I was guru scouted for a spiritual harem

It used to be that Australians initiated themselves into adulthood the old fashioned way: drinking their way around Europe on a Contiki tour. Now that Insta-wellness is all the rage, we’re just as likely to book into an ashram as enjoy a misadventure with an inebriated tour guide. But just as horror movie Hostel was every Euro traveller’s worst nightmare, ‘spiritual travel’ has its own predators. I met one.

Teachers: how to de-stress while still in the classroom

I started my yoga teacher training six months before I began teaching at university, and thank God for that! By incorporating simple yoga philosophies and practices into my teaching, I saved myself a whole lot of extracurricular stress. Now, I enjoy teaching so much more. While classes can still be energetically taxing, they’re also extremely enjoyable. I know. I’m one of those people.

Things your yoga teacher won’t tell you

Not all yoga is good. Ha! I said it. Just had a vertebra removed/hernia operation/six months pregnant and your doctor told you ‘yoga might help?’ Then this Power class is for you.

When we say ‘notice any intense feelings in this pose and let them go,’ we mean ‘Stop looking at me like I’m Hitler.’

Don’t giggle when we say ‘perineum’. Think about the muscles of the pelvic floor. How would YOU describe them?

What now for yoga’s guru model?

Revelations that the former leader of Satyananda’s Australian ashrams abused children for decades have shocked the yoga community worldwide. Meanwhile, police are investigating the spiritual director of two more Australian ashrams amidst claims of sexual abuse. Is it time to do away with the guru model? 

The awkward relationship with people we pay to touch us

My first massage was at 19, in Nepal. An ex-pat hippy picked me up on his scooter and took me to his house where he cranked up the heat, whipped off his shirt, and donned a Pat Cash sweat band. “I like to be comfortable,” he explained.

After a while he asked me to roll over and commenced that painful quad kneading, before working his way up to the chestal region. “Is that ok?” he asked. “There are a lot of important glands around there.”

Buddha for dummies

Prince Siddhartha was born many thousands of years ago BC to helicopter parents so extreme they vowed to shield him from anything upsetting. Old age, sickness and the BC version of David Hasselhoff never made it through the palace walls. Our prince made it through adolescence without encountering decrepitude of any kind.

All that changed on his 16th birthday when his tutor, ‘Derek’ (not his real name) and took him on a forbidden field trip to the local market. You could put Derek’s disobedience down to his irritation over long hours and no health insurance, but really it was because he loved Siddhartha and didn’t want him to turn into a spoilt brat like all the high caste kids.

Has the yoga community enabled predators?

The ‘G’ word has long become obsolete in the yoga world. We’re much too smart to fall for ‘gurus’ and their connotations of sex cults, brainless devotees and robes so fugly they need a whole new colour wheel to describe. Besides, we don’t need gurus when we now have ‘super teachers’, ‘head of lineages’, and ‘founder of X-style yoga’.

Is yoga immune from fat-shaming?

There are days when the world feels like a competitive, ego-driven nightmare. A world dominated by the glossy and superficial, where a decent ‘box gap’ (if you don’t know, don’t Google) is as highly prized as a safe place to sleep for the night. At these times I like to remember that, as a yoga teacher, I am blissfully free from the repetitive, ‘not good enough / better than’ thoughts that dominate less bendy souls, and that my ‘office’ is a bastion of peace, tranquility, and ylang ylang-scented bliss.

When ‘healing’ turns narcissistic

A friend just went through a breakdown, brought on by fifteen years in the corporate world. Physically and mentally burnt out, she turned to various different healing therapies to recover. Gestalt therapy, an Ayurvedic diet overhaul, then a coeliac and vegan diet overhaul, traditional psychotherapy, and a series of cleansing practices involving salty water and much time spent in the bathroom.