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,

 

 

 

Mini Yoga Retreats in St Germain en Laye

I wanted to tell you about my weekend because it was just so nice.

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I, along with my friend and fellow wellness colleague, cook book author and health coach Annamaria Formentini, held a mini retreat at Life Space.

We called our retreat: Nourish and Flourish to represent a Sunday afternoon of Yoga and healthy eating with snacks from Annamarias newly published book.

Our lovely 10 participants made their way to St Germain en Laye and were introduced to Life Space. We had a great mix of nationalities, ages, genders and backgrounds. A really sweet group. We started with some herbal tea and a little introduction before grabbing our mats and heading for the park.

The weather was utterly lovely. On days where the sun shines, the park becomes a hive of activity – dog walkers, sunbathers, frizbee players and the like. We picked a sweet spot with a great view of Paris to set up our mats. The breeze was just enough to keep us feeling fresh and the sun was shining on our faces – a sensation we have all really been missing here in Paris!

The class was a sweet mix of long holds and gentle flows. It was a Sunday after all. The theme of the class was just to feel really, really good. We had a range of levels and backgrounds in the class, so options were given and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves. It looked like the passersby were jealous all of the high vibes 😉

After the class, we strolled back to Life Space for “gouter” – afternoon tea. Annamaria had prepared a few surprises for us! We had banana and tahini muffins, a savoury carrot bread and the most surprisingly delicious beetroot chocolate squares. Annamaria answered our food related questions, like how we can happily cut down on sugar and what alternatives to add to our food to make it better for us. I think we all left with some really great tips to try. For me, I’m swapping out my white sugar for coconut sugar (who knew?!) and adding beets to anything chocolate related!

The afternoon flew by – We all left feeling lighter, taller, happier and with a little sun kissed glow on our faces.

I’m already excited for the next one 🙂

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Being courageous is hard for a people pleaser like me

I have admitted it before and I’ll admit it again. I love pleasing people. I’m a total people pleaser. I want everyone to feel good, all of the time. I don’t want to rock the boat. My mum taught me that…But its a habit that I’m really trying to grow out of.

I guess I like being a People Pleaser because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. But as time passes and I mature a little more into who I truly am, I realise that being a people pleaser is not only a little lame, but, at times, dishonest.

Let me explain my current predicament.

For the past few months I have offered my Yoga class at a very low price. Like half of the going rate. It suited me to not ask for the full amount – I wanted students to come. I wanted to make people feel comfortable. I was afraid that if I asked for more, they would say no. They would challenge me. Well, I have reached a point now where students are coming and the class is growing. Which is great!

But I have to tell you, arriving at this point always terrified me…. because if people start coming and my room becomes full, then I will have to put my price up.

Welcome to my current predicament – undoubtedly a great problem to have. The Studio has expanded and we are now offering an incredible unlimited class pass to yoga, meditation and wellness workshops – its an amazing deal. Students want this. The market is there. But, of course, it is not free. Investment in wellness is an investment in living your best life. Money creates the bond – the deal with yourself that THIS is truly important. So, a price had to be set.

And now with said increased set price, I have to actually start telling people about it. Argh!  Do you know how long it took me to be able to get the courage up to say I can no longer offer cheapy cheap classes? One month. One whole month! Gab would pep talk me before walking out the door every week. And I’d come back in and say “I couldn’t dooooo it”. He was a little mad with me. I was even a little mad with me. Why is this so hard?

And then finally I got it out. I was nervous. Can you guess what the response was? Did people throw their yoga mats at me in disgrace? Did they tutt and make faces?  Was I berated for the terrible news? Nope. And actually the opposite happened – everybody saw the value in the new program and found the price completely reasonable.

What in the world was I so afraid of?!

I am realizing now that people are happy to pay for what they deem valuable. Health and wellness, is so valuable. And when people find a teacher they appreciate, they will make their best efforts to continue to come along.

I am realizing now that I am not selling dodgy cars or faulty products. I am offering my students something I believe whole heartedly in. I believe in the power of yoga. I believe it can change your life. I know meditation makes people happier. Manifesting what you want works. Im not selling anything. It sells itself. To those that want it.

So guys, I vow to be more courageous. To share what I have to share. To shine my light. Without fear of the backlash. I need to learn to have more faith in people. To speak my truth, even if my voice shakes.

Can you relate? Got any advice for me?

 

Love, R x

http://life-space.fr/infinity-club/

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How to pick a Yoga mat?

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As a teacher, I want my students to enjoy class. One major contributing factor to this enjoyment comes down to the mat. Some students like to bring their own, which is great for hygiene and home practice reasons -> But, it is common and absolutely awful for me to often watch students slipping and sliding on cheap, crappy camping mats or the first price product they found in the sports store. Many students are completely unaware that yoga mats are not all made equal. The saying by Emmert Wolf, “a man is only as good as his tools”, holds very true.

Yoga mats can be deceiving. What might look like the best, most comfortable mat, might in fact make (yoga) life harder. When I started practicing, I had a fat, spongey mat that was super comfortable for savasana, but dreadful for downward facing dog or warriors, feeling your legs and arms slipping away from each other as your toes grip and strain into the mat. It was practically a portable bed, relaxing only when horizontal. Since then, I have doubled mats, stacking them up, thinking that the more protection for knees and hands, the better. These days, my favourite mat is an ultra thin, ultra grippy Manduka travel mat. It is only a couple of millimetres thick. Its impossible to slip on no matter how sweaty you get, plus it folds into my handbag, which is great for the Paris metro or managing a baby at the same time.

I have tested many mats and  have maybe 4 or 5 of my own, all very different, having spent between $20 and $100 on each of them. I realise now that the price does not often reflect the quality.

What kind of mat do you use? And how do you find it? I found this new independent review super comprehensive. It looks at 30 different mats, with criteria such as the quality, pricing, eco-friendliness and grip.  Interestingly, the mat that came out on top was from the brand I use, Manduka.

So, are all your loved ones getting yoga mats for christmas? Or maybe its time you spoilt yourself?

Happy yogaing 🙂

Why you should listen to your body

When I was pregnant with Oliver I would often sit on the floor in a cross legged position, whirling my big belly around and around. I would go one direction and then the other, slowly and smoothly, breathing deeply all the while. I don’t know why I did it. It was a little weird and trance like, but I liked it. We liked it.

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When it came time to go to the Maternity Clinic, when the contractions really started to pick up, the only position I felt OK in was this easy pose, once again, circling around and around. I tried every other position but nothing else felt right. This strange whirling, a kind a movement meditation, was where I stayed.

This curious action intrigued me. Why would sitting on the floor unsupported be the most comfortable position for me? Why did I know it was important to do?

A little investigation into this obsession I had with circling and I was thrilled to discover, yet again, just how clever the body really is.

Circling the spine, or Sufi Grind as it is known in Kundalini Yoga, is a common warm up exercise. Its done by simply sitting crossed legged on the floor, hands on your knees or shins and rotating the upper body whilst coordinating with the breath. This movement, I have since learnt, is wonderful for stretching and opening the hips – quite essential for child birth. Interestingly this movement also stimulates digestion, and whilst not the most elegant topic, digestion and birthing go hand in hand. This rhythmical movement is grounding and it relaxes the nervous system – reducing the need for the body to release stress hormones. When stress hormones are released in the body, muscles tense, ready for flight or fight, therefore not allowing for the natural opening of the hips and cervix. Finally the coordination of breath and movement were enough distraction to keep the anxiety of the pain and process at bay.

My body knew exactly what to do. The movement was perfect in its simplicity. The body was warming itself up, calming itself down and clearing/opening up the areas that needed to be incredibly supple for what was coming next. Nothing short of incredible.

Do you ever feel that you need to just roll around on the floor? Stretch your legs in a certain way? Circle your shoulders around and around? Or roll your neck side to side? If it feels right, it probably is. Your body really knows what it needs. We just need to be aware enough to stop and listen.

I would love to hear from you – Any interesting experiences with this kind of thing? Do you agree that our bodies know best?

Namaste x

Yoga in Saint Germain en Laye

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I am so happy to announce that I will be teaching a beautiful Yoga and Meditation class at Life Space, commencing at the end of this month ✨

The class will include meditation and breathing exercises as well as vinyasa style yoga (movement with breath that can be more dynamic at times ☺️ meaning you will get a good work out and see progress in your strength, flexibility and fitness).

The class will be held Wednesday’s at 7:30pm. It costs 10€. Bring your own mat or use one of ours.

If Wednesdays are no good for you, please suggest other days and times as there is potential to teach more classes!

Namaste 😘