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.