2017 Graduates


In late 2016 Chitra and Hridayan Stern, Senior Yoga Teachers and former Directors of the Melbourne Integral Yoga Centre decided to offer an Integral Yoga Level 1 Teacher Training Program with a few unique twists. We think this is the first time the training program has been offered in this format in Australia and possibly elsewhere.

  1. The Program ran across a 12 month period from January 2017 – January 2018 with sessions held regularly every second Sunday and incorporated into three residential retreats held in January and August 2017 and January 2018.
  2. Whilst the course was completely delivered in Australia it was under the auspice of the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco.
  3. The Program was delivered by an international teaching team consisting of Australian’s Chitra and Hridayan Stern and Mitra Dema with contributions from Lakshmi Sutter (based in Georgia U.S.A), and Swami Ramananda, Director of the San Francisco Institute.

Pictured are the five intrepid yogi travellers who commenced the course in January 2017 with members of the teaching team. Front row: Hridayan Stern, Anandi Absler, Swami Ramananda, Chitra Stern & Jaala Freeman. Back row Lynne Stockdale, Roz Jakob and Mitra Dema pictured at the January 2017 residential retreat at Hepburn Springs, Victoria.

  1. Consequently the program utilised a number of different teaching modalities. In addition to the direct teaching provided by Chitra, Mitra and Hridayan (who taught the Raja Yoga component); Lakshmi delivered all the anatomy and physiology component utilising video conferencing. Swami Ramananda provided the residential component during his teaching programs delivered in January 2017 in Australia, delivered input through a video conferencing session and provided guidance and input throughout the course. Both Swamiji and Lakshmi were both generously available at other times via email. Once again flexibility was the key as due to the time difference between the U.S. and Australia Lakshmi and Swamiji were teaching their sessions on their Saturday evenings to fit in with our Sunday morning times.

Here is a photo with our TT group, teachers after a Zoom session with Lakshmi.

All TT has its own rhythm and magic. For our group it was an opportunity to undertake this wonderfully transformative experience as we balanced our training alongside our every day lives and our individual, family, work and Sangha  commitments. We were an unusual group in that we all brought decades of involvement with Integral Yoga and spiritual practices with professional and family lives that constantly provided us the opportunity to live the practices at deeper and more enriching levels.

We were truly blessed and deeply grateful to have a teaching team that walked alongside us with such  wisdom and patience and unconditional love. Thank you in particular to Chitra and Mitra.

The connection that our TT, and now proudly YT, little tribe developed between us was a joy beyond words. What was particularly special was that this was a joyous experience not only for the TT group but for the Melbourne Sangha, who provided their support and interest in our journey in many many ways.

We are a small (but very active) Sangha and we held our Graduation ceremony at our January retreat which was attended by 28 participants and friends and family who travelled 2 hours from Melbourne during the hottest weekend of the year to share and celebrate this wonderful event with us.

And, in the most wonderful generous act, Swamiji was once again with us, when he made us a beautifully moving and inspiring Facebook video message which we watched fittingly at the Graduation ceremony (and which others have appreciated through his Facebook  page and via this magazine a few weeks ago). It felt so right that he would be with us at the beginning and at the closure of our Teacher Training journey.

Here is a photo of the newly graduated teachers and our teachers watching Swamiji’s video

Melbourne Australia Integral Yoga Level 1 Teaching January 2018 graduating class and teachers: Front row: Deb (Anandi) Absler, Chitra Stern, Jala (Prasanthi) Freeman, Ros(Lilavati) Jakob and second row Hridayan Stern, Mitra Dema

after our first official class as teachers  (at the Retreat).

As we now journey into our lives as new teachers – we have since taught Yoga in the Park classes and commenced other classes in other venues; we are enjoying integrating this life changing experience into every aspect of our lives.

Of course our final thanks are to Gurudev.  What an honour beyond words it is to be able to know and share your teachings, to stand tall and proud as Integral Yoga Teachers amongst the wonderful global Integral Yoga community – Jai!

Om Shanthi

Anandi, Lilavati, & Prasanthi

January 2018 Melbourne Level 1 Teacher Training Class