• The Power of the Breath

    Why do yoga teachers always emphasize the breath? The method of the yoga practice is not simply doing one pose after the other. There’s more to it than the poses. A crucial element of the yoga method is the breath or rather synchronizing breath with physical movement. That way we shift the whole experience to an entire new level. Here’s why we do that and why the breath is so important and powerful.

    1. Breath is life

    Whoever witnessed the very first breath of a baby will agree that it’s a miracle. It’s stunning, amazing and deeply moving to see how a new soul takes its first breath. It marks the beginning of a new life. In the same way the last breath of life is a miracle too. It’s when we leave this life and this body. It marks the end of a lifetime.

    From this perspective life is what happens between these two breaths, the first and the last breath. When we think about it, we can live for quite a few hours or even days without food and water, but how long can we live without breathing? Maybe 5 minutes at the most. 

    Simultaneous to the perspective of life as the time between first and last breath we can think of the yoga practice as the time between the first ujjayi breath on the mat and the last. What happens between them and how mindful we use this time is up to us – in life and in practice.

    2. Breath is the mirror of our mind and emotions

    Our breath reflects our state of mind. It is like a mirror through which we can look at ourselves and gain a deeper understanding about our emotional and mental state. That way we can use the breath as a tool for self-observation and self-study. We can use it not only on the yoga mat but also in everyday life to see how the breath expresses what’s going on inside of us. Like for example, when we come home from work and find ourselves sighing a lot, or in practice when we go into a deep backbend and suddenly start to panic breathe very quickly. 

    3. Breath is the doorway to the present moment

    Breath immediately connects you to the here and now. Whatever might be going on in your life and in your mind, you will always have the chance, to pause for a second and consciously take a big inhale and exhale. This is the simplest mindfulness technique and it is always available to you, because you have your breath with you wherever you go. Whenever you feel caught up in thoughts and confusion, worries or fear, whenever you feel like thoughts are hunting you rather than serving you, remember your breath! Start noticing the quality of your breath and it will immediately bring you into the present moment. In the present moment there can be no worries. They are only a projection of your thoughts into the future. So staying with your breath in the here and now can be extremely relieving and healing.  

  • How to make backbends effortless and effective

    Some people are naturally good at backbending, they’re flexible in their back and they love backbending. And some people, like me, are not! I struggled a lot with backbends, went through a lot of pain from unconscious, ineffective movements and bad technique in backbending. Apart from that, I have scoliosis, which is why I had and still have to take extra care and attention to every single joint and movement of my spine.

    My backbending journey was not easy but I can say that I’ve reached to a point now where I feel comfortable in my backbends, even deep backbends. My backbend journey has taught me to explore and discover every single joint and vertebra of my spine, learn how to engage and bend the tiny and big muscles of the back and figure out how to deal with my twisted and crooked “scoliosis” spine. I have gained a strong back and core muscles which keep my upper body upright and strong and which protect my spine. And that is an absolute blessing for everybody who suffers from scoliosis and, in general everybody who wants to have a pain-free back until old age. 

    Here I wanna share with you a few tips and general principles of technique for backbending, that I’ve learnt in my practice and that made the biggest difference for me. I hope they will help you the same way.

    1. You can only bend where you’ve made space before.

    You cannot just bend back like that. You first have to create space in your spine in order to be able to bend it. So before you go into a backbend, you take a big inhale and lengthen your spine. Imagine to lift the ribcage away from your hips, lengthening your upper body and making space between the vertebraes. This is an essential step. Once you’ve created this space you can use it and slowly bend your spine backwards. That way you will bend your spine in a healthy and comfortable manner instead of crunching your spine and crushing your vertebraes.

    2. Use your breath for physical and mental benefits. 

    This is extremely vital and relates to the previous point. While you enter as well as while you’re in a backbending pose, try to focus on your breath, and with every inhalation keep lengthening your spine, making space between each vertebra, and with every exhalation, use that space to maybe go a little deeper. You will notice how your breath helps you to form a healthy backbend. Also backbends tend to urge emotional feelings and even fear, because of the intensity of backbends. So you will notice that you might tend to hold your breath or start breathing really quickly during challenging backbends. That’s why, especially in backbends, we want to put extra emphasis on focusing on the breath and trying to keep breathing as deeply as possible. This will train the nervous system and help you deal with this challenging situation. A lesson you will be able to take from your mat into your daily life. 

    3. Think of a backbend as a circle.

    The lower back and the neck are the most flexible parts of the spine. When going into a backbend it’s just too tempting to just bend in your lower back, throw back your head and think you’re in a deep backbend. Maybe you’ve already seen pictures of people doing backbends and when you look closely their spine actually resembles more of a ninety degree angle (bending at the lower back) than a round, circular shape. However, this is what we aim for. We want to think of a backbends as a circle. As if we’re trying to flex over a wheel. And actually you can try that by using a yoga wheel, which can be very helpful to understand that concept of forming an equal and smooth backbend throughout the entire spine. You will then notice which parts of your back are easily accessible and which ones needs some extra care and attention.

    4. Protect your lower back. 

    When trying to create this evenly distributed backbend it can be very hard not to fall into this trap of extremely bending in the one part which is most flexible – and that for the majority of people is the lower back. So in order to keep this part of the spine stable, we want to focus on anchoring the tailbone and engaging our lower ab muscles. It feels a little like your tailbone is gravitating down towards your feet. Or for some people it’s useful to imagine the pubic bone pulling up towards the navel. Not with too much effort. But just as much to keep the core engaged and the lower back stable and protected, and thereby preventing the lower back from going into an over extension. 

    Alright, that was quite a long post, but I hope there were some helpful tips for you that you can make use of in your own yoga practice to make your backbend journey a little more enjoyable 🙂

  • VIDEO: My Best Tips for KAPOTASANA

    My best tips for Kapotasana and backbending are revealed!

    Kapotasana is one of the deepest backbends in yoga and the peak pose of the backbend sequence in the 2nd series of Ashtanga Yoga. Im not a naturally backbendy person. In fact I struggled a lot in my backbend practice and had to work particularly hard to feel back comfortable in my backbends after pregnancy.

    Besides from keeping up a consistent practice here are some really useful tips for Kapotasana that helped me a lot and hopefully will help you the same way. Much of the advice in this video will also be helpful for your drop backs!

    Enjoy and feel free to reach out if you have questions or need help!

  • Thoughts on practice from a mom’s perspective

    Lately I’ve been thinking about what “practice” is to me. Mostly triggered by the fact that on some days I simply cannot find the time or energy to get onto my yoga mat. If you’re a mom of a toddler, you might understand why. It’s a 24h a day job without even lunch break.

    Pre baby I was used to a 2hr morning practice EVERY morning except for Saturdays and moon days. These days if I find time for a 2 hr practice it’s close to a miracle. Most days it will be half an hour, some days I can’t get on the mat the whole day and then do a little meditation before going to bed. But then, does it mean that I didn’t practice that day? Or do I have to rethink my concept of practice? Can practice only take place on a sticky mat? And only while putting my body into the shape of a yoga posture?

    I‘ve been reading „The path with heart“ by Jack Kornfield recently and he challenged me to question my compartmentalized thinking of what is part of my spiritual practice and what is not. Is caring for my child any less sacred and spiritual than Trikonasana? Doesn’t bringing a baby to sleep take even more patience and humbleness than practicing a handstand?

    So I come to realize that my practice in this phase of my life right now is mostly taking place outside the four corners of my yoga mat. It’s the time in my life of a very intense practice called raising a child. It teaches more than any yoga postures could ever teach what it means to love with an unconditional, selfless, open heart, humble and patient enough to fully be present in each moment and happily give your full attention to your child.

    Since I realized that wherever I am is where my practice takes place, I’ve had very clear and amazingly beautiful, meditative moments while playing with my baby. I can see how much I can learn from him. He is 100% present and aware in each moment. No matter where we are and what we do the only thing on his mind is to learn, explore and enjoy the moment. I feel like I still have a lot to practice and learn from him. In a way my baby is my most important teacher right now. And I’m beyond grateful for his teachings.

  • The Magic of Repetition

    The Magic of Repetition

    … or why ashtangis practice the same poses every day


    Many times I hear people criticize the Ashtanga Yoga Method for being boring, because they are being asked to repeat the same postures in the same order every single day. They prefer Vinyasa Flow classes, they say, where there is more variation in the poses, a different theme, different peak poses and music playlists in every class. Here are my answers to why ashtangis do the same thing over and over again.


    1. Yoga is not entertainment

    When I roll out my mat, it is not because I pursue entertainment. The yoga practice is not the same as going to Zumba or to the movies. I don’t ask myself “Do I wanna go shopping today or go to yoga class?” When we keep the yoga practice at this level it is merely entertainment oriented, and might fade away as a fitness trend just like it happened to Aerobics in the eighties. Of course there’s nothing wrong about entertainment. And there’s nothing wrong about having fun or enjoying the yoga practice. However this cannot be the main motivation and reason to practice.

    Entertainment in its essence is a sort of escape from reality and distraction. Yoga is no escape. It is the opposite.  The yoga practice essentially is a spiritual quest and self-study. A real and raw confrontation with yourself, your body, your emotions and thought patterns on the mat. And this, for example, could include boredom as well. When we feel bored or annoyed by doing the same postures over and over again, this could be something to observe and stick with. Why are we so in need of switching things up all the time? Why do we feel bored? What emotions lie underneath this boredom? Is there aversion, resentment, annoyance, fear? Can we surrender to the practice as it is without wanting to change it? There’s endless things to work on and explore on the mental and emotional level during asana practice.


    2. Yoga is a meditation practice

    This way the yoga practice, instead of being stuck on the level of entertainment and physical workout, evolves into a meditation practice. A practice of self-awareness and self-study. With an eager student trying to get to know himself at his core and being honest enough to face all of his thoughts, emotions and reactive patterns, both good and bad. When you think of classic meditation practice, you might think of a seated practice where you simply sit with closed eyes and observe your breath. I never heard anybody say, they get bored of just sitting in one posture all the time and they prefer meditation classes where the teacher instructs to take on a different seated position every 10 minutes. Simply because the intention is deeper than just the of the physical performance postures. In that way, compared to seated meditation I guess it’s safe to say that we already have a lot of variation and adventure going on in the Ashtanga practice. 


    3. Asana Practice is like counting beads on a Japa Mala

    Sri K. Pattabhi Jois called his book “Yoga Mala”, because the Asana practice is like counting the beads on a Japa Mala. Asana in that way becomes similar to Japa Meditation. We commit ourselves to just do those postures, one-by-one, the same way we would count the beads on the Mala. Again, in context of Japa Meditation, I’ve never heard anybody complain that it’s boring to always count the same size and shape of beads. They are just what they are. The mantra also stays the same. And there is a whole new world that opens up when we perceive the asana practice like that: the mental, emotional and spiritual realm of the yoga practice. 


    4. We aim to explore and practice beyond the postures

    Only when the postures themselves become routine are we finally able to focus on deeper and more advanced aspects of the yoga practice like the quality and rhythm of the breath, the activation of the bandhas (energy locks) and the maintenance of the drishtis (gazing points). In a class where you practice different asanas each time in a different order, your thoughts will forever be occupied with where your hand and foot should be and what pose comes up next. I like to say at the beginning of a class, especially if there are many students who are used to music during yoga class, that in Ashtanga Yoga our breath is our music. And we dance to the rhythm of our breath. Each breath initiates a movement. At the same time, the breath is a control mechanism for the quality of our practice. Whether we put too much too little effort or lacking concentration will immediately be recognizable in the sound, length and depth of the breath. 


    I could write forever about the benefits of attention to breath, bandhas and drishti in the yoga practice as well as different aspects of yoga as a meditation practice. There is so much more to explore in the yoga practice that lies beyond the physical performance and sequencing of the postures. Aspects that will only be attainable once the practice is not only about the postures anymore, once the postures are so well known and practiced that they have become routine. Those are the benefits that will rise through the magic of repetition. And that’s essentially what we are aiming for in the yoga practice.


  • How to motivate yourself to practice

    As much as we love the yoga practice, there are those days where we simply can’t find motivation to practice. That’s why it is said that maintaining a daily yoga practice requires a lot of tapas … and with that I don’t mean eating a lot of the small Spanish dishes.


    Tapas in Patanjali’s Ashtanga yoga method is one of the five Niyamas. It means discipline, or the ability to do what you know is best for you even though you don’t feel like it at the moment. In other words, overcoming laziness and inertia. In order to maintain a daily yoga practice we need a lot of tapas, on some days more than others. There will always be days where you find it hard to motivate yourself to step on the mat. Here are three tricks I use regularly to keep myself motivated to practice.


    Get inspired by yogis or teachers


    This is my number one tip because for me this works every time. When I lack motivation to practice I either watch documentaries about yoga, read books or blogs, watch interviews or demonstrations by inspiring yogis, or look at a photo of my teacher. Just do something that reminds you of the reason why you wanted to practice in the first place. Most likely your teacher impersonates the qualities or energy that you aspire to attain in your yoga practice. So reading or listening to the words of your teacher(s), watching their yoga practice or just looking at a picture, most certainly will put you in the mood to practice.


    Put on your favorite yoga clothes

    This might seem like a shallow one, but I tell you it works! Put on your very favorite yoga outfit and I guarantee you, you will immediately feel like wanting to jump onto your yoga mat. A very superficial but easy trick to outsmart yourself!


    Roll out your mat for only one sun salutation

    When you still don’t feel like doing your yoga practice, maybe it’s the idea of doing a whole two-hour yoga practice that sounds absolutely overwhelming on this day. So instead of planning to do your whole practice, just roll out your mat with the only intention to do one single sun salutation. Nothing more. One sun salutation. You might be able to convince yourself of spending just these 2 short minutes on yoga today. And then again, after you put your yoga clothes on, rolled out your mat moved and breathed through your one sun salutation, you might not want to leave it at that, because it simply feels good. If so, just feel free to continue your practice.


    And there you have it, you might find yourself practicing yoga even though you didn’t feel like it AT ALL before you started. Believe me, I’ve been there many times. But in the end, I always feel so much better after I practiced. That’s why I really hope these tipps help you too on these low-motivation days and that way help you live a healthy, happy and more peaceful life by maintaining your daily yoga practice.


  • How to wake up early easily – 4 steps to get yourself out of bed and practice

    Traditionally yoga practice is advised to be done first thing in the morning, ideally before sun rise. It wakes you up, gives you energy  and puts you in a  bright and motivated mindset for the day to come. Once you have a morning practice, you don’t want to miss it. As awesome as morning yoga is, though, it obviously comes with a big sacrifice: getting up early.


    In order to fit in a morning yoga routine you have to set the alarm at least one to two hours earlier than you would normally do. In my case this means getting up at 5:00 am. But this is easier said than done. Lots of people struggle with getting up early (me included!) and end up pushing the snooze button or falling back asleep even though they really wanted to get up and practice. For all of you who are hitting the snooze button forever and never feel ready when the alarm goes off, let me tell you this: it is absolutely possible to get up easily and with no effort – even at as early as 5:00 am. In fact this is actually the most natural and healthy thing to do for your body and mind. Just follow these three habits and you will soon be jumping out of bed fresh, well-rested and without any effort. You’ll see.


    1. get enough sleep

    This might seem obvious but it’s a very important one, that I didn’t follow for the first year or so of practice. When you want to get up early and still want to feel fresh and well rested throughout the day you have to go to bed early enough. It won’t be easy to wake up in the morning if you haven’t had a fair amount of sleep. I know, though,  that going to bed early is not easy. That’s why for a long time I used to stay up late and then forced myself to get up at 5 in the morning anyway, according to the motto “I can sleep when I’m dead.” However, this will make you feel drained and weary after time and might lead to giving up on the practice altogether. Sleep deprivation will ruin all the amazing benefits the morning yoga practice would have on you. So make sure you go to bed early.


    2. Take a look at your evening habits

    If going to bed early sounds like an impossible sacrifice to you, ask yourself which time is better used, the two hours late at night before you go to sleep or the two hours of yoga in the morning? What are you really doing in those two hours before you go sleep? And is this time more valuable and beneficial to you than the time in the morning you can use to practice?

    After I observed myself for a while to find out what I’e really been doing before going to sleep, I realised that I actually tended to waste a few hours every night watching Netflix, surfing on the Internet or scrolling through social media. So I figured saving this time in the evening and investing it in the morning for practice is much more beneficial to me and my life. This was what really convinced me to finally go to bed earlier.

    Try it yourself. Observe your evening habits and make your own decision on how you want to spend your precious life time.


    3. Follow the Ayurvedic Energy Clock

    Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga and can be translated as “the art of living”. It provides an immense treasure of wisdom on all different types of living and eating habits, as well as healing methods and remedies for ailments which altogether show how to live a happy and healthy life. According to Ayurveda all of nature is made up of the three doshas (constitutions), which are Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth and water).

    On that note also a day consists of these three dosas, which is why Ayurveda associates certain hours of the day with one of the three Doshas. Depending on which of the doshas is predominant at the time of the day, certain habits like eating, sleeping or exercising are advised or not advised to do. When it comes to sleeping we have to take a closer look at the Kapha times of the day, which is when the Kapha and therefore more of a heavy and sluggish energy is predominant. It is said that the time from 6 to 10 am and pm are the Kapha times of the day. Kapha time is recommended for going to sleep but not for getting up. That’s why  it is generally recommended to go to bed before 10 pm and get up before 6 am. We want to go to bed when it’s still Kapha time because that’s the natural time for the body to slow down and rest, and it is therefore easier to fall asleep. In the morning then, it is recommended to get up before 6am, that means before Kapha time starts, where it would be much harder to get up.

    In my own experience this has actually proven to be true. Since I try to go to sleep before 10 pm and set my alarm before 6 am I find it much easier to both, fall asleep at night and get up in the morning. So give it a try. Ancient wisdom might hold true for you too.


    4. Be consistent

    Finally, what will make it much easier to get up early over time is being consistent and sticking to a regular sleeping schedule. If you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, your body will get so used to it over time. With a little bit of consistency and patience it soon will be no big deal anymore and your body will kind of automatically wake up in the morning.

    This does not work, though, if you only wake up at the same time every morning but go to bed at different times each night. Your body and mind need both times to develop a rhythm that will feel naturally over time. Also, consistency implies avoiding napping at day-time, as well as sleeping in or staying up late on the weekend. Of course everything comes with exceptions, but just know that with each exception, your body will have a harder time adapting to your sleeping schedule and hence, waking in the morning will be harder too.


    Whatever your body gets used to will become easy over time. This applies to yoga poses just the same as to waking up in the morning. The four habits above really helped me to stay healthy, motivated and well-rested over the years of morning practice. May the help you same way! All the best for your practice, Kerstin

  • Ashtanga Yoga Opening and Closing Chants

    Traditionally, we open and close every Ashtanga practice with chanting the renowned Opening and Closing Chants. They have become an innate and much loved part of the Ashtanga practice but also a big question mark for many new students, who are unfamiliar with the sound and language of these beautiful Sanskrit poems. If you are one of them the following translations and explanations might be for you.


    Why we chant

    The Opening and Closing Chants mark the beginning and end of the ritual-like sacred space of the practice. That way they set apart the practice from every day life and activities and help us to shift our minds from every day occupations to a present, attentive and clear state of mind required for the practice. In general chanting is said to shift the consciousness of the practitioner to a higher vibration, produce endorphines, calm the nervous system, lower blood pressures and stabilise the heart rate. Beneficial and calming effects that you will immediately feel after chanting. The more people, the higher the vibrations, so group chanting is known to be especially powerful to both body and mind, as we can experience it in Ashtanga led classes.


    Ashtanga Yoga Opening Chant

    The Opening Chant is an expression of blessing and appreciation for everybody that has come before us. It’s a sign of gratitude to  the long and ancient lineage of teachers and students who have handed down the knowledge of this practice for thousands of years in order for us to be fortunate enough to experience it today. Giving thanks to our gurus and teachers, though, does not have to be confined to yoga masters alone. We can also take this opportunity to show gratitude for everybody else who contributed to who we are right now. For example, our first and most important teachers in life are said to be our mother (mata guru) and our second teacher our father (pita guru). There are many people in life that  we owe to who we are today. The beginning of the practice is the time to show respect, appreciation and gratitude to everybody that made it possible for us to be able to stand on our mats right here and now and enjoy this practice.

    वन्दे गुरूणां चरणारविन्दे
    संदर्शितस्वात्मसुखावबोधे |
    निःश्रेयसे जाङ्गलिकायमाने
    संसारहालाहलमोहशान्त्यै ‖
    शङ्खचक्रासिधारिणम् |
    सहस्रशिरसं श्वेतं
    प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम् ‖

    Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
    Sandarshita Svatma Sukhava Bodhe
    Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
    Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai

    Abahu Purushakaram
    Shankhacakrsi Dharinam
    Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
    Pranamami Patanjalim

    I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus
    The awakening happiness of one’s own Self revealed,
    Beyond better, acting like the Jungle physician,
    Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara.

    Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
    Holding a conch, a discus and a sword,
    One thousand heads white,
    To Patanjali, I salute.


    Ashtanga Yoga Closing Chant

    The Closing Chant is a blessing for peace and reminds us to offer the fruits of the practice to the well-being of all life on this planet. We remember to take the heightened awareness, qualitiy of mind, compassion and insights gained in the practice with us beyond the borders of the yoga mat and dedicate our thoughts, words and actions to a nicer more peaceful world

    स्वस्तिप्रजाभ्यः परिपालयन्तां
    न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः |
    गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं
    लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ‖
    ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ‖

    Svasti praja bhyaha pari pala yantam
    Nya yena margena mahi mahishaha
    Go brahmanebhyaha shubamastu nityam
    Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu
    Om shanti shanti shanti

    May all be well with humankind.
    May the leaders of the earth protect in every way
    by keeping to the right path.
    May there be goodness for those
    who know the earth to be sacred.
    May all the worlds be happy.

  • Morning Routine and Kriyas to cleanse and detox your body

    Recently I got asked about Kriyas (yogic cleansing techniques and practices), which one of them to do on a daily basis and how to easily incorporate them into daily life.  So here’s how I typically like to start my day, and a suggestion for you of how to create a healthy, cleansing morning routine. 


    1. water

    First thing I usually do upon waking is drinking a glass of lemon water (or alternatively just plain water if I happen to have no lemons at home). This will not only flush and detox your entire digestive system and make sure you are on a good alkaline level, it will also hydrate your body for the asana practice and the day to come. Don‘t underestimate the cleansing and healing power of water, especially first thing in the morning.


    2. Uddhiyana Bandha and Kapalabhati

    Right there in the kitchen or living room I’ll quickly do my two favorite pranayama kriyas (pranayama= breathing exercises) for the morning. They do an amazing job in waking me up by building up heat in the body, and also in turning on the digestive fire of the body by massaging the inner organs

    The first pranayama is called Uddhiyana Bandha: Take one deep inhale, and then exhale completely. Hold your breath and suck your belly as much as you can in and up underneath your ribcage. Hold for a few seconds. Then release your belly and and take a deep inhale. Repeat for 3-5 times.

    Second one is called Kapalabhati (the fire breath): Take one deep inhale and then exhale half way. From there, start to contract and release the belly in a rythmic way about 20-30 times. Try to stay with a consistent rythm. Start slowly (about one contraction a second), but after some practice you will be able to cope with a much faster pace. Basically what you do is pushing your lower belly in by contracting your abs. This automatically leads to an exhalation. Then again release your muscles to neutral, which will automatically result in an inhalation. That way you rythmically push out the air and let it in again leading from your lower belly and abs rather than from your lungs. Do this about 20-30 times. After the last one, exhale completely, then slowly and deeply inhale again and exhale as long as you can. Afterwards start your second round. Do about 3 rounds, then enjoy some moments in silence and feel the heat rising in your body.


    3. Jala neti

    After that (which was about 5 minutes in total …in case it sounded longer ;-)) I’ll head over to the bathroom, brush my teeth and do my jala neti with the neti pot. You can buy those pots in different shapes and sizes online or in most ayurvedic shops (like my favorite one in Vienna: www.keralaayurvedashop.com). You simply mix warm water (about body temperature) with salt in a ratio of about one teaspoon of salt with one litre of water . Then you put the opening of the pot in one nostril and let the water run through and out oft he other nostril. As unusual as this may sound, it really is not a big deal, doesn’t hurt at all, is quick and easy and leaves you with a fresh feeling afterwards. I would say, its a similar feeling to the freshness you feel in your mouth after brushing your  teeth, just with your nose. Once you’re used to it, I tell you you won’t want to miss it again.


    4. Asana Practice

    After those 5-10 minutes in the bathroom I’m ready for my asana practice. Even though this is not regarded as a traditional kriya technique in the strict sense of the word, it absolutely does cleanse and detox the body. A strong, sweaty ashtanga practice builds up heat in the body and cultivates agni, the inner fire of purification, detoxification and healing, not only on a physical, but also on a mental and emotional level.


    5. Fresh and ready to go

    After shower and breaktfast, I’m ready to go. The length of my daily asana practice varies from day to day depending on how much time I have, but all the other just mentioned morning routines and kriyas take me no more than 15 minutes in total. They set a good frame for the yoga practice and a healthy start of the day. If you do them regularly over a period of time, you will notice a difference in your digestive as well as immune system and an improvement in your overall health and well being. They are quick, easy and for free. So give them a try!

  • How to Maintain a Six Days a Week Yoga Practice

    The number one question students ask me is how they should ever manage to maintain a six days a week yoga practice. Here I want to share 4 vital tips on how to establish a  daily yoga practice and really stick to it no matter what.


    The Ashtanga Yoga method asks us to eventually develop a daily yoga practice with just one day off each week. Apart from that we usually don’t practice on moon days (full moon and new moon) as well as on ladies’ holidays (the first three days during menstruation). To establish a practice that regular and devoted, one has to start slowly and steadily to increase the days of practice. Most people start off with a minimum of three days a week and slowly add up until they  finally establish a full six days a week practice. Going through this process will not only bring about physical transformations as you will feel much stronger, healthier and full of energy but also mental changes as your mind will become more focused, clear, alert and peaceful.

    However, since we all live busy lives and have countless other obligations, jobs and relationships to care about, it can at times be very demanding and challenging to maintain a daily yoga practice and on some days you will feel like you just don’t have the time, space or ressources to do your practice. Here’s four tips on how to practice anyway.


    1. Make the practice part of your morning routine

    When we get ready in the morning we all find time to brush our teeth, have a shower and get dressed. So what if we see the yoga practice as an inherent part of our daily morning routine just like taking a shower or brushing teeth. Without that we usually wouldn’t go out in the streets. The only thing we have to do is set the alarm one or two hours earlier and then just get up and practice (I know, this is easier said than done!). My usual routine, for instance, is drinking a glass of lemon water upon waking, brushing my teeth and then starting my practice. Afterwards I have a shower, get dressed, eat my breakfast and am ready to go. As soon as I get in the streets I feel wide awake, bursting with energy and my body feels strong and smooth. At that moment at the latest I know it was really worth getting up a bit earlier to fit in my practice.


    2. You don’t always have to do your full practice

    Most of us, even though we would really love to, simply don’t have the time for a full two hour practice every single day because we all have family, friends and business obligations. But think about this, you don’t always have to do the full primary series or whatever series or postures you are practicing at the moment. On some days we just don’t have so much time and that is totally fine because the world outside the mat needs us. However, we can still practice EVERY day. On some days this will mean a short version of the practice, like a few minutes of sun salutations and a savasana in the end. Think about how much time a day you spend on facebook, twitter or instagram and only save five minutes of that time to spend on your yoga mat. And there you have your yoga practice for that day.

    As a minimum yoga practice Sri K. Pattabhi Jois used to recommend 3 sun salutations A, 3 sun salutations B, the last three sitting postures in Padmasana and Savasana in the end. From my experience this will take about 15 minutes. However, if at times even this seems too much because you feel tired, stressed out or too busy, here’s what I like to do. I don’t think about doing a long practice, but I will still roll out my yoga mat with the only intention to step on it and take one deep conscious inhale and exhale. And most of the times after that one breath I find myself stretching my arms over my head, then bending over, stretching again and soon I find myself doing a few sun salutations and maybe even a few standing postures just because it really feels good. In the end I will have done a nice and easy yoga practice without even intending to so in the beginning and I will feel much better and more energized than before I started.


    3. arrange yourself with the people in your life

    First of all, as I’ve learned from experience, forget about the utopian idea of having an isolated quiet room for yourself every day and every time you practice. Try to embrace and accept the fact that at times there will be people in the same room you are practicing. Even though we always try to find a calm and peaceful spot, only a very few people have the luxury of a seperate yoga room, an entire apartment for themselves or a yoga shala nearby. So the reality is that on some days you might have to get up earlier than your partner and practice next to the bed while he or she is still asleep or you practice while your partner or family is cooking, reading or working in the same room, or you might even practice in a shared hostel room while other travellers are around. This will teach you not to take your practice too serious and rigid and develop a more flexible and soft mind towards disturbances. However, what I would recommend is talking to the people in advance and arrange if, how, where and when it is okay for everybody if you roll out your yoga mat. Together you will find a suitable solution for everyone involved.


    4. Plan your practice in advance

    This leads me to the next point. If your days are not the same every day you will have to organize and plan your practice in advance. That means think TODAY about how you are going to fit in your practice TOMORROW. This especially applies to when you are travelling. Get a travel mat or a yoga towel to take with you and think about where you could find time and space to practice the next day. Maybe you have the luxury of a yoga shala or a yoga room close to where you are staying. However, this is not always the case. I’ve been practicing on airports, in hostel and hotel rooms, in my parents’ garden, on inside and outside spots wherever I could find a safe space for me and my yoga mat. As I mentioned before, this will also include considering the people involved and whether they are okay with a yogi doing some crazy bends in their back yard.

    The truth is, everybody will have to make up their mind and find their individual creative solution on how to incorporate the practice into their daily lives. In doing so everybody will face different challenges and obstacles and these again will differ as you progress through life. But remember, you reap what you sow and, trust me, the fruits will be so so worth it!