Saturday, 7 December 2019

Yoga In Everyday Life: The Sutras For Daily Living

According to many faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, the universe began, from pure silence, with a single sound. For some faiths, this sound was the name of God but for others, including Hinduism, this sound was "Om". This sacred vibration that heralded the source of all life and creation was followed by a cacophony of noise and excitement. Within the noise though, there is still that underlying sacred sound and ultimately, silence.

The art of yoga is to quieten the cacophony that exists both around us and within us. As a 500-hour yoga teacher, I have studied the Yoga Sutra according to Patanjali, as have most - if not all - teachers. Common belief has it that these short verses, ultimately a guide to enlightenment, were compiled in around 350 CE.
Yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodhah translates as "Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness".

More than ever, the noise around and within us is driven by a 24-hour news cycle, constant connectivity to traditional and social media, and an overwhelming number of societal dramas and problems that can weigh on our collective and individual conscience. In the face of relentless news of climate change, natural disasters, drought, floods, poverty and injustice, we can become exhausted and feel powerless to make a difference. This is not true, though. Through individual actions, we throw a pebble into the universal waters that ripples across the surface. We inspire and motivate the people around us who then motivate a wider group, until there is broader awareness and action.

I refer to yoga as a practice, and in a sense the act of attending a yoga class to practice the asanas (poses) is a practice for how to live as an individual, but also how to live in the world. As with any practice, yoga requires dedicated practice (abhyasa) though this is tempered with an ability to commit without expecting or judging the results (vairagya).

Patanjali gave guidelines as to how to live as a conscientious and dedicated individual, but ultimately to recognise we exist within a collective consciousness. There is no true divide between any of us and any other living thing in the universe. He advised "satkara", a true belief in what you're doing, along with "adara", finding enjoyment in what you're doing.
To this end, your yoga class and your yoga practice requires adherence to the ancient yoga sutras in that you must be dedicated, regardless of the expectations and results, and that you must believe in the value of what you're doing, while also finding enjoyment in it.

Even though, superficially, yoga can appear to be just another offering at your local gym or a set of gymnastic exercises in overheated rooms filled with enthusiastic Lycra-clad acrobats, it is not purely a movement class. The poses, the sequences they are practiced in, and the intention in making each shape with our bodies and discovering how it feels in our body and mind as we do so has ancient roots. As we transition from a crow into a goddess, from a downward facing dog into a triangle then a half-moon, we discover the ease of moving in and out of different entities without losing our ability to self-observe, or to feel grounded. This is the essence of compassion. Not pity at all, but the ability to see and experience life through the eyes, or shoes, of others.

Patanjali teaches "asevita", or the commitment to approaching life with a sense of service. How can our everyday actions contribute to being of service to the people we come into contact with, the people we know and love, the work that we do, the land that we live on, the creatures on that land?

These questions are timeless. To be of service is not to sacrifice ourselves at all. Without our optimal health, contentment and safety, we are not able to be of service to others. To this end, the physical yoga practice is a commitment to being strong, agile, balanced and physically well enough to care for ourselves and to be of service to our fullest ability.
 The teachings of yoga, which boil down to every living creature and thing being connected and from one source, are not religious nor culturally unique. They don’t invite some people and exclude others. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we can practice yoga via some means - it may be through selfless service to others, daily mantras and chants, physical poses or purely mindful breathing exercises (pranayama).

From that silence came a sacred sound, followed by a cacophony. Through yoga, we seek to connect back to the sacred sound. This is through compassion, dedicated practice, being of service and gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to this cacophonous, wonderful, endlessly curious world that we live in. Through individual practice, we connect to an ancient practice that unites all living beings. Om, Waheguru*.

*Waheguru translates as “teacher” or “remover of darkness”. In yoga, the use of the word typically means, “The teacher in me acknowledges the teacher in you”

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

14 Best Places In Melbourne To Get Budget and Discount Beauty Treatments

Melbourne College of Hair and Beauty

MCOHB operates as a beauty college primarily, but it also has a salon attached which is open to the public. They offer both beauty services and extensive hair services at majorly discounted prices compared to typical salons. Facials, body treatments (massage, scrubs, hot stones), spray tanning and eyelash extensions or eyebrow tints are all on the menu.

National Academy of Hair & Beauty

The National Academy of Hair & Beauty in the inner suburb of Richmond runs regular courses as well as operating a salon where students apply their newly mastered techniques to clients who like a budget beauty service. From eyelash extensions to manicures, pedicures and facials – for a spare $5 you can indulge in a treatment (or two). The catch is that it may take much longer than a highly experienced beauty professional, so factor in an additional hour in some cases.

Sephora In-Store Beauty

You go in for a browse and end up with a basket load of lipstick, blush, bronzer and glitter. What happened? We’ve all been there. You get dazzled by the lights and colours and next thing you know, your entire budget and more has been blown. Fortunately, you can make a buzzline directly for the brow bar or a Sephora makeup artist for budget-friendly makeup application (listen to the expert tips: priceless) and brow taming and grooming. You can book online.


The MAC Express service is super affordable and doesn't require a major time commitment either. The sessions are 30 minutes long, with a focus on a particular facial feature you want to learn how to accentuate or mastering a look (like  a cat's eye or fuller lips). The session costs $70 which is fully redeemable on product so that once you've been recommended products, and experienced how they work on your face, you go home wiser with a bag full of MAC goodies. Book ahead or in store.

Endota Spa Wellness College Spa Night

As part of their beauty and wellness courses, endota Wellness College runs “spa nights” in which students provide discounted services like manicures, pedicures, facials and massage. Massively discounted, you’ll be in the hands of students who are under supervision and have undergone extensive training to deliver endota quality service. For more information on the spa nights, enquire with the college or join the Facebook group. Located at The District Docklands Shopping Centre in Docklands.

Victoria University Beauty

Conveniently located on King Street in the CBD, the student salon at Victoria University offers all the beauty services you could want at a fraction of typical salon prices.  Whether it's waxing, facial and body treatments, manicures and pedicures, eyelash and eyebrow tinting or massage, you can book in online. There's also a Dermal Clinic and Osteopathy Clinic within the campus so you could make several consecutive bookings.

Brazilian Butterfly

Brazilian Butterfly has salons all over Melbourne, but their offers are organised centrally so you can be sure that whichever salon is closest to you is running the same discounts and specials as all salons. Their expertise is in waxing and tanning, and they also offer IPL Hair Removal and Lash Lifts and Tints.

Results Laser Clinic

With clinics around Melbourne, Results Laser Clinic will have a salon convenient to you. They run promotions throughout the year, sometimes with 60% off laser treatments and half priced microdermabrasion or other facial treatments.  They have specific treatments for acne as well as skin needling and non-surgical facelifts and eye treatments.

Box Hill Institute

Fully supervised by senior trained staff, the services at Box Hill's Beauty Salon are offered at a huge discount because they're provided by students. Manicures, waxing, facials, spray tans, massage and brow tints are all on the menu for around $10 to $20. Open Monday to Friday.

Elly Lukas Beauty

Elly Lukas runs beauty and spa courses year round, so you can attend the Student Clinic located on site in Flinders Lane, central Melbourne for a range of services. Each treatment is $20 and each treatment is assessed so you can sure students are providing the best quality of treatment. Facials, massage, waxing, eyelash extensions, spray tans and body treatments are all on offer.

Australasian Academy of Cosmetic Dermal Science

The Student Clinic at AACDS provides advanced dermal treatments for a fraction of the typical cost. Opt for the AHA peel for around $30 or IPL (Intensive Pulsed Light) photo rejuvenation, IPL hair reduction, skin needling or microdermabrasion. Each treatment takes between an hour and a couple of hours so ensure you plan enough time to get there and stay the full length required.

Casey College of Beauty Therapy

Casey College of Beauty Therapy is located in Berwick. Running Thursday evenings from 6pm to 9:30pm and Friday mornings 9:30am to 2:30pm, the treatments are all performed by students that have qualified the course unit.
On the menu are eyelash extensions, shellac manicures and pedicures, acrylic nails, waxing and massage.

 Kangan Institute
The Student Clinic at Kangan Institute offers both beauty and hair services so you could organise a full makeover at a huge discount to what you'd usually pay. The training salon in Richmond runs from Monday through to Wednesday until 4pm, though the hair and barbering salon is open until 8:30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays for those who need an after-work appointment.

Biba Academy

Ok, so technically this is all about hair not beauty, but if you’re seeking affordable cuts, colours, styling and you can spare a little longer than a typical hairdressing appointment, get to Biba Academy in either Melbourne CBD or Fitzroy.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Kiya Watt Designed The First Indigenous Doll For Play School

In honour of NAIDOC week, which celebrates Indigenous Australians in July every year, the first doll to recognise and represent Indigenous Australians has been introduced to Play School.
I grew up watching Play School and I can recall every doll and presenter that I loved - Jemima and Big Ted, of course. It is so important that we recognise that there is a major divide in the health, social and economic wellbeing between native Australians and the rest of us. It isn't solely the job of politicians or celebrities to ensure that this changes. It comes down to the choices we all make and all Australians have an opportunity to learn more about the language, the history, the traditions and the values of Indigenous Australia. How is it possible, even in this enlightened age, that we study World War 2 and German history with greater attentiveness than our own Indigenous history and culture? Still. Whatever you do or don't know about our shared history, I hope you enjoy my interview with Kiya Watt, who designed Play School's own Kiya.

Had you watched Play School before or growing up? How much did you know about it?

I grew up watching Play School. I can always remember trying to guess which shaped window I would be looking through on the episodes. It was always such an exciting show. A lot of my early creativity came from watching Play School’s craft episodes.
Tell me about being Menang Noongar - what does this mean to your sense of community and identity?

Menang means that my Mob is from south Western Australia. Menang covers the very southern areas/lands of south Western Australia such as Albany which is a 4 hour drive south from Perth and is where I am located. It is a huge part of my identity within my Noongar community. Their are 14 different  Groups of Noongar people (Amangu, Ballardong, Yued, Kaneang, Menang, Njakinjaki, Gnudju, Bibulman, Pindjarup, Wardandi, Whadjuk, Wilman & Wudjari) We all have our own individual languages and cultural stories. We all have our own individual totems as well. My cultural identity is dependent on my families stories/language that is why it’s so important to acknowledge our groups that we belong too.

You have 3 children - how old are they and how have they responded to the doll and to Play School?

I have 2 twin sons who are currently 9 years old which means they were old enough to sit down and learn and be apart of the process and story behind the painting I did for Play School. They are very proud of their culture, and have grown up with strong cultural identities which makes me so happy,. They also are mega fans of Baker Boy so are actually just as excited as my youngest to tune in and watch the new series of Play School. As for my youngest, she is only 2 years old so watching her see the Kiya doll on TV and the ads has been so exciting. She absolutely loves Play School and starts screaming and clapping when she sees the Kiya doll on TV. It’s so heart warming because my children are so proud to be Noongar and for them to look up on TV and see that representation gives them so much  pride.

As a mother, how important is it for your children to see positive representation of indigenous children and women on mainstream TV?

It is imperative for all Aboriginal and non Aborginal children to see this representation. To gain that knowledge on our identities within our communities it is just so necessary. The children are our future and this knowledge is so powerful. For them to start learning in their own homes and feel that connection with the longest living culture in the world and feel connected is just so positive. It’s such a proud moment for all.

What does Kiya mean in traditional Noongar (I have read "hello")?

Yes it means hello but it is more then that for us. It is how we connect and show respect.

Tell me about your choice of colour, pattern and overall design - does it tell a story and what do you hope people feel and think when they see it?

Yes it does tell a story, and it will be shown on the acknowledgment episode airing this Monday at 9am on ABC Me on Play School. Image: Kiya Watt and Play School Producer, Bryson Hall.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Barcelona Yoga Teacher & Photographer Maria Mathison on Her Favourite Places

Maria Mathison, Barcelona based yoga teacher

I had the enormous good fortune to meet Maria when I travelled to Barcelona a few years ago. Above a children's shoe store not far from Las Ramblas, there's a yoga studio up a spiral staircase which is like a little spiritual haven far from the madness of the streets.

From the studio, you can see right across the city. It's divine.

I asked Maria for her recommendations on where to go and what to do in Barcelona for those who don't intend to purely shop and stare at the Sagrada.

Favourite places to eat: Cana de Azucar (Carrer de Muntaner 69); and Nolita (Carrer de Llull 230)
Nolita in Barcelona

Favourite ice creamery: ("I don't drink, just ice cream and tea!") Dela Crem (Carrer d'Enric Granados, 15)
Dela Crem in Barcelona

Favourite walk: Montjuic and Fundacion Miro

Favourite beach: Badalona

Maria teaches at Yoga Studio Barcelona. They're on Facebook, of course. Find them on the map here. Find the timetable here.

Maria is on Instagram at @onceuponanillusion

Friday, 26 April 2019

Quick Fix: Knee Injury

Wouldn't it be fun to come off a Vespa and have it land on my knee? Said Nobody, Ever.

Including me.

However, in the interests of not living a boring, unchallenging life, I headed off to learn how to ride a scooter. Seems, it had plans for me, which involved reminding me that a quick moving, heavy chunk of metal atop an engine can be extraordinarily heavy especially when it lands on your limbs.

The abridged version of the whole story is that I had a Vespa land on my knee and over the coming week, I continued to attempt to move on it and only made it more intensely sore and tender. Thankfully, I booked in with a physiotherapist near home and she went through a variety of tests to ensure nothing really dramatic had occurred. It was a lateral ligament stretched and my hyper-flexible right shoulder had sub-luxated. Apparently, due to a yoga injury over a decade ago, I regularly engage in sub-luxing my shoulder and my body awareness and ability to compensate ensures that it doesn't create impingement.

No wonder I go on and on about shoulder stability in classes.

Within two appointments, I've gone from walking and sitting in pain to being able to return to BodyPump (with plenty of modifications!), walking without issues and the bruising and swelling has gone down immensely. I am doing All The Things. In case you're wondering what All The Things are, here's my guide.

Fix My Injury STAT. I have no time or patience for this: the checklist.

  • Book in with a physiotherapist. Make sure you feel confident with the person you're seeing though - if there's any doubts that they can help you, perhaps you'd be best to seek a referral to another practitioner either within the same practice or outside it. Don't be afraid to sever a relationship that doesn't feel right. I'm fortunate to have found a physiotherapist I really trust - knowing she has worked with elite athletes in the fields of football, gymnastics and dance really wins me over too. 
  • Do the at-home work. I know foam rolling and spiky ball and self-massage and the soda crystals and bandages are boring, but they're going to fix you. So just do it.
  • Use an all natural muscle rub. Sure, you could use highly medicated, expensive stuff like Voltaren and Nurofen gel but I assure you, I have had much better results with an all-natural, plant-based product my physiotherapist recommended and used in treatment. It's called Relievamed and it's made in Australia. It smells like eucalyptus and ginger. Totally calming.
  • Take curcumin supplements to prevent and treat inflammation. There's clinical evidence that supports the regular intake of curcumin supplements, especially in the treatment of arthritic pain. Any injury that results in muscle and joint swelling and pain, or even digestive bloating and discomfort, can be alleviated and prevented with good quality supplements. I take Flexofytol, which is high strength, fast absorbing and Australian made. Totally clean and pure, and leaves zero after-taste. Two  a day is perfectly enough.
  • Find other ways to move and train that don't further inflame your injury. I love to move. It is my physical and my mental health therapy! While it isn't ideal to have an injury, of course, in fact it can push you to get creative and find other ways to train that don't involve your usual routine methods. This is good. Embrace it.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes from Bazaar by Sabrina Ghayour

Another instalment in my offering of delicious recipes to inspire you to enjoy preparing and making your own meals. What I love about recipes is that you can either follow them to the very nth degree or you can read them, consider, and add, subtract or manipulate the ingredients or the quantities to meet your own tastes.
Bazaar Recipes

These fabulous recipes from middle-eastern inspired new cookbook, Bazaar by Sabrina Ghayour, published by Hachette Australia, Hardback $39.99. Photography by Kris Kirkham.

Carrot Fennel Soup Recipe

2 teaspoons fennel seeds
vegetable oil or ghee
50g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely
chopped or grated
1 onion, diced
500g carrots, scrubbed and cut into
rough chunks
2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 litres boiling water
juice of ó lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
150g uncooked red lentils
4 tablespoons labneh or thick
Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons sesame oil
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper
couple of pinches of pul biber
chilli flakes, to garnish

Toast the fennel seeds in a large, dry saucepan over a medium heat for
2 minutes, then drizzle in a little vegetable oil or ghee and add the ginger
and onion. Saut. until the onion begins to soften, without letting it brown.
Add the carrot to the pan and stir-fry until the edges begin to soften.
Now add the garlic, turmeric and a generous amount of salt and pepper
to the saucepan and mix well. Pour over the boiling water, adjust the
heat to bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer gently, without a lid,
for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blitz the mixture using a handheld
blender or transfer to a food processor or blender. Return the soup to
the pan if necessary, adjust the seasoning, then stir in the lemon juice.
Set the pan over a medium heat and stir in the red lentils. Simmer, stirring
occasionally, for 30–40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. If the soup
seems too thick, blitz half the mixture using the hand-held blender,
food processor or blender.
Divide the soup between 4 bowls. Dollop 1 tablespoon of labneh into
each bowl and drizzle 1 teaspoon of sesame oil over the top. Finish with
a sprinkling of pul piber and serve.


150g fresh peas
50g pumpkin seeds
2 courgettes, coarsely grated
150g baby spinach leaves
For the dressing
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 preserved lemons
4 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

 Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the peas and blanch for
2 minutes. Drain the peas and rinse them in cold water, then drain well
and set aside.
Toast the coriander seeds for the dressing in a dry frying pan over a medium
heat for about 1 minute, until they release their aroma. Remove from the
heat, transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush them lightly, grinding just
enough to crack the seeds.
In the same frying pan, toast the pumpkin seeds for 3–4 minutes, or until
they are slightly charred around the edges and have some colour. Transfer to
a bowl and set aside to cool.
To make the dressing, you can either chop the preserved lemons very finely
and purée them by hand using a pestle and mortar, or blitz them in a mini
blender. Transfer them to a bowl, season with black pepper, stir in the olive
oil, then the crushed coriander seeds and mix well (you won’t need salt, as
the preserved lemons are already salty).
Put the grated courgette, spinach leaves and the peas into a large mixing
bowl, pour over the dressing and toss very lightly using your hands to coat
the leaves. Arrange the dressed leaves on a large platter and scatter with the
roasted pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.


750g sweet potatoes, peeled
2 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4–5 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
and roughly chopped, reserving some
for garnish
400ml can full-fat coconut milk
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly
ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220ºC (200ºC fan), Gas Mark 7. Select a large baking
tray or ovenproof dish about 26 x 20cm.
Using a mandoline slicer or a food processor slicing attachment set to
a medium thickness, thinly slice the sweet potatoes. Alternatively, thinly
slice by hand.
Use one-quarter of the sweet potatoes to create an overlapping layer in the
base of the baking tray or dish. Distribute one-third of the garlic and thyme
over the potato layer and season generously with salt and pepper. Repeat
this layering process, finishing with a layer of sweet potato slices. Pour
over the coconut milk, then gently press down on the contents of the dish
with a spatula to compress, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with
the reserved thyme.
Bake for 20 minutes, then press down on the potato slices with the spatula
to submerge them in the coconut milk. Return the dish to the oven and
bake for a further 20–25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Fitness and Health Podcasts To Inspire and Inform

I have to admit, I used to be a massive advocate and consumer of fitness and health podcasts. I loved Jillian Michaels and Janice's witty, smartass banter that covered types of plant based milks, the reasons particular exercises and routines paid dividends and mindset adjustments. As the length of episodes increased and it became more about Jillian's parenting, it became an exhausting test of patience. So, I took a lengthy break but I'm back listening to pods for inspiration and here's my  pick of what you should get your earbuds wrapped around.

My own Core Integrity podcast, featuring interviews with gut, mind, body and spirit role models and practitioners.

Hurdle, in which Emily Abbate chats with wellness entrepreneurs and leaders like the co-founder of Headspace.

YogaPeeps is a lifelong love affair. Though it's no longer producing new episodes, every single episode is eminently listenable and full of yoga wisdom from teachers who live, breathe and love the practice. Lara Hedin is a wonderful host.

TEDTalks Health gets across astonishing facts and information in bite-sized podcast episodes. This will make for excellent conversation starters if nothing else.

Nutrition Matters takes a no-bull approach to food and the mental, physical and spiritual approach to a nutritious life. Paige Smathers is a registered dietitian and nutritionist who interviews experts.

The Nutrition Diva's Quick and Dirty Tips For Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous

Oh I love this one so much and it's so short and easy to listen to. It really is a quick dive into a topic, ingredient or trend. Monica Reinagel is a joy to tune in to for advice, intelligence and simple, memorable tips.

Yoga In Everyday Life: The Sutras For Daily Living

According to many faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, the universe began, from pure silence, with a single so...