Trust Your Flow.
Jasmijn Koelink shares her journey and approach to yoga and Vinyasa with Yoga Moves Utrecht.
How did your yoga journey start? And what was the moment you knew you wanted to continue practicing yoga – and why?
I started my yoga practice with an ‘Introduction to Yoga’ course at Yoga Moves back in June 2009. My sister pointed out this introduction to yoga course, she thought I would appreciate it. And I was curious to learn how to practice yoga safely and with enjoyment (to be honest, I had no idea what yoga meant!) as was being promised in the description text of the introduction course.
What I remember is that for six weeks in a row, my mat was always in the back of the room – because I was just on time, and I didn’t want to be seen, so no first row for me. I was afraid to fail in this course, doing yoga not as it was supposed to be done. And if I did something, I wanted to stand out, be good at it.
I didn’t understand why we had to breathe a certain way, why we were moving our body in a particular order, I didn’t get the names of the postures. I was clueless. And I came back, every week. By the end of the course, during class, the teacher whispered in my ear: “you can practice with your eyes open”. Seriously? Were my eyes closed? This was a powerful moment for me – I thought I was aware of myself and my body movements, but this was my moment of awakening. The teachers’ observation was not only the first step of waking up to yoga for me, but it also encouraged me to one day become a yoga teacher myself.
Yoga opens physical spaces in my joints, muscles, but also emotional and mental space. It allows me to understand life through my body. To me, the alignment that yoga offers reveals the importance of structure. At the same time, it provides freedom – I started to love exploring my physical body. Additionally, I noticed that the way I handle my body mirrored how I act mentally and emotionally in life. Now yoga became a full life practice for me.
I shut my eyes down, closed my heart, and sealed my mind for years. I was disconnected with my body – recovered from an eating disorder, stressed out from a new job as manager, working seven days a week while following a study at the same time. I was hard on myself – not giving myself any opportunity to enjoy learning processes. I did not really feel “in the moment”, always with my mind living in the past or the future. It felt as if I lost my capacity to love and care about others and my capacity to not be afraid – to trust myself. I needed to open my eyes, share my heart, and free my mind.
From this observation on the light of awareness that shined over me. I began to think of life as something that offers endless opportunities, and I was willing to see things differently. My interest in yoga is ever expanding since then. Four years later, I started to teach this introduction course at Yoga Moves. I like to share with others what fascinates and inspires me.
What has yoga taught you about yourself and about life?
Most of all, yoga taught me the meaning of impermanence. Everything is constantly changing, including my thoughts, my bodily sensations, my emotions, and feelings. Everything comes and goes. Like the breath that moves in and out, as a natural flow.
For me, the practice of vinyasa yoga felt like experiencing this changing quality of life as something to be grateful for and not to be afraid of. To let life itself unfold in front of your eyes. Vinyasa means to flow, to stay awake, and to be connected to the circular nature of things. In a vinyasa class you link breath and movement through a sequence of postures that are linked by awareness, depth, and a meditative flow. And this practice supported me the most to experience the reality of life – and to explore the beginning, middle and end of all phenomena: sounds, sights, to each feeling, smells, thoughts, tastes, sensations, and seasons. It was not only the physical element of moving my body, but it was also a way of training my mind to focus more easily on the present moment, whether my body is moving or not, whether I hear sounds or not, whether I am breathing or holding my breath. I learned to return to the present moment, over and over again. Waking up to my life, in this moment of time, willing to deeply listen and feel. Discovering how to relax, how to stay open minded, and being humble with what’s happening on the mat and off the mat- in my life, in that of others and in the world.
It is a practice of being honest to yourself; no matter how rigid or flexible, limited, or unlimited your physical capabilities appear to be. This practice can be a way to end confusion or stress and allows you to experience more internal peace. It also allows you to notice when you experience stress. Notice if you want reality (of your body) different than it is. If you feel attached to things, for example, wanting to be in a certain posture or wanting to be better each practice. Just acknowledge these feelings and give yourself a deep breath in and out. Be willing to see things differently, be here, instead of there, and treat yourself with the understanding that life is like an experiment. In that way, yoga allows you to practice in an honest and humble way, to stay awake in every moment in time.
And trust your own process, your own path, and ways to self-realization. Like the “peak pose” in a vinyasa class, which assumes the most challenging posture in a yoga sequence. All the prior postures support to warm up, to bring focus, strength, and prepares you for your peak pose.
Yes! “Yoga is for everybody and every body”, as Yoga Moves phrases.
Much love, see you on the mat, or at the studio,