Guest Blog: How to become a yogi

Day 216: My week with Nianna

Sometimes things just feel like they were meant to be. (At other times life can feel like a crazy accumulation of happenings, so it is important to cherish those easy flowing moments.) My week with Nianna Bray felt like one of those easy flowing situations.

Let me start at the beginning. My week with Nianna actually consisted of only four days, but since those days were pretty intensive, it feels like I have spent a week with her. At the least. Two months ago I did not even know who Nianna Bray was, but I had just returned from an amazing time in Costa Rica, where I did a lot of vinyasa yoga. Always thinking that I was meant to become an ashtangi I was reluctant to embrace the easy playful vinyasa at first. Yet after two weeks in the rainforest it had swept me off my feet. So I returned to the Netherlands, eager to explore all the new possibilities which yoga had offered me once again.

It was also pure chance that I happened to be in the town where I grew up with too much time on my hands (the people who know me, know that that is a truly extraordinary thing). So I decided to explore some new yoga studio’s and ended up in a lovely vinyasa lesson by Claudia, a teacher who happened to have done the same yogateachtertraining as my own favourite teacher back home. She told me about some workshops that were coming up and I had to sadly inform her that I could not afford them at the moment. We had a nice chat and kept in touch and just a week later she called me with an offer: she needed someone to assist Nianna during her workshops in the Netherlands, in exchange for free participation in the workshops. She then asked me if I would be interested. Of course I was! Therefore,  it happened that a mere month later I met Nianna at the first workshop she was going to give in the Netherlands (in Zaandam).

Whenever I meet a new teacher I always need to get used to their voice and well, just their general way of teaching. So during the first workshop, regarding the women’s wisdoms I kept my distance. Being currently enrolled in gender study subjects at university, it felt strange to hear someone talking about the essence of feminity and our inner goddesses. Nevertheless she did touch me in some way, since I cried like a baby during the savasana.

The next workshop was in Amsterdam at club Lite. Arriving there early, I was part of the wonderful process of transforming a nightclub into a yoga studio (kind off). It was really nice to meet all those lovely people, however I think I underestimated the stress organising such a workshop can cause to  people. Have you ever seen a yoga teacher flip out? It is scary as hell, since you simply do not expect it! Luckily by the time Nianna arrived, it was all love and hugs again and we ended up doing a great Chakra Flow sequence. This time the focus was a bit more directed at the physical aspect, which is easier to connect  to in my opinion. Besides that it simply was a wonderful class.

The next day we went to one of my favourite studio’s in the Netherlands: de Yogatempel in Haarlem. I truly enjoy the atmosphere of that place. First up was another women’s workshop and there I finally understood the joy of practicing and connecting with just women for a couple of hours. It felt like a save spot to truly move the way the body desires, without being mindful of appearances. It felt wonderful to focus on the specific movements of the female body. I cannot explain why and how, but it felt like this connecting with women was something that I really needed. Many of the women were there for the second time, so I am assuming it also touched something in them. That afternoon we continued with a  core strengthening workshop. It was actually quite like my usual lessons, only that it lasted much longer. Oh, and in my normal lessons they do not require me to do my core work while I am up in an handstand, but hey, you got to spice it up sometimes ;).

On Sunday I was already pretty sore when I entered the three hour masterclass at Yoga Moves in Utrecht. During those three hours I had to let go of my ego. After (and during) that lesson I knew two things: 1. I am not flexible. I am not really stiff, however there is no way to call myself flexible after the movements I witnessed in that classroom. 2. I am a yoganoob. All my pretentions about kind of knowing my way around yogaland were blown away, there are whole worlds that I am not aware of yet. The class was truly amazing. It was challenging yet not intimidating. All the movements were so full of grace and ease (at least they should be), that three hours of yoga was not quite as exhausting as they could have been. It was as if we tapped into some hidden power in ourselves, magical. Whenever I simply could not do what was asked of me (you want me to put my leg WHERE?!), I just looked around and marvelled at the infinitive possibilities of the human body.

That night I dragged my sore body to Alphen aan de Rijn for the last of the six workshops. All my muscles hurt and I was truly questioning whether or not I would be able to pull through another 2,5 hours of yoga. I guess I underestimated Nianna’s ability as a teacher. That yin class that she taught was  one of the best I have ever been to. It was the perfect ending for her mini tour through the Netherlands. All the soreness was gone after her lesson and I felt like I was floating on air.

For all of you who have never heard of Nianna Bray, do check her out! --> http://niannabray.com/ She is a wonderful teacher who travels the world and organises wonderful retreats as well. I have learned a lot from her and it feels as if she was in my life at the time I needed her most. I will not travel the world to follow her though, I do not have the money and I am a bit wary about the guru thing. However if she returns to a place close by I will be there at the front of the classroom, together with all the other people she has inspired and who attend every workshop they can.

I hope you are all having a lovely day