We all know these inspirational quotes telling us to leave our so-called comfort zones in order to evolve our own being.
I partly agree to that, just partly.
In my experience it is more about the balance of stepping out of and slowly expanding our comfort zone at the same time.
How we perceive danger and react to it is highly determined by our state of mind. There will be days when we get frightened by challenges easily and others where we feel that nothing can stop us.
After all it is mostly practice and repetition that allows us to feel more comforted in certain situations, as that is how our brain is learning.
Facing new challenges we find ourselves getting overwhelmed at times.
It does not mean we can‘t achieve certain goals at some point of our life, but maybe just not yet.
Let‘s take this thought into the world of yoga.
The practice of yoga can be physically very challenging. Often we find ourselves not being able to do certain poses.
This does not mean we will never be able to, just not yet.
If we want to stand on one foot and hold the big toe of the other foot at the same time this can be challenging.
In case we are struggling we could take two different approaches:
A: We keep trying to do this one pose over time and see what happens.
B: We try to understand what this pose is asking from us (Balance, Flexibility, Strength etc.) and find out on what particular field we want/need to improve in order to reach our goal.
Let‘s take this thought off the mat again.
I remember when I started surfing how scary it was to get tumbled around and how frightening and random these waves seemed to me at that point.
After some time I figured that I needed to improve my paddling skills and think more about my position towards the waves. All of a sudden medium sized waves started to feel within my “comfort zone“.
But there is limits to that. Just yesterday I had the humbling experience of facing the biggest waves I have ever surfed. For sure not within my “comfort zone“, for now.
I decided to go home and take care of my physcial health instead of “stepping out of my comfort zone“.
Maybe because of the experience I had when I was 21 years-old and someone told me I could make that jump with my snowboard and I went for it. Result was a pretty rough landing after about 30 feet and fracturing one of my vertebraes.
Sometimes it might be better to just step back and accept what it is for now.
Years later I was feeling comfortable doing jumps of that size with my snowboard and I am pretty sure one day big waves won‘t be as scary as they are now.
Same goes for our handstand and similar challenges in yoga.
It takes the time it takes.
Every practice on our way towards a certain goal makes us more comfortable in what we are doing.
Instead of “Go for It“,
“Practice for It“!
On and Off the Mat...
We hear that advise all the time, but what does it actually mean? Probably something different to everyone of us.
Here is my experience.
Being a teenager I was never that “talented“ in sports and always looked up to my friends that were throwing backflips on their snowboards and ripping in local skate parks.
I always tried, but never really came to a point where I felt 100% confident in what I was doing. I never understood why I just wasn‘t able to do what I wanted to do.
Over the years it became a fascinating thing for me to observe: Why are some people “talented“ and others are not? Why does it click for some and not for others?
When I was teaching kids how to skate and longboard in my hometown for almost two years I learnt a lot about learning itself.
Some kids made incredible progress over time, but others struggled and some of them gave up after a while.
What I found very interesting was that the kids that seemed to be the least talented in the beginning often turned out to learn very quick, while the talented ones had a hard time integrating advise.
Some kids always seemed distracted by every squirrel that ran by, while others had determination to learn. I believe that is actually what makes the difference.
The level of being Focussed.
Let‘s take things to an more relatable level for most of us. Yoga.
Imagine you are in a yoga class and everyone is following the beautiful flow the teacher is offering. At the same time you are thinking about things such as:
am I doing it right?
do I look stupid right now?
What is the teacher thinking?
oh no I lost it, wait a second...oh no.. left or right?...I suck at Yoga...
Why can‘t I be as good as everyone else?
Just one of these thoughts, or any other distraction, will limit our ability to follow instructions given in class and disconnect us with what is happening in the present moment.
In my perspective our practice is not that much about reaching out for our toes or standing on one leg, it is more about the level of awareness and presence we can direct towards what we are actually doing.
After all we might find out that all the challenging yoga poses become much easier once we are able to focuss on what is happening in our body while doing them.
As long as we stress out while doing them we will have a hard time.
The same goes for activities like snowboarding and surfing as I found out over time.
Being able to focus and not being distracted is the main determinant for fun or injury.
I learnt the hard way.
In my early 20s I had a fracture in my lumbar spine because I came short on a jump with my snowboard being hung-over at a pracitce run.
When I was 31 I broke my ellbow longboarding while being distracted by my surroundings.
That was not fun. Both times doctors told me I should better let go of these “kind of activities“.
Why not find out what went wrong and do better next time?
Of course there is always the risk of hurting ourselves. As there is all day everyday whatever we do.
Yoga can be one of many wonderful ways to train our ability to get focussed.
For me it totally works and I can see it working for all the yogis and non-yogis around me.
Being present is the only thing that seperates failure from success.
Give it a try before labelling yourself as un-talented.
Not sure what it is about words starting with the letter “N“, but it seems like to be a warrant for controversy.
Sometimes certain words can be used to bring forward an argument. There is a phenomenon called “Godwin‘s Law“.
Mike Godwin observed online discussions in the 80s and came up with this observation called "Godwin's Law":
Nobody wants to be on one side with the Nazis for good reasons, but there is a little problem with using that comparison all the time.
It is called Relativism.
When we call our school teacher a Nazi for making us show up on time it is not about the insult towards the teacher. It is making the incredible crimes against humanity of the Nazis look smaller.
If we compare Donald Trump to Hitler that might feel like a strong statement. Unfortunately it is missing the point and destroying political culture.
Trump might be a racist, sexist and power driven, which are characteristics that Hitler also had, but he didn‘t plan any Genozide and he is far away from designing a 1000-year Reich.
He is an egoistic business man that uses simple language to fool uneducated people, but he is not Hitler.
Trumps intention is not ethnic cleansing, he wants to be seen as a powerful man and probably doesn‘t even care about what he needs to do to achieve that. That‘s why he changes his mind all the time.
There is plenty of arguments we could bring up why arming teachers is a stupid idea, but we can also just scream at him and call him a Nazi.
Still it seems to be more fun to talk about his hairstyle, affairs, tweets on the NFL and all other means of distraction that made him president in the first place.
Maybe this is because most people feel more comfortable debatting about Hairstyle, Affairs and Football.
It is feeding the Trump supporters that claim Liberals do not have an argument besides insulting him.
A group of people having similar negative experiences is the perfect ground to find a common enemy to project all the hatred on.
Conspiracy theorists use these patterns to simplify a complex world.
Everything seems to be connected to them. There must be an evil power in the background steering the world. All of a sudden everything makes sense to a “Truther“ why they failed in life:
Either the Illuminati or some Aliens that live among us?
It can be soothing to find someone to blame, but it doesn‘t change anything.
“The Elephant Law"
When reading articles on several online plattforms that are connected with the world of yoga and spirituality we will soon find out that many seekers out there had been dissapointed in their love life quite a few times.
We all get hurt along the way and go through painful breakups.
Taking “Godwin‘s Law“ as a base I would like to introduce “Elephants Law“:
„As people become more self centered and emotional the probability of comparison involving calling someone a Narcissist or other mental illnesses approaches one.“ ( Robert Busch )
We are projecting our pain onto others and blame them for something we all suffer from:
Being a Millenial and not being able to connect with someone else.
We are so stressed about getting our lives together and so anxious about being taken advantage of that we see dangers where there are none.
It has become very difficult to get our sh*t together.
My generation can‘t just work for 30 years and buy a house with that money. Gentrification and low income make it almost impossible for the average person to buy property.
To escape that misery there is a whole generation of Life Coaches that will tell you how to make it happen.
Unfortunately most of them are just broke people on credits that try exactly that for themselves not knowing the outcome.
Being stressed and scared of being ripped of is just a consequence of living in this world today where most people try to do exactly that.
That‘s what we all created together. Every time we “Do What We Have To Do“ we are feeding this pattern of “Everyone against Everyone“.
In the end the main determinant whether someone is called a Narcissist or an inspiring Person is SUCCESS.
When someone is winning Olympic gold all of a sudden their weird preparation rituals become inspiring, but with failure these rituals almost look silly. It is simple as that.
Falling in love with someone means that we think that this one is a better person to be with than any other person in the world.
Probably because that person, in our view, is different than anyone else we have ever met before.
Sounds lovely, right?
When love falls apart that person all of a sudden might look like the worst person we have ever met in our life.
Mainly because they connected with us in a way nobody else did before. Their biggest strength becomes their biggest weakness in our perception.
Every behaviour has two sides to it how it is perceived. As a good friend of mine put it:
“The reason why we fall in Love with someone will be the reason why we break up with them.“
Someone that inspires us with different approaches to life can be seen as a manipulator.
Someone trying really hard to achieve their dreams might feel inspiring on one day and look like stupid narcissists the other day.
Most probably they haven‘t changed its just our perception.
We can call Trump a Nazi, we can call our ex Partner a Narcissist, but does it really change anything?
We can do better than that.
Suffering from anxiety has become one of the top reasons to start a yoga practice these days. Doctors, therapists and public opinion suggest us to give yoga a try
to fight this epidemic of our time.
As a yoga teacher I highly welcome this and from my own experience I can assure that yoga will help with anxiety, but can also cause the opposite effect. Let me explain why I think that is.
From my own experience anxiety arises from unsolved struggles within my mind. We all know that feeling that we are having a thought or question we would never share with others. This is one of the hardest challenges we face growing up:
What can we share with others and what not?
Especially if we get dissappointed by family, friends and loved ones time after time we might start to keep more and more to ourself.
Disconnecting others from parts of our own being that we do not appreciate becomes harder and harder the longer we try. Presenting ourselves to the world as we want to be seen, but knowing all the dark sides of our being can be pretty challenging.
The more intelligent we are the more efficient we can create our life around this anxiety of „being seen“. Life coaches will help us to present ourselves as perfect human beings and the longer we fake it the sooner we will make it.
Sounds like an awesome strategy, right? If only there wasn‘t this one huge problem:
We are too smart and sensitive to fool ourselves.
We have to look in the mirror. We find ourselves doubting our actions, we know that something is not right when it is not.
Our subconsciousness is very powerful. The majority of our thoughts are happening there, most of the time without us noticing them. Just because we do not notice it doesn‘t mean we feel do not FEEL those thoughts.
Have you ever felt weird or triggered out of „nothing“?
The more anxiety we feel the more we try to ignore it. We start new activities, meet friends, go out dancing, jump off a plane, find a lover or buy a new sportscar. We direct our mind towards something more fun and that helps calming the anxiety. But does it really?
Is it more like me cranking up my soundsystem to avoid the noise from the construction site next door. Just because something even louder happens, it doesn‘t mean the construction site is gone.
The practice of yoga can help us to connect with our true being. That being said it also includes our dark sides. Like it or not, sometimes a yoga session can make us feel sad or stir up thoughts we do not want to face.
At the same time yoga can also help us strengthening our fake identity we created to protect our wounded soul. Especially when we enter yoga from a background of food disorders, self criticism, over controlling disorder or similar behaviour.
One that does not know anything about Yoga and looks at how it is presented will only see attractive people that are half naked, very flexible and only eat healthy food to maintain their perfect looks and never ending smile.
It can become excluding at some point. Once you do not smile, you are out.
People end up saying things like: I can‘t do Yoga, I am not this or that enough.
But is Yoga really about looking beautiful and being happy all day?
I would agree that this can be the outcome of yoga, but it is not the goal itself.
The more we focus on things like the ability to perform postures and the beauty of our physical body the more we run danger of empowering all the aspects that originally brought us into yoga.
Our anxiety of not being good enough is one of them. If not going to class or eating something unhealthy gives us anxiety then we might want to ask ourselves: Why is that?
If meditating, breathing and stillness in general makes us feel uncomfortable we might find ourselves doing this:
How come to stillness if it doesn‘t feel good? There is so much intense movement and distraction offered in the world of yoga, so why not choose that: It‘s more fun.
As Yoga has become an industry where people try to make money and this combined with the altitude of being „non-judgemental“ almost everything is cool now and can be called „deep work“.
The next sexy dance yoga class and cacao ceremony is just waiting around the corner, so why go to that meditation class and listen to my inner struggles?
Our mind basically stores up every negative memory we have in order to protect us. Once we come to stillness all these negative thoughts start coming up, because the need to tell us something. Our doubts, discomforts and fears we experience are there for a reason, they want to be heard.
The longer we do not listen to these thoughts and distract ourselves from them the more the will pile up in our mind.
More and more often those thoughts will come up during our daily life. It doesn‘t feel like our mind wants to tell us something, it feels more like our mind shouting at us by now: Anxiety.
But there is good news for all of us. Realizing that our fears, doubts and discomforts get stored in our subconsciousness also gives us the chance to clean them out.
Every time we come to stillness and go through our deepest fears we are maintaining our mind. The more we listen to our inner conflicts, the more we can understand and maybe even accept or solve them.
There is no way out anyways. The thought that makes me feel uncomfortable during my Yin practice or meditation would have come up at another point of my life off the mat.
Our moderne work and dating life asks us to accept many things we do not feel comfortable with. Authorities make us not speak our truth and problems of others become our problems. As children we learn to not stir up conflicts and keep our mouth shut.
As adults we are super kind towards others and keep our problems to ourself as we do not want to come across weird. We accept decisions at work, even though we feel that we are not treated in a fair way. There is so much to accept and there will be always a smart person suggesting us to ACCEPT and LET GO.
From my own experience I can say that accepting everything and not questioning things around me makes me feel pretty anxious. Speaking my truth might bring up a conflict, but I believe it is the only way to not create anxiety.
If we could stop pretending to be happy for a moment and look at our struggles we might even find out that there is a lot we share with others in this.
What if I told you that there is others thinking those „crazy thoughts“ you are having? What if there is millions of people out there being afraid of the same things as we are? What if there is people questioning the same things that give us a hard time?
By pretending to be happy we limit our chance to find out how much beauty is wating behind our „Fake it till you make it altitude“.
Imagine how much true connection with others and how much real support is waiting behind the curtains of never ending happiness.
Let‘s start getting real and connect with our dreams, desires and hopes, but also not forget about our fears, discomforts and frustration. This is all part of who we are.
Why do you teach Yoga?
What is Yoga?
Why do we do it?
And how is it done right?
To begin with: I don‘t know any of these answers, as I believe there is as many answers to these questions as there is people.
Yoga is an experience based science, I can only speak from my own experience and share what I have found on my path. We all face different challenges in our life and this determines the way of how we perceive and practice yoga. It is not about imitating someone.
When I was 21 I broke one of my vertebraes snowboarding. Not only was this the end of believing that I am indestructible, but also led me into a lifestyle that made things even worse. Avoiding sports and numbing myself with everything I could get into my hands.
At the age of 25 I was basically and alcoholic that had totally lost connection to my physical body. Depression and suicidal thoughts came up out of this mess I had created for myself.
When I was advised to try Yoga to help me out of this by my therapist I didn‘t really take that as a serious solution, but I didn‘t have much to loose at that point of my life. I gave it a try.
One year later I found myself in Costa Rica at the Nosara Yoga Institute where I not only learnt about postures and vinyasa flows, but much more important:
How to accept myself for who I am and go from there.
With deep gratitude I soaked up the teachings of Self Awakening Yoga from Don Stapleton as this was the first thing that really helped me after my injuries and reconnected me with my body by raising my awareness towards it.
Over the years I developed these teachings through my own experience into a class format that I love sharing with my students today.
Being a Yogi doesn‘t save us from injury as I had to find out. In 2015 I dislocated my left forearm in an skateboarding accident.
Almost four months I was wearing a cast from my wrist to shoulder, it turned my life upside down. I had to close my yoga studio I was running for almost two years and went travelling.
During the recovery it was not only my arm that had to be restored, but also my whole body dynamics as I had gained around 20 pounds during that time.
Over the two years of recovery I learnt that pushing it hard is not always helpful. After moving to Nosara in 2016 I focussed on the practice of Restorative Yoga as taught by Jane Fryer to heal my arm.
This incredible teacher and human being not only shared the techniques of teaching Restorative Yoga with me, but even more important gave me a deep understanding of the importance of it to our Nervous System.
I am beyond grateful for her teachings and hope to share them with my students over the next years as they evolve through my experience.
Today I find myself full of gratitude for the succesul healing process of my arm and the teachers I had that equipped me with the tools to do that.
Yoga helped me to surf again, do funky arm balances and play my guitar for more than two hours without pain. And that‘s exactly what I am going to do.
This is what practicing Yoga is to me. The art of maintaining my physical health and mastering challenges my body and mind is struggling with. It doesn‘t mean its always easy, that‘s why it is called a practice.
I do not aim to reach enlightenment at this point. I just want to keep my sh*t together and be supportive towards people around me, while allowing myself to be who I am in an authentic way and inspire others to do similar.
Nothing more, nothing less.
I invite you to experience the Yoga that has come from my own experience.
Not to become like me, but to find YOUR Yoga and help you connect with the multidimensional being that YOU are. That is why I teach Yoga.