I got super excited when my dear friend Kerstin offered me to write a guest post for her blog, so thank you for that, Kerstin-chan! My name is Milena, I’m 21 years old and have a passion for spirituality, self-development, and yoga (and for Pokémon hehe). Currently I’m doing a yoga teacher training here in Germany (my yoga exam will take place at the end of June – wish me luck for that!) and I can’t wait to start working as a yoga teacher and to pass all the knowledge I’ve gained over the past few months on to other people. As yoga is something that plays a huge role in my life, Kerstin and I thought that it would be a great idea to share my journey and experiences with yoga in this post.
How it all started
At the beginning of 2016, I started my recovery from anorexia. At that time, I’ve been dealing with this illness for three years already and finally decided to recover for good after literally hitting rock bottom. I don’t want to go too much into detail on that – that’s for another post in the future. But the start of my recovery journey has also marked the beginning of me getting more into spirituality and veganism. Both of these things have helped me heal from this illness and they have shown me that there’s so much more to life than just food and being thin. Slowly, I started becoming better again, turning negative thoughts into positive ones, practicing gratitude daily and becoming aware of all the abundance that was already there in my life.
Many people I was following online – mostly spiritual or vegan bloggers – were also practicing yoga and they were all talking about how good it made them feel. Though I’ve never been very into yoga or exercise, I started picturing myself practicing some poses on the beach one day, feeling strong and enjoying my healthy body. I would have loved to give yoga a try, but at that time in my life I was still very undernourished, had lots of school assignments to do and was lacking the space I needed in order to practice yoga. So, it took me a couple of months (and moving into a new apartment where I got a bigger room and therefore enough space to roll out a yoga mat) until I finally gave yoga a try.
The first time I did yoga was with a YouTube video for beginners, not longer than 20 minutes. And those 20 minutes felt like an ETERNITY to me. I wasn’t used to doing some type of physical activity (except walking and climbing the stairs), so even that short practice exhausted me. But nevertheless, I felt great afterward. I got some minutes in silence, I could quiet my mind for a little bit and stretch my body, which eased some tension I was holding on to. So, I continued practicing it, more or less regular.
The practice evolves
Most of the time, I did short videos for beginners (Yoga with Adriene was my preferred yoga channel on YouTube) four to five times a week, depending on how much I had to do for school. With time though, I started to get a little bored from these. My mind wandered whilst I was practicing, wishing for it to be over as fast as possible, and I didn’t see myself progressing anymore. What has helped me come out of that situation was changing up my practice, meaning I switched from beginner videos to more intermediate ones which were also longer than 20 minutes only. Of course, these were much harder to do at first, but that has helped me stay more present in my practice. I also came across pranayama (breathing exercises) which taught me a lot more about the whole concept of yoga.
Slowly, as I evolved my practice, I started to see yoga, not as a physical practice only anymore. Now I like to call it a “moving meditation” – quiet your mind while moving your body, get your energies flowing, connect to your highest self. Once you realize that, you get in a flow state where you just forget about time and everything else around you. Changing up my routine and my practice has been the key for me to get to understand and enjoy yoga much better.
There were times when I “abused” yoga in some way, meaning I didn’t do it for the right reasons. When I had a relapse in 2017, I did yoga only for the sake of burning calories which took all the fun and calming effects away from it. But looking back now, this only made me realize that there’s so much more to yoga than the physical practice only, and once I got out of that relapse and started to approach yoga in a healthy way again, I was experiencing all those positive effects of it again.
My plan after finishing my A levels was to study psychology, but unfortunately, I got rejected from university both in 2017 and 2018 (wish me luck for 2019!). As I didn’t want to waste any more time, I was looking for something that I could do whilst I had to wait another year until I can apply for a place at university again, so the idea came up in my mind to do a yoga teacher training. I’ve been practicing yoga for two years already at that point and my interest in the whole topic was HUGE. I thought that this would be the best thing to do. It’s something that could help me evolve my practice, something that can help me earn money in the future. But first and foremost, yoga teacher training would benefit my personal growth. I knew it was the right thing to do – I got excited thinking about it and luckily my parents also supported me with my plans.
The alternative way
The YTT started in October 2018. It took place once a month, a whole weekend long each time. Each weekend is associated with a certain topic, like anatomy, philosophy or adjustments. The people I’m doing the training with are all so nice, open and share my interest with yoga. They’re the kind of people that fill you with positive energy when you spend time with them. Also, our yoga teacher is the best I could have possibly asked for. She won my heart that one day she did a handstand on the toilet, haha ;D I’ve learned so much throughout this YTT; things I probably would have never come across if I didn’t take the leap and started this journey. And to be honest, I’m having mixed feelings about finishing it soon. I’m both happy and sad to be done with it. But I need to remind myself that if one door closes, another one opens. Great things are coming, I’m sure about that.
I’m not sure what to expect from working as a yoga teacher, but I’m excited to finally get started and connect with like-minded people. It still seems a bit surreal to me that I can earn money with something I LOVE doing, but I won’t complain. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity.
Some tips and advice
- Yoga isn’t about the physical practice only. There’s so much more to it: pranayama, meditation, how you treat others and yourself. And that is also why the goal of yoga is to harmonize mind, body, and soul – don’t strive for being able to do certain asanas. It’s cool when you can do a handstand, but that’s not the aim of yoga. Practicing yoga for the sake of doing certain asanas will discourage you. It’s more likely that you will get that “yoga high” in a basic pose like downward dog than in a forearm stand.
- Yoga can help you on many different levels. I’m sure that there’s a flow for every problem out there. For example, there are flows for your digestion, for migraines, back pain as well as flows to fall asleep faster, wind down after work or to practice self-love (which I find is such a cool way of showing your body some appreciation!)
- Find out what suits you! There are so many different yoga styles out there: Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha, Yin,… Some are physically very demanding, others are perfect for when you want to relax. And also, finding a good yoga teacher that you are comfortable practicing with is important too. Go to different classes and check out a variety of yoga channels on YouTube until you’ve found one that you like.
- Don’t only practice at home. If you really want to progress in your practice, it’s crucial to visit yoga classes and be guided by a yoga teacher who can give you tips on what you can improve on and who can adjust you.
- Switch things up! That’s the key to keep your practice fun and enjoyable.
- Yin yoga is great for when you want to improve your flexibility.
- Practice regularly. That way, you will make great progress and benefit from the positive effects of yoga.
My favorite yoga channels on YouTube:
Ok, that was A LOT to read, so congrats if you’ve made it this far. I hope that my post could inspire you in some way, that you learned something from it. Yoga has helped me heal on many different levels and I want other people to benefit from this practice too. I think this world would definitely be a more peaceful and calmer place if we’d all practice a little yoga ;)
Thank you, Kerstin, for giving me the opportunity to write a little bit about my experiences with yoga here on your blog!
Liked this post? Sharing is caring, and it would make me smile! ☺