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Julie Rakus

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.

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