Yoga as a Panacea for Mental Illness


 Registered Yoga Teacher Yoga Alliance AustraliaUBER Yoga; Yoga as a Panacea for Mental Illness by Dr.Sarah Smyth Psychologist-RYT Yoga Alliance Australia.

Previously it was believed that the ‘talking cure’ (Freud and Breuer, 1895) was the one and only treatment option for individuals suffering with mental illness. Yet yoga’s presence in the literature on psychotherapy has been noted as far back as 1918 and possibly further. Winter (1918) in ‘The Yoga Systems and Psychoanalysis’ compared, contrasted and related Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Ever since there has been numerous writers and researchers proposing an integration between psychotherapy and Yoga and it seems that this is currently happening.

Over the last number of years various forms of psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), body-centred psychotherapy and self-help programmes such as the 12 Steps have been looking to the past and incorporating ancient traditions such as yoga and mindfulness meditation, as a means of improving treatment options and outcomes for individual with disorders such as depression and anxiety, addiction (substance misuse, eating disorders, self-harm) and trauma.

Cognitive behavioural psychotherapy makes a person aware of how their thoughts (psychological) affects their feelings (emotional) and behaviours (physical). Through education and awareness it aims to help people overcome problems and make progress towards personal goals by teaching new and more effective coping skills (Williams and Garland, 2002) such as mindfulness. By learning mindfulness techniques the person is more aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings, is able to observe them and accept them but is taught not to get attached to them or react to them (Linehan, 1993). Thus leading to improving such things as; health, self-care and self-regulation; anticipating, preparing for and managing stress; behaving more effectively in testing situations; and minimising or coping with unpleasant thoughts and feelings.

Similarly, yoga is recognised as a form of mind-body therapy that integrates the physical, mental and spiritual elements of  an individual. It can be used as a process of self-investigation and self-regulation. Through asanas and meditation,  the individual can direct attention inwards toward their  health and wellbeing to improve these aspects of their lives (Iyengar, 1989).

Body-centered psychotherapies use movement-based and body-centered techniques to assess and treat psychological and physical distress thus supporting the processes of change and transformation (Aposhyan, 2004). A recent study ;Yoga Based Body Psychotherapy: A Yoga Based and Body-Centered Approach to Counseling, by Livia Shapiro (2012) looked at incorporating yoga into body-centered psychotherapy. Shapiro (2012) stated the aim of the approach was to overtly bring yoga postures into the context of body psychotherapy to support further development of body-centered ways of counseling, and to afford a new lens for the practice of yoga postures by making their inherently therapeutic nature overt in the context of a psychotherapy session so that eliciting emotional material becomes a potentially viable content for healing, growth and change…(p.42) The research of this study found that introducing yoga postures into the psychotherapeutic process provides body psychotherapy with another means of movement analysis and structural intervention to explore, thus broadening the scope of the field.

Much research has been conducted over the years citing the relevance of yoga practice in recovery from addiction. Studies have suggested that the skills, insights, and self-awareness learned through yoga and mindfulness practice can target multiple psychological, neurological, physiological, and behavioural processes implicated in the relapse (Khanna and Greeson, 2013). In various articles, comparisons have between the infamous 12 Steps programme and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The 12- Step  is a set of guidelines involving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual processes, which when abided by helps the individual to become sober and maintain their sobriety (Wilson et al.,2001). Similarly, Patanjali cited the eight limbs of yoga as ethical principles and practices for living a meaningful, purposeful, moral and self-disciplined life which leads to spiritual awakening.

In  addiction treatment and rehabilitation facilities and addiction models, yoga is now often present as a part of the therapeutic structure (Lohman, 1999). Various rehabilitation centres are using integrative approaches to the treatment of addiction such as ‘Yoga of 12-Step Recovery’ and ‘Yoga of Recovery’ (Hawk, 2012). In his documentary film ‘Addiction, Recovery and Yoga’ Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher and filmmaker Lindsey Clennell, interviews a several people who have combined the 12 step model with yoga as part of their recovery from various addictions (substance misuse, gambling, relationships). Their experiences highlight the positive outcomes of yoga in recovery (

More and more prisons are incorporating yoga and meditation curriculums. In America, the Prison Yoga Project was founded by yoga teacher James Fox. Since 2002, Fox has been teaching yoga and mindfulness meditation in various prisons across the States.  Through his teaching, Fox recognised most prisoners are suffering from complex trauma and discovered that yoga can have a positive impact on alleviating symptoms. His experiences led him to found the Prison Yoga Project. The project advises prisons, private entities and/or individuals about establishing yoga programs as part of a rehabilitation program, and provides an already proven to be effective curriculum and protocol. Additionally the project offers trainings for yoga teachers who are interested in working with at-risk populations (Prison Yoga Project).

In 2008, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy published a study by Pashupati Steven Landau and Jagat Bandhu John Gross, titled Low Reincarceration Rate Associated with Ananda Marga Yoga and Meditation. In this five-year study, Ananda Marga (AM) Yoga was taught to 190 male inmates at Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh, NC. The results of the study concluded that Ananda Marga Yoga and meditation can safely and effectively be taught in prison to a varied population, irrespective of religion or race. Inmates voluntarily participating in four or more Ananda Marga Yoga/meditation classes were found to have a lower than expected re-incarceration rate.

A randomised controlled trial by Carter et al (2013) looked at a yoga based breath programme for Australia Vietnam Veterans with various disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress and substance misuse.The participants were encouraged to do daily yoga practice at home for 20-30 minutes in the morning and 10-20 minutes in the afternoon. They were offered group sessions once a week for one month and once a month thereafter. The 6 month follow up revealed  improvements in measures of PTSD and in reducing substance abuse.  These positive responses occurred despite the veterans having 30-year histories of treatment-resistant severe PTSD, alcohol abuse, and dependence on disability status.The study discussed the intervention of mind –body techniques as a valuable tool in the treatment of PTSD.

Another treatment approach which is rapidly developing is Trauma-Sensitive Yoga.Trauma sensitive yoga is founded in the belief that yoga helps people discover a different relationship to their body, one that is gentler and more forgiving,  requiring practising kindness and patience.  It allows for investigation of new positive habitual body patterns and explore new ways of being physical that have not been previously considered. Experimenting with these patterns and discover healthier and more expansive ways of being that in turn advances self-understanding thus awakening possibility (Emerson and Hopper, 2011).

The studies presented in this article have cited the need for further research into which styles of yoga are best suited to treating the different types mental illness. Outcomes also indicated that people’s beliefs about yoga may influence participation in yoga and outcomes of yoga interventions (Atkinson and Pemuth, 2009).

Cautions have been highlighted in the use of yoga and meditation as therapy. In trauma-sensitive yoga teachers must take into careful consideration the use of physical adjustment due to the many forms of trauma an individual may have experienced, for instance a physical touch by the teacher could be a trigger and lead to flashbacks of past abuse (an example of which is highlighted by Emerson and Hopper’s 2011 book, Overcoming trauma through yoga, p. 125). Similarly.
meditation may permit deepened access to the unconscious leading to the unlocking of latent memories of past trauma (Miller, 1993). However these concerns can be combatted through the use of comprehensive assessments for each client starting treatment, in order to insure they can tailor the therapies to the needs of the individual (e.g. using visual and verbal cues for yoga adjustments, altering the intensity of meditation).

Whether or not yoga is a panacea for mental illness remains to be seen, however increasing evidence indicates yogas and meditations profound usefulness with psychotherapy as an integrative approach, which in its true essence is what the Sanskrit term for Yoga means, union and integration.


Interview with Swami Shivapremananda direct disciple of Swami Sivananda



Yogacharya Swami Maitreyananda


Interview by: Dharmachari Swami Maitreyananda – President International Yoga Federation

For you Swami, what is Yoga?

– In the West you have the belief that Yoga is primarily Hatha Yoga, and is not; Hatha Yoga is the Yoga of physical and breathing exercises. This is the base of  the Yoga Vedanta philosophy. Yoga has been primarily an aspiration to seek spiritual identity through meditation. Yoga was developed in India, where it is said that ancient sculptures prior to arrival of the Aryans (1800 BC), representing cross-legged figures were found. Among the Indians of Latin America and in Egypt also found that cross-legged position, but that does not mean that it was Yoga. In times of Buddha practiced Hatha Yoga, which was not only to achieve a healthy mind and good health, but for psychic experiences.
Starting about 2,300 years ago, yoga started to be really practiced to achieve good health, purify the mind and harmonize the flow of the nervous system, as a means of meditation, to maintain clear and healthy mind.
Highest value of Yoga is the integration of the two aspects of our nature, human and spiritual. The goal is to combine different aspects of Yoga. We need a deeper and clearer understanding, no fantasies, through the reality check along with a spiritual aspiration: this is Jnana Yoga. Then, we also need devotion because without love you cannot have inspiration and sublimation of the passions, in order to deepen our feelings, this would Bhakti Yoga.
Moreover, we need mental discipline through Raja Yoga, i.e. replace our instincts crude for goals and ideals, and the practice of meditation.
The fourth aspect, which is Karma Yoga, would be to translate our spiritual experience in unselfish service, and that the work will determine the truth of faith.

In the Bhagavad Gita says, “It’s yogi who remains inactive, but executing the works without worrying about their fruits.” Would this be an explanation of what a yogi?

– That would be a aspect of Karma Yoga, i.e., Yoga of the service, but first we must explain what is meant by “fruits”, which in the Bhagavad Gita translated by the result of the action inspired by selfishness. Logically we should always expect a good result when we do something, if not, we would improve our level of efficiency, but we do not have a particular gain egotistical calculation. Of course we have to defend our way of life material security, but should always be work for the sake of an ideal, and that believing in an ideal he will do better and better. Therefore, a yogi is one who loves spiritual ideals that are of value only when specified in the action. Any yogi, any religious, or anyone who believes in a religion must have spiritual ideals, if not, their religion is worthless, it’s just emotionalism. When you really love God, the truth of that love leads to love of neighbour, is how he behaves, how he lives with his family, in society, trying to help improve the level of those around him.

His teachings have always been in favour of a better integration of man in the world, but can keep inner calm when you are immersed in the whirlwind and in the acceleration of the big city?

– For practice you can find inner serenity. When you have spiritual aspirations, having understood the high values ​​of our life, the practical means to apply them in different circumstances, forming our most healthy and strong to the challenges faced attitude. For example:. With the restriction of our excessive expectations, attachments that stifle our relationships with others by possessiveness, exaggerated desires and also educating and sublimating our selfishness, vanity and arrogance
Finally, we live to have a sense of living as live is how we form our values, how we perform, we express and experience in our daily life. To live is to make the most of our being. We live in a family to feel a spiritual satisfaction with their members, have friends not because they only serve to entertain us, but we must satisfy our hearts sharing spiritual values with them.
When you have achieved the experience of inner serenity and can maintain a balance, you can live in any city. It is true that to be in the field one is quiet.
Bhagavad Gita In is said that a person sitting doing meditation can have your mind wandering and being with great inner turmoil, as it is involved in mental activity. However, another person whose mind can be calm even in the midst of the action, has inner serenity. Sitting one can be very restless and working can be very quiet. Do not be disturbed if you have inner strength.

You teach that must sublimate the ego, not dissolve. What is sublimation?

-For we must first restrict sublimate. When our ego wants to put his weight on other egos restriction is needed, which does not mean suppression, but we must respect the right of other people’s thinking. We can communicate well with another person only if we respect your opinion. It is wrong to want to impose our ego. We must educate practicing modesty, knowing that we have much to learn. It’s a process that is ongoing as we learn that there are higher values ​​than personal benefit.
sublimation of ego would then exceed our gross ego, our selfishness. Of course, we are forced to make decisions in life. The choice is inevitable and cannot do it without ego, we become dependent on another person. It is better that one should suffer through their own choice for the wrong choice of another person.

Do we need the guidance of a teacher or guru?

– All teachers need to learn about various topics from our lives, but I do not think a spiritual master should become the owner of the fate of a disciple. No one should surrender to another’s personal responsibility to choose their own path and walk.
guru can show the way, can explain, can help in the process of understanding of spiritual teachings, but I do not think we should surrender our will to another being human. We can learn, we can respect those who deserve respect, we can have devotion to noble souls, because we always need inspiration in our lives and if we find a teacher, if we can link with it, we use it for learning and inspiration.
But a teacher should not only be wise, must have spiritual qualities in his personal life, and his works should command respect due to their righteousness. We should find these qualities in a teacher. Integrity, altruism, pure love, sublimation of the passions and humility
His wisdom must be based not on mysticism, but a thorough examination of the search for truth.

Could you explain what is meditation?

-. Meditation is a process of search for inner serenity, but its real value is to make you feel the identity of the self with its spiritual source, i.e. come to love a sacred presence in the heart
Meditation is not merely relax mind into a self-hypnotic process by repeating a mantra, a few letters, a sacred word or a group of sacred words.
The mind is an energy field and when there are multiple pulses scattered energy in different directions, a conflict occurs in the mind and this loses energy. When we capture these pulses through continuous repetition of a mantra, the energy moves in a circle and do hold, in this energy pattern, a balance that would be a small degree of self-hypnosis occurs. The mind feels so calm and serenity and ease tension.
But this is not enough. Repeating a mantra is an aspect of meditation. The most important thing is to love a sacred presence in the heart, feeling the body as a temple, mind like an altar, and this altar feel the spiritual essence of our being. Along with this feel mental clarity, inner strength, since we are unaccompanied and this allows us to be more understanding.
Several techniques in meditation, some of which are: focusing on the breath, repeat “peace and freedom”, synchronizing with inspiration and expiration feeling the freshness of the nerves in the head and the warmth inside the chest or nasal respectively pits.
You can also repeat one mantra to accustom the mind to its sound structure, to record their grooves in the subconscious, as another means of concentration.
exercising can make a autosuggest to plant in us spiritual ideals, repeating, after choosing the following statements, according to the preference and individual and need to memorize.
Inhale, feeling your breath , mentally repeated slowly and with deep conviction: “Peace is my real nature” and exhale “no conflict.” The phrase three or four times repeated, then it is silent absorb meaning. It continues with “Love is my real nature”, “no selfishness”; “The truth is my real nature”, “No falsehood”; “Happiness is my real nature”, “no unhappiness”; “Strength is my real nature”, “no weakness”; “Freedom is my real nature”, “no bondage.”
I would like people to know that meditation is more than simply repeating a mantra, because above all there must be a cultivation of spiritual ideals, one autosuggest on the qualities for the formation of character and come to feel connected to their spiritual source, which is God.

In one of your books you say you cannot know God through the mind and only emerging in what he made. Can you clarify this?

– God is the transcendent spirit, transcendental in the sense that is beyond matter and at the same time inside her. This spirit of our purified feel more emotion than logic intellect. God is the source of the spirit in which we relate to the devotion, which is a sacred emotion; lift our hearts and feel the presence of God. After achieving the approach to our spirit, we feel peace and serenity. But we have to realize the spiritual ideals they represent God; all religions are God’s ideal expressed by spiritual values.To understand why we need the intellect and we need our discernment of right action.

Interview published in Integral Yoga Magazine, No. 2, 1989, Buenos Aires directed by  Ph.DFernando Estevez-Griego Yogacharya

Mindfulness, Kindfulness: What’s in a Name?


By Melissa O’Shea- Yoga Alliance Australia RYT 500 hour Gold Designation


There is nothing new about mindfulness: 2500 years ago Buddha taught people how to meditate sitting, lying, standing and walking, and then how to bring this focused attention to the rest of life. Mindfulness has become the preferred modern term thanks to the popularity of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MinYoga Cow Posedfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Some people prefer the term mindfulness as they believe it to be connected to clear physical and psychological benefits while distancing itself from the religious and spiritual aspects of meditation. Enlightenment and Nirvana aside, whether we call it mindfulness or meditation, the goal of sitting meditation is to get up and live mindfully.

Mindfulness is simple. It is doing one thing at a time with focused attention. It could be as simple as eating breakfast slowly, tasting every bite. It could be walking the dog, feeling every step beneath your feet, inhaling the scents of nature (be selective with this one). It could be showering, or gardening, or even washing dishes, stopping the car at a stoplight and taking three deep breaths. Mindfulness is the antithesis of multi-tasking: it is not texting while driving, walking while eating, or cleaning the kitchen, supervising homework and clocking up kms on the pedometer while you talk on the phone. Which begs the question, who has time for mindfulness, let alone meditation?

Apparently, about 300 people do on a Friday night in suburban Perth. Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre features a 3 metre tall golden Buddha and a monk in brown robes: Ajahn Brahn. Recently back from retreat and in full humorous form, Ajahn Brahn leads a 30 minute meditation followed by a 45 minute talk. Referring to the recent Time Magazine cover article, ‘The Mindful Revolution’ Brahn says, “If you want to know about mindfulness, you’ve come to the source.”. The audience laugh but then sit at attention as Ajahn Brahn explains what is missing from mindfulness as taught by psychologists and corporate gurus, and the term he would like to replace it with.

Meditation in western culture began as a spiritual practice but popular culture has now unhooked it from religious tradition and embraced as a way to reduce stress, promote health and sharpen the mind. Happiness is often touted as one of the outcomes of mindfulness/meditation. “Living in the moment” and “Be here now” is a prescription for how to live well. But what happens when the moment doesn’t feel particularly liveable? When we’re in pain physically or emotionally, or someone else is? When we have too much to do, our job is boring or underpaid or we work for the boss from hell? This is where compassion, or as Ajahn Brahn suggests, “kindfulness” comes in. Through compassion for our self and others we can infuse any moment with kindness, making the tough times more bearable and the pleasures more exquisite.

There is a story in the Buddhist tradition about a monk who went on retreat in a cave for 7 years. Upon finishing his retreat and heading to town for sustenance the monk tripped over a dog, kicked the dog and swore. Making meditation a separate pursuit is a good way to practice and hone the skill, but without compassion for yourself and those around you it can become just one more thing to do in your busy schedule, one more pressure to feel stressed about. What good is seven years (or ten days, or an hour, or even 20 minutes) of meditation if you yell at your kids or your partner when you emerge?

Practicing compassion can in itself be a form of mindfulness. Be kindful when your child tracks dirt onto the newly vacuumed carpet and gently help him to clean it up. Wait kindfully when you are stuck in traffic, focusing on some music or the blue of the sky. Listen kindfully to your colleague’s account of her latest illness. You could even kindfully take out the rubbish or scrub the toilet or make the coffee (especially when it’s not your turn).

With practice and a little effort, living mindfully and kindly can become a regular part of your day. At first, think of it like tea breaks or bathroom breaks, something you will do every few hours. Over time you will find favorite mindful activities, and you can experiment with more challenging situations (lunch with a prospective client, reading The Cat in the Hat to your child for the 40th time). Mindfulness with kindness is the whole package: it can promote good health, reduce stress, and make you a happier person, all at the same time. Through kindness you might even find yourself improving someone else’s life and, with each small act, potentially changing the world. How’s that for multi-tasking?


The Lady of Yoga



Indra Devi Lady of Yoga

1988- Indra Devi and Yogacharya Dr Fernando Estevez Griego (Swami Maitreyananda Dharmachari)

For over 60 years, Indra Devi was Yoga’s most prominent female force. She pursued the practice of Yoga in an era when women were normally not accepted as students. Of European descent, she not only brought Yoga to her native Russia, she taught Yoga to the Hindus themselves. In America she taught Yoga to celebrities. Even after she reached the very advanced age of 100, she continued a yoga practice which included Ardha Sirsasana, Janu Sirsasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana and, of course, Padmasana. Indra Devi’s followers called her Mataji, a rare and well-deserved honour for a woman who exemplified Yoga’s principles with her love, light, and a liveliness that lasted nearly all of her 102 years.

The woman who would become Indra Devi was born Eugenie Peterson on May 12, 1899, in Riga, Russia. Her father was Swedish and her mother was a member of the Russian nobility. Although Eugenie had been drawn to India’s spiritual ways at a very young age, she first pursued a career with the theater. In 1920, while Russia was still in the midst of revolution, Eugenie and her mother relocated to Germany. She became part of a renowned Russian theatrical troupe that toured all over Europe. It was during this period of her life that she met Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Finally, in 1927, Eugenie was able to visit her beloved India for the first time. She wound up living there for 12 years, during which she married a Czechoslovakian diplomat, became an movie star in Indian films and befriended Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1937 she became a student of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, a Yoga master whose other students included a couple of kids named B.K.S. Iyengar, K. Pattabhi Jois and his son T.K. Desikashar . After a year Krishnamacharya urged Eugenie to teach, and when her husband relocated to Shanghai in 1939, she opened her first school of Yoga.

After the end of World War II, Indra Devi continued studying Yoga in the Himalayas and after the death of her husband, her travels took her to the United States. She founded a Yoga studio in Hollywood where she taught stars of the day such as Gloria Swanson, Jennifer Jones, Ramon Novarro and Olivia de Haviland. In 1953 she married a renowned doctor and humanitarian, Sigfrid Knauer and continued spreading Yoga throughout the United States and Mexico via conferences, radio and television.

For the next several decades, Indra Devi took Yoga worldwide. She went to the Soviet Union in 1960 and became known as “the woman who brought Yoga to the Kremlin.” She conducted a meditation in Viet Nam in 1966 and traveled frequently to India. In 1985 she moved to Argentina, where she set up the Indra Devi Foundation (the URL of its website, which is in Spanish, is She spread Yoga throughout South America, along with holding seminars and classes in the U.S. and Europe. Over the years she has published a number of books, including Forever Young, Forever Healthy, Yoga for Americans (which has a forward by Gloria Swanson), and Yoga, the Technique of Health and Happiness.

Indra Devi practiced all that she taught, and as a result she remained active and vital well into her 90s, and even after she passed the century mark, her energy was amazing. After 102 remarkable years, however, it was time for her to move on. Indra Devi viewed death as fearlessly as she lived her life, and the world she left is very much richer for the gift of her presence.In the 1960s and 70s, Indra Devi was very much a presence in Los Angeles and Mexico, and was very close to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Traveling from LA (and her retreat in Mexico) to Bangalore and Puttaparthi, she was greatly honored by Him.

In 1982 she moved to Argentina. In 1987 she was elected President of honor of the International Yoga Federation (former International Yoga Teachers Federation) and Latin American Union of Yoga under the Presidenceship of Swami Maitreyananda in Montevideo, Uruguay. She died in Buenos Aires.

Yogachraya Fernando  Estevez-Griego  and Swamini Lakshmi

Yogachraya Fernando
Estevez-Griego and Swamini Lakshmi (first left)

Yoga Luminaries:

Yogacharya Dr Fernando Estevez Griego (Swami Maitreyananda Dharmachari) direct disciple of Swami Vishnu-Devananda- Yogacharya Master Fernando Estevez Griego studied with him at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas, Canada and United States).

Swamini Lakshmi (Yogacharini Eugenia Salas) six-time winner of the World Yoga Championship in Artistic Yoga Pair and Rhythmic Yoga Pair, disciple of Swami Maitreyananda creator of Artistic Yoga ®.  She is director of International Yoga School of Aurobindo Sivananda Ashram.  President of the International Federation of Yoga Sports 2010 – 2014 

The  International Yoga Federation is a non-profit tax-exempt organization founded in 1987, it is the largest yoga organization in the world and is open to all yogis and yoga organizations. IYF supports the minimum international standards for yoga teachers from 1987. Below is  the honourable Swamini Gauri.

Swamini Gauri IYF President

Swamini Gauri President of International
Yoga Federation 2010-2014


Marisa Cheloni -Swamini Gauri is the world-wide  President of International Yoga  Federation (2012-2016)






B.K.S Iyengar

Great Grand Master and Father of Modern Yoga: IyengarIyengar, the Father of Modern Yoga


Iyengar, the Father of Modern Yoga

B.K.S. Iyengar has systematised over 200 classical yoga poses and 14 different types of Pranayama (with variations of many of them) ranging from the basic to advanced. This helps ensure that students progress gradually by moving from simple poses to more complex ones and develop their mind, body and spirit step-by-step.




Father of Modern Yoga

Acharya Sri T.K. Sribhashyam- the third son of Sri T. Krishnamacharya (Father of Modern Yoga), was born in Mysore in 1940.

Acharya Sri T.K. Sribhashyam

Sri T.K. Sribhashyam, the third son of Sri T. Krishnamacharya, was born in Mysore in 1940. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Accountancy as well as in Hindu philosophy in Chennai. Right from his childhood Sri T. Krishnamacharya initiated him to Yajur Veda and taught him in the traditional way all major Upanishads, Brahma Sūtra and Bhagavad Gīta. Sri T. Krishnamacharya trained him in Yoga practice and teaching. Apart from this, he also received intensive lessons on Yoga Philosophy and Indian Psychology. Āyurveda, the Indian Medical Science, was another subject of study under his father.

Registered or Certified Yoga Teacher?



Yoga Alliance Australia Registered Teacher

Marina Brooking in Yoga Prayer Pose-Yoga Alliance Australia Registered Teacher

Many aspiring Yoga teachers, are left confused as to the purpose and difference between certification and registration of Yoga teachers.

The purpose of the Yoga teacher certification is to make sure that instructors have an excellent knowledge of all Yogic aspects and safety issues. Yoga teachers should be certified for their own protection. With liability law suits being so popular these days, it is wise to have a Yoga teacher’s diploma on the wall. Yoga is not considered to be as dangerous as some of the other activities in health clubs, but some Yoga classes can be surprisingly vigorous, to say the least.

The purpose of being a registered yoga instructor is to make sure that individual/s have met the requirements set out by the Yoga Registering Body through an educational program with a yoga teacher training school. A minimum of 200 hour contact (face-to-face training) and 500 hour teaching experience is required by most reputable Yoga Organisations in the world to be considered a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT).

On the National and international levels, Yoga is a self-regulated practice. Many certifying bodies such as  Yoga Alliance Australia (also known as Yoga Alliance International)  the Yoga Alliances around the world, The International Yoga Federation (recognised as the supreme Yoga Organisation in the World)  work toward a standard of excellence in teacher knowledge, ethics and, student’s safety.

Liability insurance companies look favourably upon policy holders who are qualified in the field in which they provide services, and Yoga is not an exception. The general perception is that a credentialed policy holder, is professional, experienced, mature and the odds of claims are reduced.

What about established Yoga teachers who don’t have a diploma? They should seek advice from Yoga Certifying bodies on how to gain recognition, based on their studies, practice and teaching experience.

The majority of studios now require you to be a registered Yoga teacher. In North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and most of Europe, Yoga teachers although Certified (qualified) are not required to be registered but if you are, the chances of finding employment are much higher. Over recent years Yoga organisations have worked together to ensure that Standards are continuously revised and that Teacher and School can demonstrate they meet those standards.

NOTE: Although some Countries offer government accredited training courses, there is no such thing as a government-accredited Yoga teacher.