the blog by Yoga.in

The author Franziska practicing Yoga. Photo Courtesy: Franziska

BY FRANZISKA

The first feedback I received from Acharya Venkatesh was, “Your body will change, your face will change, your mind will change. The secret lies in the eyes, within”. And here I am! Three years later. Three years full of practice, study, and self-inquiry. Three life-enhancing winters with my teachers, every year leading me to find a deeper understanding and connection to myself. Uprooting and discharging the deep-rooted patterns, wounds and blind spots that kept me from peace, strength, and health.

When I first came to Atmavikasa my body and mind were full of tension, a lot of it held in my womb, which manifested in a missing period for more than six years. This tension was not only held in my body but also in my mind. I was unconsciously holding on to patterns in my mind, to conditioning from society and family. Control feels safe but it’s a false friend. I was unable to let go, to surrender, which was exhibited by the tensions in my body and particularly in my asana practice. Forward Bends and savasana were my nightmares.

Click here to read more about Atmavikasa Centre of Yogic Sciences in Mysore.

Dedicating oneself to the practice of Yoga. Photo Courtesy: Franziska

Healing starts with acceptance, first

I knew I needed to heal for years. However, the approaches I had tried in the West had not yielded much fruit. I tried therapy, allopathic medicine, “yoga” etc… but it only made me feel temporarily better. I needed to get to the root of my problems, but nothing seemed to take me there.

To be honest, not menstruating didn’t bother me so much. I even forgot about it and often reflected on how convenient it was, especially for traveling. Not bleeding had many practical benefits. I can now see that focusing on the positive was a form of defense mechanism that kept me from the pain of what was happening.

My experience with doctors wasn’t the best. All they would do is tell me that I would get osteoporosis, and not be able to become a mother. Their only solution was hormones. This didn’t make sense to me and went against all my instincts. I flatly refused their advice and continued with my search for an alternative answer.

There I was, feeling completely alone, a woman in a patriarchal world, a world where talking about menstruation and menstrual disorders is still a taboo. A world where female bodies are weak, unclean (especially when bleeding) and are being used in mass media as sexual objects to further fuel the capitalist agenda. A world where the androcentric bias of language degrades women, leaving them with a sense of fear, shame, and inadequacy in their subconscious. A fear hindering women to live and believe in their full potential. A fear that disallows a woman to embrace her femininity in its entirety. But as often the case, such psychological hindrances are the result of silently agreed normalities, and thus difficult to see and very difficult to break free from. But this freedom is exactly what I found through Yoga.

The role of Yoga while healing

It all sounds quite nice here, yes, the way to health, but it brought me face to face with my demons, with my false self-beliefs. Confronted with the conditioned ego I saw all the things I was previously trying so desperately hard to hide from myself. As difficult truths began to come to the surface, I was faced with the choice to continue suppressing my feelings and keep up the mask, or to be complete honest with myself and begin the journey of unravelling the complex puzzle of my defence mechanisms and the historical conditioning that had kept me clinging to my old notion of self. I chose one of the 5 Yama’s to focus on, Satya, which means truth, and stopped telling lies to myself.

The first winter at Atmavikasa I learned to inhabit my body and to trust its innate intelligence. With the aid of asana practice, I went deeper into my physiology and learned to relax and to let go. Holding postures for a prolonged time. Staying, finding stillness no matter how much my mind protested. I focused on the simplicity of natural breathing as my body became motionless and my mind became quiet. I began to be able to observe my thoughts from a distance, without attaching to them, instead of training my focus to stay with body and breath only; to stay in the present moment. Implementing this approach in daily life I was slowly able to stay in my body without losing myself in fear-based patterns.

However, still the patterns took me over, and at times I was overwhelmed by shame. Talking about my missing period to my teachers elicited a deep inner discomfort, but they were incredibly kind and compassionate, a reaction I had not experienced up till then. They suggested a special diet and prescribed certain asanas, nauli, sungazing, and barefoot walking. For the first time, I began to have hope and confidence around the absence of my period and fully embraced the issue into my consciousness. Being able to talk freely about not menstruating, eventually, without shame, I found that a lot of women suffer from irregular or missing cycles. And all of them share similar emotional experiences: no one to talk about, no one taking them seriously, facing a taboo, and therefore initiating a process of self-delusion. Blaming contraception as a reason but not questioning the continuous intake of the drug. Or simply “forgetting’’ the fact that female organs are not working like they are meant to.

The author as an expectant mother. Photo Courtesy: Franziska

Why practice makes perfect.

For one year I practiced very strictly. My body and mind were more focused and at peace, but still, my period had not returned. There were clearly some hidden parts of myself I was still not able to see. My teachers helped me to go even deeper inside myself, and gradually I began to remove the blocks that kept me from feeling the subtle energies within my body. I got to know my controlling mechanisms and I learned to let go. I freed myself from the erroneous belief that invulnerability kept me secure and more lovable. I started to be less hard on myself, to leave shame behind. I allowed myself enjoyment, slowed down, and devolved continuous connection to my emotional self. Importantly, I rejected the western stereotype of beauty and stopped holding my belly in. I laughed more, I relaxed more, and I ate more. I felt my cycle for the first time in years! Wow! I had tears in my eyes when I felt my reproductive organs working again. I didn’t bleed yet, but I knew! I knew this feeling which is like nothing else. And as my emotions and energy began to flow freely, my blood began to flow too.

I write this account from Mysore. My appearance has changed, as Acharya had predicted. Furthermore, I am becoming a mother! I had only two bleeding periods before I conceived, so the medical doctors were incorrect. No replacement hormones needed!

To read another story of healing through Yoga, click here.

Acharya Hema told me “she is feeling blessed’’ to witness my journey, turning from a girl into a mother”. Well, I couldn’t feel more blessed for the true benefits of yoga, and for the teachers who have guided me with all their compassion, knowledge and skill.

Before my cycle returned, I met a beautiful man, with whom I practice the yoga of relationship and who was and is always supportive of my process to heal. I believe that this conscious relationship played and continues to play a vital part in my healing process. Today we are building a healing center, in order to share what we’ve learned so far.

Franziska grew up in the Bavarian countryside, studied Social Work in Vienna and has traveled and lived all over Asia. She found her way to Hatha Yoga via Vipassana meditation and combines both in her daily practice and teaching. She continues to study Yoga Therapy with her teachers Acharya Hema and Venkatesh at Atmavikasa Center of Yogic Science in Mysore www.atmavikasayoga.in/. Franziska is currently working with her husband Isaac Mullins and looking for land to open a communal healing Center. You can follow their journey and keep up to date with their work via isaacmullinsyoga.com

At the KPJAYI Yoga Shala, Mysore India. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler

By Inna Costantini

With ample choices of teacher training courses branded ‘Ashtanga TTC 200hrs’, it can be difficult for new practitioners to differentiate and navigate the world of yoga qualifications.

The home of Ashtanga Vinyasa is Mysore, India. The practice is often referred to as ‘Mysore style’ because of the way it is taught – as a self-practice (silent, yet guided by a teacher through adjustments and minimal verbal cues), or, with led ‘counted’ classes once a week, for the student to learn the vinyasa count, correct breathing and keep track of the pace. ‘Open level’ or ‘led classes’, which we find in most studios, gyms, and wellness centers around the world are a far cry from the authentic practice of Ashtanga yoga. However, they follow the same sequence and guidelines and make the practice accessible (and often easier) for beginners to follow. Read the rest of this entry »

Yogis from around the world during IYF 2018. Photo Source: https://www.facebook.com/internationalyogafestival/

Every year Yogi’s from around the world flock to the Yoga capital of the world Rishikesh to celebrate one of the most popular and loved Yoga festivals in the world – The International Yoga Festival. This year is definitely a special year as it is the 30th Anniversary edition of this festival. Organized by Parmarth Niketan Ashram in association with the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, the festival will be held between 1st – 7th March 2019. Read the rest of this entry »

Meditation at BSY

Meditation at Bihar School of Yoga. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler

THIS ARTICLE WAS SHARED FROM BIHAR SCHOOL OF YOGA

People come to yoga with various intentions: some wish to improve health and wellbeing, some want to de-stress and find peace and harmony in life, and others have spiritual aspirations. Many people begin their connection with yoga by practising asana, perhaps also with some pranayama, relaxation and meditation techniques.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Sadhus at the Kumbh Mela. (Image: PTI), Picture Source: news18.com

The year 2019 begins on an auspicious note with the Ardh Kumbh Mela set to take place between the 15th January – 4th March at Prayagraj (Allahabad). Directly translated, ‘Kumbh’ means ‘pitcher’, and Mela means ‘gathering’ is an event where devotees from all walks of life gather to take a dip at the ‘Triveni Sangam’, a sacred confluence of the 3 holy rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. This festival is attended by pilgrims, spiritual seekers, saints and yogis from everywhere and is known as the largest peaceful spiritual gathering in the world. The last Kumbh Mela which was held in Nasik in 2013 saw about 120 million people attend the festival and this year organisers are well prepared to accommodate a high number of attendees. In 2017, UNESCO inscribed the Kumbh Mela on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Read the rest of this entry »

Santosh Puri Ashram, Haridwar. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler

Yoga Ashram: A sacred place that is devoted to the development of spiritual activities in the field of yoga, such as studying scriptures and meditation.

To truly understand the essence of Yoga, it is recommended that one lives in an ashram in India. And also we at Yoga.in highly advocate an ashram experience as we believe ashrams allow you the space to practice Yoga, like no other.

Hence, we thought of creating a list on the top 12 authentic ashrams in India. One of the defining reasons for creating this list is the fact that our team members have visited most of these ashrams. Recommending ashrams is a big responsibility and we are open to your suggestions and feedback. We do believe that you cannot compare one ashram to another as each has its own special history and lineage. They also have different approaches to Yoga, therefore one is no way better than the other. Our question to you is, which one of these 12 ashrams suits you the best?

We have a longer article about Ashrams in India along with our recommended top 12 Ashrams. If you prefer the shortcut, here is a preview list of our top 12 Yoga Ashrams in India (in alphabetical order) Read the rest of this entry »

Geeta Iyengar Photo Credit: Film still by Jake Clennell (taken from the movie “IYENGAR: the man, yoga, and the student’s journey” 2014)

The following obituary for Geetaji was written by Parvez Irani, the man who handwrites the certificates so beautifully at RIMYI:

Dr. Geeta S Iyengar 7.12.1944 – 16.12.2018

In her father’s light, not shadow!

Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar, daughter of Yogacharya B K S Iyengar, and the seniormost teacher in the Iyengar community passed away today morning. She had completed 74 years on December 7.

Sister to her five siblings but a mother figure to the whole community of Iyengar yoga practitioners which now spans 59 countries across the world, Geetaji lived a simple life which embodied all the principles of being a yogini. She chose to lead a life of brahmacharya (celibacy) and devoted her life to yogic pursuits. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: