Mag. Dr. univ. med.
What was your first experience with yoga, Julie?
I had just started my university studies. I went to a Qigong group at university, where somebody suggested I might be interested in yoga. So, I visited one of Sonja Rössler’s Ashtanga Vinyasa sessions and instantly fell in love with that style of yoga. I adhere to this system to this day, but also break out of it from time to time to adjust my practice to suit my current life situation, depending on how I’m doing at that moment in time. When I have a lot of structure in my everyday life, I need the freedom of variety; when my life is less structured, I need the solid foothold that Ashtanga gives me. For me, it’s not about some kind of creative experimentation, I need to follow a very clear, defined process. During my pregnancy, for example, I found that meditation and kundalini were much more beneficial than any kind of physical exercise, even though being pregnant is so inherently physical.
Where do you place the emphasis in your sessions?
I teach a range of groups here at Feelgoodstudio, ranging from private sessions, yoga for pregnant women and Mama-baby sessions to beginner classes, group Vinyasa sessions and freak-out sessions in which we release ourselves from all structured systems and dance to music with our eyes closed.
These sessions all give the students so much to take with them, at all different levels and stages of life. Anyone can come to my sessions, no matter how they’re feeling. If a student rushes to eat something quickly before the session or takes a final drag from a cigarette in front of the studio, they’ll notice how it affects them during the practice. But of course, I would rather someone had a small snack if they’ve had no time all day, rather than them passing out during the session! I appreciate it when people take responsibility for themselves. At the same time, I would advise against intense pranayama (breathing exercises) if someone is too stressed, emotional or even panicked. In such instances, natural, fluid and calm breathing is more suitable.
The central theme is breathing; after all, without breath there is no life. It is an instrument, a vehicle to dive deeper. In addition, however, you should also be psychologically stable and physically strong enough to withstand the intensity. Yoga makes us more sensitive. This doesn’t necessarily simplify things in life, but that makes it all the more valuable.
The central aspect that connects all my sessions is being in the here and now.
What would you like your students to take away with them?
The ability to accept themselves as they are and the overall artwork of life as it is, and to learn to be happy with it: Tat Tvam Asi – thou art that. Practice on the mat, combined with a certain degree of discipline, can certainly help to increase our awareness of decisive processes in our lives. The manner in which you progress towards an asana, or try to escape it and only attempt it half-heartedly, says a lot about you. The quality of a person’s breathing, on the other hand, can be symptomatic of fear or insecurity when changing jobs, or even of the desire to have children. Whether and how we practise asanas is a mirror-image of how we live our day-to-day lives.
How has yoga changed you and how you see your life?
I would have been incredibly grateful if I had discovered yoga much earlier in life. I would have handled obstacles in my life much more easily – whether by holding on to a particular emotion or to particular thoughts. In this regard, I see yoga as a therapy – and I don’t just mean the physical exercises but also the meditation, closeness to nature and cooperativeness. For me, people like Francis of Assisi and Mother Theresa are yogis par excellence – just without a yoga mat.
What does Feelgoodstudio mean to you?
Our studio is a place full of power and positive energy, that we have created to pass on our fascination with yoga. But also because travelling and teaching at a thousand different locations was frustrating – I longed for a place that always had the same music, the same teas and the same oils. Feelgoodstudio is a home base.