What about your Ego?

Yoga is martial arts

The ego is such an interesting thing in every human. Most people wish they didn’t have it, or think they don’t have it. But unconsciously our ego directs a lot of our thoughts and actions. And ultimately it decides if we feel good or bad about ourselves.

The reason why I find the ego so interesting is because it is an identity we have constructed ourselves, an identity, which is false, and not connected to the Self. We believe that our personality, talents, abilities and skills are the self, but in fact it is all artificial, it is created in the mind.

The ego is an active and very dynamic part of our personality and it just loves to create drama in our lives. It blurs our vision about who we really are and what we are really capable of. It always compares you with others and at times it will create a feeling of superiority, it will tell you that you are better, more beautiful, more successful, smarter, etc than the other person. Other times it will create feelings of insecurity, jealousy, not being enough, etc. It blames you for not giving it the attention it needs.

How I like to see the ego is like a little child. It needs constant care, if you don’t feed it, it will cry, if you don’t give it love, it will turn into a needy kid, if you don’t discipline it, it will become arrogant.

Lately I have become more and more aware of my ‘battle’ or encounters with my own ego. Teaching yoga has shown me the needs of my ego more clearly. When people are satisfied, I am happy, I feel good about myself. But when people do not return, walked off quickly or left class early, I start doubting myself, wondering if it is something I did or didn’t do.

Even though these feelings are the most normal thing to occur, it is also a habit pattern. Something that happens because you just don’t know any better. Because your whole life you have measured yourself to others, praised yourself based on that and created a feeling of self in correspondence to this.

The easy thing to say is: let it go. Don’t doubt yourself, stay close to yourself and all will fall into place. But how do you put that into practice? How do you avoid these feelings entering your mind, heart and being? One explanation that has helped me a lot comes from my beloved yoga teacher Kate Holcombe. She explained that the mind (read ego) is the blind man. He is strong, fit, healthy, but blind. The Self is lame, it can’t walk on its own, but it can see. The mind (ego) and the Self need each other and so the Self rides piggy back on the mind. Because of this, the mind now has the ability to see, and therefore forgets it is the Self who sees, not him. He beliefs he doesn’t need the Self and takes over, so he bumps into things, runs around without clear vision and creates suffering along the way.

So that blind man needs to be trained with discipline, via meditation, breathing and any other way you know to focus the mind. Because in the end, the mind (the blind man) is in a mortal body, it will lose strength, its health and consciousness. And therefore in yoga we focus on the immortal, the Self. So we try to see the two separate while learning how to use both in their own way. Don’t detach from the mind/ ego, become aware of its needs, understand how to control it and be learn to recognize when the ego takes over control. Because when you can let the one who rides piggy back (the Self) steer the body, you can let the Self decide where you go, what you do and what comes to you. That way you might be able to reduce the suffering caused by the ego and create space and freedom to connect to who you really are: the Self.

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Your way to freedom

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With the 4th of July festivities of last weekend, the concept of ‘freedom’ popped right back into my mind. I know it might sound naïve, but the idea and meaning of freedom only became clear to me a couple of years ago. I was participating in a program at the university, which was called: Leaders for Economic Change. We were a group of 30 young people from all over the world. My small group existed of 2 Dutch people, one British person, one from Bangladesh and one person from Zambia. The Zambians name was Gift, and a gift he was. We were asked to discuss amongst us what freedom means to you. As an eager Dutch student I started, talking about Freedom when you are off work, laying on a beach, watching the ocean, reading a book and sipping a cocktail. It all connected and corresponded with my reality, my sense of freedom.

Gift however, had something very different to share: freedom to him was when everybody had equal chances, when every kid could have a proper education and because of that, have a real chance in life.

And wow, did that open my eyes, I really thought my version of freedom was universal, except for when you are in prison or at war. How little did I know!

At the same time I realized how lucky I had been, that my version of freedom comes from a care-free life. And this concept of ‘freedom’ can show you who you are; the definition of freedom is personal. One explanation is not better than the other, it is just different, it is you.

I am sharing this, because ‘freedom’ is also a big subject in yoga. In yoga we strive to be free of suffering. In the yoga sutras there is no discrimination made between sufferings. Every suffering is real; every suffering can make your life miserable, even if your suffering seems minor in comparison to others.

The yoga sutras (2.15) gives us four main reasons for suffering:

  1. Parinama: change, modification or transformation; Change affects people, objects and the environment. In the end nothing is stable in our universe, there is constant change, constant uncertainty, which are factors for irritation, instability and internal misery. Any change creates an opportunity for someone to suffer by holding on to what was, instead of embraces, allowing or accepting what is in front of them.
  2. Tapa: regret, guilt, torture; The thirst of wanting something can create an unfulfilled desire, which leads to regret, guilt, torture. A bitter regret over what we have done, or not done. A burning desire to repeat the past. All sources of anxiety that wear us down.
  3. Samskara: Routine, habit, conditioning; Some of our routines and habits are deeply rooted in ourselves. They are like a deep groove in wood, you can sand it down a little bit, but when you don’t take care of it, it will continue to get deeper and deeper. These grooves push us to act in stereotyped manner. Make us repeat patterns, which might not be the right response in a certain situation.
  4. Guna: Fundamental energy, quality, substance; The gunas reflect on the fact that we live in our body and the fluctuations and instability of the mind. The instability in our mind leads to chaos, negative judgments and inappropriate responses.

Suffering is ultimately a state of mind, your reaction to what’s happening, your reaction to what overcame you. We will always be faced with difficult times, but we have choice how to respond to it. We can choose how much we suffer from it.

In yoga we work on not creating new suffering, by realizing that we can’t change the circumstances, we can’t change what will happen to us. But we do have a chance to change our own response to it, the way we hold it, the way we let it take over our mind, body and life and how we move through it.

This way we are refining the mind, redefining our relationship to the mind and defining freedom in a new way. Because in the end, freedom is personal, there is no discrimination for the suffering you have, as long as you remember that you have a choice. The choice is liberating, the choice gives you your freedom. The choice helps you to be free of suffering, that choice leads you to happiness and bliss.

How yoga has changed my life

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Since I made the decision to dedicate my life to yoga, I have often got the question: how did yoga change your life?
Most of the times followed by the question: who inspired you to do this?

This week I was signing up for a next step in my yoga life, a 500 hour teacher training. As part of the sign-up I had to write a short essay on these two questions. So it only seemed logical and fun to share them with you. No edits, no changes, the pure and honest answers!

  1. How has practicing Yoga affected you and your relationship to the world around you?

Yoga has an effect on every single part of my life, physically, mentally and emotionally. The most important thing it has affected is self-love and the relationship with myself. Before I became a yoga practitioner, the last relationship I would take care of, was the relationship with myself. Which had a tremendous impact on my health, my outlook in life, my happiness and the relationships I formed with others.

Through yoga I learned that the relationship with the Self has to come first. Once that relationship is established, you are able to perceive the world differently. Nature and my connection to it has started to play a bigger role, the understanding that you are part of something bigger, something larger then yourself.

I have learned how to take care of my health, notice what goes on in my body, my mind and translate that into my personal needs, in order to be the best I can be.

Yoga changed me internally, or maybe not changed me, but made my connection with the Self stronger, and because of that I can be a better person. A loving, kind and honest human being for my husband, my family, my friends, my students and even strangers on the street and in traffic.

So yoga did not only change my physical body, it changed the way I perceive things. I am able to differentiate the states of my mind and can therefore see more clearly. And it changed me emotionally, to someone who is connected, grounded and able to share her love.

  1. Who has influenced you on your Yoga path?

I have been influenced by a variety of teachers. Below the most important ones:

  • Martyn Hoogstra: my first yoga teacher who blossomed my love for yoga, philosophy and taught me the importance of a regular and serious practice.
  • Hansaji Jayadeva Yogendra: The leader of the Yoga Institute in Mumbai. She was the one who really sparked the connection of yoga and health. Yoga as a way to take care of myself.
  • David Lurey & Mirjam Wagner: They were my teachers for my 200 hour ‘Find Balance’ Yoga Teacher Training. They helped me set the foundation for the teacher I am today, as well as they showed me what it really means to love myself.
  • Leslie Kaminoff: an enormous influence when it comes to understanding the body, the anatomy (and not just the bones and muscles). I did his online course and after every class I experienced an ‘Aha’ moment. He opened my eyes about how my body functions, how I could potentially help others and how interesting discovering yoga can be.
  • Kate Holcombe: an amazing and incredible teacher specialised in Vini Yoga and Yoga Therapy. She studied and lived with Desikachar for 6 years and she accepted me as her mentee to get a deeper understanding of the yoga philosophy (in particular the yoga sutras) as well as yoga as a therapy. I also finished an advanced yoga and cancer training under her guidance.
  • Stephanie Snyder: she is an amazing flow teacher, who’s weekly classes teach me about humility, joy and kindness. She is an example for how to sequence a class and add philosophy, joy and singing at the same time.
  • Sri Dharma Mittra: I got introduced to Sri Dharma Mittra by Gerson Frau (who teaches in Brasil, where I lived for a couple of years). I have only met Dharma Mittra once during a class in New York, but I was blown away by his personality, the love and kindness that shown through. I have been a long time online follower and I am inspired by what he does and puts out in the world. I would love to bring his influence a step further into my life.

Breaking apart

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I believe you have two types of people. There’s the ones that look at people that do just a little less than them and because of that they feel good about themselves. They have confidence and trust. The second type are the ones who look at the people he or she considers better, and see them as a goal, something to reach towards. The pitfall of the second type is that you often feel like you are not good enough.

One type is not better than the other, it is just a different approach, a different way to evaluate ourselves. How we pin ourselves in this world. And even though we know that comparing is often not useful at all, we still do it, as humans. Because we feel the need to fit in somewhere, we feel the need to know where we stand.

Me, I am type number 2. I always look at the people ahead of me, see what they do, figure out what they have done and see what things I can learn from that. It works for me, it makes me think about my plans and dreams in a bigger perspective. However, it makes me struggle too. Because I am also a type that sets their mind to something and then is determined to fix it, determined to reach that goal.

Yoga in the past few years has taught me that this way of looking at things also makes me suffer. Why? Because I am ambitious, I always try to reach more, and I have a goal in mind which should be a 5 year plan, but instead, I make it something I should achieve in weeks or months. And that is where the suffering comes in, I makes me feel like I am failing, like I am not working hard enough, that I am not good enough, that I am not worth of what I am trying to achieve.

At least, that what is was until a year ago. That’s when I learned and really connected to the idea of breaking it up, breaking the goals apart. Because how can you ever be satisfied if your goals are too big to achieve at once? So I have a system, simple, but clear: every big goal has at least 5 steps, 5 minor goals in it. And that minor goal becomes my real goal, my big goal for the moment. That way I can stay on track, stay happy and be content with my achievements.

So as a practical example: My dream is to one day have inspired enough people to be able to set up a yoga community. One where you can practice together, one where you can find your friends, one where you can share knowledge, share food, share drinks, share fun, share a passion.

I broke it up in steps, and the first step is my main goal: LEARN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE for 1 year. Teach, teach, teach, study, spend time with teachers, work in the yoga world, get connected, and share it back.

I am now 4 months in and I am learning like crazy, teaching many hours, and I feel grateful. Yes, there are days that I lose this goal out of sight, days where I feel I have not done enough, days where I feel like a failure. But this has gone from almost every day to some days. I am happy, I am free of my own pressure, I am learning.every.single.day.

So why am I writing this? Because I believe too many people around me suffer from the same struggle. And the funny thing is, we often think it is the external pressure, from friends, family and society, to achieve these goals. Until you hit that moment where you realize, all the pressure comes from within, from our own beliefs, our own self-image, our own internal motivators and drivers. And just to be clear, this does not mean you cannot have big massive goals for yourself. Please do, they are immense and good internal drivers, but be aware of what they do to your state of mind and your daily happiness.

Break it up, break them apart and break through a cycle of suffering and break into one of happiness and a sense of achievement. Because you are worthy of anything you want to achieve.

Yoga for sunny days

Yoga for a sunny day

The sun is out! And so are our legs, arms and abs. In winter time we cover up, which sometimes makes us forget to keep them in shape, keep them toned for when the sun is peeking around the corner. And even though yoga is not meant as a pure physical activity, it is still a perfect sport to work on toning your legs, arms and abs. And the absolute best part is that the benefits of calming your mind, getting a radiant skin, changing your perspective on life, improving your relationships and feeling your absolute best, are added for free. So let’s get you ready for summer!

All 9 poses will help you tone your muscles and all poses work on at least 2 areas, however, their main focus is divided as follows:

  • Row 1: Three poses that will mainly help you tone your arms
  • Row 2: Will help you tone your legs
  • Row 3: Will work on your abs.

Some basis rules when you perform the poses:

  • Make long, deep and controlled breaths through your nose. Focus on your breath going in and out while being in a posture. Try to make your exhale slightly longer than your inhale.
  • Let your breath initiate a movement. Inhale is a movement upwards, exhale is a movement downwards or a twist.
  • Work both sides of your body. Do every posture on the right side and then switch to the left.
  • There is NO pose in yoga where we have our shoulders close to our ears. So when you are settled in a pose, always pay attention to your shoulders. Roll them backwards and down.
  • When in the pose try to be aware of what comes up, what happens in your body.

TONING ARMS:

Picture 1: Vasisthasana
Side plank pose. Bring your right hand under your face. Turn to the outside of your right foot. Bring your left foot on top of your right foot. If this is too heavy, place your left foot behind your right one (not before or after). Take your left hand up in the sky, look up to your left hand. If you can take up your left leg and grab your big toe with your left hand. Try to stay for a minimum of 3 cycles of breath.

Picture 2: Chaturanga Dandasana
Four-Limbed Staff Pose. From the plank, move your body weight forward. You are now on the tips of your toes. Bring your body weight down, like an airplane coming to land. Create a 90 degrees angle from wrist to elbow and elbow to shoulder. Your shoulders don’t go below your elbows. If you want you can hold the pose for a few breaths to build up strength.

Picture 3: Urdhva Mukha Savanasana
Upward facing dog pose. Lay down on your belly. Place your hands next to your chest, fingers facing forward. On an inhale, push yourself half way. Then straighten the legs, the knees come of the mat. Next inhale, straighten your arms. Shoulders are straight over your wrists. Look forward or up.


TONING LEGS (and gluteus)

Picture 4: Utkatasana
Chair pose. Come up from your previous pose by bending your knees. On an inhale bring both arms up. Arms are in line with the shoulders, palms are facing each other. Your tailbone is turned inwards.

Picture 5: Virabhadrasana III
Warrior 3 pose. From the previous pose keep your arms where they are. Bring the weight onto your front foot, take up your back leg and move your body forward. Your torso, arms and back leg are in one line and parallel to the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles for balance and make both your legs as active as possible. Stay for 3 cycles of breath. Change side.

Picture 6: Purvottanasana
Straight bridge. Sit down on the floor. Legs are fully on the mat and feet are hips distance apart. Place your hands on the mat, fingers pointing towards your feet. Your hands are straight under your shoulders (so next to your body). The hands are placed just behind the hips and thus behind your body. Inhale, push your hips up keep the legs straight. Feet stay fully on the mat, while you push your hips up as high as possible. It helps to squeeze your gluteus together. Stay for 5 cycles of breath.


AMAZING ABS

Picture 7: Plank pose, knee to elbow
Plank pose with one knee forward. Make it look like you are a straight plank. Have your hips aligned with your body, so not high in the air or close to the ground. Shoulders are 90 degrees over your wrists. Contract your abdominal muscles. Bring your right knee to your right elbow. Try to stay here for a minimum 3 cycles of breath. Change side.

Picture 8: Paripurna Navasana
Boat pose. Place your feet in front of you, hips distance apart. Hold with your hands under your knees; use this force to straighten your back. Keep your back as straight as possible during the entire pose. Balance on your sit bones; take your feet off the floor. If possible stretch arms out on shoulder height and a next step is to straighten your legs. Try to stay for a minimum of 5 breaths.

Picture 9: Salamba Sirsasana 2, legs 90 degrees.
Supported headstand 2. Start in a table top and place your elbows straight under your shoulders. Then interlace the fingers. That spot is where you can place the head. Then place your hands where the elbows where, fingers pointed forward (towards the head). Take the knees off the mat, straighten the legs. Walk your feet closer to your face, until your feet come off the mat. Bring your legs up at the same time. Stop when your legs are in a 90 degree angle with the floor. Stay there for a couple of breaths. Lower them closer to the floor again, right before your feet touch the floor, bring them back up. Repeat this as many times as you can. Stay for at least 5 breaths with the legs at 90 degrees. If you are afraid to fall over, use the wall for support.

Am I good enough?

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Am I good enough? A fascinating question if you ask me. Many people ask themselves this question, a lot! Sometimes we feel secure enough to share it out loud, but often we are afraid of what the response will be, so we leave it unspoken.

We ask ourselves this question in many situations. Am I good enough at my job? Am I good enough as a lover? Am I good enough as a parent? Am I good enough as a family member? Am I good enough at cooking? Am I good enough to take care of myself? Am I good enough at yoga?

I ask myself this question very often. Am I good enough? But what does that really mean? What is good enough? And who decides what is good and what is not? Is good enough based on your own expectations? On the expectations of others around you? Or on the expectations you think others have of you?

My latest stream of thoughts on this subject made me realize that I choose a profession where this question comes up on a daily basis. Do people want to come back to my classes? And if so, why? Does it have something to do with my personality? Was my sequence not challenging enough? Or was I too tough on them? How does my class stand out from others? In other words, it is a profession where failure becomes super personal. You are the only one who is to blame for low turn-up and return rates.

Which leads me to another subject: FEAR. The fear to fail, the fear to not be good enough. Fear has proven me over and over again that it is not helping me, and still, I sometimes can’t help that fear takes over. I have to confess, every time before I start a class, I am frightened, can I bring these people what they want? Every time I do a headstand I feel the fear coming up: will I fall over? What will others think of me? Will I hurt myself? And let’s not even start about handstands! When I am in class I never do a handstand in the middle of the room, not because I cannot do it, because I am afraid to fail. I am afraid others will see me fall, I am afraid I will hurt someone else around me, I am afraid I will disappoint myself.

And even though I seriously struggle with these fears and questions of being good enough, I still teach yoga daily, I still stand on my head daily. Why? Because you can only truly grow and be in your zone, when you are triggered, when you feel there is more to reach. That is the only way to become the best you are, to live to your fullest potential. And I have yoga tools to help me through, over and over again:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Have patience
  • Plan one step at the time
  • Meditate
  • Love yourself
  • Come to the mat, every single day

So when you also feel like this sometimes or often, make sure you take things one step at a time. Show yourself some self-love, faith and allow yourself time. Whatever situation you are in to ask yourself this question, all of them are opportunities to reflect on yourself. They are chances to create the changes you need, to establish your current strengths, to plan your next step.

Because I believe that when you do what you really want, you are already good enough. Maybe just for yourself, or for hundreds of people. Make sure you share what you love; that way you are able to stay close to yourself and the universe will bring you what you need.

Yoga in nature

Yoga in Nature

Most of the times when we practice yoga, we go to a school to practice in a beautiful space, surrounded by other practitioners: an amazing experience that begs for more. The energy that is created in the space by all those people echoes there for a while. This is something you will most likely feel when you enter the space.

Once in a while we take the time to practice somewhere else. Most often that is in our living room, or another space at home. I would like to add a location to it: NATURE, because the experience of practicing in nature, is one of a kind.

Yes, the ground is uneven, yes your mat (or hands and feet) will get dirty and yes, there might be people watching you. But if you can put that aside, the experience to practice outside is empowering. It brings you closer to yourself, it brings you closer to the earth you are living on and it changes your perspective.

Imagine that instead of looking to the person in front of you, you can look out over a lake; Instead of being surrounded by other people, you can be surrounded by trees; Instead of being surrounded by the music blasting out of the speakers, you are surrounded by the sound of the wind & the birds. And instead of having a fake-lighted room, you can practice with the sun in your face.

I’ve been fortunate to have lived in places that allow (almost year round) to practice outside. In São Paulo, I taught a class every Saturday morning in the Ibirapuera park. Most of my students told me they showed up because it was the perfect start of the weekend. Waking up in a yoga class, outside, looking up to the trees, hearing the birds sing during Savasana. It felt for a moment that we were not in a massive city, it felt for a moment that we were in a different, more peaceful world.

Recently I also learned that practicing yoga doesn’t always mean doing a full sequence of poses (asanas). Sometimes it can be as simple as, taking your shoes off, walking around the grass barefoot, and really really! focusing on your breath, the placement of your feet and the connection your foot makes with the earth. That by itself, can be a powerful yoga in nature experience.

So I would love to challenge you to, next time when you are outside, to find a spot and do 5 minutes of yoga. Any form will do. If you lack inspiration, check my Instagram for yoga in nature pictures.

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in…

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Breathing is a thing in yoga, almost every yoga teacher will point out its importance. The breath initiates the movement, follow the breath, and generally speaking breathe in when you make upward movements and breathe out when you go down, backwards or twist.

The focus on breath stems from the ancient yogis who believed we were only given a certain amount of breaths in our life. So the longer you made them, the longer you would live. There is no evidence in favour or against this idea, but what we do know nowadays is that a steady & long breath and the awareness it creates in our mind and body can help us to improve our health. And therefore, maybe even prolong our lives.

Breath is ’smart’, as the quality of our breath tells us how we are doing during our practice. When you lose your steady and stable breath, then it is time to reflect within: why is this happening? Am I pushing myself too hard? Am I distracted? Is my mind wandering? It is a good point of reference, because often it is hard for people to really feel what is going on in the body and mind.

In yoga we breathe through the nose. One reason is because the nose helps you keep the dirt from the air out of your respiratory system. It also helps you to not directly breath in cold air into our lungs. It is this cold air, that increases our chances of getting a cold or cools down the body quicker that necessary, causing problem in the muscles.

There is also a wide variety of breathing exercises yogi’s practice, which I consider a very interesting subject to deepen your practice with. According to Krischnamacharya, the father of modern yoga, the breath was the key element to a healthy and long life. One of his long-time students A.G. Mohan wrote in his book about Krishnamacharya that his guru would say “ that the breath was controlling the inner functions of the body. (…) If you practice asanas with control over the breath and long pranayama (means: lengthen the breath or control the breath), your pulse rate should come down over time”. Which indicates a healthy heart and potentially a longer life.

But most important to Krishnamacharya was the fact that it helps you to control the mind. A.G. Mohan one of his favorite quotes from the master: “To cure the ills of the body, use the body. To cure the wandering of the mind, use pranayama”.

In other words, doing the asanas, the physical part of yoga, supports you in keeping a healthy, strong body, so we do not disturb our mind with illness. But when the mind is disturbed, the most powerful tool to use is the breath.
“There is no greater austerity than pranayama to remove impurities”. So breath is the key to a healthy body, a calm mind and potentially a longer life.

So when you go to a yoga class try to be aware of your breath, give it more attention then the physical outcome of the pose. Read your breath, learn what it tells you. But most importantly, learn your own rhythm. In many classes a teacher will tell you to inhale with a certain pose and exhale with another. This is based on the ‘fact’ that for most people this will support the outcome of the pose better. However, when it feels uncomfortable for you, don’t force yourself to breathe along. Find your own practice, your own rhythm. Follow the teacher when his/her speed and rhythm connects with yours, but don’t be shy to have your own.

Because in the end, yoga is about discovering yourself; Your own body, your own mind and your own powerful tool: the breath.

New Approach, New Insights

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The past few weeks I have been immersed in BoxingYoga™. It is a form of yoga that started in a Boxing Club in London with the primary idea to help boxers perform better in the ring. However, during the development of this yoga approach, it turned out to support way more people than just boxers. The great thing about it is that is supports fighters, athletes, yogis and any enthusiast that loves a strong work-out, that likes to be challenged and still wants to feel amazing and calm at the end. And therefore, perfect for me!

The training system consists of 12 rounds that will help you warm-up, build strength, improve endurance and get you flexible. The different stages are designed to improve mental and physical strength and flexibility, help maintain optimal health, prevent injuries and it maximizes performance.

So why did I just spend two paragraphs on explaining BoxingYoga? One reason is most definitely that I like to share my journey and tell you all what I am working on. But this is not my main reason; I got curious about this form of yoga, because I always like to see how I am able to bring the benefits of yoga to people who would normally not be interested in it at all.

I noticed that when I told people about it, and even when I heard about it for the first time, they are immediately interested. The contrast between boxing and yoga seems so big for so many people that they can’t seem to bring them together. How does it work? Do you fight during class? Do you use punching bags and gloves? And what about violence and yoga? All very valid questions and all questions I seem to get a lot. It is great to notice it triggers something in everyone.

The biggest thing I take away from it all is that by combining these two seemingly incompatible sports together we create curiosity, an eagerness to try it out, a hunger to know what it is. And not just yogi’s or fighters, literally everyone!

Teaching BoxingYoga puts me back into a position where I have to rephrase my yoga language into something understandable, for everyone. I need to understand all different options of the poses, so I can make them do-able, for everyone. I am re-discovering a wider range of body types and minds, so I renew my personal studies on how to give cues for the wide variety of bodies and minds, cues accessible for everyone.

It made me realize again how quick you can be stuck in your ways, how you often believe you are open and flexible, but way to often you fall back to what you think you know, what you believe is true. A new approach to yoga broke open my quickly built up yoga self-esteem and brought me a fuller experience of what yoga can be about. New approach equals new insights!

Spring cleaning

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Spring has started on the northern part of our planet, which for a lot of people means time to clean! It is time to create space in your life: have a clean house, clean computer, clean body and clean habits.

And even though we all think about it, we often find it too hard to start. In the beginning of 2015 I was forced to do one of the biggest cleanings I have ever done: two moves (São Paulo to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to San Francisco) which meant getting rid of stuff in my house, my mind and life.

As I sat down in the middle of all the things that had created my life in São Paulo and all the things that defined my life in Amsterdam, I felt like I was being thrown back and forth between relief and despair. It was amazing to not have the responsibility over so much stuff anymore, but at the same time I emotionally had to let go of things I had been guarding.

While cleaning for days in a row, I realised there are a few basic rules when it comes to cleaning your life:

  • A clean environment equals a clean mind. So do a detox for your body to get rid of unnecessary toxins in your body, clean your house, your desk, your social life, your social networks, your computer, your phone, etc. Simplify your life, it creates space in your mind and life.
  • Focus on one thing at the time. Either a box, a pile of papers, an emotion, one folder on your computer: one thing each time. NO multi-tasking, because you never know what comes up when the next box opens.
  • Only keep things of value, either because you use it or it has emotional value to you. Stuff that is worth something but you don’t use: sell!
  • Everything should have it’s own place; you need to be able to find your belongings in a fixed place in your house or on your computer. When it comes to emotional things, when it did not find a place yet, you haven’t dealt with it properly.

But how to get yourself started when there is no deadline or real pressure?

  • Don’t set your goals too high and don’t spoil a sunny day inside.
  • Start with 1 pile of papers, one box of stuff, one folder on your computer.
  • What you pick up NEEDS to be dealt with: keep it, throw it away, sell it, keep maybe.
  • Start small: do it 15 mins each day. Don’t overdo it.
  • Make it a game, challenge, connect it to something you like, reward yourself properly.

Other fun ways to clean up:

  • Every day give something away. It cleans out your house slowly and it is rewarding to give something away you don’t use anymore.
  • Take part in a Buy Nothing New Month.
  • Do a meditation course to clear your mind
  • Built up a discipline with yoga (or something else you like): 15 mins of cleaning, is followed by 15 mins of yoga
  • Take up the 12-12-12 challenge (or other fun challenge): 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, 12 items to return to their own homes.

Once you get in the flow, the fun will start and space is created. Space you can use for new thoughts, fun activities you wanted to pick up for a while, new films and music, or simply just to let the space be… We don’t always need to fill up what we have cleared.

Happy Spring!