Lessons from the moon

A new moon signifies the start of a new lunar cycle, and can be a powerful reminder of our own cyclical nature. As human beings we are part of the natural world, but our daily lives can be governed by rhythms that leave little or no space for reflection, release or nourishment. As we get swept up in our busy-ness, we can become so disconnected from ourselves, that we forget we have the choice to retreat. The moon reminds us that there are times when it serves us to be less visible, so that we can reconnect and restore some balance in our lives.

In the upcoming evening course, entitled Moon Mantra & Meditation, we will be linking with the moon and following it through its phases – the new moon, the first quarter, the full moon, and the last quarter.

During these Friday evening sessions you will learn an invocation to the moon, called Candra-namaskrtya-mantrah. In this Vedic chant, from the Taittiriya samhita, the moon is honoured as the king of all medicinal herbs. Through chanting, visualisation and meditation, you will explore your own capacity for healing and reflection.

We will begin by clearing space for the process we are about to undertake, after which you will be invited to create your own individual intention, or samkalpa, for the month ahead.

After helping you to determine your samkalpa in week one, I will use the three aspects of kriya yoga – tapas, svadhyaya and isvarapranidhana – to guide you through the rest of this course.

Tapas means discipline, and positive action. In session two, we will link with the waxing moon, as we establish a simple daily ritual which will create continuity between the classes.

Svadhyaya is the process of self-reflection – seeing the impact of your tapas. In session three, we will invite the full moon to support you in your capacity to see yourself clearly.

Isvarapranidhana means letting go. In our last session, as the moon begins to wane, we will practice an openhanded attitude of acceptance. Surrendering our efforts, we trust that our positive actions and intentions will send ripples of well-being into the next phase of our lives.

I hope you will join me for this course. I look forward to sharing these practices with you!

Lynda x

Please note: Due to the progressive nature of this course, there will be no drop-ins. Please join us for the whole course!

Dates: Friday evenings, November 9, 16, 23, and 30.
Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm
Location: freed om yoga, 180 Melbourne Road, Island Bay, Wellington
Cost: $80 for all four sessions.
Bookings: please visit Ezybook

(*Full moon image by Getty Images)

Excited tui

Good Vibrations

The Benefits of Chanting

Among the various tools of yoga chanting holds a very special place. Sound can reach the deepest part of us, and create transformation from within. The practice of mantra japa (repetiton of mantras) can be done as a practice on it’s own, or we can add mantras to asana and pranayama sequences. We do this in class quite often, as it helps to keep the mind engaged, and also supports deep and steady breathing. When working with a bhavana (visualisation), a mantra can helps us to stay connected to the object of our meditation.

In the general classes, we focus on simple mantras and short chants from the vedas. Many of these chants are about aspects of nature. By inviting the sun, the moon, or the elements to support us, we acknowledge and reaffirm our place in the natural world. Seeing this connection is vital to our wellbeing.

“Mantras are powerful sounds, which when produced in the right manner and with the right intention, produce specific vibrations within our body. These vibrations have the ability to positively influence our psychological state, thereby improving physical, mental and emotional health…”

“…The process of chanting involves listening to the teacher and reproducing exactly what the teacher chants, and hence the student must be rapt in attention. This ensures that the distractions of the mind are reduced and concentration is enhanced. It is for this reason that recitation of mantras has been given a great significance in the discipline of yoga-darshana, where it is not only a tool in meditation but also a meditative process in itself.”

~ TKV Desikachar. From the introduction to Mantravalli, an Anthology of Sacred Chants.

In the next few months there will be several opportunities to explore chanting in more detail. Sandra Gerber will be offering four Vedic chanting classes on Sunday afternoons in September/October, while I will present a new course entitled Moon Mantra and Meditation, which will run on four Friday evenings in November. The details for both are below.


Vedic Chanting with Sandra!

Come and join Sandra Gerber at freed-om-yoga on Sunday afternoons! She will teach us some basic rules of Vedic chanting, and then guide us through the chants in the traditional way. This involves listening attentively, and then replicating the sounds as closely as you can. Over time, with repetition, the chants will find their way into your heart and mind!

One of the chants Sandra is planning to teach us is the Gayatri mantra. This beautiful chant from the Taittiriya Upanisat honours the sun in a feminine form. By reciting this mantra we ask the sun to dispel  darkness, and in it’s place provide clarity and strength.

These sessions are two hours long, which gives us time to have a tea break. A selection of herbal teas will be provided.

We encourage you to book all four sessions, so that you can gain maximum benefit from the course. However, if you can only attend one or two classes, you are welcome to join us too. This course is open to all chanters, from beginners to those who have some experience.

Please note that the third session is on Labour Weekend, and there is no class on October 14.

Dates: Sunday afternoons, September 30, October 7, 21 and 28.
Time: 2:00 – 4:00pm
Location: freed om yoga, 180 Melbourne Road, Island Bay, Wellington
Cost: $25 per class, or $80 for all four sessions.
Bookings: please visit Ezybook
For more information: Email sandragerberkm@hotmail.com or text Sandra Gerber on 027 570 0031.


Moon Mantra and Meditation

Join Lynda Miers-Henneveld for this four week course in November. During these Friday evening sessions you will learn the Candra-namaskrtya Mantra, which is an invocation to the moon. In this chant from the Taittiriya samhita, the moon is honoured as the king of all medicinal herbs. Through chanting, visualisation and meditation, we will link with the moon, in order to explore our own capacity for healing and reflection.

The mantra is relatively simple, and it has several progressions which we will learn over the course of the four weeks.

During this course we will be working with various phases of the moon in our meditations. Our first session coincides with the new moon, while on week three the moon will be full. The phases of the moon are a reminder of the cyclic nature of our human lives.

Please note: Due to the progressive nature of this course, there will be no drop-ins. Please join us for the whole course!

Dates: Friday evenings, November 9, 16, 23, and 30.
Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm
Location: freed om yoga, 180 Melbourne Road, Island Bay, Wellington
Cost: $80 for all four sessions.
Bookings: please visit Ezybook
For more information: Email lynda@freed-om-yoga.com or text me on 021 386914

What is traditional Yoga Therapy?

Yoga Therapy is a self-empowering process, in which the care-seeker, with the help of the yoga therapist, implements a personalized and evolving yoga practice. Such a practice will include tools that are designed to impact the care seeker on multiple layers. It will provide support in the physical, energetic, mental, emotional and spiritual realms, making it a holistic treatment process.

Because of this multi-dimensional approach, any Yoga Therapy process is by nature deeply personal, and individual. It is requires complete trust and openness between the care seeker and the yoga therapist.

The role of the Yoga Therapist is to apply the tools and practices according to the needs of the individual. The role of the care-seeker is to do the practice. The latter sounds obvious, but in a world where many have come to believe that their well-being is in someone else’s hands, it can be quite a journey to regain the self awareness and self discipline that this process requires.

Traditional Yoga Therapy has its origins in ancient India, and as such it is based on Indian understandings of the human system. Yoga’s ideas about the mind and the body come from models such as the Pancamaya model from the Taittiriya Upanisad, which describes five fundamental dimensions of the human system which are completely interconnected and interrelated. These five pervading layers are the physical body, the breath/prana, the intellect, the personality and the emotions. Because of their pervading nature, an intervention on any layer will have an impact on the whole system, allowing the Yoga Therapy process to begin on that layer which is most accessible to the care-seeker.

Another model often used in Yoga Therapy is the Prana Vayu model, which describes the functioning of prana and breath. Prana is sometimes translated as life force, and can be understood to be ‘that which supports the physiology of the body’. Similar to chi as seen in Chinese Medicine, it is a like a current that flows through our human system. The Prana Vayu model describes five different aspects of prana, each which its own unique function, as well as its own particular location in the body. Yoga Therapy uses pranayama techniques, as well as movements and postures that influence these energies in specific ways.

Many people have heard of the subtle anatomy system used in Yoga Therapy. It describes how prana circulates through nadis (energy channels) and chakras (energy centres). Any obstruction to this flow of prana can create ill health. Stagnation can occur on any one of the five layers described earlier, and treatment might include tools that target more than one layer at a time. For instance, asana or pranayama can be combined with mantra, and visualisation.

As Yoga Therapy gains popularity in the West, there can be a temptation to try to understand it from the perspective of Western medicine, so that we can fit it into a model that is already familiar to us. But Western Medicine has its own ideas about human anatomy and physiology, and its own theories about mental and emotional health. Yoga Therapy is a complete system, and if we treat it as such, we stand to gain a lot from it as a primary or complimentary health system. It can empower us to take charge of our health and well being, but it can also help us to improve our relationship with our self, as well as our relationship to the world around us.

If you would like to find out more, please feel free to email lynda@freed-om-yoga.com. If you feel ready to explore the Yoga Therapy process with me, you can book in for your initial consultation via Ezybook. The process usually consists of a series of sessions, as you will be given a home practice, after which we work together to refine and adapt the practice to suit your ongoing needs.

Namaste. Lynda x

Yoga Therapy seminars and training with Kausthub Desikachar.

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about Yoga Therapy from someone who has been immersed in the teachings of Yoga and Yoga Therapy from an early age. Dr. Kausthub Desikachar is the son of TKV Desikachar, and the grandson of T. Krishnamacharya, both of whom were world-renowned healers who used the tools of yoga to great effect.

In the seminar entitled Deal with the Body, Heal with the Mind, to be held in Raumati South on June 2-4, 2018, Kausthub will explain the origins of Yoga Therapy, and give participants an experience of the tools of yoga, so that the theory of Yoga Therapy comes alive for them. His way of teaching is very accessible, and goes beyond the intellectual process of learning to become an embodied understanding. This seminar is the first of two, the second one being offered next year. For those who wish to delve more deeply into the subject, there will be an opportunity to study Yoga Therapy with Kausthub in Raumati South, starting in 2020. These seminars offer a taste of what the training will involve, and serve as a prerequisite for the three-year training as well.

Are you inspired to come and find out more, but unsure about a three day commitment? If so, you are very welcome to join us for Saturday, June 2, and then see if you would like to return for the Sunday sessions, or for the rest of the seminar. Just let Ruth Diggins know, and she will create a special booking for you.

Contact Ruth Diggins by emailing ruthdiggins.yoga@gmail.com or call her on +64 21 2586865, or +64 4 905 6224.





Cultivating Heartfulness

This daylong yoga and meditation workshop is shaping up to be a thoroughly nourishing and enjoyable day! Peter and I plan to offer 4 sessions, each consisting of a yoga practice, followed by a guided meditation.

The guided meditations will consist of the direct, embodied practices of kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. These practices offer us a way of consciously connecting with the powerful resource of openness in our own hearts, and give us tools for cultivating our ability to respond to ourselves, others and the experiences of life from a place of genuine caring and inner strength.

Known in Buddhism as the ‘Sublime Abidings’ or ‘Four Immeasurables’, these four qualities of the open heart – loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity – can be found in both Buddhist and Yogic teachings, and have for millennia been understood as the guiding light for living a life of wisdom, emotional well-being and benefit for others.

We will explore how to bring these qualities into being in a heartful and embodied way, in the silence of our inner space.

In the yoga sessions, we will use various tools to gradually ground the body, refine the breath, and deepen our connection to the heart. These tools include āsana (physical postures and movements), mantra (chanting), nyāsa & hasta mudra (gestures and movements of the hands) and prānāyāma (breathing techniques).

Rest assured, you will be guided through all of these practices, and the yoga sequences can be adapted to suit each individual.

If you have your own yoga mat or meditation cushion, please feel free to bring them. There are also mats and props available at the venue.

Date & time: 10:00am to 5:00pm, May 6, 2018

Location: Urban Yoga, 160 Willis Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Cost: $108

Bookings: https://www.ezybook.co.nz/pages/freedomyoga/

About Peter Fernando: https://www.peterfernando.org/

If the cost of this workshop is a barrier to your participation, please let us know. If you have special requirements, or questions, please email lynda@freed-om-yoga.com or call me on 021 386914.


Let’s head for the heart

Heartfulness – Heart centered practices for awakening presence.

In this 6-week course we will explore yoga and meditation practices aimed at bringing forth the qualities of openness, kindness, self-compassion and awake heart presence.

In each yoga session Lynda will teach simple peace chants, hand gestures (hasta mudra) and breathing techniques (pranayama), to refine your awareness, balance the energies in the body-mind, and invite an attitude of peace, so that you can connect to your heart. These practices will prepare you for the heart-centered, guided meditations led by Peter.

This direct approach invites you to come out of the complexity of the head and into the immediacy of heart presence itself – where real transformation can take place.

This course will be presented by Peter Fernando and Lynda Miers-Henneveld, at freed-om-yoga in Island Bay. Please visit Ezybook and look for the course title in the right hand menu. Click on the tab to make your booking. We look forward to seeing you.

Course dates and times:
Thursday evenings, from 6:30 – 8:00pm
February 8, 15, 22 and March 8, 15, 22. (No class on Thursday, March 1)

Course fee:
$140 per person.

If this cost is a barrier to your participation, we invite you to contact us to discuss the options.


Pilgrimage of Sound

I am very excited about the upcoming Vedic chanting seminars led by Menaka Desikachar. During my yoga therapy training in Chennai, Menaka has been my chanting teacher. She is a wonderful guide and a warmhearted person. Menaka will be teaching in Raumati South, Dunedin and Auckland. The seminar in Raumati South will focus on chants that honour the divine feminine, while the Dunedin and Auckland seminars will offer participants the chance to learn healing chants from the Vedas.

Sri Sakti – Honouring the Divine Feminine

Sri is the name given to the divine feminine that manifests in so many forms around this wonderful universe. It is believed in the Vedic tradition that Sri is indeed the power that creates, nourishes, protects, heals and eventually liberates. She also expresses herself as energy and pervades every being, bringing light and life, knowledge and illumination, purity and sacredness. She is also half of the universal polarity principle and is the connecting force through which the two unite as one, transcending the domains of matter and consciousness.

In this seminar we will learn some Sakti chants using the traditional technique of adhyayanam. Each day will include a meditative Yoga practice emphasising the use of chant to give participants an opportunity to deeply connect with their own experience. We will explore some of the global meanings of the chants as well.

Cost: NZ$ 315
Dates: 30 Sep – 02 Oct 2017
Venue: Raumati South Hall, Tennis Court Road, Raumati South
The Healing Power of Sound
Among the many tools that are available in Yoga and Yoga Therapy, the use of sound when chanting in Sanskrit holds a special place for the yogin-s of the past and the present. Sanskrit is an ancient phonetic language which utilises the power of sound vibrations. Vedic chants in Sanskrit are said to have been received by sages when they were in deep meditation. These chants have been handed down through an oral tradition for thousands of years.
This seminar will provide opportunities to learn some Vedic healing chants. No prior experience is necessary and is open to all. The rules of chanting and pronunciation will be introduced during the seminar under the guidance of a very experienced teacher, Menaka Desikachar. We will honor the tradition of ancient teachers using the process of adhyayanam – listening to the teacher and then repeating the chant. We will also do a yoga practice each day that combines the use of chant with simple asana and breathing.
Cost: NZ$ 225
Dates: 07 – 08 Oct 2017
Venue: Dunedin Yoga Studio, 492 Moray Place, Dunedin
Dates: 14 – 5 Oct 2017
Venue: Blockhouse Bay Boat Club, Endeavour Street, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland
For bookings, or for more information, please contact Ruth Diggins via email, ruthyoga@paradise.net.nz or through by calling 04-905-6224 or 021-258-6865.
Private consultations with Menaka
Menaka Desikachar will also be available for private yoga therapy consultations during her visit. In these sessions you can receive an individualized and holistic daily practice, that will support your health and wellbeing. Alternately you could also book a private chanting class with Menaka. Cost of these private consultations will be $120. Each private lesson may last between 30-45 minutes depending on the need. Please contact Ruth Diggins if you are interested in booking a session.
Menaka Desikachar may be assisted by some of the senior teachers in this tradition during the seminars and also in some of the private sessions. These teachers include Sacha Kronfeld, Ruth Diggins and Evelyn Einhaeuser.