Saturday, 24 March 2012

travelling abroad @ the lonely train

When I decided to do the Anusara Immersions, there was a fundamental issue: with whom. I already enjoyed the teachings of some of the Yogaglo teachers, but their schedules didn't suit mine.
I then checked out Sianna Sherman schedule. I first heard of her through one of the Anusara yoga teachers I study with, who happens to study with Sianna. She had perfect Immersion schedules for 2012 and even better, I could meet her in Zurich before deciding whether I wanted to attend her Immersions. So I spent one amazing weekend in Zurich to know Sianna Sherman. 

I left Lisbon on a friday afternoon, December 9th. Due to a strike of the Portuguese airline company, I had to change flights and make other arrangements. But again, the Universe was rooting for me and I believe the weekend ended up being even better because of that. So instead of flying directly to Zurich, I flew to Geneva and then I would take the train to Zurich. This was probably one of the best decisions of this trip.

Crossing Switzerland during December is an impressive thing. To watch those beautiful snowy mountaintops is a delight to the eyes and such a humbling experience. One of the things I love the most about Nature is how it makes us feel so connected to it and at the same time, it's a reminder of how small we are compared to it. 

I chose as a soundtrack for the train trip Explosions in the Sky, a post-rock band whose sublime musicality possibly suits every situation there is. I found it funny how shuffle presented me with their song Lonely Train, which was so fitting for the occasion that it entitles this post - check it out here. For the record: my very first yoga class was taught to the sound of Explosions in the Sky - but this is a story I have yet to tell.

This trip was also a very important manifestation of the real meaning of the international kula. Since I would be making my travel plans through Geneva, I contacted a girl who had helped at the time of John Friend's workshop in Geneva to see if she would like to have dinner on sunday, since I would be spending the night in Geneva to fly back to Lisbon on monday morning. Although we had talked back in July, we didn't get a chance to meet. So it was a real surprise to me when Khatuna not only accepted to meet me, but even said I could spend the night at her house. I thought her offer was so generous that in return I said she could stay with me at the hotel in Zurich. So again, this weekend was getting better and better.

I arrived at Zurich at the end of the afternoon, walked to the hotel and then left to get to know the streets of the city. I made my way from the hotel to the yoga studio where the weekend workshop would be taking place. I liked Zurich and since it was Christmas time, the streets were decorated with beautiful lightning. I'm also easily drawn to cities with rivers or lakes. Zurich was no exception.

I woke up to a very grey and rainy Saturday morning, which was about to become a lot more brighter with the incoming amazing yoga. When I arrived at the studio I finally met Khatuna and we started to make plans together for the weekend. 

The first practice Sianna offered us was backbends. Sweetness. She based the class on the Tantra philosophy. Here's something I wrote on my notebook based on Sianna's words - might not be a direct quote:

Tantra can be "the way we safely expand ourselves; it doesn't push the boundaries, we go there with skill and expand."

and another:

"To be touched; the way that the heart is moved, inner awe - appreciating life. How the heart opens up in the world."

This actually resonated so much with me, I knew I had found someone I wanted to study with. Sianna is very inspiring and kind, but she's also challenging and gives her students badass yoga classes. This was already perfect for me, but she was yet to show another side of her that would complete the puzzle - Sianna is a poetic being skilled in the art of story telling. Literature, poetic phrasing and the use of words, in general, is something very that speaks directly to my very essence, so the way Sianna told stories resonated with me on an energetic level.

After having lunch with Khatuna, we went back to the afternoon session where Sianna told us the story of how Lakshmi was born. This was the perfect introduction for the afternoon practice: twists and forward bends, which begin a cleaning process in the body to allow the new and pure (in a way, our own versions of Lakshmi) to emerge from the impure.

"All yoga practices transform the poison."

"The churning practices bring up everything."

During the afternoon session I also got closer to a woman I had met during the morning: dearest Judith. She lives in Spain and also came to be with Sianna. We had an instant connection and exchanged contacts and we keep in touch to this day. I'm also trying to convince her to either join me for Sianna's Immersion II or III! It's amazing how a yoga practice can bring people together. When two people who have never seen each other have to work together and support each other, there's space for trust to develop. And friendship as well. So I can say I would be leaving Zurich with two friends: Khatuna & Judith.

Dinner time was also lovely. Me and Khatuna met Sianna, Manel, Jeff Fisher, Vincent Pezet and their partners, along with some other people. Lovely experience. I had the opportunity to talk to Sianna and I could tell she is very open, kind and nice. Overall it was a perfect ending for such a powerful and inspiring day.

Sunday was arm balances workshop, which is something I absolutely love! It was very very challenging and I tried some poses for the first time! This was actually the first time I attended an advanced Anusara Yoga session. Previously with John Friend, I had only watched the session, but this time I was willing to be challenged. This session allowed me to explore new ground and also to realize where exactly did I stand in terms of arm balances. I learned I had a lot of work to do on my shoulders, for instance. The workshop ended with sweet goodbyes and pictures.

                                     Sianna, me & Manel (Portuguese kula represented)

                                                                Khatuna, Sianna & me

So during the afternoon I explored a bit more of Zurich, as Khatuna was going to meet a friend. I wanted to go to the Chinese Garden, but unfortunately it was closed. Even so, it was great, because it got me to a part of the city I wouldn't have gone to otherwise and which had a beautiful garden by the river. It really did seem like even the "bad" things happened for a great reason that weekend. I walked a lot during this stay in Zurich! I have no idea how many hours I walked around the city, but I loved it, even when I felt tired I kept going. And I can honestly say that if I was to come back to Zurich, I would know my way around some areas. This is why I like to walk, it allows me to better know the place where I am and I also feel is very grounding and it helps to connect with the energy of the place and the people.

By the end of the afternoon, Khatuna and I met at the train station to go back to Geneva. This time, I was so tired I slept - also, since it was dark outside, there were no pretty mountains to keep me awake. I was excited to be going back to Geneva, which still remains my favourite city. Even though this time I wouldn't get to actually be in the city, I had loved overflying it on friday and I was already loving the idea of watching the sunrise from the airplane on monday.

Khatuna was a lovely host and prepared us a nice dinner. After that, we just chilled and talked for a while before we eventually went to sleep.

This weekend in Zurich was decided unexpectedly. Almost everything I had planned failed and that allowed me to have a even better experience of the weekend. Which means I should trust the plans the Universe has in store for me a lot more. I believe I am doing that now. I'm trusting and trusting and believing I can achieve the things my heart really wants, so this weekend was a very important step in my yoga "career".

I felt I came back with new inspiration and ideas and also with a more deep-ingrained wish to teach. I also felt that Sianna's story telling skills were very attuned with me and that felt yoga would allow me to combine these passions of mine.

The sense of community I gathered from this experience was also fundamental as it made me more aware of how important it is to connect with other people and how yoga brings all sorts of people together. It is more than a personal practice, it is also a social experience so worthwhile!

In a way, this gave me strength to kick start Yogafool with Reyes, my good friend and YTT colleague. The spreading of yoga and the community became very important to me and those are Yogafool's hallmarks.

Another result of this weekend was me deciding to do all 3 Immersions with Sianna this year. The first one starts on April 2nd.

And by the way, one week from now I will be in Copenhagen already, enjoying the awesome company of the Yogi Nomads.

What amazing experiences await me.


  1. Marina, dear friend... it touched me so to read your story...It was an amazing week end for me too, for very different reasons.
    But I agree, Sianna's story telling helped me work on the inner upheaval I was going through...
    It is great how a teacher can speak to different students about different issues, nonetheless leaving an impront in them.

  2. :)) Indeed it was, I feel like so much has changed ever since and in a way it is such a support to know that yoga helps other people, even if in an indirect way. I believe Sianna has that ability, you just have to listen closely.
    I so wish you can join me for the other Immersions :))