Spiritual practice

Do you have a spiritual practice? What even does that mean?

I have to admit, this is a term I always tried to avoid. When I was young, we associated spirituality either with religious people or those we thought are kind of “kuku”. Many years later I found myself on this path… It’s such a complex topic! It can have different meanings, relations and practices for everyone and for sure it’s not a box to put someone in.

I found these statements about what spiritual practice is and I can really relate:

Spiritual practice is any conscious personal action or experience, motivated by the intention of understanding and integrating the whole of you physically and spiritually, body, mind, heart, and soul.

Spiritual practice is also the individual effort to internalize and experience that which seems beyond and separate as not only connected but also as an integral authentic expression of self.

We are all spiritual beings, the question is, are we aware of it? And do we use it? Well, you can just live your life, trying to make the most out of what is given and that’s it, what else can you do?

One other option is to understand who we are and what our purpose, our dharma is. Learning about the energies within and around and work with them.

I felt called to the latter. Eventually I was forced into it, when I had a bad accident, long time ago. I was pretty clear, there’s something in my mind that has to change. I didn’t know what and how, but looking back, this was the moment it all started.

My path so far wasn’t using the highway, but rather going in curves through the mountains. I learned many different things, and the beauty was, that always one led to the other. Often I wasn’t even clear why I learned something, but I never had any doubts that whatever showed up was right. Or important for me.

Right now I’m head over toes about Tantra, Saiva Tantra. I’m reading books, attended an academic studies course and I’m in the midst of a 3 months immersion. I feel like everything I ever learned all of a sudden integrates, immersed in me. I’m kind of un-peeling myself. Same time getting new tools, new doors to open, new practices – new experiences. I feel more connected to myself, my energy levels on a never known high, which is so beautiful to notice. Yes, I’m still on my way, awareness, awareness, awareness…. but the frequency changed.

It’s when duality starts to become oneness, the energies collaborate. The moment when we can be loose and natural, expressing awareness, authentically in its absoluteness, then we start flowing with the river, merging into the ocean. 

Ashtanga Police

Commitment has a downside. When practicing Ashtanga Yoga we commit to practice 6 days a week. And yes, there are days, when I can’t manage to get up that early. Days when I feel weak. Days other plans cross badly. 

However working at home allowed me all of a sudden to practice in the morning, bringing more flexibility into my life. What a relief! And still, there are weak spots. The moment I notice I won’t practice at all, or time only allows for half the series, or I even practice and test a class I will teach later that day instead of doing my practice…. I feel bad. 

I can hear the Ashtanga Police knocking on my door. Guilty.  

Isn’t this – yes, bullshit. Let’s get it clear: 

Listening to my body has become my priority. When not feeling good, I go slow and I listen, I feel. Eventually practice less, or do Yin Yoga. I might even just sit and meditate, followed by some pranayama. 

When I didn’t sleep the night, staying one hour longer in bed might be more important. Being prepared for my classes a must and this too can be my practice once in a while. Everything is practice.

There is no Ashtanga Police 😉 They won’t come and knock on my door to put the guilty stamp on me. It’s this voice in me talking. Time to make a deal with this voice and send the so called Ashtanga Police to the land where the pepper grows. And once and for all, stop judging myself.

Guess what? This too is Yoga. This too is commitment.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Asana or tapas?

A posture is achieved when effort stops and the mind is merging meditatively into infinity.

In morden yoga practices, we call the postures asanas. However, following Patanjali’s yoga sutras, the term asana only refers to a seated posture, literally asana meaning „seat“. This could be Padmasana (Lotus pose), or any other seated pose, with the aim to sit firm and still for a longer period of time. Obviously this is not Bharadvajasana, as in the picture!


Interestingly in the early times of yoga, any standing and dynamic postures have rather been named tapas. Studying the yoga philosophy we might find the term tapas translated as devotional austerity, but literally it means „heat“.

So, how comes that we are calling the postures asanas? Shouldn’t tapas be the better matching term for what our physical practice is today? Well, our asana practice today has at least a similar ambition – through steadiness and ease, reaching a state of moving meditation.

Ashtanga

Good morning practice! 

I played with the 2nd, the intermediate series recently – fuuuuun! While some of the super fancy transitions and advanced inversions are still out of reach for me right now, I was quite surprised that many postures are fully accessible for me and I’am quite close to others. 

Someone said once, if you always do the same, you can’t expect different results. Well, I don’t agree when it comes to the yoga practice. In the Ashtanga method we do exactly that, we practice the same sequence, the same postures every day. And with this slide more and more into a moving meditation. But not just that, with practice, the body opens, we go deeper and deeper into the poses. Once in a while I try a posture that I couldn’t access before and notice that all of a sudden I can. Without even working on this specific pose. The body changed.

And I’m transitioning more and more into the next series. A new chapter to start, exciting!

Rest

You need to slow down before you can speed up.

Who is busier? Who has more important things to do? Are you in a competition of who can get more out of the work day? Obsessed with your to do list? Is this where you find your value? Do you feel comfortable being driven by chaos and fear?

Do you feel something is wrong with you when welcoming the idea of rest?

It may not feel safe to rest for different reasons, but what if you just give yourself permission to? What if you would trust your desire to calm down? To just breathe?

I sometimes feel like living in two worlds. One being the yoga world – no, I’m not only talking about the asana practice, but about all the practices, such as meditation, yoga nidra, mindfulness, breathing techniques etc. The other world being the business work, the daily challenges, high speed and useless competitions. 

Never underestimate the practice of rest and calm. Many years ago, I had a breathtaking experience during a yoga nidra session – I left my body. Relaxing was never easy for me as a named control freak, so you can imagine my surprise. I was fully conscious, feeling, seeing, yes even thinking something like, gosh what’s happening here? It was such an incredible experience and when I told my teacher about it, he just smiled at me, saying, so you experienced your subtle body! Congrats!

It was as if all the theory, all the teachings proved to be true. I’ve got a glimpse. This was just the beginning. I understood, that conscious rest and sense withdrawal isn’t just being lazy and hanging around, but can be an intense experience of another dimension. It doesn’t has to go to the extreme each time, but it is about nourishing the body, recharging, connecting. Meeting your true self. 

So let’s merge both worlds in a sense of implementing the calmness into the crazy.

Let’s do it together, join my 3 weeks course, „The Transformation“

It’s out! The registration is open – check all the details here.

ANNOUNCEMENT!

I’ve got something in the pipeline for YOU! A beautiful course inviting you to come home. Home to your self. We get soft, we connect, we go deep.

If you’re looking for some tools and practices that help to be more connected to yourself, so you can put yourself in the driver seat of your life, instead of just running behind your tasks, this is for you. No yoga experience required.

The secret will be disclosed next week. Mark your calendar! Registration opens next week and the course itself will start 1st March.

Stay tuned!

Hesitation

Hesitation comes when there’s something we want to do, but doubt we can do it by just being ourselves.

Ups. Read that again:

Hesitation comes when there’s something we want to do, but doubt we can do it by just being ourselves.

Trust that being yourself is all you need! Love who you are! Life is tailor made for you, life happens FOR you. Take a break if you need one, but never stop. Keep on walking your path, trust your intuition. Put yourself into the driver seat, change what needs to be changed, it’s your life, your journey, your decision.

It’s exactly the same when it comes to your practice. Just feel it and do it. It might be slow here and there, that’s totally fine, just don’t stop. If you can’t practice, e.g. due to an injury or sickness, remind yourself what yoga is. No, it’s not just about performing asanas. Keep on going, keep on practicing, you are on the right path!

Feel it darling

Where are your feelings coming from? Check in to yourself and figure that out. Where do they sit in your body? Are they truly yours? Or are you adapting to the mood of the person you’re talking to? To the news you’re reading? To what you think you should feel? Do you know the situation when facing an angry person and how this affect you? Even if the anger isn’t pointed to you? It is ok to be compassionate, but not to take these feelings over. They are not yours. At your core, stay with what you feel, what’s yours. It might not seem to be appropriate in certain circumstances, anyhow own them and stay true to yourself. 

We are driven by our thoughts and believes, which express themselves through what or how we feel. Your feelings are dependent on your thoughts and vice versa. Meaning, allowing yourself to smile and feel happy (even if you don’t feel like at that moment) will also change your thoughts. A powerful interaction!

Put a drop of your favourite uplifting oil into the palms of your hands, rub them and hold them in front of your nose, so you can inhale the support they give. They do their work in your body, you will feel it immediately. I love Bergamot to lift me up, Sandalwood to ground me, Cardamon to make me feel cosy and home, Tumeric to make me „fly“ and the new Adaptiv, which allows me to deal much better with my daily duties and not get overwhelmed.

Own your feelings, change them if you want to, but always stay true to yourself.

Go for it

These babysteps. They are progress too. Don‘t underestimate the little things, they do count. Armbalances are difficult for me. I have the strength, the balance, know the technique, but there‘s something in my mind holding me back. It‘s called fear. Hard to get hold of it, particularly when it doesn‘t make sense. What for? Falling? Against the wall? It even gets worse with age. However, I’m so grateful to still be able to overcome the fears and just progress. Even if it takes time, babysteps. Kick age!

I‘m practicing hand- and forearmstand since some time and finally could hold it long enough for some pics today. It felt amazing to not only be off the wall, but hold it a bit. Once there, it‘s kind of easy, weightless. I know, not fully straight, this play starts now!

Another point to be aware of is, that technique and knowledge is in your mind, you need to translate and integrate it into your body language to be able to practice it. Any technique is worthless when you don‘t feel it in your body.

Does your morning routine impact your day?

Did anything changed for you in this time? Over the last few weeks I managed to implement a new morning routine – thanks to the lockdown. I love working from home! It’s so important how we start a day…. Usually I got up very early in the morning to go to the office before the major traffic makes driving impossible, so I was in a rush. Which means I started into the day already with stress. As I have issues sleeping, there’s no point to even get up earlier, I’m grateful for every additional minute in bed. A catch 22. 

These days are very different. I start with hot lemon water and a shower, I check my work emails, meetings and to do’s for the day and then I sit to meditate for 30-40 minutes. In silence with the only sound of my diffuser, enriching the air with beautiful scents. Additionally I put a drop of either Sandalwood or Blue Lotos on my 3rd eye, crown chakra and collarbones and just sit, doing nothing, not physically, nor mentally. It needs about 15 minutes for me before my body gets heavy, movements are not even possible anymore and my mind to pause with the incoming thoughts. Slowly I start seeing. Images, that can be clear or only show parts or colors. No judgment, no wondering, no questions, no answers. Just taking it in, letting it happen, what ever is there for me. Sometimes I go into these scenes, not being the observer anymore. Sometimes when I see myself, I merge with that part of me to experience this particular moment. This also happens naturally, I don’t force anything.

After that I enjoy a matcha latte outside, no matter the weather. Sitting on my dining table in the garden, enjoying nature and my precious state of calmness. This stillness inside is magic. This moment is magic. Now I’m ready for the day, fully connected to myself, calm and open. Any yeah, still in time for the business world.

I wish I could also fit my yoga practice into the morning, but still, sleep is important. I do this on the weekends and it’s a huge difference to practice in this state of calmness! Anyhow, for now, the yoga practice finds another time during the day or evening. Having this too in the morning might be a next step 😉

What’s your morning routine and how important is it for you?