Yoga for the soul

I got into kundalini yoga about a year ago. Before then, I had a brief flirt with hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga and an on-going affair with bikram. Each of these styles taught me something different about my body, my mind, and their limits. But somehow, none of these styles were cutting it fully for me.

About kundalini yoga I did not know much, except that there were white turbans involved, snakes rolled up in bottom of one’s spine, and lots of devotional singing. Crazy, I thought. Definitely not my cup of tea. The stars had aligned differently, and last October I walked into a kundalini yoga studio in Vienna/Austria. Skeptical at first, I signed up for an autumn course with Aimee, ready to observe how this style would affect me. From the beginning, I was happy to see that the teacher was not moving things around with force and commands – something that I grew resistant to over time. Instead, the encouragement to explore our boundaries seemed to come with a subtle, undescribable flow of energy among the surrounding yogis. Some kriyas (sets of dynamic exercises accompanied by breath work and chanting) were easy and short, others were directly challenging our resistance and barriers within. I used to leave the studio feeling energized, radiant and light; this feeling would stay with me for a few days after. Often, I caught myself automatically repeating the kriya of the week at home or humming the closing mantra.

There was no doubt that this yoga style and teacher were a bit different from what I experienced before. It was not just that we were tuning in with ong namo guru dev namo at the beginning of the class, it was also that the teacher was tuning in to us, our current states of being, as well as the current teachings of our surroundings. Based on this positive experience, I was thrilled to visit Aimee’s new yoga studio in Liguria/Italy.

The place itself looked magical. Borgomaro is imbued with pristine beauty, providing all one can ask from a meditative retreat: mountains, a glowing river with waterfalls, and a charming medieval village center. The sea is just few minutes driving. I felt that this new setting, far away from the hassle of big city and civilization stress, allows one to take yoga one step further.  Deep immersion to the surroundings and communication with the elements was a part of this. Without struggle, without any conscious work, I found my awareness getting subtle enough to receive information from nature. As the old zen saying says,

“Before Zen, mountains were mountains and trees were trees.
During Zen, mountains were thrones of the spirits and trees were the voices of wisdom.
After Zen, mountains were mountains and trees were trees.”

Coming to Yoga Liguria and savoring each moment of being put me closer to the true identity of who I was. The alchemy of this, for me, was the harmonious combination of this magical place and the no pressure, no bullsh*t way the yoga teaching was delivered. This is not to say that the yoga sessions were not challenging. I broke down in the middle of a longevity kriya on the seashore and dealt with residual pain leaving my body all three days. When I left, though, I felt reborn: inspired, creative and light about my life.
Text © Karla Gabbiani Koutkova (Social Scientist, Researcher, Writer)
Fotos © Aimée Denkmann (

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