How I came to Yoga – Part 2

How I came to Yoga – Part 2

Part 2

When I came back from Mexico I knew that something had shifted. I began to take more yoga classes. I was (and still am) in love with the strong Vinyasa or Ashtanga ones. Yoga is a form of active meditation. The flow classes have a high paste and lots of advanced poses so you have to stay completely in focus. Therefore the mind has no time to wander. Not to mention that afterwards you are so tired that you basically can’t do anything else then relax.

Whenever I came back from class, walking into the cold winter-night, I felt calmer, comforted, more at ease. It gave me something I could hold on to even though the ground beneath my feet was so unstable.

Slowly I started to crawl out of the darkness into the light again. I decided to do a Vinyasa yoga teacher training in Thailand on Koh Phangan. I chose to do a full month intensive, and not a year long training with contact hours every weekend or so. I wanted to emerge in the world of yoga and meditation completely, in a place that was breathing that energy.

When I arrived at Koh Phangan I only had an address, and no further idea of where I was going. From the touristic beach of Haad Rin (famous for its full moon parties and annoying  drunken college-graduates) I had to take a longtail boat to a more isolated beach just around the corner. I stepped out of the boat, walked up a little hill and arrived in hippie heaven.
This place had everything; Yoga, meditation, tantra, breathwork, healthy food, beautiful likeminded people, amazing parties, cacao ceremonies and stunning beaches. I stayed in a wooden jungle hut with kingsize bed and hammock on the balcony. For the first time since a few years I felt so happy, so free and so powerful. Even after a 9 hour day full of asana, mindfulness and anatomy classes, I still had energy to dance through the night. This place showed me another way of life, where people could explore all the different parts of their being. A Place where they could be whoever they wanted to be, living together in harmony and love. Together with the daily Yoga and meditation this made that I had never felt happier.

For me the daily meditations in the training were the most powerful. My head had been such a mess for the last year that I felt completely exhausted before. In the teacher training I learned to distance myself from my thoughts, looking at them without any judgment. My meditation teacher used to say: The mind is like a puppy dog, if you tell it to sit down and stay, it will walk away. Kindly tell it again and again and again, eventually it will listen. This is how meditation works. Thoughts will come. You just gently let them pass by. They will come again, and again, and again. Don’t get frustrated or angry with yourself, eventually you will notice that the mind stays empty for longer periods of time, and you reach the place deep relaxation or “no-mind”. Meditation slows down your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

Meditation is rest, absolute rest, a full stop to all activity – physical, mental, emotional. When you are in such a deep rest that nothing stirs in you, when all action as such ceases – as if you are fast asleep yet awake – you come to know who you are. Suddenly the window opens. It cannot be opened by effort because effort creates tension – and tension is the cause of our whole misery. Meditation is not concentration, just the contrary, it is relaxation. When you are engaged in activity you are so occupied that you cannot see yourself. Activity creates much smoke around you, it raises much dust around you; hence all activity has to be dropped, at least for a few hours per day

I also used my time in Thailand to deal with a lot of old anger and pain through loving kindness meditations. In those meditations you think of certain people in your life with a feeling of compassion and kindness. You think of people you love, people you like, people you barely know, people you hate and you think of yourself as well. Trying to understand their pain, their joy, their difficulties in life made me understand that whenever somebody hurts you, It often comes from their own pain. Instead of being angry, which only negatively effects your own body and mind, you actually could feel sorry for them.

When I came back home, I continued my Yoga and meditation practice. People told me I looked different. They saw a twinkling in my eyes and felt a lightness around me. Ever since my training I wanted to share this feeling. I founded Guerilla Yoga, and taught pop up style classes all over my hometown. Lots of my students never really practiced yoga before, and I felt honored to introduce them to the path that changed my life.
It always has been important to me to show people how to fit yoga into their daily lives. I probably just do this by being who I am. Yoga and meditation is as much a part of my life as backpacking through Asia, dancing at Psytrance parties or doing crazy stuff with friends. Don’t take yourself to seriously. Embrace your whole self, all different aspects of your being , because it is all about the same thing. We just want to be happy. Yoga helps me to achieve this.

So to conclude and answer the question of how I came to yoga, I think in this case I can say that Yoga came to me…

PS: Did you know that….

In a recent study published in the neuroscience journal Brain Research Bulletin, it was shown that the brains of people who meditate had elevated alpha rhythms. The brain has five different wave frequencies: Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, and Gamma. In your normal waking consciousness you are in the beta state. In this state you are fully awake and alert. However, too much time spent in the beta state can lead to excess stress, worry, and anxiety. The alpha state has been associated with extreme focus, relaxation, learning, creativity, and peak performance. Highly creative people have been shown to have ‘bursts’ of alpha brainwaves when they have good ideas

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