I’ve arrived for my first Ayurvedic treatment at Maitreyi Vedic Village in South India. I walk into the treatment room to find three people there. They all watch me intently as I remove my dressing gown. “Underwear off, madam.” One of the three, a small Tamil girl of about eighteen, brings something to cover my modesty – a thin piece of cotton held on with an even thinner piece of cotton. It feels a bit like wearing a nappy. The second person, a slightly taller girl of about the same age, with tiny, nimble hands, sits me on a stool where she proceeds to rub oil vigorously into my scalp. It smells very sweet as she massages my head, down my neck and across my upper back. Suddenly, the massage stops and I'm asked to get up off my stool and sit on the edge of a very large wooden massage table while the two girls stand in front of me and chant a prayer in Sanskrit. I’m now ready for my treatment.Read More
I never intended to teach yoga to teens with eating disorders. Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know much about either teenagers or eating disorders, but my limited experience had taught me that both could be challenging.
But then I volunteered as the training co-ordinator with A Sound Life, a charity that brings yoga to people in hospitals and care facilities. One of the first facilities we visited was Westmead Children’s Hospital where psychologists in the Adolescent Mental Health Unit were keen to add yoga to their program for kids with eating disorders.
Having seen recent studies that demonstrate the benefits ofyoga for people with eating disorders, the lead psychologists wanted to explore how it could be integrated into their pioneering Intensive Family and Adolescent Eating Disorder Day Program (IFAED) program.
This morning I walked into the cancer support facility at a large Sydney hospital. The women in the room were slightly nervous. Many of them hadn’t done yoga before and, given that yoga is often presented as a form of exercise for young, bendy people, they weren’t sure if they were going to be able to keep up. But, nevertheless, they’d turned up in the hope that yoga had something to offer them as they recovered from cancer.Read More
Monkeys are great at climbing trees. Their strong, flexible bodies are perfect for racing up and down the branches where they find food, shelter and companionship. From high up in the tree-tops the monkeys look down on the elephant.
The elephant is possessed of great strength and calm. Her sensitive, flexible trunk allows her to perform tasks of amazing dexterity. She is smart, loyal and looks after the other members of her community. But she's hopeless at climbing trees.
Naturally the monkeys place a high value on tree climbing – it offers so many benefits and it feels fantastic. Everybody should do it! Some of them look down on elephant and simply ignore her – she looks all wrong and will never be any good at climbing trees.
What would my body look like if I didn’t do yoga? I know I wouldn’t feel so good. But would I actually look any different? I ask the question because the imagery of modern yoga directly equates yoga practice with physical attractiveness. While anybody who’s done more than a couple of classes will tell you it’s all about what’s happening on the inside, the external representation of yoga increasingly mirrors the wider cultural obsession with perfecting and then displaying the body.
Yoga is rapidly evolving into a performance art in which the physical form trumps the internal experience. The yoga body has become an object of display and the practice of yoga is no longer a vehicle for exploring our internal, embodied experiences. Instead, it has become yet another arena for creating and broadcasting our idealized selves.Read More
I kick start many of my morning yoga classes in Spring with Kapalabhati. Kapalabhati is an uplifting, detoxifying and energising practise that is often confused with pranayama. Yes, it works with the breath, but it's actually a kriya - a cleansing practice. It's English translation is "skull shining breath" and it really feels like you've cleansed your frontal lobes after a session of Kapalabhati!Read More
I’ve been practicing yoga for 25 years and teaching for 15 years. And I’m a long way from being a guru.
I’ve got plenty of diplomas, degrees and postgraduate qualifications as well as many thousands of hours of experience. But the gaps in my knowledge are as wide as the ocean.
And that’s a good thing. For two reasons.
What brings a clinical psychologist, a celebrant, a yoga teacher and a social worker together on a tropical island? They’ve all come to Bali to learn how to share meditation with their clients.
I’ve been running a 7 day Meditation Facilitator Certificate program in tranquil north Bali. After an early morning practice session, one of the participants tells me that several of her clients have been told by their doctor to learn meditation. “But they don't know where to start," she explained. "That’s why I’ve come here; so that I can teach them myself.”
As the benefits of meditation receive more and more media coverage, health practitioners are starting to recommend meditation to their clients – usually mindfulness meditation because it’s most often in the news.
But there’s a shortage of trained meditation teachers and many people don’t feel comfortable with online learning. Another participant on the Bali training works for a community services organization that recently delivered an online mindfulness program to staff. However, they found that technical difficulties and the inability to ask real-time questions prevented many people from experiencing the full benefits of the practice.Read More
I was recently asked by the Cancer Council to present a Webinar for cancer survivors on how yoga can help people manage their recovery from cancer and move forward into new ways of caring for themselves (you can register to view the Webinar HERE) . Alongside me was Katherine, a young woman who has survived two different types of cancer and shares how yoga has helped her move beyond healing the body and into a state of wellbeing in which she is thriving in all areas of her life. She’s a true inspiration.
The webinar includes information on studies that demonstrate the benefits of yoga for cancer, including: