About us

Take a minute to learn about who we are, as well as the organisations we're aligned with

Who are we?

YogaNZ was founded in 2015, by a collection of Yoga teachers who saw the need to bring standards and support to the growing community of Yoga teachers here. With technical support from some founding members of Yoga Australia, in collaboration with senior New Zealand Yoga teachers, YogaNZ was born.

We’re a not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to nurturing and elevating the practice of Yoga throughout the country, run out of our sunny Christchurch office with operational support from ExerciseNZ and guidance from the Yoga New Zealand Council.

We ensure standards in the field of teaching Yoga by registering members at the level appropriate to their training and experience. Our members are also required to maintain a valid first aid certificate, complete ongoing Continued Education, and adhere to our Statement of Ethics, and Scope of Practice

We value feedback and collaboration – please be in touch if you have any questions or suggestions for our team.

Table of Contents

YogaNZ council

The Yoga New Zealand Council comprises experts across the country, and gives guidance on all matters appropriate to Yoga New Zealand. Members meet regularly and are tasked with acting in the best interests of YogaNZ and the broader yoga community in Aotearoa.

The current members are:

Based in Auckland, Heather is a yoga teacher, yoga therapist, mentor and trainer. She specialises in one to one teaching – especially for therapy needs. She also runs classes, workshops and training sessions. Her goal is to bring life to yoga for the enjoyment of practising as well as health and self-development benefits. Trained in the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya and T.K.V. Desikachar in the UK, India and Europe, she began teaching yoga in the 1990s. As her yoga therapy qualifications and practice developed she became an active member of the British Council for Yoga Therapy.

During 2010/2013 she was a Yoga Specific Board Member for the UK Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. After moving with her husband to NZ she became, in 2016, a volunteer co-ordinator for Yoga New Zealand.

Heather is keen to promote easy access for all to yoga teaching as the benefits from appropriate yoga practice are more widely known. With yoga’s growing recognition comes a need for quality teacher training and ongoing teacher development, embracing the roots and source of yoga and taking into account modern-day uses and research. Exploring links with New Zealand’s Maori culture is key. The standards Yoga New Zealand has at its finger tips provide a great springboard for moving forward.

Teachers can sometimes feel ‘out on a limb’ and Heather’s vision includes a network of regional / local activities to bring teachers together – for interconnection, professional development, and to help shape the future as Yoga New Zealand grows.

Heather Robinson PGCE, C-IAYT, YogaNZ member, TSYP member, KHYF Yoga Therapist, Viniyoga Britain Practitioner, BWY Dip.

Chaitanya is the co-owner, founder and senior teacher at Kindred Studio Nelson, where he teaches weekly classes, practices therapeutic massage and created and leads their 200hr Teacher Training programs levels One and Two.

Specialising in applied anatomy (the anatomy of movement) myofascial release and articular mobilization as a bodyworker since 2001, he brings a great passion and understanding of anatomy, skeletal variation and how the body works to his classes, workshops and trainings. Combining this with thousands of hours of yoga teaching and study and 25 years of, intensive meditation practice with various Enlightened Masters, Chaitanya has a depth and broad and experiential knowledge base, which he loves to share with humour and compassion on and off the mat addressing all aspects of our existence, body, mind and soul.

He has presented at various conferences, festivals and teacher trainings around the country. Chaitanya and his wife Bex also run Evolve Festival, a biennial wellness event in the heart of Nelson dedicated to inspire, educate and transform individuals and communities.

As a member of the Yoga NZ Council, Chai is passionate in exploring the growth of yoga in Aotearoa in a sustainable way that serves us as a nation of students, teachers, trainers and business owners both nationally and within our own communities, staying with the philosophy and heritage of traditional yoga while embracing new models and research.

Chaitanya Deva E-RYT 500, YACEP, Dip Therapeutic Massage, Yin Yoga Certification, Yoga Therapy, More To Life- Life Coach Certificate

Sannyasi Pragyadhara is the Director of Pure Yoga – a home based studio on the north shore in Auckland.  She teaches community level classes including progressive hatha, restorative and meditation courses and regular community events of havan, kirtan and mantra sadhana, as well as one to one classes supporting people with personal practice design & implementation.  

She travels to other locations around the country running workshops and immersions on specialist topics such as mantra, yogic lifestyle, home practice design, tools of Tantra, Yoga Nidra and meditation.  She has taught internationally and at the Bihar School of Yoga, India.

She has been training teachers since 2009 after living at the Bihar School of Yoga where she completed a masters in Yoga Psychology – a two year residential post graduate training.  

As a member of the Yoga NZ Council, Pragyadhara is dedicated to maintaining the connection to the tradition so that it may continue to find its unique expression in the growth of Yoga in Aotearoa in a way that serves us as a nation that is part of a global community. 

“It is my mission in life to serve you through the purity & richness of the Yoga Tradition, one that is practical, clear in its aims & processes, reinforces yoga as life, life as yoga and acts as a positive force in the sacred alchemy of your life”

Past Yoga Australia President – current Council of Advisor for Yoga Australia.

Since the early 1980s Leanne has developed her interest in yoga into a career pathway through the study of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. After having a strong interest in yoga from a young age she undertook her first teacher training in 1988 with Sivananda Yoga and Vedanta Academy in India. Alongside a continuing personal practice in yoga, Leanne commenced her second teacher training in the tradition of Krishnamacharya in 1996. She is currently the founder of Viniyoga Australia, a yoga teacher, yoga teacher trainer, yoga therapist and Vedic chanting teacher based in Brisbane, Australia.

Leanne was honoured to have had the opportunity to serve, along with the incredible team of committee members and office staff, as Yoga Australia President – now currently a Council of Advisor for Yoga Australia and part of the Yoga New Zealand Council. Leanne also serves on the Certification Committee of the International Association of Yoga Therapy based in the USA.

She has great enthusiasm for contributing to the profession of yoga teaching and helping to foster the practice and understanding of yoga in our communities. She has a particular interest in preserving the authenticity of yoga from the cultural and textual roots of India while embracing the evolution of yoga into contemporary cultures.
Leanne became involved in helping to set standards and advocacy for yoga teachers in New Zealand in 2014 at the invitation of some of the local yoga teaching community. She considers it to be a great honour to be part of the development of the New Zealand yoga teaching profession by helping to implement existing standards of education while working with the yoga community to embed the Māori spiritual tradition and needs of the current culture into the vision of Yoga New Zealand.

CEO, Exercise Association of New Zealand

Richard has worked in the exercise industry for over 30 years, having owned clubs, and been involved in governance of national and international organisations involved in guiding and supporting the exercise industry – from large gym chains, to industry bodies and registration organisations.

Richard speaks internationally on a range of business topics from exercise trends to sustainable business practices. His current role is CEO of ExerciseNZ where is actively involved in advocating for the collective exercise/movement industry, as well as supporting those that are involved in getting and keeping kiwis moving and physically active. Richard is also a member of the YogaNZ Council.

Swami Karma Karuna Saraswati is an engaging, intuitive yoga and meditation teacher, inspirational speaker, writer, and IAYT certified Yoga Therapist with more than 25 years of experience.

Swami Karma Karuna is a co-founder and director of Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand, and also travels throughout the world, leading workshops, training yoga teachers, presenting at international events, guiding spiritual sadhana retreats and offering therapeutic one to one yoga sessions as well as mentoring.

She is passionate about sharing an authentic and down to earth approach, weaving together the ancient practices with a touch of psychology and brain science aimed at motivating people to live their yoga here and now.

Sandy Farquhar is a yoga teacher based in Taupō. She is a both a graduate of, and a tutor with, Contemporary Yoga Teacher Training – one of YogaNZ’s registered Training Providers.

Her yoga practice began in California where she engaged with a range of yoga and movement approaches. Sandy has also had a lengthy academic career focussed on philosophy of education, childhood studies, teacher education as well as curriculum design and development. 

Affiliate organisations

The Exercise Association of New Zealand (ExerciseNZ)

ExerciseNZ is a non-profit representative organisation, representing the Exercise and Fitness Industry, with a guiding mission to bring the benefits of exercise to more New Zealanders. ExerciseNZ support YogaNZ’s work operationally.

ExerciseNZ supports YogaNZ in a variety of ways including providing access to resources, funding, and specialized expertise. They advocate for YogaNZ in conversations at a governmental and legislative level. More info

New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)

REPs operates a registration body for exercise professionals, exercise facilities and education providers in New Zealand, to enable quality assurance of these services to the public. YogaNZ and REPs have collaborated to make REPs registration an automatically included benefit of YogaNZ Membership. 

Many facilities now require REPs Registration of all of their instructors, this means that YogaNZ members are eligible to teach in these fitness environments and premises. Additionally, the highly discounted insurance, negotiated by REPs, is available to YogaNZ members. For more information on this, and the other benefits a NZREPs membership offers, click here

The Yoga Lunchbox

The Yoga Lunchbox, an established online resource, is owned and operated by YogaNZ, with an aim to share information and ideas about the practice of Yoga to teachers and the public alike. While YogaNZ focuses on supporting its membership base, the Yoga Lunchbox has a broader audience of Yoga teachers and practitioners. More info