If someone tries to call me this week and I don’t answer it’s because I’ve moved to India to realise my previously undiscovered calling to become a full-time yogi. I spent this weekend at a 2-day yoga conference (US-based magazine Yoga Journal’s first convention in Europe) and it was freakin’ awesome! :D
I meditated, I chanted mantras, I reconnected with my chakras, I learned about reincarnation and manifested reality.. I even attended a workshop called “Yoga and Sex” delivered by Mark Whitwell (apparently yoga IS sex – it is the union of two opposites: receptivity and power... if you are interested, ask me and I can explain ;)) And for the record I am nearly as exhausted as I was after the half marathon (admittedly, at last count I did 9 hours of classes and 6 hours of lectures..!)
I could go on for hours detailing every session (and probably lose you all after a couple of sentences). Instead I’ll settle for just a few favourites.
Alexis Gulliver is an American instructor who runs a yoga studio in Instabul. She led a session on deep back bends and spoke about the significance of a circle (the shape your body forms during the ultimate backbend: wheel pose). A circle is a continuous process of beginning, middle and end. She said that everything is part of a cycle. Everything comes to an end before giving rise to a new beginning. Naturally we are all better at some parts of the circle than others (personally, I’m really goal-focused so I’m typically caught up in getting things done at the expense of sitting back and watching the journey unfold). Alexis is also insanely pretty and it’s so cool that she has her own studio in Istanbul (my fave!). I’m considering doing this Urban retreat with her next year.
Another favourite session was with a Munich-based teacher called Gabriela Bozic (she teaches at the Jivamukti studio, which I will definitely be checking out). She taught “hot, hip” yoga, meaning that she believes that yoga needs to be adapted to suit its context. Sure we have a lot to learn from traditional Indian yoga, she said, but let’s face it – I’m as a tall blonde girl who lives in Munich, teaching other people who live in Munich. Her aim is therefore to make her classes more authentic to herself and more accessible and appealing to her students. The result was a fast-paced power yoga set to modern music. Really cool!
I have been practicing yoga for nearly seven years. You would think that by now my feet would touch the floor when I do downward facing dog (working on it.. nearly there), that my feet would actually leave the floor during crow pose (one foot, totally; two feet and it’s a face plant waiting to happen) and that I could just chill in scorpian pose (this is never going to happen – NE-VER!)
Actually, the only impressive thing about my yoga routine is how often I do it: basically, I do yoga (15 – 30 mins) and meditation (10 mins) every morning when I wake up. Those of you who have traveled with me will know that I am not even beyond whipping out the iPad in hostel rooms all over Europe (no matter how squeezy) and fitting in some sneaky yoga time.
You might think this would require a lot of dedication and self-disciple, but actually I think the only thing I can be proud of in this respect is finding some really great resources on the internet that work for me and keep me motivated. These are real gems that I am convinced could help anyone experience the benefits of yoga and meditation, even if you’re not jumping out of bed to do it at 6 am each morning (...YET ;))
Yoga by Candace
This is a yoga blog by international yoga teacher, Candace (awesome name, right? ;)) with heaps of great resources like videos, infographics and Q&As. Candace’s videos are really instructive, down-to-earth and easy to follow, and she posts them regularly on YouTube (there are so many videos: different lengths, different styles and different levels of difficulty). I pin all my favourites on Pinterest so I can easily access them (some personal faves are the 30 minute Heart Opening Feel Good yoga, and 15 minutes for chest and shoulders)
I have also purchased a custom yoga DVD from Candace, and have exchanged a few emails with her about upcoming yoga retreats in Europe. As such I can also confirm that she is just a really kind and sweet human being! I think it’s really cool that Candace puts out all these great resources for people to enjoy and benefit from for free.
When I first came across Headspace I had never really meditated before, and in fact I was actually against meditation (can you believe it??). I actually believed that my thoughts were such an important part of who I was that the thought of quieting them seemed like an injustice to my identity. Now I realize that there is a difference between thoughts that come from the ego, and thoughts that come from intuition. It’s deep shit, I know, but I really feel that as a result of meditation I am calmer, more creative and much better at decision-making.
The Headspace app is the creation of Andy Puddicombe, who is credited with doing the same thing for meditation that Jamie Oliver did for food. You can download guided meditation in different lengths (10 minutes, 15 minutes or 20 minutes) and with different focuses (anxiety, sleep, happiness, acceptance). They are all really accessible, relaxed and practical, and I am completely addicted! You can download a starter version of the App for free, and then it is €10 a month to subscribe to the full App. Totally worth it in my opinion.
So what do you think? Do you do yoga or meditation? Do you know of any other good resources I should try?
Next week: On Friday Carolyn and I are renting a car for the weekend… and we don’t know where we are going to drive it yet! :) We were originally planning to go to Northern Italy for a couple of days, but then we were like, why don’t we just decide where we feel like going a couple of days beforehand?
Sure, we are probably limited by a certain kilometer radius, but we have some options… Maybe Prague, maybe Leipzig, maybe somewhere in Austria… How free-spirited and spontaneous are we?! So, what do you think? Where should we go? Of course, whatever it is we get up to I will be sure to share it with you here..!