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Pragya Bhatt

Lifestyle Yoga

Word of the Year (2021)

December 22, 2020

BLAZE

Social media is constantly trying to tell us that this year has been a terrible one.  This message has gotten louder specially now that the year is ending and we’re all making resolutions for the next year.  However, if you listen to the softer voices, you’ll realize that there is a parallel dialogue going on; one where this year hasn’t been the worst, but actually one of the best.

I remember last year vivdly for all the travel and good work it brought me.  Last year was defined by movement – to travel, to work, for leisure and for the soul.  This year was a stark contrast to last year.  The world was indoors, the skies cleared up, Netflix reduced it’s video resolution (for a while at least).

It was seemingly the perfect time to take up a new hobby, to read the TBR books, to clean the house and your friends’ list.  It’s no surprise most of us got none of this done, this year was unforgiving with its strangeness.  I thought I’d go through the pile of books accumulating on my bookshelf (and on most other surfaces in my apartment.  I also thought I’d write my magnum opus.  The piles continue to grow and the magnum opus is a dream.

But I’m also well rested, bubbling with ideas, still in love with yoga.  I have the energy to teach 7 consecultive classes and the enthusiasm to draw rough outlines for my magnum opus.  I write 3 journal pages a day and read a chapter every night before I sleep.  This year has given me an important pause.  Next year I’m ready to blaze on…

[You may also want to check out a similar reflections exercise I did last year.]

With gratitude…always.

Lifestyle Yoga

Staying With Your True North

December 19, 2020

I don’t remember exactly who sent me the Yearly Compass, but sometime around this time last year I got the free downloadable document on WhatsApp and promptly printed it out.  On a Saturday morning I sat with a friend in Cubbon Park and we spent a few hours filling the document, coming closer to my true north.  I did the same this year, in my living room with a friend.  As I started my yearly roundup and reflection, I started wondering what draws me to this activity year after year…

My Experience

There are many advantages of doing a yearly review, or reflections for the year.  Below are some of the benefits I have personally experienced.

  • Helps you be more mindful.  Regardless of how hard we try to be mindful daily, a year is a long time and we often lose track of the bigger picture.  When I look at my year in retrospect I can see where I went off track, and what caused me to alter my course.  These then become lessons for next year.
  • Helps you appreciate your achievements.  While doing the yearly review I was bummed that I didn’t have anything I could count as an achievement this year.  No second book, no endorsements, no big money making projects.  Then I started to look at the year a bit more closely and realized that I had also won a National Yoga Competition, scored really well on my exams and started a yoga calendar that everyone is loving.  Sometimes we get so lost in doing things that we forget to celebrate getting things done.  Journaling helps us to take a pause and a breath.
  • Self assessment/introspection.  There was a project I undertook at the beginning of the lockdown which I realize I should have never agreed to.  The vision wasn’t aligned to mine and had I said a firm no I would’ve saved a lot more time.  I learned that I have to trust in my true north and say no to whatever doesn’t make my heart sing.
  • Keeps you focused on the goals for next year.  I love this aspect of yearly reflection.  When I see my goals listed clearly before me I feel like I’m aligned to my true north.   On the other hand, it’s also good to assess your goals every once in a while and make sure these are actually the goals you want to work towards.
  • Gratitude.  If you have the attitude of gratitude, you can always see the silver linings.  The ability to see the stuff that you have going for you even in the darkest time is truly a gift.

Journaling is not fancy and doens’t require too much time.  Use this prompt to start your journaling practice:

You can download this prompt here.

There’s so much more I could say about how much journaling has helped me and how I consider it to be a mainstay of my spiritual practice.  Medha and I have created a yoga calendar for 2021 where journaling is an integral component.  Today we’re going live on Instagram to talk about how the Yearly Compass has helped us and how our spiritual practice has been impacted by our journaling.  Please join us.

I speak more about my journaling practice in this YouTube video.

Lifestyle

The Best-Laid Plans Of… (#MondayMusings)

December 15, 2020

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry…  

This sentence has fluttered in my mind every so often since March this year.

Not even the most ardent pessimist could have conjured the year we’ve had.  Back in February, I remember my boyfriend saying, “Something is spreading across the world – a highly contagious virus.  They’re saying it’s coming from China.”  I had just celebrated my birthday and was looking forward to an Iyengar yoga retreat in the mountains with Usha Devi.  Surely the virus wouldn’t come to India, and ofcourse, us yogis would be able to handle a little flu.

When We Lived Contagion

Within two days of the ‘something spreading across the world’ conversation, the Indian government started chartering special flights to bring Indian nationals home.  Overnight, quarantine facilities were put up in major cities.  The pull of the yoga retreat was too strong and I was willing to take the risk of contracting the virus to attend the workshop in Rishikesh.  I had been looking forward to it for months.

As it turned out, I ended up not going for the workshop and the next few months were all about online classes interspersed with cooking and cleaning.  As the months wore on plans got cancelled.  Birthdays, festivals, weddings were cancelled.  Court cases were on hold, exams were delayed, many remained separated from their loved ones.

Delayed Gratification/Denied Gratification

It all got me thinking about the tenuity of our lives.  We postpone plans with friends thinking we can catch up ‘some other time’; wait to tell those we love that we love them until the mood or the time is ‘just right’; plan to start yoga/gym until the kids’ exams finish; wait for time to magically present itself to indulge in our hobbies or passions…we wait and wait and for many of us the wait wears us down until there is no joy in the celebrations, the hobbies and our beloved doesn’t feel that zing anymore.

If this year has taught me anything it is that delayed gratification is sometimes denied gratification.  The time to act is now.  After all the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

 

As I wrote this post I was curious to see what my post last year this time was about, and it was such a pleasant walk down memory lane.

This is a post for Corinne’s (from EverydayGyan) prompt titled ‘What 2020 Has Taught Me’.  I also enjoyed Geethica’s post for the same prompt.

All in all, it’s been a great year, one which has brought a smile to my face despite the surreal strangeness of it all. Expect more amazing pictures on my blog from now on, specially since I now have my own personal photographer handy :).

 

 

Lifestyle

38 Things I’m Grateful For

December 7, 2020

A great way to do a roundup of the year is to think back on the year past.  And this year certainly forced us to think  a bit differently.

Without further ado – the 38 things I’m grateful for are:

  1. My work, interest and passion are the same.
  2. My strong immunity allowed me to overcome (what I think was) a bout with the dreaded Covid virus.
  3. Despite being a country teeming with people but low on resources, we came together to fight this pandemic beautifully.  The supermarkets were always well stocked, people were following social distancing protocols and we all felt supported by our people and our government.
  4. The pandemic gave rise to many an innovative solution!
  5. I missed attending a retreat and conducting one – but because we were all forced indoors, my practice and teaching grew by leaps and bounds.
  6. I was able to focus on my work with little distraction.
  7. Spent THREE weeks in Goa this year!!!
  8. While in lock down got to know my delightful neighbors and that made this year so much more bearable.
  9. The weekend parties and cookouts with my beautiful neighbors.  While many were cooped up in unhappy situations, we were living it up in our corner of the world.
  10. Saw quiet roads in a country which is teeming with people and traffic. I may never see this again.
  11. My friends and family are safe and sound.
  12. I have been able to build a life where I was safe in all ways during the pandemic, and could support those who depend upon me for their livelihoods.
  13. I read so much more during this pandemic (more than my Goodreads challenge).
  14. My creative juices were flowing!  There are so many new and exciting projects in the pipeline!
  15. I can cook and actually enjoy nourishing myself with food I whip up in my own kitchen!
  16. Won a National Yoga Championship, something I may never have been able to do if we weren’t in a pandemic.
  17. My Master’s studies weren’t hindered and I was able to stay on track with my exams and vivas.
  18. Made some long lasting friendships and bonds because of late night exam study sessions!
  19.  Completed an introductory Vedanta course (something I had always been curious about).
  20. I’ve owned a copy of the Bhagavad Gita for years, but this year I started studying it more deeply.
  21. I got to study with so many teachers who were inaccessible before, but available online now.  This helped me grow as a student and also gave me new perspective.
  22. I found many podcasts which are so incredibly interesting and also helped broaden my knowledge.
  23. I was a guest on a my dear friend Veganosaurus‘ podcast – my first time!
  24. My beautiful house was just the perfect for my online yoga sessions – the living room is big, clean, spacious and filled with natural light.
  25. I have a TV that hooks up to my laptop so that I can take online classes.  I’ve hardly ever used the TV, and now not a day goes by that I don’t use it!
  26. My boyfriend had an extra laptop (faster than mine) that I could use to conduct my classes.
  27. I saw a surge in students registering for my classes and it worked wonders in boosting my confidence as a teacher.
  28. Netflix and chill were the mainstays of my weekends.
  29. My latest tattoo is aesthetically and symbolically lovely!  A tattoo that even my tattoo artist said was special.
  30. I have proven to myself that I am self sufficient.
  31. The Artist’s Way kept me focused on slowing down and observing myself and my thoughts.
  32. I had a friend who did The Artist’s Way along with me and we paced each other well.
  33. I detoxed my bookshelves this year!  Analyse why you’re holding on to something and if that itself holds no good reason, then it’s easier to let go of things we thought we may never be able to let go of.
  34. The growth in my YouTube channel!
  35. Bought a beautiful bed that matches the rest of my furniture.
  36. Online shopping!!!
  37. My boyfriend proposed this year (exactly 2 days ago to be precise)!
  38. The love of my life and I finally decided THIS is it.

On the 20th floor of the Conrad Hotel, Bengaluru, looking at my city and my life with a new perspective.

 

I’m linking this blog to Corrine’s Gratitude list and also to Sunita’s Gratitude List.

Books Yoga

Book Review: Practice and All Is Coming

November 25, 2020

I read the book over my Diwali break.

I recently finished reading ‘Practice and All is Coming’ by Matthew Remski and was reeling for hours after reading it.  I first came across Matthew Remski a couple of years ago when I read this article about the sexual abuse that was going on in the Ashtanga yoga world.  Matthew is a yoga and ayurveda teacher living in Toronto.  This book was part of the the reading list recommended in an online yoga course I recently attended about the history of women in yoga.

When the #metoo movement gained momentum, stories from the yoga world also started coming out and the biggest shocker for everyone was the abuse in the Ashtanga lineage.  It had been going on for years, and though there were whispers about it in yoga circles, there was never an all out, open discussion about it.  We would hear things like, ‘Yeah I heard he did that, but—‘.  ‘Yes, she felt like that, but you know —‘.  ‘But there are so many people who have benefited from his teaching.’  We were willing to believe that transgressions were happening in the world, just not in the yoga world.

This book explores the what and the why.  What were the transgressions that were committed?  Why did we behave the way we did?  It likens yoga to a cult and attempts to explain yogis’ behavior through that lens.  While the idea that yoga is a cult is not a new one for me, I found the analysis quite compelling.  There are interviews with experts on cults.  He has extensive interviews with students who have faced abuse directly, and those who have witnessed it.  Those who are avid practitioners will recognize interviews with all the ‘famous’ yoga teachers.  I recognized names such as David Garrigues, Gregor Maehle, Ty Landrum, David Swenson and countless others.  The research for the book has spanned years and Remski has looked at resources exhaustively.  It even contains self reflection questions in the appendix which might help you understand if you’ve ever been part of the problem or have the potential to be part of the problem.

Over the years I’ve heard many stories, read blogs and followed posts on Facebook about the sexual abuse and assault in the world of yoga.  And if you, like me, watched the Bikram documentary on Netflix and asked yourself, ‘Why would anyone listen to this man?’, then you need to read this book.  While it may not make things ‘ok’, it will give you more insight into a dangerous problem.

 

Yoga

Why I May Never Teach In Person Again

November 14, 2020

Practicing new stuff I’ve learned during the pandemic.

As I write this I’m in Delhi for Diwali celebrations.  I’ve taken a week off from teaching.  Markets are a buzz, there are Diwali parties happening, many aren’t wearing any masks.  Europe is getting ready for the second lockdown.  We read about promises of vaccines, but nothing concrete.  Before travelling to Delhi I decided to get the Covid Antibody test done, and found that I’m positive for the antibodies.  I’ve been exposed to this virus, but thankfully, never noticed.  What’s more, I’m immune to it for some time.

This raises a larger, more ethical question for yoga teachers.  When is  it a good idea to go back to in-person teaching again?  One healthy asymptomatic teacher can pass on the virus to a multitude of vulnerable students.

 

I’ve been teaching students online for many years now, but this pandemic made that the norm.  For those of us who’ve been able to adopt this ‘new normal’, it’s been gratifying in so many ways.

  1. No travel time means more time to plan the class.  I was planning my classes before, but now I have more time to look at new routines and get creative in my teaching too.
  2.  Now I have more energy – not only for my own practice, but also for my students.  Classes have become more fun, more energetic.
  3. Being indoors has given me time to get to my TBR pile.  I’ve finally managed to get to books that I’ve been meaning to read for years, but never found the time to.

 

Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve been able to focus more on the art and craft of yoga and that’s why classes have become more engaging and fun.  This may just be how I teach going forward.

A few weeks ago I wrote about what I love about online yoga in this blog.

Recordings of my online classes are now up on my YouTube channel.  To get a glimpse of these classes click here.

 

 

Yoga

The Yoga Props – Enhance Your Practice

September 2, 2020

Props galore at an informal practice session at Amrutha Bindu Yoga.

After watching my yoga class recordings on YouTube, many have reached out to me about yoga props.  Whether they are required, what kind, which ones should one get?  Most of my students did not have props before they joined my classes, in fact, most of them bought props once our classes went online.  I guess most of them saw the usefulness of buying props and have seen a noticeable improvement in their practice.  I’ve built my collection of props over the years and sourced them from many different places.  My students and I have also been trying different props and brands for years and now know what works and what is likely not to work.

 

Yoga Mat

This is the prop we use the most, no wonder so many people ask me about it.  I use several mats.  The oldest and dearest one is by Reebok and I’ve had it forever, so I think it’s out of production.  In addition to this I use a cloth mats.  I have one from my teacher training days at SVYASA, and another beautiful mat from Deivee.  The yoga mat I would personally recommend is this one from Decathlon.  It sells out fast and I personally know many people who use and love it.  Plus Decathlon always seems to have them in stock.

Blocks/Bricks

Blocks/bricks are very versatile, and come in many varieties.  I started out with foam blocks from Decathlon, and then eventually expanded my collection to include wooden blocks.  I recommend getting blocks in different sizes because there are so many creative ways you can use them.  I know many people who use these cork blocks and are very happy with them.  You can also check out SVECH for some more cork blocks.

Belt/Strap

Use a belt to improve Gomukhasana.

Many years ago I told a student that the one prop I would recommend always keeping with you (including when you travel), is the yoga belt.  It can help you lengthen, twist, bind, bend forward, bend back…and much more.  To ensure your skin doesn’t chaff, your yoga belt should be made of cotton.  Another thing to ensure is that the buckles are strong to hold the belt securely in place.

I recommend the yoga belt from MeFree.

Chair

Everyone wants the chair and it’s the most difficult prop to come find!  The chair can be used in almost every yoga pose.  When students first start practice with me, I tell them to use any chair which is stable, has a straight back and no armrests.  But eventually you should get the metal chairs.  There are certain characteristics of the chair that make them apt for yogasanas – they have legs that you can hold for pinchamayurasanas, you can invert yourself safely in halasana and sarvangasana, you can even use two chairs and do a safe headstand!

Amazon doesn’t have enough variety when it comes to yoga chairs, and it’s always tricky to find a good yoga chair.  I found this one by the Friends of Meditation, and one of my students actually uses it.  I would suggest this yoga chair by MeFree too, since some of my students have bought their products and are very happy with them.

You can explore more yoga props at SVECH and MeFree

 

When the lock down started many of my students wanted to buy props.  But they were either sold out or companies weren’t delivering.  I contacted Mr. Raju here in Bangalore and he was kind enough to supply the props to us.  You can contact him on +91 9242286651.  I believe he ships to different parts of India too.

 

If you have any more questions about props, do reach out to me.

Lifestyle Yoga

What Are Restorative Asanas?

June 23, 2020

In the last two weeks I’ve had two requests for a restorative class.  Seems like an interest in restorative asanas is building up. In view of the times we are living in, I’m not entirely surprised by the request.  However, I do feel that the requests were fueled more by the idea that restorative postures are for when you’re unable to do your regular workout, instead of a useful addition to the routine.

It’s a common mistake to equate ‘restorative’ yoga with ‘too easy for me’ yoga.  Many people consider restorative yoga classes to be ‘slow’, ‘easy’ and ‘for the old and injured’.

It is incorrect to think that a restorative yoga class is an easy yoga class that is somehow less than a vigorous sweat sesh.

What Are Restorative Asanas?

Restorative asanas ‘restore’ your body.  Restore it’s energy, vitality and good health.  Classes are slower, with longer holds for asanas.  Students are encouraged to use props and to always rest the forehead.  When you rest the forehead, your nervous system immediately relaxes.  In fact, I’ve taken my students through an entire class designed to show the difference between supported and unsupported asanas.  Watch it here.

The asanas in a restorative class are a subset of the ones in your regular yoga class.  But these are asanas focused more on forward bending and gentle twists and backbends (all with the support of props).  Below are examples of a few asanas that you may encounter in a restorative class.

 

Supta Badhakonasana. I love beginning a restorative class with this posture.

 

A restful janu sirsasana. Restorative asanas focus on relaxing the mind, by resting the head.

 

Dwi pada viparita dandasana. This posture is very intense, but this variation can be done even while you’re menstruating (as I was when this picture was taken).

 

A supported sarvangasana – a posture that should be done daily, but is not accessible to all. The props make it easier and more restful.

 

Benefits of Restorative Yoga

  • Provides relief from anxiety and stress.  Holding asanas for longer helps in releasing deep seated tightness.
  • Great for when you’re menstruating!  Even on your first day!
  • Promotes better sleep.
  • Helps the body to heal.  When your nervous system is rested it starts to work optimally, providing a boost to the healing systems of the body.
  • Improves immunity.  A stressed mind impairs the body’s ability to produce immunity-boosting cells, leaving the body prone to infection.
  • Lowers blood pressure (by promoting relaxation).
  • Relief from a busy mind and fast thoughts.

What’s interesting is that though a restorative class is slower than other forms of yoga, it doesn’t mean that a flexible and bendy practitioner who is ‘good’ at yoga will be ‘good’ at restorative yoga too.  In fact, I’ve seen very flexible and seemingly energetic students find it difficult to ‘rest’ and ‘do nothing’.  After all, in such a busy and complicated life, stillness is elusive and to sit and simmer with it all is more elusive still.

Have you ever practiced restorative asanas?  Do you find value in adding an element of restorative yoga to your existing yoga/fitness routine?

Lifestyle Yoga

5 Things I Wish I Had Known About Online Yoga Before the Corona Virus

June 10, 2020

In Lodhi Gardens, Delhi pre Covid 19. pc  Devashish Sharma

The Covid 19 has driven us all indoors, and our yoga online.  A few weeks into the lock down, my entire teaching schedule shifted online.

After a few weeks yoga teachers across the world realized that this may very well be the future of yoga.  Many senior teachers offering online classes & workshops.  With considerably more time at hand, I started attending some of these online yoga classes.  I even downloaded a few courses and the accompanying reading list.

As more and more yoga studios went virtual, Savitri from Saktiisha Yoga connected with me and soon I was on their virtual schedule.  I started inviting guest teachers to my class too.  So far we’ve had amazing yoga sessions with Medha Bhaskar and Susanne Mayer and look forward to many more.  I wish we’d discovered online yoga earlier!

Here are 5 Things I Wish I knew About Online Yoga Before the Corona Virus

  1.  It is absolutely possible to practice yoga with a teacher online.
  2. The teaching isn’t diluted on an online medium – in fact, it’s amplified.  Teachers teach from the comfort of their homes and this is evident in their demeanor.
  3. An online class will save you a lot of travel time.  That time can now be spent sipping some tea, meditating, catching up on reading, meal prepping etc.
  4. There are various online offerings  – from a touch base once a week to membership access to thousands of videos – you can find something that works for you.  I have registered for weekly live yoga classes & membership to the YogaBranches portal.  I’ve also explored Carrie Owerko’s plans.  In addition to this I attended a few online classes with Amrutha Bindu Yoga and a weekend workshop streamed to London by Raya UD.  In addition to this I’ve bought several David Garrigues courses for philosophy study.  I looked at OMStars too, and not to forget – I tried a few workouts with Cult.fit as well!
  5. Practicing in your rattiest and most comfortable pajamas beats pulling on a pair of yoga pants any day.

 

Have you jumped on to the online yoga bandwagon yet?

Guest Teacher Series Lifestyle Yoga

Guest Teacher Series | Susanne Mayer : Hands & Feet in Yoga

May 22, 2020

Today we had the privilege to have Susanne Mayer as our guest teacher.  Susanne’s session was called Hands & Feet in Yoga.  The hands and feet are the base in all asanas, and we hardly pay attention to their placement and positioning.  When practicing asanas our attention moves to the gross body, and we rarely think of the seemingly ‘unimportant’ aspects of the asana. During the session we learned how to use our hands and feet to bring stability to our asanas and used blocks to understand them more.  Below is a recording of the class, since I know many of you will want to follow along.

I met Susanne about 4 years ago at RIMYI (Pune) and last year we hosted our first yoga retreat together in Liguria, Italy. Below is a snapshot of a conversation I had with Susanne some time last year.  I had intended to put it up on the blog back then, but have only gotten around to it now.

When did you start practicing yoga?

On a day off during our Liguria 2019 retreat.

I started practicing a long long time ago, but it was not Iyengar yoga.

My first Iyengar-like Yoga experience came from a used little pocket book I saw in the street of some South American city, I believe it was in Buenos Aires or Santiago – don’t remember. It was titled “Yoga for Americans” and is written by “Indra Devi” who was, just like Iyengar a student of Krishnamacharya (I didn’t know anything of that, back then…), but I guess she was at Krishnamacharya’s a bit later than Iyengar. She was the first woman who Krishnamacharya agreed to teaching yoga –- after first refusing to do so. He was basically forced by the Maharaja of Mysore’s wife in whose place he had lived and taught their children for so long. Indra Devi was American from Los Angeles and had developed an early love for India and the films produced there, subsequently she starred in several old movies from that time around the 1930s onwards…

That little book traveled with me and was pulled out each morning when I had to get up and out of our tight bed in our VW camper van in which I traveled with my boyfriend and another friend through South, Central and North America from 1977-1979. We were sort of hippes then…

But each morning I rolled out my woolen blanket when I had found a level patch somewhere near and started with some rounds of Surya Namaskara, then some other poses, but mostly learnt and practiced headstand. Without any wall behind my I just did as she describes in that book, and one day it worked. Don’t ask me what that looked like… 😉

Between then and my first time with Iyengar yoga, there were lots of periods when I’d rather dance, Contemporary, Jazz, Brazilian and classic ballet styles alike. But after a while I always returned to yoga, as it seemed to offer something on top of the beauty in bodies moving along with nice music, something deeper. resonating within me with more satisfaction and promising more understanding of whatever there was out there.

On that long way I had many different teachers and went to different yoga centres – Sivananda was the most wide spread in germany at that time, but only in big cities like Munich where I lived for a while, and Frankfurt where I also had a stint for work at television. Nothing in Stuttgart…   Somehow I lost it again and again because either I moved to another place for work or a good teacher changed pathways and went elsewhere.

Until I met an old friend at a jazz club one night who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I told me: ” I’m doing great, I practice yoga.” I was surprised – he didn’t seem like a yoga student type to me. He told me he had suffered from migraine all his life and was “out” for a few days each month but had been alright since he started yoga.

I instantly asked him where he went to practice and he told me about this great teacher close to my house, and I was there the next morning… 😉

After those first 90 minutes I walked out and felt my whole body vibrating and lifting up by itself.

 

That was it for me. I went back for years, up to 3-4 times a week. Until I asked my teacher how I could get deeper into the philosophy of yoga. He recommended a teacher training to explore that.  As I had been teaching at university for many years and was happy being a student, I didn’t quite want to go there, but he said I could just do it and then see if I’d really want to teach. So….

Susanne’s cute mini cooper was also our main ride to the city during the retreat.

What brought you to yoga?

My mat was and is my island – away from my continuous stream of work and my little family back then, and

presently, as someone who recently retired and has all the time of the day to their own disposition, it’s more and more to meet with my deeper inner being, experience my breath, and to still these endless movements of my all too vivid mind.

Back then, luckily my young son also had training sessions of sports on some evenings or didn’t mind me returning home a bit later, and my partner usually never returned from his office before 7:30pm for dinner anyway, and sometimes I also went in the early mornings, before I went to uni… It was doable. In 2012 I started my teacher training and since then, for me my life has continually developed in an uplifting and creative way, breaking through what had been limits to my life so far, and it’s simply great.

I somehow also started teaching just because I really believe in the power of practicing yoga in a multidimensional way and felt an urge to help passing it on to others.

I experience teaching as a most giving process. While I still worked at uni, sometimes I felt really tired when I went to my yoga classes right after returning home in the evening, but after teaching one or two yoga classes, I come out somehow elated and energized. Which is amazing and very fulfilling.

What keeps you going?

Yoga keeps changing my life for the better, my body is healthy, my mind is alive, I feel younger than ten years ago, in some ways at least as far as my energy goes.

With age my body is giving me new challenges with problems in several joint areas. Iyengar Yoga is the best to deal exactly with such issues, and this made me start studying yoga therapy a year ago. It is physio therapeutic work including the aligning, joining and relaxing aspects of yoga.

Yoga helps a lot with another process which comes with getting older, which is much more important than physical ability, I believe.It forces us to look inside ourselves and towards an understanding of our mind’s workings.

We overcome new challenges of all kinds with new and never ending confidence about our ability to tackle almost anything by simple continuous practice of asanas and meditation.

And so on…

The entire Liguria 2019 crew having one last dinner before we bid each other adieu…until next year.

What was your day job?

I worked at the Stuttgart Media University, where I held a professor position for more than 20 years.  Nearly 35 years of facing ever changing media, software and computer systems, the amounts of communication that come along with these jobs simply made me sit, and sit and sit, looking into this square screen, not noticing how time flew away, until my body cried for help.

Plus – my son told me I was hunching forward at the dining table like an old woman (…children usually tell the truth as bitter as it may taste…), and mostly my bones told me I couldn’t really get up and walk after long hours of computer work –  I HAD to do something….

Why Iyengar yoga for you?

I noticed this was a different kind of teaching. I was told what do with my different body parts, where to put my attention to and what parts to connect or stretch – unlike in other yoga styles where there is no real instruction, just  showing poses with the order: …and now you do it (…which ever way you can…)

There was helpful correction into alignment and I started understanding little by little what yoga really was about.

I could feel the wholeness of my body and its limbs, including my minds workings, and I  understood the ways some parts wouldn’t go unless I was shown or told how to do it “right” – after which it always felt like another epiphany, one after the other…

How many times have you been to India?

Only twice in my life – but there will be more… 🙂 I had been scared for a long time, that India would catch me emotionally and I might not be able to bear seeing so much poverty next to utter luxury and not cry out loud…

But now… maybe due to my yoga practice and learnings on Indian history and philosophy I might be able and also want to understand a lot better. I can definitely feel my fascination with India’s culture after my only two visits during those last years growing…

The first time was in February 2017 when I flew back from Australia via Delhi to visit an Indian friend who came to visit my partner and me  some years before in Germany. She had invited me to come and meet her family in Delhi, always telling me, if I ever come to India, to come to her house so she could plan all else from there with me.

The whole family was incredibly helpful in answering all my “newbie” questions about their daily rituals, and also the reason for all these  maids in the house who all shared a different kind of mini job. Like one came just to do the dishes, another who actually lived in the house, was presently trained in cooking specials, where to shop for food and what to prepare, yet another came in each day for washing clothes (by hand…) and another one came to clean the house…

Still, my friend seemed utterly exhausted by having to manage all that along with her mother-in-law in whose house they lived.

I thought – WOW,  at home I do all that by myself… plus I raise my kid and have a full-time job…

After 3 or 4 days Delhi I sort of fled to Goa, just to be able to walk and breathe some clean air on an open beach again which I had just left behind in my favourite places in Australia…

But that didn’t happen before I explored some really stunning places in Delhi – like the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of architecture, harmony, geometry, and the poetry and music which was offered through the audio guides there.

All in all this was a great introduction to one of the biggest cities, rounded by a surprise concert with my favourite Tabla player Zakir Hussein who happened to play a charity concert at my friends’ sons’ college on my last night there.

Coincidence organized by the universe I like to think.

After about a week in Goa I went to Pune to visit the RIMIY institute for the first time – mainly to find out of I really felt I could go there half a year later for my practice month which I had signed up for already years before.

I had heard all kinds of stories…

I had passed my teacher assessment just 2 years before I went there for the first time, and BKS Iyengar had already passed away by then.

 

But I was received very friendly, was allowed to go into the big shala to watch a class given by Abhijata and Raya who I had both met before during yoga conferences in Berlin and Basel/Switzerland.

Your favourite aspect of Iyengar yoga?

The unending depth of further explorations into our true being which keeps evolving more and more over the years.Exploring interpretations of the Patanjali Sutras with those more than 2000-year-old insights on the workings of a human brain and how Patanjali mentions bit by bit all the obstacles from simple to complex we as humans are confronted with on a daily basis… then obviously as today: it’s the very same phenomena as we experience today what is being discussed there.

Western psychology could have won tons of insights many years ago from these deep Eastern philosophical musings, had it not been largely ignored by Western snobbishness. It’s very slowly showing and dawning on the horizon in Western medicine and psychology/psychiatry, thanks to the hard work of a few determined doctors, academics, philosophers and healers alike.