Reflections on 15 years of Yoga – Excerpt from Anusara Marga

Originally published in Anusara Marga - The Path of Anusara - 2nd Edition Nov 2018

My spiritual path started in 2001 after a miraculous encounter with a Reiki master. Since then, I have dedicated myself to learning as much as I can about esotericism and healing. Yoga is an integral part of my own search for understanding how we grow and heal as human beings. This year I celebrate 15 years since I first stepped on the yoga mat.

By the time I encountered Anusara Yoga, I had practiced various styles of yoga and explored a wide variety of esoteric teaching. The first yoga method I studied taught classical yoga philosophy or Advaita Vedanta. I respect these philosophies; however, they were taught to me in a way that constricted my sense of freedom. At the same time, esoteric practices I was learning outside of yoga taught me to connect with spirit at a very intimate level. In these moments of transcendence, I realized that connection with spirit is not the end of the path ora goal, rather it is the beginning. Once you hit spirit, it kicks you in the bottom and says, “Now takethis love back down to Earth.”

I yearned for a yoga approach that carried a vision of divine love in all of creation, including our humanity. In May 2009, I found it when I attended a workshop by Desiree Rumbaugh, certified Anusara teacher, at the Cologne Yoga Conference. The alignment principles soothed the back pain I developed from practicing vinyasa style yoga. Desiree’s heart theme about overcoming fear and saying yes to life spoke to the part of me that was suffering from a painful past partnership. The class gave a sense of community as the participants opened up to teacher other during the partner exercises.

Now almost 10 years later, I remain grateful to the Anusara method for the physical healing, I have experienced through better alignment. Although the tantric philosophy is not exclusive to the Anusara method, the path has given me the venue to explore the teachings more deeply and integrate them into my life. Perhaps the greatest gift however of the Anusara path is kula, community, if we choose to accept it.

I believe we heal and grow through connection. My Anusara path took me to different locations over the years for trainings: Berlin, Düsseldorf, Nieder-Olm and Munich. Looking back, I don’t remember the asana classes or the lectures. I remember the healing conversations with my peers in the tea breaks at Starbucks or at the dinners at the local Indian restaurant. Through sharing our stories, we witness our fears and give them space to soften. We celebrate our achievements that anchor our growth. We are reminded that we are not alone. Therefore, my main inspiration to be country coordinator is to connect people and create more space for growth and healing. Indeed, there is an administrative side to the role such as keeping up a newsletter and organizing the logistics of our annual event. Because I have a strong network into the German kula, I have received ample support and feedback.

I see two positive trends in Germany. First, the German kula is growing rapidly. Recently I chatted with Ory Brown, Professional Development Specialist at ASHY, and she said, “Germany is on fire!”Almost every week I receive an e-mail from her congratulating a new elements or inspired teacher.

The number of Certified Teachers is also growing. The second positive development is the roll out of the 300-hour teacher trainings. I expect these trainings to also foster community and provide new connections among the teachers.

Of course, there are country-specific challenges. Germany is a naturally fragmented market due to its regional character. People from Berlin or Hamburg do not need to go to Munich or Cologne for training and vice versa. As such, kula members often do not naturally interact. That is why events like the annual gathering and the upcoming 300-hour trainings are important to build a more cohesive community. In the next years, I would like to encourage more regional events in addition to the main annual event.

The annual symposium is my main project as country coordinator and in June 2018 we had our first annual gathering. My first step in organizing the event was to reach out to my network for support. I have both a day job as a banker in Frankfurt and a small business as a coach and author. I knew I could not do it alone. Also, there was no funding.

Jackie Prete, co-founder of ASHY, gave me a nudge on how to move forward. She had planned to teach in Nieder-Olm near Mainz for June at large studio run by Sabine Freitag. She and Sabinehad the idea to put the gathering “on top” of this already existing workshop. As such, we had the foundation for the event. From there, I reached out to the community asking for support on the creative side. A small team came together whom I could bounce ideas off of including Julia Schlenkert from Essen. So, Sabine covered the foundation - Shiva - and Julia covered the Shakti during the planning.

We created community in several ways: Kula classes: kula class were taught by a team of 2-3 teachers, thus bringing these individuals together.

Group coaching: On Friday evening I led the kula through interactive, light coaching questions to help them get to know each other. They exchanged their stories about why they started yoga and why they continue to practice and teach.

Main classes: Jackie taught two asana classes moving the kula into their heart with her powerful theming about ancestral healing. Group workshop: On Saturday afternoon, Jackie and I led a discussion on heart theming.

Breaks: We planned lots of breaks into the schedule and a Saturday evening dinner to create space to connect.

For many participants, the event ended in tears — the good kind — the tears that come from personal transformation and joy. The Germany gathering in 2019 will be on weekend of May 24th in Nieder- Olm. I will be delighted to welcome Desiree Rumbaugh to the event exactly 10 years after I first saw her in Cologne. Desiree’s wisdom and powerful presence will build on the beautiful foundation of the first event set forth by Jackie, the local teachers, and all the participants.

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