Why I’m crazy about Yoga.
It was a long way to find my own Yoga practice and slowly my whole life changed under the influence of yoga, meditation and self reflexion. I don’t remember how I first got to know about yoga, but my first yoga course was after I finished school. I remember painful stretching and thought chaos at a Hatha Yoga class with a great teacher.
I was never really athletic, I already got bad grades in sports lessons in elementary school. I never really did sports as a kid, only playing in the garden and forest, I did not feel comfortable in sport clubs. For a while I learned some dancing, horse riding and fitness and aerobics, but not very long. Sometimes hiking, cycling, wintersports and swimming – in general, movement has always been fun for me but I was never fit. So I was already quite immobile as a teenager and felt never strong. On the other hand, long sitting on chairs has always been extremely difficult for me, I always wanted to sit on the floor or in the tailoring seat on a chair. Strangely enough, since I had to sit on chairs for long times – at school, at work, at university. I remember often having a headache, hundred of colds, abdominal pain, back pain and neck pain. My way of walking has probably always been funny and my physical position has been anything but proud.
After I turned 17, I have always tried to do some sports at least 1x a week and that has slowly increased and I have felt better by and by. Then during university time I started Pilates and some affordable Yoga courses here and there. All were under Hatha or Vinyasa Yoga, so mostly copying what a teacher says or shows. Sometimes I did a 30 minute stretching video on Youtube at home, which I thought was very enjoyable and where I progressed quickly. Somehow I had become aware that a little stretching and a few exercises have an extreme effect on my general mood. I got to know yoga people (and other sports people) from time to time, and have observed that they are somehow more relaxed and self-assured than me. I was fascinated by their radiation and I quickly realized that I was missing this.
In 2012, I then had my head set to travel to India during the semester breaks for 6 weeks. 3 weeks of it was a traditional Indian Hatha Yoga course and my first insights into yogic philosophy. The teacher was inspiring, but the wisdom he was trying to share with us did not really reach me. How to soothe the thoughts? What do you mean, I am myself and at the same time the divine and everything? During yoga asana class, I had a lot of thoughts and pain and envy, and outside of my thoughts I had no image of myself … Nevertheless, I felt sobered and always tried to go to class with a lot of zeal and positive energy, I guess I can be dedicated sometimes. Shavasana (final relaxation) was a mixture of falling asleep and thoughts and a few deep relaxation moments. So I did not enjoy yoga so far, but I still wanted to keep going.
My self-image from 17-24 was heavily plagued by my thoughts and whims. I am what I think and I could not change much about that. I was moody and sometimes even aggressive and I could get into situations very much. If someone hurt me, my appetite stayed out for days or I started overeating and I could hardly help myself. Bad weather influenced my mood a lot. I often felt very lonely and did not feel that I can understand other people and vice versa. I was scared of my period cramps weeks in advance. Overall, often my body felt like a burden, even dancing was hard for me. My life sense was carpe diem, I tried to have as much fun as possible and tried not to think about the future. Concerts, excursions, always with people and as much work as possible, I was rarely alone and I was never bored, and I did not want to be. When I had a week off, it felt like falling in a hole, I did not know what to do with myself and I had a guilty conscience. I had sleep problems for weeks, was nervous and uncertain. I was complaining a lot about everything and even shared these negative energies, and at the same time tried to behave normal, not too dramatic.. Nevertheless, I was an active and life-threatening person, I departed from my travels and activities and dreamed of emigrating and living as lonely as possible.
After university I needed a break. I did not feel inspired at all for my future and could not imagine to study a masters degree. I got a volunteer position – 4 months Hatha intensely at Hridaya Yoga Center in Mexico. To be honest, the slow Yin Hatha has driven me mad at the beginning, so much stretching pain and barely beautiful moments. No flow, the pain and the long hold tickled within me some extremely negative emotions up. More and more (also thanks to my own practice) I became more flexible and managed to breathe through it, after 3 months I started to be able to enjoy it. Everyone was talking about meditation, but I did not understand it at all. I’d rather enjoy the beach and let myself drift in the water, I was happy anyway.
Then a teacher there, John, began to share with us Ashtanga Vinyasa lessons, I had heard a little about it and learned the Ashtanga Sun Salutations before. Once or twice I tried with a friend the First Series on video, but without teacher and very rushed, so I only had a vague idea about, but really liked it. John gave us a few lead classes at 5:00 am. I found the mood magical and above all the sound of the Ujjay breath, although it was still quite difficult for me. When he started teaching only Mysore Style (self practice), I stopped because it was too much.
In my first Meditation Retreat, my deep interest in meditation was aroused and I finally understood why everyone is so excited about it – for the first time in my life I felt amazing with no outer reason. Gradually this had a huge influence in my life, like seeing in a new light. I felt more open, and more and more I found inner peace and space to enjoy the silence beside the thoughts. Meditation gave me a new self-identification with the inner light and stillness, which I feel strongly. Suddenly I felt joy for no reason, I no longer had to drink, smoke, celebrate, be active, do things. For the first time in my life, I learned to enjoy myself, to sit with myself, not achieving anything.
Back in Germany, I first did not find a studio nearby and so I did slow Hatha at an affordable studio. I felt hardly any physical effects and the slowness made me rather lazy, although it was supportive for my meditation attempts. I longed for an Ashtanga teacher and practiced the first series at home. Suddenly I find a flyer from a new Ashtanga School with student prizes, not too far away. I can hardly believe my luck, conclude an annual contract and from now on try to go there several times a week, even if it is an hour by train. The train time is use to read books and listen to inspiring podcasts. The two teachers are super and show me quickly where I have trained myself wrong in the self-practice. Gradually, I understand, some clues take months until I get what they are trying to tell me. Again and again they have to point me to the same things and correct and push. Wonderful. Gradually, I make huge progress even if it is quite painful, sore muscles and generally stretching pain all over the body, sometimes for days. I was learning the whole first series and slowly starting to practice Mysore style, which feels great. Gradually Bandha and Ujjay make sense to me and help me to practice more and more easily. Almost every morning I meditate 20-40 minutes and do Pranayama breathing exercises every now and then. Life feels more and more careless and easier. The train ride to work, which once put me in bad mood, I enjoy more and more. Of course, I did not manage everything perfectly, I still catched colds regularly and had headaches and bad moods every now and then, but I felt much more constant than before. A hypnotherapist discusses with me my reactions to my period cramps and helps me to find a better way to react to pain generally.
I made new plans, I wanted to spend the winter in India and to learn more about Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and to find time to practice daily or even learn to teach. 4 years ago I was here in India, now being here again in 2016, I feel much more solid, am able to enjoy daily life and have a exciting feeling towards the future.
Grow with the flow. 🙂