Seeking Balance at Berlin Yoga Conference 2019
By Sarah Luisa Santos . April 27, 2018
Berlin Yoga Conference 2019 is three days of Yoga enlightenment. The preview event is on May 12th.
When I first heard about Yoga, I was just a teenager. I tried it a few times at Asanas at the local gym, where classes were held in crowded rooms with noisy, annoying background music and no one, me included, had any idea of what we were doing.
It was only years later, here in Berlin, that I would give Yoga another try. This time around, I enrolled at a proper Yoga Studio with classes of 10 people max, and an atmosphere of pure relaxation.
I didn’t become a Yogi overnight, but I have since brought Yoga exercises into my daily life, significantly improving my back problems and neck tension, caused by the stresses of sitting still for eight hours a day.
Founder of the Berlin Yoga Conference, Anastasia Shevchenko’s health and lifestyle was also transformed by practicing Yoga. Now she is a Yoga teacher and ambassador. In the run up to her Berlin Yoga Conference 2019, she is running a “Meet the Berlin Yoga Conference” pop-up event on May 12th.
Meet the Berlin Yoga Conference
This pop-up event on the 12th May is the introduction to next year’s conference, its programme and the presenting teachers and artists. The day will be full of Yoga, meditation, live music, multi-media presentations, and community bonding time. There’s also only space for 50 passionate Yoga practitioners so sign up quick.
For more info, please visit: https://berlinYogaconference.org/popup/
We spoke to Anastasia Shevchenko about how Yoga improved her life, and how it could also improve yours.
You came in contact with Yoga to help after you had an accident. How did this happen?
When I was 19, I broke my shoulder and tore a nerve in a snowboarding accident. I had to have three operations. I couldn’t move my arm freely and half of my hand was paralyzed. At first, I did some basic physiotherapy; after that it was Yoga that helped me to get back my mobility, restore my body’s symmetry and finally heal.
However, I actually started with Yoga four years before that, when I was 15. At that time, I was diagnosed with a stage two scoliosis (a mini s-like curvature in the spine) and my dad gave me a book with some dynamic Hatha Yoga exercises for daily practice. I did that for a while, until I found a Hot Yoga studio near my house and continued on my Yoga journey from there.
How did your practice evolve from there?
The first Yoga practice I started when I was 15 and it was a kind of Vinyasa Yoga (dynamic type of Yoga that is done in a flow) from a book by a famous Ukrainian Yoga master, something my dad suggested as a therapy for Scoliosis. Then I experimented with holding random Yoga postures for a longer period of time (Hatha Yoga method) until I came across Hot Yoga (a Yoga practice done in a heated room of 37 degrees) and did that for two years before moving to Spain for one year of exchange studies.
In Spain, I first came in contact with Ashtanga Yoga (a very physical practice of doing the same sequence on a regular basis), fell in love with it. I did that as a home practice for another year in Canada before moving to Germany.
In Berlin, I tried various Yoga styles at a studio next to my home, coming in contact with a new method that seemed very popular in Germany – Yin Yoga (a slow Yoga method that works on stretching the fascia).
For my Teacher Training, I chose Hatha Yoga, because I felt it was a good base, a very neutral method from which I could expand in any direction. Upon coming back from Thailand, I went back to Ashtanga and have practiced in this method ever since. I teach a combination of Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga, which I simply call Dynamic Yoga Fusion, no trademark :-)
Would you say Yoga is a way of life? Or can one do it casually?
Well, anything you do that has the potential to become an integral part of your daily routine and a major area of study can become a way of life. The decisive question is: how often do you practice? If you practice Yoga regularly, great. On a daily basis, it inevitably becomes a way of life.
Who is the Berlin Yoga Conference 2019 aimed at? Can Yoga beginners take part in it?
Berlin Yoga Conference is actually for everybody who practices Yoga, or does any type of fitness/wellness programme. As long as you have an interest in ways to keep yourself healthy, fit, and active, both physically and mentally, you will find a lot of value in the programme we are offering.
I want the event to deliver high quality content with the aim to expose people to various aspects of Yoga, which would provide a fuller, more authentic picture of the practice.
It doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner or an advanced practitioner: you will benefit by finding something valuable specifically for you!
I often hear people say, “Yoga is not for me; I’m too much of a hectic person,” or, “Yoga’s too slow” or “too hippie”. What do you say when you hear these?
When I hear one of these comments, I just realize that the person in front of me has not yet come in contact with the right practice, teacher, or Yoga method. There are so many options out there, it’s just a matter of finding something that fits you specifically.
Yoga can either be done in a way that is physically very demanding and challenging (Ashtanga Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Vinyasa Flow), or that is slower, gentler, and more introspective (Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yoga Therapy). I suggest that a very active and high-energy person does a more dynamic Yoga method, and a calmer, less active person choses a slower Yoga style.
This is so natural and intuitive, and yet some teachers suggest the opposite, claiming that one should seek balance by doing the opposite of one’s tendency. In my opinion, one should explore one’s own innate talent, natural longing, and predisposition – the balance will come as a result of more self-awareness, not a pace in which you practice.
Berlin Yoga Conference 2019 would provide a perfect opportunity to explore many different Yoga methods, techniques, and teachers, from more dynamic and powerful styles, to more therapeutic, slower practices.
What’s your overview of the Yoga scene in Berlin?
Yes, Yoga is huge in Berlin! There are many great studios and Yoga teachers, and an ample choice of Yoga methods to explore. To find the right method, teacher, and a studio, one needs to do a bit of personal exploration. Each individual is unique and has specific needs and goals for the practice.
Berlin Yoga Conference however, takes this one step further. When creating a list of the presenting teachers, I wanted to provide the Berliners with a mixture of the familiar, whilst also offering something completely novel. Many of the Yoga methods and teachers are quite “exotic” for the Berlin Yogis. There is a lot of room for exploration, inspiration, and pleasant surprises!