With the corona crisis and some personal challenges, I found myself overworked and in constant apathy. Nothing I worked for, made a lot of sense, I constantly felt anxious and needed to take very frequent breathing breaks during the day, just to keep functioning at a normal level. My throat was sore every second week and I‘d get dizzy and tinnitus all the time.
Thankfully, due to the years of practicing yoga and mindfulness, I was able to listen to my body and recognise some of the patterns of overworking or negativity I was getting myself into. However, a lot of my symptoms didn‘t have any apparent reason and hence I felt lost and hopeless.
Deep in my heart, I knew the solution. I always do – and sometimes the whisper of intuition is louder than other times. My body was telling me that the 10-20 minutes yoga practice I was doing was not enough. I needed to go back to to mat, 1 hour a day and start practicing with intention. To begin with grounding myself into here and now and accepting the current situation. This is the basis of the first chakra.
I know. Most people think of chakras and energies as spiritual bullshit. Woowoo nonesense. But for me, it was one of the most powerful teachings in yoga. The chakras were just a body-mind manual for this vehicle called body. Finally, everything I practiced made sense and I was able to attribute the different poses to my spiritual awakenings.
So this is what I did. Knowing there are 7 different steps to the liberation of my ingrained behaviours, I started working on my first and committed to the same sequence every day for 2 weeks for every chakra. It‘s especially hard to not only remain committed to a practice but also trust the method, despite your emotional state and despite the lack of guidance or the certainty that it will work. But I did trust the process and clung on to it faithfully.
After one month in the process, I already started seeing results – my throat was not hurting anymore, my productivity and energy were high and I even developed confidence to express what I really wanted to do. This is a self-discovery course. The pure joy and excitement I got every time I thought about it made me consider it more and more. And ultimately open up to Sergiu, my life partner. Without an extensive knowledge of yoga or chakra, he jumped in 150% to help me brainstorm ideas of manifestation. This course would not be possible without his fantastic support.
Yoga – a love story
I’ve been practicing yoga for the last seven years and for the first five I had been sheepishly opening and then rapidly closing the door of spirituality, without the courage — or what I was calling time back then, to take a step on the other side and see what it had to offer.
The first step of surrendering to the guidance of my intuition happened when I decided to pursue teacher training course at Yogaji. When someone asked me if I planned to teach yoga, my answer was an insecure no, as I couldn’t have seen myself teaching anything at that moment. My answer raised some eyebrows. My friends did not understand why I’d pay thousands of euro and one year of commitment to a steady practice of physical and theoretical study, next to my full time job. But there are times in our lives when we need to reinvent ourselves and establish a new trajectory.
Your body and spirit are whispering to you constantly but you are blissfully unaware of these subtle vibrations. You ignore the signs of burnout or constant unease and frustration because you are resigned to live with the cards that you have been dealt.
The Tao teaching can be quite confusing here as it promotes the aspect of non-doing and contentment which may be interpreted as stagnation or dullness. The answer for me is in finding a balance between the gravity that is pulling me towards Mother Earth, natural instincts of self-preservation — and grace, which is pulling me upwards, lifting me up, with the head in the clouds, as my mom always used to describe me.
My relationship with yoga was not one of love at first sight. To the contrary, I could not comprehend how a sequence of impossible to achieve positions and a prop supported triangle pose could help me get over my insomnia and depression. In the beginning, it never occurred to me that yoga is more than just physical exercises. This can happen in the absence of a proper guide or teacher.
But even if I would have been told by my teacher or the Google guru that yoga is a tool for living a more conscious life, I wouldn’t have been ready to receive the message back then, because yoga is not a path of inherited belief but one of experimentation. Yoga consists of asking questions, exploration and revelations. You have to get to a point when your whole being is ready to start asking and surrendering to whatever comes back in the form of answers.
In teacher training I learned that yoga prepares you to steady the fluctuations of the mind. For this, we have techniques like breathing (pranayama), postures (asanas), meditation (dhyana), resting (yoga Nidra) and others. It is about using all these practices so you can condition your mind not to be affected by external circumstances or situations. It is about understanding your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual condition.
Yoga means learning to consciously direct and manage your energies towards responding to the outside world.
After working in stressful environments like startups and advertising agencies, living at the edge of burnout or a potential client catastrophe, where my sanity seemed to depend on achieving those sprint goals and my entire happiness depended on meeting impossible client expectations, life brought me closer to my first question — Is this how life is supposed to be?
And little did I know that the small things — like focusing on your breath or the practice of sun salutation with maximum awareness of your body, breath and mind will gradually bring me closer to finding my own answer to that question. Day by day, life transformed from accidental into an elevated, conscious, miraculous existence, full of revelations and wonders.
I will not go into the technicalities of yoga as there are numerous books and more studios which explain Yoga in detail. My intention is simply to say that if the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual bodies are aligned and unified (as the word yoga means unity), bliss can be achieved. And in contrast to physical achievements like the ability to sing or climb mountains, the internal reality is open to everyone………… that is willing 🙂
So are you willing to step onto this road and start dancing the life you were always destined to?
Dance — a lifelong ecstasy
I’ve been dancing my whole life and it’s one of the very few activities that bring me instant and pure joy. Time and space are suspended and I feel connected to everything around me. But mostly I feel closer to myself, like being swept on a mysterious journey of self-cleansing and healing.
I believe that regardless of age, gender, physical ability or beliefs, absolutely everyone can dance. It is a natural form of physical expression, which is more healing than words. I guess some of us are sometimes afraid of dance because we are inherently shy or feel that we are clumsy. We either dance alone at home (on happier days) or moving our feet mechanically in a disco club. But dance need not necessarily be hidden, or choreographed, or beautiful. It can be weird and clumsy and explorative, funny and graceful — all at the same time.
After all, dance is a reflection of your soul.
The power of movement is available to us all, especially when it is conscious. In comparison to the professional dances like ballroom, Zumba, K pop or tango, conscious dance is mindful. It is meant to be enjoyed. There is no right or wrong in a dance. It is about moving freely, sensing and immersing in an experience, touching your energy points through the body and to release tension.
Even if I trained in ballroom dancing for many years when I was a child, external circumstances and probably the will of the Universe, never allowed me to return to that practice again. My journey with open floor movement and conscious dancing started in a similar fashion as it did with yoga. The first interactions were rather clumsy and I wasn’t quite ready to receive the message. The sessions were still guided to some degree and I did not feel the deeper purpose of it. I was always left longing for more meaning and a deeper connection. What I didn’t understand back then was that I was searching for meaning in the outside world rather than through a spiritual path.
This feeling changed only after I practiced yoga for a few years. When my yoga teacher urged us to attend her open floor movement practice one weekend in Berkeley, I gladly joined. And even if it was probably the same format as I’ve tried years before in Vienna, this experience was completely different. I felt aware and alive and the experience left me wholesome and cleansed. I felt like coming home, to a sense of true self, where joy and absolute vulnerability coexisted. This was due to an unlocked intuition from my practice of yoga.