Watch yourself

When I say watch, I mean watch others and watch yourself. I mean watching in a very positive way. Watching as in observing. To make things easier, watch others first, just observe without any valuation, rating, or prejudice, just watch. Be mindful when watching. Then go watch yourself. Watch yourself from within.

Watch others

I’ve always been an observer. Ever since I can remember, I enjoyed watching and observing other people. When walking, when sitting in a cafe, whilst eating. And although I don’t usually initiate these activities solely for the purpose of observing, I noticed just how observant and ‘watchfully’ I am whilst watching others. So, the process of watching is very mindful indeed. It happens now.

When interacting with people, watch them. For example, if you ask someone ‘How are you?’, watch their reaction. Are they really happy, when they say ‘I’m great.’ or does their body language, tonality and voice express something differently? Are their eyes shining or not? Is their voice trembling or clear? Do they continue breathing or do they hold their breath? If we speak our truth, our body language automatically resonates and aligns with our words, with the content we are speaking. However, if we don’t, our body language and content are incongruent. For the act of watching others, this means that the other person is most likely not speaking the truth. So, watch!

Watch yourself 

It’s way easier to watch others first, to observe, to notice, to be mindful in the observation moment. It’s also a beautiful practice to go a step further. From watching others to watching yourself. Watch yourself from within.

By observing others you will learn how to observe yourself. It will give you guidance. You will be able to transfer your learnings by observing others onto yourself. Watch yourself, when you speak something out loud, for example ‘I’m so happy’. Do you really feel this deep down in your body? Are you happy from the inside out? Are your eyes glowing? Is your breath getting positively excited? Do you feel like dancing? Do you want to hug the entire world? Yes, then I’m sure you are happy from the inside out. But observe. Is your body language really congruent with your words ‘I’m so happy’ or is there something inside you that doesn’t feel right? Are you for example holding your breath? Does your voice sound a bit sad? Do you feel a bit of a tweak when speaking these words out loud? Watch yourself.

If you speak your truth, your whole body will feel this truth, there won’t be any blockades. However when not speaking your truth, which means lying to yourself, your whole body will tell and show you in the form of blockades, retained energies, tensions, physical pain and a disturbed breathing.

Avoid conflict

By watching yourself from within, by observing your words and related body language, by noticing your breath and your entire body, you’ll be able to reveal your truth, your true self. You will be more mindful and aware of whether you speak the truth or not. If you speak the truth you will feel aligned, light and happy. You will feel complete. In order to feel complete, we must avoid conflict. Conflict arises when we don’t speak our truth. Completeness arises when we do.

Aligned Yogi

As you know, I love yoga and here’s yet another reason why. It’s connected with the idea of feeling complete, at peace with life, as we do speak our truth. A yogi is a person who is complete, fully aligned, one who doesn’t face conflict from within, because a yogi always speaks his truth.

Beautiful and complete life

Isn’t it beautiful that by watching ourselves over time, we can learn, we can grow and we can live a true life? We can feel totally complete. Note that the feeling of completeness does not only relate to big moments in life, on the contrary, you can make every single moment complete, as small or big.

You and only you are the creator of your completeness.

Yours, Nina

Oh Cambodia!

I’m so grateful!

  • … for travelling.
  • … to have visited Cambodia.
  • … to have stayed in a yoga & meditation temple.
  • … that I found yoga & meditation for my life.
  • … that I meet beautiful people wherever I go.

Meeting new people is such a wonderful experience. When I travelled through Cambodia, I enjoyed this experience every single day. I stayed in a yoga & meditation retreat in Kep for 2 weeks. Check out Vagabond Temple, if you are looking for spiritual inspiration & growth, great yoga classes, guidance in meditation and meeting like-minded people from all over the world.

I also booked an Ayurveda detoxification package with sessions spread over 5 days, so you should be a guest for a minimum of 5 days. The package included 4 wonderful Ayurvedic massages plus a session with the founder of the retreat Kobi. My healer Maayan and me started with feet reflexology and seriously this woman has magical hands. I noticed fairly quickly how tight certain parts in my feet were, ouch!, but it all made sense, since these points related to my lower back and hamstrings and yes, they were tight. This session was incredible. Whilst I thought that Maayan was still massaging my feet, she suddenly stood next to me informing me that the massage was finished. What?! This showed me how deeply relaxed I was. For the afternoon she recommended to just be and relax and to take the afternoon yoga practice slow.

More being, less doing.

This is something so valuable I learned during my time at the retreat center. Not only Maayan mentioned this to me specifically to rest more, but also Pazit held an incredible Dharma talk about the topic More being, less doing. Why? Because most of us are so caught up with daily To Do lists, tasks & self-imposed responsibilities, social media and overall distraction, that we forget to simply be. Without looking at our smart phone. Without doing anything. Just being.

Just sit and be still.

Another aha-moment for me was when I visited Maayan the 2nd time for a full body Ayurvedic massage. She hugged me tightly and from her heart and asked me how I was doing. I replied: “Actually good.” She asked: “Actually?” Me: “Hm, no I’m really good.” This situation showed me that I was relativising my mood, although I felt awesome, freaking great, amazing. And so we started reflecting on this conversation and our impulse to relativise things. I instantly noticed for myself that I get the impression it’s more accepted in society to hold back, to be not that great, to moan. But if you say you are doing really great, then you are kind of weird. Different. Maybe arrogant. So, maybe that’s why we make ourselves worse, because we might also get more attention if we say “I’m okay.” Followed by the next question “Why, what’s going on?” as opposed to no question, when you say you are doing great. Well, at least that is my observation, as the entire blog is, just as a reminder.

We continued with a full body massage and again/still, my hip area was tight. I fully relaxed and even saw bright white and yellow lights. Maayan explained that the tightness probably comes from my will to push forward. Because I’m doing too much and being too little. She assured me that I’m still young and that I still have enough time to get to where I want to be. That it’s important to accept that life throws us back at times or makes us go left and right, but that we can continue our path anyways. Accept what is. Accept the throwbacks, meander and changes in life.

You will continue your path.

This inspiring conversation took me straight to my pink notebook wondering where the urge to do comes from. Am I afraid of dying before having fully lived the life that I always wanted to live? Do I do, because I want to live my dream life as quickly as possible, for as long as possible? Am I scared of regretting not to have done enough?

If you are following my blog since the start then you will know that I had my breakthrough in a Reiki session in Mexico, whilst travelling through Latin America for almost 6 months. And so it happened that Maayan and me included a Reiki session into my package. I would love to share with you my main learnings from this session.

  • Follow up on what you see in your dreams.
  • Follow your path.
  • Take care of yourself. Self-love first.
  • Do not absorb negative energies.
  • Go for it.

Go for it!

The last part of the Ayurveda package was with Kobi. After a few minutes of talking, we found ourselves in a very exciting talk about astrology and my sign (=Gemini). Kobi is an absolute expert in this field, so if you are into it and you visit Cambodia, schedule an appointment with him now. Again, details of this conversation would go beyond the scope of this blog post, but let me share with you my learnings which I’m sure will be so valuable for you, too, as these are independent from your astrological sign.

  • Letting someone read my astrological sign made me understand myself more, it gave me more empathy for me, my behaviours and my decisions.
  • Do not compromise on yourself. You are who you are.
  • Set your boundaries. Write down your red lines in the different areas of life.
  • Appreciate validation from others, but do not seek it.
  • Believe in yourself.

Believe in yourself.

Oh Cambodia! Thank you so much for having me and enriching my life so strongly and positively that I feel freer and more confident than ever before. Thank you to all of you wonderful people who accompanied me on this journey.

Love, love, love.

Yours, Nina

 

 

More being, less doing

If you are following me on Instagram, then you’ll know that I’ve just returned from a trip through Cambodia and that I spent 2 weeks in a yoga & meditation retreat in Kep, in Vagabond Temple. I will write a separate article about my travels through Cambodia and the yoga retreat, but for now I will focus on one of my biggest learnings in the last few years. Something that was confirmed again during the yoga retreat. Something that will accompany me for life.

More being, less doing.

If I had to rate where I used to be on a being-doing scale, then I’d say 9 doing and 1 being, meaning I was constantly in action, in movement, restless. I felt like I constantly had to be productive, that I had to do something, that I couldn’t just sit there doing nothing.

I questioned myself during the retreat, why that is and thought, probably because it made me feel lazy and being lazy is not accepted in our society. Wherever we go and look, there is doing, action, activity, rush, hurry, pressure, so I’m not too surprised anymore that I wasn’t able to just be, but that instead I was constantly in doing mode, in fear of being unproductive, unsuccessful and lazy. Maybe this is a fear of not being good enough, too? A fear of not being seen? Of not being acknowledged? Of not receiving validation?

If you relate with my words, maybe ask yourself as well, why you do so much and why you are so little.

Now, being on my path of personal development, I have adapted the scale of being and doing. More being, less doing. It’s important to say at this point that doing is not a bad thing, we need to do in order to progress, but it is equally important for us to be, to process, digest and grow. The critical point is, as often in life, to be conscious about our being and doing and to find balance between the two.

Imagine that your head represents doing and your heart is being. When you do, allow your heart and your soul to follow. When you are, invest the energy you gain into doing.

Find silence when needed. Step into action when required. Then rest. Allow yourself to simply be. Listen to your body, it talks to you.

If you acknowledge being and doing of the same value, then you will feel more balanced, at ease and more relaxed, which ultimately leads you closer and closer to your true self.

Yours, Nina

Reveal your true self

Inspired and based on Patanjalis’ Yogasutra by Ralph Skuban

Reveal your true self by ‘vairagya’

I chose this topic as part of my yoga exams presentation. Whilst dealing with the Yogasutra in more detail, I realised just how much of a code of practice this book is for life. At least for me. This blog post is inspired by the book and Ralph Skuban, however, it only reflects my way of approaching the topic and is written in my own words.

The word ‘vairagya’/letting go is one of the most important words and statements in Patanjalis’ Yogasutra. Whilst it appears more than once, I focus on chapter 1, verses 12-16.

However, my starting point lies in chapter 2, verses 3-4, where it’s said that we humans suffer, because we don’t know, who or what we really are. Also referred to as ‘spiritual blindness’ or ‘avidya’.

If we are now conscious and mindful enough, we will probably seek getting out of this suffering and spiritual blindness with the objective to reach inner freedom. For me, this means being, who we really are.

Start walking as to reveal your true self. 

In the Yogasutra, this is a higher level of ‘vairagya’, it is ‘paravairagya’, a complete detachment of everything.

Where to start

I would recommend to start at the beginning, just like Patanjalis does in chapter 1, verses 1-11. He states to dedicate yourself to yoga, to self-realisation. Yoga is basically a way to heal, it means healing to the grounds of our being, through a process of cleansing.

One way to cleanse is by calming down and quieting our thoughts and mental patterns, which are continuously changing and evolving, making it even more difficult to quiet them. The stillness of our thoughts is referred to as ‘chitta vrittis nirodhah’. And once they become still, we will be at rest, feel peaceful and find inner peace.

How to find inner peace

In chapter 1, verses 12-16, there are some insights on how we can quiet our mind, and the most important finding for me is that we need to understand that we are NOT our thoughts, that we are NOT our emotions and that we are NOT our memories. We mustn’t identify with our thoughts, if we want to quiet our mind and reveal our true self.

Also, it’s beneficial to establish a ‘practice/abyhasa’ like a regular meditation and yoga practice, and most importantly we need to cultivate an inner attitude of letting go.

Vairagya

By practicing ‘abyhasa’ and ‘vairagya’, we will be led into stillness and hence closer and closer to our true self. With the help of letting go (‘vairagya’), we can find our inner light, our true essence again and we will start shining our (moon)light again, that has been hidden and covered with dust for a long enough time. We can begin to walk the way to our true self.

I love the image of a crystal here. We all are a crystal, but over time, our crystal, our true self, may begin to dust based on wrong identifications or at least identifications that we didn’t really question and hence accepted. The good news is we can start blowing off the dust, today, right here, right now. We are free to dissolve beliefs and limitations, that don’t serve as any longer, and we can create and absorb beliefs that well serve us. By dissolving our old beliefs, we approach our true essence of being, slowly, but surely.

We understand that our happiness does not depend on external factors, but only on what’s within us. We will break out of the prison that we built ourselves, we will break up accepted dogmas, we will free ourselves from living the life that others want us to live and will develop back into our true essence.

Yes, this is somehow rebellion, we rebel to get our lives back and to live the life we really want to live. However, that’s good rebellion, if you ask me.

Let go

To summarise, Patanjalis biggest calling is to practice letting go.

  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Forgive as if it never happened.
  • Do not judge everything.
  • Let go of what is hurting you.

Imagine a full glass of water. Only by letting go and emptying your water glass, you can create space for new, beautiful things that make you lighter, freer and happier.

For me the most beautiful effect of ‘vairagya’ is that I will be able to love and serve even more, as I develop more empathy for others, more strength to support others and I gain clarity for my life.

A matter close to my heart

This is a topic close to my heart due to my personal experience. Through yoga and my travels to Latin America, I became more mindful and conscious about me and my life, hence I started to reflect and question the existing.

Knots were bursting and I started going my way to reveal my true self. I began blowing off the dust of my crystal and gradually saw parts of my true self again, my inner light that I had somehow forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.

I’m still in the process of dedusting my crystal, but knowing that I’ve already broken open a few chains and limitations, makes me feel so happy and free that I would always walk this way again.

Yours, Nina

A moving life

This blog post refers to the great German podcast of Benjamin Bulach “Finde deinen eigenen Weg” / “Find your own way”. It was so much fun. Thank you, Ben.

https://soundcloud.com/benjamin-bulach/folge-5-ein-leben-in-bewegung-mit-nina-sadlowsky

I came across a post on Facebook, where Ben was looking for people to interview in his podcast, people with a different CV, people who changed their direction in life. I found that very appealing, which is why I instantly wrote Ben, that I’d be more than happy to support him and tell my story in his podcast.

Since the podcast has been recorded in German, I will do my best to write a summary of the podcast episode here, in English.

B: How did you know that what you’re doing is not right for you anymore?

N: In my first marketing job, I realised that I hardly had any time for myself, I had headaches quite often, my shoulders were aching, so I had quite a few physical signs that I was not at my best. And I thought at 28 years old, that can’t be right. That is not the life I want to live.

B: And how did you then realise that you want to change directions? 

N: That actually took some time and a U-turn. At the time, I thought the issue was the job and it certainly was from a stress level, but I also realised when I changed my job then, that this was not right either. Whilst my first job was too intense, the next one was a bit too boring. It was a long dream of mine to be an actress, and hence I applied to various acting schools in Germany and I got accepted by all 4 schools that I had applied to. So, I felt reassured that my feelings were right and that I held a potential that was waiting to be unleashed. So, I quit my job and visited an acting school in Munich.

But, I also realised that the job issue was only one side of the medal, but that in fact I missed my boyfriend at the time, as we were having a distance relationship. The topics love and relationship were apparently bigger than I thought.

B: Ok, and how did your environment react when you decided for the acting school?

Well, there were some people who were really excited for me and encouraged me to go ahead with my plan, but then there were people, especially my family, who raised concerns over leaving my safe job in marketing and about my financial situation. I heard the word Must a lot. You must have a job, you must work, you must must must. And I suddenly thought “Do I? Must I?” I started questioning things.

B: And then, how did you realise that the acting school suits you more than the classical marketing job?

N: Well, that is an interesting question. I did the acting school for only 5 months in the end, as again I missed my boyfriend at the time and when he decided to move to London, I moved to London, too. I think looking back I just needed the acting school as a way to break out, to leave the marketing world behind for the time being. And it really was the kick off for me to feel myself properly again, to get an idea of who I really am and who I really want to be. I also realised that sitting in an office the entire day is not what I want. I’m naturally someone who likes moving and exploring. And the acting school gave me the opportunity to explore myself and to unfold my personality in many directions. So maybe the acting school served as a kick off for my personal development.

B: Were you always someone who needed to feel herself?

N: Yes, definitely. Since age 4 I’ve been dancing the ballet, jazz dance, and Latin dances. I always moved and I need movement in my life. Movement helps me to feel myself and be in my highest alignment. Without movement, I am not in flow. But I love flowing.

B: And then when you lived in London, you decided to travel a bit further, right?

N: Yes, that’s right. My boyfriend and me broke up at the end of 2014 and 6 months later I was in a new relationship with my colleague. By the way, I worked in a marketing job back then that I really loved, until we were sold to a German company. So, after 3 years in the job, I quit and I said to my bf that I always wanted to go travelling through Latin America when I’d quit my job next time. And he replied that he was in and so we planned our adventure together. After 2 months of travelling, he broke up with me. I was shattered and thought I was in the wrong movie. It woke me up, not gently, but it did. I started thinking about me, my life, about the reasons of what had happened. My sadness quickly converted into anger and that intense feeling helped me to overcome my sadness by redirecting my anger into positive energy. I then decided to continue my travels alone; my first thought was indeed that I will be doing that on my own and that I won’t let someone destroy my dreams.

B: What helped you most in that situation?

N: Basically the fact that I can trust my intuition. I had a strong feeling that my travels were only about to start, but of course there were voices telling me to come home, and also there was my inner voice speaking to me, but I simply knew, that my first thought and gut feel was right and that I needed to travel on my own. Of course I heard my head and my heart constantly fighting, but my heart voice won. Luckily!

B: What were your main insights from your travels?

N: Definitely that I realised that I can trust my intuition and my heart. Hence, I am now able to shorten the inner conflict of head and heart. If I listen … Also, courage. I was quite courageous during my trip and that’s definitely something I want to keep up, as I think it is incredibly important to be brave, to be open-minded, to be communicative, simply to approach people I don’t know (yet). It is a beautiful feeling. And finally, I realised how important it is to live your true self and this is hence my last insight from my travels, that I want to keep going on this path of personal growth expressing my true self. To focus on what I want and what I need. Self-love is the key word in this context. It’s essential to practice self-love as only then we can spread love and serve others.

B: Talking about self-love, I would also like to talk with you about yoga, meditation and physical work in general. I personally find it quite difficult to be still and meditate and since you are a lively person, too, how did you ease into it? How did you start?

Yes, indeed, that’s not so easy. I actually got in touch with meditation for the first time when I visited a yoga retreat in Gran Canaria in 2015. I just couldn’t sit still, not even for a minute. I couldn’t bear the stillness. I got hot & restless, I had to move all the time, it wasn’t nice to realise that I wasn’t able to sit still. It made me think. And so I started meditating for a minute and gradually increased my meditation time. But I had my real breakthrough in Mexico at the end of my travels when I visited another yoga retreat. The combination of the sea, the sand, the beach and the right people surrounding me helped me to let go and to run along with it. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to travel to Mexico now in order to find their way into meditation, but it means to give it a try, and not to overwhelm yourself. Just start with a one minute meditation and gradually raise it to 10/15 minutes, depending on how long you wish to meditate for. The most important thing is to do it daily. Rather meditate every day for only 5 min than trying it once a week for 15 minutes. It won’t work. It’s difficult to sit still for 15 minutes, if you never meditated before and if you are a lively person by nature. So, you need to be patient with yourself and practice. I can now meditate for 15 minutes and longer and yes, of course I have days where my thoughts are still wandering, too, but I notice it quicker and hence I can bring my focus back to my breath way quicker. It also helps visualising that you observe yourself from above, how you sit there on your mat or cushion. It gives the mind something to do, which means you can focus on your breath. Worth trying.

B: And how does yoga and meditation go together for you? How are these two connected?

N: They are strongly connected. Yoga is meditation. And actually I only found my way into meditation through yoga. I’m a person who needs to move first before being able to rest and I’m sure many people can resonate. Practicing asanas on your yoga mat is meditation and everything else around you dissolves. Now after years of practice I can also rest without the physical exercise.

B: Great. What are your plans now relating to yoga, meditation and coaching?

N: Meditation is something I’ve really incorporated in my life. And yoga is so much more for me than the practice on the mat, it’s about being mindful and connected with yourself. Of course, I want to continue teaching yoga, I would like to hold yoga retreats and workshops globally. In April, I will furthermore start a coaching education. Hence, my goal is to combine these themes and to complement them with essential oils as well. I really want to build my own business doing what I love. Living a life that I love.

B: Imagine you would meet your younger self, little Nina. What would you tell her?

N: I would tell her to trust herself. Listen to your heart and switch off the voices outside, as best as you can. Trust that your decision and the ways you are attracted to have their right to exist. Everything makes sense looking back, everything has its positive side. Trust me. Sometimes we need triggers to leave our comfort zone, and whilst it might hurt at the time, these triggers can catapult you to a totally different level. Also, look inside yourself, find silence, find peace, switch off, spend alone time, don’t fear alone time. Give your emotions the chance to come up.

Just imagine you are a crystal and the crystal is completely covered in dust, and gradually you blow off the dust, bit by bit, layer by layer and your true self is being revealed.

B: That’s a wonderful picture, thank you. What would you recommend people how they can find silence if they simply don’t know how…

N: That is difficult. But I’d say one approach is if you really want to change something, then you will. For example start by taking 30 minutes every Sunday, which are just for you, reading, drinking tea, sitting in a cafe, taking a bath. Whatever it may be, do it for yourself and alone. Or sometimes if a change is triggered by external factors, then listen to yourself and your body what it is you need and acknowledge it accordingly. For example you feel tired and exhausted then take some time out, a day, a few hours or whatever you can do to find back to your inner peace. Don’t lie to yourself and really listen. Our body speaks to us and most people are great at hiding and covering up the symptoms and feelings, but exactly then it’s so important to have access to yourself and listen to what your conditions and emotions are telling you. And if you do listen, beautiful things will be revealed.

B: Like you know my podcast is called Find Your Own Way. And of course, there are always different paths to take. What paths do you want to take?

N: I have definitely visualised my future life. In terms of business, I want to build upon yoga, coaching, meditation and essential oils. From a private point of view, well I’m single at the moment, but I do wish for a beautiful relationship with a guy who is on a similar way or is at least open to accompany me on my way. I also see that I’ll have a house by the sea and that I work from there. Nina sitting by the sea, with her husband and her laptop writing articles, her blog, teaching yoga, and so much more, with the picture of living a dream of freedom, happiness and love. I do know that there will still be obstacles along the way, but I also have the confidence that I will master them, based on my experiences, my knowledge and my growth. There will always be obstacles, but it’s important to know that we all have the capabilities to overcome them and succeed.

B: Thanks so much, a beautiful picture to finish on. It will be very interesting to see where you stand in 10 years time. Thank you, Nina, for being here. Dear listeners, I hope you’ll find your dream picture, too. All the best for you. 

N: Thank you, Ben. Ciao.

 

Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 6

For consistency reasons, I’ve titled this post “Yoga Teacher Training – Episode 6”, but really it should be titled “Dissolving of pain”. Dissolving pain might not sound too great, but oh it is. You ‘only’ have to trust the journey.

Hip Openers

On Friday, we continued our yoga teacher training. Our teacher Nella already advised us beforehand that we will be working with hip openers majorly that day. Just hearing hip openers and thinking about it, I actually get warm and slightly nervous and so I did, when I read my teacher’s email.

Here’s why: when I travelled through Latin America and started looking at myself and my life in more depth than I ever did before, I stranded in Tulum, Mexico for a yoga retreat. During this retreat, I worked with a healer for a few sessions and I told him that I had been suffering from tight hips and groins for a year already (this was in Oct 2016). And for the first time in years, just by the healer mentioning words like “love”, “hurt”, “heartbroken”, “truth” and “trust”, I started crying. My tears were rolling and rolling. These tears, I knew instantly, were long overdue. I had very obviously locked up emotions and feelings – maybe in my hips? – for too long. Maybe because at the time I was not ready to really see and feel them, so me and my body thought, let’s put it aside for now. Problem is, this “for now” ended up being for years, which is why the words of the healer triggered me so quickly and heavily.

Fast forwarding to January 2017 after I had just returned from my travels, I visited a yoga and meditation workshop in Munich. Guess, what was a major part of the workshop called “A journey to your inner self“? Yes, exactly, hip openers. And again, I remember tears running down my face.

Listen to your body

I’ve had a few similar scenarios since then, where I felt emotional and nervous whilst practicing hip openers, but when we practiced them again last Friday, it was intense! Knowing of my physical and emotional challenges I’m obviously not that keen on hip openers, but I do know that I need to address this part of my body, that I need to look at it, that I need to feel it, so that the healing process can continue and that the pain can dissolve.

Just like water has cleansing properties, body work holds healing properties.

It was no coincidence that I was in the first row that afternoon and I was struggling,

  • physically (my thought: why for f***’s sake am I so tight?)
  • mentally (my thought: I cannot do this, it’s uncomfortable, why am I doing this?)
  • emotionally (my thought: what exactly happened, what is stored in my hips?)

If you are a yogi, you probably know what they say about the connection between our hips and our emotions. It’s said that our hip area is strongly connected with our emotions. Hence, an intense hip opener practice can bring up feelings of rage, sadness and anger.

Hips don’t lie!

During the practice I smoothed over the physically and emotionally challenging practice, but I could not hide my feelings anymore in Savasana. My tears started rolling, I experienced mixed feelings of sadness, relief, confusion and maybe a bit of anger not knowing what exactly these emotions are that I’ve stored in my hips.

And today (Monday) – whilst writing this blog post – I’ve decided to let it go. I don’t need to know which emotions exactly I’ve stored in my hips, but I do know that I want to go deeper here, that my body is telling me to look closer and that I really need to look closer in order to dissolve the pain. And only by being aware and mindful, we have the chance to change, for the better! So, from now on, I will be dedicating 20 minutes every day to hip opener exercises – happy hips, happy Nina!

Yours, Nina

PS: No, I am not using a picture of me in a hip opener pose… I chose the pic because water stands for cleansing and practicing hip openers will cleanse too. Pic taken in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

 

 

 

Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 5

The last blog posts about my yoga teacher training were a review of the asana and philosophy practice, but this blog post will be different. I don’t feel like writing a summary of these last 3 days, I feel more like writing how I’ve experienced this intensive training from a mental, physical and emotional point of view.

We started on Friday 4pm again and I was so happy to go back to the yoga teacher training. At the same time, I realised that the completion was about to get closer, so I don’t really know if it was pressure I felt or excitement. Maybe both.

Nevertheless, once I stepped into the yoga studio and sat down onto my mat, I just felt ‘home’. I’ve been practicing yoga many times per week, in the studio or at home, but being in this peaceful and protected environment again, just made me feel at home, silent and loved.

We did loads of forward bends on Friday and whilst I’ve been making massive progress on going deeper into the poses, especially in Uttanasana, I really felt my hamstrings and my inner thighs working, to make a long story short, I could feel my entire body working. I don’t know how you feel about physical work, but I love it. I simply love it. I love it from a physical point of view to go further, and I don’t mean pushing myself into poses, nevertheless, yes, I am challenging my body by practicing and executing the poses properly, by really working those muscles, by being in proper alignment and trust me, doing that, builds up loads of heat in our bodies. And then again the challenging yoga poses reflect life for me. That’s the mental and emotional aspect.

The 2nd and 3rd day focused on backbends. I am not the kind of person that you would call bendy. Bendy Nina probably wouldn’t be my nickname, but you can call me Ninja. I had respect for backbends especially for the wheel, Urdvha Danurasana. Since childhood, and until I started practicing yoga, I’ve not been doing the wheel or bridge at all. Simply because I didn’t really like it and I thought – for whatever reason – that I cannot do it. Here we go: another limiting belief that I imposed on myself. The good news is with being on the yoga way, I realise just how much more I’m trying out, I say yes to things way more often, I experiment more, I am just offering even more openness.

This life attitude made me realise that I’ve actually got a good chest opening and that I am pretty ‘strong’, but there is definitely still potential in my shoulder opening. After day 2, I was so physically exhausted (but happy), that I just ran myself a bath with some herbal salt that my closest friend got me as a present from Peru. I listened to a podcast about health and essential oils whilst relaxing in the bath tub and I noticed just how happy and grateful I was.

I started day 3 with feeling literally every single muscle in my body, especially the ones that very obviously I’ve not been using a lot or intensively enough. Getting out of bed this morning was not easy, I felt my hamstrings, my quadriceps, my triceps, my hip flexors, and the area between my shoulder blades. Phew, plus I knew that today’s practice will lead to Urdhva Danurasana as peak pose.

We started the training with a lovely opening. It always grounds me, it gets me to my happy place. Literally 10 minutes later and an intensive warm up – especially for shoulder and chest opening – I had built an immense heat in my body. And yes I had seconds of thinking ‘Why is this so damn hard?’ but the next second I focused on my breath again thinking

Wow, it’s incredible what my body is capable of.

I felt so strong and empowered mentally that I was able to work even deeper into my muscles, because I was flooded by positive energy. We did an intensive training of 3 hours in total repeating forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasana) as prep pose and then reaching our peak pose, the wheel. First of all, I held the forearm stand for a satisfactory duration, but secondly I was so so so happy to be able to go into the wheel, whilst applying the correct technique. Trust me, if you do work it properly, it’s really an intense and advanced pose. If you don’t work it properly, it is still an intense pose, but there is a risk of injury (like in any other pose), so please be careful. This practice made me feel empowered, self-confident, content and strong and it definitely proofed my point of being open to new things, playing around and just trusting myself that I can do this.

Trust yourself. You can do this.

We finished the practice with a beautiful Savasana, gosh, how I love this asana and my teacher’s closing words were

I trust myself and life that all I need to know is already within me.

Match! I left into lunch break feeling very happy despite the physical exhaustion. After lunch, we continued with yoga philosophy and the Yoga Sutra. We talked about the 3 Gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas), how everything existent is a combination of these 3 qualities, and how the gunas affect our mind (Chitta). It’s like a rainbow. A rainbow wouldn’t be a rainbow with only one colour. No, it needs 7 colours, whilst each colour shows up in different intensity. The same principle applies to the Gunas in Chitta. However, the closer we get to Sattva or even beyond, the less we are being controlled by our ego, which in return leads to a calmer mind.

Since Friday, I wished for a Yoga Nidra session with our yoga philosophy teacher Ralph Skuban.  And when he wasn’t sure today whether to continue with the topic Chitta, I suggested a Yoga Nidra session. He said yes and led us through a wonderful Yoga Nidra journey.

And for the first time, I experienced something truly beautiful. The left side of my body felt like it was lifting off the floor, like it was floating, being very light, whilst at the same time, my right side felt totally grounded, touching the floor.

And I happily realised that I was coming closer and closer to a sattvik mind symbolising light, ease and clarity in life. I hadn’t realised just how emotional I was about this experience, until I left my closest friend an audio message on Whats App with tears in my eyes.

I would like to conclude this article with the following words:

I feel truly grateful for my yoga path, as it is leading me to my true self.

Yours, Nina

 

Big Five for Life

My success story and hence realisation of one of my Big Five for Life already started when I was 17 years old. But I didn’t know anything about the Big Five for Life, needless to say that I didn’t understand then that I was about to get closer to realise my dream.

Back in high school, one teacher offered Spanish classes as an extracurricular activity. Since starting school, I was interested in languages. I like the idea of being able to talk to other people in their local language. I already knew German and English, so I signed up for the Spanish classes, with 100% enthusiasm. Only 6 months later my teacher organised an exchange programme to the beautiful and cosy town of Linares, Jan in Andalusia. I was really happy with my host family and my exchange partner Ana, who was 3 years older than me. Jackpot at this age, since I would be hanging out with 20 year olds. The family only spoke Spanish, nothing else, so I really had to make an effort to make myself understood. The result: after only 2 weeks in Spain (plus the 6 months before), I spoke enough Spanish to get by, to order drinks and food, to ask for directions or to introduce myself.

When I returned home, I was sure to continue learning Spanish, but my dream had grown bigger. I was inspired by my teacher who spent 6 months in Argentina plus I was driven by the idea of speaking several languages.

So, my dream suddenly became clear: I want to travel through Latin America someday. I want to improve my Spanish skills and most importantly I want to feel this feeling again. My inner joy like a child, that swings back and forth, a feeling of warmth and openness, that I experienced during my exchange programme, a feeling of extensiveness and independence, and trust that

Everything is possible.

And so one of my biggest Big Five for Life was born: Travelling through Latin America. I didn’t have any idea, when or how, but it was crystal clear why and that I want to do this.

I’m fast forwarding to my time as a student of business administration. In 2005 I had the opportunity to study in Wales, which I grabbed instantly. Why? I felt this feeling again. Of course I was there to improve my English skills, but the university also offered Spanish classes, and so I signed up again, studying Spanish for another 8 months. I mean who says that I couldn’t learn two languages at the same time? Right…!

I moved to London in 2012, as my boyfriend at the time worked in finance, and because I simply wanted to. I had this feeling of travel pleasure again, the desire to experience something new. Of course, it was also my plan to find a job in London as marketing manager, but what drove me most was the desire to speak a different language, to dive into a new culture and to meet new people. It was simply exciting.

After 2 years in that job and a feeling of having settled into the job, I felt the urge to learn something (new) again. And there it was again, my thoughts about Latin America and Spanish. I asked for recommendations for Spanish schools on Facebook and one school that was recommended most was Instituto Cervantes. Said and one. I called the school, arranged an appointment for a level test, and started my classes only a few weeks later. I pushed through all classes, once a week, every Monday, after work, even in summer.

In 2014, my boyfriend and me broke up, but since I was happy in London with my job, my friends and everything else, I simply wasn’t ready to close this chapter. So I stayed, against the exceptions of family and friends.

Do you know this feeling, when you know? When you intuitively know what is right for you? I felt exactly this feeling. I simply knew that my journey wasn’t over. Not here, not now.

Trust your intuition.

In June 2015 I got together with my new boyfriend from London, who was my colleague at the same time. Only a few months later, we were told that our company would be sold to a German company. I saw a big potential for my career at this company, since I was the only one speaking German and English fluently and understanding both cultures. However, during the acquisition, I realised that I didn’t want to continue working for this company. And still, my thoughts were going in circles for weeks, what to do next, back and forth. But suddenly there it was. Clarity. About quitting. Moreover, I was 100% sure that this would be the moment. I long had this dream to travel through Latin America, but still there were always reasons against it (in my head), why this wouldn’t be possible, for example due to a relationship, a job, not enough money, not enough time etc. But in this moment there weren’t any obstacles any more. Not even my relationship at the time was an obstacle for me. I took my boyfriend aside and talked him through my dream of travelling through Latin America and that the timing just seemed perfect. I told him that I swore myself that next time I’d quit a job, I would go on this journey. And he liked the idea.So we both quit our safe and well-paid jobs in London in February 2016.

Our research started. Which countries, how long, when to start, which Spanish school.

I just couldn’t believe that my dream of travelling through Latin America would finally (at the age of 34) become true, yet at the same time it felt so natural, as if was meant to be. I was so much looking forward to this journey and my travels kicked off on the 5th June 2016. Me, Nina, with my 15kg backpack, on her way to the first stop, Havana in Cuba. The return flight was planned for the 26th September, so we had just under 4 months of travelling and adventure ahead of us. The adventure came, but differently.

We travelled from Cuba to Guatemala, where we stayed for 2 weeks in Antigua in a Spanish school. We continued to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I really wanted to go to Mexico, but my boyfriend wasn’t so keen on it, and since it was more a feeling than anything else, I couldn’t really argue why I wanted to go. We then travelled to Colombia, to Ecuador, and here we visited a Spanish school again in Montañita, a surf town, where we spent 2 weeks in a hotel right at the beach. Next stop was Peru and on the peak point of this country, Machu Picchu, our relationship also arrived at a peak named end.

We still travelled to Bolivia together, but it was clear that we couldn’t make this work, regarding our communication, our wishes as well as our idea of relationship and partnership. Nevertheless, the end came kind of as a surprise to me and it therefore hurt and it was an end full of tears. But in all this emotional drama, I knew, I had to leave this place asap in order to create space, to have air to breathe. So, 2 days later (mid-August) I was on a plane to Uyuni, to see the biggest salt flats of the world. And to feel this feeling again. My Why.

Whilst approximately 95% of friends and family suggested to come back home (but what was that home, London or Munich?) I felt deep inside me, that my journey was not over yet. That this journey would continue. That it had only just started. And so it was.

What is it that YOU want?

The adventure was bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. In the following days I decided to continue my travels as originally planned, but solo. It was my dream, one of my Big Five for Life, remember? I simply couldn’t stand the idea that a break up should erase this dream. No Way! It simply didn’t feel right to stop my travels, actually I felt the opposite. I suddenly had this deep trust, despite the heartache, that everything was happening for a reason and that it was right and important for me to make this experience. For me, my journey and my path of life.

Trust your intuition.

So, I decided to continue my travels on my own. In my pace, and with a feeling of floating, to simply live into the day. And my journey began and with it the fulfilment of one of my Big Five for Life.

From Bolivia, I flew to Chile and spent two wonderful weeks in Santiago de Chile. Due to the emotional chaos that I was in, I had somehow forgotten that my return flight to London was in 2 weeks already. And there it was again, the dilemma, that we all know.

Heart says, head says.

My heart spoke clearly, but softly to me to extend the journey, but my head, also shaped by the opinion of others, requested to fly back to London on 26th September, as it had all been planned.

My heart won! I was getting warm. I called the travel office and asked for flight options  to somewhere nice and warm, with sun, sand and sea. I just knew what I needed for my heart, my soul and a relaxed finale of my journey. Guess what I booked? Mexico. Yes!

But first things first, because from Chile I first travelled to Argentina. Since I had extended my trip for another 7 weeks, I took my time to explore this beautiful country a bit more. I met a nice woman in Buenos Aires who invited me into her casa in La Rioja.

And I felt this feeling again: warmth, openness, and freedom. When I spotted a swing in a giant garden, I was so happy and I started swinging like a child. Playful and content.

I spent my last 4 weeks in Mexico. Mexico and especially Tulum has become my magic place. A place of reflection, of inner peace, of sheer pleasure and the journey to myself. It was most likely the most important journey in my life. An experience I would have never made, if I had given up on my dream of travelling through Latin America.

And in the last weeks I gained even more clarity whilst sitting at the beach of Tulum: I move back into my hometown Munich. I want to deepen my yoga and meditation practice. And I will finally write a blog, inspired by my (inner) journey.

And these visions became reality. I live in a beautiful flat in Munich, I’m doing my yoga teacher training and I launched my blog, this blog. My heart project. The name Nina’s Pink Notes is based on a pink notebook that was my loyal companion during my travels.

Today, I’m very grateful for my experiences, because they showed me how important it is to trust myself, my heart and my inner voice. My experiences made me stronger, wiser and brought me on a more beautiful and authentic way.

If you are currently in a situation and you don’t know what to do or decide, let me tell you one thing. Really trust your intuition and follow your heart!

Yours, Nina

 

When wishing for the pause button

As the year 2017 came to an end, I reflected and reviewed my big and small wins and well as what I failed at, what I could have done better. No worries, I’m not going to write this all down here, but I think it is important for every single one of us to complete that bit of work. Not to beat ourselves up, but on the contrary. Because I noticed that I actually achieved a lot, there were loads of small wins, that I didn’t give myself enough credit during the year. Btw, I’m not only talking about projects, but also shifts in my mindset, changes in my behaviour and actions taken. Of course I also recognised my failures, but the good thing is, you can only learn from them, you can make things better next time. Just be conscious of yourself, your behaviours and actions. Be mindful of those behaviours and actions you’d like to change and then just think “Oh, I was just about to do it again” and then act differently. Break that habit!

Be mindful and break that habit.

After I reviewed my big and small wins, I also pictured my 2018. I wrote down my vision for 2018 at the end of last year. My vision relating to various aspects in my life, like my job/work situation, health & fitness, love, relationship and my ideal set up to live. I thought to myself “Well done, Nina” until I had a call with my coach on 2nd of January to dig deeper into my vision and my associated goals. Despite my daily gratitude, yoga and meditation practice, there were still a few challenges and limiting beliefs that needed to be melted in order to reach my true vision – speaking from my heart. And we did. After the session, I went back to my vision and it sounded too rational in a way, so I re-wrote it completely. I moved from my head to my heart. And I was brave enough to listen.

Move from your head to your heart. And listen. It will reveal the truth.

My coach also asked me what I wish for my spiritual growth in 2018. And here we go. I have a little story to tell to answer that question.

I’m writing the 31st of December 2017. I wake up with a content feeling. The sun is out and it’s already 12 degrees outside, yes really. I jump out of bed (and that day I literally did!), I quickly changed into my running gear and 20 minutes later I was out of the door, direction Isar river in Munich. The second I stepped outside, I was just feeling so happy, so calm, yet excited about life, so grateful, so whohoooo, a feeling difficult to describe. My almost ecstatic feeling even intensified when I started running and moving my body, feeling the sun on my skin and in my face. I couldn’t do anything about it (and I didn’t want to), but I was running around grinning like a Cheshire cat. Even now whilst writing this, I have to laugh.

And whilst I was fully enjoying the run, the sun, the movement, and simply my own company, there was this second of thinking “I want to hold this feeling.” This thought instantly moved me from being in the here and now to longing for something. I tried to hold on to something beautiful and let’s be honest, if there was the possibility sometimes in life to hit the Pause button, we might all happily use that button.

When wishing for the pause button…

Interestingly I find that the topics that I’m engaging with, suddenly appear everywhere in different shapes and forms. One appearance was in a yoga class. The teacher opened the class with exactly that thought.

We try to hold onto things we like and we try to get rid of feelings we dislike. But how about letting go of all likes and dislikes? How about loving what we love in the moment we love it? How about enjoying what is in the moment the enjoyment is present? How about accepting what we dislike in the moment we dislike it? How about accepting suffering (dukha) as part of our lives to be able to fully enjoy the pleasures (sukha)?

…makes you fall out of the here and now.

So, to bridge back to the question, what do I wish for my spiritual growth in 2018?

I want to let go of all likes and dislikes to be in the here and now, at all times.

Yours, Nina

Beach, Buggy, Brazil

As the year 2017 is coming to an end, I had a look back at all the beautiful moments I have been lucky enough to experience. One of these moments or experiences was my holiday in Brazil in October 2017. It has only been two months and yet, it feels like a long time ago. Hence, this is a good time to relive my travels through Brazil and today I write about my 1st stop, which was Jericoacoara. Jeri (as everyone calls it) is a small fishing village located around 300km west of Fortaleza. I flew into Fortaleza airport around 5.30pm and luckily my friend had already organised a driver to take us to Jeri directly. We were torn between going directly which was another 4.5 drive to Jeri or staying one night in Fortaleza. We decided to head to Jeri straight away despite being extremely tired. Luckily, our driver was already waiting for us outside the airport. He, the driver, was Portuguese, and his partner was a lovely Brazilian woman (Danielle). Together we drove close to 5 hours to the kitesurfing mecca in Ceará, Brazil. Before you leave the airport, ensure to take enough money out of the cash machine, as there aren’t any in Jeri.

The roads seemed fine at first, but as we drove out of town, the roads got bumpy. Talking about bumps, they love street bumps in order to avoid speeding. My friend and me were fully knackered, so we would wake up with each and every bump, but directly fall back asleep again. If you organise a driver, I highly recommend to get a 4×4 wheel. We booked via the Facebook group ‘Car Share Jericoacoara’ and there through Danielle Freitas. You won’t understand the need of a 4×4 until you arrive into Jeri, an idyllic place full of sand.

We eventually arrived at our lovely Pousada Vila Bela Vista around midnight and were simply grateful to have a full week ahead of us. Just so you know, most travellers are deciding to stay for longer than they had originally planned. Just because it is lovely.

The next morning, I woke up at 7.30am and my friend and me headed for breakfast in the beautiful garden of the pousada. Oh, how I love being served breakfast. The coffee was strong and really good. The reviews on booking.com did not over-promise. We decided to use the first day as jet lag compensation, sunbathing and relaxing day. Already on our first evening, we get in touch with a German guy (who happened to be a friend of a friend…such a small world) and we had dinner all together. We mentioned we are interested in kitesurfing and so an hour later we had the owner Marko of a kite surf station joining us for dinner. We ate at Serafim by the way and I can definitely recommend the tuna there. After clarifying details regarding the school, the spot, transport and prices, we decided for Marko and his team from Blu Kiteschool Jericoacoara. 1st session planned for the next day, pick up at 10am at our pousada.

Wow, I was so excited and a bit nervous, as I haven’t been kitesurfing for 4 years (apart from once in September in Austria). But I hoped it would be just like ice-skating or cycling that I would not forget. We headed to the beautiful beach of Prea with a cool sand buggy. Already the drive to the kite surf station was so much fun and so enjoyable, that I simply felt happy, free and alive.

My kite surf instructor was from South Africa, patient, fun and motivating. We revised a few things regarding safety, but then I just grabbed my board and said I wanted to surf, which I did and the first water start worked. Yes! I was so happy and pleased. My instructor gave me suggestions on how to improve my techniques and I was quickly able to do upwind even more. The next days we continued working on my techniques including transitions. I really enjoyed kitesurfing again despite the muscle ache after the first two days. I was out in the sea for 2-3 hours for each session and I just loved the breeze (haha which you need for kiting), the sun, the water, the physical activity, the atmosphere at the kite surf station and all the lovely people I met. Each person interesting, kind and talkative. This is the perfect example of how a passion connects people. Beautiful.

Passion connects people.

One afternoon, Marko took pics of everyone kitesurfing and he got some great shots of me. I’m still waiting for him to send them to me, hence the image featured is still at the station. But it perfectly shows my happiness feeling despite my similarities with Calimero.

I also headed to a yoga class one evening. I couldn’t find anything on the internet really, but our reception gave me the number of a yoga teacher named Maria. You can contact her on Whats App +34 610 68 10 41. She taught at another hotel called Pousada do Renata, which was approximately an 8min walk from our pousada. I was so much looking forward to my yoga practice. And I was not disappointed. Maria was from Galicia, she was very sweet and did great corrections. All in all, a challenging and great Vinyasa Flow class for approx. 12 USD (90 minutes).

Tipps where to go:

If you go to Jeri, ensure to have sundowner at ClubVentos just by the beach. They have a great offer on ice cool beers, enjoy.

Also, I recommend you to go to Hotel Hurricane to see the sunset from the rooftop terrace. Be there for 5pm, as otherwise they won’t let you up anymore. On Fridays, there is a great live band playing and the atmosphere is just amazing. Loved it up there.

Did I already mention that I’m addicted to Acai bowls? If not, now you know it. We went to SOS Acai many times and it is simply awesome, as you can choose your toppings and then the bowl is weighed at the cash desk. This place only opens at 4pm… to avoid disappointment. For me, it was the perfect energy snack after a day of kitesurfing.

If you fancy Sushi, look no further than Kaze. Go to the one next to the Hurricane hotel, as again they have a cool rooftop. I think I notice a pattern of rooftop love, whilst writing this.

Another place I really liked was EAT, a burger bar all outdoors. The burgers were fab, ideally try the trial of 3 small burgers, in case you are indecisive just like I am with food.

I wish I could go back right now. Jeri is really an idyllic place to stay in, great food, nice bars and restaurants, a fab place for kitesurfing (we had wind every day), lovely hotels with hammocks to relax in, and the best of all, you just need flip flops (or your bare feet) to get around.

If you have any questions regarding Jeri, get in touch with me through a Pink Note. Otherwise just explore and enjoy!

Yours, Nina