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

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

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

 

Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 4

Wow, episode 4 already, which means I’m half way through the yoga teacher training. I have chosen the featured image of this blog post, as this was a very grounding training, with yoga practice, yoga philosophy and yoga anatomy. Yoga brings me closer to my real self each and every day, on and off the mat. And this picture shows me during a yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico, where I felt grounded, too. Inspired, like I do now. And especially this pic was taken, when I finally permitted myself to come back to the real me.

Have you read my article yoga love yet? If you haven’t, I’d recommend to do it now, so you really understand why I feel so connected to the yoga practice.

Day 1: Started at 4pm as every Friday. I must admit after 2 weekends in a row and the 3rd weekend to come I felt a bit tired and wouldn’t have minded to just stay on the sofa with a tea and a book, but as I said above, I know why I’m doing this. So I swung my body into my yoga clothes, onto my bike and off to the yoga studio. The day started with correcting our homework, the yoga sequence we had to prepare and also we revised the most important points about standing poses. I was happy to see that my sequence was very good, even if not perfect, and that I knew actually everything on the standing poses, yay. As our teacher Nella always says, everything you need to know and you are ready to know, will sink in… the rest will come.

Then we went into our yoga practice focusing on the low cobra (Bhujangasana) and (Ardha) Chaturanga Dandasana. Whilst I knew the poses in theory, it turned out that even though I thought I had a really strong core, I kept sinking in to compensate what my arms couldn’t deliver. We went into groups of 2 to practice these poses and also to give each other feedback. We also learned assists and how to correct the major weaknesses in these poses, like putting too much pressure in the lower back, or not placing the hands properly underneath the shoulders to achieve a vertical angle to the mat. Afterwards, we incorporated the learnings into the following yoga practice and Jesus, my arms were ‘hurting’. It felt like they’d be falling off any second. But the practice was so good and challenging. And I like a challenge 😉

The second part of the day continued with yoga philosophy. We majorly discussed Ishvarah and the devotion to the Creator as well as the famous sound OM. We went into groups of 5 and prepared a chart about what OM means to us knowing by then that OM is the sound of Ishvarah. We then had to present the chart and in our group Robert and myself took over. The following OM to close the yoga practice was the most beautiful OM I’ve ever sung. It really came from the bottom of my heart and I indeed felt connected to something superior than me. I’ve had this feeling before, but this time was different.

OM, the sound of Ishvarah.

I headed home at 9pm, had a shower, something to eat, read a bit and fell into a good relaxed sleep.

Day 2: Makes me smile. We knew that we would be working with Richard Hackenberg the entire Saturday and Sunday. We were told it is about yoga anatomy. And I guess it was, but it was live anatomy if you know what I mean, so 9am Saturday morning and we went straight into a yoga practice. It was ‘only’ a 50 min practice, but literally after 10 minutes I turned around to the last row and breathed heavily, as it was just tough. The sequence appeared easy, and we didn’t do more than 10 different asanas. But, and that’s the clue, we moved quite slowly and with such an intensity, that we were all pretty exhausted after 10 minutes, haha. What a great practice though. Richard taught us very accurately how the body works whilst practicing yoga, live anatomy! After this practice, I experienced my best Savasana ever. Honestly. My whole body let go into my mat. Absolutely fabulous.

In the afternoon we spoke specifically about certain body parts, such as hamstrings, hip flexors and our spine. Knowing now that our spine is the way to transport energy, it makes it even clearer to me that we need to take good care not only of our spine, but our entire body. And I take good care of my body, once I re-educate it by practicing yoga consciously, with great alignment, with mindfulness, with love to the movement and the knowledge that my body wants to compensate weaker and less flexible body parts. I love my body and I’m so grateful for it, although I do have my physical challenges too, such as a severe tightness in my hip flexors and groins. I do admit that I find it annoying at times, but then I always come back to self-love and acceptance, thinking it will go once my time is right.

Thank your body.

Day 3: Makes me smile again, however this time I knew better. I knew we would be starting with a yoga practice, slow and challenging, so this time I was mentally prepared. And yet again, the practice was sweaty, I felt all muscles, everything, but I simply enjoyed the physical challenge and I could feel my energy rising. The following Savasana after a 60 minute practice was wonderful and I liked the fact that Richard didn’t say anything during Savasana and there wasn’t any music playing. I didn’t miss it, as I felt so peaceful lying on my yoga mat. We finished the practice with singing 3 x 3 OMs. 3 loud OMs for the entire world, 3 OMs a bit quieter for our group and last but not least I sang 3 OMs just for myself. Beautiful, no more words needed.

The second part continued with yoga anatomy again. This time we focused on the different nervous systems and which role they play in our everyday life. Especially the autonomic nervous system took my interest, as this is the system that works without my consciousness. This means that practicing yoga is even more important in order to gain consciousness over our body and mind, as we can only change the things that we move from the unconscious to the conscious.

What I also found fascinating is how our breathing influences our nervous system and whilst all yogis probably know that breathing is good, it is even better to know which role oxygen and CO2 play in the breathing. Meaning the higher the CO2 level in our body, the more relaxed we feel, for example when practicing Kumbhaka, the art of not breathing. Or Kapalabhati, when breathing quickly, which makes us feel more nervous and energetic as the CO2 level in our body decreases.

Last but not least we looked at Richard’s anatomy app over a projector. This was great, as he showed us all the joints, tendons and muscles we discussed over the last couple of days.

I must say I’m completely impressed with my body, with yoga, with the philosophy, what it gives me and it just makes me so happy.

I just love what I’m doing right now and that’s all that counts.

Do what you love and enjoy the way.

Yours, Nina

 

 

Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 3

Here we go, I will give you my insights about episode 3 of my yoga teacher training. No, episode 3 didn’t take place at the beach, but I wanted to feature an image that I love, with a mood that I love, in a place that I love, for something that I love doing. Yoga.

Day 1: Episode 3 (have you read about episode 1 and 2 yet?) started on Friday afternoon, kicked off with a 90 minute yoga practice. We obviously didn’t know what peak pose we were working towards, but all we knew pretty soonish is that it’s going to be hard. We did lots of hamstring and hip flexor stretches, so suddenly it became clear. Peak pose = Hanumanasana (Splits). Whilst I’m aware of the all the benefits this pose has on offer, I’m simply not there yet, I’m still coping with the steps before, and I’m afraid I cannot see any benefits as yet. Now, I must say that my hips and my groins have been feeling quite stiff for the last months, so anything hip opening related is quite hard work for me at the moment. However, I’m confident that with the yoga teacher training, the right stretches and support through my osteopath, I will be able to ‘heal’ this part of my body and eventually, it will losen up.

After the sweaty asana practice, we had a break and did some revision of last week’s poses. We repeated the Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) assists plus added on the assists for Trikonasana and Parsvokanasana. Loads of input, but endlessly valuable. I’m so grateful for all I’m experiencing during my teacher training, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Day 2: I’m getting up at 7.30am, so that I have sufficient time for a good breakfast, since this day starts with theory instead of yoga practice, so I might as well have a big bowl of porridge. We read about inversions, such as handstand, headstand and forearm stand, so that in the afternoon we are ‘ready’ to go into our inversion practice. I must admit that I’ve been super excited about this part of the YTT. I have of course done these poses before, but I have never really learned it in that much detail, so I was curious to find out more about my body, my physical reactions as well as my feelings afterwards.

I always thought that I’m quite tight in my sternal and shoulders, and that I’m not able to open this body part properly during the inversion training. However, it turned out I did pretty well. I was beyond excited, trust me, to find out that I’m actually capable to do these asanas. And again, we talk about limiting beliefs. Limiting thoughts. Limiting emotions. I’m glad that generally speaking I like trying new things. The same in this case. After the warm up, I was keen to know, keen to try everything. And I absolutely loved the inversion training. It is challenging, yes. But it’s majorly fun and exciting. It is literally a change of perspective. And honestly speaking, we should all have a change of perspective way more often.

Take down your limiting beliefs. Embrace change instead.

After this challenging and exciting day, I’m heading home, feeling exhausted, yet so happy and grateful. And ready for a hot bath. Sleeping at 10pm. Fabulous!

Day 3: The training commenced at 9am. Since I went to bed early, I felt really good when the alarm went off. Plus I have a new morning routine that I’m looking forward to, because it means I can relax in bed for another 15 minutes. I do some stretches directly in bed, like child’s pose (Balasana), stretches for my hip flexor and cat-cow pose. It is nice and I can only recommend you a similar morning routine, especially when you feel stiff when waking up and also when you are struggling to get out of bed. Find something that excites you and puts you in a positive mood in the morning. A couple of months ago for example I danced for 5 minutes to feel refreshed and bright. I switched on my favourite song on Spotify and off I went, ahem danced. Just as a suggestion, it does help me, so it might help you, too. Back to the YTT. We started with a 90 minute practice again focusing on warming up our lower back, shoulders and chest, so that we can go deeper into more inversions and also backbends. Glad we focused on a different body part, since I could really feel my hamstrings and my hip flexor from the Friday session, phew.

The second part of the session consisted of corrections, assists and some theory by working through our script. We then went into groups of 4 people to do practice-teach of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (shoulder bridge) and Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand). We learned some techniques on how to teach these poses to a beginner class, for example by using the wall, and tools such as blankets to really support the shoulders. Most of us in the group said that they have never learned it like this before, so it was indeed helpful and very valuable to look into these poses in more detail. Thank you, Nella!

We finished the weekend with a beautifully relaxing Savasana and a strengthening meditation speaking to ourselves:

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

On this note, trust yourself. Love yourself. Be yourself.

Yours, Nina

Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 2

As promised, I will be reporting about my experiences during my yoga teacher training in Munich. Yesterday, we completed our second weekend after we’ve had one weekend off. And that was necessary I believe, as it was quite a lot of information to digest and I also wanted to use the ‘break’ to gradually practice yoga with the lessons learned. And there were already loads, which I’m so happy about and grateful for.

Episode 2 started on Friday afternoon at 4pm and finished at 9pm. 5 hours of asanas practice, assists and breathing exercises. Whilst writing this, I’m realising how much I love doing what I’m doing at the moment and I really wish this feeling will last as long as possible. No, actually, you know what? I’m manifesting this for me, right here, right now.

Yoga is the way to come closer and closer to the real me.

Day 1: We started with a yoga practice on Friday. I was fine for the first 20 minutes, however, afterwards, my arms felt weak after we practiced the 20th downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). I kept sinking into my shoulders and I didn’t stretch my arms properly. Phew, good thing is, I’m so conscious and mindful about these things, that I can directly correct myself. The bad thing is I was really fighting to hold the asana. And then we even practiced Chaturanga and upward facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), but I somehow found my breath, strength and will power from within to flow through the sequence. And I really loved it.

The second part of day 1 consisted of breathing techniques and body scan methods. We went through them last time and our homework was to guide a small group through one of these 2 exercises. We went into groups of 5 and one person led through the meditation and breathing exercise. I started in our group, not because I’m a geek, but it actually enables me to really do it how I would do it, without the influence of the others and their ways of working. I decided to lead my participants through an active Savasana with the help of a body scan. I do love body scans, as we can all use a bit more feeling and mindfulness regarding our body, that walks us through life day in, day out.

Take good care of your body and yourself. It walks you through life, every single day.

I realised as well, how much we take our breathing for granted, but how do we know that there will be another breath in after we breathed out? I will leave this with you. Just think about it and treasure your body, your breath, everything that you are to the fullest. Be grateful for everything that is already there.

Don’t take your breath for granted.

We ended the exercise with feedback and discussed things like timing and pace, whether to address your students with “you” (Plural) or “you” (Singular) – yes in German there is a actually a difference. It’s complicated… We were recommended to speak in Singular in order to make people feel treated as an individual. Makes total sense!

Day 2: We started at 9am with a yoga practice with Nella. I set my alarm that morning for 7.25am, but you know that’s the thing it didn’t go off. So, I slept until almost 8am which was tight timing, considering that I always need breakfast. So, I tried multi-tasking, getting dressed and preparing my porridge plus packing my stuff out. Who created multi-tasking anyways? It is completely stressful and in the end things take even longer, or is it just me? No, I really want to go to single-tasking, it is less stressful, and focus is key, as we all know. Whilst I’m still struggling with this at times, I can feel my progress and my self-discipline is increasing. We revised asanas from the previous week and also learned assists on warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2). Really helpful and I can see how, if done properly, the assists have such a great impact on the posture in this asana. It’s fascinating how our bodies work and how they always try to compensate for body parts that are less stretched, for example. We also did other standing poses such as warrior 3 (Virabhadrsana 3). Haha, after practising this pose in the middle of the room and literally everyone letting the standing foot slip inside, we moved over to the wall to practice this pose, with more resistance. And again, I felt that my body always wanted to move away from the wall to compensate what my balance and strength wasn’t able to deliver.

After this pretty sweaty asana practice, we did a bit of theory in our script and started with sequencing. It seemed clear to me in which order you’d put various asanas, however I found it difficult once we added asanas that I’m not practicing as often, so I wasn’t too familiar with how you’d integrate them into a sequence. But hey, that is exactly why I’m doing the YTT, I want to learn as much as I can, as deeply as possible. We also got some homework on sequencing as well as categorising standing poses, so let’s see how this works out. So happy to be able to learn something that I love!

Day 3: We started at 9am again, but this time with our yoga philosophy teacher Ralph. The day commenced with some lovely breathing exercises that calmed us down and made us more grounded. The highlight for me was to breathe in when you go into a stretch with your body, instead of breathing out. Usually when doing a forward bend, we tend to breathe out automatically, however in order to widen the lower back area, it is great to breathe in. I felt different and lighter in a way. We practiced different ways of Pranayama and I indulged in Savasana before the break.

The second part of the day was yoga philosophy with focus on the ‘Yogasutra’. We work with Ralph’s translation and interpretation of Patanjalis’ Yogasutra and I keep thinking just how helpful it is to make this piece of yoga accessible for us through someone so experienced and wise. The core message for me so far is that we need to free ourselves from pain (dukha), that we need to become silent and still, that we must realise that we are nothing of what we believed we are in the first place and only by giving up this thought, we can be freed and free of pain. In school, I never liked subjects such as religion and history, but now I’m fully hooked to the topics we discuss during the YTT. Of course, I’ve chosen to do this, but I also find it fascinating to really understand the word Yoga, where it stems from and where it can take us, if we keep working on ourselves. And as I understand it, it can take us to Purusha, which is when the seer in us has become fully silent and peaceful.

Yours, Nina

 

Yoga Teacher Training-Episode 1

As promised, I would like to share with you my experiences during my yoga teacher training (YTT), which started on Friday. I will be putting up a post for each of the 8 weekends in total, so this one is episode 1. Stay tuned, if you want to know more about my insights, ’cause maybe you are considering a training, too?

First things first, I’ve been so much looking forward to my training, meeting new people with hopefully a similar and positive mindset, and getting deeper into my yoga practice.

We started the YTT with an introduction about who we are, what we usually do (work-wise), how long we’ve been practicing yoga, which styles, if we are already teaching, if we have completed a training already, and most importantly why we are here.

Why am I here?

I decided to do the yoga teacher training to get deeper into my practice and to learn more about the yoga philosophy. Where is yoga coming from? What does it stand for in its purest form? What’s the ultimate purpose of yoga? Another reason for me was to go on an even deeper spiritual journey in a safe environment with the wish to solve some topics for myself, too. Topics where I feel stuck, and that manifest themselves in my mind & body.

After the introduction, we went straight into the asana practice with Nella. We started with standing poses such as Tadasana, Utthita Hatasana, Uttanasana and Utkatasana. Writing this is a great way to learn the Sanskrit names. With each of the asanas, we clarified what the positive effects are on the body and most importantly how your alignment should be in the asana to avoid misalignment and injury. We followed the same process for Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog). The teachers and assistants would then normally pick about 3 people from the group to show common challenges and risks in each asana. These will then be discussed and corrected. We also learned modifications and which tools (such as blocks, belt etc.) to use when necessary. After a few hours of valuable yoga practice, we finished the practice with a relaxing and reviving Yoga Nidra session. Gosh, how I love this! I’m heading home smiley and happy and ready to sleep.

Conclusion: The first day was a full success. We are a nice bunch of people, all different, and yet with one thing that connects us all… yoga.

Day 2 starts at 9.00am with a meditation and continues with a beautiful yoga practice of approximately 2.5 hours. I can definitely say that I’ve not felt my muscles like this before. Each asana is complex on its own, even Tadasana is challenging if you really make all the changes in your body. I must say I already love this feeling of feeling my entire body, all my muscles and my mental presence so much.

Then we get to hands-on assists. Assists are so valuable, if received by an experienced teacher. The corrections do not only go into your head, but into your body and mind. If you just let go, you can feel the changes and it feels amazing. It’s this Aha moment.

Pretty soon thereafter we go together in groups of 3 and teach our own class consisting of 3 asanas, including verbal corrections and assists. I start in our group and I really do enjoy it. Yes, I forgot to mention all the relevant points in each asana, but hey this is what we are here for. Most importantly, I keep thinking, yes I love this! We finish the day with a 15 minute Savasana, where I receive an absolutely wonderful neck and shoulder massage from one of our assistants. I leave the yoga studio at 5pm feeling fulfilled.

Conclusion: The 2nd day provided so much input already and I cannot wait to make use of it all in my own yoga practice.

Day 3 is our spiritual philosophy day with Ralph. I’ve been really looking forward to this part too, because as you know I like personal development, I love yoga and I love the spiritual journey we are all on, consciously or not. Actually writing this article makes me realise how complex and yet simple this topic is. But I’m struggling to summarise the day at this stage. We spoke about where the term yoga stems from, what yoga actually means (it means self-fulfilment), we spoke about immortality, but how we all need to die one day. Most importantly though we realised that we have one more thing in common, in addition to practicing yoga. We are all on the search for our purpose of existence. Some want to know more, some less, but at the end of the day, we are all trying to find our place in life, on earth.

Conclusion: This YTT is one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. A heart decision, that I’m sure will open up new spaces physically, mentally and emotionally.

Yours, Nina

 

Yoga love

Why I love yoga? Because it challenges my body like I’m challenged in life. The beautiful thing is I decide how to react to each and every challenge that life throws at me. With noticing, doing my best & finding ease in the asanas, which reflect life situations or with giving up, not pushing through and telling myself I can’t do this.

Surely, you can guess how I decided! Self-love always.

I started practicing yoga in 2015. I was stressed at work and I had to deal with a broken heart, coming out of a 10-year relationship. I’ve always been in love with dancing and went to my jazz dance classes at Pineapple Dance Studios in London 3 times a week. At some point, however, dealing with my emotional pain and rising stress levels at work, it all just became too overwhelming that I felt the urgent need to calm down, to find peace, something that would re-align me with myself to bring back the energy I’ve always had. And I instantly thought of yoga, of a yoga retreat somewhere in the sun. I told my best friend about my idea and that same day, we browsed the internet for yoga retreats on the Canary Islands. One week later, we had our places in Gran Canaria booked. One week of Hatha yoga, Yin yoga, meditation & breathing exercises, healthy, vegetarian meals and a beautiful double room with our own balcony.

Right in the first yoga class, I realized just how much I was switched on (but not in a positive way). I couldn’t sit still, my breath was flat, my shoulders tight. I simply couldn’t let go and fully relax. Well, I thought, I need more time to get into it; on the other hand I was honestly shocked about just how agitated I was.

After a few days, I already felt calmer and more peaceful from within. I was able to sit in one position for longer, my breath was deeper and my body had begun to relax. And this feeling, exactly this feeling, is what hooked me. I wanted to feel this feeling as often and intensively as possible.

This is when my yoga journey started – in November 2015. It has continued ever since and I will start my yoga teacher training in November 2017 – two beautifully enriching years later.

If you want to be part of my yoga journey, then don’t miss my blog posts.

Yours, Nina