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.

Mantras for Peace

Dear friends,
I offer you this introduction to Vedic chanting, a practice which has brought me much joy and peace, as well as inner strength. Yoga is a transformative practice, and if we are to succeed in finding our personal path to freedom, we have to find our own voice. In my experience, chanting mantra as part of your daily practice is a powerful way to do that.

Our main focus will be on learning ‘Sam No Mitra’ which is a universal peace mantra from the Vedas. Throughout this course you will also hear the opening and closing mantras, which are traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of each Vedic chanting practice. If time permits, we will practice these together as well.

Join me on Saturday afternoons, from 5:00 – 6:00pm, November 5 – December 17, 2016.

The course fee is $108, to be paid in full prior to the starting date. Book in the usual way, through Ezybook.

There will be no drop-ins to this course, as the sessions will be progressive.

I look forward to sharing the joys of chanting with you!

Namaste. Lynda x

Negotiating Change

Being alive means constantly adapting to the changes in our internal and external worlds. Change can be a cause of suffering if it is forced upon us, or if we resist it. But when we choose to make a change, and observe ourselves in the process of transformation, we can learn a lot about our patterns, and the degree to which we are able to free ourselves from the ones that cause suffering for us.

Certain mantras (chants), and specific āsana, prānāyāma and meditation practices, can support us through the various stages of transformation. With the help of these tools we can begin to see the way we personally negotiate change, and how we could embrace it in a positive way, using the practices to help us let go of negative patterns, and establish new, healthy and helpful ones. In this way we can actively support our own evolution.

In recent weeks, we have been exploring the ways in which our practice can help us negotiate change. Some of you who attended the sessions have expressed an interest in continuing this theme in your personal practice, so I am offering you the following notes, which can be read alongside the practice notes you received at the end of each class.

The vyāhrtis – mantras for the seven levels of transformation (parināma).

The seven vyāhrtis are often chanted at the start of the Gayatri mantra, as they cleanse and prepare the chanter to receive the energy of this sun chant. Each vyāhrti is a complete mantra in and of itself, and can therefore be chanted in isolation, although traditionally they are chanted after the mantra OM (see below).

The seven vyāhrtis can be linked to the seven cakras, and like the cakras, each one indicates a step in the process of transformation, and a refinement of our self-awareness. They are also known as distinct realms, ranging from earth to heaven and beyond.

The first three vyāhrtis (om bhuh, om bhuvah and om suvah) are known as the maha-vyāhrtis. They represent the earth, water and fire elements. These three together can help us to set our intention. Through the earth element we link with our present reality, and discover what it is that we would like to transform. The water element reminds us that it is possible for us to move from our present situation, and the fire element gives us the clarity to see what we would like to manifest.

Once you have chosen an area or an aspect of your life in which you would like to make a change, set your intention for this transformation. Sum this intention up in a short, positive statement, so that you can easily connect with it throughout the practices. This is your samkalpa (pronounced sankalpa). Take it into your heart, and remind yourself of it each time you step onto your mat.

The mantras:

A+U=O in Sanskrit, so AUM becomes OM. From O to M, the sound travels from the back of the throat to the lips, and fills the entire mouth with sound. The mantra contains all the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, which means it contains everything that could be expressed. Following OM there is always a short pause, to allow the sound to resonate.

Om bhuh
Earth element. The gross, physical plane. Relates to your current reality, that which you wish to transform. Implies heaviness, hard work.

Om bhuvah
Water element. The more subtle consciousness. Relates to that which is manifesting, a new reality you wish to create. The potential for change.

Ogm suvah
Fire element. Clarity, something coming into focus. A sense of lightness, and a step towards renewal.

Om mahah
Air element. Mahat refers to impressions from the past, old habits and behaviours, what we must release in order to embrace the new.

Om janah
Space element. Janah is a place of birth, where something new takes shape. A new aspect of you is manifesting.

Om tapah
Intelligence. Tapas is discipline. The effort required to nourish and sustain new patterns. Yukti is your special intelligence, based on all you have learned about yourself so far. Use your yukti to determine what discipline means for you.

Ogm satyam
Integration. A new reality is attained, no longer influenced by old patterns. This new truth becomes your bhuh, the place from which the next transformation can begin.

As you work with these mantras in your practice, it is important to remember that change is often messy and unpredictable. You may wish to stay with one mantra, and one practice for a while, until you feel ready to move on. For instance, it may take a number of weeks before your intention becomes clear, so you can repeat the first three levels several times. Then you may discover that a pattern that you have chosen to work with has deep roots, and letting go is not so easy! Just take your time, and trust yourself. This is an ongoing process, so there really is no hurry.

Enjoy your practice. Namaste.

Lynda x