Mark your diaries: Berlin Yoga Conference May 2019

If you believe in practicing all the eight limbs of Yoga, healing your body and making a difference in your community, then I think you are going to like Anastasia Shevchenko.

Anastasia is originally from the Ukraine, was raised in Canada and now lives and teaches in Germany. She started practicing Yoga when she was 15 years old to heal her scoliosis, and finding that it worked, she later went on to become a Yoga Teacher in Hatha Yoga and then Ashtanga Vinyasa. Now, this amazing woman is currently in the process of putting together the first Berlin Yoga Conference, pitched for the 24 – 26 of May, 2019. The line up looks truly incredible and her holistic and honest approach to Yoga is so refreshing.

I caught up with Anastasia to chat about the conference, her aims for this event, the lessons yoga has taught her and how we can all make a difference in this world. Read on to be inspired by this soulful woman.

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What’s the number one aim of this yoga conference?

The number one aim of the Berlin Yoga Conference is to “provide an authentic yoga experience”. When choosing the presenting teachers and preparing the programming, activities, and events, I tried to follow a number of principles or rules that would enable this aim to be met. First, the variety of yoga methods chosen for programming complements well each other: the dynamic, powerful yoga styles (Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Vinyasa Flow, Liquid Flow, Prana Flow, Dynamic Fusion, etc) have common roots and very similar principles, and the quieter, more introspective methods share a common system of understandings (Yin Yoga, Fascia Yoga, Katonah Yoga, Yoga Therapy). Second, both the traditional and the more modern yoga methods are represented, creating a connection to the “roots” while expanding on them and blending in the developments from the modern sciences and understandings of the world. Third, an event like this requires a budget and a good resource management, which makes it into a business project, but although there is money involved, that doesn’t necessary mean that this event will be “too commercial” or a “sell-out” to the “evil industry”.

What’s the biggest lesson yoga has taught you?

That’s a very difficult question, because there are so many! I guess the biggest lesson that is the most current for me at the moment is the idea that we’re all on a yoga (spiritual) path, regardless if we know it or not. We’re all at different points on it, going through various trials and tribulations, facing our unique demons through the situations that life brings us in order to teach us a lesson and help us evolve in our consciousness. As humanity, we’re most certainly facing a lot of challenges and our only chance is to either evolve or to destroy each other. Each individual’s contribution is important and unique in that regard, and this is why I advocate for yoga and this path of personal self-transformation, through organizing the Berlin Yoga Conference among other things.

Do you have a favourite asana or pranayama practice?

I remember the times not too long ago when I did have favorites: certain asanas or practices would excite me more than others… But somehow over time you start to see all of these exercises as equal in value. Sure, some of them have different physiological/psychological/mental effects, but in their totality, if you practice the Ashtanga Yoga, that is, all the 8 elements of the yoga path (yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dyana, samadhi), what exact posture or breathing exercise you chose for that day becomes irrelevant. In the same way, if you have a balanced diet, you don’t need to worry about one specific type of food: if you’re getting enough of it or not, if you’re cooking it properly, and for sure you should not overindulge in it, negatively affecting your intake of other sources of energy and life.

What makes this yoga conference different to others?

It is hard to say at this point, since it didn’t happen yet 🙂 What I believe makes it different from others is a simple fact that I’m who I am and my background, personal experience, visions, values, and goals in life are slightly different to other conference/festival organizers. This inevitably would put a certain “mark” on the event. Let’s hope that people find my specific idea of what makes a great yoga conference compelling.

In your opinion, what’s one (or a few) ways that individuals can contribute to the well-being of their communities?

That’s a brilliant question and an important one to ask! Overall, I think a good rule to follow for each individual when making a contribution to the well-being of their community is to ask the fundamental question: how can I specifically help in a way that is aligned with my background, lifestyle, personal situation, skills, talents, interests, and experience? The key is to find a way of contributing that is authentic and true to that individual, and not a kind of way that is “in fashion” or is more “recognized” by the masses. I believe that every single contribution, no matter how small, is important. You don’t have to go volunteer in Africa or adopt children if that is not who you are, maybe for you the way to make this world a better place is by smiling to people you come across to and making sure you give them your positive energy.

If conference goers are visiting Berlin for the first time, what shouldn’t they miss (besides the conference of course!)?

Berlin is an amazing city, very unique in its history being until not so long ago divided into two political/social systems that were so opposite and at the same time complementary to each other (capitalism/communism). I think because of that you have this nice blend of practical thinking, as represented by all the business opportunities, and humanism, reflected in all kinds of social services, protection policies, and art & culture support. I would definitely check out all the East/West divide landmarks and learn more about the city’s history, not forgetting some of the amazing museums that Berlin has to offer.

For more information, check out the Yoga Conference Website website and see you in Berlin !

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 8.46.11 AM© Berlin Yoga Conference 2019

Links:
Organizer: http://www.anasheyoga.com/

Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/beryogaconference/

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I’m back from India !

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I’ve been a little absent from writing recently but I feel inspired once again! I’m just back from India, having completed some more teacher training, and that country sure knows how to light up your soul.

i don’t know if it’s the pastel sunsets that sink into the Arabian Sea, all the tumeric and ginger I consumed, the kundalini yoga practices or the amazing group I was with, but I’m feeling better than ever!

I’m still trying to process the experience and I plan to write much more about it in the coming week or so.

Until then, I want to leave you with a favourite quote from my teacher Dr Gaurav Malik :

why live logically when you can live magically?

With love,

 

 

 

Smudging

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Find the energy of your room a little stagnant? Need to change the air and lift your vibes? Try a smudge stick.

I like smudging pre-yoga class in our studio. I find that it purifies the room, cleansing the energy of the space. I realise just how woowoo that sounds! But really, it’s a nice practice. It’s also something that many traditions have done for thousands of years.

I simply take sage, wrap it up in string and dry it, then when ready to smudge, I light the end of the bundle and let the smoke swirl. I take a few turns around the room, then put it out. Simple and super effective.

You can try any herbs you like, but sage, cedar, lavender or rosemary are pretty good choices.

Give it a go and let me know what you think 😉

 

 

 

Feeling lack? Try this.

Its so easy to go down the rabbit hole, getting lost in thoughts. One little doubt can lead to another and all of a sudden you are in full scale panic about the future. Or, maybe its a creeping, chronic chain of negative thoughts that walk with you every where you go. A fear that there won’t be enough. 

I sat in the grass with my friend yesterday watching the kids play. We could see the eiffel tower in the back ground. The sun was out after a grey drizzly day. She told me how each month is a struggle and how she was so worried about how they would get by. I had previously noticed how she would often pepper conversation with these little doubts and worries since losing her job.

I wanted to help my friend see a different perspective. Without getting too hippy spiritual I explained that energy attracts its own energy – so when you are feeling great, you will attract high vibes but when all you notice is the lack, you attract low vibes. She needed to shift the energy from low to high.

How?

With Gratitude.

Notice the negative chatter and stop it by counting 5 things you are grateful for right now. This not only draws our minds back to the present moment but switches our perspective from one of lack to one of abundance.

Then, do something that makes you feel good. Hug someone, cup of tea, hilarious you tube video, bare feet in the grass, a cartwheel – whatever.

Remember that it is you who gets to decide what thoughts you have. If you dont like the ones playing in your head, change the channel and choose again.

Inflow Vs Outflow: Why you need to share what you know

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If you are anything like me, you are a chronic listener of podcasts, Ted Talks, self development books and health blogs, constantly taking on new information and integrating it into into your world view. I love learning and there is so much good information now at our finger tips.

Whilst I completely and utterly promote the love of learning and staying up to date with the latest health information and life hacks, I have recently realized that there is a fine balance between inflow and outflow.

Hear me out with this – See I have a beautiful friend who is full, FULL, of health and wellness knowledge. She can answer many questions with insightful, well researched advice. She knows her stuff – but it lives locked away in her head, only accessible when a close friend asks a direct question. I find to be such a shame.

Not everyone needs to blog or create a podcast, but sharing information and creating conversation around wellness is important and so valuable.

I guess my point is this – its all well and good to do the learning but if it isn’t going anywhere, even into your own lifestyle, then what is the point?

Give yourself permission to take up space.

Inflow of information is wonderful – but outflow is essential. Whether this means that the learning you do is put into practice (trying the oil pulling, that morning routine or super smoothie) or by sharing what you know with people who could benefit from it, the outflow renders the inflow useful.

I personally struggle/d (its a work in progress) with the “who am i to …?” concept – That one that says “Who am i to tell people what to do?” “Who do I think I am?” But the honest truth is, who are you not to help others live a happier, healthier life? If you are sitting there with a golden nugget of information that you know could benefit your mum/ cousin/friend/neighbour, then go share it!

Here are 3 easy steps to increasing your OUTFLOW:

  1. Put your learning into practice – Have you listened to or read something recently that spoke to you? Whatever it was – give it a whirl. Just try it out and see how you feel. If you find it added a positive benefit to your life, then most likely others will see that and love your new healthy vibe – this is an advertisement in itself! It also makes it ten times easier to speak about it.  Its much better to speak from experience than to say “this expert somewhere says” … So, test run the yoga class, a certain style of meditation, or bulletproof coffee and then chat about it.
  2. Look around you and start conversations with people you love. We all have that family member that needs to move more or has a problem with their anxiety – if you know something that will help, share it! Its as simple as starting the conversation and offering to try it (trampolining, juicing, breathing exercises etc etc) out together.
  3. Take up space! I recently heard this podcast, on the Melissa Ambrosini show where the guest speaker, Tera Warner, talked about allowing yourself to take up space. This means treating yourself with the respect and confidence that you deserve. If you have something to say, then say it. Shine your light. You don’t need to assume that nobody wants to know or that nobody will take you seriously. Pass on your message with confidence and the knowledge that outflow of information is important. Share in the spirit of service.

Keep learning and growing (I’m sure its the secret to happiness) but do so with service in mind. Your outflow of information can help those around you to live their best lives possible. Whats not to love about that?

 

 

 

 

 

Why are yoga teachers always telling me to “surrender”?

You know this one. You’ve lost something and you are looking for it EVERYWHERE! You can’t understand why you cannot find it. “It’s got to be here somewhere!” you repeat to yourself, but alas, it’s gone. So after hours of searching, you give up. Maybe you even say a little prayer (not like a drop to your knees, dramatic rosary, but a casual “oh please let me find it” type thing)….

and then, it turns up. Out of the blue. In front of your nose. Here the whole time.

Whats going on?

The power of Surrender. 

In Yoga, I’m always instructing students to “Let Go” – I’m saying, “don’t push, don’t fight, it’s not about tension and pulling yourself down into a forward fold so you can kiss your knees for a second and then ping back up”. No, instead, in yoga, we use gravity and we relax. We let the body return to how it should be. We unlearn. We, yep you guessed it, surrender.

To surrender sounds very dramatic but there is no white flag waving wildly. It also shouldn’t be associated with giving in or quitting. Because it’s not that. Neither is it a sudden disinterest or apathy. It is actually just the coming to the realisation that maybe your controlling and fighting and forcing isn’t working. It’s just another way forward.

When we relinquish control, we are sort of saying that we realise there is a power bigger than us. That we don’t have to do everything alone and that our own strength might not be enough. We start to trust in a bigger plan and a different outcome, knowing that maybe it is better for us.

When that object is lost and you say that little prayer and stop searching like a crazy person, the object, it appears. The control, it rarely works.

Of course, this is not to be confused with laziness – taking action, following your dreams, working hard – all of this is necessary and important. But if you find yourself forcing, try to find the fun in it all again. Relax and let go. The outcome will be even better than you imagined.

Whos seen that wonderfully cheesy film Under the Tuscan Sun? I love the line where the extravagant woman in her fancy hat explains that as a child she would search and search for lady beetles in the garden. Eventually, having found none, she would get tired and fall asleep in the grass… and when she woke up, those pesky Lady beetles would be climbing all over her. It’s really a beautiful analogy.

So, what are you fighting and struggling for? Is there anything you are trying to control the outcome of?

Surrender it up. Let it go. Pray to whatever or whoever you believe in. And watch what you want be found.

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Your life design

When you look at people you admire, (or maybe are jealous of), do you believe they got that life by chance? Did it just fall in their laps? Are they way luckier than you?

Nope. They designed it that way. 

The people that work cool jobs, travel the world, have an amazing group of friends, look really happy all the time, get offered amazing opportunities… they are actively choosing it. All of it.

And you can too.

It’s called taking responsibility. Your happiness is your problem. You get to make life awesome. Actually, YOU are the only one that can.

This is not to say that awful things don’t happen – they do. Some people hurt others, things go wrong, shit happens and maybe it’s unavoidable..  But, what you do next, how you bounce back, the choices you make and your view of the world – that is all up to you.

You can decide to be the most enthusiastic person in the room. You can decide to be your most vibrant self. You can decide to smile and not let anyone dampen that. You can choose to say yes to opportunities and trust that the universe has got your back.

Or, you can be a Debbie downer. Which is easier. That way you can make excuses and be judgemental.. It takes little energy and no courage.

But it’s not going to give you a positive, flourishing life.

So I challenge you, starting today, choose how you want life to look. Choose how you want to feel.

And then be prepared to get it. 

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