My yoga journey
My clients and yoga students ask often these two questions to me: “How did you get into yoga and why do you teach yoga?”
Every one of us has a story to tell, big or small, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the story is being heard. We share life stories to learn and to grow within ourselves and with others.
My story is not any different; as a little girl, growing up in Colombia, for the first seven years of my life, it had quite some impact on me. However, not quite the same impact as when I came to the Netherlands. Living in Holland with my birth mom was extremely difficult and left me with emotional and mental trauma. My birth mom had lots of problems of her own and wasn’t equipped to take care of me, nor my sister and brother. Being seven years old and living with an abusive, alcohol addicted mother, life told me that it is too precious to be wasted and I felt that there must be a better way to live it.
After my twelfth year, I was placed into a foster care home, as my birth mom had decided no longer to take care of me. I was left with emotional and mental scars and a lot of questions. Fortunately, my foster care family gave me the opportunity to focus on other things and they took very well care of me. Nevertheless, my wounds ran deep and it would take years to heal. Throughout puberty, the questions remain and my walls of self-protection became thicker, not even to mention the hatred that I carried for years towards my birth mom.
My low self-esteem wasn’t helping either and on top of all that I had undiagnosed endometriosis. So, now I had to deal with my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Around my 25th year, I had a minor car crash, nothing serious, but it had left me with a whiplash. The physiotherapy wasn’t helping much and I almost wanted to give up on myself, until I ran into an acquaintance, she told me to try yoga. Her recommendation was a lifesaver and it happened to be, that the yoga teacher I started with, knew a lot about physical and emotional healing. After all these years, finally I started to feel ‘home’ in my body, mind and spirit. The car crash had led me to the wonderful teachings of yoga. But the most amazing transformation came, when I did my yoga practice every day. It was in one particular yoga session that a sense of strength and peace came over me. It is hard to explain, as this can only be experienced, a feeling of joy, clarity and lightness. It was in this moment, that I felt the connection with who I was as a being, and who every one else is on their journey. Furthermore, I understood that, not only was I dealing with the car crash, but also with my overpowering hatred towards my birth mom, and my endometriosis, which meant that I was dealing with myself on different levels! And this is literally what I thought: “If yoga can do this to me, I can’t imagine how many more people can benefit from the philosophy and practice of yoga.” Could you imagine what these teachings can do for you? You have a purpose to get out of bed in the morning, you can feel confident in mind and body, you can change unhealthy lifestyle patterns from being overweight, to thoughts that keep you stuck in the past, you can learn how to live a more healthy and fulfilling life, and so much more. Can you imagine having twice as much vitality then normally, or being able to heal past pain? I did all of these through yoga and I wish this for you too and this is my reason for becoming a yoga teacher.
This was the reason that I started my training in the USA with Yogafit, a yoga school specialised in fitness yoga and preventing fitness injuries. Here I trained for my yoga pregnancy certification too, however, something was still missing in my training though. After my first birth experience, which was an emergency caesarean, I knew for sure something was missing and it wasn’t until I moved to the UK, that I found out what it was. Yoga is a holistic approach to health. Somehow, I knew this, but never really connected all the dots together. Luckily, I encountered Birthlight and the Krishnamacharya tradition; both take in account that a person is NOT just a body, and they both have deep roots in the philosophy of yoga.
Birthlight is an organisation that supports women physically, emotionally and mentally in their journey of becoming a mother. Their knowledge of the women’s body is in-depth and their work is research based. Birthlight is a worldwide organisation and have supported women in Europe, Russia, China and other parts of the world. It is a two-year training with course work, that requires study cases, book reviews, essays en teaching pregnancy yoga classes under supervision, it is not a two day training where you go off on your own. I have been teaching fertility, prenatal and postnatal since 2006 in Birthlight’s unique approach. It was through Birthlight that I found my trust to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) as my second birth experience; my second baby was born in the hospital. And it was also through Birthlight, that I was able to do research on home births for women with VBAC and had the courage to go through with a home delivery for my third baby, because I knew this was the best thing to do for my baby and myself. I learned many lessons in this time of my life, and I could have not done it without the teachings of the philosophy of yoga.
It was this interest in the yoga philosophy that brought me to the Krishnamacharya tradition. I remember meeting my mentor in the UK for the first time, after I had phoned her to teach me about the yoga sutras of Patanjali. My love and knowledge for yoga grew deeper, but I was just at the starting line when I had to move to China. Yoga was relatively new to China, and at that time the Chinese yoga communities concentrated mainly on the physical part, not on the holistic approach as such. Here I was, far away from my mentor and no other place to go. This is when I made the bold decision to go to India to further my studies with the Krishnamacharya tradition. Over 1000+ hours I spend studying and integrating their wisdom. Their international yoga teacher training alone requires 4 to 5 weeks of non-stop learning in a hot and humid climate, over a three-year period. Handing over the knowledge, according to Patanjali’s yoga sutras, ‘the eight limbs of yoga’ to their students. Also discussing the different tools of yoga, the techniques of yoga, and ‘learning how to use them appropriately for each person at the right time and in different circumstances.’ The Krishnamacharya tradition approaches yoga from our own unique individual personality. We are all different, and we change over time, therefore, the yoga techniques should be used and adapted to the person that is in front of the teacher. Their training gave me the wisdom to develop personal practices for individuals and the tools to teach privately, according to the individual’s needs.
My mission became clear, while traveling in India. I want to bring together the teachings of Birthlight with the support of the wisdom of the Krishnamacharya tradition, to guide women through their life journey, no matter where they stand in life. I want women to find their physical and mental strength. I want them to come ‘home’ in their bodies, to see the beauty in themselves and in the women around them.
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”