Episode 57

59 mins

Michael de Manincor - Yoga Australia, Yoga and Mental Health

August 25, 2019

This is the first of our episodes in collaboration with Yoga Australia, featuring many of Yoga Australia's past presidents.

Michael de Manicor is one of the most highly respected and experienced yoga teachers in Australia, with an extensive background in different approaches and styles of yoga and meditation, and over 30 years of teaching experience.

Michael holds a PhD in Health Science, in the area of Yoga and Mental Health in addition to his degrees in education and psychology. He is the Founder, Director and senior lecturer at The Yoga Institute in Sydney and is also the Founder and Director of The Yoga Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that provides yoga-based programs for people who experience disadvantage or hardship.

In this episode, we discuss Michael's involvement in Yoga Australia up to and including his tenure as President of the organisation. He shares with us his thoughts on the importance of having a peak body to represent yoga teachers in this country, as well as his dedication to raising training standards.

We were eager to discuss Michael's research on yoga and mental health - the topic of his PhD and the importance of a personal practice.

The Yoga Institute: www.yogainstitute.com.au
The Yoga Foundation: www.theyogafoundation.org.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YogaInstituteSydney/
Yoga for Mental Health training for yoga teachers (co-presented with Janet Lowndes): https://yogainstitute.com.au/mental-health-syd/
Yoga Retreat in Italy: https://yogainstitute.com.au/savour-italy/
Heart of Yoga retreat weekend outside of Sydney: https://yogainstitute.com.au/heartofyoga_retreat-yanada/

Amy Bell's Guiding Inner Journey's workshop: https://www.gardenofyoga.com.au/workshops/guiding-inner-journeys/
Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/flowartistspodcast


Click on a timecode to play from that time in the recording.

2:30 Guiding Inner Journeys workshop with Amy Bell
3:36 Michael talks about his professional background
6:30 What inspired Michael after his first yoga practice to bring his two fields of yoga and psychology together?
10:08 The benefits that yoga offers young people in particular
12:25 Michael’s experience teaching yoga to girls in high school
13:29 How did Michael become involved in Yoga Australia?
15:31 Why did Michael take on the role of President?
18:28 Did they encounter any resistance?
21:10 Mid break - support us on Patreon!
22:42 What are the benefits of joining an association such as Yoga Australia or Yoga Alliance?
24:41 What are some things going on behind the scenes that benefit yoga teachers and that they might find surprising?
27:26 What were Michael’s biggest challenges as president?
30:50 What were Michael’s biggest wins as president?
33:36 Why did Michael do his PhD?
43:50 How do you quantify someone’s wellbeing in your research?
46:20 The benefits of a personal practice.
53:07 Where does Michael see Yoga Australia in 10-20 years?
56:15 Michael’s one core lesson


Please email us to report any transcription errors

Rane Bowen: Hello, my name is Rane and this is the Flow Artists Podcast. Every episode we interview inspiring movers, thinkers and teachers about how they find their flow, and much, much more. I hope you’re going well and that you didn’t miss us too much while we were away on a short break. I had a great time over the past couple of weekends. Around a fortnight ago, Jo and I attended Amy Wheeler’s ‘Assessing the Human System’ workshop and it was so inspiring. She’s developed a very simple and holistic way of assessing an individual’s wellbeing, and that individual could be yourself. This incorporates Ayurvedic principals such as the koshas and the gunas, but in a way that just really makes sense to me, it feels really good. My understanding is that Amy has a book in the works, and that there will also be an App that uses this system and I can’t wait to see them both.

Now last weekend, Jo and I were also extremely lucky – we’ve been very lucky lately – to attend a retreat hosted by Leigh Blashki, Gina Macauley and Janet Lowndes and it was also very very amazing – so many superlatives! It was a very relaxing weekend, staying at Continental House up in Hepburn Springs. Leigh guided us through some meditation, some iRest yoga nidra sessions and we also recorded a couple of episodes for the Podcast, so look out for them, they’re both really good.

Now we have a very special episode this week, as it’s the first of the episodes that we are releasing in collaboration with Yoga Australia. This week we’re speaking with former President of Yoga Australia, Michael de Manincor. Michael de Manincor is a highly respected yoga teacher in Australia, having trained personally under the guidance of TKV Desikachar. He’s also a registered psychologist and holds a Ph.D in Health Science in the area of yoga and mental health. He’s a Founder and Director of the Yoga Institute in Sydney and also Founder and Director of the Yoga Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that provides yoga-based programs for people who experience disadvantage or hardship. We have a great conversation with him about some of the history of Yoga Australia, his involvement in the organisation as well as his work on the relationship between yoga and mental health. So there’s some great stuff in this conversation!

But before we get to the conversation with Michael, I just wanted to talk about an upcoming event at our studio, Garden of Yoga. Amy Bell will be leading her ‘Guiding Inner Journeys’ workshop on Saturday the 12th and Sunday the 13th of October 2019. In this two-day workshop, you’ll learn how to use NLP to connect deeply with groups and individuals from all walks of life, how to communicate more effectively, and how to artfully guide yourself and others into deeper states of relaxation and bliss. We had a great conversation with Amy a few weeks ago, so have a listen to that episode to learn more about what she has to offer. Jo and I will be there at the workshop as well, so come along and we will all learn together. I’ll leave a link in the show notes on podcasts.flowarts.com but just so you know, the early bird price of $395 ends on September the 1st, so get in quick.

Alright, that is way too much talking from me, let’s get on to our conversation with Michael de Manincor.

Rane Bowen: So great to get the chance to speak with you today, Michael. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now, so I was just wondering if you could start by briefly telling us about your background?

Michael de Manincor: More than happy to and ah lovely to be with you both. My background, I guess my professional background, I trained originally as a psychologist back in the early eighties and then, you know most of my early career work was in the area of youth work, youth counselling, primarily working with marginalised youth at risk – that was in Sydney in the western suburbs of Sydney mostly. And then after about I guess ten years of that I then moved to Western Australia, to Perth to do my Masters degree in counselling psych at Curtin Uni. And while I was there I worked for my next phase of working life for about eight years as a school psychologist. So a lot of my early career work was very much involved in youth, mental health, school psychology – all of that area. And then I moved back to Sydney in the late nineties, just before the millennium and the ah Sydney Olympics, and from then onwards I’ve been self employed pretty much ever since and I’ve worked in private practice as a psychologist. I studied to become a yoga teacher while I was living in Perth, so I came back and then set up a yoga studio. We’ve been going now for nearly twenty years.

Jo Stewart: Oh fantastic!

Michael de Manincor: Yeah, and, we, you know, a small business in Australia <laughter> small business surviving twenty years is not bad, let along a yoga studio! And now we have kinda transformed that work from being a studio in Surry Hills to now being a training centre, as a Yoga Institute as many people would know, and then I also founded an organisation called the Yoga Foundation, which you know, some of the listeners might know about. It’s a not-for-profit organisation, a charity that we started to provide yoga with a particular focus on mental health, but yoga in general for different groups of disadvantaged people, people who experience hardship, people who just wouldn’t have access to yoga in, you know, in the local yoga studios or fitness centres or whatever. So that’s been going ten years now as well. And then more recently, as you would both know, I completed a Ph.D and I’m now working at place called NICM, which is the National Institute of Complementary Medicine It’s a health research institute part of Western Sydney University, and my role there is now working as a postdoctoral researcher in the area of mind-body-lifestyle integrative medicine with a particular focus on yoga and yoga therapy. So all of that time has always included, you know this parallel paths of psychology and mental health and counselling and also yoga, yoga teaching and yoga therapy and now I’ve kinda brought it all together in the area of academic research as well. So that’s my, the summary of my professional background at least.
Jo Stewart: Oh fantastic. And there’s so many avenues I want to explore deeper into, but I’d actually like to go back to the beginning and your very first experience of yoga, and having come to it already with a background in study and in psychology, what you experienced in that first practice that inspired you to really continue in these two parallel fields?

Michael de Manincor: Every time I get asked that question…

Jo Stewart: Oh I’m not first! <laughter>

Michael de Manincor: No not the first… but I have such a, such a vivid memory of my first ever yoga class, and you know, the way I often describe it was just that feeling of coming home to myself, and that was absolutely from the very beginning, it was, it was like a duck to water and, not that I, you know felt I was particularly competent, but I certainly felt this amazing experience of ‘here I am.’ And it was a really beautiful experience and I’ve continued with that ever since, and that, I guess that’s what kept me practicing at least, apart from teaching is, you know regardless of, you know what I’m able to achieve, the benefits that I gain from practice, it’s always been this journey of constantly coming home to myself and that’s what keeps me going personally in yoga practice. But what then drew me to pursue becoming a yoga teacher and combining that into the field of mental health was two things primarily.

One was, you know, as you say I was studying psychology and part of my Honours thesis, when I wrote my Honours thesis in Psychology, I was really interested in the mind-body connection, so I actually wrote my Honours thesis in the, what was in those days, called the mind-brain identity thesis, and now we kinda describe that more, I guess more loosely, just about this whole mind-body, mind-brain connection. So, from a psychology point of view, it always interested me. From a personal point of view, was gaining the benefits of stress management, you know through my studies and kinda throughout my twenties, and also a growing sense of how incredibly beneficial the practice and teachings of yoga are to what we might describe as this overlap in what we were trying to do in psychology, because in psychology, and no disrespect to my colleagues and you know, fellow psychologists in the field, is that I felt that, certainly back in those days, psychology was way too much of a, you know, it was way too much in the head, and it seemed to me what was missing was this real sense of the body turning up in the whole picture, the whole experience of the person. So the practice and teachings of yoga really gave me a sense that we need to bring the whole person into what we’re doing, especially in the field of psychology and psychotherapy.

And then, I guess the final thread of that really, the thrust of that was that I started to study more of the yoga psychology and the yoga philosophy and the ancient teachings, particularly the yoga sutras, and started to realise more and more that yoga was not just a practice where one gains mental health benefits, it was actually a whole system of psychology in and of itself. So that for me is really what kept the trajectory going along the path of bringing these two fields together: Seeing the overlap and ah and kind of really wanting to work with that and develop that.

Jo Stewart: I could imagine as well, you mentioned that you’ve worked, you’ve done a lot of youth work, and just growing from a child into an adult, it’s such a tumultuous time for anyone with all of those physical changes and all of the hormones and, especially if there’s overlaid layers of other, kind of traumatic life events going on…

Michael de Manincor: Yeah.

Jo Stewart: … working with the body as well as the mind, and with like, that practice of accepting your body would just be so powerful.

Michael de Manincor: Yeah, indeed and I think it’s fair to say we all understand the benefits of exercise and perhaps we all, you know have a growing awareness of the benefits of things like meditation, but what yoga I think offers us, especially at that young age, is just that ability to be able to integrate. Integrate the whole experience. But what I think is really interesting, ‘cause I’ve been teaching teenagers yoga for a long time when I, when I was living and working in Western Australia, as I say I was doing my Masters degree in psych, I was working as a school psychologist, I was studying and training to become a yoga teacher and then eventually started teaching yoga to teenagers in schools. And what is interesting is that there’s, from way back then and even still today, you know twenty, thirty years later, is still this sense of teenagers not really knowing what yoga is all about, and there is growing awareness in the general community, but I think that there’s a lot of teenagers, both girls and boys, who really just don’t kind of get what it’s all about and, you know there might be some in, perhaps in more the private schools where yoga classes are being offered, but as a general observation in the broader community, I think it’s something incredibly beneficial that could be being offered that integrates not just the benefits of exercise and maybe some mindfulness or meditation practices, but a really integrated whole person experience which you know, if we can maybe sell it differently, maybe <laughs> I don’t know what we need to do but yeah I agree it would be incredibly valuable.

Jo Stewart: I’ve been lucky living here in Melbourne where I’ve actually been invited to teach at some schools that really do get it and get the benefits. Like I’ve taught quite a few classes at Uni High and there’s another facet to it as well, which I think is awesome: they’ve bought yoga in as a PE option…

Michael de Manincor: Yeah.

Jo Stewart: …so I’ll like see the same group for a few weeks in a row, and I remember when I was at high school like I just wasn’t into PE, I wasn’t into competitive sports so I didn’t really have any options for moving my body in a calm way, so lovely to kind of come in from that physical angle but then also to be able to introduce all of the mindfulness qualities and the relaxation benefits as well as and…

Michael de Manincor: Yeah.

Jo Stewart: …it’s really interesting to see how kids respond. There’ll always be a couple who are like pretty boisterous and then there’ll be at least one like really sweet, really quiet kid who’ll come up at the end and ask a question about anxiety or about sleep and it just is such a powerful time in your life to be able to access the benefits of these practices.

Michael de Manincor: Yeah that was, that was very similar to my early experience of teaching in schools as well, it was kind of like an elective line in PE, in phys. ed or even as a sport option. And generally the, the kids that I got coming along were the kids who weren’t interested in any form of physical activity. So even getting them to do some asana was a bit of a challenge, you know they just kinda wanted to chill out.

Jo Stewart: Were there lots of lying on the ground poses <laughter>

Michael de Manincor: Yeah there was and you know, I was working in one particular private girls’ school you know, there’s lots of giggling too, yeah <laughter>. And, but what’s interesting now is yoga programs, I’m aware of one school here in Sydney and I’m sure there are many many, it’s just the you know, the school my daughter attends, she’s in year 12 at the moment, and just the stress year 12 students go through in that final year of schooling, to bring yoga in to support them as a stress management tool, not necessarily as a sport or a physical activity for the kids who don’t want to do sport, so that’s also a really good thing to be seeing happening in schools now as well.

Jo Stewart: Yeah when you’re facing those ‘what do I want to do for the rest of my life’ decisions.

Michael de Manincor: Yeah, yeah – big questions.

Rane Bowen: I guess this might be bit of a change of topic, but how did you become involved in Yoga Australia?

Michael de Manincor: Look, that’s pretty simple actually – I was headhunted. <laughter> Yoga Australia has always been looking for volunteers to come onto the leadership team and you know, come on to the management team and I, I struggle to remember exactly the dates so don’t hold me to this, I did check it before we went to record, I’m pretty sure I was invited to or nominated to be the Vice President in about 2008 and 2009, so the President of Yoga Australia at the time, Steven Penman, was looking, part of a succession plan, you know as anyone in a position of leadership ought to be doing, so Steven was great at that, and my name came up in the discussions and so Steven personally approached me and asked me would I accept a nomination to become the Vice President and with a view, the Vice President is also very much a role that often, not always, there’s no requirement for this, but often then leads on to taking a leadership role as the President. So I did that and then I was the, so the Vice President for two years and then went on to become the President for the following three years, 2010-2012. And my involvement with Yoga Australia prior to that was fairly minimal, I was a member, you know I was registered, I kind of appreciated what the work was being done. But that was also on the end of my first involvement and registration with Yoga Australia just as a member, was you know still starting out really as a yoga teacher, well that’s not altogether correct, I’d been teaching for nearly ten years but I really, you know that was back in the day where we really didn’t understand much about professional standards. My main profession was psychology and yoga teaching was, you know kinda something else that I was doing, and that’s changed a lot in the last twenty, thirty years to kinda the recognition of yoga as a teaching profession. So that’s how I got involved.

Jo Stewart: Is that something that was a little bit part of your mission when you did become involved? Like I know psychology is pretty, strict’s the wrong word, but very clear about ethics and boundaries and professional roles and scope of practice, is that something that you kind of wanted to bring more into the yoga space?

Michael de Manincor: Definitely that’s been part of it but I think probably more of the foundation, more of the focus as to why I actually took that role on, and I, you know I presume most people understand that was a voluntary position, so it’s a lot of work as a volunteer, as many of the current management conditions, many people have been doing for many years, the reason I took that on was because I felt such a passion for two main things.

The first one was: not only did I experience my own personal benefit and wanted to see that being shared with others, I had a growing concern about not only the professional standards that you’re referring to in terms of ethics and code of conduct and professional boundaries, but actually the standards of training. You know, I’d been practicing and trained for quite a few years and was teaching for quite a few years, and started to realise that basically anyone could call themselves a yoga teacher. And I felt strongly that we could do better than that, as a teaching profession, as an emerging profession I started to feel more and more that we needed to establish some basic training standards in order to help this emerging profession that was bringing so much benefit to so many peoples’ lives, that we needed to take our training standards a little bit more seriously. So that and then in conjuncture with the other things like, as you say the code of conduct and professional, and the um professional boundaries, but really to me a lot of the foundation of that was the quality and the standard of training that people were getting in order to then go out and share that with others.

So that was one reason, and the other reason was perhaps a little bit selfish and that was, maybe the flipside of the same coin actually – it’s not altogether different - and that was in fact to protect my own livelihood because now I was moving more and more into earning an income as a yoga teacher, and not only was I concerned about the general lack of standards that was starting to appear all over the place, you know anyone basically could be a yoga teacher and offer a teacher training course, that was not only what I saw as a concern to the way the yoga teaching profession was emerging, it was also a threat to my livelihood, because I was running a business that had a very low entry standard and that was becoming more and more a problem, and so, you know I have to be really honest and admit that there was, to some extent a bit of a protectionist motivation in there for me. But I’m not too concerned about disclosing that because I think as a result, everyone gains benefit. So if we raise the bar, raise the standards and the, you know the professional standards for everyone then my aim for that would be that everyone would benefit, including students and the general community.

Jo Stewart: Did you encounter any resistance from teachers who felt like they already delivered a really great training and really put their hearts and their minds into it but didn’t really want to be tied down to requirements and systems and having to sign in with a head office type situation?

Michael de Manincor: Absolutely and that continues today, and I’d say there’s actually two aspects to that. One is a direct resistance that you’re referring to. You know a lot of yoga teachers are passionate, free spirited, you know very independent people who kinda like to do their own thing, and so there was actually, you know a fair amount of resistance, often criticism that Yoga Australia was trying to control things. Yoga Australia doesn’t try and control anything, it’s just trying to maintain standards. Because what’s really interesting there too is that Yoga Australia is not an organisation made up of administrators and bureaucrats, Yoga Australia has always been an association made up of yoga teachers. So these are yoga teachers who were also equally, if not more, passionate about standards but wanting to do it in a way that tried to incorporate the views of many people, rather than just a few people trying to tell others what to do. It’s a very open and inclusive organisation and methodology to establish those standards. However, having said that, there were still people who didn’t see it that way and certainly resistance.

But the other side to it is there was also just a general apathy. A lot of people just couldn’t care less. When I say a lot of people I mean a lot of yoga teachers. The standards were set too high, in their view, in my view definitely not. But an opportunity emerged where Yoga Alliance in the United States, you probably know all of this, the Yoga Alliance in the United States, they around the same time set their standards as you only needed about 200 hours to become ah recognised as a yoga teacher and become a member of their association in America. So many many yoga teachers in Australia and yoga schools said well, the standards that Yoga Australia have established are a higher standard, what we can do is we can offer a lower standard and just get it registered in America. And you know, I’m not popular for having this view, I’ve been very outspoken about it so this is not, ah you know it’s not the latest news, I’ve been outspoken about this issue as others in Yoga Australia have been, to stand up and be counted for having a higher professional standard. So there was both, in the early days and I think it even continues today, there was a certain degree of apathy about, you know we don’t really care what Yoga Australia says because it’s a voluntary organisation, there was active resistance, but then there was this also, this um what I would describe as almost opportunistic approach to ignore the standards that were being established by senior teachers in Australia and say, well we’ll just get it registered in America. And that has been, you know a problem, a difficulty for a very long time, and it remains an issue today.

Rane Bowen: Hello, just popping in for a quick break and to let you know about our Patreon page. Every episode we make does take time and effort to produce so we would just love it if you could help to support the podcast from as little as $1 a month. Supporters get extra special content via our Patreon page and we also use the funds to have our episodes transcribed. We also give our supporters shout outs on the podcast and speaking of which, a big thank you to our newest supporter Konchana Rao, I hope I got that right because I’m about to say it a couple more times <laughs>. We got to meet her and a few other Podcast listeners at Amy Wheeler’s workshop that I spoke about in the introduction so yes, big hugs all around. Great to meet people who love our podcasts, it’s it’s really humbling.

If you want to join Konchana in becoming a supporter, just visit patreon.com/flowartistspodcast. I’ll leave a link in the episode show notes or visit our website flowartists.podcast.com

Alright, let’s get back to our conversation with Michael de Manincor.

Jo Stewart: While we’re talking controversy, another thing that I see coming up online quite a bit is teachers, individual teachers who are like, well why join any association, like what’s the benefit, it costs money and I have to do paperwork every year, so what’s your perspective on what is in it for the individual teacher?

Michael de Manincor: Yeah look that’s a tricky one and pardon me if this is a little bit clichéd, you know I think there’s a lot of power in working together. So Yoga Australia is simply an organisation that brings yoga teachers together to work together rather than being any kind of a regulatory or kind of ‘big brother’ kind of approach or ‘big sister’ kind of an approach. It’s an opportunity, it’s a professional association for yoga teachers to come together and work together for the benefit of all. Now if people wanna work outside of that and just do their own thing, of course they’re perfectly entitled to, but my own view and my own experience and my belief about this is that the whole profession as well as the benefit that yoga teachers can and will continue to bring to our community and to our world will be so much more effective if we can come together and work together, than it will be if we’re all just doing our own thing. That’s one aspect of it.

The other aspect of it, and again this is where the cliché perhaps comes in, is that we often ask ourselves what can Yoga Australia do for me? What do I get for my fees? And it’s a fair question, a lot of yoga teachers don’t earn a lot of money and so, you know to be paying a registration fee or a membership fee each year, you know it needs to be considered of course. However, the question then becomes well, what can I do as my contribution to work together with this association who largely is made up of of volunteers giving an enormous amount of time and expertise to support them. So there’s a lot of work that Yoga Australia has done for a long long time, for thirty years or more to support yoga teachers. Now a lot of that is indirect benefit that we will never never see, it’s just part of the continuance and the emergence of the yoga teaching profession and if yoga teachers just want to do their own thing then, you know we don’t, we don’t have that level of the emerging profession. There’s a lot more to be said about that which I think we might get to in a moment but you know, I’ll just leave it at there for now.

Jo Stewart: What are some of the things that are going on behind the scenes that you think regular yoga teachers just wouldn’t have considered that do benefit all of us?

Michael de Manincor: So one very practical example: Most yoga teachers, a lot of people would be very aware of the recent change in legislation with private health insurance rebates. So you know, that just came down as a, as a government policy and individual yoga teachers can basically do nothing about that. Yoga Australia has been actively lobbying with them, working with the government and there’s another review coming up, starting fairly soon, to review that decision. Of course based on scientific evidence and I’ll come back to that in a moment, but Yoga Australia has stepped into that to be actively working with government to try and change that policy decision. Now the reason they’re doing that of course is for the support of yoga teachers. Now it’s not something that yoga teachers will necessarily see the benefit of, maybe not for several years yet, but if Yoga Australia doesn’t step in, and others who are involved at that level, at government policy level, then yoga teachers, we just say goodbye to that forever. That’s just one example, there are lots of other things about, you know the way Yoga Australia works, it’s the, kinda like the go to place for people who, you know, it’s the, what’s referred to as the peak body of the yoga teaching profession, is that Yoga Australia is constantly dealing with issues from a government level, from a health perspective level, about things that affect the work of yoga teachers. Because, one of the reasons I feel so, I think this is so clear to me is that we’ve seen exactly the same thing happen in many other professions and the two that come to mind straight away is the profession of psychology. You know, some years ago anyone could call themselves a counsellor or a therapist, which to some extent you still can today, but, you know the profession of psychology and other allied health professionals are regulated by the government and there’s a much closer look at what are the minimum training requirements in order for someone to provide those services to the community. And then a similar thing has happened in the, in Chinese medicine. So Chinese medicine, it wasn’t that long ago that anyone else could practice Chinese medicine and the government looked at that and also said that this is an industry that is of value and has potential risk to the community so it needs to be regulated. So Yoga Australia works very very closely in what could end up in a field of how yoga fits into the broader healthcare system. And again, individual yoga teachers don’t necessarily get individual benefit from that, it affects everyone. Am I making sense there?

Jo Stewart: Yeah yeah definitely, we were nodding silently sorry <laughter>

Rane Bowen: So this might be another bit of a left turn and we might have actually touched on it already, but I’m wondering what were the biggest challenges you found while you were in the role of President?

Michael de Manincor: The biggest challenge has always been and it remains the challenge today, and that is that it’s an association made of up volunteers that is incredibly under-resourced. It pretty much has one main source of income, a couple of small ones, but a main source of income and that is membership fees. So you know, whilst it has grown and you know it’s established itself, it’s got stability and sustainability as an organisation, it’s incredibly under-resourced and not only is, you know an enormous amount of work by volunteers, even those few people who are employed like Shyamala who’s the CEO, Shaymala is employed on a part-time basis and she works like many people in part-time positions - way more than her allocated number of hours - so whether people are working as volunteers or are actually paid, are often doing and working way beyond what they’re being paid for. So incredibly under-resourced in order to, to achieve the kind of outcomes that you know, that would be great for everyone. So that’s the first thing that’s always been a challenge.

And then for myself personally, well actually I say personally but I know it’s true for many others, and that is when you’re working in an organisation like Yoga Australia as a volunteer, you know we’re very busy people and you know, one of the reasons that we get involved is not because we’ve a lot of spare time on our hands but we believe in the value of it and we bring a certain degree of experience and expertise to the organisation whilst we’re very busy doing many many other things in our lives. So just fitting everything in was a challenge and maybe that’s related to the first issue of being under-resourced.

And a third challenge that I faced was, as you say, and I touched on this earlier, was a lot of people trying to do a lot of work that would be of benefit for yoga teachers in general, real challenge that I faced personally was this, often this sense of lack of support and not being valued by yoga teachers. Now, that’s not true of everyone, there are many yoga teachers who, certainly when I was involved and I’m sure continues today, there are many yoga teachers who do value the work of Yoga Australia enormously. However, if you look at that in terms of the percentages: the number of yoga teachers out there, the number of those yoga teachers who are actually members of Yoga Australia, and that sense of really valuing the work of so many people, you know that’s, that’s hard to work with when you’re kinda working your butt off in, as a volunteer, let alone as an overcommitted employee, when often you’re getting this sense that the work that you’re doing is not really valued. That’s a challenge.

Jo Stewart: Mmm and I guess it goes back to what you were saying, like so much of what you do is invisible.

Michael de Manincor: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I guess that means that, that the challenge has to be met by making it more visible and being able to communicate more effectively with what actually is being done and, you know I know people work really hard at doing that. They’re doing the best they can to be transparent, to be putting the message out there, by putting out newsletters, by putting out the ‘Yoga Today’ journal, which is the magazine for yoga teachers. But we know that a lot of it doesn’t get read by a lot of people. So effort does go into putting the word out there about what is actually happening behind the scenes but people often don’t pick up on the messages.

Jo Stewart: Or the people reading the newsletter are already your supporters …

Michael de Manincor: Exactly! <laughs> that’s a fair comment, yeah for sure, yeah.

Rane Bowen: Conversely, what do you feel were your biggest wins while you were President?

Michael de Manincor: I think that the greatest contribution I guess, the greatest contribution that I feel like I made in my time there was employing Shyamala Benokovic who’s, as you know, is now, is the CEO of the organisation. So I was the President at the time when we recruited to have a General Manager, who’s now the CEO, and Shyamala’s been there ever since. So, you know, Shyamala just does such a great job, she’s such a hard worker and she’s so skilled at what she does with her, her own professional background. So you know, you could call that kinda just being in the right place at the right time or you know, for me as well as Shyamala, but you know, I kinda look back and I think that that was a great achievement for me in my role, was to be able to employ the first General Manager of the association. And then Shyamala has taken that ball and run with it so to speak, and has really done a fantastic job in building the management team, the administration office, all of that infrastructure that is necessary, it hardly existed. It was there in the early days but you know again, largely done by volunteers and very willing people but we took the association to another level of professional standards in terms of the management and administration. So that was a really big deal, and that’s continued ever since, which I’m really really happy to see.

And the other thing that, you know <laughs> people often give me a hard time about this one, and that is that when I was the Pres.. in fact when I was the Vice President and then into the role of President, we established what became the first ever Yoga Australia conference, and that has continued. The reason I kinda laugh at it because I know it’s a struggle and it’s been a struggle because running a conference, professional conference is not easy. It’s hard work, it’s often really challenging to be financially viable, but I certainly was behind the drive of the team at the time that established the first Yoga Australia conference, and that has continued annually pretty much ever since. It’s, you know, a couple of changes now and there, there hasn’t been a conference this year but it’s kind of like reconsidering that strategy, is it the best way to support members? But those conferences over nearly, would that be nearly ten years now, I think have been a great success in one sense of the value that a professional conference brings to the profession yeah? And so they’re two of the things that I think were really, yeah successes as well as the establishment of the standards and placing such an emphasis on the importance of our training and professional standards.

Jo Stewart: Oh it’s some very ah laudable achievements there, and it actually leads me into my next question, which is all about yoga research and your own Ph.D research project. Would you like to give us a bit more insight into that and maybe just let us know how it’s affected the way that you would like to see yoga and Yoga Australia evolve from here?

Michael de Manincor: Let me share with you the reason why I decided to do the Ph.D to begin with.

Jo Stewart: Oh, please do!

Michael de Manincor: I started doing a Ph.D much much earlier. I was living in Perth, and as I’ve mentioned already, I was, you know I’d finished my Masters in Psychology and I was working as a yoga teacher and I also come from a science background – my undergrad degree at Sydney University was not only Psychology but also a maths and physics and, you know, and very much in the hard sciences, so I’m, I’ve always been interested in kind of the scientific foundation and scientific methodology, bit of a geek you could say. So I started, I was living in Perth and I was doing it externally through Armadale University and, you know I had to give it up, it was just in the too hard basket at that time with everything else I had going on. So I just thought I’d put that on hold as a part of my retirement plan maybe, or later in life. And then when we started the Yoga Foundation it was really important to our founding Board of Directors, part of our vision was not only to provide yoga to disadvantaged people, but we knew, we had people on the founding Board who saw the importance that if we’re going to gain grant funding, if we’re going to gain recognition of yoga in the healthcare system, in the disability sector, in the health sector in general, we’re going to need evidence, we’re going to need scientific evidence. So we approached Professor Alan Bensoussan who’s the, who was then and is still the Director of NICM, as I mentioned earlier, the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Western Sydney University, and we just asked for some assistance, to help develop a methodology in the work of the Yoga Foundation so that we could effectively not only evaluate the quality of the services that we were providing but also contribute to the evidence of the effectiveness of what was being done, and Professor Bensoussan said at a meeting, I remember it so well, he said ‘look this’d be great, happy to support but it’s be really good if you could find someone who wants to do a Ph.D.’ <laughter> So brains over here puts his hand up and I had two weeks to get a full proposal and application in, which is exactly what I did. And then I, so I went on and moved and did my Ph.D and, as you mentioned, my Ph.D was, my research is in the area of yoga and mental health, and we ran a fairly large clinical trial, looking at the benefits of a personal yoga practice for people who experience depression or anxiety. And you know, that that went really well, we got really good outcomes, it’s been published in in mainstream journals and then, as a continuation of the completion of that Ph.D I’m now employed in a postdoc research position as I mentioned earlier, and I continue to be involved in quite a number of different research projects.

So, you know one of the reasons I do that, apart from the fact that I really do enjoy doing the research, is that it’s contributing to the body of evidence that perhaps there are some people, particularly policymakers and, you know funding organisations, where the strength of the evidence is really important. It’s partly related to what I was saying earlier about, you know the whole review of the health insurance rebates, but it’s much much broader than just, just that particular issue in health insurance. It’s looking at how can we see yoga teaching, and of course the whole emerging field of yoga therapy, how do we see that fitting into an evidence-based model of Western healthcare? And so the reason I do that and the the effect I think that it’s having – not just myself individually of course – the team that I work with, my colleagues and also many other researchers, a growing number of researchers around the world, is that it provides, I think it provides two things. One is it provides an evidence base for what many of us perhaps already know and have already experienced, but without that evidence base it’s very very difficult to get people to change policy. And so where I hope that this might go would be not only a reversal of, a reconsideration of this decision regarding private health insurance, as I say it’s, to me that’s a fairly small issue in the big picture of what’s happening, but how can we integrate yoga and other mind-body approaches into integrative medicine? You know how can we see it, you know in hospitals, in healthcare, in medical centres as well as in yoga studios and and ah fitness studios or wherever yoga appears. So I think what we’re seeing is a big shift in that regard and Yoga Australia is certainly, continues to be very supportive of that evidence-based approach because it’s important and it affects all of us. So Yoga Australia of course is not an organisation that does research, but has been really supportive of research in general and recognises the importance of it, but also sharing that research with members and the broader community as it becomes available. So I think that will, that will continue.

There’s also a second aspect to this with my own kinda area of particular interest, and that is in the area of mental health. And we can talk about yoga has emerged, how modern yoga has emerged with a primary focus on the physical aspects of yoga, and most of us know that there’s much more to yoga than doing postures and sequences and stretching and all the physical aspects of yoga, which have mental health benefits, but what we’re now starting to understand more and more is that yoga’s not just a physical practice that has mental health benefits; yoga is a whole system of mental health that includes working with the body, the breath, the energy system of prana, working with the mind using techniques of mantras and mindfulness techniques and visualisation, it’s a, it’s a whole system. But what’s still interesting is the emphasis on the physical aspects. So one thing I would like to see change is more of an understanding and more of a focus on yoga as a system that is essentially for the mind, not the body. The more we understand the classic teachings of yoga as well as its practical applications in the modern world, you know for example, a practical example of this, in the training requirements its mandatory to do yoga anatomy. Now of course I’m not saying we should get rid of that, it’s really important, it needs to stay there, but there’s no requirement to do any study of mental health. And yet, people coming to yoga classes and we know this, there’s research data available on this, people not only come to yoga classes but continue practicing yoga over many years because of the mental health benefits. And yet what I’m seeing is that it’s an area of, it’s a gap in what I would describe as our skills in this profession, in terms of our understanding of mental health. At least some foundation in how the muscles work and how structural aspects of functional anatomy and you know how the body moves in and out of different postures and all of that, but we get very very little training or education in the area of how the mind works and areas of concern around mental health. So, as an aside, myself and Janet Lowndes, who’s been on your program before, Janet is a colleague and friend of mine, we’ve been working together for many years running workshops for yoga teachers to kind of fill that gap to some extent. To help yoga teachers develop their understanding of mental health and mental health concerns that many of their students, so this, this is the overlap with yoga therapy, but yoga teachers, people go to yoga classes with concerns around mental health and, in my view, yoga teachers are not necessarily that well-skilled or well-equipped because it has not been part of their training. So we’ve actually got a workshop coming up fairly soon in Sydney in September, it’s a four-day workshop for developing a mental health awareness for yoga teachers. If anyone’s interested to come along we’d love to have you. So that’s one aspect of the Foundation training but it’s also interesting in the registration requirements to become a member of Yoga Australia, you’re required to have a First Aid Certificate and again, I think that should stay, you know, I think all citizens, all responsible adults ought to have currency of First Aid Certificate, you just never know when you’re gonna need it, whether you’re teaching a yoga class it or not. But there’s no requirement for Mental Health First Aid. And again, something that is difficult to, to kind of mandate, if you like, but my observation, having worked in this field for such a long time, is yoga teachers are more likely to have to deal and assist someone who’s having a panic attack than they are having a snake bite.

Jo Stewart: Yeah definitely! <laughs>

Michael de Manincor: So you know, sure we need to know CPR, you just never know when you’re gonna need it, but it’s the frequency of people coming in with concerns around depression and anxiety particularly, let alone other mental health concerns. So my, you know, kinda been advocating on this, again it’s not a popular view ‘cause it just means more work for everyone, and that is I think all yoga teachers would benefit from not only having a First Aid Certificate but also having a Mental Health First Aid Certificate, as well as some foundation of understanding of mental health in basic training and ongoing professional development.

Jo Stewart: And I think a lot of yoga teachers are drawn to this because we are really interested in how the mind works ...

Michael de Manincor: Indeed!

Jo Stewart: … and also are compassionate people who’d like to help people …

Michael de Manincor: Indeed!

Jo Stewart: … so the mental health training really, it’s something I’d love to do more of and I guess if it became something that was, I see the odd mental health first aid course come up, but I guess it’s like one of those: the more people who are interested in it the more training opportunities you’ll have, the more accessible it will be for people. I also wanted to ask you, this is kind of scrolling back a little bit, talking about the physical benefits versus the mental health benefits of yoga, and physical health benefits I imagine would be a little bit easier to quantify, like say if you were measuring flexibility or you know score out of ten on your back pain, that’s something that’s quite easy to turn into evidence that you could put on a graph or put on a chart, what were some of the challenges and some of your strategies for quantifying inner peace and mental health benefits in your research, and were there any challenges involved in how do you document this?

Michael de Manincor: My first answer to that is that it’s actually really easy, because even, even things like people’s experiences of pain, they’re largely self-report, it’s just a subjective reporting mechanism, sure you can do other things looking at physical manifestations of symptoms that could be measured biomedically, however, you know for example in the area of chronic pain, it’s largely self-report and there are a lot of validated measures for symptoms of depression and anxiety and other aspects of mental health. It’s not quite the same as inner peace, but it’s, there are many well-established measures, self-report measures for people giving an indication of improvement of symptoms of depression and anxiety and other aspects of mental health. So from that point of view that’s quite easy, so long as we understand that those are self-report measures.

Jo Stewart: Sorry to interject but do you give people different categories in their life that they would rate out of ten or what were your, what were your measures?

Michael de Manincor: So we used some standard measures of what’s called the DASS, which is the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale. A lot of these are borrowed from the field of psychology, not borrowed from, they’re part of, the school, the ah the science of psychology and you know, very very well established in that field. There are many others, there’s the Beck Depression Inventory, there’s the Hamilton Depression Scale and they’re standard measures that are used in many many, both research and clinical applications in the area of mental health. So that was not the ah, the difficult part, we didn’t have to design questions, because if you design questions then you’ve got to go through a whole process of assessing whether they’re actually validly measuring what you’re seeking to measure, so we used standardised questionnaire instruments that have been well validated within the field of psychology and mental health.

Jo Stewart: So you used the existing framework and just draw from your own research?

Michael de Manincor: Yeah, existing framework in the field of psychology.

Rane Bowen: So to change the topic again, I think that’s my job during the podcast, you’ve spoken a bit about the benefits of developing a personal yoga practice, would you like to talk about that a little bit?

Michael de Manincor: Yeah absolutely. I guess there’s a couple of ways that I’d like to approach this. One is that my own background in yoga comes from the lineage, the teachings of Krishnamacharya and Desikachar ah who’ve, in that particular approach very much emphasises the importance of personal practice, and so that’s the whole lineage that I’ve come from certainly in the last you know twenty years or so. Prior to that I’ve done all sorts of approaches to yoga. And what I see is a couple of things: one is that yoga classes, group yoga classes bring enormous benefit to many many people, and I’ve been practicing and teaching group classes for thirty years or so and I run a business that trains people to teach group classes as well and many people, many yoga teachers talk about the importance of, you know having a personal practice, what also needs to be recognised is that there are many people who, group yoga classes are neither suitable, appropriate or accessible. So, whilst many many people love going to group classes and I don’t question the value or the benefit of that for one second, you know I really believe that they’re fantastic, but there’s also many many people for whom going to yoga classes, it’s either just not their thing or it’s not available to them. And a very simple practical example of that is there are many people who experience ah you know symptoms and issues around anxiety, and going to a group yoga class you know, could for some people be their worst nightmare. So then they don’t have access to yoga. Now admittedly some people will say, well that’s a particular mental health condition that requires particular attention and what we would call yoga therapy, I don’t agree with that but you know, let’s, let’s go on with the ah question.

So first and foremostly I think having the opportunity to develop a personal yoga practice makes it more available to many people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the benefits of yoga. And in one sense it’s very similar to people in, in exercise, you know some people love to do group exercise and maybe even get involved in a team sport, and there are many people who don’t. So we don’t say to those people, if you don’t want to do group exercise don’t do exercise, you know do what works for you. Maybe go for a walk, do some swimming, do your own personal approach to exercise. And yoga’s no different in that regard, but we’ve created an entire industry out of group classes. So I think that if we can look at that as a teaching profession, that’s a really worthwhile thing and you probably know that I gave a keynote address at the Yoga Australia in Melbourne last year on this exact topic. And its an enormous opportunity for yoga teachers as well so long as they’re trained to teach people, to design and teach people a personalised practice, which I would add, and I hope this doesn’t sound in any way critical, most yoga teachers are not trained to do that. Most yoga teachers are trained to teach group classes, so to be able to assess an individual person’s needs and design a suitable practice for them to be able to do for themselves at home, over a period of time, I think would be an enormous contribution to not only, first of all the people who choose or are unable to get to group classes regularly, it’s also an enormous opportunity for yoga teachers here as well in exactly the same way we’ve seen in the fitness industry. In the fitness industry twenty, thirty years ago there was no such thing as a personal trainer, fitness instructors taught fitness classes. And then the fitness industry saw the emerging opportunity to work more one-on-one in a more personalised way, and it developed the emphasis now on, on personal training. And, as yoga teachers to me that’s glaringly obvious apart from the fact that it’s the tradition that I come from anyway.

And people often question whether, a couple of things about a personal practice. Number one is: do you need a yoga teacher in order to develop a yoga practice, a personal yoga practice? And well, you know, it depends, some people, you know maybe they’ve got enough knowledge and experience and are able to tune into what they need personally to do their own personal practice. And you know that’s great if people can do that, but many people would get benefit from having some guidance in what’s going to be most helpful for their needs at that time. And I’m not necessarily talking about people with injuries or illnesses. For all of us, whether we’ve got an injury or an illness that we’re working with or not. Because then what we create is an opportunity to do yoga practice, what I would describe as a self-care practice, based on what yoga offers us, every single day of our lives. We don’t need to go to yoga classes every single day of our lives, but if we can develop a suitable personal practice, perhaps under the guidance of a yoga teacher who has the skills to do that, then we’ve then got something very very powerful available to us every single day. And people often question the cost of seeing a yoga teacher one-on-one and getting a personalised yoga practice and I think we’re looking at it in the wrong way, because if you look about what benefit you get from having a yoga practice every day, the cost of going to classes every day would be far more significant. It’s costs a lot more to go to a yoga class every day, if you’re even able to, then it would if you spent some time - and it doesn’t need to be a lot of time - with a yoga teacher to develop a practice that you could do for yourself every day and maybe just get that reviewed periodically, maybe every, every month or every couple of months. So, you know I think it’s kind of a win-win every single way you look at it, and people often say it’s too expensive, I disagree. I don’t think it’s too expensive, I just think we’re looking at it in the wrong way from the model of the business of running yoga studios and yoga classes.

Jo Stewart: It’s, some of it I think is to do with media but there’s this subtly different mindset as well of like, this is my self practice that I’m doing for me, and maybe if you go to a group class there’ll be this underlying pressure to kind of keep up with the group and…

Michael de Manincor: Yup.

Jo Stewart: … do the class because that’s what the teacher is saying.

Michael de Manincor: Yeah, look I totally agree with that and I think that there are definitely pros and cons and I think the whole idea of going to yoga classes remains incredibly valuable, but the question is: can you do that every day and what would that cost?

Jo Stewart: Yeah.

Michael de Manincor: And then of course you’re doing someone else’s yoga. I think that, so there are, you know there’s enormous value in coming together with likeminded people, you know what we know as, as sangha, it’s very powerful, it’s very beneficial, and there are the motivational aspects and you know there are all of those things, however there’s a big downside to that as well. You’re often trying to keep up in a way that messes with your breath. And many many people talk about this, and you know if you can create the space to move and breathe in a way that supports the natural rhythm of your own breathing rather than what the teacher or the rest of the class is doing, that’s fantastic! But a lot of yoga classes don’t do that. A lot of people say to me, they go to these classes, they get enormous benefit from the motivation, from the energy, from the flow, but they can hardly breathe, they can hardly keep up. Well, that has all sorts of consequences on the benefits of what yoga might be bringing.

Jo Stewart: Mmm definitely.

Rane Bowen: So I guess we’re reaching near the end of our time together, so I was just wondering if I could ask you where you see Yoga Australia in the next ten to twenty years from now?

Michael de Manincor: I’ll try, <laughs> I’ll try and sum that up in the, in the couple of minutes that we’ve got left, but you know I would put that in the context of what’s happening throughout the world and I didn’t, I didn’t mention earlier that I’m involved in a couple of things globally. I’m involved in a project with the World Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation has brought together a group of what is referred to as ‘expert advisors’ in the field to look at benchmarks for training in the field of yoga, especially yoga and healthcare. So, that’s happening and there’s, there’s proposals around for yoga training to be comparable to other health professionals, which would mean perhaps in ten, twenty, thirty years, I don’t know, you know a university degree. And there are all sorts of questions around that so that’s kinda like just dropping that in there at the last minute, ‘cause that’s worthy of further discussion.

But there are, you know I’ve already talked about training standards and the importance of that, but if we’re, if we as yoga teachers see ourselves as, you know some form of a health professional which many of us do, whether we’ve got a dual qualification or not, is, you know that’s the way things are certainly emerging around the world, there’s no question of that. So part of that then becomes a question related to will yoga become a regulated health professional? As I mentioned earlier, many other health professions have. And I’m including here health promotion under the field of health ah, health professionals and healthcare, not just yoga therapy, the whole area. So I think what we will see, you know how we see Yoga Australia’s role in the future will be very much determined by those two things. Will yoga training move from peoples’ private homes and small studios and maybe some larger places like our own at the Yoga Institute where we focus on that, will we see that move into a more professional standard of training in, perhaps as university degrees, university qualifications. And then will we see the movement of the yoga as a healthcare profession, including health promotion, as something that will be then become regulated under the ah Australian Health Practitioners, you know what’s called AHPRA. Look that may or may not happen in the foreseeable future, but if it does then it will have a significant impact on the role of Yoga Australia and the way Yoga Australia works. So in the meantime I kinda think it’s business as usual, ah but as I said earlier, Yoga Australia and the leadership team of Yoga Australia are very much involved in those kinds of discussions and um, and the emerging profession. So it is hard to say because there are these other factors that could have a very very significant effect on, not only the role of Yoga Australia but the work of yoga teachers and the yoga teaching profession in general.

Rane Bowen: If I could just sneak in one more question, and we ask all our, all our guests this, if there’s one core lesson that you would like people to take from all your work, over the course of your career, what would that one core thing be?

Michael de Manincor: I’m sure anyone can guess what I’m about to say <laughter> and that is a much better understanding of yoga and mental health, mental health awareness in general in the work that we do as yoga teachers, you know we’re not stretch coaches, ah you know we’re not kinda new age fitness instructors, we work with the whole person. And the whole person is about really understanding the role of the mind and emotions and the heart in the work that we do, so my one takeaway, my encouragement for all yoga teachers, and look I say this knowing that there are many many yoga teachers who are doing this already and have been doing it for a very long time, and that is to really not just talk about, we often talk about yoga being a more holistic approach and working with the whole person, I think that if we’re going to do more than just talk about that we really need to look at how do we develop our understanding of what that actually means and how do we apply it.

Rane Bowen: Nice, well thank you so so much for talking with us. I’m sure we could probably ask questions for another hour but we’ve got to move on so yeah, thank you so much.

Jo Stewart: And thank you as well for your amazing contribution to the field of yoga as a profession and to our depth of knowledge that we can all learn from and draw from and all of these future possibilities that your work has opened up for all of us as yoga teachers and practitioners.

Michael de Manincor: Wonderful, thank you very much it’s a pleasure, and thank you both for your work in being able to share these conversations ‘cause I think they’re, they’re really important, so thank you as well.

Rane Bowen: And that was the first of our Yoga Australia episodes. Michael is an amazing and inspiring guy and we’ve been wanting to speak with him forever, so it’s been great to finally catch up with him. We have more Yoga Australia episodes coming up. The next one will come out September the 30th and will feature the second President of Yoga Australia, Swami Shantananda and that will be an enlightening episode I’m sure!

Now our next episode is coming out in a week and it’s an interview with Gabrielle Boswell. It’s not officially a Yoga Australia episode but it just happens that Gabrielle sits on the Board for Yoga Australia. She’s an incredible teacher and studio owner and has so much wisdom to share, so look out for that episode next week, I really enjoyed that conversation.

Now before I leave you, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Dani La. We got to meet and hang out with Dani who listens to the podcast, and she asked what happened to the tagline at the start of our episodes, you know the one, ah ‘every episode we interview inspiring movers, thinkers and teachers’. Well I like to try different things out and I thought I’d give it a go without that tagline, so it’s good to get some feedback and find out what people thought. She asked for it back so here it is, it’s back with a vengeance. But if you’ve got any feedback, if you liked the intro, if you don’t like the intro please let us know. You can email us at podcast.flowartists.com or you can, you can reach out and join us on FaceBook on the Podcast Flow Artist Community, that’s our group.

Alright, so as usual, our theme song is Baby Robots by Ghost Soul and is used with permission. Get his music from ghostsoul.bandcamp.com.

We’d just like to honour the pioneers of the wisdom traditions that have been handed down to us over thousands of years from India and Asia and other places in the world. We also wish to honour the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, the custodians of the land where this episode was recorded in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Thank you so much for listening. Arohanui, big big love.

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