Personal Experience: my own yoga journey
Anapnoe Yoga as a Journey of awakening reflects my own life journey.
Before I started practicing Yoga, being an introverted, sensitive, and artistic person- I looked for my own wholeness desperately in relationships, substances, and a self-destructing life that led me to alienation from myself: I was depressed. At that time, I was teaching ballet classes to children and had a ceramics studio on the small Island in Greece where we live. I met yoga back in 1992. It was when I first traveled to India in Banaras and then began practicing yoga at home with a book during my first pregnancy.
At that time, Yoga was just physical for me; I knew my body from my life experience as a dancer, I liked to move and felt good when I practiced, but I wasn’t aware of the spiritual aspects of it. It just felt balancing to me. Until one day, on the mat, realized that I was going to get sick if I didn’t get myself together. So I-adamantly- decided to change my life, to go for the light.
So I practiced, and I liked to breathe, and my body started feeling well, so my diet changed, I quit smoking cigarettes, I quit drinking, and quit eating meat. Everything happened very organically. Whatever was not serving the process of clearing was dropping off my life. The same happened with situations and people I hung out with: everything that didn’t encourage my new path just faded peacefully away.
I started to teach yoga as a physical practice- just power yoga, body-based. But I was being healed through my deep aspiration and my disciplined practice. And as this happened, I was changing, and my life was changing. When we transform ourselves, our life transforms, and the lives of those closest to us. Our whole life changes.
I would practice for long, 4-5 hours and hold poses for a long time, sometimes having big emotional experiences out of these practices, and I will push myself through the muscular tension but only with the intention of getting stronger and more flexible. During those practices, I became the observer of my own emotions and began to witness them. It was then I understood that yoga is not about the asana postures but that the practice of yoga is a path out of suffering through understanding and observing the kleshas. At that time, I started my Zen meditation practice and studies, and I began to have glimpses of connection to something divine, to trust life and myself.
Then the boom of yoga came to Greece, and I did my first teacher training with the intention of having a certificate and deepening my skills as an instructor. I chose to focus myself on the practice and teaching of yoga only. So I let go of the ceramic atelier and opened a small Yoga studio at home; only 6-8 students will fit in. I would teach at my place and drive around the island at different times of day to teach in every Gym, community space, and private house. I would drive for hours. I was taught seventeen to twenty hours a week for eleven years and practiced myself. When I look back at that time, I can only tell you that the strength and the will that is innately available to us are immeasurable.
Embodying is embracing, incorporating and integrating everything that is the now, the present moment.
So that period was a turning point in my journey, and from that moment, there was a shift in the way I perceived myself: I had found my own path and dharma. I had changed, and from that day on, information was available to me through the practice directly into my heart. From that moment on, I started to explore the mind-body connection and to experience Yoga as a practice of embodiment.
I began to investigate trauma and observe its patterns – on and off the mat – and how trauma gets stored and lives in the body-mind and pollutes our lives. I started working very specifically with the chakras and (the Yogic Chakra system that underlies this science): the Chakras are energetic vortexes or centers in the body that physiologically are connected to specific glands and influence particular parts of the body-mind, related to specific emotional issues and aspects of our life.
According to the traumas we have lived in our lives, these wounds create imprints and patterns that unbalance these energetic centers – either making them too active or too passive – and influencing our behavior, choices, and reactions and therefore blocking our ability to respond to life and move forward with ease, experience joy, and inner peace.
Based on my personal experience, the science of yoga, the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras (the ethics of Integrity), the Integral Yoga & the Chakra system as the foundation of my work, I began to teach Yoga Flow as a transformational experience of embodiment for healing, awakening, and empowerment. Always with an experiential approach and always continuing my learning, studying, and investigating.
Later on, I met, in India, my actual teacher, who introduced me to the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in Auroville and went myself through the Integral purification (which I now teach) that ultimately transformed my life and the life of many souls who had the opportunity to experience this awakening with us in India and in our trainings at Yoga Shala Paros in Greece.
This conscious evolution begins with ourselves as individuals but ultimately opens ourselves to the collective through our personal Self-realization. It allows us to experience that yoga is not about enlightenment but about becoming more kind, more truthful, more joyful, conscious, and more loving here in this life, where we are now. And this is how the individual transforms the collective and is our sole possibility and responsibility to better this world.
The practice of yoga teaches us that there is no separation, only connection. If we change ourselves and embody love and light the world will change and reflect that light and love.
In 2011, I founded Yoga Shala Paros in the Cyclades Islands – as a sacred space -and began to teach the Integral Chakra Flow: Anapnoe Yoga as a journey of awakening, healing empowerment, and moving meditation. Anapnoe Yoga is a yoga of awakening, an invitation to wake up, to get strong, to release the tension, to move into vulnerability. To let go.
In Anapnoe Yoga we begin with awareness through the body-mind because it’s important to start with the foundation where we understand not only how to build the yoga pose from the ground up but to stand on our own two feet. We learn to connect to our breath, observe our body and understand the relationship we have with ourselves and the impact our thoughts have on our health, wellness, and life
In Chakra Vinyasa, we look more willingly, more closely, and compassionately at some of the patterns that impact our choices and our ability to be in present time. This journey begins to develop self-confidence, intuition, self-love, and compassion and makes a shift in our perception as individuals within the collective.
My intention is that by practicing yoga and being committed to these mindful practices and doing the deep work that’s necessary on ourselves, we may develop the empathy necessary so that we can go out to the world and be more loving, more truthful, and more integrated human beings, to surrender to the Divine within and within all. And if we are open, to begin to expand our perspective and understanding in a way perhaps we hadn’t been able to realize before.
I wish you love, I wish you joy, I wish you truth, I wish you consciousness,
I wish you aim your life feels eternal,
Yoga connects us to our inherent source of power and awakening brings with it empowerment.