The 7 Spiritual Laws of Yoga

In second term of 2017 we looked at the 7 Spiritual Laws of Yoga as material to reflect upon during our classes. Below is a summary of all of these, including the quotes and a 3-part practice, which captures the central idea in a nutshell.
The associated mantras and chakras are mentioned for each law as well.

  1. Law of Pure Potentialitythe_valkyrie_by_lulebel-d6wiz9v
    In essence we are pure consciousness and once we
    tap into our consciousness without judgment we are able to reach out to our inner
    potentiality and creativity. In this space between thoughts there is no fear, no control, no ego, just possibility.

    : Om Bhavam Nama
    Chakra: Sahasrara – located at the Crown – spiritual development.
    Essence: I am absolute existence
    Three-part practice:
    1. Cultivate stillness
    2. Commune with nature
    3. Practice non-judgment
    Quote: Never under-estimate the power of your own potential.(E. Burnett)
  2.  Law of Giving and receivingprnt_hoeyyn_givingreceiving_watermarked
    Giving and receiving are opposite expressions of the same flow of energy in the universe. Through giving and receiving we maintain our abundance and harmony. This law is sometimes referred to as the law of circulation. We must be mindful of stagnation. Keep the circulation going, as stagnation could have disastrous consequences. Just imagine taking food or breath into the body and not releasing it! ?A gift doesn’t always have to be a ‘thing’ and doesn’t always have to cost money. Some of the best gifts are for free. We can give people a smile as a sign of positivity or connection. We can give people encouragement so they can reach their goals. We can give a helping hand to people in need. The art of giving and receiving is to show gratitude for the gifts we receive, no matter how small these gifts are and to not expect anything in return when we give what we give. Give freely, without expecting anything in return. in order to avoid our expectations letting us down.
    Mantra: Om Vardhanam Namah
    Essence: I am the nourisher of the universe and the universe nourishes me
    Chakra: Heart chakra (Anahata) – Love and Compassion, circulation

    Three-part practice:
    1. Practice breath awareness – pranayama
    2. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
    3. Acknowledge your needs – don’t be wasteful (remembering the yama Aparigraha and the niyama Tapas. Not hoarding and living with discipline and austerity.
    Quote: ‘Blessed are those who can give without remembering and receive without forgetting. (Unknown)
    ‘Love isn’t love until we give it away.’ (sound of Music)
  3.  Law of Karma (or Cause and Effect)
    875a588d8ebcf3b43d8caa570669946bFor every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. We as humans are part of this chain. With every thought, intention, action and emotion that is transmitted from us, we set into motion an unseen chain of effects, which vibrates from the mental plane of thought to the entire cellular structure of body and from there, out into the environment and finally into the Cosmos.  Eventually the vibratory energy returns to the original source upon the swing of the pendulum. What comes around goes around, applies to the law of circulation as well as to the karmic law of cause and effect. Our past paves the way to our present and our present-day choices affect our future. We need to step out of our ego, which is ruled by habitual and conditioned behaviours, fear and pride. Once we wake up to our pure consciousness, we can see a wider perspective. We become the witness of our thoughts and actions.As we witness ourselves processing our decisions, we are in a position to ask what the consequences of taking this approach are. This process automatically connects us to our intuition. We might feel in our heart and our gut as to what the right thing to do is in any given situation. Our intuition will usually guide us to the right action.?By aligning our thoughts and actions with the law of cause and effect, we can create harmony and joy, as we are in tune with the world and the people around us. (It is not healthy to constantly staying in our private, narrow perception of the world.)
    Mantra: Om Kriyam Namah
    Essence: My actions are aligned with cosmic law
    Chakra: Root chakra (Muladhara) – physical body, health and safety.
    Three-part practice:
    1. Witness your choices – Meditate on a challenge you are facing.
    2. Consider the consequences – Write them down if you find it hard to focus(or when your emotions keep interrupting)
    3. Listen to your heart/gut (intuition) , but don’t be impulsive.
    Quotes: ‘What you sow, you reap.’ ‘If justice is denied, let the law of karma take the ride. ‘Nothing in this world is done without a price.’
  4.  Law of Least Effort18673315_1516185711766253_5437766224800637549_o
    Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease. There is rhythm and balance in the natural world. The grass doesn’t have to strain to grow, a river doesn’t have to push to flow and bird don’t have to try and sing, they all function with ease. So when we are in harmony with nature, we naturally tap into the law of least effort by minimising effort and maximising our effect. The law of Least Effort also applies on the yoga mat. Sthira Sukham Asanam is the sutra which lies at the base of our yoga practice – work with steadiness (of body and breath) and ease (body and mind).

    Om Daksham Namah.
    Essence: My actions achieve maximal benefit with minimal effort
    Chakra: 2nd chakra on the pelvic region – Creativity chakra (Svadhisthana)

    Three-part practice:
    1. Relax into the situation you find yourself in. Accept your limitations. Be patient and let yourself be guided into the right direction by your intuition. Check you are not struggling to change things you cannot change
    2. Take responsibility for your actions. No need to blame self or others for the situation you are in. Recognise where you are and simply move forward with ease.
    3. There is no need to justify or to defend yourself. Ask yourself who do we need to convince and why? Be open to all points of view. Let your intuition guide you.
    Quotes: ‘I wonder how much of what weighs me down is not mine to carry.’ Anon
    ‘Nature’s intelligence is based on flow ease and grace.’ E. Burnett
  5.  Law of Intention and Desirerumi-quotes-what-you-seek-1024x640
    The 5th Spiritual law concerns working with intention and desire. If you want something to grow stronger in your life, direct more of your attention to it. If you want something to diminish in your life, withdraw your attention from it. ?Intention coupled with attention has the power to catalyse the transformation of energy and information into new forms and expres­sions. According to ancient yogic principles, our inten­tion, or as we often call it Sankalpa has an energy that influences everything we do. For yogis to set a Sankalpa is to release their intention and it becomes part of their practice: part of their every day life, asana practice, pranayama and meditation.
    An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create. Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them. Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish.
    Three-part practice:
    1. Look deeply into yourself (consciousness) to find what you wish to achieve in in life.
    2. Verbalise your intention in your own mind and or write it down, believe it, trust in it and then release it.
    3. Detach from the outcome and trust in the process. Your actions will automatically be in line with your intentions. Allow the Universe to handle the details.
    Mantra: Om Ritam Namah.
    Essence: My intentions and desires are supported by cosmic law.
    Chakra: Energy chakra (Manipura) – self empowerment.
    Quotes: ‘Your thoughts are the architects of your destiny. ‘David McKay
    ‘What you think ups become, what you feel you attract, what you imagine, you create.’
    ‘You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intention and your intentions create your reality.’ Wayne Dyer
  6.  Law of Detachment19030455_1531708430213981_8290929774648447415_n
    Detachment makes a regular appearance in philosophical discussions. This law refers to a sense of perspective that ultimately leads us to mental freedom and the ability to embrace uncertainty.The law of Detachment teaches us to let go of expectations, habits and ideasthat hold us back. It invites us to look at a situation as if we are seeing it for the first time, without preconceived ideas, opinions or emotional interpretations. Once we can let go of all of these, we experience enormous mental freedom. We see more possibilities and opportunities.Understanding how to detach yourself from something that has an enormous impact on your life, is to understand why you are attached to a particular attitude towards this event in the first place. I really like Eckhart Tolle’s way of self questioning: Do I have a thought or does the thought have me (in its power)
    Often our attachment is based on fear and insecurity. The search for security is one of those qualities of the mind we need to recognise as an illusion. We all know life is constantly changing. Within that uncertainly or insecurity lies the wisdom of potentiality, of freedom and creativity. We find happiness and fulfilment in embracing this constantly changing environment. Walking away or hiding in fear, traps us into un unbearable scenario.
    Mantra: Om anandham Namah
    Essence: Relinquish the need for constant control and embrace uncertainly ?Chakra: Vishuddhi – expressing your authentic self without judgment.
    Three-part practice:
    1. I commit myself to detachment. I will not rigidly impose my idea of how things SHOULD be.
    2. I embrace uncertainty, because here lies my future path of opportunity and freedom. I trust that all will work out the way it is meant to.
    3. I have the ability to see my situation from a wider perspective. I am open to new experiences and I can see the infinity of choices that are available to me.
    Quote: ‘Do you have a thought or does a thought have you?’ Eckhart Tolle
  7.  Law of Dharmaba9936fa19a96ac05f24660c1b934453
    This is the final spiritual law of Yoga. The Sanskrit word Dharma comes from the root “dhri” which means to uplift or uphold. Dharma literally refers to “that which upholds righteousness.” A sense of righteousness, of purpose and inspiration is extremely significant on the spiritual path. Dharma is often referred to as the moral force that orders the universe. In other words if our actions reflect our moral code of compassion, love and respect for all living beings, we follow our higher path and are on the way to fulfil our purpose in life.
    We all have unique talents and these talents are given to us to serve humanity – the greater good. Chopra says: ‘Every person is a never-ending project of the universe. The project belongs to the universe, but the path is yours.’
    DHARMA: refers to one’s duty in this life. Your dharma varies according to your class, your culture, and the time of your life.
    KARMA: refers to the actions that one does in relation to one’s dharma. In a sense, dharma could be seen as one’s lifelong task, and karma, the steps that one has to take to complete the task.
    Mantra: Om Varunam Namah
    Essence: Be in touch with your higher Self
    Chakra: Ajna chakra – inner knowing and intuition.

    Three-part practice:
    1. Reflection on that what motivates and drives us.
    2. The moral codes we apply in our everyday lives.
    3. The importance of becoming the best version of ourselves and serving the greater good with our unique talents.
    Ultimately, the understanding of 3 qualities will bring us a life that gives us fulfilment and joy.
    Quotes: ‘Live your Dharma not your drama.’ ‘It is better to do your own dharma imperfectly than someone else’s perfectly.’ Bhagavad Gita

10 Yoga mantras worth knowing

hqdefaultThe second term of 2017 we explored 10 significant yoga mantras. We listened to them, we chanted them, we meditated with them and we may have felt some energy/benefit from them. Chanting mantras may be quite confronting or weird when you first ‘have a go’, but I noticed that for some of you it was like a door opening up to a wonderful new experience. In my own experience I found that the more I chanted, even though initially I felt weirded out by it, the more it grew on me. Now I enjoy the simple, mostly mesmerizing tunes that are repeated in a kirtan practice. I, like a lot of of people, don’t consider myself to be a good singer, but the beauty is that you don’t have to be in order to chant. Chanting will give us the same health benefits of singing, but without the challenge of having to hit the perfect notes all the time. Personally, I find it appealing that we don’t know the meaning of the words, as you are less likely to get caught up in tangents and prejudices. Mantras can be in any language: the English: thank you, I forgive you, I love you, bless you etc or Latin: Ave Maria or Kyrie Eleison and Jewish: Shalom, Yah, Elohim.

For me the magic lies in the sounds and the general value the words represent. Through chanting we can make a smooth transition from the material world with concrete meanings and logical explanations to a more esoteric realm, where intuition, subtle energies and inherent beauty contribute to enchantment and liberation.

‘Our eyes might be the windows to our soul, but our voices are the door to our hearts’ is a quote one of my teachers of Nada yoga mentioned to us some time ago. This really struck a chord with me. We always express our emotions with our voice. We can simply hear how people feel when they talk to us: Our voice is loud when we are angry, ‘wobbly’ when we are overcome by sadness and/or insecurity or energetic when we are motivated and full of life. Through chanting (or singing) we can let go of all the emotions that are locked into our bodies. Chanting gets rid of the ‘issues that are in our tissues’. Chanting is a type of release work.

The word mantra itself is often translated as a ‘tool for the mind’. Man means to think and manas means mind trai means protect or set free. Mantra is for the mind what asana is for the body. Below I will list the mantras we practiced lats term and they are in my view the most prominent mantras in the yoga world.

1. OM or AUM
This is the most used mantra in yoga and it also considered a root mantra as it is often combined with many other mantras. Aum represents the sound of the Universe. The meaning of Om is related to the Christian Amen, the Islamic Ameen and the Buddhist Om.

Chanting or repeating Aum is like a form of pranayama or breathing exercise. When we say the mantra aum long and slow, we extend our exhalation breath, which in turn will stimulate the relaxation response in the body. This is the physical effect of creating long slow sounds with our voice.

The meaning of this mantra is: ‘And that I am’ or ‘I am that’. These two syllable match our breath perfectly, therefore it is often used in mindfulness practice or the practice of being in the moment. Not surprisingly this mantra’s meaning is also expressed as: Right here, right now, in this moment, I exist.

Quote: “When you begin to realize that the past does not necessarily dictate the outcome of your future, then you can release the hurt. It is impossible to inhale new air (ideas) until you exhale the old.” (T.D Jakes)

This is known as the Peace Mantra or Peace Invocation. Peace is the most sought after emotion on earth. John Lennon famously translated this mantra in “Give peace a chance”. He even used the vedic kirtan tune to record his song.
Conflict is about highlighting the differences between people and things and is the opposite of peace. Peace is about compromise, conciliation and adjustment, which allows for unification and connection, one of the prerequisites of a happy, fulfilling and harmonious life.
My favourite quote on World Peace is by Jimmy Hendrix:
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

This mantra is often immediately associated with Kundalini Yoga practice. Sat Nam is classified as a seed, or bij mantra; compact but containing a lot of information. SAT stands for ‘Truth’ or ‘being truthful’, while NAM stands for ‘naming’ or ‘giving identity’. NAM in Sanskrit texts can also be meaning ‘to bow’, as a sign of respect. Therefore SAT NAM contains a lot of meanings that can be intertwined together, as with so many Sanskrit words. Just to name a few: Truth is my Name, I bow to the Truth, Truth is my Identity, I am/respect the Truth. When SAT NAM is used as a form of greeting its meaning becomes something like: I recognize the truth (essence) in both of us; We are from the same eternal truth. SAT NAM is in that regard similar to NAMASTE I bow to the divine that I see in you and me.
The truth referred to in this mantra, is the universal, ethereal or divine truth, rather than the generally perceived truth which is based in our cultural perception of life.
The 2 syllables in this mantra makes it also suitable for using with the breath, while extending the vowel: SAAAAAAT – NAAAAM. The vibration of SAT is said to reach the crown chakra invoking the truth and the NAM vibration connects this truth to the physical realm. When SAT and NAM is used together they are said to become the sound of our infinite being.
Chanting this mantra awakens the soul and gives you your destiny. This mantra is said to balance the five elements (tattvas).
In many SAT NAM meditation tapes you often hear Satanam, where an extra A appears to glue SAT and NAM together. This is just to suit the rhythm and the music, however the meaning and essence remains the same.

This is a very well-known and much-used mantra in all types of yoga. It is very well translated as ‘I honour the divinity within myself.’ NAM implies bowing or respecting and SHIVA is the patron god of yoga. As a god, he is the known as the transformer, the creator and the protector of the universe. Symbolically Shiva represents our inner self.
Often you read about Shiva as The Destroyer, but this is meant in a positive way. In order to transform the world or yourself you need to destroy or get rid of the old and the useless, like: bad habits, impurities, illness, bad karma, attachment.
Repeating the mantra om namah shivaya builds self respect, self confidence and self compassion.
‘Transformation is often more about unlearning than learning.’
‘Allow the fire of transformation to burn away all that doesn’t serve you.’

OM MANI PADME HUM is the mantra that is associated with Tibetan Buddhism. This mantra is used to invoke Chenrezig or the concept of Compassion. Directly translated form Sanskrit the mantra means: The jewel in the lotus. This cryptic sentence actually refers to the notion that wisdom and compassion cannot be separated. Om mani padme om is also used as a healing mantra as compassion is the best complementary medicine for every ailment.
Syllable for syllable this mantra’s power is as follows:
om – Through generosity we purify pride
ma – Through ethics we purify jealousy
ni- Through patience we purify passion and desire
pad – Through diligence we purify ignorance and prejudice
me – Through renunciation we purify possessiveness
hum – Through wisdom we purify hatred.
Repeating this mantra aids healing, transformation and the gaining of wisdom and compassion.

is the mantra associated with the Hindu elephant deity Ganesh or Ganesha. By repeating this mantra we are not honouring a pagan god, but we are focusing the mind on reassuring ourselves that everything will be ok. We appeal to Ganesha as the Destroyer of obstacles, but these obstacles are from our own making. We feel we cannot do certain things, because fear of failure stands in our way,  we have lost faith in our own ability or we are simply in a state of self-sabotaging.
All these obstacles are figments of our imagination, our mind’s doings. When we appeal to Ganesha, we appeal to that aspect of our mind that embodies resilience, self belief, fearlessness and compassion.
No wonder Ganesha is such a well-loved deity. Naturally, when all our own mental qualities of strength and self belief are aligned and engaged, we are then able to remove the obstacles we put there in the first place.
With the help of Ganesha we are able lift ourselves out of the rut of bad habits and develop a new path or a new direction. This is why Ganesha or Ganesh is not only regarded as the deity who removes obstacles but he also enables prosperity and new beginnings. Ganesh is also associated with the root chakra, which governs our foundational energy.
The literal meaning of the mantra is: Om = universal sound and energy connection, Gam = abbreviation of Ganesha, Ganapataye = another name for Lord Ganesh (which is wisdom and compassion from within), Namaha= salutation or honouring.

This mantra that is often used at the end of meditation. So far we have seen mantras being used as invocations, but this particular mantra is a perfect example of a blessing. It’s meaning is “May all being be happy and free from suffering.”
Sanskrit translation:
Lokah = all over the world
Samastah = All living beings and also: united and in harmony
Sukhino = root word is sukha=happiness
Bhavantu = develop, grow towards
This mantra is often associated with the female Hindu Spiritual leader Amma (translated = the mother), who is world famous for spreading love and peace around the world (Devi Bhava). She is also known as the hugging Saint.

This is regarded as the most powerful healing mantra in Yoga texts. It is also referred to as the Rudra mantra. Along with the Gayatri mantra (below) it holds the highest place among the many mantras used for contemplation and meditation. Repeating this mantra can help you tune into the healing force that is always at work within you, supporting your growth, lifting you up in times of trouble, and reminding you of the higher aim of life. It is said to restore health and happiness.


It’s translation is probably not quite as straightforward as expected, but this does not diminish its inherent purpose and power as a healing mantra:
1: Om, We Worship the Three-Eyed One (Lord Shiva),
2: Who is Fragrant (Spiritual Essence) and Who Nourishes all beings.
3: May He severe our Bondage of Samsara (Worldly Life), like a Cucumber (severed from the bondage of its Creeper), …
4: … and thus Liberate us from the Fear of Death, by making us realize that we are never separated from our Immortal Nature.

This is the most revered mantra in all yoga traditions. This oldest and most valued mantra is regarded as the mother of the vedas (yogic texts).


Its meaning is that “May Pure Consciousness illuminate our intellect to lead us along the righteous path”. The mantra is also a prayer to the “giver of light and life” – the sun (savitur).

Oh Pure Consciousness! From whom we received Life,
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness,
Oh! Creator of the Universe,
May we receive the supreme sin-destroying light,
May you guide our intellect in the right direction.

Gayatri is protrayed as the 5-faced Goddess, Savriti, representing our five senses, through which we perceive the world.
Chanting of Gayatri Mantra removes all obstacles in our path to increased wisdom and spiritual growth and development.
The syllables of the mantra are said to positively affect all the chakras or energy centres in the human body – hence, proper pronunciation and enunciation are very important. Sathya Sai Baba teaches that the Gayatri Mantra “will protect you from harm wherever you are, make your intellect shine, improve your power of speech, and dispel the darkness of ignorance.
The most powerful way of using this mantra is by repeating it 108 times at dawn or at dusk, the most auspicious time of the day when the earth’s energies are most available to tap into for meditations, invocations and blessings.



Brahma Viharas


The Brahma Viharas are the 4 divine emotions tor divine abodes that make up, what we call in Western Psychology, our emotional intelligence. These four qualities are  cultivated in traditional Buddhist meditation for obvious reasons.


  1. Metta     –    Loving Kindness
    This is an emotion directed to the self as well as to others. Giving love and affection without expecting anything in return. Not to be confused with clinginess  or dependence in love.
    The opposite of love is anger and contempt.
    “The practice of being alone with yourself and accept who you are, faults and all, being comfortable with who you are, will lead to self-love and subsequently love towards others.”
  2. Karuna   –    Compassion
    Compassion allows for an unobstructed presence of mind as the darker side of life is lifted into the light of awareness. Compassion requires the courage to accept the vulnerabilities in life, to forgive the past and feel commiseration from the heart in the present moment. Compassion is not to be confused with pity which is about denial of these vulnerabilities and self protection.
    The opposite of compassion is cruelty, being devoid of mercy.
    “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, suffering, struggle and loss. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.’ –  Elizabeth Kubler- Ross
  3. Mudita   –     Joy shared with others
    Joy shared with others  confirms the connection we have with other people. This connection is an important in experiencing happiness.
    This type of joy is not to be confused with exuberance, a form of joy only related to the self or the ego.
    The opposite of joy is resentment.
    “Shared joy is double joy and shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” – Swedish Proverb
  4. Upekka  –     Equanimity
    Calmness and composure, especially in difficult circumstances or an unshakable balance of mind is what we all like to achieve. Buddhist label equanimity as the sublime emotion, which is the ground for wisdom and freedom, the protector of compassion. Equanimity is not to be confused with indifference, which is expressing a lack of interest and concern.
    The opposite of equanimity is craving, clinging, the ‘monkey mind’.
    “Whatever type we may think we are, it is important to recognize that we are all entrapped in some way or antoher by our conditional minds. Mindfulness is the agent of our freedom. Through mindfulness we arrive at faith, we grow in wisdom and we attain equanimity. No matter which avenue we come by, our liberation is achieved through being mindful of every moment.’ – Sharon SalzbergThe 7 qualities of Equanimity are:
    1. Integrity
    2. Trust and confidence
    3. Well-developed mind
    4. Sense of well-being
    5. Understanding, wisdom, taking responsibility for own actions
    6. Insight – well developed intuition
    7. Freedom which comes from letting go of our reactive tendencies, clinging to control.



Yoga, fusion and purpose

Welcome to this Spring issue of the Inner Sanctum Yoga Newsletter. I am sure we all are looking forward to daylight saving and the approach of warmer weather. Well done to everyone who came to class during our coldest and wettest time of the year.

This term we had fun exploring a few new ways to practice yoga. We had a look at Yin, Yang and Somatic yoga, all intertwined with some regular hatha vinyasas. I am constantly surprised at the never ending supply of new poses, and also at the new styles of yoga that keep on popping up. Some are more attractive than others, but despite all the fancy new words for ‘so-called’ NEW YOGA, I would like to think that each type of yoga has the same OLD central focus.

My interest in everything yoga has led me to reflecting on the purpose of our practice. Yoga is gaining more and more momentum in our society and is often mistakenly viewed as a new mainstream exercise option.

However, we need to remind ourselves every so often that yoga is not just about exercise. Practicing the yoga poses or asanas, is to enhance the flow of energy through the body and  to focus the mind on the body’s sensations. We use the breath to gain inner stillness and to activate our body’s relaxation response. Meditation, mindfulness or awareness is always an essential part of a complete yoga practice.

The purpose of Yoga  as I see it, is to learn about ourselves, physically, mentally and spiritually. With that knowledge we become better equipped to take responsibility for our own health. This leads us to becoming more balanced, healthy and compassionate people who are able to contribute to society in a positive way.

Another wonderful idea to ponder is this: Through awareness and contemplation, we get a clearer picture of the true essence of all things. This insight leads to understanding, understanding leads to wisdom and wisdom to peace.

I like to think of yoga styles in the same way as we think of cooking styles. To cook a healthy and nutritious meal, you can do this with a French, Asian, Indian or any other worldly flavour. You can be a purist or a fan of fusion cooking and I guess we all find what serves us best. It doesn’t really matter what flavour you eat, as long as the food is clean, tastes good and contributes to our health.

You may have gathered that I lean towards a ‘fusion yoga practice’. I like the creative and explorative approach, without losing the central philosophy. Next  term I am looking forward touch on the traditional ‘eight limbs of yoga’ while we continue to have fun with our practice.

Finally, I like to alert you to the fact that I am organizing another Sunday Yoga Bliss Out at the Yoga Hut on the 5th of October from 4-6 pm. The last one was booked out, so make sure to book early to get a guaranteed spot.


Moving into term 3, 2014

Moving into term 3
We must have had so much fun this term that it appears to have gone too quickly. For me it must also have been that I was away for two weeks of it. Amanda and Di did a great job covering for my classes during this time. Thank you very much to both.

For me there were two things that stood out this term. First of all the Viloma pranayama (intermittent breathing) with kumbhaka (holding the breath). Over about 5 weeks we mastered this challenging but satisfying breath pattern. Breathing like this takes a lot of concentration and not only affects the body but also the mind. Viloma pranayama reduces anxiety and improves the oxygen flow throughout the whole body and at the same time it strengthens our lung function. So whenever you feel a little anxious or can’t sleep, this breath can come to the rescue. Using the well practiced magic 7 counting pattern gives you a wonderfully simple, self-serving ‘first aid’ package for when needed.

The other fun thing we explored was the ballet-barre-yoga that has recently become a new fad in the yoga world. Ballet and yoga are quite closely related as body awareness and muscle isolation is central to both practices. Having the ballet barres, mirrors and wooden floors in Hawthorn made our practice quite theatrical. We finished the ballet warm up with some lovely yoga stretches on the barre, which proved to be a perfect combination for feeling ‘elegantly free’ when we left the class.

Unanimously enjoyed by all, I thought to expand on this theme a little more in term 3 as one hour was not enough to cover all the poses of this ballet-barre yoga. Disco yoga or acrobatic yoga, some of the other yoga trends, I plan to circumnavigate and I am sure you will not regret this..

You all know that we are continuing with the yoga classes throughout the school holidays and as promised, next week will be a restorative session. I am delighted to be able to add a ‘sound bath’ to this practice, which aids chakra healing. My new chakra chimes produces such pure sounds that they are a delight to listen to. Feel free to bring any friends to this session as everyone loves a little relaxation with focus on healing and well-being. I always think of a restorative session as a ‘one-hour alternative’ to a visit to a health resort. This will be real holiday treat ‘at home’.

Looking forward to more great yoga sessions to come in term 3.

Please Note: In term 3,  I am starting a new Mindfulness Meditation class in Brighton on Thursdays from 11-12 at the Yoga Hut, 145 Cochrane St. It is a very easy venue to get to with plenty of parking, just off the Nepean Highway, near Elwood. For more information click on:

Term 1 2014 – the Vayus

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2014

With the schools going back we are also about to start our regular yoga classes in Hawthorn and Malvern. My knee is completely recovered and I have been inspired by other yoga teachers during the break. As always, I plan to keep the framework of the yoga classes much the same as previous years, practicing asanas (poses) pranayama (breathing) and meditation.
This first term, however, I am excited to add a little extra by focusing on the various flows of energy throughout the body, how they affect us and how we can influence them to our maximum benefit. These energy flows are referred to as Vayus (translated from sanskrit = winds). And like the kleshsas (obstacles of the mind), they come in a set of five. Below follows a summary of each flow and we will spend about 2 weeks recognising and influencing each of these flows.

The  5 Vayus – ‘winds’ or flows of prana in the body,
Proper flow of prana (chi or enery) provides a healthy body-mind, which in turn means that we can live our lives healthily, filled with meaning and purpose.
Prana flows in our bodies, can be imagined as the flow directions of the oceans in the world. When there is a proper flow and the temperatures are steady, the world is balanced, and harmonious.

1Prana Vayu  is the inward flow, which oxygenates and nourishes the body.  Its energy is vital for life and inspiring. Its origin is in the chest area at the heart chakra. The asanas promoting this flow focus on the upper body.

2.The down and outward flow, Apana Vayu directs a detoxifying, or elimination energy downwards.  Its origin is in the lower abdomen (kidneys bladder, bowel). Asanas for this flow focus on the pelvic region.

3.The forward propelling flow or Samana Vayu is created as a result of the inward and outward streams of prana combining to create a forward moving energy. Its location is at the centre of our bodies. This energy helps us to balance, transform, develop. Imagine here the two poles in a battery where positive(input) and negative(output) create motion. (note: location is at Manipura Chakra). The asanas to promote the samana vayu are core related.

4. Udana Vayu is the breath of ascent, which expands our awareness and raises our consciousness. It rules at the throat centre (Vishuddhi Chakra). This energy allows us to explore our truths be open minded and flexible. Udana vayu rules our mental energy. A sequence of asanas to enhance this flow consists of classical finishing poses, like bridge pose, shoulder stand and head stand.

5.The final flow of prana is called Vyana Vayu. This is also referred to as the breath of integration, where we are able to complete the body-mind connection and send healing energy to the areas of our body that need it. Vyana Vayu empowers the communication systems within our bodies. It is an all pervasive force that controls the muscles, circulation and balance. Vyana Vayu originates from the limbs. Asanas that involve movement of both arms and legs stimulate this energy flow.

I am keen to share some of the essential yoga theory with you, as I personally feel it makes our practice more enriching and enlightening.

Looking forward to seeing you all again in the week starting with the 3rd of February.


Happy Holiday Break

  Happy Holidays to All
From Inner Sanctum Yoga

Last week we finished another great year of yoga in Hawthorn and Malvern. I certainly enjoyed being part of the growing and expanding friendships amongst us all. I was lucky enough to attend 3 memorable break-up parties. With the Malvern bunch we celebrated over lunch at Ilona Stoller in Balaclava , the Wednesday night group had yummy pizzas for dinner at Pizza Religion and the Friday morning group enjoyed a delicious brunch at Sassa’s in Hawthorn.Our last term of classes was a real ‘mixed bag’. We had a play with some pranayama concepts from Laughter Yoga , we also had some sessions focused on alignment against the wall and we learned the mindfulness sequence of the famous Vietnamese Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh. Added to that, we practiced the classic standing and seated Salute to the Sun, as well as the very much loved restorative class as a treat before Christmas. For next year’s ‘added extras,’ I am looking forward to including some concepts regarding the Universal Laws of Energy and the directions of energy flow in and around the body, called vayus.At the end of the last Friday’s class, I had an unexpected little incident while kneeling on the floor, which resulted in a sprained medial ligament of my knee. Apparently the patella ‘had lost its tracking’ for some unknown reason. It is now a week later and with the help of lots of physio exercises my knee cap is tracking better and better all the time. I can walk  normally again, albeit slowly and I should be completely recovered for when we all return to our regular yoga classes in the new year.With all the busyness surrounding Christmas, I hope you can find some time for a little reflection and quietness. I often wish it were possible to keep the spirit of Christmas all year round, so we can give and forgive, keep an open mind and allow peace and harmony to flow easily to everyone around us.

Best Wishes and looking forward to seeing you all in 2014,


Dance with the Dragon

The last few weeks we experimented with a type of flow yoga, which is a fusion of Tai Chi and Yoga. Last week we completed the first part of the dragon dance, the Yang Dragon. The characteristics of Yang movements are flowing and quite fast. Yang is ruled by the Sun and the male side of us. It works a great deal with the physical energy in and surrounding our bodies. The playing around with the ball of energy as a prelude to the dance, may be perceived as a little ‘airy fairy’, but it allows us to work on keeping an open mind to other possible perceptions of energy than the ones we are used to. Not only that, the visualisation and movement makes for a great warm up and the wonderful sensation of imaginary child’s play. The continuous movement  works our bodies aerobically, stimulating the heart and lung systems and at the same time we create inner heat, strength and flexibility. Our mind is completely occupied with the dancing movement and the breath, so there is no room for inner chatter. Personally I very much enjoyed the palpable energy that was created by the rhythmic flow of bodies and breaths moving in unison throughout the class. From the feedback I received, I have a feeling that the Yang dragon will definitely return from time to time.In the next couple of weeks we continue to dance with the dragon, but now we’ll experience the Yin component of the yin-yang balance. Yin is ruled by the moon and the female side of us. The Yin dance is characterised by slow, mentally charged movements as opposed to the physically charged energy of the Yang dance. This practice is mentally, but I think also physically, more confronting and demanding than the yang dance, as we will remain in the poses for a longer period of time – about 10 breaths. The Yin practice builds strength of body and strength of mind. To remain focused and balanced is at the core of this practice. It will be interesting to see who prefers Yin and who prefers Yang. It will also be interesting to explore if the type of movement we prefer, is the one we need or, whether the opposite is better to create balance in our lives. Because we live in a yang dominant society of being busy, busy, busy and are subject to constant movement, my prediction is that most would prefer the Yang dance and also because we tend to prefer those things that are familiar to us. We’ll see what happens.I hope you all enjoyed this little side-track into ‘fusion yoga’ as much as I have.

For those who would like to practice a little yoga nidra at home, I have now recorded and posted a 10 minute yoga nidra practice on my website. You will find it underyoga/meditation time table and then you will see yoga nidra in the drop-down menu.

I will be on holidays, visiting my family in Europe, from 3rd September to 22nd September. Di and I are looking for a replacement teacher, so yoga will be on as usual in Hawthorn. However, the Malvern yoga classes will stop over this period. Also no meditation classes will be held.

May the benefits of your practice stay with you and extend beyond you,



Before we start the new term, I would like to officially close the subject of the kleshas, or obstacles of the mind. It seems like such a long time ago that we discussed the last of the 5 kleshas in class. I hope this newsletter will bring it all back to you.

Abhinivesha is the last klesha or obstacle of the mind. Translated from Sanskrit, it means fear of death or clinging to life. In our everyday life we can become obsessed with remaining youthful and we do not talk about death if we can help it. In our culture we find it hard to accept death as just another part of life. Clinging to our youth or another natural phase of our lives is not going to make us happy. Accepting that we are on a continuum of change makes it easier for us to accept the process of aging.

Clinging to life can also be seen as clinging to our ego. Our society sees old age as a burden. Old people are often dismissed as needy and worthless, since they no longer financially contribute to society. But we can embrace old age as we reflect on our gaining of wisdom, a wisdom we can share with younger people. We have had our chance to be young and to shine, now it is their turn.

Abhinivesha also stands for the little losses we experience in life. Lost friendships, jobs, skills and houses or places we have lived in. All these losses belong to a phase in our lives and the more losses we collect and accept, the easier we can move on to the next stage. Abhinivesha (mental obstacle & suffering) will only appear if we are not able to let go of the natural stages of life.

I am looking forward to seeing you back this week, starting the 15th July. This term we’ll focus on general asana practice, technique and alignment.  I hope you have enjoyed the philosophy of the kleshas, or obstacles of the mind. Perhaps awareness and some of the techniques to overcome these obstacles have helped you find greater contentment in your lives. My website is back up and running properly, after it has been off air for a while due to a little glitch. Over the holidays I have put all the newsletters online and you will be able to search by specific subjects of interest, just in case you would like to look back on the things we have done in class.

May the benefits of your practice stay with you and extend beyond you,