Ingredients to a path of Self Inquiry

Still being somewhat at the beginning of this year, we tend to look back and evaluate what has happened in the last year and what we have or haven’t achieved. If we had high expectations, it’s very easy to get stuck in negative thoughts and judgements about missed opportunities and failures as just another year has gone by. When I look back at last year, I first try to see what I can be grateful for and it is truly a lot: My little and extended beloved family, supportive friends, a beautiful & safe home, my dear teachers, my own yoga practice, my calling as a yoga teacher, a lovely yoga home in Berlin called Spirit Yoga, lots of holidays and travels to new places and certainly - above all - my health.


I feel incredibly blessed with my life and the liberty to actually choose how to live it freely and full heartedly. Unfortunately, not all people and animals on this earth get to experience freedom and we all often have to experience suffering in our own lives in order to remember the gratitude we owe the universe for simply being alive and free.

Last year, I have been struggling with the question whether I am living my life to its fullest potential, whether my calling as a yoga teacher is really meaningful. Should I consider a different, more “serious” career the way my parents had advised me years ago? Is this even the time to practice self inquiry, since my daughter is still young and needs me simply being a mother? Meaning - dedicated a large part of my day to being fully present, aware and available to her needs? And if it is not the time - when does that time come and how can I be sure to not miss the opportunity

To come to the point, I still haven’t really found all the answers. But what I have found, is a way to continue my journey of self inquiry, for which - as I now know - is never the perfect or “enough” time. It has helped me tremendously to feel again more content in my own skin, my soul, my life. It’s actually rather simple: Just by beginning the journey to get to know myself better again and by taking the time to really look inside to see what is unfolding, I can feel that this is where I’m supposed to be now. There is nothing for me to look for on the outside . Everything will unfold itself how it’s meant to be. “The path is the goal” as Mahatma Gandhi said so beautifully. I just have to take step by step, do my daily practice and enjoy the journey.

It obviously didn’t happen overnight and I’m not „there“ yet, as it’s an ongoing journey in this and probably many more lifetimes. But it reminded me to trust myself, my intuition and my own journey towards my true Self as long as I’m actively seeking it. It’s just that I, and we all, have to do the work ourselves. We have to take charge of our own lifes. We are responsible for our own happiness. We surely cannot change the world we live in from the outside, we have to change from the inside-out to create the world we envision and want to live in.

“You are here to understand yourself, not to be understood” ~ by Paramatma Siri Sadhana. When I read this post on Instagram from my beloved teacher, I knew it was meant for me to read. It’s so true. We are here to understand ourselves, to connect again to our true inner Self and to unite with God. No one can do the work for us. No one is responsible for our happiness. It’s totally up to us. I won’t share each little detail with you about my own journey as it is not relevant. It could be something completely different for you. But I will share my “recipe”. You have to figure out your own “ingredients”:

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“Me” time: This year, I commit to taking guilt free “Me” time. I know it‘s not really easy as a parent, with a demanding job, travels, etc. And of course, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But at least, I’m making the effort and allowing myself to claim some space. As a mom, I had to actually learn again to ask for some help to enjoy a few moments of stillness. I admit, it’s not easy for me to not feel guilty about this “selfish“ time. But as far as I can tell, the ancient advice seems to be true: You can only take good care of others, if you also take good care of yourself. No one else will do it for you. So don’t hesitate and just go for it. It will give you some space to detach and just simple be yourself again.

Spiritual practice and mentor: For a long time, I have been looking for a spiritual mentor who can guide me on my personal spiritual journey. I have been already blessed with many inspiring teachers during my Yoga teacher trainings and studies. But after I had my child and moved from NYC to Berlin, I was looking for someone kind, compassionate, radiant, wise, with a strong spiritual practice who can and is willing to guide me through my current stage of life as a yogi, teacher, student, mom, wife, daughter and friend. And luckily, I reconnected again with my dear teacher from NYC. Even I don’t get to see her personally, she is still guiding me with her teachings, wisdom and love as I do my own daily Sadhana (practice) given to me by her. I feel so blessed to be guided and protected again on my spiritual journey. And I honor all the other teachers in my life - past and present. I believe it’s important to have a teacher and mentor in your life who can guide and inspire you to become the best version of yourself.

“Dance, Laugh & Swim” - that’s a beautiful advice given by another inspiring and gifted teacher called “Krishnataki”. Even I’m not planning to become a massage therapist, I spontaneously decided to attend a 5 day Thai Massage Workshop with him last year . He came highly recommended  and since I was looking for some inspiration, I just took the leap and tried it out. And LOVED IT! I enjoyed the teachings by this charismatic and wise teacher, I enjoyed the Thai Massage practices (Even I felt clueless as a beginner, I felt the healing powers of giving and receiving a well intended touch and massage), I enjoyed the practices we did like dancing to loud energizing music in the morning and chanting mantras together and I enjoyed the experience to learn again something completely new. At the end, he didn’t really advice us to practice Thai Massage, eat a certain diet, meditate, etc., he simply recommended us DANCE, LAUGH & SWIM instead. Basically, to celebrate and enjoy life itself. I love it!

That all being said - Creating space, surrounding yourself with wisdom and love, living life to the fullest and simply allowing yourself to enjoy - have been my ingredients for a free and fulfilling year so far. Yours may be very different, but the important idea behind is: Go find your ingredients and apply them. Let’s not set too high goals and bars for 2019 and the years to come, let’s practice to be present in the moment, to celebrate and enjoy life, to be kind to one another and to take nothing for granted.

A Mental Tattoo



I was never really a "wild child" - neither in my teenage years, nor while growing into a young adult. I hardly drank alcohol, came home earlier than most of my peers and put off having sex until I felt it was the right time.  My version of being “wild” was to get a belly button piercing when I was 19 years old. I was on my way to school in Munich, when I suddenly decided to get off the train and walk into the closest studio, to have a small diamond looking stone set into my navel. I still remember, I felt so spontaneous, wild and free. I guess, it must have been all the endorphins and adrenaline released by the needle in my skin. In retrospect, I was grateful I was only 19 years old and this spontaneous act didn't cause any real damage since it's removable.


But ten years later, when I was living in NYC for a few months to study with one of my main yoga teachers, Sangeeta Vallabhan, the desire solicited to finally get a tattoo to show my love and sincere dedication to a life of Yoga. I wanted something meaningful, but really tiny. I finally decided on the Sanskrit (The ancient Indian language that has been used in all major epic, philosophical, religious and artistic texts in India) word "prema" which means "unconditional love". I can really relate to the concept this short word contains, as I believe that everything comes down to love. Everyone wants and deserves to be loved, and the greatest form of love is unconditional - like a mother's love for her child.  


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Since I was not entirely sure about the correct writing in Sanskrit, I checked the internet and I also asked a nice American-Indian guy who I had just met at my yoga studio. He was the one who then actually saved me at the tattoo parlor from getting the wrong tattoo! Some good advice from my end - take it or leave it: Never fully trust the internet. Take time to double check with a different source, especially when you commit to something like a tattoo that is not removed easily. Funnily, he is also "the one", I fell deeply in love with and ended up marrying only a few months later.. The "crazy tattoo story" became even his wedding speech. But all of this is another story to be told another time.

My major takeaway from this episode in my life is another one: Listen to your inner voice when it’s screaming at you and dare to say NO - even you just thought a minute ago it would be a yes. Be brave, don’t be afraid to change your mind and say what you mean!


Despite of having decided to get a tattoo and feeling fairly certain about it, I suddenly hesitated when walking into the tattoo parlor. During the whole process, the tattoo artist actually asked me three times if I really want to get this tattoo and each time my inner voice was screaming at me “NO, I’m NOT sure anymore!”, but I still said “yes”. I didn’t want to appear undecided, insecure or as if I hadn’t thought this all the way through. But I actually felt all those feelings and now I know, those were valid feelings and concerns. It definitely didn’t make any sense to neglect them and - rather literally - overwrite them with a  tattoo. My intuition, my inner voice was trying to communicate with me and I simply shut it down. As a yogi, I should have definitely known better. Each time we step on the yoga mat or meditate, we practice to be more aware, present and mindful. Yogis want to become more loving, kind and patient which also includes self-love and care. When we tune inside through our practice, we also practice to listen to our inner voice and intuition without any judgments or labels. We all have this intuition, inner voice, or some people call it gut feeling. But, most of the time we are simply to busy and loud to listen to it.


So why was it so difficult for me to honore my own thoughts and feelings? I was clearly hearing my inner voice saying "NO, get the hell out of here!" and I proceeded anyway!

Now I realize, I'm generally a very emotional, sensitive and indecisive being who dreads any kind of changes and decision making. It is only my regular yoga and meditation practice that helps me to keep my mood swings in check, bring my awareness back to what's really important and grounds me in my daily life which often gets very hectic. Even though I've been practicing Yoga for over 15 years now, I still have moments of getting frazzled and feeling insecure, indecisive and emotional. Once I arrive at that very uncomfortable place, the only way out is to "step aside", get on my yoga mat, breathe, move, sit and turn "inside".Through the practice of yoga and meditation I realize again and again that all those emotions, thoughts and fluctuations of mind do occur, but my being does not consist of those. I am not just a body feeling its pain or a mind being tangled up in its emotions.  This realization brings us straight to the center of Yoga, according to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra: "Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha".

It means we are able to experience the state of Yoga, once we stop identifying with our fluctuations of the mind. Yoga is the stilling of the mind until it rests in a state to total and utter tranquility - so that one experiences life as it is: Reality.


Seven years later, I'm actually getting rid of my tattoo. Luckily, laser technology enables virtually any tattoo to be safely and effectively removed. But obviously there is a price to it and it takes at least 10 sessions to remove it. Now it feels ridiculous that I didn't want to waste a $100 deposit for the tattoo back in New York when ignoring my inner voice sitting across from my tattoo artist. However, it's not just about the money, it's about the moral of the story I want to share with you. I have found a more forgiving and positive way to look at it.


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Seven years ago, I was looking for true love and I found it. I'm even blessed to say I have found unconditional love. And I definitely don't need a tattoo, makes me love unconditionally - no matter what. It's the purest form of love and neither her nor I need to do anything for that. I feel eternally grateful and blessed for this beautiful experience and pure feeling. No one can take it away from me. And it certainly doesn't need a physical tattoo, I have a "mental tattoo", how I like to call it now lovingly.


Nyla is the embodiment of PREMA for me.

Letting go

I have to admit, "letting go" is not one of my strengths. I tend to hold on to hurt feelings, relationships that are no longer good for me, belongings I no longer need - I even managed to store extra water in my body during my pregnancy.

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These days, my daughter and I are the point of every parent-child relationship, where it is time for the dreaded first few drop offs at preschool. Although the school and teachers do their very best to make the process as easy and gentle for both children and parents, it still feels like a very big step for everyone involved and therefore quite intense - on a daily basis.

First of all, there is an unfamiliar physical separation happening as I need to leave my daughter with the teachers I hardly know. That means trusting my daughter's  ability to be on her own while being in someone else's care and to settle disagreements with other kids on her own, being only two and a half  Obviously there are so many thoughts and worries in my head -  "what if she is sad?.... what if she feels I left her behind?.... what if she misses us too much but can't vocalize it yet?...." and these worries leave me truly emotional. I can honestly say that before becoming her mother, I never felt such a big responsibility in my life. She clearly comes first, only then I can think about myself and take care of my own needs. This is a change in every woman's life once becoming a mother. It's not a conscious choice, but how I'm wired ever since my daughter came into my life. In a way, it is limiting and exhausting as you never seem to have enough time for yourself, your partner, duties, hobbies, social life, etc. But in a way, it is also liberating, as your whole life is no longer just about yourself. There is simply less time for drama, unnecessary thoughts, false friendships, etc. There is no need to fill up your days with lots of activities, people, things to do, as there is hardly enough time to think clearly, eat slowly, take a shower, or even just breathe when there are still little.

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And this is when your yoga practice, or any kind of mindful practice comes into play, more than ever before. Just a few minutes on your mat with deep breathing, maybe some stretching and ideally some meditation can make a huge difference in your day. It can help you to clear the slate - "like a magic chalkboard eraser", how my teacher David Life used to describe the use of chanting OM. We ALL need that from time to time, whether we are parents or not, whether we have a busy job or not, whether we are sick or healthy. Some moments of STILLNESS, PEACE and SPACE to simply BE and not do anything. No mobile phone, no duties, no obligations, no others - just being and being with yourself. I know from my own experience that it's not always easy to be alone with yourself as we are so conditioned to be busy, productive, active, outgoing- it's actually considered normal to live and get lost in our outer world. Following that rush, we  just need some time and "tricks" until we can let go and fully immerse ourselves in yoga practice or any other act of mindfulness. Some days that seems like in unbelievable tall order, but the more regular your practice becomes, the easier it will be for you to ease into it. At first, they key is to pick something that comes very easy to you and start with that. Maybe it's some simple stretching for you right after you wake up, maybe it's a few minutes of deep breathing when you go for a walk, maybe it's a hot bath where you close your eyes for a few minutes and simply focus on your natural breath, maybe it's a guided meditation for you online, maybe it's a yoga class for you at  your favorite studio. Play with different scenarios of  a daily moment dedicated to your inner life, your breath, your pulse, and notice what kind of practice works  best for you  and your current life circumstances Once you feel drawn to one habit more than another, stick with it. I promise: Y ou will feel the positive effects soon after, and others around you will profit too - including your children. There is nothing to lose, just go for it.

under construction

I've been meaning to share some thoughts on my first days and experiences in Berlin but it somehow didn't come easy.

I tried to figure out how I'm really feeling underneath the surface, but I guess there was not enough space totruly evaluate my emotional state. I was simply functioning to get everything set up for my family and me. My priority was - and still is - making our daughter as comfortable as possible despite the change of scenes. Looking back, I know I felt slightly unstable and uncomfortable as everything was "under construction" and had to be organized or set up. If you translate that state into the context of Yoga, it feels just like getting into a new asana for the very first time. First you don't really know where it's going. Your mind is busy listening to the instructions of the teacher. Your body is trying to somehow execute the information.


Often there is not enough space to think about how it feels until you fully understand the pose, which is actually not always a bad thing since your mind is so focused on the new posture that it can't easily drift off to other shores. And I'm sure we all know that experience of drifting off in a familiar yoga asana when you get for the 5000th times into Pachimottanasana, DownDog, etc. and you can't stop thinking about what we are going to have for lunch later or what else you have to check of from your to-do list. At least I know that kind of feeling :)


However, once you have practiced an asana a couple of times, the posture feels more familiar and you probably feel more stable and comfortable in it. This is exactly how I felt after the big move from NYC to Berlin. I tried to follow the long list of "instructions" and execute them as good as possible like getting registered, setting up the apartment, finding a babysitter for our daughter, doing groceries, trying out yoga studios, etc. and now slowly I'm starting to feel more stable and comfortable again in our new environment.



In between

In between 

In between our old life in Brooklyn and our new life to come in Berlin, we decided to take a little vacation in Costa Rica. At first it seemed a bit crazy to add another trip to CR in the midst of packing for our big move to Berlin  - which means more planning, extra packing, additional flights & lots of changes for our little one. But just after one day here in CR, everything feels so far away: the move, planning, decisions, good-byes, emotions... there is suddenly space to breathe, relax, enjoy nature and simply be. 

We are literally in the jungle, surrounded by all kinds of tropical trees, wild animals and ocean, in a small retreat place called Boca Sombrero. We got nothing else to do then practice yoga with two great yoga teachers (Schuyler and Alex from Kula Yoga Project NY), take surf lessons, cool off in the pool, go for a hike, get a massage, eat yummy fresh food or just sleep. Sounds like heaven? Feels definitely like heaven!

Sometimes it simply needs a change of scenery or change of lifestyle, to get some space and feel your-"true"-self again. It's easy to get stuck in your own routines, habitual thinking and regular life with all it's obligations and expectations from the out- and inside. Most of us just function during the week and forget or don't allow ourselves to really "live". It's actually a luxury in our society to have time for yourself and to be able to "go with the flow". I usually also get easily carried away by my thoughts, worries and to-do lists, but whenever I take some time to get on the mat and breath consciously, I start feeling like myself again. I get to feel my breath and my own body and through that continues flow of breath and movement, I get remembered that I'm not just that body and mind even I have a luckily a healthy body and mind. The outer world starts moving further away like a wave that just arrives at the shore and then inevitably gets drawn back into the sea. Just as waves come and go, low tide is followed by high tide, the sun rises and sets, day turns into night - again and again. It's that natural flow and circle of life that reminds us - if we are willing to listen - to actually go with the flow, ride the waves of life and see where it takes us. It's only up to us if we decide to just participate or enjoy the ride wherever it might take us. Let's not waste time, catch the wave and enjoy the ride! 

Take a moment to lay down on your back or sit in a comfortable upright position like Sukhasana and close your eyes. Put one hand on your belly and rest the other hand next to you if you are on your back or on your thigh if you are upright. Take a deep breath in through your nose, fill your lungs  and lengthen your body, then exhale and sigh out through your mouth. See if you can "let go" of holding on to your thoughts, sensations or tensions in your body or any outer stimulations whenever you exhale. Repeat this 2x times and then relax both hands next to you or on your thighs, let the breath flow in a natural way and simply observe your breath internally. Watch the in- and exhalations like you would be watching waves coming to the shore and flowing back into the ocean - again and again. Until you "drift" into a state of simply being and enjoying the space between the thoughts. 


Om Shanti 

Netflix, Deep Breathing and New Chapters.

It still feels surreal: Our upcoming move from Brooklyn to Berlin as well as the fact that I used to live in NYC and Brooklyn for the last 6 years. Who would have thought that a small-town girl from Bavaria ends up living in the Big Apple and marrying a handsome business man & Yogi from India. It actually sounds like a cool storyline from one of the American drama series I used to watch on TV when I was younger, wondering how life would be like that. And here I am - the main character of my own life. I have to admit, besides my yogic lifestyle, I still like to sometimes binge watch on Netflix in bed after a long day. I guess, old habits die hard.

The last couple of weeks and days have been quite busy, chaotic, unsettling and full of emotions since we are getting closer to the actual moving date. My husband and I are both excited about the new chapter in our lives with our 1 year old daughter and at the same time sad to leave our friends and current life here behind. Even we both wanted to leave NY eventually to live closer to our families in Germany and India, it suddenly feels a bit fast since it's really happening. But I guess, it's just hitting me now since we started saying good-bye to most of our friends, selling a lot of our furniture, making arrangements for our last couple of days and packing our stuff in boxes. 

Since I had a lot of things on my to-do list before the big move and I didn't get a lot of sleep, I started cutting back my yoga practice to a bare minimum. First I was ok, as I was simply missing my "me" time on the yoga mat. But then my body started sending me signals like skin break-outs, slow digestion, weight gain, sluggishness, eventually also a stiff neck and lots of emotional ups-and-downs. Even I had gone through that before, it took me a while to connect the dots and really accept where this is coming from. I was simply not taking good care of myself. And it was only a downward spiral where it was up to me to dig myself out. Funnily enough, not making time for myself and my practice didn't really get me more time to take care of things or be productive. It actually had a reverse effect on my productivity and especially well being. At first it seemed so much more relaxing and easy to simply relax on the couch, watch Netflix and eat something yummy whenever I had a quiet moment. But at the end, this kind of relaxation doesn't really last long as we all know. I realized I had to change something and simply get back on my yoga mat - whether it would be just for a couple of minutes or maybe even for a full yoga class. And obviously and not surprisingly, the effort paid off. Even just a couple of minutes of deep breathing and stretching made a big difference in my day. I was able to be more patient with myself, my husband, our daughter, etc., think more clearly, my body felt less achy and I had a bit more energy throughout the days even the move was obviously still tiring. It just made things and life a bit easier "off the mat" :)

Luckily I'm married to a yogi and so we both made the decision to take a little time out in between the move and go on a yoga and surf retreat in Costa Rica with Kula Yoga Project. Some much needed time, practice and nourishment for our bodies and soul. Will keep you posted how it went....

And then it was suddenly time to say goodbye and say hello to a new adventure... Hello, Berlin.