Category: Community
New Ethics Committee Member Craig Mackie

Meet Craig Mackie. Craig recently joined the Ethics & Certification Committee as a legal counsel. He is a barrister specialising in commercial litigation and also a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, based in Hobart.

Meet Craig Mackie. Craig recently joined the Ethics & Certification Committee as a legal counsel. He is a barrister specialising in commercial litigation and also a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher, based in Hobart.

How long have you been practising Iyengar Yoga?

I started practising yoga around 2004 and first attended classes to help with workplace stress and a long term shoulder injury which I have from playing cricket.

When did you start teaching yoga?

In 2016 I received an introductory level teaching certificate and now teach at the Hobart School of Iyengar Yoga.

What do you do outside yoga?

I am a barrister. Next year I will have been admitted to practice as a lawyer for 30 years, specialising in commercial litigation. I have a large Anti-Discrimination law practice and also work with people like doctors, nurses, architects, vets and real estate agents who are being investigated by their regulatory bodies. I am also a member of Tasmania’s Disciplinary Tribunal, which presides over allegations of misconduct against lawyers. Besides yoga and law, I keep bees; I’m an accredited cricket coach, and, like all good Tasmanians, I enjoy bushwalking.

What do you hope to bring to the Ethics and Certification Mark Committee?

For some time now, I have been helping the Ethics & Certification Committee review and redraft IYA’s Ethical Guidelines. Like most policy documents, which have been written some time ago, I realised they needed updating to consider an approach that was thorough, transparent and reflected current community standards.

These documents are on the IYA website, and I encourage everyone to take time to look at them. The review and implementation of these guidelines is an ongoing process.

By coming onto the ECMC, I join the other committee members in attempting to ensure the practice of Iyengar Yoga is safe and rewarding for all.

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International Yoga Day, 21 June 2019 - Geeta Iyengar Sequence

Today is the 5th International Yoga Day; a day to celebrate all yoga. In saying that, let us do that every day. Let us celebrate kindness, mindfulness, yoga and our wonderful community every single day.

In celebration of the 5th International Yoga day, Pune sent us a practice sequence from Geeta Iyengar to share with our community. So here it is. Happy practising.

IYA - 5th Internantional Yoga Day - Geeta Sequence Pune

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Tricia Shannon, The Yoga Room Orange (Interview)

The Yoga Room, located in Orange, in Central West New South Wales, celebrated its 20th birthday last May. Tricia Shannon is the principal teacher of the school, and there are three other teachers on the roster, with 11 classes as well as a Led Practice session every week.

What is the most challenging thing about running a yoga studio?

The most challenging thing in the first ten years was educating the public about yoga. The public perception in Orange 20 years ago didn’t match the reality of what happened in an Iyengar class.

Another challenge was staying afloat and keeping the doors open until a core student body was built. I had a great mentor and teacher in Alan Goode who gave me sound advice in the early days: ‘Don’t give up your day job’.

He was right; I kept my day job until the school was established and known in the community.

Apart from the common challenge most women face of running a business - having children and keeping everyone happy - the other challenge is teaching staff. As we all know in the Iyengar community, teacher training is a path that requires a commitment in terms of time, resources and as is the case with us here in Orange, travelling and being away from family for periods of time.

I have three amazing teachers who have trained and worked alongside me over the past 16 years. I am very grateful for their devotion and support, and I hope to see more students undertake teacher training and join our staff.

What is the most rewarding?

The most rewarding things are firstly, the opportunity to create a yoga community and educate people about the many benefits of yoga.

To watch students grow as yoga practitioners, and become healthier and more accepting and content as individuals makes my heart happy.

Many strong and long-standing friendships have been formed over the years in the student body. I have had the pleasure to observe the most amazing support for those who are grieving and in need of help. I have observed food cooked and delivered in times of need; birthdays celebrated, babies born, difficult times made a little easier over a coffee and lots more.

The second most rewarding aspect for me has been the connections I have made with people, both students and other teachers who share a passion for yoga. I am particularly grateful for the guidance of Alan Goode over the years, and Lulu Bull when I started teacher training. I am so lucky to have the friendship and support of Steph, Fiona and Sharon who teach alongside me at The Yoga Room.

Tricia Shannon, The Yoga Room Orange

Describe your demographic.

Mostly females over 35 years but we also have consistent yet small groups of 16 and 17-year-olds who are looking to try yoga for the first time, and there are always a few HSC students each year. Unfortunately, male students are a small proportion of our demographic and retired females would make up around one-third of our student body.

How do you market your business?

I market the business through the website, flyers, Instagram and Facebook. At least half our business is word of mouth.

How do you feel Iyengar Yoga sits in the wider yoga community?

I feel Iyengar yoga is well respected in the wider yoga community for its consistency. This is sometimes a double-edged sword as young, aspiring yoga practitioners can see it as a little rigid.

What is your one (or most important) piece of advice for someone wanting to start a yoga school?

I think it is so important to have a purpose in life. To anyone wanting to start a yoga studio, if they feel yoga is their purpose and their heart tells them yoga is their path, I would say GO FOR IT! The most important piece of advice I can give is to realise that you need to wear a few hats. You need to be the teacher of yoga, the practitioner of yoga, the business manager, the marketing manager and the financial controller. These hats all require different skills. Be prepared to pay a professional for help or spend money to learn these skills.

Tricia Shannon, The Yoga Room Orange

Anything you would do differently if you started from scratch tomorrow.

I would do lots of things differently if I started from scratch tomorrow. Firstly, I would acquire the skills needed to run the school as a matter of priority. It took me a long time to get the school to where it is now, and I wasted a lot of time. There’s still so much to do, but I feel better equipped to move into the next 20 years. I have now set some short and long-term goals, have some systems in place and can measure outcomes.

What did you do before you became a yoga teacher/started a school?

I’ve had many incarnations before becoming a yoga teacher. I worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and spent two years in Beijing on a posting; I went to art school for a year, I worked as an events coordinator and a Public Relations Consultant, I worked in bars, I’ve been a student and have travelled. Through most of my adult life, I have practised yoga on and off. Training to become an Iyengar Yoga Teacher is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Tricia Shannon, The Yoga Room Orange

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Tim Oddie, Geelong City Yoga (Interview)

Established as Geelong’s first permanent and dedicated yoga studio, Geelong City Yoga has been running for just over 14 years. Tim Oddie, the director and principal teacher of the school, works alongside one other teachers to provide 21 classes per week, 14 of which he runs himself.

What is the most challenging thing about running a yoga studio?

Of course, there are all the challenges of running a business and making it viable, but I think one of the most challenging points is marrying that to your development as a practitioner, a teacher and being the one responsible for the unique culture of your school. I belong to the greater fraternity that is Iyengar Yoga, and I am the product of a senior teacher lineage (in my case Peter Scott). But understanding, developing and communicating to others how B.K.S Iyengar’s teachings manifest in me is the most fundamental and critical issue.

Not having the sufficient level of certification (I’m currently JI2) to run a teacher training program has been a real and frustrating handicap in the development of that process.

Not only does teacher training provide another income stream, though that would be useful, but more so that it would encourage progression, for me, for the student body and the school.

Over the years I have steered students keen to undertake teacher training towards senior teachers in Melbourne, which has had some success but on some occasions, they have discontinued because of the difficulties associated with having to travel or because I am their teacher and they wanted to develop under my tutelage.

All of this then leads to the issue of ‘staffing’. Over the years it has been challenging to staff the school with certified Iyengar Yoga teachers and when I have, they have often been of a different lineage to me and were not able to a provide a cohesive learning environment. They have never been students of mine or my school and have no inherent commitment beyond earning a wage.

It is in no way a criticism of those teachers, but they are not products of nor fully integrated into the culture of the school.

What is the most rewarding?

I have been in the same place for 14 years now. I have observed students go through all sorts of ups and downs and it gives me great satisfaction to witness how vital a constant practice and the school is to their wellbeing.

Through relationship dramas, marriages, pregnancies, family deaths, career upheavals and health issues, students often tell me that yoga is their time, on the mat and at the school that has enabled them to cope.

Like all schools, many students come through the doors a few times, and you never see them again; however, you see when someone is profoundly captivated by the possibilities that Iyengar Yoga has to offer, and you know that it will be with them for life. There is no better reward.

Describe your demographic.

Geelong is undergoing a shift, and so are those attending classes. Traditionally the average student has been close to 50 years old, but there are also some in their 20s and others in their 70s.

Predominantly women, though I suspect I have more men in my classes than most other schools given, I am one of the few male teachers around, and I even run a specific male class.

Over the last few years, people have been less inclined to drive into Geelong CBD to attend classes, and there are more and more yoga schools in the surrounding suburbs, so numbers have decreased.

However, we are starting to get a few younger students and more office workers coming to classes, particularly with the offer of our new lunchtime classes.

Until about four years ago, we operated purely on an enrolment basis, and most people enrolled for and attended one class a week. Now we have unlimited passes, and class credit and students attend two, three and even more classes per week.

We seem to get less of the fitness-oriented students into our classes than other schools. Not much Lululemon or fluoro tops in our classes!

Tim Oddie, Geelog City YogaTim Oddie, Geelong City Yoga

How do you market your business?

We try to encourage ‘word of mouth’ referrals, and we hold regular events at the school, such as concerts, International Yoga Day celebrations to boost our profile.

We put flyers in some local businesses, and we always keep brochures outside the front door as we located in an area of high level of foot traffic.

We also write directly to surrounding corporations, and place editorial content in local media whenever possible but stopped paying for print ads some years ago. Increasingly we invest time and money into social media, predominately Facebook.

How do you feel Iyengar Yoga sits in the wider yoga community?

I sense that we are sort of begrudgingly respected but considered to be somewhat elitist, insular and not a lot of fun!

There are now quite a few new yoga schools around me and they nearly all seem to share a growing number of casual, mostly younger teachers who seem to do ‘cool’ somewhat better (than me at least!). Plus they are all offering teacher training programs.

What I can say is that very few people who come through my door for the first time have much knowledge about Iyengar Yoga, if they have even heard the term before.

They come in cold, or they have heard that Geelong City Yoga is the place to go if they have some physical issue or are a bit older. About 15 percent come looking for Iyengar Yoga, and even then, it is nearly always because they have practiced the method somewhere else.

What is your one (or most important) piece of advice for someone wanting to start a yoga school?

If you are starting a school, be clear that it will take over, or more accurately become your life. You will scarcely ever be able to go away for any length of time, and you will probably not make very much money, so you really need to love teaching! And like any other business, keep your overheads as low as possible!

Anything you would do differently if you started from scratch tomorrow.

It seemed much simpler when I started, or maybe I just had the energy and blind optimism of a younger man!

There were far fewer people doing yoga, but there was also much less competition. I started Iyengar Yoga in 1991 and did my teacher training in 94/95. Iyengar Yoga was the new, cool yoga; the yoga younger people were doing as opposed to the Hatha style that mums were doing in the dusty local hall. When I started the school in 2004, I didn’t doubt that it could work. There were no other permanent yoga schools in Geelong, and the Iyengar style was a strong currency. There were no social media platforms to negotiate, and the fitness and fashion industries had not overrun yoga. It had not yet been so commoditized.

If I were starting out tomorrow, I would want a reasonable amount of money behind me. I also firmly believe it requires a team effort of complementary skills. Finally, I would ensure that the school had a clear path to teacher training. I would not undertake to open a school unless either a partner in the business or I could offer teacher training or I had an understanding with a senior teacher to be able to provide training at the school.

What did you do before you became a yoga teacher/started a school?

Before starting the school, I worked a lot in community theatre and in organizing social and environmental projects.

Tim Oddie, Geelong City Yoga

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