One of the most challenging things, I imagine I am not alone in this, is being mindful and present. Being in the now has been my Everest of sorts for as long as I can remember. My mind is like a version of mental ping-pong – ping past-pong future, ping past-pong future, ping past-pong future.
The last 5 years saw me playing competitive Roller Derby, where in between holding down a job, coaching, skating, strength training, traveling and competing internationally, I tried to squeeze in a semblance of a life somewhere in between.
In September 2014, after ignoring several ‘light’ chest infections and a plethora of signals my body was giving me, I developed severe bronchitis, chronic asthma and finally a hip misalignment leading to severe back pain. After the umpteenth visit to the doctor, she literally prescribed me a strict course of doing ‘nothing’. Nothing? How ? I need movement and need to be mentally engaged or I would go insane.
Twiddling my thumbs during the Christmas season and going mildly stir crazy in my apartment, I set myself the task over the next 4 weeks to commit to at least 15 mins of yoga practice at home every day. This was the first step of many to be mindful to the messages my body was trying to communicate and which I had previously not been paying attention to, as well as being aware of the internal landscape I had been drowning out with mental chatter over the last few years.
In the past I had some intermittent dalliances with Ashtanga, Hatha, Bikram to Iyengar Yoga, none of which stuck for more than a month or two, before my kitten like mental distractibility led me to the next ‘challenge’. This time though I felt something shift – my body wasn’t playing along anymore and my mind was weary. The only thing I found I could truly focus on with some level of consistency was my breath. I had spent the last 3 months hardly able to breathe, either coughing my proverbial lungs out (which, silver lining, does amazing things for abdominal definition) or wheezing through the day, so being able to see improvement in my breath was a burst of sunshine, in a rather dark Berlin winter scape.
After completing the challenge, I noticed that it was actually not a challenge as much as a craving for a daily practice that both my mind and body needed. Home practice took me so far, so what next? The moment I posed myself that question, I came across Tatjana and Zen Yoga Berlin. What drew me was that both being dynamic and mindful were not mutually exclusive from one another.
With this in mind, I contacted Tatjana and attended the open day for the first graduating class of 2014-2015. I began with Zoe Pirie’s ‘Grounding Mindfulness Yoga’ session, with one other girl, which was a good way to get rooted as well as made me aware just how misaligned and tight my hips had become after years of skating. Her one-hour session was quiet, gentle yet strong – I welcomed the challenge of stillness, which I often struggle with.
30 minutes afterward I joined Eleonora Giampieri’s ‘Energising Mindfulness Yoga’ class, which had a dynamic element that I enjoyed and fired up the engine of my breathing into a nice flow, whilst focusing on deep muscle groups in my core. The back bends did a world of good for my tight and ailing right psoas muscle.
I guess the step in my newly established yoga practice will be my weekly sessions with Tatjana herself over the next few weeks and observing how the following aspects transition and adapt in my life moving from:
- Team oriented development to individual practice
- Full contact sport to no contact activity
- Competitive drive with a strict season plan to observing, trusting and letting the process lead
- Externally focused aggressive drive to internally focused more holistic reflection
I will allow the journey to take me where I need to be and maybe this time Yoga might just stick.