Start walking for your dreams

Interviewed by Dominik Hoffmann @WasHeldentun

I want to share another beautiful and inspiring interview with you. The interview is in German, so I will summarise the most important insights and key learnings for you through this blog post:

Start walking for your dreams.

My message from the bottom of my heart to yours: Start walking for your dreams. I want to encourage you to live in alignment with your true self, so that you can live a happy and fulfilled life from the inside out.

Pin it

What do you truly want for yourself? What is your message to the world? Write it down on a (pink) post-it or several post-its and put them onto your mirror in the bathroom. No chance you’ll oversee that and hence you’ll be reminded of your message at all times.

Reconnect

We are all unique; we all have something beautiful to share with the world. If you don’t know what that would be at the moment, then reconnect with yourself. We all actually know who we are, however the challenge we are facing is that this awareness of our true self often gets lost and so over time we forget who we really are. You can visualise this as a dusted diamond. It is (still) shining underneath, but you need to de-dust your diamond in order to go back to your true self, to who you really are.

Want it

You really must want this though. If you don’t feel the desire to change your life to the better, if you don’t want to transform, if you don’t want to live a lighter and happier life, then it’ll be impossible to de-dust your diamond, so developing a real desire is key to your success.

Be brave

I know that we are surrounded by so many rules and regulations, by family and friends, by their expectations, by their desires. However, imagine this as a very tight suit (or dress) – wouldn’t that make you feel really uncomfortable and restricted? Wouldn’t you want to set free? Do you realise just how tight that suit is and how it restricts you from living the life you truly want to live? Yes? Then the suit will explode pretty soon and that is okay. Dare to step out of what is supposedly the norm. Be brave and start walking your path, not someone else’s. Question and reflect the existing. Because only then will you able to de-dust your beautiful diamond back to the shining bright light, that it used to be.

Start your personal development

Why? Because once you tune into your body, once you start observing your thoughts, once you feel your emotions, you’ll gradually de-dust your diamond and you’ll have beautiful Aha-moments. And you’ll realise that there are things within you that you want to look at. Because this thing is basically shouting at you. It wants to be seen, it wants to be set free. Trust me, this process is beautiful.

Create your dance for your life

I have the feeling, no, I know that everyone holds something very special, something that is only waiting for you to set it free. This is an active process, this doesn’t just happen, but if you truly want to transform and if you want to dance through life, then personal growth is the fundament that you need to build on. And from there, you can go anywhere. If you follow me on Instagram and read my other blog posts, then you will know that I am a passionate dancer. It is the one thing that has always – since I can think of – been within me and whilst I’ve been dancing almost all my life, I got a different understanding of the word ‘dance’. Dancing is not only about taking the right steps in the right order, it is about creation, putting your true self into these movements and aligning them with the rhythm of your life.

How you transform

I strongly recommend connecting with your body and tuning into your body, especially yoga helped me a lot to feel my body on a deeper level. It helped me to observe my thoughts, even though I came over thoughts that I really didn’t want to listen to. Painful thoughts. Sometimes shocking. Sometimes just ‘stuff’. I wondered ‘Is this really me?’ 

However, trust me, if you want to transform, there is no way around feeling all of it. You need to let it all come up again, so you can look at it and then process it on different levels, be it physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

But isn’t it great to know that you hold the power to observe and control your thoughts? Isn’t it amazing that you are a human being who can change massively by taking that first step of being aware?

Are you ready, but need help?

If you want to change your life, start walking. Reflect yourself, visualise your dreams and start walking for your dreams. I am more than happy to facilitate that first step for you. Come into my workshop FEEL UNDERSTAND HEAL #2 to feel your body, to understand your thoughts and to heal from within.

Yours, Nina

 

 

 

 

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

 

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 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 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