Lighten Up | Yoga & Life Coaching Workshop

LIGHTEN UP for Christmas Retreat

Co-hosted by Grace x Strength & She Seeks

20 amazing souls showed up to this God-breathed event. Some for themselves, some to show us support, some for Jesus.  Whatever the motivation behind, we hope that each and every one of our guest walked away with a “lightened up” sprit and renewed heart for the season and new year to come.

Tucked away in the lower north shore suburb of Artarmon, Yoga Pavilion, we felt, was the perfect spot for our mini-retreat.  We divided the group into two sessions and grouped them based on the level of yoga experience that we knew or felt they would prefer. We hoped that each individual walked away with their She Seeks coaching booklet ready to take the world with their 2018 goals and some soulful moments on their mat in their yoga session.

As with all our events, classes and retreats, it is with trust and faith that we believe the day’s events and the people are answered prayers. Prayers from the hosts that:

1.Our hearts are postured humbly to bring Him glory through our passion do what we do.

2. He calls those to show up to show up.

3. He uses our being, our lips, our bodies to be the vessels to bring His message to those who need to hear and to be the heart to those whom He wants to touch.

The event filled our hearts. We are so thankful for the honest feedback, positive and tips for improvement (where there will always be).

Our gratitude goes to our guests who so faithfully stayed with us and practiced “being present”.

We are so pleased to be able to offer 10% of our ticket sales to help Holy Yoga’s Breathe Love Give Campaign, to being trauma-sensitive yoga training to parts of the world that need it. May You All be blessed.

With love and light,

Alyssa, Josephine & Joanne xx

Soul Care Retreat 2017 | Christian Yoga Retreat

9th September 2017 marks a very special milestone for me. It was the first ever retreat hosted by Holy Yoga Australia. It was a Spirit-led, God-breathed success that brought His people together to gather and steep into the goodness of our Heavenly Father. It was a chance for those whom were seeking spirituality to meet Jesus on their yoga mat. It was a dream come true for me.

Who would have known that 3 years ago (back in 2014) when I was yearning for a deeper relationship with Jesus and struggling with how the love of the benefits of yoga could complement my faith journey, that I was capable of leading a spiritual yoga retreat? In the space of 3 years, the Lord has led me into deserted places of loneliness to reflect and grow, and risen me to be the forever young leader in front of crowds like this retreat. And for the opportunities and lessons, I am immeasurably grateful.

The many lessons learned in co-creating and collaborating with the co-hosts of this retreat have been precious. From its inception from a bold and visionary Holy Yoga leader in San Francisco, to the many fears of logistics, turnout, funds, sponsorships…the Lord has proven us unfaithful yet mercifully provided. The number of times, we cried out to the Lord together because the 4 of us couldn’t agree nor connect at the same time. The number of times, our faith withered at the thought of financial challenges. The number of times we put ourselves before the Lord and our fellow co-hosts. How many “number of times” can actually happen within a 2 week planning period??!!!

YET. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to work through all of our challenges and strengthened us.

To detail the challenges that each of us were all going through in our own lives is pitiful. But in the midst of the planning, every bit of our every day lives were real. 3 of us were going through home moves (interstate relocation, even), 1 of us was living on the other side of the world. 2 of us were going through significantly changes in our professional work lives. While all 4 of us had family to look after. Sure, we all have such challenges but I would like to think that it’s not every day that we move residences nor change jobs. As pitiful as it is, it was real and I honour each of us that through the tough season, we were able to stretch ourselves further for God’s work and ministry. This, is the very heart of our ministry. Sacrificial love. If love gave only when easy, that it isn’t sacrificial.

***

So what about the actual day?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” ‭‭~ Ephesians‬ ‭3:20

“Wow, just wow.” This has become my favourite expression.  Because words can not describe what the Lord brought to us.

Holy Spirit was present. The people He brought to the place was providence. We knew that each soul and being that we had been praying for was the fruit of love and faith. We knew that our work was done and it was the moment to hand over to the Lord to speak words over these faithful people who had been led here. We knew that this was a sacred space for these people to meet Jesus on their mats. We knew that this was the time to let the Holy Spirit take over all of us. And all that was done in His name.

It was Christ-centred yoga.
It was Community.
There was grace and there was strength.

We all learned to live beyond ourselves in that space.
The fire and water ceremony and heart circle was divine. I sensed that most of us had something deep to surrender and may we continue to do so. I sensed that there was yearning in the room to reach into this world, and be part of a community where we can serve and have purpose. I believe the heart circle was such a reminder.

I am still in awe of the power of the Lord and the privilege I have had to host this event.

I pray that the hearts He has spoke to will continue to open and soften to His voice. I pray that the next retreat will be equally successful in that He will provide as He did and grow us deeper yet still.

Lord, I love you.  Friends, I love you.

Let us build this Kingdom of love together through the unity of the Spirit.
Last but not least, when I speak of provision, our sponsors are those gracious hearts who didn’t hesitate to serve His Kingdom, our community and bless our retreatees. Deep gratitude to each and every one of you. May you reap what you sow.

SPONSORS:
1. Alyssa Mak – Alyssa Mak, Pilates & Yoga Instructor
2. Christian Women in Business – Sarah Jane-Meeson, Founder
3. Luxe Mane Salon – Lily, Hairstylist & Owner
4. Mums With A Mission – Cath D, Founder
5. Quit the Quick Fix – Kate Thompson, Founder
6. Salt + Glow – Roxy, Founder
7. SheSeeks.com.au – Joanne Tweedie, Founder & LifeCoach

Thank you to the lovely Sugar Apple Studio for allowing us this beautiful space.

Thank you to our wonderful creative video partners from Carbon Lily who poured this soul and energy beyond what we had expected, in His name.

Soul Care Yoga Retreat

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!

Inviting you along to experience how we do community, yoga and living beyond ourselves.

It has been such a blessing for me to be able to find capacity to co-ordinate and co-host this event with my soul sisters. This is a prime example of the power of our sovereign God. His provision is far greater than what you can see with your naked eye. Faith and trust in Him is all He asks and yet we find it so difficult time and time again, but yet so easy to be on bent knees seeking for His help when we need. 

So much I’ve learnt through the process of pulling this retreat together in such a short amount of time. Will you come and join us and experience for yourself, first hand, the grace of our Father in your life?

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!

New Year Announcement | 2017 Classes

DEAREST STUDENTS,

Happy New Year to you all!  May God bless you all with another year of good health, joy and steady growth in your life.
HERE’S A LITTLE UPDATE FROM ME AND ABOUT YOUR YOGA CLASSES

Year 2016 was a year of travelling, growth, spiritual development and learning for me.  I have the greatest pleasure and honour to be serving in this ministry (founded in the US) and helping them build their foundations in this region.   Meanwhile, with the support of my gracious students, YOU, I have been able to enjoy a year of teaching yoga, spreading love, serving God and doing what I LOVE to do.   I also completed my 12 month yoga therapy training mid-last year, which was a huge achievement for me.  All of these blessings, I am so grateful for.

As some of you may know, I have been praying and listening to what my 2017 path looks like for ministry, yoga and for my work.  Every day, I wake up and remind myself that discernment is a conscious choice to just ‘let things be’ the way God wants it to be.  So, I’m not trying too hard, with my own effort, to achieve things.  Still a struggle for my ‘hustling’ personality, but I find peace and comfort in choosing to relax and let things roll in faith.   My prayer is that Holy Yoga classes have had that impact on you too, somehow!

  1. As far as ministry is concerned, I will continue to serve in Holy Yoga as their Regional Leader in Australia.  This means you will continue to see me actively in outreach activities seeking new instructors for the ministry and helping them grow.
  2. As for my business which I had taken a year off (2016) to focus on ministry and yoga,  I have been called to return to my Digital Marketing role this year with flexible hours.  I’m thankful that the business has yet again grown with God’s provision and that my expertise is still somewhat relevant enough that they need me back! 😛
  3. So what about yoga?  I’ve really enjoyed teaching community classes of varying levels of students last year but with the work and family commitments, I will no longer be able to offer community classes in year 2017.  

This year, I would love to continue working with students privately with a focus on yoga therapy benefits for physical wellbeing.  As we all know the mind, body and soul is one.  Last year was a year of soulful fitness and now that you’ve learnt a few tools on keeping that well, Iwould like to dedicate 2017 to BODY.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

  1. You will need to schedule classes with me individually or as a private group.  Community classes are no longer available.
  2. The price per person will vary, dependant on the number of students in a class, location and other factors.
  3. Unfortunately, this means that $10 class passes are no longer available.  For those who have unused classes, please contact me for a refund.
  4. For those of you who won’t be able to continue classes with me, thank you for your grace and support.  I will miss you!  I hope you continue your practice and grow in faith with Jesus.  Remember that I’m only a ‘text me’ away.  So reach out if you have any yoga questions.
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
~Psalm 20:4


Blessings with Love,
Jo xx

First Year of a Holy Yogi


A year ago, I taught my first Holy Yoga Class. From not knowing how to get started, to growing the student database and teaching hours to 3 digits, to media coverage, to workshops… This is a blessed journey.

I still remember my first class of 4 friends in the community room in my estate. God opened doors for me. Then I struggled to find a place to teach and God opened a door again and I held my second public class with 30 people at the Mowbray School hall where I had little teaching experience. I remember having to write down every pose and cue on a sheet of paper together with my sharing and intention for every single class. Class prep consumed my waking hours for the first few months. Now, over 100 classes later, I am far more natural and comfortable teaching without notes. I allow for laughs and tongue-ties when I’m stuck, knowing that students will have grace for me.

I remember making bracelets and praying over those who would receive them, asking God to pour His blessings over them.  Now, these bracelets are part of my memories and although I don’t give them out anymore, they have made a mark in my journey.

I remember the excitement I got when someone who finds my classes online emails me about my classes. Now, I need to set aside time to reply emails about classes and instructor training every second day.

I remember when I wouldn’t have a venue to teach after Christmas because the school hall was going under renovations. God opened doors again and found me a proper yoga studio locally. I didn’t even need to flinch. He just gave me what I asked for. All I needed was patience.

I remember when my donation-based pricing caused tension for students and for me. God again, poured His grace, and gave me a way to introduce fixed pricing. Now, everyone is happy with the pricing. (I hope 😜)

I remember wanting to be able to teach at my church. I prayed hard enough that He gave me a volunteer role at the church’s senior school. Now, this time is one of my favourite times of the week; to spend it with the elderly and bring a smile to their face.

I remember when I prayed for more exposure for the ministry here in Australia. I didn’t understand why God sent me down the path of mainstream media, 3rd page of Sydney Morning Herald plus video all over the Internet when I wasn’t prepared for the opposition. I prayed to God for help, only to find more media outlets picking up this controversial topic and my voice, face and words being misconstrued in certain instances. I cried to God for help and realised this was His great plan when a Salvation Army journalist picked it up and covered my story in Truth, finally. And since then, has brought on some more Christians into my class and allowed for my students to come and stand in faith together with me. God graces me. Media coverage with more students? Can’t be right? He is a good good Father.

I remember when my sudden passion and devotion for serving threw my family off balance. Then God sent me a sister to remind me of my priorities as mother and wife. “Family is number one ministry.” She said. And was she right!

I remember when I was called into Holy Yoga Therapy training during this first year and how that added a wealth of knowledge and spiritual depth to my life. Growing up, I’d always wanted a career in health care and wellness. Anything is possible with Him. Even switching careers. God fulfilled that childhood dream. And on the topic of dreams, I really needed one from childhood to be fulfilled

I remember when this Holy Yoga thing consumed me so much that my husband sat me down and said, “Babe, I support you and how our family is serving in Holy Yoga.  But you are one person and can’t do this alone. Either you dial down what you do…” (I nearly stopped him right there)”or you find someone to help you.” We prayed on this together and God sent me a partner to work through this together.

I remember getting upset with my husband on the several occasions he was home late or forgot to inform me that he was going to be travelling. (Not unusual in this household. But really something that gets to me). Yet God’s grace shines upon me and I learned to share that grace on others. So, I addressed it with my husband with patience and compassion.  My husband learned grace too. He received and gave it back. Often.

I remember the occasions when I had to deal with conflict. Some of which were interpersonal. Some of which were intrapersonal. I experienced, first hand, the power and impact of prayer on my life. I learned about letting go and leaning in.

I remember at points when I felt lonely on this journey in the past 12 months. I remember about the enemy trying to get through the cracks and his dumb illusions. God rescues me by reminding me of this community I am part of. Church, friends, family… My hubby has been so pivotal in this. Together, we stand strong for what we believe and lift each other up when the other falls.

All of this is part of only a beginning.

My biggest joy in serving is being able to touch the lives of those who love yoga and being able to share Scripture with them along the way.
Thank you to my dearest friends and family who have supported my calling and entrusted in me to lead your yoga classes.

God has taught me a thing or two about leaning in to Him, faithfulness and opposition. This Holy Yoga thing has really given me a taste of what the fruit of the Spirit is – love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness & self-control ❤️
For as long as God allows, I’ll serve in this way. Thank You, Heavenly Father!

Here’s to striking a few poses and having fun!

Holy Yoga FAQ | Christian Yoga Australia

Here’s the transcript of my radio interview! So honoured to have had the opportunity to be part of it.   I’m grateful for all of your support and the number of listeners I got.

The phones were ringing off the hook with listeners calling in to ask questions, show support for Christian yoga and also showing interest for the 3 months FREE Holy Yoga pass with me!  Praise God for opening doors for our ministry but also for those who have been wanting to practise in this way.

ABOUT JOSEPHINE
“Jo” is a Christian, mother of 2 boys, currently living in Sydney, teaching Holy Yoga and running a private yoga therapy practice . Born and raised in Hong Kong (obtaining Australian citizenship in her youth), she returned to Sydney complete her final years of secondary and tertiary studies.  After graduating from Marketing and Computing in UNSW, she started her career in the flourishing industry of Digital Marketing where she met her husband, whom is also a Christian.  In 2006, a friend took her to her first yoga class.  Since then she has been practising yoga on and off, and has developed a strong passion for it. Last year, she decided to take a break from her longstanding career and digital consultancy business to pursue building a wellness ministry – bringing the Gospel to people through yoga classes and therapy.  She believes this is God’s calling for her and if God willing, her dream is to run a wellness ministry expanding into other areas of wellness and interests for the community and to bring Holy Yoga into ASIA!!

 

WHAT IS HOLY YOGA?
Holy Yoga is a Christian ministry founded by Brooke Boon in the U.S. and has currently over 1200 instructors around the world.

Holy Yoga takes the 3 modalities of yoga, which are: breathwork, meditation and exercise, and combines it with Gospel preaching.

To each individual who practises Holy Yoga, it may be for their individual purpose and reason, such as:

  1. Relaxation
  2. Meditation
  3. Worship
  4. Exercise & wellbeing
  5. Or all of the above!

Ultimately, it is the connecting with God during the practise that is the goal of Holy Yoga’s existence.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF HOLY YOGA?
Holy Yoga exists to bring the gospel to all corners of the earth through the modality of yoga.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOLY YOGA AND OTHER FORMS OF YOGA?
The key difference between Holy Yoga and other types of non-Christian yoga is in the Truth seeking. We, Holy Yogis, seek the Trinitarian God – which exists as Father, Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. We believe the Bible is the only Truth and the Word of God and that He sent His only son, Jesus, to bring salvation to all who accept Him as their Saviour.

Other than the Truth seeking, the yoga poses and the breathing are the same. We do not condemn, however, do not believe nor engage in worshipping anything other than our Heavenly Father above during our practise. Therefore, it is quite common to hear poses being referred to in their English names rather than the Sanskrit names in a Holy Yoga class.

WHO IS HOLY YOGA FOR?  ARE THERE AGE LIMITS?
Well, Holy Yoga is only for those who can handstand! Hahaha! If that were the case, the grace of God would be futile….. (joking and laughing)*

Holy Yoga is for EVERYONE! It is a grace-filled practice that welcomes all. It is, however, advisable to seek out classes that suit an individual’s fitness level. As with varying levels of fitness programs in market, we offer gentle classes to power flow classes.  From kids through to seniors, there is a practice for you!  In fact, Holy Yoga offers speciality training for Kids and Chair Yoga for the less mobile or senior population.

Personally, I like teaching gentle and slow flows because I find that less physical movement allows for more space for meditation and drawing awareness to the mind and body. That’s not to say that a power class doesn’t generate a Christ-honouring experience for those who enjoy moving and worshipping with their bodies!

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU PRACTISE? 
How often? I would recommend every day for a minimum of 15 minutes! We like to practise prayer without ceasing. So, what better way to dedicate time to relax and unwind; not to mention, to hear from God and exercise every day! There is no limitation as to the time of day, although, our bodies will release different hormones in response to different activity levels and even yoga poses. So, I would be mindful not to be practising adrenaline-producing power yoga just before bedtime.
When it comes to joining classes, at least once a week is recommended for reasons of creating a habit and also following through with the theme/series for the meditation.


GROUP CLASSES OR PRIVATE LESSONS?
In terms of joining classes, it’s really a personal preference. I currently teach 4 group classes a week and spend 2 mornings in therapy consultations for those seeking a more personalised program to target specific issues in their wellbeing.

Group classes can hold up to 25 people and are a great way to experience Holy Yoga and being in community. Private lessons can also be organised, too!

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH HOLY YOGA?
Holy Yoga changed my life. Essentially, it is picking up a spiritual discipline that creates time for me to do what we are best to be doing – connecting with God!

Being a Christian is an awesome thing! But even then, unless you have a relationship with Jesus, it will be hard to understand God’s grace.  So it’s not so much the yoga as it is the opportunity for me to spend time with God.  One of my biggest learning is how to live by faith not not by sight.  Since the day I started my ministry, there are just countless number of instances where God has showed up in the most unexpected ways.  I wish I had enough time to share some individual stories but we’ll save that for the next time.  It is humbling to seek the Lord every day and I NEED IT.  I thank God, daily, for this blessing.

Beyond the spiritual development, let’s not understate the physical benefits of yoga.  In an article released recently (Feb 2016) by The Yoga Journal, it states that more than 500 research papers have been published on ‘Yoga Therapy’, which has been described as ‘modern medicine’s gold standard’.  Google ‘yoga therapy benefits’ and you’ll find numerous studies proving the benefits of yoga for the brain and the body.

Since my regular yoga practicing, I have seen huge improvements on my health.  I used to suffer from frequent migraine attacks, lower back pain and a sluggish bowel.  Yoga has really helped in relieving them.

HOW ABOUT YOUR STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCE WITH HOLY YOGA?
My students? I can’t speak for each and every one of them but from the feedback I gather and my intuition, they enjoy Holy Yoga for their personal reasons. Most recently, I have seen a student so moved by the Holy Spirit, she was crying while thanking God. Other times, students are in it for the physical benefits. But I truly believe that they are there for a reason. *Smiles

 
For more testimonials from Jo’s students, see the Review section on Holy Yoga Australia’s Facebook page – www.facebook.com/HolyYogaAustralia


IS YOGA A RELIGION?
Yoga is not a religion.  Some religions, such a Hinduism and Buddhism, may have incorporated yoga as a spiritual discipline but yoga’s origins pre-date the inception of those religions. Much like fasting and prayer is a common spiritual discipline across various religions, yoga is just another one. To some, yoga may even be just a part of their cultural tradition without any spiritual attachment.

The direct translation of yoga is ‘to yoke’ or ’to be in union with’.  This has been adopted by different yogic philosophies to mean the union of different “higher beings” – some, seeking a higher form of themselves; for others, seeking a Divine God.  As Christians, we know our Truth is to ‘yoke with Christ’. (Matthew 11:29-30).

I would like to think it easy for us, Chinese, to understand how religious philosophies have been fused into cultural traditions and equally vice versa. Think Tai Chi and its roots in Taoist philosophies, Karate and its roots in Buddhism, and the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It’s widely debated whether Christians should practise yoga because of its common relationship with Hinduism. But as a Chinese Christian, if I were to subscribe to that theory, I should refuse then to believe in TCM, stop giving out Red Pockets during Chinese New Year, stop eating Ho See Fat Choi, etc….. Because all of those have roots in superstition or references to Taoist philosophies.  The point I’m trying to make is that, in this context, the emphasis should not be placed on the references to the tradition but instead, be concerned with the intention, the purpose and the function.

ARE THERE ANY RISKS IN TAKING UP HOLY YOGA?
There is always the risk of injury when taking up a physical activity of any sort.  However, I would say that yoga would lie on the low end of the risk scale. Sometimes, injury can come about with incorrect alignment, often occurring when entering into or coming out of a pose.  Contrary to the intention of practising yoga, injuries are often a result of competitive or perfectionist attitudes, as in “I should be able to do it.  He/She can.”.  Part of practising yoga is to remind ourselves to be humble and to not fall into that type of mentality. Rule of thumb is to listen to your body and only stretch yourself to what your body will allow.

WHAT & HOW CAN ONE EXPECT HOLY YOGA TO IMPACT ON THEIR PERSONAL FAITH
Personal faith is a very personal thing. You are chosen by God in His time and things happen according to His plan. Everything that we have is under the provision of God. (John 3:27)

Whilst some may advance deeper into their spiritual life with a Holy Yoga practise, others may be sitting there wondering why they can only concentrate on just doing the poses and hear ‘nothing’. We only need to trust that God has His time.

Just ‘show up’ and be thankful for it. I believe that the showing up is the most important. It is the willingness to say to yourself and God, “Here I am.”

If you’re a long-time Christian, this is a riveting opportunity to live out Jesus’ greatest command: “To love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength [body]” (Mark 12:30)

And, if you aren’t a regular church goer, it might just be your weekly healthy dose of the Scriptures.  You never know until you try.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE PRACTISING & TEACHING HOLY YOGA?
I think we’ve covered some of the spiritual and physical changes in the previous questions.  What I haven’t spoken about yet is the knowledge acquisition and the emotional intelligence side of things.  For fear of sounding arrogant, my hypothesis is that I have become a more intelligent person!

I guess the hours of study I’ve poured into studying the human body’s intricate systems, anatomy and to make sense of all of this within the context of God’s creation could have expanded my brain capacity.  I love Dr Caroline Leaf’s work.  If you haven’t heard of her, she is a Christian Neuroscientist with over 30 years of experience understanding the human brain; how our conscious and non-conscious mind work together within God’s purpose and original design.  In one of her talks, she speaks of a piece of non-Christian research confirming that ‘man grows intelligence through meditating on the Scriptures’.  Boy, did that confirm my hypothesis! Glory be to God!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE TEACHINGS FROM THE BIBLE?
Gosh, there are so many.  I love Proverbs as a Jesus-approved ‘self-help’ book!  I love the Gospels because they are filled with stories of Jesus and I love stories. I also love all the books written by Paul for his conviction and witness.  But my favourite verse is one that my father has brought me up memorising:

Be completely humble, and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” ~ Ephesians 4: 2

It’s an impossible verse to live out every second, unless of course, you are Jesus.  I’m so glad I have the BEST teacher.

FINAL SHARING
This is how founder of Holy Yoga, Brooke Boon, describes the Holy Yoga Lifestyle in her book, Holy Yoga.

  1. Prayer without ceasing
  2. Confess, repent and forgive
  3. Practise contentment
  4. Practise obedience
  5. Do everything with love

That’s the kind of lifestyle I try to live out every day.  Please don’t judge me if I fail often.  Oh, that’s right!  Thank God, for Jesus my Saviour 🙂

How to overcome challenges? Well, consider them ‘gifts’ and ‘joy’ | Holy Yoga Class

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (NIV)

The focus of my Holy Yoga class today was to embrace challenges in life as a ‘gift’ that builds us and develops us. When you stretch your muscles and work them hard, they tear. And it hurts both during the stretch and during the recovery. But they rebuild themselves; stronger, ready to carry more weight… This applies to our lives as well. Thank God for this gift and His design. 

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