Nov 7, 2020

Yoga Journey | My Personal Story Part 1

I have been sharing my passion for yoga and loads of insights into my practices for quite a while now. If you follow me on social media you might now bits and pieces of my story, but I never shared the full version. How I started to practice yoga and how I ended up becoming a full-time yoga teacher. Today I am writing down my personal journey and I hope it might inspire you to follow your own path of passion, freedom and choice.

Yoga was something that came and went in and out of my life for a long time. It used to be something I would do once in a while for exercise or because it is ‘good for you’. I will never forget my first encounter with the practice. I must have been around 15 years old (20 years ago, imagine that!) and my Mum took me to her yoga class which was led by the most fascinating being: a 70 year old yoga teacher glowing with warmth and inspiration and looking at me with sparling eyes – I was stunned, but I didn’t stick with it just yet.

I spend years living in Spain, Italy and China, travelling to many more countries and whenever I got somewhere new, I would take a class. Mostly to meet new people or to include some healthy activity into this exciting yet sometimes agitating lifestyle. I studied business administration and specialized in the fashion industry – marketing, communication, sales. Especially my years in Shanghai where coined by the motto “work hard, party hard” and that in a pretty unhealthy environment. Don’t get me wrong, these were amazing years of my life, I loved it for the longest time; until I began to crave more meaning, deeper connection and calmness.

Meditation, eastern philosophies and self-reflection where always topics that intrigued me. I had read Krishnamurti and Deepak Chopra and I always knew that there were deeper planes of my being. Too often I disregarded these ideas, buried them under the daily excitements and pressures: where to go next, what to achieve, whom to meet.

I had fallen in love with someone who had to leave China to return to Berlin and so I followed into my next adventure. Just having arrived I was soon presented with an incredible job opportunity at a level that I had expected to achieve much later in my career. Apart from the ego boost and the flattering excitement, I had this very distinct feeling in my stomach. I knew what it meant to exist in this kind of world, what kind of role I would have to play in this position, the composure and image I would have to hold up. And somehow, I knew it was not me anymore. I took what I like to call the best decision of my life and said ‘No’. To the big surprise and shock to most people in my life that had seen me looking forward to this kind of achievement for a long time. The voices saying ‘at least do it for a while so it appears on your CV’ or ‘doing this will open so many doors for you’ did barely touch me; I just knew.

I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to do something I don’t feel drawn to, just so maybe later I could do something else, that I actually like. Why not go for it now?

I didn’t know what that thing was that I wanted at the time. I started to work freelance in fashion, got to travel around Europe for it and met some inspiring people. At least, I was kind of free at the time. But it didn’t touch my heart, I didn’t feel purpose in what I was doing. So, I tried different things, moved from fashion to arts and was blessed with beautiful tasks and encounters again. Yet, not at a soul level.

Feeling stuck and struggling with minor but wearing health issues I looked for help. Help to get out of my head and into my heart: I still didn’t know what I wanted, and I felt lost.

I found a beautiful guide and went through something called The Journey Therapy, a guided introspective process designed to uncover and address repressed memory. After the session I was shook, deeply touched by everything that came up, all the tension that had built up in my mind and my body, all the unresolved and overlooked issues from my past. I have always been blessed with a good life, yet, me too I was carrying baggage, like we all do.

I was hooked, I had opened a door to self-exploration that promised incredible depths, I couldn’t stop now. I began to study Kundalini Yoga with this teacher, practicing chanting, meditation, yoga asana, breathing and other exercises every single day. An incredible experience – revelations, visions, dreams, physical changes washed over me. I wanted to be more in tune myself, I craved to be pure and healthy and open; unapologetically me, with all my flaws and quirks. I stopped eating meat, I stopped taking the contraceptive pill and more changes rolled in. I was transforming.

In the meantime, experiencing the incredible power of the yoga asana practice, I signed up for a beginner’s course in Hatha Yoga, despite having had practiced so often before. I wanted to get it right, I wanted to understand the practice and build it sustainably. Yoga became a significant part of my daily life, it became my safe space, my moment for reflection, release and healing.

One day, looking for my next winter escape and adventure I decided to go to India to study this practice of my heart at its source and indulging in it fully. I had planned to go to an Ashram, when I stumbled over Teacher Training offers during my research. I didn’t even know at the time that one could get certified that easily. Now it is so trendy, and you can basically get certified at any studio, but I wasn’t aware of it back then. A full 14 hour schedule a day packed with physical asana practice, breathing techniques, meditation and philosophy lectures was just what I wanted. I didn’t want a beach holiday with a couple of hours of yoga practice a day. I wanted to experience the yogic lifestyle fully – and that I did.

I was so lucky to end up in an incredible little place in the forests of Goa staying with a local family being led by true teachers that have never lived any differently before. Getting up every morning before dawn practicing intense yogic cleansing techniques and from there practicing and studying until after the sun went down was incredible. My body hurt constantly - marble floors, no probs, rigid discipline. But my mind became more still every day. I had loads of dreams, remembered things from childhood and youth, discovering buried hurt but also reconnecting with deep knowledge that I had lost touch with but that had always been there.

It was such a significant experience that I would always recommend anyone interested to do it, whether you want to teach yoga or not. Guess what, I was the one person the group that insisted that I didn’t want to teach. I was there for just myself. I am forever grateful I went for it as it resulted in the most beautiful life change and me having found my true purpose.

I still didn’t expect to be teaching, let alone doing it full time, nor would I have expected to return to India for more training, going home with a severe injury and its consequences. But this I will tell you about in the next part of my personal story. This first part was what brought me to yoga as a life changing practice. How it became my profession is for another day… to be continued soon <3

I would love to hear about your personal story, you can always write me or connect with me on Instagram. When you tag me @yoflaminga or use my hashtags #yoflaminga or #feelyogaflow when posting on Social Media I will make sure to connect with you personally.

Photos Daniel Willis