Trust your heart. This intuition for your own movement, rediscovering your own individual story, that is what you can experience in Anja's hours. "My yoga class is like a canvas, and everyone brings the tools they have that day, different colors, different shapes, and then conjures the painting onto the canvas, whatever is possible for them that day. A conversation with a wonderful woman who has made it her business to keep an open mind about the stories of her fellow men. To look with an open heart.
Zoom our new friend and helper. Since Corona doesn't allow to meet in public space anymore, Anja and I arrange a classic Zoom Coffee Date. It is still early and we both are a bit sleepy when I ask her if I may record the conversation. "As long as it doesn't end up on YouTube." Laughs Anja. "Of course. I was going to do a report alla Carrie - Jung and Fabulouse, at the Shaby Schick." That's what I wanted to say. But I didn't want to do it. Even though we're only in a virtual space, the atmosphere is familiar. It is this attention that Anja gives you, this feeling of being one hundred percent present, that makes talking to her an incredibly pleasant experience.
Raphaela: The beautiful and important thing about it, in the conversation we have, is to respond to your individual personality. To show what makes you Anja. Nevertheless, I now initially ask 'when did you start with yoga? That's just something that everyone wants to know. Including me. (Laughs)
2013 during her training with Iwanson Anja came to yoga. So much in advance: It was not love at first sight.
Anja: When did I start with Yoga? It was in 2013 when I started my full-time dance training with Iwanson. We had one and a half hours of yoga a week as part of the training. Every Friday evening after already 5 days with 6-9h training each day, and I hated everything about it. (Laughs)
Raphaela: That's right, you told me that before. What kind of yoga was that, was that vinyasa too?
Anja: That was Vinyasa Flow and actually it was super restorative, super soft and yet nothing worked for me.
Raphaela: When would you say, did that turning point come, that you said, "Okay, yoga is good for me, or I like doing it? ‘
Anja: That was 2014, one year later. After I had to quit the training for health reasons, I couldn't do any sports or anything else for such a long time, so I couldn't really move at all. Yoga was the first thing I tried after this long phase without exercise. The thought came to my mind "But there must be something in it. Everybody talks about it being so good, why didn't that make me feel good?"
Then I got to grips with it and realized that the yoga classes before actually brought out what I didn't want to see. It showed me so clearly how tired I was and how completely exhausted I was because I just couldn't do the asanas at that time. Yoga was the time when I was not only able to iron it over like "gas and go", because I wasn't used to the concept, as I was used to in training, but was shown so clearly what I was missing.
"Yoga was the first Honesty, which was given to me in the form."
It was just way too much in time. And then I thought to myself, well Anja- because the yoga told you so exactly what is wrong, it will be the right thing, because at least it is honest. Completely without a mask and disturbing factors that could distract me and make everything talk well, yoga was the first honest thing that came my way. And so I thought you might want to try this honesty again. Maybe this time it will be positive, if you listen to it. Then at the end of 2014, almost a year and a half later, my first exercise session was a yoga class. And from then on I was in love.
The first lesson touched me so deeply - by the way, with the same teacher, Daniela Mühlbauer, as during the training period. She couldn't help it at that time and later on she was exactly the fantastic yoga teacher she had been during those lessons which I found so bad. Only that my personal perception just turned 180 degrees.
Raphaela: So how was the evolution of you realizing that it's good for you, too, I really feel the need to do this yoga teacher training and to practice it as a profession?
Anja: I have continued this for me at first. Many hours per week in yoga studios, then slowly with other teachers*, practicing for myself at home and then later taking additional yoga therapy classes.
Raphaela: What do yoga therapy classes look like then, what is specialabout them?
Anja: The peculiarity is that you entrust yourself completely to the yoga teacher with your imbalances or deficits, depending on whether they are psychological or physical. The lesson, that was a single session, I didn't have many, it was 4 or 5, will be tailored to you. That was so good for me in this case, because sometimes in the large group I might have done things that were not good for me, both physically and mentally.
"I got to know myself better through yoga therapy classes, and then I knew, 'Ah, this is just the thing for me now."
Anja: At that time I studied sports science and then discovered - I already gave dance lessons, children's ballet and fitness courses - that what I want to pass on is not only sport, but actually much more yoga. I wanted to share all the benefits I have experienced for my life. One and a half years later I completed my training as a yoga teacher.
Raphaela: The training was in Bali, right?
Anja: She was in Bali, exactly. I actually heard about her from Sinah. Sinah didn't do the training exactly where I was, but she had a guest teacher who then did my training. In the meantime, this guest teacher has founded a school herself. The training there was very energy-based. So a lot on alternative healing methods, Reiki and very spiritual, hardly physical. At that time it was exactly the right thing for me.
Raphaela: Would you say that the training has shaped you to teach in your style?
Anja: What I took with me is that the chakras in my YTT are the basis of all movement and based on the imbalances that manifest in our energy centers, the practice is built around them. I use it now not only with focus, because for me there are so many more aspects involved than just "intangible" energy. Physis and psyche, even in a very scientific and tangible context, must not be neglected in my opinion. But it certainly plays a big role in my practice.
Anyone who has ever been to Anja's classes will feel the deep connection between the energetic body and the physical, which is brought out in her practice. It is the personal story that can be expressed through the body, this psychological quality, the experiences of each individual, which is reflected in each individual movement. One revives one's intuition, that intimate feeling that one has for oneself, but which can so often be overlaid by conventions and ideas.
"Heart work" connects the mental, energetic and the physical, active of the heart.
Raphaela: So you started your own business with heart work during your studies?
Anja: At that time it was not called heart work at all, but that actually only came after the yoga training. I had already started teaching yoga before that, but I never said it explicitly. But since it was part of my daily movement, I also included elements from yoga in my classes and passed them on. In the end, Heart Work came into being because I wanted to find a beautiful name that unites general work in the different fields into one philosophy. A term that refers to what we simply already have within us. Out of the head and out of this constant work we do in it, and into the heart.
Exactly that which intuitively guides us: our heart. On the other hand, it also describes the heart in relation to this physical, physical aspect. When the heart is working we are simply there, alive and can feel ourselves physically. It connects all the aspects, the mental, energetic and the physical, active. Heart work was for me a good interface to unite all these qualities.
Trust your heart - out of your head and into trust
Raphaela: What still interests me is where you say, that's me and that's what I do and that's what creates this specialness in my lessons somewhere. Why are your lessons called Heart Flow, for example? That was already mentioned in what you said, but maybe you can go into it a bit more.
Anja: Whatever I discover so beautifully for me anew every hour, no matter if it is someone who has been around for a long time or someone who is completely new: every person has a story to tell. I have my story to tell, which can be my life story or simply the story of the day. Everybody brings something new. And if you look deep enough on all levels, and this physical aspect of yoga is part of it, then you can see that every person has something incredibly special about him or herself and also carries within him or her what is deeply rooted there.
"There's something so special about every human being, a story that runs deep."
This particularity that everyone has in themselves, that's what I want ...to work out. That's what happens in my yoga classes. Whether in meditation, the breathing exercises or actually then in the physical exercises. They can be a little more challenging at times. I think my classes are well known for that, as are the barre classes.
It is the aspect that sometimes it is possible to work beyond mental blocks. Of course only up to a point where you still feel good. But, just when we realize that there is so much more in us than we might think of ourselves, we can get to know ourselves and others better, because we can Open to the unknown. Especially when we can share our history in these different ways.
"This special quality that everyone has in themselves, I would like ...and work it out."
This is what I want to make possible and what I find so exciting. Every day can be completely different. If I don't have so many means at my disposal on one day to go outside, to show who I can be, even to myself, I can't do anything else.elbst show who I can be, then so be it. My yoga class is like a canvas. Everyone brings the tools that are available that day. Different colors, different shapes, and then conjures from it the painting on the canvas, what is possible for him or her on that day.
Raphaela: Very nice, the analogy.
Anja: Then the picture is also different every day. But it's also nice to know that every time there is a different story behind it. That's exactly what I try to find out during the lessons. Or generally in everything I do in my life. Listening to stories. Getting to know people. Because then we can learn from each other, most of all.
I now understand what makes this special feeling that Anja gives you in conversation. She sees you, in the most honest, unbiased white. We say goodbye, from virtuality into the actuality of everyday life, in which each of us goes our own way. They have been crossing each other far too seldom lately. One thing I take with me from the 30 minutes we spent together, if you look carefully you will find something special in every story, in every moment you listen and get involved with your counterpart as if he or she were a story that unfolds before you.
With Anja you can practice every Friday live online at Yoga Heart Flow II, from 18:00 to 19:00h.
Or you can drop by Anja's ballet barre class. Every Friday Live Online, from 17:00 to 17:45h and Saturdays 11.45 - 12.15h
Book your lesson with Anja!
You can also flow through a Twist and Happy Hamstring Flow with Anja on YouTube.
All photos are by Susanne Schramke: https://susanneschramke.com
The drawing is by Anja Marinkovic.
Interview guide and article: Raphaela Baumgartner.