5 Week Yoga Challenge 2019


Hello and welcome to the 2019 YOGA & WELL-BEING CHALLENGE. Ali Hale Tilley, director of the NZ Yoga Centre, kick-started the Challenge with 12 people on SUNDAY 10th NOVEMBER 2019 and it successfully finished on DECEMBER 15th.




Our 5 week Yoga Challenge is officially over, but it was an amazing journey shared with amazing people.
Each week we focused on our Health and wellbeing by committing to regular yoga and meditation practices.
We extended our personal growth by getting up at dawn, increasing our self-care practices, and engaging in quiet spiritual activities.
Our friendships and social lives were enhanced by participating in vegetarian potluck brunches at the Yoga Centre, and taking healthy options to family and work events.
We also spent time focusing on our Life vision for the next decade by creating a roadmap for a balanced life.
One of the most successful parts of the Challenge was the group chat on Facebook where we shared recipes, food ideas and words of encouragement with each other.
For example, here is Shirley’s Quinoa Salad – 1 cup basic cooked quinoa. 125gm cherry tomatoes, handful of baby spinach and handful of rocket, roughly chopped. 1/2 avocado sliced. 2 asparagus spears or 1/4 cup chopped broccoli, steamed. 1/2 cup chopped fresh berries, any kind. 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar. Combine together in bowl and toss lightly. Quantities can vary depending on how many you are feeding. Can also add herbs, spices, whatever you want. Enjoy.
We will run another pre-xmas challenge next year if you have been inspired by the 2019 Yoga Challenge. And for everyone who took part in this Challenge brilliant work!


The 2019 Yoga Challenge includes 5 main parts 

PART 1 –  Physical wellbeing cleanse  
      1. Practice minimum 3 yoga sessions per week.
        • You can do 2 of the 3 classes as home, online, or studio practice. One class must be a Sunday class. Regular yoga practice brings radiant health benefits and our focus will be on a deep systems cleanse.
      2. Clean and declutter parts of your home, car, garden, or office
        • Unless you are a neat freak, there is sure to be one or more areas that need sorting out. Use this decluttering process to create more clear spaces in your environment so you can feel more at ease. 
      3. Do a deep body scrub once a week  
        • Mix salt or sugar with natural oils like olive or coconut. Removing dead skin cells from all over your body helps your skin breath and renew itself. 
      4. Set up a place for regular yoga and meditation practice
        • Find a place where dogs, goats, and kids can’t disturb you. Face your mat East in the morning and north in the evening. Return to this place for each session to increase your vibrational imprint.
      5. Avoid using chemical cleaning and beauty products – use natural products
        • Avoid artificial deodorants, chemical hair products, skin creams and cosmetics. Go online to get inspired by natural product recipes.  You can buy basic low-cost ingredients like aluminium-free baking soda, coconut oil, white vinegar, tea tree oil locally.
PART 2 – Nutritional cleanse
  1.   Eat a pure vege diet using Ali’s 85+10+5% rule (no meat or eggs)
    • A pure vege diet tastes amazing and allows you to be super creative. Make a weekly meal plan so you can shop for what you need. Please note: a bite of cake or bacon means no deposit refund! Going plant-based is the way forward.
  2. Avoid all processed and refined foods, and read labels
    •  No white sugar, white flour, biscuits, cakes, and slices. No deep fried chips, takeaways, or plastic wrapped food with more than 1 or 2 chemical numbers (additives, colours, flavours). No gelatine, which means no standard cream cheese or cottage cheese, Read every label and purchase accordingly.
  3. Research and use well-balanced vegetarian recipes
    • There are so many amazing vegetarian cookbooks and articles, both online and in the local library. Tag the recipes that make each meal a mini feast and impress the doubters in your family with delicious nutritious fare.
  4. Limit alcohol intake to 3 units a week (i.e. 3 classes wine or 3 beers)
    • Time to hang up your party shoes and get sober. Look for ‘virgin’ cocktail recipes online or in cooking books and have a jug of healthy refreshments ready to quench your thirst. 
  5. Stop food dependencies and avoid eating all unhealthy foods
    • How are you going to handle cravings that come as a stress response to work, family dramas? Perhaps buy some sulphur-free dried fruits, organic berries, or 85% dark chocolate. Try chewing cardamom, fennel or caraway seeds. Make a small platter filled with fresh healthy produce.
PART 3 – Mental cleanse
      1. Practice daily meditation (5 minutes minimum)
        • Sit in silence and watch your breath flow. Observe your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. Check in and find a deep sense of inner peace. Focus your mind on one thing.
      2. Limit entertainment habits such as watching soaps and reading fiction
        • Like junk food, junk entertainment is a distraction that pollutes the subconscious mind. If you need to be entertained to feel happy and preoccupied, put on instrumental music, read an autobiography, start a hobby like sewing or woodwork, or journal your feelings.
      3. Observe your moods in relation to natural cycles
        • New moon, full moon, and planetary phases can impact how we feel. Check http://www.spaceweather.com to see what is happening with the sun’s cycles.  Check how you feel on a grey day as opposed to a clear day. Our moods are related to larger patterns.
      4. Resolve negative mind-sets with self-reflection
        • Like meditation, self-reflection asks us to look in and experience our deep inner state. Does that idea scare you? Are you terrified of what is lurking in the mind’s shadows? Have a chat with the ‘universe’ or inner self and make friends with your shadow side.
      5. Establish  a weekly self-care ritual
        • Soak in a bath with essential oil, walk on the beach, light up your home shrine, dance naked in the moonlight, or sit by an outdoor fire. Create a ritual that nourishes you and allows you to feel more connected with the sacred energy that is all around.
PART 4 – Emotional cleanse
    1. Rise before sunset
      • In the Southern Hemisphere the sun rises around 6 am. Check sunrise times and be prepared to leap out of bed when the alarm goes off. Set your alarm a minute earlier each day as the longest day approaches. 
    2. Write up a daily journal or a 100 word summary of the week
      • Keeping a journal helps keep you accountable and allows you to check in with how you are really feeling. Why not write a passage to read out at our potluck gatherings? Sharing our feelings in a safe space can help with our mental wellbeing. People do not have to read out what the write
    3. Cleanse your personal space with incense, sage, or blessed water
      • Sprinkle salt on the doorstep, light a bay leaf to clear the air, ring a bell to dispel tension, fill a spray bottle with filtered water or rainwater and write an intention of gratitude on the bottle to lighten the energy of your home. Become a shaman with your own domain. Chant, sing, act!
    4. Avoid where possible toxic or emotionally draining people
      • If you are listening to someone for more than 3 minutes at a time without saying much, it is a monologue or a download, not a conversation.  If you find yourself in a place where someone is talking about themselves exclusively, about a situation that doesn’t really involve you, say something like ‘breaker, breaker’, or ‘can I jump in here’ … Try to invite conversation rather than be a vent for people’s self-obsessions.
    5. Cut emotional chords and reroute relationships through the higher self
      • This is a powerful visualisation exercise. Cut psychic ties with anyone who drains your time and energy. Reestablish a new relationship  through the plane of the higher self. Offering your relationships to the higher self can help resolve codependency and feeling drained.  
PART 5 – Spiritual cleanse 
  1. Practice two hours of silence once a week
    • If family members or your thoughts won’t leave you in peace, find a place out of range, without cell phone or artificial noise, where you can sit quietly and practice silence. Once you make a commitment to silence, it feels like a deep cleanse of the soul.
  2. Practice forgiveness and acceptance 
    • People and problems can get under our skin. If we practice forgiveness and increase our compassion we can see ourselves and others in a different light. Accept that there are some things you cannot control. Rather than trying to control the actions of others, try controlling the flow or your breath instead.
  3. Sit or walk in nature and silently observe colours, smells, sounds
    • Small children are enamoured with nature. However, as adults, sometimes we lose that effervescent joy. Take your inner magical child on a playdate. Find places where nature actively expresses itself and see how it lifts your spirit. Or go to an art gallery or museum and enjoy the experience of the senses
  4. Do some devotional practices
    • If you are spiritual light a candle or incense and dedicate it to someone special. If you are atheist look up at the stars and try to find planets. If you are religious go to chapel, church or temple. If you are pagan create rituals that harmonise your world. How do you connect to that which is bigger than you? Make a ritual to celebrate the day.
  5. Read spiritual or religious texts
    • Each day or even once a week, do a close reading of a spiritual chosen text and see what meaning it offers. These texts can spark inspiration for your own writing. Contemplate the power of the written word and dwell on the deeper meaning of what is said.

Your commitment

You will not fail the challenge and have to leave it if you do not follow through with every part of the challenge. However, the challenge asks you to follow each part diligently, without cheating. Each person who takes up the challenge will sign the commitment form provided and pay a $20 deposit to show their commitment. The deposit will be refunded to you if you can swear on the ‘yoga bible’ (The Upanishads) that you have stayed 100% on track … with every single aspect of the challenge. If you strayed, the $20 will be used to buy a special tree to remind you of your efforts.

People can drop in and out of the Sunday classes during the challenge. Casual Sunday class cost is $20 per class.


40 day Challenge Commitment Form

I, ______________________________ will practice yoga 3 times a week for the durations of the Challenge. I will be strict vegetarian and meditate daily, rising with the sun. I will follow each step of the 5 week challenge (as documented), writing my journal, doing devotional practice, practicing silence, and cleaning my personal spaces.

I will limited my alcohol intake (3 units/week women) and consume no foods with chemical numbers. I will make a commitment to upholding healthy personal relationships.

I will keep a daily yoga journal documenting my progress and experiences. I will take an oath of complete truthfulness and documented transparency, owning and declaring any of my negative behaviours and lapses to the group. 

I will pay a $20 cash deposit. If I do not complete every aspect of the challenge I understand I will forfeit my deposit. This deposit will be used to by the NZ Yoga Centre a new tree in a pot


SIGNED: ______________________________ DATED: __________________________


Our yogic diet will follow Ali’s 85% + 10% + 5% rule

85% of each serving should include …

  1. Fresh vegetables
  2. Whole grains, especially oats, whole wheat, and brown rice
  3. Beans, lentils, peas, tofu and plant-based protein
  4. Herbal teas (minimising caffeinated teas and coffee)
  5. Any type of fruits, especially organic and/or locally produced fruits – including tomatoes, avocado, and lemons.
  6. Preparing and cooking with care, giving gratitude before eating

Up to 10% of each meal servings can include …

  • Organic and/or local dairy products: organic milk, butter, vegetarian cheese (no animal rennet), yoghurt (no gelatine), cream
  • Raw nuts and seeds (not salted)
  • Cold pressed oils such as sesame, sunflower, and olive oil
  • Raw sugar, honey, molasses, agave syrup
  • Sweet spices, like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, mint, basil, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, fennel

Up to 5% of meal servings may include rajasic foods

  • Garlic, onions, leeks, chives
  • spicy foods or salty foods
  • Lightly fried foods
  • Eggplants (aubergines)
  • Tinned foods without added sugar, such as canned beans, lentil, tomatoes and fruit in natural juice
  • 85% chocolate or caffeinated drinks – coffee, tea, green tea
  • Alcohol not exceeding 3 units a week
  • Mushroom(tamasic)

Rajasic foods are those that a stimulating effect, leading to irritability and competitive tendencies.

Strictly avoided

  • All meat and fish of all types, including eggs (NB soaked chia seeds make a great binding agent as a substitute to eggs)
  • Non-vegetarian cheese or halal gelatine
  • Animal fats or margarine
  • Deep  fried foods
  • Processed, refined and/or artificial foods with artificial colours and preservatives, including artificial sweeteners (no sugar-free chewing gum or breath freshers)
  • White flour and white sugar
  • Microwaved foods
  • Soft drinks – cola or energy drinks
  • Tobacco and synthetic drugs
  • Fast food from fast food restaurants




Start Up Class – Sunday 10th Nov. 9.30 am-11 am (doors open at 9.25 am)

We will kick off our 5 week Yoga Challenge with a systems cleansing yoga class, followed by a gathering strategizing how to get through the next 40 days following a strict yogic lifestyle. This is a great opportunity to get to know your fellow challenge participants so that you can each offer encouragement along the way. 

  • Fortnightly potluck brunch after Sunday class at 11am -12pm.

Bring a plate of fresh fruit, or healthy home cooking sweet or savory, or raw juice, or a fresh beverage to share with challenge members. Also if you want to shared ideas, recipes, or your journal insights, these can be shared as well. Please note, in keeping with good karma yoga practices, everyone will be expected to help tidy up and do any dishes before leaving.

  • Final Sunday class for the year 14th December (or 22nd December TBC)

This will be the last class of our 5 week Yoga Challenge. We will be celebrating everyone’s success with a final gathering. 

Please contact Ali at NZyogacentre@gmail.com or phone 06 3274108 for more information

beetroot butterfly

Ideas from the last challenge

A tasty super-food smoothie includes whole food such as: organic milk, or soy/nut milk, probiotic yogurt (no gelatin), raw honey, coconut water, varied fruits such as: banana, avocado, stone fruit, pears and peaches, passion fruit. As well as raw nuts & unprocessed seeds. This allows us to drink amazing smoothies, sip freshly pressed fruit juice, eat fruit salads, and also enjoy ‘savory’ fruit salads made of tomato, avocado, cucumber, lemon etc. There is so much scope for yogic ‘fasting’. The general idea is to give the digestive system a rest by eating simple fresh foods.

You can join our challenge either in person or ‘remotely’ by paying Sadhana Yoga 01-0504-0163452-00

In person – $100 (includes 5 Sunday classes and deposit) 

Remote participants – $20 koha 

Casual attendees – $20 per casual class  


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