When we are enthusiastic about something, we want to share that – that’s probably the case for all of us. When we’re really passionate about a topic, we hardly know what’s more fun: actually doing it or talking about it.
We enjoy the new things we learn; the new people we meet through the hobby and the insights we gain.
With yoga in particular, these often have a very deep impact. After practicing for a while, we feel the many benefits of a regular practice: we become stronger, more flexible, more relaxed, better able to deal with stress. And maybe we even change some of our lifestyle habits.
As yoga can improve your wellbeing so much, it’s only natural to want to share this. Because of course we want our loved ones to feel as good as we do, right? It can be difficult if those closest to you don’t share your interests.
So what can you do if you have different interests or even different lifestyles but are very close?
There should be a willingness to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, on both sides.
If a person is important to you, you usually also care about what interests them, what drives them, what they spend their time doing – even if these things don’t necessarily match your own. If the latter is the case, still make an effort to show interest, ask questions and initiate conversations. But also make sure that you are met with the same level of interest.
Find common ground
If both parties have really tried to talk about the other person’s topics and it’s just exhausting and annoying, then you need to find common ground.
What connected you in the past? If that foundation is no longer there, why not look for a new one? It could be fun to look for something you both like: evenings at the theater together, learning a new language or instrument together, joining a book club… the possibilities are endless! Perhaps an old or new commonality will bring you together again.
Living by example instead of persuasion
It is not uncommon for yoga enthusiasts to want to convince those around them of their passion. Many find their way to yoga through ailments that are alleviated or even disappear through regular practice. It is therefore only natural to want to get friends and family on board, as we want them to also benefit from the positive aspects of yoga.
The fact is that everyone can benefit from yoga in one way or another, whether it’s by relieving back pain or reducing stress.
But it is also a fact that not everyone is aware of this or open to it.
If this is the case in your environment, you are more likely to push people away if you try to persuade them. However, you can try to inspire. Show your loved ones the positive effects yoga can have. Emphasize the impact of your practice when people talk to you about how relaxed you look, how healthy you are, etc.
Offering small insights
Unfortunately, many people still have prejudices against yoga. If you have people like this around you, it can of course be frustrating. Nevertheless, try not to dismiss these prejudices as “nonsense”. Explain in a friendly but firm manner that the respective assumption is wrong and offer to provide an insight into “real yoga”.
This can be done in many ways. Simply offer to have a conversation with the person about it, in which all questions to you are allowed. As a next step, you can offer to come to a class with them to see for themselves. If you teach yourself, you can also offer a private lesson.
People who are open-minded will be keen to set aside preconceptions and replace dangerous half-knowledge with genuine insights.
Let’s hope it never comes to that, but you may come across people who hold on to prejudices and wrong views rather than being open to learning something new. In this case, you should ask yourself whether such narrow-minded people are good for you.
As a yogi or yogini, you are probably very tolerant and open-minded, so you probably don’t really get along with narrow-minded people. Make it clear to them that it offends you if they prefer to cling to false facts rather than talk to you about them. If you have someone in your life who can clear up your prejudices – like you – it’s so easy to broaden your horizons. If someone is not willing to do this, it speaks volumes about that person.
Have you experienced different interests among your friends and family? How did you deal with it? Share it with me in the comments!
Do you know that? A first meet-up, sparks fly and you’re sure – this is it!
That’s not how it went with yoga and me.
Love at first sight? Absolutely not. Not even at second sight.
A rocky start
We already had our first “date” when I was still a teenager. My parents’ health insurance offered a yoga class especially for school kids and their typical ailments – wrong posture, poor concentration, growing pains. All costs were covered, so my parents thought “why not?” and signed me up.
There’s something you need to know about me before I start telling you about my first yoga experience: Even as a thirteen-year-old, I was very interested in spirituality and aware that I ponder and worry a lot more than the average teenie. Yep, even back then I had my issues with mental chatter. Fights with my parents, harmless bickering in the schoolyard, in-class tests – annoying for most of my peers, but not really a problem. I, on the other hand, mulled over that stuff endlessly: Was I well enough prepared for that vocab test? What if not? Was that fight my fault? Had I been unfair? Should I go and apologize? Shoulda, woulda, coulda…
At the same time, yoga became more and more popular and I had already read one article or two about it. In different magazines, there were pieces about how it helped with back pain, but also how the meditative aspect, the movement with the breath, brought peace and quiet to the mind.
I knew: I needed that.
So, we’re not talking about a stubborn teenager here who was totally against it and only participated in class because mom and dad insisted. No – I was open and actually excited for it.
The first “date”
The course took place in the rooms of a rescue service, where they usually held first-aid classes. It wasn’t a room with white walls and buddha statues, as one might expect. Everything was very dry and down-to-earth, including the teacher. We moved very slowly, didn’t really work up a sweat. I remember that I felt a pang of disappointment because this had nothing to do with the graceful postures that were shown in the magazines. The course went for eight weeks, and during that time, I wasn’t intrigued. I felt bored, I didn’t feel like all of that had any impact on my mind or my body, so I didn’t continue when the course ended. I still know that I thought it was a pity. More than anything, I would have loved something to control my overthinking, but yoga just didn’t seem to be for me.
Almost 10 years passed until I stepped on a mat again.
A second chance
I was in my semester abroad the US, recovering from a pneumonia and realized that my body was craving movement again, even though I still felt pretty sluggish. When a roommate asked me if I wanted to come to yoga with her, I said yes. I remembered the super slow practice from my previous class, so I thought this would be great after being sick.
Unfortunately, that teacher had a totally different approach. It was exhausting, demanding, sweaty – exactly the opposite of what you need when you’ve just been sick and still not 100% fine. That’s why I felt awful afterwards. I was totally beaten and spent the rest of the day in bed. Do I have to mention that I didn’t go to yoga again during that semester?
Again, several years passed until I gave it another shot.
“Yoga is just not for me”
By now I was living and working in Bonn and went to the gym with some colleagues every week. At some point, we got the idea that we could go to one of the yoga classes.
I began to hope again: Even though my experiences with yoga hadn’t been great so far, I was still convinced that it was just what I needed. I still thought that I got upset way too quickly. So far, I hadn’t liked yoga – but I wanted to like it! So, I went to one of the courses with a colleague of mine.
Was that the day when it clicked? Nope, unfortunately not.
Back then, I didn’t know anything about yoga, but I always thought I would get into some kind of flow state (it is called “yoga flow”, after all!), that I would be able to relax or that I would get some kind of inner peace. None of that happened.
To make it even worse, the teacher had a very weird way of speaking and pronouncing the words. Throughout the class, I had to keep myself from laughing. Again, I couldn’t get into it and left the class thinking that I should accept that yoga just wasn’t for me.
Just like many of us, I finally came to yoga because of a crisis.
Some kind of quarter-life crisis
I was in a phase where I was very unhappy with my job and my private life. I didn’t have a Plan B either, because I didn’t really know anymore what I wanted. As a result, I got lethargic, which didn’t make anything better.
Finally, I got to a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I quit my job without having a new one and went traveling. In that same year, I had become friends with an American girl while I was in Costa Rica, who was now in Lombok, teaching English. She invited me to stay with her, so I planned my trip around that visit.
It was a great time. We drank tequila in Indonesian beach bars and ate fabulous food while listening to live bands, our feet buried in the sand. We discovered the Gili islands, snorkeled with sea turtles and danced in a club by the ocean on Halloween. We got massages, visited temples… and spent time with her roommate, who was a yoga teacher.
Due to an injury, I couldn’t take a class with her, but we talked about the topic a lot. Her charisma did the rest: she was bubbly, cheerful, genuine, the typical “life of the party” personality, but still she emanated an impressive calmness. She seemed to be totally at ease with herself.
I thought: If this is what yoga does, I want it too.
Before I went for my next destination Thailand, she advised me to look for a yoga studio back in Germany, instead of taking classes at the gym, as the approaches were so different. I promised myself to give yoga another chance.
Sparks are flying!
Back in Germany, I still ended up at the gym (another one by now). I still had a contract there and was looking for a new job, so I didn’t want to spend extra money on a yoga studio.
That was the class where the sparks finally flew!
The lights were dimmed, candles were burning, the movements were fluent and felt harmonious to me. It was the right mix of strenuousness and relaxation, of spiritual and down-to-earth. This was it: yoga had me hooked. From then on, Monday evenings were reserved. Shortly after that, I got a job in Frankfurt, where I signed up at a yoga studio. And the rest is history.
Ever since, yoga and I have been inseparable, and I can’t imagine my life without it.
Did the mind chatter leave me alone since then? Absolutely not.
Do I still have a tendency for overthinking? Hell yes.
BUT: Now I have a tool to get me out of my occasional funks. Why did it take me so long? I don’t know. Maybe I never had the right teacher, maybe I wasn’t receptive enough.
What counts, though, is that I didn’t stop trying after the first time.
All the hopes I had put into yoga eventually came true. Sometimes it pays off to listen to that little voice telling you “try again – it might be worth it”.
A few years have passed since I have fallen head over heels in love with yoga. Read about what I’ve learned during these years and how I became a yoga teacher.
What’s your own story with yoga? Share it in the comments!
I never thought I would ask myself this question. It had taken me too long to get into yoga as a student to imagine taking on the role of teacher.
But once I was hooked, it happened pretty quickly.
Before – the decision making
Barely a year had passed since I started practicing yoga regularly when my then-teacher mentioned in class that a new training was starting soon. “Doesn’t concern me,” I thought. “What am I going to teach people, I haven’t been at it that long myself.”
But then, the following week, my teacher came right up to me after class and approached me about the training. She said she had a feeling about me that this path might be right for me, and that she was sure I would make a good teacher – and no, she doesn’t get a commission for recruiting “yoga trainees” 😊
With a warm tea in hand, we talked for a long time that evening. About the training, her own experiences, my concerns about it, but also about us in general. In the process, we realized: we have a lot in common. When she signed up for the training, she was in a very similar life situation as I was at that moment, and for her it was the best decision ever.
She also shook my conviction that I was too inexperienced when she told me that another participant in our course had already signed up – you don’t need any profound prior knowledge or practice, it’s enough if you have the desire and interest to delve deeper into the subject matter: the philosophy, the mythology, the anatomy, the correct alignment of the asanas and much more.
In any case, I felt like it, and so I took an information brochure home with me, which I read from cover to cover over the next few days.
It quickly became clear to me: this is actually exactly the right thing for me. But to be honest, I also had some jitters. Two years is quite a commitment, not to mention the cost and work involved. Training once a week, plus several intensive weekends a year… that intimidated me a bit.
However, I also saw the great experiences I would have; the things I would learn; the interesting people I would meet.
Over Christmas, at home with my parents, I talked to them both about it. My mother advised me to wait another year to solidify my own practice. I distinctly remember my gut feeling at that moment: no. It’s now or never.
I didn’t know it yet, but two years later, that feeling would prove to be absolutely right. But more on that later 😊
Back in Frankfurt, I registered – and got the very last place. Shortly after that, the training started. That’s how much time I had taken to make the decision!
The first experiences
Just in time for the very first evening of training, I fell ill. With a sore throat, a headacheand fatigue, I dragged myself to the studio because I did not want to miss the first evening under any circumstances.
Despite my condition, the special atmosphere totally resonated with me. The magic of the getting-to-know-each-other ritual was clearly tangible, and I felt: this is the place for me. Although I still had concerns about my personal practice level, I became calmer during that first evening.
Shortly thereafter – still a little under the weather – I went to visit my parents and went to yoga in their area. When I returned, my mother (who was rather skeptical about the training) was completely blown away. She was like, “You suddenly look so much healthier than you did before class – if that’s what yoga does for you, I’m all for it!”
Once the initial sickness was over, I really got into it. I felt right at home with the flow of the training evening – meditation/pranayama, theory, asanas – the content, and especially the people. An environment that had previously unsettled me quickly became my comfort zone.
Ashram and studio weekends
This positive impression was confirmed on the first weekend we spent together in the yoga studio. On two days, we dove extra deep into exciting topics such as Hindu mythology and got to know each other even better.
But the real adventure were the intensive weekends in the ashram. For many of us it was the first time in such a place, so we were not yet used to the long days, the early rising, the eating rhythm and the extended kirtan singing in the evening. Especially the latter was strange for many of us at first and then quickly became something to look forward to.
Eleven girls in one room – can that work? It sure can!
We had a lot of fun in the room, which we were allotted to on every training weekend, with only one exception. In the evenings, before going to bed, we exchanged reading material; during breaks, we sat together in the bunk beds with our newfound friends, chatted, snacked and sometimes even drank a “smuggled-in” coffee.
This very special mix of “class trip meets spiritual retreat” very quickly became something I began to look forward to. Yes, it was also exhausting, but at the same time I refueled my energy every time.
Those who know me know: exams are absolute hell for me. In the yoga teacher training it was no different. It already started at the first teaching rehearsal: Palpitations, sweaty palms, stage fright, fear of failure.
Fortunately, however, it turned out quite quickly that I felt very comfortable in the role of teacher and the nervousness went away as soon as I sat in front of my group. So the practical exam was much less nerve-wracking for me than the theoretical one. Teaching a lesson whose exact sequence was precisely prescribed – which I didn’t have to plan from scratch – and which I had practiced in this form umpteen times before, that wasn’t too scary.
The theory, on the other hand, scared the living hell out of me, and that was despite the fact that I was studying diligently. I wrote flashcards with which I repeated the material on the bus and train, but I still worried that I wasn’t prepared well enough. The idea of taking a written exam for three hours made my stomach hurt – my lucky hamster, who has accompanied me during exams and job interviews since my school days, was of course essential and was by my side during both practice and theory..
At least the studying was fun because the topics were super interesting. I dealt with anatomy, mythology, philosophy, teaching didactics, yoga for special target groups and much more. Even today I am amazed at how much knowledge I accumulated during this time. And actually, I was able to reproduce it, because I passed the exam 😊
I completed the exams in January 2020 – shortly after that, Corona hit.
Soon after, I realized that the inner voice that had advised me to rather not wait another year had been absolutely right. Corona spread, due to which I came into short-time work and suddenly had a lot of time. So I had enough free time to do the Ayurveda correspondence course, which I had already flirted with during my training; and to do further training in therapeutic writing. Then, as soon as it got warmer outside and it was possible to teach outdoors, I was soon teaching four classes a week at a senior citizens’ residence in Frankfurt.
None of this would have been possible if I had joined a year later. And not only that: the training itself would have been completely different – with fewer face-to-face and more online evenings, without the intensive practice of corrections, without the cozy ashram weekends with eleven of us in one room.
Looking back, I am still incredibly happy about my decision to follow this intuition.
It sounds like a cliché to say that a yoga teacher training makes you grow personally a lot. But I can assure you: it’s true.
Because I did a two-year training, it was a very sustainable process. I wasn’t in a kind of bubble for three weeks and then thrown back into everyday life, but the training with all its teachings and people became part of my everyday life.
I established some new habits (for example, starting the day with yoga, not eating meat anymore…), learned a lot about myself (I can be really striving when my heart is on a subject) and made friendships that last until today.
Another aspect that was a real enrichment for me was the spiritual component of the training. While rituals, kirtan & co. were alienating for me in the beginning, they soon became things I even longed for when I was going through difficult phases.
Probably most importantly, I discovered a new comfort zone for myself and feel right at home in the yoga world and in my role as a teacher. I’ve broadened my horizons tremendously and couldn’t be more grateful for it.
My advice to you
If you are thinking about training, I can only encourage you to do it. Even if you don’t want to teach afterwards, you will benefit greatly from it – I promise! If it is somehow possible for you, I would advise you to choose a longer in-service training instead of doing an intensive training in an exotic place for a few weeks. Why? First, you logically learn much more theory in a longer training and also gain much more routine in teaching. In addition, as described above, you build the new activity directly into your everyday life. If you spend three weeks in Bali, for example, the content and new habits can fade away very quickly back in Germany.
However, this is only my personal view. The choice of the right education is very individual, so inform yourself, look what fits best to you and your needs and possibilities.
I wish you from the bottom of my heart that your experience will be as fulfilling as mine!
Work… it’s that annoying thing we have to do every day and absolutely hate, right? But, wait a minute… isn’t it perhaps that fulfilling activity that we are fully absorbed in and sometimes can hardly believe that we are also making money doing it? I think it’s time to rethink the word. And, while we’re at it, we should continue with the word “success”.
In my own professional environment and on social media, I’ve noticed one thing in recent years: Although burnout is no longer a foreign word, overwork is still portrayed as something glamorous. Many people wear their exhaustion in front of them like a badge of bravery. It’s the same way when they come into the office sick. They expect to be “admired” for how strong and hardworking they are, for going to work despite being sick.
Why expect admiration for something that is just stupid?
No one will thank you for ruining their health over a job. You can always find a new job – your health is much more valuable. And so is everyone else’s, which you’re putting at risk by showing up to work sniffling.
But even if you’re in great health, overwork isn’t glamorous. Burnout is not “chic” or in any other way something to be proud of.
Is this perhaps where the bad image of work comes from?
Do people automatically assume it’s something that leads to illness and exhaustion? Because it is not that at all. The word “work” has a very negative connotation for many: Work is exhausting, annoying, tiresome, boring. But work is so much more. Writing this article is also a kind of work, but this activity gives me great pleasure, fulfills me and recharges my energy reserves instead of depleting them.
Reflections on “laziness”
The same people who think overwork is glamorous see people as lazy who just don’t, or perhaps even want to work less. “Working less,” however, does not necessarily automatically mean being lazy. Many have had a rethink as a result of the pandemic and have redefined their priorities. Perhaps they want to devote more time to their family, find time for a real hobby, or do volunteer work. There’s nothing wrong with that! They just want more time to do things that make them happy, and sometimes that’s something productive. Would they still be considered lazy if they got paid for it?
And anyway – what is actually considered “lazy”? A leisurely day on the sofa, a marathon series, extended reading in a riveting novel? All of these things are sometimes simply necessary to recharge the batteries.
Sometimes the most productive decision you can make is simply NOT to be productive – so you can hit the ground running and give it your all afterwards.
Someone who takes breaks more often is certainly more productive overall than someone who just keeps going.
Who is successful?
Success isn’t what it used to be either. Having a stellar career used to be totally desirable – less so these days, due to the economic climate and a rethinking of what’s really important in life.
So who is successful? The top manager with the prestigious job, but who doesn’t see her children at all, has no hobbies and is so exhausted on weekends that she can only sleep instead of doing something nice? Or the minimum wage employee who no one envies for his job, but who has time and energy for fulfilling hobbies and creates precious memories with family and friends on the weekends?
So maybe we should strive for happiness rather than success – because that’s far more sustainable and individual than an externally determined concept of success.
“You are enough” – a phrase you come across again and again in the yoga scene. Surely you’ve heard it, too. But what does it mean? That you are already good as you are right now; that you don’t have to change anything about yourself to deserve love, success and all the good things in this world. An important reminder in today’s society, where advertising and social media always give us the impression that we need to be thinner, prettier, richer.
In the yoga world, on the other hand, we learn acceptance: we learn to respect our body and its limits and – almost shockingly – to love it, too. And with the thought of being enough comes the thought of having enough: Enough money, enough clothes, enough stuff. And then, quite possibly, the realization of doing enough also creeps in: enough working, enough being there for others.
The concept of “being enough” is very present in yoga and in the scene. Rightly so, in my opinion! The thing is: Yoga itself is not enough for me.
What do I mean by that?
Maybe you’re thinking “yoga isn’t enough for her? What the hell is she trying to say?”.
Or maybe it’s unusual for a yoga teacher to utter such a thing. Shouldn’t yoga be my life saver and life purpose? No. Absolutely not.
What I mean by that statement is that I don’t want to walk through the world with blinders on. I don’t want to be exclusive to the yoga scene, I want to try other forms of exercise, have other hobbies, I want to meet people who have nothing to do with yoga.
I have a wide range of interests
I have always been very enthusiastic and curious. This combination ensures that I can warm up to many different topics and want to learn more about them once the spark is lit. From my perspective, there are so many incredibly great things in the world that deserve my attention that I would consider it a waste to dwell on just one of them. For me, it’s water sports and books, but I also love drawing, even though I’m not particularly good at it 🙂
It makes me a better teacher
If you’ve ever looked around this blog, you’ll notice that other categories pop up besides “Yoga”. The two categories, “Ayurveda“ and “Journaling“ are regularly incorporated into my teaching. Why? Because they complement yoga perfectly. Ayurveda is even the sister science of yoga, but nowhere near as mainstream as yoga. And journaling? This method beautifully supports introspection in yoga. Would it be enough for me to simply say in class, “It’s fall right now, so it’s Vata time,” or would it be enough to just research some journal prompts online and give them to my students? Not to me. I wanted to dive deeper into these topics, so I educated myself to really add value to my classes, for the people who participate.
And even the things that are completely foreign to yoga at first glance make me a better teacher. Through other sports like swimming, diving, hiking, I experience the benefits of yoga in completely new areas on the one hand, and on the other hand I broaden my horizons – which brings me to the next point.
I do not want to have tunnel vision
Neither as a teacher nor as a private person I want to be someone who is only concerned with the yoga world.
I don’t think it does anyone any good to only stay within a single scene and never dare to look outside the box.
The flexibility that our body acquires in yoga should also be present in the mind, and that happens best through diverse experiences and exchange with people – even with people who are not necessarily like-minded. Especially with people who have nothing at all to do with yoga, very interesting dialogues often develop. It’s a great feeling to be able to learn from each other and to inspire each other.
How about you? Are you a yoga enthusiast and if so, how much space does it occupy in your life? And if you are not (yet) a yoga enthusiast – what brought you here? And what is it that you are otherwise engaged in? Share what you’re passionate about in the comments!
“Yoga isn’t about touching your toes. It’s about what you learn on your way down.”
This quote by Judith Hanson Lasater has become pretty famous in the last few years. It’s the mantra of every non-flexible newbie yogi:ni who feels like a brick stone between super-bendy classmates. Why has it gained such importance? Especially in the west, yoga is very much about the physical aspect of the practice. Oftentimes, people view it as a sport, as a means to stay fit.
While a consistent asana practice can indeed increase physical fitness and wellbeing, this is not the only aspect of yoga. Meditation, pranayama, mythology – many people nowadays feel uncomfortable with the more spiritual side of this ancient practice. But the “deeper” aspect isn’t only about deities, mantras, and rituals. It is very much about tools to make the everyday life easier.
Some years have passed since I was a newbie yogini who felt self-conscious in her first yoga class and there are some things I’ve learned since then. Here’s a little list.
No one cares if you’re sporty or not
I was never good at PE lessons at school. I didn’t like the type of sports we played and the way they were approached. This led me to believe that I’m “not sporty enough” for any kind of physical activity – even though I used to dance as a child. Despite my dance classes, I always lacked flexibility, which made me hesitant about trying yoga. I was still very self-conscious when I started teacher training, but then I realized: nobody cares. The people around me were way too busy trying to tune out everyone else and focusing on themselves. Beginners are very likely to peek at their peers out of the corner of their eye to see if their neighbor can do more than they can, if can touch their toes, etc. However, the more experience you gain, the less you care. That goes for flexibility as well as for more advanced poses like forearm stands. You can’t do it? No one will make fun of you.
Spirituality isn’t scary
If “spirituality” means Ouija boards and occult stuff for you, then I’ve got news – it’s not about that at all. It’s not even about religion. To me, it’s very much about philosophy. It’s about trying to make sense of stuff, finding meaning behind everyday issues and deeper understandings. There are inspirational mythological stories, beautiful rituals and valuable wisdom. Don’t be afraid to tap into the more spiritual side of your yoga practice! It will enrich your time on the mat and off the mat.
Never underestimate the connection between body and mind
What sounds like a yogi cliché is actually very true. I’ve found it fascinating to develop a closer connection to my body. It enabled me to listen to it better, to read its signs better. When you practice yoga, you learn how to “feel”: How does this movement feel? How does it feel when you’re trying a new pose? How does it feel when you reach your limits? How do you feel when you breathe in different ways? How do you feel before and after certain asanas, pranayamas or meditations? Instead of always complaining about how your body feels, you learn to observe and discover needs that your body is trying to convey. For me, the connection between body and mind is most visible when it comes to stretching. Creating space in your body also creates space in your mind. When my grandpa passed away and my mind felt narrow with grief, it was so much harder for me to do poses I could usually do with ease.
“Yoga friendships” are different
Small talk? Get the f*ck outta here! In friendships between yogis, it gets deep. No topic is off-limits. No matter if you want to talk about mantras, rituals, kundalini awakening experiences or Sanskrit – nobody will think you’re a weirdo! Yogis are not only interested in a lot of stuff that most people outside the yoga scene don’t even know about, but they are also very tolerant. Judging is not really a thing, even though, as everywhere, there are black sheep. Another thing that I find very beautiful is that almost everyone came to yoga because of a crisis, be it physical or emotional. Therefore, it is absolutely normal to talk about your trauma, your pain or your problems – no need to hide anything! The question “how are you?” is actually serious. Where people usually get uncomfortable when you reply with anything other than “fine, thanks”, Your yogi friends will listen to you as you tell them how you hit rock bottom and got back up on your feet, share advice and their own experience. The negative point about that? Conversations with non-yogis about the weather might seem very shallow once you’ve established a yogi group of friends.
Learning is actually fun
Ugh, good god, how I hated studying for school! It was just dreadful and seemed like a waste of time. The problem was that I found most of the stuff I had to learn absolutely pointless. The question “why am I learning this, what would I need this for?” could almost always not be answered in a satisfying way. I always had to force myself to study, I never had the feeling that I really wanted to learn more. This led to the belief that I’m lazy. This belief, on the other hand, made me hesitant about trying new stuff. As I thought I was lazy, I also thought that once I tried something new, I would lose interest quickly and not be consistent with it.
One time, when I came to yoga, I saw the poster on the front door, advertising the teacher training which would take two years. I remember thinking “who the hell is that consistent? Who is disciplined enough to dedicate every Wednesday to teacher training, for two freakin years?” I had those same doubts about being lazy and not disciplined enough when I finally signed up – I had waited so long with my final decision that I got the very last spot in the group – but it turned out, that I wasn’t so lazy when I actually cared about a topic. The stuff we went through at teacher training was fascinating to me: Indian mythology, yoga philosophy, anatomy and the physical aspects of the asanas, teaching them and making them accessible for special target groups. I found myself picking up the books in my spare time because I wanted to know more about all of that. And when it was time for the final exams, I studied super hard – because I wanted to. Realizing that I’m not lazy when something matters to me was a game changer. I was now confident that I could achieve anything I set my mind to, as long as I find some kind of sense in it.
Now it’s your turn – what have YOU learned from your yoga practice? Or, if you’re a newbie, what would you like to learn when you eventually start? Share in the comments!
The phases when something ends and something else begins are always significant and hold new possibilities for us. On a small scale, there are days: If my day today was rather annoying, I have the opportunity to let go of it in the evening to finish and start anew the next day. It gets a bit bigger when preparing for a new week or even a new month. However, we do this rather rarely. Days, weeks and months usually just merge into one another. The turn of the year, on the other hand, is special – it’s like opening a whole new book, not just a new chapter or page. For many of us, the time “between the years,” from Christmas to New Year’s Eve, is a time of quiet and reflection. Maybe you’re in the mood to make this a mindful one? Here are my five tips for end-of-year rituals.
Now is the time for retrospective. Take some time and do some soul-searching, reviewing the past year. There are several ways to do this:
Journaling: use the “brain dump” technique, where you set an alarm clock for at least 15 minutes and just write away – resolving never to put down your pen during the set timeframe. If you can’t think of anything to write, just write “I don’t know what to write right now.” With this technique, you’ll tap into your subconscious and perhaps write about things you didn’t even know were on your mind anymore.
Write a year in review: If you like things structured, you can write a year in review, gradually looking back at each month. Maybe you want to write about it prosaically, maybe just list the highlights of each month. It’s entirely up to you!
Your year in pictures: If you’re more visual, scroll through your phone’s gallery and pick out your favorite photos for each month. Maybe you want to create a collage with them? Let your creativity run wild!
Surely not everything went well this year. Surely you have wishes for the new year (we will come to that in the next point). In order to fulfill these wishes, it is good to create space beforehand. Become aware of what you want to leave behind in the old year. Journaling is a great way to do this, but you can also meditate on it. Visualize how light and free you will feel without what you want to let go of. Maybe it’s just small things, or maybe you want to change a long-ingrained habit, change jobs, or even cut a toxic person out of your life. But let go in a loving way, without resentment. If you like, you can complement the meditation and visualization with affirmations such as “I allow myself to let go” or “I make room for something new”. A small ritual can also be very helpful, especially if you want to let go of something bigger. Write what you want to let go of on a piece of paper, hold it in a candle flame and let it burn in a fireproof bowl. Meanwhile, you can work with visualizations and affirmations. You can give the ashes to the wind afterwards.
What do you wish for the new year? Visualize this as well! In meditation, imagine how you will feel and act when you have it. Are you creative and like to tinker? Then you’ll have a lot of fun creating a vision board. You can do it virtually or in the traditional way with scissors and glue. Either find a stack of old magazines from which you then cut out pictures that fit your vision and put them together to form a collage. Or work with a digital design tool that allows you to create a virtual collage. Even if you create a virtual collage, you should end up printing it out and hanging it in a place where you can easily see it often. This way you will always stay connected to your vision. If you enjoyed the letting go ritual with the note and the candle, you can also perform another small ritual for manifesting. Write your “order to the universe” on a piece of paper – formulate it as if your wish had already come true, for example “I live in my dream house”. Then bury the note in nature or in your garden. Think of it as a seed that will grow over time into what you wish for.
Whether you would like to use sticks or incense in a small bowl – especially in this phase of the year, the herbal aromas are a wonderful background for our meditation and yoga practice or simply provide a cozy mood in between. There are even specific incense rituals, for example to cleanse (sage) or to drive away negative energy (juniper). Feel free to experiment a little with the different scents and incense options – it’s fun!
Celebrate the “Rauhnaechte” (Twelfth Night)
The “Rauhnaechte” refer to the twelve nights between Christmas Eve and Epiphany. They are considered a particularly magical time and are ideal for rituals of all kinds. Each Rauhnacht has its own special features and meanings. Engaging with them can be a lot of fun and very inspiring.
How do YOU celebrate the end of the year? Do you have rituals that should not be missing in any year or does every year end look different for you?
Well, yes, that’s totally true, but lately I can’t help but think that many people communicate very poorly. Open communication seems to be a skill that’s more and more forgotten.
Why do I feel this way?
The friends I can just call without scheduling a date beforehand are very rare
Speaking of calling: I know a lot of people who freak out at the very thought of talking to someone on the telephone in the first place, “appointment” or not
More and more people really think that “no answer is still an answer”
I sometimes get replies to emails, wondering if my counterpart even read my original mail
It baffles me when people just “react” to a message (like it’s possible on Instagram or WhatsApp) and then think that they’ve actually replied
When I was younger, it was perfectly normal to talk on the phone. All. The. Time. Yes, I had seen my friends at school, but we would still do hour-long conf-calls in the afternoons. When I was sad and needed someone to talk to or when I was excited and needed to share my joy, I could just grab the phone, call a friend, and discuss whatever it was that was on my mind. Of course, it also worked the other way round. Instead of panicking when my phone rang, I was happy that someone wanted to talk to me. Why did that go out of style? When did we get so used to writing everything that all of a sudden anxiety kicks in when the phone rings? I get it, we’re all very busy, so it can’t hurt to get a heads-up, asking if you’re free to talk. But guess what? If you’re not, you can just silence your phone and not answer.
But there are some people who have given up talking on the phone completely. I used to be friends with a girl since we were kids, it was my longest friendship, and it lasted even though we never lived in the same city (apart from the first four years of our lives), led totally different lives and had completely different interests. As we never lived in the same place and couldn’t spontaneously meet up, communication was crucial – and it worked, for a long time. Then, she gave up talking on the phone completely. She never explained what it was that made her feel so uncomfortable about it. All she wanted to do was write on WhatsApp or exchange voice messages. While I love to use these methods of communication as well, it just doesn’t work for me if we never see or actually talk to each other. Texting or sending monologues back and forth just doesn’t substitute real interaction for me. This becomes obvious when there’s a conflict. It’s just always better to hash such things out in person or, in our case, on the phone. She wasn’t open to that, so the friendship didn’t last.
What about “no answer is still an answer”?
I agree only to some extent. Yes, sometimes people ghost you because they just don’t care. Other times, though, people think “I’ll reply later”, then forget it, then feel too ashamed to get in touch because it took them so long. I have friends who are awful at replying, yet are super happy when I reach out. Or take myself as an example: When I have phases where I’m dealing with anxiety or panic attacks, replying to a message feels like an insurmountable task to me. I try to let people know “hey, I need to step back a little until I feel better again”, but sometimes even that isn’t possible for me, or I can’t even articulate what it is that I’m feeling that makes me unable to communicate. It would be horrible for me if my friends went “well, no answer is still an answer – she obviously doesn’t care anymore, so we won’t even try”.
So, in my book, no answer is not a sufficient answer.
Silence can mean so much more than we think. Yes, it can mean “I don’t want anything to do with you, so leave me the eff alone”, but it can also mean: I’m scared that you’ll reject me, now that I haven’t been in touch for so long; I don’t know what to say, so right now it’s easier to say nothing at all; I feel overwhelmed with the mundane task of texting, but would be happy if you didn’t give up on me because of that. While I’m asking people to understand all these nuances of not responding, it should also be crystal clear that ghosting should not be an option. Like, at all. Given that there are so many reasons for people to stay silent, no answer is not even close to being a satisfactory answer. If you can – communicate! Even when you fear that the other person might not like what you have to say.
Concerning the last two points on my list above… I think those are the result of communication increasingly taking place in writing. It’s become so easy to just avoid questions you can’t or don’t want to answer or just post an emoji and call it a day. When you’re used to communicating like that, in turn, it’s clear why you feel uncomfortable talking on the phone or even in person.
Why is communication so important to me?
To me, it’s the base of every type of relationship, whether it’s a relationship with a partner, a colleague, a friend, a family member. If you don’t communicate, how will the other person know what’s going on? The problem is: When they don’t get an answer, they start assuming what the problem might be. Maybe they will think that you simply don’t want to talk to them anymore and stop trying. Maybe they will go through every possible scenario in their head, but they won’t come to a conclusion, because they simply can’t know unless you tell them. Misunderstandings are poison for every relationship, and the only way to solve them is by talking to each other.
How is your relationship with communication? Do you like long talks on the phone, or do you panic when it rings? Have you ever ghosted someone or been ghosted by someone? Why did you do that, or how did you deal with that? Share in the comments or shoot me a message – I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I have always been a passionate proponent of the theory that there is such a thing as fate. I found the idea beautiful and somehow also comforting, that everything is preordained and thus everything that happens to us is part of a larger plan. After all, whenever something painful happened in my life, I could tell myself that it had to happen so that “my destiny would be fulfilled.” Recently, however, I’ve been struggling a lot with this issue. Here are my thoughts on it.
What is this all about?
The thesis is as follows: Everything that happens in your life happens FOR you, so that in the end you can live your destiny. If you long for something but don’t get it, then it’s only happening for protection or because you deserve better. It was simply “not meant for you”. But if something is “meant for you”, then you don’t have to struggle for it, you don’t have to force it – it will come to you or it will happen naturally. And most importantly, it will also feel easy and right!
Why I’ve been all for it so far
I didn’t get a job? Well, that was probably meant to be, there’s probably a better one out there waiting for me. My weekend trip falls through because of a train strike? Well, since everything happens for a reason, maybe it could be protection and I would have sprained my ankle on the planned hike? Communication with a good friend is slow and I always have to make the first move? Well, since the friendship no longer feels easy and natural, I should probably end it.
You can guess where I’m going with this: I loved that this theory offers a positive explanation for every negative experience. It’s comforting and uplifting. For many years, this thinking gave me strength and peace. Strength because I had the assurance that every bad event happened for my own good. Peace because I had the assurance that what was meant for me would find me and I couldn’t miss it. And it was coherent for me – I could actually take something positive out of everything negative that happened to me at some point. Sometimes it took years before I could see a deeper meaning behind it, but it happened. When you’re at a point in life where you’re totally happy, and you look back and realize how the cogs interlocked so that you could get there, it can be a wonderful feeling.
What has changed for me?
The past few months have not been easy for me. I suffered from panic attacks and anxiety for the first time in almost six years and was completely overwhelmed by it. That alone is incredibly debilitating, but when heartbreak is added to the mix, it gets really uncomfortable. I felt absolutely miserable. Actively, I didn’t really think about whether all of this actually had to happen for me to get to a certain point. But I noticed something inside me bristling when I scrolled past posts on Instagram like “What’s meant for you will find you” or “If it’s meant for you, you don’t have to fight for it.” Unlike usual, these sayings triggered more anger in me. And I’m very sure I know why. Anyone who has ever had a panic attack will know how terribly helpless you feel. There’s nothing you can do except try to “breathe through it.” One feels completely at the mercy of others; it is a complete loss of control. If I am then made to believe that I only get what is meant for me anyway, I am also deprived of control in every other area of my life. So, I have no control at all over what I get, no matter how hard I work for it? And how terribly presumptuous is it for anyone or anything to determine what is meant for me? Thank you, I’m sure it’s well intentioned, but I would like to please decide for myself how my life goes, and yes, I would also like to make mistakes and learn from them! I want to feel like I can take control of my life through motivation, passion, and work, and not think “hmm, maybe it’s not meant for me, so maybe I’m just putting too much time and energy into it?” with every project.
Of course, it’s much easier and more comfortable to sit back and say to yourself “on Instagram they said that what’s meant for me will find me”. By now, though, I’m more afraid of losing control than I am of effort. From my point of view, self-determination is worth some effort. And if I immediately threw in the towel at anything that didn’t feel “easy” or “natural,” where would I be? Let’s take the example of the difficult friendship from earlier: Due to my mental state, I’ve been the difficult friend lately, not getting back to many people. Not out of laziness, but because I simply lacked the energy. I would find it terrible if my loved ones would then say “since this friendship doesn’t feel easy right now, it’s probably not meant to be, so I’m withdrawing”.
Speaking of friendship, of course relationships with others are something else entirely when it comes to this topic. After all, here it’s not just about what I want, but also about what the other person wants with whom I would like to maintain a friendship or build a relationship. But if both of them want it, then it will work out – and I’m absolutely sure of that. Even if the circumstances are adverse, or maybe even just then. I am incredibly sensitive and empathetic, so I literally feel for them when my partner or a friend shares problems with me. I know that people can act difficult during a crisis, sometimes even verbally “lashing out” and becoming hurtful. What I’m saying is by no means should you put up with everything someone might throw at you. What I am saying is that I would never give up on people because I assume the connection is not “meant to be” just because the road is rocky right now.
I definitely don’t rule out that at some point I will face the issue again in a more conciliatory way or even draw comfort from the certainty that something just wasn’t meant to be and something better is waiting for me as a substitute (anyway – who decides what is “better”?).
But what I exclude in any case: That I cut people out of my life because the interaction with them is “difficult” at the moment or that I give up heart’s desires because obstacles are put in my way before I can achieve them.
Yoga supports health, both physical and mental – we’ve heard that many times. With the exercises, we can ease the back pain that plagues us after a long day at the office, but also put the mental pain that gnaws at us after a breakup, for example, a little in its place. Practiced regularly, it can have long-term positive effects on our psyche. But what is it that helps our mental health exactly? Here are my personal top five.
1. More mindfulness
In yoga, you’re always encouraged to feel inside yourself: how does this movement feel in certain parts of the body? How does the leg we just stretched feel in contrast to the leg we haven’t stretched yet? Where can you notice your breathing particularly well? In short, your attention goes inward, not outward. A stark contrast to the world outside the yoga studio, where we are constantly inundated with stimuli of all kinds. On your mat, however, you are invited to focus entirely on yourself and how something feels to you or what thoughts creep into your mind. After practicing for a while, you will notice how this habit spreads to your daily life. You’ll become more receptive to your body’s signals, you’ll notice sooner when your mood changes, you’ll take on the role of observer more often. More mindfulness also means being more in the moment, more with yourself and not so “defenseless” against external influences or worries about events in the past or future.
2. More relaxation/parasympathetic nervous system
What should not be missing at the end of any yoga class is deep relaxation. Our sympathetic nervous system saves us when we have to run away from a saber-toothed tiger, which nowadays also sometimes appears in the form of an unpleasant colleague or a frenemy. The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, helps us to regenerate. In today’s hectic times, the sympathetic nervous system often dominates, as we are constantly in a “guarded” position. Thus, many of us find it difficult to really shut down and come to rest. In a pleasant, extended deep relaxation we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, additionally stress hormones are reduced and happiness hormones are released. But it’s not only the final relaxation after a yoga class that helps: an enjoyable yin yoga session can also contribute to greater relaxation and well-being.
3. A sense of belonging through synchronized breathing and movement in the group
Of course, it helps your mental health enormously if you practice alone at home. Especially if you are suffering acutely from anxiety or depression, it can be a sheer overwhelming task to go outside, come to the yoga studio and practice with strangers – believe me, I know exactly what I’m talking about. In those cases, it’s great that you can just fire up YouTube and get on the mat on your own. But if you’re doing well at the moment and would just like to take precautions, then the effect of a class on the spot is not to be underestimated. Practicing yoga together creates a very special energy in the room that can have a positive effect on your well-being. The comforting feeling of being with like-minded people spreads. The mindful and synchronized breathing and movement creates a sense of belonging all by itself – even if you’ve never seen the other participants in the class before.
4. Learning to accept/adapt
They say anyone can do yoga – as long as you can breathe. And it’s true! The seniors and senior women I get to teach prove it to me every week. Despite poor eyesight, back problems and other ailments of old age, they come to my classes enthusiastically time and time again. The secret? Adapt the exercises accordingly. You can do that too! Over time, you will learn how to adapt asanas to your needs and how to use aids such as blocks and straps to do so. This is not just about permanent physical limitations, but also about temporary tweaks like minor injuries. Even if you don’t feel up to it, you can always practice yoga if you adapt accordingly – a lesson that is incredibly valuable off the mat as well. When we accept what is right now, we save valuable energy. When we adapt accordingly, recalculating the route so to speak, we take our destiny back into our own hands – a great feeling!
5. More concentration
What often comes hand in hand with mindfulness, is concentration. In yoga, we learn to focus on ourselves and our needs – a skill that is often lost when mental health is not up to par. If we have more concentration in everyday life, this also benefits us at work and in everyday tasks. We can devote ourselves fully to a task and complete it conscientiously and neatly, instead of being mentally preoccupied with the next to-do item while carrying it out and thus acting carelessly. The resulting sense of achievement has a positive impact on our self-esteem – we feel successful, capable, productive. And whose mood wouldn’t that lift?
My own experience
After a long time of not liking yoga, I tried it again when I was in the midst of a crisis that involved almost every area of my life: job, place of residence, circle of friends, love life. When all these aspects are in shambles, it’s only natural to keep thinking about what to do next. For me, it even felt like I had to constantly worry about it, like it was a “waste of time” to focus my attention on anything else, since it wouldn’t get me out of the situation. To get “permission” to switch off from a yoga teacher, saying “This class belongs entirely to you and your well-being” was incredibly relieving for me. When I came out of the classes, I noticed how I could think a little more clearly – simply because I had allowed the mental merry-go-round to take a break. Today, I also like to start my own classes with these words.
Yoga is not only good for me when I’m brooding, but also when I’m suffering from anxiety or panic. Admittedly, I often have to force myself to hit the mat when I’m in this state, but I have never regretted it afterwards. When the heart and thoughts are racing, moving in tune with my breath brings me down every time. If I go on the mat in a bad or even depressed mood, a few tears may flow while practicing – but that is also allowed! Especially when we are not feeling well, we often hold tensions in our bodies that are released through movement. Getting emotional is quite natural and can also be healing.
Have you had any experiences with the effects of yoga on the psyche? Feel free to share them in the comments!
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