Emma Wasson campaigner for 'The Bob Brown Foundation'

Emma Wasson

Emma Wasson

The Bob Brown Foundation - protecting the Tarkine

Off the Mat into the World supporter Emma Wasson is the new Melbourne based campaigner for the Bob Brown Foundation working on the campaign to protect the Takanya / Tarkine. Her role is to build the campaign in an effort to increase community awareness of the areas natural values and public action toward its listing as a National Park and World Heritage area. The year 2017 for the Foundation will be big and involve a range of events including book launches, film nights and art exhibitions in Melbourne, Newcastle, Belingen, Byron and Lismore. If you're passionate about nature protection and aboriginal cultural values and would like to be involved in some capacity or collaborate please get in touch at emma@bobbrown.org.au More information on the Foundation here http://bobbrown.org.au 

ArtMob Fundraiser

The Wilderness Society and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre are collaborating to protect the natural and cultural values of takayna / Tarkine. This online exhibition presents an extensive collection of works by significant Aboriginal artists from Central Australia, Arnhemland, the Kimberley and the Tiwi Islands, with contributions from Tasmanian Aboriginal artists. There are treasures such as $100 wooden carvings to large paintings valued in excess of $15,000. 

The collection includes paintings in both ochre and acrylic on canvas, bark and archival paper, as well as didgeridoos, bark baskets (tunga), painted shells and wooden carvings. Artists include Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrick, Ningura Napurrula, George Ward Tjungurrayi and Elizabeth Nyumi.

To view the collection online and support with an art purchase for your home or yoga studio go to http://www.artmob.com.au/artists/takayna

Phil Dickinson founding Director of ‘Yoga For Nature’

Phil Dickson

Phil Dickinson

Yoga For Nature is a social enterprise committed to the realisation that yoga can transform both the individual and the world we live in.

Reflecting on eastern philosophy and living by the values of Karma (action), Sangha (community) and Ahimsa (love), we collaborate with yogis all over the world to bring about social transformation and a mindful path to conservation & living sustainably.

With the support of yoga studios, the proceeds from a weekly Yoga For Nature class enable us to create inspiring films and award production grants to people working in conservation. In the spirit of Dharma, our content is designed to celebrate life and inspire yogis to be inspirational stewards of the world.

Q: How does Yoga for Nature take the values of yoga off the mat and into the world?

Asana definitely has its place in the studio environment and thankfully there's heaps of room for everyone, but the other aspects of Yoga that are concerned with our connection to the earth and all of humanity really stand to benefit from these same communities. So Yoga For Nature asks studios to commit one class in their schedule, so students have an opportunity to reflect on the values of yoga and make a difference. The neat thing is, it happens while we're on and off the mat. Whether you're in downward dog at 6a.m or have rushed off to work, your Yoga practice is creating a more fair and compassionate world.

Q: How can the community get involved in your project?

Yogis can get involved by:

  1. Suggesting their studio places a Yoga For Nature class in the schedule, so their practice starts contributing to change.
  2. Hold a fundraiser or a donation class to help fund one of our campaigns.
  3. Become a Yoga For Nature Worldwide Ambassador, engaging with our content and sharing it on social media.
  4. #yogafornature when you stop drop and do yoga or connect with nature.
  5. Most importantly, when you take action yourselves, let us know, so we can make sure your practice inspires others.


Harley Van Valen filmmaker of ‘One Drum’

Harley Van Valen

Harley Van Valen

After completing film school in 2001 at the Academy of Photogenic Arts in Artarmon, majoring in production and cinematography, Harley Van Valen started working in film before taking a major journey from New York City to Rio De Janeiro. He shot a film during this time called One Drum. From Harley’s blog:

On September 13th, 2007 we’re driving out of New York City on an adventure through Central and South America, en-route to Rio De Janeiro.

Aside from making it there in one piece, our journey is about the experience of new cultures, following our hearts and living life the way we want to.

The world is in a fragile state and we feel we must make an effort to give back to the earth by living consciously, sharing love, life and happiness, to ensure the positive development of our planet.

The film was completed in 2013 and in 2017, Yoga Hive will be going on another epic journey up and down the east coast of NSW and into the Gold Coast to screen the movie at various locations. Meet Harley and watch the film at these locations.


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Ann Marie Johnston founding Director of ‘YogaMate’

Ann Marie Johnston

Ann Marie Johnston


Ann Marie Johnston is the founding Director of YogaMate, a global platform sharing the depth, breadth and healing application of Yoga. After completing her 500-hour teacher training in 2013, Ann Marie wanted to ‘give back’ through Yoga, but struggled to find a local Yogic charity in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Not long after, she had the idea of creating a digital platform that helps new Yoga teachers create and track their class plans. Over the next two years, (particularly after seeing how ‘Yoga’ is portrayed on social media), Ann Marie expanded the concept further to ensure YogaMate provided resources and tools for those teaching one-to-one and therapeutic yoga. Today YogaMate provides evidence-informed resources for the community along with tools that help Yoga Professionals inspire, connect and share Yoga (class planning/sequencing, self-publishing and marketing tools along with a directory for yoga professionals, businesses and charities). The website launched to yoga professionals in October 2016, and Ann Marie plans to market the website to students and the health-care community come late Dec 2016. There are still opportunities to contribute content towards the platform and YogaMate provides complimentary listings for Yogic charities and Yoga Professionals with 500+ hours qualification.  To learn more and create your free Profile(s) go to: www.yogamate.org

How does your project take the values of Yoga off the Mat and into the World?

YogaMate helps take the values of yoga off the mat and into the world in a number of ways. Firstly – it helps expand awareness of the depth and breadth of Yoga – particularly in regards to the ‘other’ aspects of yoga (pranayama, meditation, relaxation, mindful living), beyond asana. YogaMate helps teachers connect with the students and share their practice so that it can inform a student in how to take their yoga into their daily lives. ‘Yoga’ isn’t just something that we do once a week at a studio; with consistent home practice, yoga can play an integral part in our health and wellbeing. YogaMate helps give students the confidence to practice from home.

Furthermore, it helps students and teachers connect with yogic charities that are giving back to their community through yoga. 

How can the community get involved?

YogaMate provides community resources and a complimentary profile for yoga teachers.  Off the Mat folk can have a look at the website (www.yogamate.org) and create a free profile.  When they create their profile, they’ll get a 10-day trial upgrade to YogaMate Pro (and gain access to all of YogaMate’s tools and resources).  Should they wish to keep a YogaMate Pro subscription at the end of the 10 day trial, I’ve created a 10% discount for Off the Mat (off the already reduced launch price.  They can use the code: OffTheMat2016

Otherwise, they’ll retain their complimentary profile and access to YogaMate’s community resources.


Where I hope Off the Mat members can particularly become involved– those that have yogic charities in Australia can create a complimentary charity profile on YogaMate (they first need to set up their Professional profile, then they can link a charity to their account). Once their professional profile is created they can select ‘Add a Charity’ from their Account Management area to create a charity profile.

Line of Enquiry


When people ask us what Off the Mat, Into the World actually is, a fairly common reply is “a conversation”. The Line ofEnquiry each month recognises that fact and invites you to consider a bigger questions that we might address as a community.  Please consider introducing a topic that you would like to explore by sending a question and a few thoughts to kick things off to offthemataustralia@gmail.com. We’ll be in touch chat it over and let you know which month your thoughts might appear.

Cate Peters

Is ‘Activist’ a term we should apply to ourselves?

This question has been bandied around since the early days of Off the Mat in Australia. There is a lot of negative reaction to the word even within our community but first let me share Joanna Macy ‘s definition from her brilliant book, Active Hope :

“What is the opposite of an activist?  Is it someone who is passive? If so, it seems strange that the term activist should be reserved for just a few of us rather than being an identity we all take pride in or aspire to.  The practice of Active Hope involves being an activist for what we hope in this world .  We’re using the term activist here to mean anyone who is active for a purpose bigger than personal gain.“

Whilst I feel Joanna has nailed what we would all LIKE the term to mean I’m not sure she has exactly put her finger on why transitioning to this term here in this country and in our community hasn’t happened.  

The very word activism implies to a lot of us hard work and push push push. People have said is sounds aggressive, and suggests fighting against something and that we should perhaps be asking as yogis how we ‘pull’ rather than ‘push.’  Of course it is just a word and much like any inkblot, cup of tea leaves or piece of history, we are all entitled to project our own meaning onto it. 

Thanks to Sarah Ball for bringing my attention to this on topic statement from Byron Katie:

“I’ve heard people say that they cling to their painful thoughts because they’re afraid that without them they wouldn’t be activists for peace. “If I felt completely peaceful,” they say, “why would I bother taking action at all?” My answer is “Because that’s what love does.” To think that we need sadness or outrage to motivate us to do what’s right is insane. As if the clearer and happier you get, the less kind you become. As if someone finds freedom, she just sits around all day with drool running down her chin. My experience is the opposite.  Love is action.  It’s clear, it’s kind, it’s effortless, and it’s irresistible.“ 

How do you personally feel about the word ‘activist’ and do you feel other words might express the concept of bring about positive change more succinctly?  What about ‘activator’?… 

Head to ( https://www.facebook.com/OffTheMatOzNZ ) to join this conversation and let’s see if we can take it somewhere help each other think alittle more clearly. 

Decembers OTM community profile - Rachel Nokes

Rachel Nokes

Rachel Nokes


OTM region?
South Coast, NSW

Style of yoga?
I believe there' is only one yoga, and that is union with the divine!! But there are many way to get there... I practice Vinyasa. 

Favourite yoga pose and why?
Savasana – by dying at the end of each practice it helps me to embrace life and live more fully. 

Tell us something people may not know about you?
I love dashies!! I have 2 daschunds Chloe and Rusty who are spoilt rotten.

Also, I recently bought our local health food shop. Good quality organic Food is really important to me and we have community yoga classes and health and cooking workshops. 

I’d love to invite you to come and check out Manic Organic or join me in class at Ray of Light anytime you are over this way.

What issue/s are you most passionate about off the mat?
I'm passionate about making the yoga practice in whatever form it takes – accesible to every body, including but not limited to people with chronic illness, disabilities and refugees. 

How has OTM provided you with the tools to be active around this issue?
Through OTM I've linked in with a caring and empowering group of like-minded people who have helped me discover what I'm passionate about and how to put this into action. I've improved my leadership skills and confidence whilst being in my own community. 

What do you hope for?
I hope that one day yoga will be part of the medicare system and mainstream health care, accessible to all. 

What has being in the OTM community brought to your life? 
Community, support and a sense of belonging. I sense that someone has my back if I need them.