Monthly Archives: July 2019

Newcastle business Yogic Wisdom is the first in the Hunter to offer a post graduate diploma in yoga therapy

Found her calling: “Along came yoga teacher training and I’ve never looked back,” says Yogic Wisdom founder Kym McDonald.
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What was your first job out of school?

I was an apprentice fitter and turner with the Electricity Commission NSW. That led me into mechanical engineering. I’d attend trade shows and demonstrate welding and other mechanical tasks. A woman doing what was considered a traditional male role created quite a stir. I have always gone against popular choices and trends to follow the direction that feels right for me.

Kym McDonaldHow do you differentiate yoga and yoga therapy?

Yoga classes are often taught in groups and are usually more general. Often, students are seeking exercise to stay in shape. Identical form and instruction is taught, with some adaptations, without the individual in mind. Yoga instructors may offer classes for specific conditions such as pregnancy, runners or seniors. A yoga therapist is an experienced yoga teacher with substantial additional training in therapeutic applications and supporting skills. They incorporate a multidimensional approach to caring for individuals. A yoga therapist’s goals include managing and reducing symptoms of suffering, rooting out causes of suffering, improving life function, and shifting attitude and perspective in relation to a client’s condition.

Who do you expect to do the yoga therapy diploma?

Qualified yoga teachers in the Hunter and Central Coast who want to deepen their knowledge and provide a holistic solution to their students, either one on one or in small groups.

How many hours are involved?

650 hours over two years of study. Once qualified, they can practice as a yoga therapist and register with Yoga .

Why does yoga remain relevant?

People use yoga to manage their work life balance, to de-stress and improve their quality of life. Others are searching for a place and community to understand themselves more.

Do you practice daily?

Just before dawn I practice movement and breath techniques for 40 minutes finishing with 30 minutes of meditation. In the evening, 20 minutes of relaxation breathing, mindfulness reflection and gratitude for my day.

Do you believe in yoga’s benefits moreso for body or mind?

To separate the body from the mind is difficult as they are part of the whole being. Many students initially come to class for the body and quickly realise that their whole being is benefiting. Students often share that they feel much calmer, sleep better, their relationships improve and they have greater personal awareness.

What’s the answer for those who want to do yoga but have no time?

Yoga doesn’t have to take long and you can do it at home. At Yogic Wisdom we can review diet, body structure and personal requirements to recommend a customised home practice. For many, it is a simply a 20 minute morning practice and sometimes a 10 minute evening breathing and gentle movement to provide restorative sleep. Greater results are always gained from daily practice, as yoga was originally designed.

Any other innovation in your business?

We want to offer a scholarship program for students. We’re also creating opportunities for more people to benefit from yoga through our new all bodies and ages beginner’s classes, plus free yoga classes. In a first, our yoga therapy students will observe client sessions provided by me through free clinics. Yoga is about giving back. Nine years ago we created the Karma Yoga community charity which supports a school and orphanage in Bangalore. We plan to run more events to fund a school bus.

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ArtLayers of meaning between pages

ENGROSSED: Installation view, Brigita Ozolins The Secretary (detail) 2014. Photo: Simon OzolinsBOOKS these days have serious competition. Yet the book is a crucial building block of our civilisation, since for at least the past 500 years a growing torrent of books has documented discoveries, created history and fed the imaginative lives of more and more of the world’s population.
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At Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery until October 15 Meryl Ryan has created a superb exhibition, Book Club, which takes this fundamental saga as basis for the work of 11 contemporary artists who celebrate or subvert the book as a physical object. It brings together many extraordinary works; vivid metaphors and surreal objects.

SIMRYN GILL: Four Atlases of the World and One of Stars, 2009. Image: Utopia Art Sydney

In Deidre Brollo’s elaborately constructed library, books are repositories of almost forgotten knowledge. In the other large installation by Brigita Ozolins, familiar from her work at MONA, walls and floor are densely covered with thousands of discarded printed pages, while a sightless secretary adds to the pile.

Ahn Wells, in a surprising new trajectory, makes an autobiographical paper quilt, a patchwork of scraps from diaries and notebooks on one side with fragments of untranslated Korean text from a childhood book on the reverse.

Julie Gough from Tasmania and Archie Moore from Queensland place the book in a colonial context, correcting the white assumptions of old school history books and miniaturising the role of the missions.

The book is a central and symbol-laden object in the work of William Kentridge. This celebrated South African artist often works with printed text, subverting with superimposed moving images, contrasting the inert with living things. Burgeoning painted trees dominate the newsprint in a layered metaphor. Several sculptural pieces interpret how our brains function like an ill-catalogued library.

An even more radical comment on our use of books as imaginative fuel comes from Simryn Gill. Books are transformed into quixotic objects, with a group of atlases pulped and moulded into terrestrial globes and a favourite novel, the corrosive Bell Jar of Sylvia Plath, torn into strips and rolled into 21 strings of spherical beads.

How would one feel wearing that painful semi-autobiography? Do we really assimilate the books we treasure?

As this mind-blowing exhibition demonstrates, books and the printed word make facts, but also feed some other fundamental hunger.

TILLEY’S TEXTAN exhibition within the main exhibition focuses on Lezlie Tilley’s most recent work, using text to create visual patterns. In recent years she has expanded a long-term interest in text into augmented books and into projects where blocking out a single recurring letter creates arbitrary patterns, which now she extrapolates into musical notation. The individual cancelled letters become notes on a stave which, translated into a performable score, can be heard in the gallery. A mundane page becomes sequences of sound reminiscent of Philip Glass and John Cage, the Glass Cage of the exhibition’s title.

As we expect from this artist, the reworked texts are meticulously represented, the sequences building momentum. The combination of elaborately planned detail and complete chance is mesmerising for the viewer and for the artist, taking her ongoing passion for manipulating paper into a whole new realm. Few artists have the imaginative concentration to keep their work constantly evolving, let alone making this leap from sight to sound. Why not dance?

FORMIDABLE CULLENTHE Cooks Hill Galleries’ recent showing of graphics by the late Adam Cullen somehow slipped beneath the radar. He has established a formidable reputation, but it is hard to imagine his casually brutal images in a domestic environment. Works on paper show more respect for both medium and expressive line.

Meanwhile, Gavin Fry paints iconic Newcastle, where obsessively detailed facades are set amid swirling abstract chaos. It’s genuinely surreal.

STRONG BLENDAT Back to Back Galleries until September 24 is a celebration of ceramics.

Nicola Purcell’s classically thrown teapots reveal intensive training and a strong sense of surface design. Jo Davies uses terracotta for simple pasta bowls.

Tracie Bertram’s mosaic-covered objects continue to harvest her fertile visual imagination and craft knowledge in a series of fantastic flamboyant forms.

Elizabeth Treadwell Newman supplies unfettered madness in totem poles and pincushions, while Sandra Shaw’s silken velvet fabrics are a further example of perfected craftsmanship.

This is a strong show.

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Xtraction Espresso has upped the ante with a cool menu

Coffee talker: Kenn Blackman, owner of Xtraction Espresso, on Bolton Street in Newcastle. Picture: Simone De PeakXtraction Espresso, 2/36 Bolton St, Newcastle, Mon-Fri. 6am-3pm, Sat 7-12noon. Closed Sunday.
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There are plenty of Newcastle cafes that can make a quality cup of coffee. A smaller number house baristas that are excellent every single day. Other cafes serve an average coffee but compensate for it by serving excellent food that is unique or imaginative. Some places charm with their atmosphere simply because of the warmth and attentiveness of their service. One or two still have a great atmosphere with almost no service at all. A couple of businesses I can think of manage to be busy every day with little or none of the above. If you are lucky and your coffee machine stands somewhere that is convenient or in a room with a view, then hundreds of customers, regardless of your weaknesses, will sit at your tables just to be seen there.

Rarely in Newcastle does a café appear to have no weaknesses: outstanding coffee, acreative menu featuring delicious food, attentive service that is warm as well as informative, and awelcoming atmosphere.

Xtraction Espresso on Bolton Streetin Newcastle isn’t just ticking all the boxes, it’s setting up a whole new cafe criteria. Apparently you no longer have to give up on good service so that you can enjoy your favourite coffee. You can even be looked after, drink a great cup and be nourished by savoury goodness without once having to leave your table. Xtraction is doing all the important things extremely well.

For those of you who assumed Xtraction focused solely on their coffee then you should order one of their breakfast offerings as soon as possible. Although it is the coffee that I most crave when I arrive there on a Saturday morning it is something else entirely that I encounter when I first step inside. Behind the counter the chef must have been slow cooking his tomato braise, or smoking some brisket to serve with aspero pickles or stirring up a sweet and hearty bolognaise that I make no attempt whatsoever to resist when placing my breakfast order. By the time it has arrived at my table under two perfectly poached eggs, a number of customers have commented on the mouth-watering aromas that have met them at theentrance.

The most interesting parts of the breakfast and lunch choices take their inspiration from Mexican street food and all the smoky spiciness that it has brought to the everyday café menu. With black-eyed beans, chillies and queso quesadillas being wrapped up and served all day there is often a small crowd assembled outside of this kitchen. The Amigo and Jak’d Up burritos are a fearsome pair of meaty, slow-cooked marvels that can also be compacted into toasties. As a Mediterranean alternative, the Sicilian option features a bolognaise much like the one from my breakfast – resting on fresh bread and sweetened with handfuls of fresh herbs and vine-ripened tomatoes.

I am still only halfway through the breakfast when the barista and owner Kenn Blackman joins me at my table. By now he has poured me three coffees and what could have been 50 or so others for the rest of his customers. Working at the machine and the grinders by himself, it takes only a moment to realise that Kenn is as efficient as he is knowledgeable. You could even say that he has mastered the art of combining these strengths. While he pours, steams, doses, gives change and takes orders, Kenn is in an ongoing conversation about all things coffee with any number of his dedicated regulars. It is not unusual to hear a barista flaunt their latest coffee lingo but in here the customers are up to it as well.

The enthusiasm and passion of all this caffeinated banter says as much about the coffee as it does about Kenn. For their milk-based coffees Xtraction currently uses the Maverick and Cargo blends roasted by Delano in Wollongong. Customers can choose one blend or the other and on this Saturday morning could savour a teeth-tingling single origin from Colombia. For espresso enthusiasts, the single origin is hard to pass up for the sheer zinginess and brightness of acidity. At the other end of the coffee strength spectrum, if you prefer a gentler, milk-based coffee, then the Cargo is noticeably milder than the Maverick.

Regardless of the origin or the roast I chose, each coffee Kenn serves me is difficult to fault. It comes as no surprise that Xtraction is becoming synonymous with superior coffee in a Newcastle scene that is brimming with quality beans and talented, passionate baristas. With a new outlet in Maitland and bigger plans around the corner, Kenn Blackman is proof that when it comes to keeping the customers satisfied, consistency will always win the day.

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‘Designed to get us hooked’: Pokies case kicks off

n Baptist minister Tim Costello holds a Door stop in support for Shonica Guy and Jennifer Kanis, Maurice Blackburn’s head of social justice, outside the Federal courts in Melbourne, Tuesday September 12, 2017. Ms Guy and Maurice Blackburn are launching legal action against Crown casino and the makers of the Dolphin Treasure machine, alleging the game is rigged. (AAP Image/Joe Castro) NO ARCHIVINGAn unprecedented lawsuit likened to a “David and Goliath” battle has begun, with a former gambler taking on ‘s powerful pokies industry over claims its products are designed to addict users.
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James Packer’s Crown Resorts, owner of Melbourne’s Southbank casino, and the ASX-listed slots manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure will, for the next three weeks, be locked in a landmark Federal Court trial defending claims that the prominent Dolphin Treasure poker machine is misleading, deceptive and in breach of consumer law.

The case was launched by Shonica Guy, a former pokies addict, represented pro-bono by law firm Maurice Blackburn. Ms Guy on Tuesday morning said she lost 14 years of her life on the pokies, and wanted to stop this happening to other problem-gamblers.

“For too long now, we have been told we are the only ones to blame for pokies addiction,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

“I want this case to show the machines are misleading … and designed to get us hooked.”

The lawsuit alleges the Dolphin Treasure machine, of which Crown Melbourne has 38 on its gaming floor, is designed to mislead gamblers about their chances of winning, partly through an uneven spread of symbols across its five spinning reels.

Reverend Tim Costello, a prominent anti-pokies campaigner with the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said Crown, Aristocrat and the wider pokies industry was the “most powerful industry in “, whose influence was equivalent to that of the American gun lobby.

“They are the equivalent of the National Rifle Association. That’s why we have the greatest number of problem gamblers bar no country in the world … because of the power of this industry.”

Ms Guy’s decision to take on Crown and Aristocrat, he said, was “truly a David and Goliath story”.

“But I know the Bible, and I know how that story ended,” she told reporters outside court. “The little guy, David, wins.”

Former federal court judge Ron Merkel QC, for Ms Guy, told the court that Dolphin Treasure disguised overall losses as wins, and said gamblers were not made aware of a number of allegedly deceptive features of the machine’s design

Among these is the fact the first four reels have 30 symbols while the fifth and final reel to stop spinning has 44 symbols, making it harder to win on the last reel and encouraging the perception that gamblers have had “near misses” when they lose.

Another allegation is that Dolphin Treasure’s advertised return rate of 87.8 per cent gives the impression that a player will retain 87.8 per cent of the money they bet while risk losing 12.2 per cent, when, in reality, that figure is calculated over the lifetime of a machine and includes jackpots that occasional players rarely win.

Crown Resorts and Aristocrat deny the allegations and will vigorously defend the lawsuit. Industry sources said both defendants were treating the case with the “seriousness it deserves’, but believe they have walked within the boundaries of the law.

The Gaming Technologies Association – the group representing poker machine manufacturers – said the industry firmly stood by the integrity of its products, “which are heavily regulated and comply with strict standards”.

“Those national standards include consumer protection measures, such as no false information, no misleading information, adequate information for players to make informed decisions,” association chief executive Ross Ferrar said. “Those go above and beyond consumer protection legislation.”

When asked whether he believed the design of poker machines contributed to addiction, Mr Ferrar said help was available to gamblers who had a problem, and urged them to “get help”.

Neil Young QC, for Crown Resorts, said the casino operator was “entirely reliant” on the statutory approvals of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

He said the language used in Dolphin Treasure, including the advice on the theoretical return to players, was based wholly on state regulation.

Maurice Blackburn lawyer Jennifer Kanis said the unprecedented lawsuit was not seeking damages from Crown and Aristocrat, but rather, major design changes to make their poker machines “fairer”.

The case will call other former gambling addicts to testify, as well as addiction psychologists and mathematicians.

“Through this action we hope to make people aware of what is really going on in the design of poker machines and importantly to see a better standard applied to the future design of machines,” she said.

“It is our view that this case will have ramifications across the industry.”

Mr Costello said anti-pokies campaigners had given up on the hope that state governments will act on serious pokies reform.

“They take too much in donations from the industry,and they get far too much in revenue,” he said. “They are really Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”

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Traffic snarls as Newcastle’s light rail work starts in Hunter Street

It was one extreme or the other as construction of Newcastle’slight rail network began on Tuesday.
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Headaches and hope as work starts In Progress: A map showing planned light rail work up to 2019. Construction crews moved into Hunter Street, between Auckland and Darby streets, on Monday.

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookHerald spoke with some business owners on Tuesday, they described the lack of cars on the closed stretch of Hunter Street as beinglike a ghost town.

George Fellas, who has owned Civic Lunch Delights for 14 years, said he had noticed a customer drop of about 20 per cent on the first morning of work.

Mr Fellas said he was supportive of the light rail project, but was concerned about the impact on his business and five employees–who all had mortgages.

“We just have to ride it out and eat the cost,” he said.

Traffic at the Auckland St detour as #Newcastle light rail work kicks off on Hunter St @newcastleheraldpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/3xubDDRdah

— Nick Bielby (@nickbielby) September 11, 2017

“There’s not that much we can do. I’m glad they are starting now–the sooner they start, the sooner they will get the job done. I’m confident it will be a benefit to the whole town.”

Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel said construction in the zone, near Civic Theatre, was expected to finish by the end of the year.

He said pedestrian access would be maintained for businesses during the work.

“For people who live, work and play in the city centre, light rail construction means some traffic changes, and we are asking road users to take this into account when planning their trip,” Mr Cassel said. “We expect traffic impacts to settle down a little once road users get used to the changes and find the best route for them, and we thank road users for their patience.”

Blue Door Cafe owner Peter James said he was willingto put up with the inconvenience for the betterment of the city. But he said it was important that work finished on schedule, before Christmas, so he could take advantage of his business’s busiest time of year.

“We’re happy to work with the crew and try to make itas smooth as possible and try tostay as positive as possible,” he said.

“Is it going to cause us headaches in the meantime over the short-term period? Yes it is. Hopefully it goes as planned. If they don’t stick to the time-frames then they are going to have a very disappointed business owner here.”

Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said it was imperative that the work on the project remain on time“tominimise any negative impacts that arise as a consequence of the traffic restrictions in the zone”.

“We note the special car parking arrangements and that pedestrian access is being maintained and implore shoppers and business patrons to be patient and to maintain their custom of businesses through this period,” Mr Hawes said.

Joseph Baker, who manages Hunter Street cafe The Press Book House, said he had a positive outlook.

“I don’t mind at all–it’s all for the better,” he said.

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