integrative health who are also yoga practitioners to add credibility to yoga. Dean Ornish, Richard Miller, etc talked about their medical research into yoga. 460 attended first one. 1st day was didactic, 2nd was experiential. Afterwards partnered with the Smithsonian Associates to produce a symposia each year since the first one in 2014. Smithsonian Associates has a huge email list so everytime there is something about yoga as lifestyle programming, these ideas are distributed across a large amount of people. More recent symposia attracted an older audience. Hungry for ways to become more healthy, more happy, and new ways to perceive themselves later in life. For many, it is more difficult to create a more meaningful life as you age.

28:00 One part of the first symposia was to have docents take people through art – paintings, statues, etc, that represented yoga in some way. The docents explained the history, etc, of the piece and the yoga teacher gave their interpretation of the piece from a yogic perspective and may have asked the audience to experience the piece in new ways .

30:30 Finding our voice as a teacher takes time, feeling comfortable with the subject matter takes time. Find ways to step outside your regular communication parameters. Stretch people’s minds, encourage them to feel their questions. Refine your teaching to have them relate to themselves through a yogic lens. Not to be afraid.



FB: lindasternlang

May 7, 2019


2:30 Have a new caregivers retreat scheduled in Santa Fe in 2020

3:33 Received the support of Alzheimer’s Organisation to access caregivers, but wanted to offer something very different from the many resources of the Alzheimers’s Organisation. The retreat is similar to going to a yoga class – greeted at the door, checking in how they feel. Many caregivers come year after year.  Most have no experience with yoga, nutrition, or self-care, massage, etc. Many don’t have access to these things either time or financially.

10:00 A free retreat for the caregivers funded by donations and volunteer work. No volunteers are compensated. Might turn this into a non-profit in the future. 80% of the volunteers have some link to dementia/Alzheimers.

11:58 A one day retreat:  Volunteers come in and set up and prep. As caregivers arrive, a volunteer acts as a caregiver for them. Shows them around, helps them with the schedule, and check back in during the day.

Start with gentle or chair yoga



Array of offerings: massage, reiki, acupuncture or yoga therapy or  Ayurveda sessions. 3 sets of  sessions with 3 speakers. May talk about the Alzheimer’s Association, self-care. Asks the speakers to make it a conversation and to have only one thing that the listeners come away with.

May explore nature

Last set of speakers, Q&A, or breathwork


It is a wellness retreat; experiencing things they never would have the opportunity to do so otherwise.

18:00 Management task: Melissa delegates to 30+ volunteers on the day.

19:15 Melissa’s Dad was a caregiver for over 10 years for his wife who had early onset Alzheimers. His experience was that you are “witnessing your loved one die each day” There is grief each day and the grief lingers even after their death. After his wife died, he has been diligent with his own self-care; still longing for a sense of healing. Melissa recommends “It’s OK that you’re not OK by Megan Devine to help with grief.

22:24 With the new retreat in Santa Fe, Melissa has looked for other solutions to implement the retreat. She also used FB to do a fundraiser for a tent for the Calgary retreat. Start with the gifts you have and work from there. So many ways to create what is needed.

26:00 Getting the message out: uses groups that already are in contact with caregivers – adult day care centers, Alzheimers associations, Alzheimers Society in Calgary, non-profits in Santa Fe, other groups.

29:40 Anything is possible, everything I need is provided for, being able to give back is a reward that is indescribable. Contact Melissa if you want to do something similar and would like some advice.


FB: pranavayogastudiosantafe

Insta: #melissasmithwilkinson

Apr 24, 2019


1:41 Practicing yoga for 10 years, started in sports medicine and then moved into feminine health. Balancing the masculine/feminine energies. Energy is along a spectrum; pull the type of energy needed for the context. May be more masculine/feminine depending on what’s needed.

6:24 How do we manifest our gender

First is genetics: all of us have at least one X (female chromosome), the genes will makes up more prone to certain tendencies but presence of genes does not mean they are expressing. So there is a spectrum of expression in  gender.

The genetics of being female mean there is more connection between the halves of the brain, have a cycle that affects the body and mind, often more intuitive.

11:22 Feminine has both feminine/masculine energies and can be explored through the koshas, chakras. The world gives permission for each gender to approach experiences differently. Recent research – polyvagal theory, neuroplasticity are really modern terms for what gurus have been saying – self-awareness, mind & body connection, disciplines of the mind, breathing.

14:30 Seeing turf wars among yoga lineages. Based on let’s see what you can do , not what you are. Brought to America in the 50’s, started as more mental work, but became physical. Point is to find your own balance in the practice. Cultivate self-awareness, own our own power, then projecting to the world but not being bogged down by outside labels (title, money, gender, etc.)

16:47 Yoga will continue to become more powerful, especially as yoga therapy expands. With yoga, Lisa can work with  the whole family of a pregnant woman. Her philosophy is to teach to the entire person to lead them to awareness of the self, emotional awareness, their humanity. Self-reflection is the ultimate process. Looking at a person and applying yoga tools unique to their situation. Students say I had an experience (not a workout) after Lisa’s classes. Emotional triggers move us: be present in the emotion. Our mind has the power to affect our body. Ancient yogis knew this as prana.

24:00 Study of yoga shows that we are illusions. Lisa took the classes to be able to speak the language of the medical community, immersed herself in the science which may deny the non-physical world. Lisa can talk both sides of the conversations – science and yoga and she can see the connections between them.  Some science is progressing beyond the physical, however many scientists and therapists remain stuck in the physical.

30:35 Lisa was originally physical therapist, then opened her Belly Guru business in 2005 after studying and researching yoga and yoga therapy beginning in 1999. Given her experience in the allopathic medical model, she believes that yoga therapy should be based more on the health coaching model than the sickness model. Yoga therapy seems to be niching down to “fix” a particular symptom and/or issue and not looking at the health of the whole person. Yoga therapy would be much more successful in the life coach, behavioural change model. Yoga therapy provides body work, mental, emotional work and spiritual exploration.  This is a  very cost saving modality and effective. Lisa believes the therapist model is authoritarian; telling the client what to do. And they are often just doing the pieces (what’s painful, a diagnosis of some disease, etc.)  Lisa was doing this with physical therapy but she quit because the insurance model would not allow her to treat her patients as she felt she should. It is financially stable but does not value a therapist’s knowledge and experience. Just be very careful entering into the medical marketplace and make sure that your value is fairly compensated. Look at other professions who have followed the medical model and how successful that is for them.



FB: DrLisaHollandP.T

Apr 10, 2019

1:00 Suffers from asthma since a chlld and a dust allergy. Went to yoga, couldn’t do breathing, disliked pranayama; drinking and smoking for to self-medicate. Yoga allowed her to relax, but not stopping drinking.  Had a horrible year of extreme stress; very fragile, realised had serious issues. Decided to become a yoga teacher.

5:20 Started YTT and thought she knew everything but realised shortly that she knew very little. Had to learn pranayama. Gave up dairy, and finally able to breathe and relax. Everything changed, cut down on alcohol and smoking. Could sleep.

7:00 manage emotions better because of breath, instead of reacting to emotional charge, take a couple of deep breaths then responded, developed an overall state of calm. More balanced.

8:16 5-6 months gave up alcohol entirely. Practiced gratitude for better health. Credit sobriety for learning to breathe.  Manages asthma better with breath. Control emotions with breath

11:12 Teaching yoga emphasizes breath. Focus on breath as move through the postures. Love to teach people to breathe for stress as a management tool. Connecting to your breath connects you to your emotions, mind. Focusses on breathing with asanas, gradually expand lung capacity. Take people back to basics. Gradually introduce other pranayama techniques.

15:42 Learning to breathe help with her emotions, particularly extreme emotions. All emotions numbed by drinking, now feel emotions which is quite new, can be overwhelming. Connecting with the breath takes the edge off of the emotions. Lets go of emotional charge and just looks at the problem. Link between nervous system, stress and breath. Stress response keeps us alive, changes body functions including breath. Slow breath down leads to nervous system relaxing.

20:45 Fritz Perls said that “Fear is excitement without the breath”. Moving between fear and excitement can be regulated by the breath. Make it a regular practice.

23:29 Regular pranayama practice as part of personal practice. Paying attention to what her body needs, Esther’s personal practice is meditation/breathing. Everyone can just take 5 minutes to just notice their breathing to check in and watch the breath.

25:20 Esther’s mission is to teach the world to breathe. People struggle with finding time for a practice. Awareness is the start, if can’t commit to a daily practice, then just notice several times a day how your breath is. What is happening, emotions, breath and what is the link between all of these. Awareness can slow breathing . How you breathe is how you live.

Contact details:

Website: (free mini-course on breath awareness)


FB: spacetobreatheacademy

Apr 3, 2019


2:31 Understanding the energetic seasons – 3 energetic seasons, vata, kapha, pitta. Vata starts mid-late fall to end of winter. Cold, movement, windy – time to look at creative ideas. When vata is unbalanced, becomes anxious, nervous, wants lots of movement. Yoga practice – slower, focus on long held standing and sitting poses. Kapha – late winter/early spring to early/mid summer. Kapha  moist, heavy, warm. Show up and make progress towards the creative goals birthed during vata. Kapha unbalanced depressed, feeling stuck, not right. Side bending poses, inversions, moderate pace. Early/mid-summer to early/mid-fall, pita is fast paced, fiery, productive, exciting, energetic. Active, getting a lot done. Out of balance= angry, someone else’s  fault. Cooling yoga practice = fun, fast pace, and really long, deep, stretches.

10:57 Cathy has been an educator, now a yoga teacher and an energetic healer. Discovered or acknowledged her ability to work with energy during yoga teacher training. Taught to work with energy flows. Very easy to do with her abilities. Had no one to talk to, found someone who does reiki and they could talk about energy work. She entered a publishing contest and used her law of attraction, energetic tools – visualisation to see herself winning the contest. Didn’t win, talked to her friend about her disappointment, friend sent oracle cards. She offered oracle card readings to friends and realised she was reading their energy and offering simple tools to help. Reading the energy of a class. Most experienced teachers read the energy in ways of how is the instruction being perceived and accepted.


16:45 Cathie reads the individual and collective energies in a class. Each of us has an electromagnetic vibration based on our overall health, emotions and thoughts. Travels as electrical currents and current technology can read it to 5 feet from the body. It continues and some as sensitive as Cathie can read it at much longer distances. 20% of the population is also sensitive to these currents. When working with individual/group, she can see pictures in her mind (clairvoyance), hear sounds (clairaudience) or has moments of knowing (intuition). Can tell someone in that moment what they need to do to move forward and create momentum. Her knowing is based on vibrations which are caused in part by conscious and subconscious thoughts.

19:55 Difference between a good teacher reading a class and energetic readings. A good teacher leading her class has experience and possibly intuition. Can pick up class energies with lots of experience.

21:40 Just starting talking about her abilities a year ago. Studied to understand what was happening; picked up the terminology. Wants to normalise the conversation about these abilities. Not supernatural, but a useful tool for one’s life. She has come out about these gifts.

23:48 Power, purpose of self-care for yoga teachers – Lived through a phase with frequent panic attacks and anxiety. Needed some tools to deal with these issues. Knew yoga  had helped with other issues so researched if yoga could help with anxiety/panic attacks. Developed a daily physical, breathing and mantra practice and practiced it for several months. Significant decreases in anxiety levels and number of panic attacks. Practice equals discipline. But it is very individual about each person needs at a certain time. Has to change to meet the person’s need. But a yoga practice to address anxiety should not just be restorative. Also need those long held standing and sitting postures. Anxiety is a build up of vata. Self-care honor where you are and your class is.



FB: LightworkdeCathyWeiss

Insta: lightworker_cathy

Mar 12, 2019

SN Jivana


2:02 Awareness of benefits of yoga for everyone has led accessible yoga to become more mainstream. Work to make yoga more accessible has been going on for some time – extending yoga to different populations.

4:50 Yoga media is not reflecting reality. Yoga Journal did not fully commit to putting Jessamyn Stanley (a black, large-bodied yogi) on the cover as they had said they would. But when the most conservative yoga media moves in that direction, there is progress.

6:34 Progress but push back from corporate yoga. Specialized classes are not as profitable. Large yoga chains offer “gym” yoga. There are two different yogas “gym yoga” and everybody yoga. Accessible yoga is getting back to what yoga is. Yoga is 1000’s of years old and started for monastic males but has changed many times. Yoga is the west is more physical but it is changing as the spiritual aspects of yoga become more important. Also, the potential injuries of extreme physical yoga are becoming known as more high profile yogis are having hip replacements.

10:52 In the future, dichotomy will remain. Physical yoga needs a new name and will be subsumed into the gym culture .Accessible yoga teachers need to have skills to have a diverse, integrated, mixed level classes to address anyone who comes into the room. Many just want to participate in a yoga class.

12:20 Teaching skills to teaching levels of pose at same time. Most teach one level and then other level. Find language to teach both. Preparation can be different and then the cues for the pose are the same. Example: cobra pose explanation for mat and chair students.

16:13 Awareness growing of simple, subtle yoga. Body mechanics for safety. Yoga why do we do this practice; why do we do this pose – what are benefits and how do we make this benefit available for everyone.

17:50 Western yoga is maturing. Questions about what is yoga, how do we make it beneficial for everyone.

19:10 Extreme physical yoga practice will become subsumed in gym environment. Other yoga focusses on spiritual, mental health, emotional health is growing up and maturing. So much more diverse inclusive classes available

20:57 Large yoga brands will see this “accessible yoga” as marketing opportunity. May take away accessible yoga’s opportunity to own the message, not letting the brands to formulate the message. Clothing brands sell on aspirational model. Will start campaigns based on accessible yoga. Don’t let them co-opt the message. How do we maintain control of the message. It can feel like success to be included but what is lost. How well do these corporations support the community.

25:44 Accessible yoga is not as profitable; can’t be scaled up as easily. It may be a financial burden for students to pay for classes. Accessible yoga teachers can not make a living from teaching yoga classes. They are often asked to teach for free. Value in well trained teacher who should be paid and make a living. We need additional financial models. Yoga industry multi-million dollar industry. 99% of yoga teachers can’t make a living. That’s not acceptable. Teaching training and private classes are more profitable. Accessible classes need to be profitable to continue. Corporates need to support yoga teachers. Yoga Alliance is considering paying teachers directly to teach accessible courses. Recently added to their mission M making yoga accessible.

30:00  Making progress – lululemon  could be the model. Yoga Service Council – supports accessible yoga organisations.

31:04 Accessible Yoga book by Jivana will be out in the fall. It is for students who think they can’t do yoga to shift awareness.



FB and Insta: accessibleyo gaproject



Website: (30 trainings worldwide this year)

Conference: Accessible Yoga in St. Louis end of May and in New York in the fall

Mar 5, 2019

 Yoga and Trauma: Now and In the Future


3:49 Yoga and trauma came together as more was known about trauma. Bessel van der Kolk who did a small study of yoga and PTSD. He is a strong voice, and the trauma community recognized the body’s role in trauma healing. Allows a safe and structured way for body to feel again. PTSD as a diagnosis occurred in the 1980’s Society has realized that everyone has experienced trauma in their lifetime. Can react to trauma in present moment situations that not helpful to situation.

6:38 Research has focussed and supported yoga as a helpful modality for trauma. Research studies for PTSD have had encouraging results – lots of feasibility studies. Demand for yoga for trauma courses are very strong. Heather’s popular yoga for trauma course attracts psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and yoga teachers. More and more course applications are from the medical community.

9:12 Yoga teachers should know about trauma. Recently published a book  (Yoga for Mental Health by Kelly Birch and Heather Mason) where chapters are written by experts in their field. A chapter about  trauma focused yoga therapy by Daniel Libby and Dana Moore is provides a good information on this topic. Yoga teachers dealing with students who are experiencing PTSD should be careful of language during class. The student’s experience may not be positive either mentally, physically or emotionally. Don’t tell people what they are likely to feel. PTSD is likely to make people feel disembodied. Better to give them a cue with a focal point (e.g., you may feel tension in your hamstrings at the back of the legs in a forward bend). Touch should be approved by the student at all times. Movement to make yoga trauma-sensitive but yoga can be so much more than that because of its effect on the autonomic nervous system.

13:05 Yoga Training for Trauma: when dealing with PTSD understanding what people are presenting with (it can be variable) – more difficult if have a group class. Restorative allows people to deeply rest but some may some may feel vulnerable. Moving can be empowering. Every style of yoga can be appropriate for people with PTSD; depends on the stage they are in, what’s going on and their proclivities. All teachers need to understand how to handle triggering. Can’t stop anyone from triggering. All yoga teacher training courses should have a mental health component because yoga classes have a higher percentage of people attending with mental health issues than the population average. Teach yoga teaches to handle general mental health issues and triggering.

20:00 Overall yoga community is more aware of trauma but see growing interest from mental health professionals in the therapeutic value of yoga. #Metoo movement and the reporting about yoga teachers abusing their students has created awareness of inappropriate touch. Adjustments are Ok with informed consent (and to be informed, have to be in tune with their body to know if they allow touch)

22:50 Where will trauma and yoga be in 10 years? Yoga will be more and more integrated into the mental health system (in UK). Difference between health care systems in different countries makes it difficult to predict and will manifest differently. In UK – trauma-based treatments with yoga components are now included in their national health care system (NHS).  Yoga teachers will be increasingly aware of value of yoga for mental health issues and best practices. More research in this area. Flourishing of classes for those with mental health issues. Yoga community should offer yoga saying it is for depression anxiety, PTSD, trauma.  People are desperate for help. The stigma of mental health illness is decreasing now and will continue to do so. Online technologies allow people to access yoga in their homes.

27:00 Integrated into the system in UK; how can we get into the health care systems in all countries. Where health care is paid for by the government, it is easy as only have to convince one entity while a system of 100’s of insurance companies is much harder to enter. Governments want low-cost, effective and efficient modalities for their health care systems. UK and India are making great progress, most successful countries will export their systems to others. Countries like the US where individuals pay for their health care will be interesting. But Medicare does pay for the Dean Ornish treatment which includes yoga. Either UK, India or Sweden may be the model for the rest of the world.

29:30 Parliamentary Group – Yoga in Society. Heather is the Secretary of the Group and it has four pillars. Yoga in: a) education, b) criminal justice system, c) health care, and d) occupational health. Different groups are working in all four areas.

31:33 Yoga and Trauma for yoga teachers who are suffering from mental health issues remember you do not have to be the perfect guru. That will delay your own healing process and creates false expectations


Twitter: yogamind

FB: yoga therapy for the mind





Feb 19, 2019



1:52 Interest in Thai Yoga – more authentic than yoga as it is currently taught. It is called Ruesri dat ton. The monks in Thailand practice this yoga. Uses the breath, great attention to detail, build pressure and then with poses let the pressure dissipate.

5:57 Michael teaches Thai yoga   principles but  not Thai yoga postures in his classes. Works with the breath, don’t push breath down to the belly but rather keep in thoracic area to stretch out the thoracic area which provides support to the pose. People of size often have large belles which push down and restrict the movement of the rib cage.

8:20 Modification for large-bodied people: Using forward bend as an example, forward bending is difficult because the belly is in the way  and to get fingers to toes requires extensive stretching of the hamstrings. Bend the knees and may feel opening in the thoracic rib cage. Belly will push into diaphragm and back opens more. Belly used as a catalyst to open up rib cage. Child pose as an example, the purpose is to fold the joints and then let the weight of the body sink into the pose. Many (often men) have trouble with flattening the tops of the feet in child pose and need something (blanket, mat) under their ankles to get into the pose. Use Chair for the head. Play with the movement, come out when uncomfortable and then back into the pose.

14:15 Works with students in yoga classes and also as massage therapists. Has yoga teachers coming to him for help with injuries – wrists, lower back, neck and shoulders. Repetitive movement that goes unchecked can lead to injury. Self- practice is for self-exploration, self-relfection, paying attention to the body.

16:50 Is yoga more accessible now? When Michael started 20 years ago, there was little interest in teaching large-bodied students. Only 3 teachers in his area were teaching large bodied students (lives in NYC)  Started his own studio because of the lack of opportunity. Now included in norms of yoga but there is a push back. Mainly a financial concern: large-bodied people need larger exercise clothing, larger mats, and more space to do yoga. So it is not of interest to corporate yoga companies. A grass roots approach is working now and it may not be taken over by big business. It is better as there is more creativity in the grass roots.

19:35 Big business yoga can be very dogmatic, very limited, too financially based, no room for ordinary people. Looking for a “famous” teacher can also be unhealthy. Classes/students look the same, no growth occurring. Teachers limited in the type of students they can teach. Yoga will survive, but growth in yoga teaching/practice is questionable in these circumstances.

Teachers we looked up to 20 years ago are experiencing injuries because of the type of yoga and student they teach. Their students will have the same problems in 20 years.

Individuals must have their own practice – take classes, read, work out what is best for their body in their own practice. Can get too engrossed in the movement without paying attention to how the body feels.

23:00 Why are students attracted to Buddha Body Classes? Students are quirky, funny, talkative curious and often have a lot of fear. Fear can be generated from previous classes where teachers did not know how to teach them and they feel shamed because of their body type.

Michael has started streaming classes on Sat AM – the audience is growing and more and more are interested in these classes. Allows someone to do the class in their own space where they may be more comfortable. Because of Michael’s emphasis on safety, he breaks down the pose as much as he can, give variations, explain why they are doing the pose but emphasize they must pay attention to their own body.

27:20 Play with yoga, pay attention to your own body, ask yourself how you feel and most importantly why you feel that way. Don’t worry about completing a pose. Keep asking yourself why. Teachers are guides not rulers

Contact details:

FB: buddhabodyyoganyc

Insta: @buddha_body_yoga

Twitter: BuddhaBodyNYC

Dec 18, 2018

Self-Compassion Meditation

Introduction: yoga nidra process – review, relax, and be compassionate

3:10 Review, relax and be thankful as you delve into the body. Legs, pelvis, torso, arms, neck and shoulders and head

15:15 Compassionate in our thoughts. Self-talk, forgiveness, kindness

18:00 Gently wake up the body



Dec 11, 2018

Special yoga with Jyoti Jo Manuel

Introduction to Joyoti works with children with complex needs and/or social/emotional needs. She provides classes and training worldwide

3:10 Offers trainings that are usually the result of people having taken her training and then asking her to give a training in their country. Special Yoga develops training for each country based on what is needed. Very flexible/adaptable in length of time and type of training given. Each person leaves the training with yoga tools to either help children with a broad range of needs or specific tools for specific needs. Can be a yoga teacher, paediatric professional, teacher, parent or  ?  Jyoti’s organisation works with schools, governments, non-profits, etc.

5:45 Offerings can be simplified but are very powerful so need a background in yoga. There are lots of access points to bring yoga to those who need it. Everyone finishing the course/workshop will have a tool box of appropriate yoga tools to help the children. 7 day workshop teaches a wide variety of tools for a wide variety of needs while shorter ones target specific tools for the participants.  Example: breath can be accessed through your own breathing, movement, sound, massage points, touch.

8:22 Training includes breathing, movement, relaxation. Yoga is the philosophy of being and this is the beginning point of all trainings. The 1st thing is how do you meet the needs of child and your needs. How do we connect? Our state of mind matters. Start all of the trainings by learning to meet the child in a loving, open way.

10:08 Jyoti used yoga tools to help a severely disabled child while he slept. He woke up happier and his mother said his body felt different . Jyoti has no idea of why it worked but intuitively it seemed the right thjng to do.  She knows that Yoga tools work but not exactly why they work. She is humble and grateful to do this work.

13:05 1st world workshops on a commercial basis, while 3rd world workshops are usually sponsored by governments, non-profits, schools, orphanages working together. Again the workshops are not targeted to a particular practitioner but to anyone that wishes to do this work.

16:10 7 day workshop in Sydney, 12-18 January 2019. !st time this workshop will be offered in Australia. People will leave the workshop empowered and inspired and will have tools to meet the needs of children. Will have tools and processes for children with a wide variety of needs. Practical and experiential practices.

17:40 Jyoti took her first yoga class in 1974 and realised that this was showing her a path for her life. She eventually opened a yoga studio in London and people with disabilities and children started coming to her classes.

20:00 Some cultures regard disabilities as bad and the child and his/her family may be ostracised by the community. Yoga has had amazing results with children and the children that received regular work with the yoga tools show great improvement in a variety of ways

22:20 Jyoti’s mission is to reach as many children as possible. The trainings provide a group of people with yoga tools to reach children all over the world.

23:05 Sydney workshop on the North Shore


7 day workshop for yoga professionals, paediatric professionals, parents, teachers, or anyone interested.

Next year she will have trainings in London, Ireland, Spain, maybe Mexico, Brazil.  Enquiries from: South Africa, Finland.



FB: special yoga, jyoti jo manuel



Dec 4, 2018


2:31 As a dancer, Steffany understood movement could be a strategy to alleviate suffering. As a child, she wanted to help people find this state for themselves and suffer less. Wanted to help people find a mind-body connection to be fully engaged in the present thought the experience of what is happening in their bodies and alleviate suffering. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability

6:00 Min-body practice defined by National Center  for Complementary and Integrated Health. Many kinds of mind-body practices that you can do yourself. Mind-body practices are strategies for self-care. Treatment can be passive like drugs or give people the tools for self-care like a yoga class. Changing the way we live by using self-care tools.

8:00 Research: clinical experience and personal perception. Yoga works because we can see the benefits for students, clients and ourselves. Research aims to reduce the personal perception bias. Yoga also is aware of being able to tell the difference between one subjective experience and and our objective reality.

Our decisions must be informed by both to make decisions. Expert opinion (training, gurus, etc.), clinical preference (client’s need),  and generalisable evidence from well-designed research studies. The third one is viewed most strongly by decision and policy makers. Yoga research conducted with modern health research guidelines is fairly new. Last few decades  yoga research was not funded resulting in very small studies that showed promising results. They indicated that yoga was safe to do. These original studies brought research funding to yoga to now do research with rigorous design. Dose (how often), style, poses, comparison with other modalities are now part of yoga research. Results from 1 research study is 1 piece of a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. It is difficult to really understand if yoga is beneficial from that one study. But a thousand studies brings the whole picture and much more confidence in yoga’s benefits. Tips to help someone who is unsure on how to review research studies. Read summary research – meta-analysis, systematic reviews – by an expert in the field. They will be very knowledgeable and by looking at several pieces of the jigsaw will have a better idea of what the research says about a yoga topic.

19:55 Steffany is developing Guidelines for Clinical Research.  If you are writing about yoga research, these guidelines tell you what must be reported so that the research is designed correctly. Things like: yoga style, poses, modifications, time spent in each pose, etc. Without this kind of information, no one can make a recommendation for or against.

23:11 Yoga for Arthritis: developed rigorous, randomised control group structure, replicated with another population research on the benefits of yoga for arthritis.

Yoga works, but that conclusion is based on how yoga is taught. Yoga is safe and appropriate for people with arthritis, decreases pain. Steffany’s research showed a 30% decrease in pain (comparable to drugs) but no side effects. Yoga can transform life, even without pain decrease. Research shows Yoga can improve quality of life, mental health and depressive symptoms. Study reports  changes in the clinical assessment of joints. Received funding from Arthritis Foundation. Subsequent studies included qualitative (peoples’ stories about yoga’s effects) and quantitative aspects.  (Arthritis Foundation asked Steffany to develop a DVD  which is available on the Arthritis Foundation website. The Yoga for Arthritis website has additional resources.

29:18 Steffany has written a book: ”Yoga Therapy for Arthritis” that will be published December 2018. Arthritis affects the whole person; yoga intervenes on every level. Uses the Pancha Maya Kosha system to see the effects of arthritis on each kosha. It is illustrated by a series of personal stories of people living with arthritis and how yoga facilitates personal transformations. Includes a section on lots of different practices and modifications.

The book is for three audiences: Yoga professionals, people with arthritis, and health professionals

33:59 Anyone can suffer from arthritis: 300,000 children have arthritis is the US. Self-concept is changed by arthritis as well as movement. A participant in Steffany’s research had arthritis in her twenties and it significantly affected her life as she was a dancer and gymnast.  Through yoga she came to realise she and her body could partners in dealing with the arthritis.

38:45 Steffany offers Teacher Training in Yoga for Arthritis. 3 Levels: 1st level – provides protocol for 8 week / 16 classes based on her research. Level 2: 1-1 mentoring for teachers, detailing how to teach. Level 3: 1 to 1 practice – yoga therapy.

Training in several cities in Us, starting a hybrid on-line programs

42:50 Open invitation to listeners to send questions to Steffany and she will try to answer them.



FB: yoga4arthritis

Book: “Yoga Therapy for Arthritis: A whole-person approach for Movement and Lifestyle” by Steffany Moonaz

Nov 27, 2018

Introduction to Jojo and Slow Postpartum

3:29 Slow Postpartum is the time after the birth of the baby and the women in taken care of by her community. Time  is 30-40 days of complete rest and care: support, nourishment, and time to heal and bond with the baby. Quite common in several cultures around the world.

When a women has a baby, the brain recalibrates and parts of the brain start interacting for the first time as the women becomes a mother. This transformation needs time, care, nourishment, healing, and making connection with the baby. Matriescence = moving from being a woman to being a mother.

8:00 Jojo teaches yoga classes to pregnant women. Yoga is helpful during the birth, and postpartum can also be helped by yoga but in a different form.

9:30 Pregnant and postpartum body are very different. Many new pregnant students coming to a yoga class are beginners. They have relaxin hormone in their bodies which loosens muscles, tendons, ligaments. Have to be careful not to push into the joints, hyperextension. Postpartum body is different: will still have relaxin for weeks or months. Body is very open from giving birth; the pelvic floor muscles have been greatly stretched. Body is open: physically, mentally and spiritually. Can’t do poses that they did before pregnancy for weeks or months. Need a teacher that understands the postpartum body.

13:49 Postpartum mums and bubs classes: very common for someone to be crying either babies or mums. Jojo recommends that they don’t come for at least 6 weeks. Mums are very sleep deprived, hormonal, anxious. The class is for the women; body needs caring, nourishing and yoga can be beneficial. They are told to make the class what they need it to be. Social interaction with other new mums is very important.

17:30 Helpful poses and contraindicated poses during this period. Women may have C-section scars, and/or separation of the rectus abdominus. So very slowly, methodically strengthen the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Contraindicated poses include twists, especially deep seated twists and plank  because they destabilise the core. Remain careful about pushing into the joints. Poses should close the pelvic area, not stretch it. Shoulder stretches are very helpful because of always holding the baby. Babies naturally do yoga as they stretch and move their bodies.

21:00 Jojo does offer her postpartum doula clients training in meditation. Women in the postpartum class are told to do savasana in any position that they want. They are to come into the present and just be with their baby.

23:08 Body in postpartum needs care, nourishing and support. Find a teacher that is familiar with the postpartum body’s needs. Shouldn’t return to pregnancy, gym or regular yoga classes  as they are not suitable for the postpartum body. Your baby is your yoga at this time. Motherhood is a deeply spiritual practice, you learn patience, accept how things are instead of how you want them to be, unlimited and unconditional lovee.

26:15 Returning to regular classes is very individualised. High impact classes not before 6 months, regular classes not for 12 weeks. Listen to your body.



FB: slowpostpartum

Insta: #slowpostpartum.


Nov 20, 2018

Introduction to Ryan McGraw and Access2yoga

2:10 When Ryan started yoga he did the maximum expression of the pose, because he wasn’t given modifications. He met a teacher who showed him modifications for the poses using a chair, the wall, and props for supporting his body. It brought a new level of understanding and brought more peace to the body. He could more easily bring in the breath to the pose

4:50 He developed an Adaptive Yoga Manual for yoga teachers. It is available on his website ( for everyone. He teaches Adaptive Yoga workshops and contributed a chapter to Yoga and Body Image (2015) that tells the stories of 25 yogis who don’t look like the public perception of yoga.

6:30 In the last 10 years, adaptive, accessible yoga had become mainstream due to the efforts of Mathew Sanford and Jivana Heyman. They are talking and writing about making yoga more accessible. More teachers are becoming interested in accessible yoga as more demographics learn the about the benefits of yoga and want to participate. 1 in 5 people have a disability and others have injuries that need modifications, others are curvy and all may need some modifications.

10:00 Teachers in workshops need to know that yoga can be inclusive. Can adapt poses and still receive benefits. For instance Tadasana (mountain) pose can be done in a chair and the upper body receives the same benefits as if the pose was done standing.

13:25 The accessible yoga ambassadors program came from the Accessible yoga  concept to make yoga inclusive. Ambassadors work to make the public aware that yoga can be inclusive. A recent review by Yoga Alliance included people from Accessible Yoga. Ryan was on the Teacher Qualifications workgroup and he hopes that accessible yoga ideas are included in teacher training requirements as a result of this review.

16:34 Three things that a yoga teacher should do to make sure his/her class is inclusive?

  1. Greet the student and ask them what modifications, if any, they might need
  2. Don’t leave the student out, but don’t needlessly point the student out either
  3. Offer modifications if they are struggling.

Most importantly make them feel safe and welcome in class.

Contact details:

FB: access2yoga



Nov 13, 2018


Introduction of Janaki Somaiya and Yogahood

2:32 Yogahood started as a result of the founder’s experience of yoga’s benefits. Janaki is involved because of her psychology training and family interest in yoga. Janaki is a clinical psychologist working primarily with youth with mental health issues and knows the benefits for this population.

4:70 Yogahood is a not for profit organisation, that has partnerships with community organisations and also yoga studios and yoga brands. Community organisations have been approaching Yogahood to bring their classes to the community’s space. Yoga studios and yoga brands can help fund in many ways Yogahood’s activities. Yogahood’s volunteers go to the community sites to offer the classes.

8:00 Volunteer teachers must have 200 hour teacher training and 50 hours of teaching experience to take the 3 day Yogahood outreach training.  The class settings are very basic with just mats and some space; learning how to navigate a very different environment in which to give a class is one aspect of the training. The emphasis of the classes is to give people tools to take home and help them cope in their lives. Disadvantaged communities often have no opportunity to access yoga because of financial hardship.

12:45 Benefits to Students: Overall research shows many benefits of yoga. For youth with mental health issues, research indicates that yoga is helpful in stress, depression, etc. Yoga develops the pre-frontal cortex which is where planning, decision making and self-management occurs. This helps in dealing with stressors. Cognitive benefits include improving memory.

16:00 Young people, through yoga, are taught to tune in to their body and choose what they want to do that day according to how their body feels. They learn that is ok to listen to my body and do what it needs and then feel great when I do that.

17:30 Yogahood collects feedback and evaluates their program. Anecdotally, they hear that yoga helps participants manage their stress and better self-regulation among other improvements.

19:00 Yogahood’s training does provide some basic information on what teacher’s might expect when dealing with a wide range of participants with very different needs but can’t provide in depth. Each community organisation provides a person to be in the room during class. The volunteer is only responsible for teaching the class; the community person takes care of any issues that may arise. This is best for the teacher, the organisation and the participants. At the beginning of class, participants are told that the community person is there and if they have some issues to talk to that person.

21:25 Although Yogahood does provide some basic training in the issues that might occur, they also provide mentoring/pairing of a new volunteer with an experienced volunteer. They will teach the class together for a few classes so the new volunteer can receive feedback and get comfortable with his/her role.

23:25 Yogahood’s goals for the future are to provide the service to as many community organisations as possible given resources. It’s mission is to provide yoga to people who have needs for yoga’s tools. Talk therapy has limitations for some clients. It does not encourage thinking about one’s own body to help with the healing.  Research on trauma-based yoga shows that trauma basically sticks people in the trauma situation and they keep reliving it. Perceiving everything as a threat and living in the past and can’t physically let go of the trauma. Talk therapy may have them move mentally beyond the trauma but something has have help them move physically beyond the trauma.. They must ground themselves in the present which yoga does very well. Yoga increases the links between body, mind, breath. Yogahood is offering outreach training for new volunteers in early December.

31:45 Yogahood asks the volunteers to go into the community and work with people with high needs. Can be quite daunting for a volunteer. Yogahood offers wellness sessions for the volunteers to help them with their self-care and to maintain a balance in their lives. The wellness sessions may be a restorative yoga class, yin yoga, sound healing, massages.




Insta: #yogahoodau

Twitter: @yogahoodau

Oct 23, 2018 SN


Introduction to Osteoporosis: bones become fragile which leads to increased risk of fractures. May be due to bone mineral decreases or the failure of the microarchitecture.


2:54 Causes:

  1. At menopause, the cells that destroy bone become more active than the cells that build bone. These are both natural processes but the balance is disturbed as the sex hormones decrease
  2. In the later years of life 80+ the muscles and the bones become more fragile. Without the muscles pulling on the bones (and as they lose strength, this happens naturally), the bones also become weaker
  3. Illness and drugs can also affect the bone density.

5:30  No symptoms there is a test called the DEXA test that measures bone density (but not bone microarchitecture) It tests three sites on the body: hip, vertebrae and wrist. Each site receives it’s own score.

  1. Normal Score; men and women naturally lose bone density in their fifties but the loss is not enough to increase the risk of fracture
  2. Osteopenia: there is bone loss in excess of normal bone loss and the risk of fracture is increased
  3. Osteoporosis: there is significant bone loss and the risk of fracture is high.

Vertebral fractures can also lead to kyphosis which is 1) a risk factor for more vertebral fractures, it impacts breathing and balance.

9:59 Exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, is recommended to move the muscles that then pull on the bones to signal the need for increased density.

Axial Skeleton – skull, vertebrae, ribs. Protects the core organs and gives structure to the trunk. Women lose more bone (as a percentage) from the axial skeleton than men do so they have an increased risk of vertebral fractures.

Need strong core muscles to protect the bones and to help with holding up the trunk.

11:35 Dr. Mersheed Sinaki, has done several studies on osteoporosis at the Mayo Clinic in the US. She recommends more than just weight-bearing exercise but also need to improve a) flexibility, b) core strength, c) cardiovascular fitness, d) axial strength, and e) gait steadiness (to prevent falls from loss of balance).

13:00 Yoga poses to strengthen the axial skeleton (primarily the vertebrae).

  • Laying down: Gentle locust; laying on the stomach, lift the head (in line with the spine) and then release. After building strength with the previous pose, can then transition to clasping the hands behind the back, lifting the head and chest and pulling with the hands towards the feet. Another gentle pose would be to lay on back and lift head and then release,


  • Standing: With one arm on a chair if needed, lift one arm above the head with the inhale and let it come down with the exhale. Do the other arm. With sufficient strength, can use weights or lift both arms up at the same time (with or without weights).


  • Sitting: Bring arms to shoulder height; bend elbows so hand are pointing towards the ceiling and try to press the elbows together and then release. If the student cannot bring the arms to shoulder height, then place the arms along the side and bend the elbows and then press the elbows and release.


16:45 Appendicular Skeleton: limbs, hip and shoulder girdles. Breaks in hip are often at the neck of the femur which causes a fall. Hip fractures are highly correlated with death in older individuals so a hip fracture is quite dangerous. Wrist fractures often occur when trying to stop a fall. And falls increase fracture risk.

            Yoga poses:

  1. most standing poses (not Warrior I),
  2. Downward dog (can be modified with chair or wall), and
  3. balance poses.

19:34 Contraindicated poses

  1. Inversions
  2. seated twists, forward bends, bridge
  3. Warrior I

24:30 With kyphosis, yoga can provide tools to help breathing. Need more space in the chest to allow the lungs to fully inflate.

25:25 New study correlates disturbed sleep with osteoporosis. Yoga Nidra is good for showing students how to relax and can be a tool to help them sleep at night. Or any relaxation tool used in savasana.


Yoga Vetebral Fractures & Osteoporosis: Research and Recommendations, Norlyk, E., Boses, A., International Journal of Yoga Therapy, No. 23 (1) 2013

Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation in Patients with Osteoporosis: Rehabilitation of Osteoporosis Program (ROPE), Sinaki, M., Journal für Mineralstoffwechsel & Muskuloskelettale Erkrankungen 2010

Yoga Spinal Flexion Positions an Vertebral Compression Fracture in Ostepenia and Osteoporosis of the Spine: Case Series Sinaki, M., MD, MS Clinical Report 22449949

Impact of Sleep on Osteoporosis: Sleep quality is associated with bone stiffness index, Sasaki, N., Fujiwara, S., Yamashita, H., Ozono, R., Teramen, K., Kihara, Y.

Sleep Medicine 2016 Sept: 25: 73-77


Oct 16, 2018

Heather Stang SN


Yoga and Grief

Introduction of Heather and the topic

5:05 Tips to stay healthy while grieving. Sleep, digesting, hydrating may all be difficult. Yoga is one of the activities that can be accessed early. Doesn’t require talking about our emotions and brings us back into the body. Can help with sleeping, digesting and hydrating. People are dealing with the ongoing connection they feel with the person who died. The relationship continues.

7:50 Myth has been that you “get over” grief by detaching from the person who died. Research shows that maintaining a continuing bond helps with living your life.

8:20 What to do for the teacher and other class members when a long-time member of a yoga class dies. Understanding that the class needs to be modified, slow the pace, each person encouraged to share their feelings, perhaps a letter to the person or write down feelings.  Open ended yoga questions: what does grief feel like in your body. Create a yoga pose to reflect those feelings What would a statue look like that represents the person who died. Have your boecaedy look like that pose. Allow people to speak freely about their grief. Disenfranchised grief – not allowed to speak freely because of a perceived social position. For instance, a friend’s grief is not as valued as a family member’s grief.

14:20 Anniversaries of death can be difficult in the yoga class. If student share a date, then keep note of that because often time coming up to the anniversary is difficult for the person. The grieving person needs to plan ahead of the anniversary to do what they need to do that helps them

18:09 Heather has written a book called: Mindfulness and Grief. She had started Yoga and Grief previously, an 8 week program for people grieving. She was also exploring meditation in more depth. She interviewed past participants of the yoga and grief classes to see what the long term result of the classes were. The book is in an 8 week format, but can be done in the time period that an individual needs. There are a variety of tools to address the physical symptoms of – anxiety, tension – and tools to use for their life after loss. Chapters are: Mindful Awareness, Conscious Relaxation, Compassion/Forgiveness, Vulnerability and Courage, Unstuck, Reconstruction and Transformation. Each week/chapter has tools for that week including journaling, creative projects, yoga.

Grief permanently changes you in many ways and the change may even be positive.

Yoga consists of ancient techniques to tend to our suffering.

26:15 Grief does not have to look a certain way; it is different for everybody. Some show their emotions easily, others show little emotion but both are grieving. Yoga teachers may be dealing with our own grief and need to take care of ourselves also

28:10 Recommended books:

Mindfulness and Grief by Heather Stang

Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness by David Treleven

IRest Program for Healing PTSD by Richard Miller

All are available on Amazon



Insta #mindfulgriefquotes

Twitter: @HeatherStangMA

FB: mindfulnessgrief

Oct 2, 2018

2:12 Introduction to Yael Sunshine and integrating dharma into class for those diagnosed with breast cancer.

2:58 Definition of Dharma: Following your inner guidance and connecting with universal principles.

3:51 Designing a class with dharma – start with 5 koshas (physical, mental, energy, thoughts, universal consciousness

4:35 What’s happening in their life because of the diagnosis – dealing with fear, choices are difficult because may be pressure from medical community and/or family.

5:55 Work on deep connection to self, in spite of fear, find authentic choices for themselves, surrender so they can navigate the illness

Give them more tools. Build a relationship between the concepts, ideas, to being felt in the body.

7:05 Difficult to go against medical advice, some can follow their own body’s cues, others may trust their doctor for the treatment.

8:55 Weave some specifics into the class: Ahimsa – violent self-talk, notice the quality of their thoughts, are they judging themselves, not listening to the body, violence against the body. Class pause reminded to come back to their thoughts and observe. Feeling betrayal of the body, anger at the cancer, do I do what the body needs. Observing Pratyhara, not being swayed by the sensory inputs, but listening closely to self and body without distractions. It is often a roller coaster ride and difficult to find and maintain equanimity. May just need to accept the emotions generated by the cancer journey. Using other somatic movements are helpful. Did a runway show where they were to walk down a “pretend” runway and say to themselves I am beautiful. In another instance, Yael gave them permission to say “Get your hands off me” This journey has a lot of people touching you without permission – medical personnel etc. and the cancer patients have little choice. Was a deeply felt emotion to take back control of the body. Can I inhabit and experience what I am feeling. Need space to express negative feelings; feelings that are socially unacceptable.

16:15 In each class, the students’ health is varied from just diagnosed, to being in treatment, to being in remission, etc. Class must be modified to match the energy of the students in the room. Although dharma and the goals of the class may not change, the asanas, breathing and meditation may be modified to reflect where the students are and what they need.

18:15 Teaching is dependent on intuition Cultivate being able to sense the energy in the room. Question the students on how they are feeling and what they want from the class and always have some ideas of what you can do given the situation of the class on that day. What is the final pose? How do we work up to it? What’s the emotion of that pose that people can feel? Need preplanning, experience, intuition. This is a learning experience for a new teacher and can only be obtained by teaching. Experienced teachers may rely too much on their experience, but planning what they want to achieve this month and what is the precept they want to offer and how to do that is also important?

24:21 Yael is an educator, so uses curriculum mapping and uses this tool to address planning for her yoga classes. What is the nature of the students, each class especially one that has a stable membership, has its own character. Different issues arise for different ages, conditions. Sometimes resistance is warranted, sometimes not. Using the 5 koshas to figure out a way to practice and organise the class. What is the most pressing issue?



FB: SundariWellness

Instagram: yaelsundari

Your Shift Matters: Breakdown to Breakthrough – book by Dana Zarcone. Yael has contributed a chapter.




Sep 25, 2018


What does it look like to be an Australian Yoga Teacher in 2018?

With Cate Peterson

 Opportunity: Hersha Yoga is offering an online course to expand your knowledge of teaching pregnant women with medical issues. To explore the course:  If you choose to take the course, use this code CFOYHERSHA to receive 15% off. This is a limited offer with set amount of places available at this reduced rate.

2:30 Introduction to Cate and to the topic

Cate believes Yoga is a vehicle for social action and has created/or is part of many organisations doing that.

2:55 What does it look like to be a yoga teacher in 2018 vs. What does it look like to be an Australian yoga teacher in 2018? These are different because we are connected to a country that has the oldest, living, continuous culture on the planet. Aboriginal culture has two major precepts - taking care of the land and practicing what it is to be human that apply to this conversation about yoga. What can we learn as yogis from this ancient and modern culture for our yoga practice? GetOffOurAsana, IYTA, Yoga Australia, and Off the Mat and Into the World have handed out about 2000 postcards encouraging yoga teachers to start their yoga classes with acknowledging country. Paying respect to country and its custodians is more common in Australia than many other parts of the world.

6:50 Yoga Australia is working the relationship between Australian yoga teachers and the elders of the Aboriginal communities around Australia. Aboriginal yoga teachers look at teaching yoga to through different lens because of their cultural background although there are similarities. But yoga must be tailored/taught differently within their communities. The British colonised Australia 240 years ago, very destructive and they tried to destroy the Aboriginal culture. It went underground and has remained strong. Harshness of Australian climate, the Aboriginal people had to maintain their health through dance, ritual movement, nutrition, fasting and pushing the body to the limits, coming together in song to relate to one another and dadirii, aboriginal meditation techniques. Many of these same activities are also in the yoga culture. What can we as Australian yoga teachers learn from and use in our practice.

12:30 Cultural appropriation is a contentious topic in yoga right now; is it Ok to practice another culture’s spiritual practices? Is it Ok to use the cultures images, symbols, techniques out of context? Yoga is 6000 years old, drawing from that about how to be human. But are we paying sufficient respect to the roots of yoga?

14:25 Yoga is evolutionary discipline and changes as the need changes. Can we (should we) meld the Indian lineages of yoga with the Australian Aboriginal culture? Don’t know but the conversation needs to be started. Yoga Australia is starting this conversation. There are some parts of yoga that are easily distorted. Gurus from 19 lineages are in court for sexual misconduct. The guru model gives power and some will take advantage of that power. What is the appropriate model for teaching, or the passing of information?

19:30 In Aboriginal culture, traditionally individuals were stewards/advocates of some part of country – a tree species, an animal species, a waterway, etc. No one person was at the top.

20:55 Yoga is regaining our own physical, mental, spiritual being. What can we learn from the Aboriginal culture and how might that drive yoga in the future?

21:30 What is the goal for bringing together the yoga and Aboriginal communities? Asking yoga teachers to bring elders into their classes for welcome to country, to start conversations, stories of their culture.

23:40 How do you know that anything beneficial has occurred? The next step is to submit the reconciliation action plan ( and have one year to reflect on the plan and bring communities together to decide what they want to do. When that is approved, then will start on the innovation reconciliation plan to actually put the ideas into place and to monitor and gather data. The third step is the elevate reconciliation plan where Yoga Australia etc will mentor other, similar organisations.

Each yoga teacher must ask permission to integrate these aboriginal tools into their practice. These are one on one discussions to open pathways, build relationships, community building is most important.

27: 35 How yoga was originally taught was to find a guru and the guru was responsible for giving you information as you were ready for it. They were there when you needed someone to go to when you were struggling with spiritual matters. How it looks in the future is unknown but starting the conversation is important?



Cate: 0419609991

Note: the crowdfunding Start Some Good that Cate mentions has not gone live yet but will soon.

Sep 18, 2018

Body Acceptance with Beth Knudson

Opportunity: online course for accessible yoga for pregnant women

Online course information:

15% on the course code: CFOYHERSHA. Limited offer.


2:08 Introduction – Beth Knudson – Body Acceptance and Understanding

3:20 “ We are not meant to be the same size all of our life.” Beth was a fitness instructor – helped people lose weight. She had eating disorders – anorexic, orthorexic. Helped women restrict their food, which leads to restrictions in your entire life. If we are restricting in any area of our life, then we are restricting our whole life.

What happens when we change the mindset from diet culture – massive amount of unravelling of beliefs. Start to reframe your thoughts, reframe your beliefs, can take years.

6:55 Started eating in an intuitive way. Listen to the cues of the body, understanding what those mean, so eating when you are hungry, understanding your body’s hunger and fullness cues.

All foods are equal, any food is OK at any time. Tune in to the body, honor those cues. Yoga is very helpful because it focuses on paying attention to physical cues and sensations. Meditation provides focus for internal dialogues. Gives you a practice to start listening to the body.

9:30 Thinking about your weight and what you are supposed to eat or not takes up a tremendous amount of mental time.

“Your life’s purpose is not a weight loss project” – using the weight loss project as a way to not deal with other areas of your life. We have all been carrying around a 20 lb rock and when we put it down, we can do other things.

12:20 The perception of yoga supports the “diet culture” – the young, slim, yoga body. This perception is a big obstacle but there is a group of rebels who are pushing that yoga is for everybody. Beth lives her life and her practice to model and authentic and honest yogi life. There is more than one way to be (a yogi).

14:30 Beth offers a variety of modalities:

Thai Yoga: assisted stretching. Client is totally passive, Beth provides a facilitated meditation with assisted stretching, rhythmic movements, pressure in soft tissues. Client gets into his/her body in a different way. People who don’t pay attention to their body, gets them into their body.

Ayurvedic Face Lift and Thai Reflexology: great ways to start for those with trauma. Both are very restricted in the areas that are touched so there is certainty about where they will be touched by someone else.

18:50 The process that Beth uses with new clients:

1 A get to know you call and see if Beth is the appropriate person for this person’s needs – can refer to others.

  1. Complete a questionnaire
  2. Meet face-to-face or online
  3. Beth envisions the overall structure concerning the sessions but the client directs. Where the body takes us, where the beliefs takes us. Using movement, journaling, meditation, art. Online can see each other so can do asanas remotely. Beth has cultivated a network of colleagues that she can refer the client to for face-to face work.

22:50 Diet culture – we have lost the ability to understand and notice our body’s cues. Cannot feel for ourselves. Works on more love for ourselves and our body. Work on interoception and pay attention to your body.

If we understand anatomy and physiology we would know that our body is amazing and miraculous. We should be in awe of our body. “We are not meant to be he same size and the same shape our entire life.”



FB group: make  peace with  your body

Sep 11, 2018

Jivana Heyman and Accessible Yoga

Opportunity: Hersha Yoga is offering an online course to expand your knowledge of teaching pregnant women with medical issues. To explore the course:  If you choose to take the course, use this code CFOYHERSHA to receive 15% off. This is a limited offer with set amount of places available at this reduced rate.

2:12 Intro to Jivana Heyman and Accessible Yoga

3:24 Changing the message of what yoga is and can be. Yoga is accessible. Jivana became involved with accessible yoga as an AIDS activist and teaching yoga to those with Aids and other disabilities. Yoga helped with the sadness and sorrow of losing so many friends for both Jivana and his students. He was inspired by students with disabilities. Even though they be sick and dying, they were learning through yoga to cultivate peace of mind.

7:18 Gym yoga was increasing in numbers and in the process becoming less inclusive. Jivana trained teachers over 20 years but students with disabilities wouldn’t consider taking teacher training. In many cases it was too difficult because of short time periods, etc. People with disabilities did not have the opportunity to participate in the depth of learning/understanding of philosophical and other aspects of yoga that occur in a teacher training course.

9:45 Wanted to connect the physical with the philosophical aspects of yoga.

10:15 Trained with Integral Yoga which is a classical yoga lineage developed by  Satchidananda. It includes clear and understandable teachings in yoga philosophy.

11:38 Jivana wanted to add a clear community component to Accessible yoga. Developed conferences and the ambassador program; both of which concentrate on building community and providing support to teachers who are teaching special populations. Conferences also provides a platform for marketing the teacher’s skills that may be more authentic than the business model of marketing.

15:51 Currently there are 600 ambassadors = a free program to support yoga teachers who teach underserved populations. There are several FB groups based on geography and language to support each other.

16:52 Jivana wants to develop an alternative model to the business model which fosters competition. We need another method to support teachers teaching accessible yoga

17:54 Jivana did develop a teacher training for people with disabilities. It was a year long and provided individual support. Now Accessible Yoga’s teacher training now helps yoga teachers to learn how to adapt for people with disabilities. How to teach a class that has people at multiple levels of wellness. It is basically a skill-building course.

24:25 To become an Accessible Yoga Ambassador, (although Accessible Yoga’s Ambassador program is changing shortly –details on the website) complete the application form and just have to explain how you are bringing yoga to underserved populations.

26:10 Jivana has emphasised the community aspect to get beyond the competition driven by the business model. He believes the only way to be successful is to collaborate with other teachers.

28:06 The Accessible Yoga conferences are opportunity for the community building component of Accessible Yoga. It is a gift to support each other. Approximately ¼ attend on a scholarship. Conferences planned: October – Germany, May 2019 – St Louis.

Contact details:


FB:           AccessibleYogaProject


Insta:     #accessibleyoga


Sep 4, 2018

Yoga for Men with Missy Hoffman

2:36 Introduction

4:30 Discrimination against men re: yoga

Many believe that yoga should not be modified for men; yoga is for all.

But men and women have different social conditioning, motivations, physical and muscular differences.

6:30 Missy’s research: 80% of Western men agree with the statement that yoga is for women. In India, yoga was primarily a male activity. As it moved from India to the West, businesses started marketing it to primarily more affluent women. In the West, yoga is seen as feminine. Men want to know the outcome, benefits, and function to start practicing yoga. Their motivation in different

9:20 Yoga conversations are demonising physical aspects of yoga and yet this is the way many men start. They are at the beginning more interested in the physical aspects, especially how this can help them with injuries, stress and other athletic endeavours.

About half the men start yoga by coming with a friend, usually female. It helps to get over the barriers invisible to women but obvious to men in a yoga class.

12:16 To teach men, break it into steps and a slower progression, use language they understand

Meet each student where they are at, assuring them that being uncomfortable  at the beginning is natural. Tell them the tangible outcomes of a yoga practice. Enhances awareness of the body and emotional state.

15:00 Men have to come to their own realisation of the worth of yoga in relation to what are the outcomes for their body and emotions

18:35 Missy explains why she is adding touch to her list of skills as she takes training in massage therapy. Touch is quite controversial currently with many men being accused of inappropriate touch. Men can be quite confused about what is ok and what is not. There is a lot of fear and shame around touch for men. So may tend to not touch in any situation. Touch helps them with their evolving yoga practice.  Touch can also be a trigger for trauma, so permission is always asked for and only given with permission. Teaching  about boundaries with asking for permission to touch.

29:00 Attracting men to yoga classes and as yoga therapy clients. You teach men differently. Have them opt-in to the process: this is what I see, here is the process with explanation based on evidence based principles, here are the goals you told me you want to achieve. Functional mobility is of most value to men at the beginning and should be where the emphasis should be placed initially. When they see the value, they often become yoga practitioners for life.

33:30 Missy has launched an online course on to develop and maintain a home practice. And also offers a free 30 minute mobility assessment. More information is on her website.


Online course:

Opportunity: If you are interested in learning about or expanding your knowledge about teaching accessible yoga to pregnant women, Hersha Yoga has introduced online training in this subject. is the website. Clicking on this link: will bring you to the page for the accessible yoga for pregnant women and you can also pay for the course. If you add the code CTOFYHERSHA in the box for codes you will receive 15% off.  This is a limited offer.

Aug 28, 2018


Benefits of yoga retreats

Different types of retreats: one day, multi-day, international

Look at the story we tell ourselves about our life


1:30 Introduction to Lauren Maher and Volare Retreats

2:38       Therapeutic Benefits of Retreats

Breaks down barriers between people and barriers within yourself, Brings people into community,Time to be introspective, Longer retreats give you the opportunity to establish a personal practice

6:21       Shorter retreats – asks attendees what they are experiencing to establish a thread  to plan  the retreat.

International retreats – a chance to leave stress and anxiety behind. Forming support systems, intention to do yoga.

8:27       Benefits articulated by students

Fresh eye and new perspective, Find like-minded friends, Step our of our environment and can make needed changes, Feeds your soul

13:39     Lauren offers a variety of retreats: one day retreats in the LA area, multi-day retreats in California, and longer retreats internationally.

15:01     People choose an international retreat in Lauren’s experience: they are seekers in life, want to partake of the culture, see the art, eat the food, interested in life. They have a spiritual side and also want to do some yoga.

17:07     Lauren’s retreats include yoga but also exploring the culture, the area, the art, wine, and food.

19:39     Retreats give us the time and space to explore the stories we tell ourselves about our life.

23:30     Travel generates resilience.


Contact Details:

Yoga website:

Travel website:

FB: breathedeepyoga1

Insta: @breathedeepyoga

Twitter: #breathedeepyoga




Aug 21, 2018

SN: Nikola Ellis of Adore Yoga

Yoga Research into Eating Disorders


Research: If and how yoga is beneficial to individuals with eating disorders.

Using western protocols for research

At the beginning, she wanted to research the effect of faulty interoception, objectification, and trauma on the eating disorders. And how yoga may be beneficial.

Standardised the classes so all yoga teachers were essentially teaching the same things in a trauma-informed yoga class.

Asked the yoga teachers and the clinicians there observations of the benefit of yoga.

Outcomes: In addition to the research paper, Nikola developed a series of protocols   for giving a yoga class for individuals with eating disorders. These protocols are available at  



1:06 Introduction

2:07 Yoga Research in the popular press

            The number of yoga research projects (in the West) has increased in the last 10 years. The media writes about how yoga helps people with a variety of   issues but with little detail about what exactly did the yoga given look like and how did it help the participants. Without this particular information, doing the wrong kind of yoga given the condition may exacerbate the problem.

6:00 Nikola’s guidelines for her research into the effect of yoga on teenagers with          eating disorders:

  1. a) must be evidence-based,
  2. b) look for what is helpful,
  3. c) how do we measure what is helpful,
  4. d) start with a literature search.

8:10 Nikola found there were three elements that may be involved with why people have eating disorders.

  1. a) Interoception: receptors throughout the body are always reporting on what is happening in the body, things like digestion, blood pressure, hunger, etc. People with eating disorders may not be able to feel their body or they misinterpret what they are feeling.
  2. b) Objectification: A person only values certain parts of themselves i.e., their looks or their body.
  3. c) Suffering trauma: childhood sexual abuse may be a contributing factor in eating disorders

Nikola wasn’t allowed to actually directly measure what happened to the patients that were in the yoga class (it was considered unacceptable to ask very sick children these types of questions).

Modifying the research, the researchers decided to ask the yoga teachers giving the intervention and the clinicians working with the teenagers what they saw as a result of the yoga intervention. Anecdotally, the participants felt it had helped them.  The yoga teachers and clinicians also saw improvement and gave very positive feedback.

17:29 The intervention was a 10 week term with one yoga class a week. The yoga teachers were given a template for the classes so that the classes were standardised. It was based on the precepts of trauma-informed yoga and designed using the lenses of yoga therapy. Language is invitational, there were no alignment cues, students were given choice as to how to do the pose within the bounds of safety. Gave students a choice which is very rare during their treatment.

29:50 Outcome: In addition to the research paper, Nikola has designed a set of protocols for yoga teachers or clinicians that want to add yoga to their treatment plans. These protocols are can be accessed on Nikola’s website.



FB, Insta, Twitter: adoreyoga

Aug 14, 2018


Working with other professionals to meet the needs of the whole person.

Benefits include better proprioception and social engagement

Collaborate with the family to help special needs children.



1:00 Introduction to Sheelah Rodriguez and Adaptability Yoga

Works in therapy centres, after school settings

Works with different challenges –physical, developmental, and mental challenges of children from toddlers to over 18.

May introduce the same material e.g. super heroes but at different developmental levels.

Class – starts slow, moves to the peak of activity, then down to calmer activities and then relaxation

Uses themes, music, mantras (self-affirmations), poses, meditation, some pranyama in classes

13:15 Work on the whole person

15:30 Collaborate with family and other professionals. Team approach; incorporates yoga concepts to meet the goals for the child set by other professionals.

Experience with other organisations and professionals through her work and has found that the other professionals are quite generous with their knowledge and support

18:30 Benefits to students include better understanding of proprioception, and helps with social engagement.

20:51 Tips



FB: AdaptAbilityYoga

Instagram: #adaptabilityyoga


Aug 7, 2018

Highlights: Intensive Yoga Retreats for Cancer Patients

Lee Majewski has created and implements a 3 week intensive for those diagnosed with cancer.

Anyone with the diagnosis, in or finished with treatment can attend the retreats.

Yoga tools are taught to help them with their fear, feeling like a victim and negative thought patterns

6 years of research shows significant benefits for the attendees.


1:16 Introduction to Lee Majewski

3:15  Created a 3 week Intensive Retreat for Cancer Sufferers. Based on her own experience of cancer. There is a gap in care for cancer patients in that during or after the medical treatments there is no support or resources for dealing with the effects of the diagnosis or treatments.

6:20   Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, in treatment or finished with treatments of any type of cancer is eligible to attend the retreat. Each attendee develops with the facilatators their unique practice. Small groups

7:40 A typical day:

Asana and pranayama early, yoga lecture, pranayama and meditation, restorative yoga with mudras/guided meditation, yoga nidra. Chanting. Each is developing their own practice using tools they need to help them with their cancer journey.

10:45 Lee has done research on the effects of the retreat. Attendees take standardised psychological tests the first day, the last day and 3 months after. They have recently added tests at 6 months and 12 months post-retreat. They have 6 years of data.

14:00 Attendees Benefits: given back their control and lose their victim status. Many feel fear and/or depression. The tests show marked decrease in depression over the course of the retreat.

17:00 Structure of the retreat

First week: getting used to the place, diet, techniques, yoga and the other attendees.

Second week: Face their own fears, give them tools to help with these fears

Third week: Learn to manage their thought patterns. Establish their own unique practices and how to find time to do the practices daily.

23:10 Lee has also designed a chronic disease retreat based on the same organisation.

25:00 Contacts



FB: cancerdetox

25:37 Lee is looking for other yoga therapists to help her spread these retreats to other English speaking countries and then worldwide.

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