Radical Yoga

I attended my first Yoga class in 2007. But while so many other Yoga teachers or Yoga doers say they were hooked from the first moment, I wasn’t. I was sceptic.
At the time I was 24 years old, I spent most of my free time doing Martial Arts and loved the action of that training.

So when I eventually tried a Yoga class it all seemed strange for me. People were doing weird postures that were exhausting and at the same time boring. There was no real action going on, like I was used to from the Martial Arts classes. They were mumbling words I didn’t understand and they were breathing like Darth Vader. WTF?

Even though I had finished my Coaching Training at that time, and personal development and Self-discovery had been a very big part of my life for the previous 4 years, I just didn’t know or understand that Yoga is about that. Or can be. Yoga is always what you make of it.

It took me a few more tries before I found a Yoga style that I fell in love with. It was a Hot Yoga Studio downtown Calgary, and I went regularly even though I had to walk through -25 degrees C to get there. Classes were packed and you had to be there early enough to get a spot. It had nothing to do with Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga, it was just like Vinyasa Yoga in a heated room, with low light and beautiful music and a wonderful teacher.
In every class I fell more in love with my Self and with my life.

Eventually I started to understand more about Yoga and its Philosophy and it became clear to me that Life Coaching and Yoga, and even Martial Arts, are more or less the same.
It’s about contemplating on who we are, on our place in this world, and our relationships with our Selves and others and recognising ourselves in others.
It’s about health, strength, flexibility as much as for the body as for the mind as we need courage to face our inner demons and life’s challenges.

I made it my number one priority to teach in a way so it makes sense to my students. It’s my intention to teach in a way that they clearly see how their practice on the mat is directly linked to their everyday life and how Yoga can be a way to live it in a happier and healthier way.
I continuously study to gain more understanding so that I can pass on all the gifts that Yoga has given me.

Of course, Yoga is not about KNOWING or understanding (everything), actually, that can often get in our way of growth or of enjoying an experience. But I am that kind of person who doesn’t like to just blindly copy and paste without understanding it.

I also encourage people to not take any teaching as a given fact but rather let them think and decide for themselves. Just because things are true for me, doesn’t mean it’s true for others.
And yet what we actually look for in Yoga, or in coaching or Martial Arts, is connecting to the universal truth, that lies within us all and that can be found beyond our egos…

Shiatsu and Massage on Ibiza

Shiatsu treatments are different wherever you go. Some people only use their thumbs to work along the meridians, with very light pressure. But in my school we learned to use the whole hand, our elbows, knees and feet. That’s exactly what I love and need.
If I receive any kind of massage or treatment I need to feel something. I don’t need or want to feel pain throughout the whole session. That would just make me more tense than I was before; it would just lead to even more tension in my muscles from the pain. However, I need a firm but gentle touch.
To stay open, to get and to stay relaxed I need to feel safe and comfortable.
There are a few things a therapist can do to create a safe and comfortable environment so this is always what I prepare before my clients come into my practice:

• Warm and comfortable room temperature
• Scent – some essential oils in a candle to support either relaxing or vitalising effects of the Shiatsu treatment
• Quiet relaxing music in the background
• A space where my clients can switch off, feel safe and taken care of

The preparation time (of the room and myself as a therapist) is as important as the treatment itself. If I get there just a few minutes before the client, being stressed myself, it will never be as relaxing as it could be.
There is always enough time in between clients, so there is some time left in the end to rest a few more minutes before getting up, and also for any kind of questions or support if needed.

If that’s the kind of treatment you’re longing for I’m looking forward to meeting you.

Instant Life Transformation

Every transformation in life begins with one thing:
A doubt. The doubt of what you are thinking about your self, about others or about the world might not be true.

Up until I was 17 years old I was convinced that I was ugly. I felt too skinny, my hair was too thin and I didn’t like my face or my freckles. I remember when I was a little girl before falling asleep I was praying to wake up the next morning and be pretty. I wanted long, black, straight hair, blue eyes and a more beautiful smile.

It was a sleepless night on a train on the way back from a school trip from France to Austria when someone I had just met asked me if I was a model.
With an inner laugh about the ridiculousness about me being a model I left the conversation at some point and I found myself standing in front of a mirror for quite a while.

Instead of repeating the usual judging thoughts about my self that went on in my head I just looked into the mirror and remained in silence. In this moment of stillness I began to doubt those judgements and I began to wonder if I was actually prettier than I believed myself to be.

That night on the train and actually the whole trip to France changed how I had perceived myself.
I remember clearly how I was thinking on the way there: “No one knows me in this country and I am leaving in a week, no one will ever see me again, so I can be who I really am!”

It took me another 3 years until I got into Life Coaching when I realised that (my) looks didn’t matter as much as I thought. I had another insight that again turned my perception about myself and the world around:
I started to understand that the fact that I am alive, that I breathe, my pure and raw existence in this world makes me valuable and worthy of love. And not just me but everybody else, too.

We all once were babies who pooped in diapers, who couldn’t speak or walk or do anything and yet whenever one of those giant people looked at us their eyes lit up with love and they cared for us – day and night.

Part of us still is this little, fragile human being, our bodies might have grown but the essence, this innocent and clear presence still resides within us and it will never leave.
We might not be aware of this presence, of our own worth, as it’s hidden underneath judgements, insecurities, fears and pain we collected along the way as we grew up.

But if you allow yourself to spend a moment in silence and consider that what you think or believe about your self, about the world, or about others might not be is not true, if you allow yourself a moment of doubt, you can transform your life in an instant.

Growing up…

…is not necessarily at trap. It can be a wonderful thing, it just depends on how you create it for yourself. If you trade responsibilities for playfulness instead of integrating both into your life, if routine and the need of security eat up all your freedom, and if ease and joy are replaced by pressure and worries instead of accepting both as part of life, well then that truly is a pretty bad deal.

The past few weeks have been a joyful ride into adulthood for me. I am blessed to do what I love: Teaching Yoga all around the island in beautiful places and giving Shiatsu and treatments to beautiful people and help them relax and heal; bringing good vibes, fun and ease, movement and relaxation into their vacations.

I finally started my own business and especially during the time I was doing treatments for the HABITAS festival I have found so much more confidence and trust in myself and in the work I do; I got so much more clarity about who I am and what makes me me and what makes my work special!

If growing up means growing into our potential, releasing the fears of failing, making mistakes, or not being good enough that we picked up somewhere along the way towards adulthood and if we keep or re-learn qualities like curiosity, open mindedness, playfulness, ease and joy then please, grow, grow, grow and never stop for as long as you breathe…

Love,
Annika

Learn to relax

It can be quite a challenge to relax. Even if our bodies lie still on the ground it doesn’t mean we are relaxed. And sometimes we even have a hard time lying still on the floor. There is an itch here, a little tension there and the mind seems to get louder the quieter the body becomes.
Most of the time we either replay past events in our heads or we create (or worry about) possible future events, but to really relax we need to become present to the now.

How to relax (find video below for a short guided meditation)
Find a place where you can either sit or lie down comfortably and undisturbed. Set a timer for how long you want to practice. Begin with a few minutes and increase step by step, if your schedule allows it.

Take three deep breaths, breathing in through your nose, exhaling through your mouth and make a clear decision in your mind to use the next minutes to relax.
Use each exhalation to soften the muscles in your body, to ground down, to release tension, to let go. Empty your lungs as much as you can, and use each inhalation to draw your attention to the now, into your body and towards your breath.

Then begin to naturally breathe in and out through your nose.
Observe if your breaths are deep and smooth, or if they are a bit more flat or uneven. No judgement, no control of breath, simply observe.
Scan your body for tension and feel free to move, stretch out, change position when it gets uncomfortable, take another deep breath and settle back in again.

Thoughts will continuously arise and try to get your attention back into the mind and away from the body. But know that neither the past, nor the future and no judgement is important right now.
Use the sensations of the body, and each breath to re-focus your attention. Even use the noises you hear around you as a reminder to simply come back to your breath.

Know that there is nothing you can do wrong. Even if you get lost in your thoughts all the time, or if you fall asleep. Everything we begin to do needs practice before we see changes.

Make it a habit
Find a time of the day that works for you. Practicing at the same time every day will make it easier. Maybe in the morning when you wake up, or at night when you go to bed.
Do it for at least 21 consecutive days. That’s usually how long it takes to make something a habit.
Avoid following the thoughts that show up before getting to it: Excuses, explanations why today it just isn’t possible etc. Just take your phone, set the timer and sit down.

If you have some more time for a short Yoga practice afterwards or before, your body will be grateful for it. If not, just continue with the rest of the day and notice that you feel more clear, more relaxed and balanced. This is also something wonderful you can do to support even deeper relaxation before or after a massage treatment!

Do you still ask yourself if you feel like brushing your teeth? I guess at some point in our lives we stopped wondering if we want to do it or not, and we just do it because we know it’s important. Our mental hygiene is as important as the physical one and this is an amazing way to clean and still your mind, to create some space between your thoughts and to practice to be present to the now.

In this short video I guide you through the meditation:

What do you do for your mental hygiene?
What tips and tricks work for you to stay committed to a regular practice?
Share in the comments to let us know about your own experience!

PS: For more videos and free online Yoga classes with me subscribe to my youtube channel! 

Namasté

DIY-Retreat

Ibiza is full of retreats where you can do yoga, detox, cleanse your body, mind and soul, where you can enjoy any kind of treatments and massages. There are beautiful retreats, there might be some crappy ones, too, but what most of them have in common is, that they are quite expensive. Probably worth the money, but for some it’s just not an option. If you’re one of them then this might be for you!

If you want to
• re-treat yourself
• do yoga
• enjoy the beaches and the sun of Ibiza
• be free of any schedules
• enjoy a massage, Shiatsu or any other kind of treatment
why don’t you create your own retreat? Do it your own way…

It’s simple and you can save a whole lot of money.
Click here on this link to find out HOW…

Yin & Yang and The Five Elements

IMG_6381Once upon a time some people in old China sat around all day and night and did nothing else than observing the continual coming and going of days, seasons and life, within and without.
Ok, maybe they didn’t sit around all the time, maybe sometimes they did something else. But they sat long enough to discover the unity of humanity, nature and the universe.

As a day has its beginning and its end, there is not one moment where you have “the total day” or “the total night”, even in the darkest moment, there is either still a glimpse of the fading day, or already a glimpse of the arising one. The same is true for seasons: Summer solstice marks the end of summer and already carries the beginning of transformation within. The highest peak of the summer contains already a touch of autumn.
Nothing is absolute.
Everything that is alive is ever changing.
Those are the principles of Yin & Yang. Yin and Yang are a quite rough outline of the whole concept so the old Chinese men – or women, who knows? – broke it down a bit more to The Five Elements.
Rather than static elements of nature they are more phases of a cycle.

The Wood Element, also called the young Yang, symbolises activity, new beginnings and growth. The related season is spring, when everything blossoms and expands. This element carries the incredible power that lies within birth and growing up. The emotion associated with the wood element is anger which can find expression if the process of growth gets blocked, or stagnated by pressure.

The Fire Element, the big, or old Yang is about joy, playfulness and laughter, and the relationship to oneself and to others. It’s the spark that makes us feel passionate, inspired and connected and expresses through the ability to love and feel loved. In summer the energy goes outwards and spreads in all directions, it is wild and untameable, and it’s represented in adulthood.

The Earth Element is the nurturing energy, also seen as the period of abundance, where things start to slow down again. It’s about gathering together, and about taking care of oneself and another, feeling compassion, sympathy and empathy. It’s related to late summer, the time of harvest. It’s also the time of midlife crysis – or midlife without crisis, menopause and the more mature age.

The Metal Element is the young Yin, and the time when the energy starts moving inwards. It’s the beginning of consolidation, and the end of expansion. The falling leaves in autumn are nurturing the earth for next year’s harvest. It is about letting go and exchange. Grief is the related emotion that cleanses us as long as we don’t hold on to it. It’s the time of life of late maturity and the shift to old age.

The Water Element is the big Yin, also old Yin. It emphasizes on the essence of life. It’s the seed and the root of life, and embodied in primordial trust. The water element lies within the essential self-identity. As in winter the energy centers, and it is the time for internal work like meditation, stillness and focus. Wisdom, old age and death are related to the water element, as well as fear. In appropriate amounts it is needed, an imbalance, however, reveals as anxiety and lack of trust.

Over the following weeks months I will be sharing more of my knowledge with you about the five elements, the meridians and their connection to our life. I hope it will support you in some way or another by offering you a new way of understanding yourself and/or others. Maybe it will even connect some dots and encourage you to apply some of the knowledge in your life to maintain and improve your (or maybe also your client’s) health and wellbeing. With love, Annika

Comfortable Illusions

The past few weeks I have been lazy with writing, not because nothing exciting happened in my life, neither because I had no experiences to share that helped me grow. Actually, life has been quite crazy, too crazy to write about in a simple blog post. It would fit more into a book or a screen play.
I also believe, that I haven’t quite understood the whole meaning of the recent events.
And as if that wasn’t enough already, life continues to blow my socks off and leave me startled, speechless and deprived of my illusions.

Which is a good thing on one hand. What’s the use of a created image in my head that I admire and get attached to, and that makes me want to frantically avoid reality?
I do feel safe in my little bubble that tells me that all people are good, honest and trustworthy, except the few ones that already forced me to strip down my illusions.
But losing them (the illusions, that is) is scary and painful, because I don’t know what’s beyond them, or if I’m ready to face reality.

Without even noticing it I created – and we all do, more often that we might think – a perfect little world for myself, with perfect little people who all want the best for everyone, while bad things only happen in movies, in other countries, or to bad people. But no, life screws us all over, no matter what.
And yet, I feel more free, a bit more relaxed than before, when I was busy keeping up the walls of my little doll house.
Because that’s what it mostly was: Little. It kept me small, it made me fearful and often enough incapable of going for the things I wanted.

The walls of illusions are usually attached to the walls of the comfort zone. And, as we all know, life starts beyond them.
I guess life keeps kicking me in my butt because it’s time to really start living.
It wants me to listen to my inner voice, to my intuition, that knows whom to trust.
We do know. Always. We just don’t pay attention.
Time to listen up, my friends…

The Family-Concept

During the past months I kept wondering what purpose the concept “family” has.
Why do people raise kids and try everything to stay together, with more or less success?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, they are wonderful people, but I asked myself what sense does it make, if everyone goes their own way eventually anyway, and if you get along best if you only see each other every once in a while?

I just had my family visiting me for 2 and a half weeks. I tried to enjoy it but I truly failed.
Most of the time I was grumpy, unbalanced, impatient and annoyed, and I had no idea why.
It had nothing to do with them, because they did their thing and they didn’t need me around. They had their own car and often went off to explore the island without me, but then I’d feel guilty and responsible, so that didn’t really work out for me either.

General Atmosphere - 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive FestivalToday I reflected about why I couldn’t stand myself the past two weeks.
I kept wondering why they still wanted to spend time with me and how they still showed me their love even though I was this angry little brat with the face of grumpy cat all the time.

I really had a hard time loving myself during those days and the more love I got from my family the more I pushed them away.

What I finally understood is, what family is about, at least, what my family is about and I am truly and deeply grateful for it!

They let me be.
They didn’t try to change me, they didn’t try to cheer me up.
They didn’t take it personally, although they had their own issues and their own problems to deal with, they stayed centered and never held my moodiness against me.
They never blamed me for anything, instead they kept telling me how grateful they were to be here and how lucky they were for this chance. That just made me feel more guilty at the time, but I also knew that they truly meant it.
They still appreciated their time here – even the one they spend with me.

I really don’t know how they did it. But I think that’s what family is for:

They stay even during our bad days, when our dark side is coming out, when everyone else would walk away.

They stay and love us, even if we don’t know how they do it, or why.

They love us because THEY want to love us and there is nothing we can do about it, no matter how hard we try.

They love and they forgive us because they know who we really are and they are patient enough, even if we are not.

They love us even when we push them away, because they know that’s when we need it the most.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you…

Namasté.

Welcome Training

The meaning of the word “welcome” is “gladly received”, “acceptable” and even “appreciated”.
The German word “Willkommen” comes from: “Came, according to (my) will/wish”

IMG_4413Sometimes we get into uncomfortable situations from which we just want to get out of as quickly as possible, that don’t seem to have happened according to our wish at all.
Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. We’ll never know. Fact is, sh*t happens.
And experience showed me, that resistance won’t help, in any kind of situation.
I think we have all heard the quote “what we resist persists”.

The Welcome-Training allows us, to simply accept and acknowledge what is.
We don’t have to like it, nor do we have to be grateful for it, but in order to be able to do something about it, we first must accept the fact, that we are in that situation.
The Welcome-Training helps us, to not drown in the “problem”, but to be and stay centered, focused and able to act, instead of re-act.

Reacting is the easy way. We get an impulse, and in some way or the other our emotions are stimulated, and instantly we react to it. It comes uncontrolled and afterwards we often feel sorry about it.
Acting, however, includes this short moment of reflection, it is the awareness of conscious choice. It offers a second possibility, it is the second path that arises within us, that we can choose to take, the moment an impulse is about to have an impact on our emotions and actions. It is the awareness, it means being present.

The Welcome Training applied in a conflict or challenging situation, in the moment of an arising storm of emotions within us, is:

  • The little pause and stillness that brings clarity and insight.
  • The deep breath we are able to take, when our throat seems to get tight.
    (may it be anger, frustration, impatience, desperation…).
  • The ability to choose the harder path of taking conscious action, instead of the easier one of re-action.

And yet we can still choose to react.
The difference lies in the CHOICE.
If this is the case, then we can welcome the fact, that we reacted and get in peace with it, instead of beating ourselves up, that we let our emotions take control of our behaviour.

The Welcome Training is not about becoming like a robot, an emotionless machine, that says “Yes” and “Amen” to everything and everyone. Not at all.
It is the realization that whatever someone does or says “to us”, is not personal. Nothing is personal. Ever. I will get more into this in another blog post.

The Welcome-Training needs practice and time, like a muscle, that needs both, training and relaxation to grow.
We can do this little practice everyday, either in the morning before we get out of bed, or at night, before we fall asleep.

You can also apply it before that important phone call you’ve been avoiding for a while, or before any challenging situation that we can’t procrastinate any longer. You can do it before you enter any situation that makes you uncomfortable or insecure.
Welcome the fact that it IS uncomfortable and yet, needs to be done.

photo (10)The training is simple and works like this:
Put your right hand on your forehead, the left hand at the base of the back of your head and repeat and feel the following affirmations 3 times:

“I welcome myself.
I welcome the people that are crossing my path today.
I welcome all of today’s challenges.”

Sounds simple, and yes, the training is simple. The “arena” is the “real world” out there, that’s when it counts. The important thing is to be patient with yourself, if you are not, who will be?

Namasté.