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My love story with yoga

Yoga is the practice to unify body, mind & soul. 
A practice to be and embody presence itself. 

Yoga for me brings together, what sometimes can feel separated – which of course is always an illusion. I, myself lived many years more in my head than in my body. Thinking myself through life. As I discovered yoga asana (the practice of bodily postures) in 2011, I felt instant relief. Not only, did I arrive in my body and allow the breath – which had become so shallow due to stress – to finally deepen again, but also did I find a way to direct my thoughts. Choose more kind and loving thoughts towards myself. At times, the practice of yoga even led me to get a glimpse of real inner stillness and peace.

Back then I was more than shy. It was a huge challenge to even walk into the yoga studio, being surrounded by strangers. But the strong benefits after every practice made me return, again and again. Gaining trust and confidence every time around. Relaxing a little deeper, releasing inner tensions as I continued to practice (which later on I learned, was my introduction to the ashtanga primary series).

I was hooked!

Hanna Winkler April 18 Bali + Dean Raphael-20

Very quickly yoga became an every day practice and my passion. I even forgot my shyness and one day, I woke up in the morning, knowing I had to become a yoga teacher.

I was about to complete my Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree at university in Germany. But I was determined to make it both happen. Long days, early mornings in the shala and study weekends followed.

I part of my YTT, I also started to practice ashtanga Mysore style, with Lucia Andrade (one of the few female certified teachers) teaching in Frankfurt that time. Mysore style implying that one would learn the series by heart and advance pose by pose over time.

I remember being so in awe and wonder about the atmosphere in the room.. only hearing the waves of breath, feeling the deep silence in the room.. pure focus.. and on the outside stunning control of the body, flying in and out of poses. I never thought, I would reach very far, being quite weak, yet super flexible at the time. I continued any ways and learned so much about myself over all those years of practice.

Exactly 8 years later, as I am writing this, I still feel that love for yoga. I have “achieved” what I had dreamed of: To reach third series, teach yoga & guide a Mysore program. And I gained much more through it – being assured of my strength and endurance in life.

 

Hanna 2020-Dean Raphael-23

Yoga now is way more to me than just asana or studying scriptures. In the end it never really was about reaching anywhere, but returning to the stillness inside. Yoga for me has become a much vaster concept. A spiritual experience, purifying the way I see myself and the outer reality. Removing impurities, illusions, projections layer by layer. 

The state of yoga can arise in and beyond any yogic practice. I no longer need discipline to make me feel good about my progress in asana or life, nor do I need to advance in outer poses or any series on this planet, in order to be content. Yet, I fell free to do so, if it comes from a place of joy and presence.

Over the years, I had so many aha moments thanks to this practice: I learned again to be truly in my body. Paradoxically, I realized that I am far more than this body. 

I started to release the power certain thoughts or parts of “my” identity had over me. Freeing my inner driving forces from past fears, insecurities or even desires. And most importantly, I started to wake up from the illusion of having to become someone or something else. Accepting and even celebrating who I am, from moment to moment, ever-changing.

The me who is "doing the practice" then matters less.
Outcome then looses importance.
Form and style of it doesn't really matter anymore. 
Inspired by
Mooji & Lao Tzu

The mystery in yoga asana in my eyes, is to learn how to be in the body, how to unite the breath with the movement and focus. To then see that on the path of practicing true yoga, we already are whole! Something beneath always IS. 

I feel, I am finally starting to practice true yoga. Uniting, merging and bringing together, what before I saw as separated in black and white.

But instead of a mere grey, there is now an ocean of colors – iridescent – radiant & inseparable. This is, what I am aiming to practice. And my intention, as I share spaces to practice yoga with my students.  

Namaste.

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