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.
© Alessandro Sigismondi
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 !
© Berlin Yoga Conference 2019
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