My Erasmus placement/internship at English Yoga Berlin is coming to an end, (read here if you missed my blog back in May) and I wanted to take a minute to share what a healing journey it has been for me, it’s only the beginning, but many say ‘the beginning is half the battle’!
When I got to Berlin on April the 15th, I was really excited to be starting a placement with a small organisation that shared the values I aspire to. It meant so much to me that both Erasmus and English Yoga Berlin thought that their time and money would be worth my ideas, life experience and skills.
Parallel to that, I was experiencing a rapid deterioration of my degenerative arthritis to the left hip, and growing symptoms for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I was hoping that this journey was going to be the opening I needed to understand and transform. I was also apprehensive that PTSD could interfere with me giving and making the most of this opportunity.
Relaxing as more space to just be
From the first Yoga Nidra session at Pinelopi’s class, I experienced a loosening of the layers that were wrapped up tight to ‘hold me’ together. By layers I mean thought patterns, defensive and self-critical in many places, focusing on a sense of powerlessness about how things are. Pinelopi helped me to recognize them as repetitive, random and cyclical. This went hand in hand with my physical pain, as the muscle layers stiffened up – are you familiar with this? Observing mind activity this way creates space, to see more clearly. I felt an overwhelming set of emotions, including of course relief and joy. Yes, my joy was trapped underneath all that. This is one aspect that English Yoga Berlin taught me about yoga. Relaxing is about getting more space to be and to become – and for me it was really powerful.
Becoming aware and conscious
Pinelopi would ask questions like “Where is your pain? Where does it begin? Where does it end?” I realized that with my physical pain I had learned to have a ‘generalized’ experience about it. One loses the perspective and dimensions of it. “In general, I have pain”. It became like white noise, after you hear it for a while you learn to screen it out. Have you ever realized how noisy your fridge is only when it stops buzzing? Like that.
Although I can see how ‘generalizing pain’ in my body was a way of coping, in the long run it creates a disconnection with the body. The body is the source of a lot of important information. A big part of my healing journey with English Yoga Berlin happened by attending all the classes, and nourishing through repetition and practice. It’s like learning to play an instrument or to speak a language. Setting an intention at the beginning of a class, like with Juli every Sunday at her Vinyasa Flow sessions, is a powerful action that connects a physical practice with a mindset, with the mind.
Limitations are our teachers
The gentle questioning, either through actual questions offered by the teacher, or, specifically in Hatha Yoga, through the enquiry of how different poses, asanas, feel, led me through reflection:
where are our limits?
can we accept them, respect them?
can working within a limit be the real challenge?
Healing needs a safer space
I would have so much more to share about this yoga class in Kreuzberg: from breathing techniques to the feeling of belonging in a group committed to respect for our and each other’s bodies.
This has allowed me to nurture a priceless experience of the every day, every thought, every step of healing, the healing that never concludes – because healing is ultimately our powerful input in life.