When I was a skinny kid I, like many other youths, used
to love doing cartwheels and handstand all over the house and out in the back
yard. I found doing them gave me a feeling of exhilaration. Fast forward some
40 years and I now weigh in at 97 kilograms. I gave up smoking seven years ago
and took up yoga three years ago under the guidance of Maria Steiner (Prema) at
Hatha Yoga Ipswich.
One of the first things Maria told me was not to compare
myself to others as I struggled to do the Asanas and found meditation difficult
to say the least. Maria delights in helping people achieve their goals and is
hearty in her approbation. She was excited when I managed to do the full wheel
pose, which I hadn’t done since attending the Y.M.C.A. where it was called a
bridge. It dawned on me that I could improve with effort and that many new
poses were attainable. I do yoga to help me become physically, emotionally and
I was given positive reinforcement for each new Asana I
did. Maria is always looking to promote students to do their best and take on
new challenges. She uses humour to keep the class cheerful and optimistic
whilst remaining on the task at hand. I am slowly learning to meditate to
create a calm and resilient disposition. I have also found that my blood
pressure, since commencing yoga, has come down from high to high/normal. My
G.P. is impressed.
One day, a few weeks ago, Maria suggested that I try a
handstand against the wall. I think I am too old and too heavy was my response.
Maria advised me that age and weight are simply numbers and that if I had done
a handstand in the past perhaps, like the wheel, I could do it again. So I
tried. I placed my hands about 15 cm from the wall and positioned my feet as if
ready to run. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Kick up two three, fall
back two three. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Fail.
I then turned my back to the wall and slowly inched up
with my feet until my weight was almost fully on my arms and hands. I could
only step half way up the wall. Before I go on, let’s look at the health
benefits of doing a handstand. According to Google; “ As with all inversions, you get a sense of immediate clarity in your
mind when you bring yourself upside down, delivering fresh, oxygenated blood to
the brain and alleviating stress, anxiety and depression.”
These results were definitely worth striving for, especially as I am inclined to anxiety and depression. So I persisted. A week passed and at the next class I tried again, first with my back to the wall and then facing. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Kick up two three, fall back two three. Kick up two three and then, by gosh, my feet found the wall. I pointed my toes and straightened my posture. I was still heavy, but I was upside down and feeling fine. My body had remembered all those handstands of my youth.
I will mention here that it is important to warm up and
stretch before attempting a handstand, especially by doing the dolphin. As with
a headstand one should follow the Asana with child’s pose to avoid dizziness.
Maria said, good work John and my satisfaction was
immense. That is how I got my handstand back. Now I practice the handstand
twice at classes each week and nearly every day at home. It is a joy to be
coordinated, flexible, stable and strong. Now I have a new Asana in my
Our bodies were designed to move and exercise and yes, go
upside down. Good health makes one feel youthful and more able to cope with
stress and various life challenges. Everyone seeks praise and positive
reinforcement. Doing yoga with a competent instructor like Maria is a good way
to inoculate oneself against these stresses and strains.
Our bodies strive to be healthy and yoga, including
meditation is a good way to ward off and avoid toxic, unhealthy habits. With
every handstand I do I feel stronger and more balanced. I have also regained
that feeling of exhilaration I felt as a skinny kid. It is a wonderful way to
be in the moment and focus the mind.
I hope my story inspires you to do something healthy,
that you haven’t done for years. Or even, if you have not already, take up yoga
Namaste. John Carmichael 27/8/2019.
Following are Photos taken in the Yoga Class on Tuesday 27/8/19. John Carmichael in Handstand and Wheel.
Handwritten Testimonial Essay by John Carmichael:
Thank You very much John for your heartfelt feedback, and allowing me to share your story. May it inspire many others on their life- and yoga path. Namaste, Maria Prema .
In the Yoga tradition, that I practice and teach, we chant/sing/recite many Sanskrit Mantras. These Mantras all have different meanings: Mantra for protection, Mantra for safe travelling, opening and closing Mantra for the Yoga class…..
Every Day of the week is dedicated to a different Deity. In my own practice I observe these days with specific Mantras for the Deity of the Day.
Friday is Devi day, honoring the Divine Mother.
Please click on the link below to listen to a short recording, I’ve done this morning. This sound file is unedited….. I simply recorded myself as I play the harmonium and chant the Mantra.
Only a few more weeks until our Yoga & Meditation Retreat in Coolum Beach, on the Sunshine Coast, at the Luther Heights Youth Camp.
We still have spaces available in our small, focused group. If you feel inspired and called to immerse yourself into a weekend of traditional Hatha Yoga and Meditation, don’t hesitate to contact me for detailed information and to book.
phone or text: 0423 477 725
Yoga & Meditation Weekend Retreat Friday 16th – Sunday 18th of August 2019 at Luther Heights Youth Camp, in Coolum Beach, on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Experience, learn & practice traditional Hatha – Yoga, Meditation, Rituals and Kirtan (Mantra chanting).
Simple, basic, clean accommodation and amenities.
Delicious, vegetarian meals, that might inspire to try new recipes at home.
Spectacular ocean views, observing the sunrise.
Walks along the beach, or buswalk at Mount Coolum. If we are lucky we spot some migrating whales in the distance.
Release – Relax – Recharge.
Letting go of the Winter blues, to be ready for Spring.
The topic of the weekend retreat is based on the five points of Yoga, as taught by Swami Vishnu-Devananda:
1) Proper Exercise (Asana) Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life.
2) Proper Breathing (Pranayama) Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmical. This increases vitality and mental clarity.
3)Proper Relaxation (Savasana) By relaxing deeply all the muscles the Yogi can thoroughly rejuvenate his/her nervous system and attain a deep sense of inner peace.
4)Proper Diet (Vegetarian) A lacto-vegetarian diet. This is an integral part of the Yogic lifestyle.
5) Positive Thinking and Meditation(Dhyana) Here is the most important point of all, we become what we think. A positive outlook on life can be developed by learning and practicing the teachings of the philosophy of Vedanta. The mind will be brought under perfect control by regular practice of meditation.
During the weekend we practice these five points of yoga.
The retreat is suitable for beginners to learn about the basics of yoga and for more advanced yoga students to deepen their practice.
The cost for the weekend is $420.- Included in this price are the complete yoga program, accommodation (Please bring your own linen) and vegetarian meals. A non-refundable deposit of $120 .- is required to reserve your space. The final payment is due one week before the Retreat.
I’m teaching a meditation course starting Monday the 13th of May 2019, from 5pm – 6pm for 6 consecutive weeks.
The cost for the whole 6 sessions upfront is $80.-, if you prefer you can pay and attend each session individually $15.-
The course is based to learn step-by-step the Japa Meditation practice (repeating a Mantra as a focal point). But each week, has also it’s own, individual lesson. So in case you can’t commit to 6 weeks ahead of time, you are most welcome to join for a couple of lessons.
This meditation class is taken at our home in Silkstone, and you need to book and confirm please.
What to expect from this meditation course:
Besides and as preparation for the Meditation, we’ll do light stretches, breathing techniques, concentration exercises and learn about the purpose of meditation.
It has been a while, since I offered a course like this. If you are interested, make some time to attend all six weeks or a few lessons.
Since a couple weeks I have new brochures available. Pick up your copy, next time you are in class. Plenty of extra ones for your friends, family and anyone you think would be interested in Yoga classes & Meditation to share with.
So far this year, about once a week someone or two came back to a yoga class, who hasn’t been in class for a while/years. It’s interesting; often when people miss for a long period, they are almost embarrassed to come back to a yoga class. There is no need to be embarrassed to return to the yoga class after a long absence. As I hear this excuse a lot, if you wan’t to come back to class come back, no questions asked.
The next excuse I hear from people not coming to a yoga class is: “I’m not flexible”. Well that’s the purpose of yoga to become flexible and allow movement to your own ability. Improve and moving to your own level.
We will return to the same venue as last year, Luther Heights Youth Camp in Coolum Beach. The accommodation is very simple, bunk beds, dorm style. But since we occupy only a third or quarter of the beds available, we can spread out nicely. There are separated niches to share with your friends & family. You need to bring your own linen.
Toilets, showers are basic & clean.
The vegetarian meals are delicious, and a good variety.
Even good coffee (a luxury, not following traditional yoga ashram rules).
So rather than a luxury yoga Retreat, this is more a traditional Yoga & Meditation Camp, as they used to be, when Yoga first arrived in the West. Or more like a Yoga Ashram in India, where the focus is on the practice of yoga, rather than a luxury bed & spa. (which is very nice, but has it’s price).
This allows me, to keep the price below $450
The cost the for whole weekend is $420 (including the yoga program, accommodation and meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner).
We are surrounded by beautiful, peaceful nature, trees and grounds. Views over the ocean and towards Mount Coolum.
Spectacular sunrise, to start the day with Sun Salutations and Meditation.
Short walk to the beach and Point Arkwright lookout.
A good location and opportunity to immerse into the practice of Yoga. Dust of the winter blues, getting ready for Spring.
My friend Amrita Kamala will mostly likely join us again, to play the harmonium.
As a new activity this year, we might have a camp fire on Saturday evening. The Camp has the facility for this, but of course this will be weather permitting only. If no fire restrictions.
For the Retreat Weekend to go ahead, I need a minimum of 15 -18 bookings.
Please let me know by 31 March 2019, if you are seriously interested to attend the Yoga & Meditation weekend.
As by then I can cancel the venue without any extra charges, and of course I would refund your deposit as well. Fingers crossed, that will not be the case.
Please contact me for any questions and bookings. I can also send you a detailed pdf file by email , or you find all the important details by following this link: