How did yoga cross your path?
“Probably a long time ago…before this lifetime ;-).
Like all of us - when we are babies, toddlers, children - we (know how to) connect to that what we really are and some of us see the unseen. For me, it was like that; the unseen was just as real to me as what is visible to the naked eye. My parents are very open and they were aware of the intelligence of the body. One small and simple example of that is when I had cold feet, my mom asked me where in my body I felt my breath and guided me to bring my breath to my feet. Breathing there, my feet got warm. Also, the way they responded to questions, I can see now, really opened me to something bigger than myself. That it's possible to create your own world. Also, life learned me a lot. For example, by having accidents, I experienced how I could heal my own body. On my 21st I was blessed to experience darkness. When I surrendered to that, I saw all is Light. It was around that time that felt the urge to do more asana, which really did benefit me and still does."
What is your favourite style?
"When I found Astanga yoga at the Astanga Yoga School in West (Claudia’s former school), I knew this was something that resonated with me deeply. I didn’t know anything about it, but I felt the depth and realness of this practice. Although this feeling, it took me years (and years!) to really integrate asana into a daily practice. It’s when I found the softness of the Astanga Yoga System, that I started to understand asana and really wanted to practice this next to other yogic practices like meditation, pranayama, chanting, integrating the Yamas & Niyamas, dream yoga, etc, etc. I see yoga as a way of life, not a style which you can like or dislike - although I am happy with the different paths of yoga as this gives multiple routes for us to end suffering."
“Even though human birth is considered the greatest of good fortune because humans have the chance to hear and practice the teachings, only a tiny minority of us ever find our way to, and avail ourselves of, this great opportunity.”
— Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
What is your morning ritual?
"I love mornings! I wake up with so much energy and joy to start a new day. I really take time in the morning, if you read my ritual you know why, it's quite a lot that I like to do ;-). My ritual includes scraping my tongue (yeah, this is an Ayurvedic habit, it's really nice and has too many benefits not to do it!), letting go of my dreams, intentionally starting the day with a mantra (see the next question), meditation, pranayama, kriya’s, asana and I used write a poem every morning. Only since I’m back from the Intensive Teacher Training my asana practice takes up way more time so I choose another moment to write. I think it's important to have a toolbox of practices and see what you feel like in the morning. But in that be honest to the real you; meaning do not listen to the voice that doesn't feel like practicing at all.
To me, mornings are great because they are so fresh; it feels like I can start all over and see everything anew. I love to cleanse, commit myself to stay present and spread my love to anyone, anywhere. - I think a lot of people, maybe you too, don’t experience the freshness of the morning. I noticed that letting go of your day when you go to bed really helps and going to sleep with 3 things that you are grateful off too! Try it for yourself."
What is your favorite mantra or quote?
“With total acceptance and joy, I begin this new day with new eyes. I will let go of control and will not allow my memories to be my guide; in it's place I choose love. Choosing peace is my only alternative and returning to my inner self, my essence, is my only aim. In benefit of all beings without exception. Thank you, thank, thank you."
"When I read this mantra in 'Being happier than the Dalai Lama’, a book by Jose Antonio Manchado, these words spoke to me. They felt exactly the way I feel about life, but I never had the right words for it. By saying this mantra every morning for about half a year now, I experienced the real power of intentions. It's becoming reality."
What would you recommend your best friend to integrate into her or his life? (why?)
“Any friend, anyone, I recommend: make inner peace your main priority in your life. Whenever you don't feel it, act upon it. Do not create your own suffering.
Don't feel that or find it difficult to feel peace inside? I recommend creating a morning ritual that suits; that charges you and cleanses/purifies your body. Start very small and easy but doing it every day. I would look for a mantra that my friend resonates with, I could suggest writing (to reflect and creating some distance from your thoughts) and I would see what small pranayama or asana practice would suit my friend's preference, time and dedication.
Also, I really suggest trusting in this: life is great; it's always with you, never against!"