Matariki and Winter Solstice
Pictured: Yogis meditating on Opoutere Beach at Ohui Retreat
This month is Matariki and Jane Lawrence writes about it in her column Conscious Eating: June is here along with two significant annual events: Matariki and our Southern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice.
Matariki is the time of the rising of the Pleiades cluster, seen just before sunrise in early June. Historically Matariki marked the season to celebrate and prepare the ground for the coming year. The Winter, or hibernal, Solstice (June 20 – 22) is the shortest day, and longest night of the year – the night my son Tahl was born – when the Sun is at its lowest elevation with the Earth inclined away from the Sun. Popular belief is that Winter Solstice is synonymous with midwinter, but we know that winter is really just getting underway now with spring a few months away.
Yoga and Ayurveda have common underlying principles underpinning their teachings; observation of the patterns in our life which can lead to inner knowledge, setting us free to enjoy a happier, healthier life. It is not uncommon for people to continue the ‘same old, same old’ habits throughout the year and indeed throughout their entire lives, without ever pausing to reflect on where these habits originated or the effects these habits have on their quality of life.
Solstices and equinoxes provide us with an opportunity to bring our awareness to the changes of season and the subtle adaptations our environment and our body make in accordance with this natural rhythm of change. As well as recognising the daily Circadian rhythm, both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine acknowledge the influence of each season on the function of our various organs.
Our one-month yoga teacher training course has just finished at Ohui Retreat and the yogis pictured above are now certified yoga teachers! We wish them all the best in their new teaching careers.
The Bed of Nails
Being a yogi isn’t all about pampering the body with gentle flexing and light twisting, is it also about challenging the body to grow stronger. One method traditional yogis use to remove weakness is the bed of nails. Does it hurt? Yes. Is it effective in making the body healthy and vital? Yes. Nowadays you don’t have to go to Hammer Hardware to make your own bed of nails. Instead there is the “Shakti Mat” which provides the same benefits. We have them in stock and photoed Tara putting it to the test. Read more
Swami Karmamurti Saraswati
Last month Shantimurti’s father Swami Karmamurti Saraswati left the body while surrounded by close members of his family. He was 90 years old. Karmamurti devoted much of his life to teaching yoga and inspiring others to live healthy and happy lives. In honour of Karmamurti we would like to share his Seven Sutras which are words to live by:
- Do something – some yoga practice, no matter what it is.
- Make it simple – don’t try to do too much.
- Do it everyday – see what happens, even if it’s only 2 minutes long, every single day.
- Relax – take your time, there’s no hurry.
- Remember to breathe
- Be aware – know what’s going on. Do it consciously.
- Be joyful – enjoy what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be a chore.
Practice What You Preach
Tash Domonkos (pictured) completed the Level 1 Intensive at Ohui Retreat in February 2015. She writes about her journey into teaching yoga.
Practice what you preach. This has been my lesson in the last few weeks. I have been incredibly blessed to have my beginner yoga classes almost completely booked until August and while it is exciting and a dream come true, it is also a little stressful and crazy! During a particularly busy couple of days I even dreamt that Shantimurti was making me run on a gravel road over stones and rocks. Apparently he was teaching me that yes it was uncomfortable and hard work but I could do it, it wasn’t unachievable. Thanks Shanti ;o) Read more
Kriya Yoga Retreat
Kriya Yoga is old-school yoga. It is a branch of yoga that was kept secret for a very long time and given only to initiates. Nowadays the world is a different place and the gurus have given their blessing for this knowledge to be shared. Swami Sivananda Saraswati (pictured) passed on the kriyas to his students and now you have the opportunity to learn and practise them yourself. These techniques will awaken the spirit of meditation and yoga in you – not just in theory but as a sublime experience. Read more
The first edition of the New Zealand Yoga Scene was published last month. It covers a wide variety of topics and for those who are already on the yoga scene it has a lot of familiar faces. This magazine is mainly distributed as a downloadable PDF file, but you can purchase glossary printed editions too. Read more
Parking at Parnell Studio
Since the closure of the railway parking last month we have found some reliable places to park – highlighted on the map above. Thank you for adjusting to the new parking situation – we appreciate your flexibility! Read more
Upcoming Classes and Workshops
- Yoga for Beginners Course An 8-week introduction to yoga
- Prenatal Yoga Course An 9-week course for pregnant women
- Mums and Bubs A 6-week course for mothers and babies
- Kirtan A fun and musical evening
- Zenthai A fusion of yoga and energetic bodywork
- Silent Meditation Retreat 3 days in June. 5 days in August
- Yoga and Nutrition Retreat Learn about health and well-being
- Yoga Revival Weekend Spend a weekend at the beach
Master Classes with Gemma
Gemma (pictured) teaches our Yoga for Beginners Course on Monday nights and she has put together some MasterClasses to help you learn new postures in a dedicated environment. Take a look at the classes below or read our interview with Gemma about these Master Classes.
- Hip Openers and Balancing Postures
- Twists and the Side Body
- Core, Split Leg Postures and Beginner Handstand
- Backbends, Bija Mantra and Shoulder Stand
- Introduction to the Chakras
Yoga Revival Weekend
Join us in Ohui on 20-21 June for a weekend of yoga to rest, recharge and rejuvenate. This weekend is for everyone including those who are new to yoga. Spend some time on Opoutere Beach, make some new friends and join the following classes:
- Yoga classes
- Guided relaxation (Yoga Nidra)
- Yoga philosophy
- Yoga of sound (Nada Yoga)
- Chanting and singing (Kirtan)
- Plenty of free time
- Read more
The Creative Power of Yantra
A yantra is a geometric representation of a deity or specific cosmic principle. Its reflection of the inner world is inferred and understood by mystics and practitioners of yoga. The yantra, acting as a carrier of its representative energy, works to focus and empower the practitioner. Initially, yantras are external to the practitioner and formed of copper, granite, painted on paper, or even drawn with water. There are specific methods of representation for each Yantra. Yantras seen internally are the greatest yantras and serve in advanced mystical yogic practice. Read more about yantras and Premajyoti’s workshop.
Interview with Sophia
Sophia Rieck (Ushamani) completed Ashram Yoga’s Level 2&3 Intensive yoga teacher training last year and then started our Level 1 part-time teacher training this year. She explains how this happened in this interview:
Late 2013 I took time out of my job as a project manager to travel New Zealand. I was feeling empty inside, my body was aching from spending most my life in the office. There was emotional pain I had no idea how to deal with. And all these big ‘what is this life all about’ questions had become too loud to ignore. An amazing time followed, just me and New Zealand’s stunning nature. I felt alive and happy like never before. Read more
Mantras are a very important part of traditional yoga practice and are used almost universally by yogis in India. They can help in all areas of life and are one of the primary yogic tools for healing the mind. Mantras can change deep-seated patterns in the psyche and elevate the mind and heart to higher levels of consciousness. Read more about Mantra Yoga and download an audio file of Atma chanting the first five sutras of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
Joint and Inflammation Workshop
Do you suffer from sore painful joints? With the onset of cooler weather, joint problems and pains can become more intense and debilitating. Learn how to use yoga to support joint health and mobility in a fun interactive class. After the class we will discuss the influence of our diet on our joint health, acidity and alkalinity, the usage of nutritional and herbal supplements for joint health. Read more
Parnell Studio News
If you like the look of the posters around Ashram Yoga and would some made for your venture, then contact Amrit. She is our talented designer who lives at Ohui Retreat. Contact her if you are interested. See samples of her work here.
This year we are offering one full scholarship for the Level 2&3 Intensive yoga teacher training at Ohui Retreat in November. This scholarship will be awarded on merit so if you are interested then please apply. We are looking for an active yoga teacher who is dedicated to a yogic lifestyle, is hungry for deeper knowledge and experience and is keen to “pay it forward”. If this sounds like you then let us know! Read more
Concession Card Competition
Congratulations to Nicole Donahoe who is the winner of the May draw. If you want to enter the next draw, just put your completed 8-class yoga concession card or one-month pass in the box at the front desk.
If you have graduated from one of our teacher training courses and would like to revisit the material then you can do so with out Graduate Support Programme. Spaces are limited to three graduates per weekend and registration opens a month in advance. Book here for courses in June: Level 1 Weekend 4 and Level 2 Weekend 3. For more details join our yoga teacher training graduates’ page on Facebook.
Astrology with Hamish Saunders
For the last thirty years Ashram Yoga’s senior director Swami Shantimurti Saraswati has referred people to Hamish Saunders for astrological consultations. Hamish became a full-time professional astrologer in 1981. He lectures on astrology within New Zealand and internationally and has appeared on radio and television many times.
June is an important month in the astrological calendar as it corresponds with Matariki, the Maori New Year, and the winter solstice. Matariki is the Maori name for the Pleiades, a group of seven stars located at 0 degrees of Gemini. The rising of the Pleiades at around the time of the solstice have been celebrated by many cultures throughout the world since ancient times. In mythology, their role is said to help seekers awaken to their divine nature and inherent wisdom. In medieval times the Pleiades were said to give knowledge and magical power to those who were ready to receive it. Read more
Like Our Facebook Page
Our Facebook page has been steadily growing, but we would like to put some gas on it and get many more people on board. Facebook is a great way for us to let you know what is going on. Please like us.
Video: Walking on Air
This video is only 12 seconds long but it is well worth watching. See it here.
Recipe: Novice Yogi’s Kitchari
Kitchari is literally the staple food of yoga. It is delicious, easy to digest and balances all the doshas (biological humours in Ayurveda) and it fills the belly! The spices play an important role and are not just for taste – they bring tremendous healing benefits.
1 cup yellow split peas
1 tbsp turmeric
1 thumb ginger, halved
2 bay leaves
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 tbsp coconut oil or ghee (or rice bran oil…or butter)
1 tbsp mustard or nigella seeds
1 heaped tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, ends trimmed, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pumpkin or kumara (2-3cm pieces)
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup peas
165ml coconut milk
1 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) and/or mint
1/2 cup tamari roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds (optional)
wraps, naan, parathha or roti to serve (optional)
New Book by Swami Shantimurti Saraswati
We are very pleased to announce the publication of a new book by our senior director Swami Shantimurti Saraswati (pictured). It is called Lectures from Yoga Teacher Training and it comprises a series of lectures presented to students on our Level 1 yoga teacher training course in Auckland earlier this year.
The book dives deeply in the esoteric aspects of yoga including energy (prana), energy centres (chakras), breathing techniques (pranayama), mantra, energy channels (nadi), kriya yoga, tantra yoga, yogic philosophy and a whole lot more. If you are keen to know what lies beneath the surface of yoga, then this book is for you. It includes insights and stories that you won’t find anywhere else.
Shantimurti has been practising and teaching yoga since 1976 when he was initiated into sannyasa. He is highly experienced with the inner and outer aspects of yoga and has a gift for sharing his wisdom in an amiable way. Read more about the book.
Ashram Yoga eBook
Download Ashram Yoga’s free Introduction to Yoga ebook. Simply subscribe to our newsletter. This ebook introduces a very simple yoga series. These practices include ankle, wrist and hip rotations which are essential for both beginner and advanced yogis. These exercises are so simple that they are easy to overlook, yet their effect is profound.
Shantimurti has many remarkable stories of people who have healed themselves from serious afflictions with these basic exercises.
Introduction to Yoga is the first chapter of a larger, more comprehensive ebook. The larger ebook with additional exercises including breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation may be purchased here.