Anfang des Jahres war ich in Zürich zum Katonah Yoga® Training mit Abbie Galvin und Reni Bickel. Wow, es war großartig und eine wunderbare Möglichkeit, all das was ich schon seit vielen Jahren kannte und praktizierte, mit einem frischen Blick wahrzunehmen. Ich betrachtete meinen Körper als Haus, fühlte mich stabiler, körperlich wie auch geistig. Doch das war erst der Anfang. Ich freue mich kolossal, dass Dages & Reni im Sommer für ein Training nach Berlin kommen. Viel Freude beim Interview mit den Beiden.
Since when do you practice Yoga and how has your own practice changed over time?
Reni: I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years or so. First, I did asana and pranayama to balance my athletic lifestyle as a surfer. Then, I discovered that yoga empowers us to transform our lives, not just physically or energetically, but on many levels. So, I started studying in depth and became a yoga teacher. Learning yogic philosophy was like playing puzzle and made me see a bigger picture of the Universe. My practice was always influenced by the traditional principles of Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Krama. When I discovered Katonah Yoga, the big picture suddenly got depth, a shape: real dimension. I now relate my yoga practice to real life situations and I understand that other concepts, old and modern, are “yoga” too not just the Indian myths and teachings.
Dages: I started practicing yoga in 1998 and finished my first certification in 2002. I came into the practice in order to cope with trauma, and initially, I was drawn to material that allowed me to continue to dissociate. There are many fields of yogic inquiry that can have a profoundly disembodying effect, and that was what I was into! Over time, I began to crave being present, and aligned with what is happening in my body and other people, in reality. My yoga practice became a space for me to more fully and consciously integrate and embody my life experiences, a time for me to reorganize and reorient. Teaching yoga for all of these years had taught me about the power of empathy, presence, and how to be a student of my students in order to teach them technique. Now, my practice is about radical acts of embodiment and mutual relationality.
What can students expect from Katonah Yoga?
Reni: A radical revolution of their practice and teaching! Not that they have to throw away everything they already own, this is beautiful and worth so much – but whatever in their practice has been binary or linear will become spherical, more dimensional. They will understand about the why and hows of yoga in a very practical way, and open their imagination which is mystical at the same time.
Dages: My approach to Katonah Yoga offers a rigorous practice with lots of hands on adjustments, language, and philosophy. Nevine Michaan (founder of Katonah Yoga) developed a huge syncretic body of material to inform and refine any asana practice, with insights, geometry, metaphors and maps. The practices feel fantastic, and you will expand your breath as you renovate your fascia. Katonah Yoga promotes an embodiment practice that is complex, dynamic, and dimensional.
What’s your best advice for new teachers?
Reni: Keep on practicing and learning, have a home practice, do self study. Get insights from others and stay true to your own ideas and visions. Keep your classes simple, empower your students. Form community with other teachers and your students. Communicate clearly, be straight forward, honest but gentle. Don’t get stressed about posting on instagram or offering a retreat right away. Love your practice, love your teaching and everything will fall into place.
Dages: The best teachers are always students. Find mentors and spend time with them. Ask them your questions about students. Do your practice and develop your perspective through learning, and your confidence through competence. Be gentle and kind with yourself as you nurture the desire to teach. Ask yourself what really draws you to teaching, what really matters to you. Know that the integrity of your teaching comes from the sincerity of your self inquiry. Cultivate good boundaries in order to protect and potentiate yourself.
Tell us about something implicit in your personality?
Reni: My physical appearance is pretty athletic, and I am indeed a healthy and vital person. I am also a very sensitive, quite vulnerable emotionally, that might be the the unseen of me. I believe in the “good” in other people, but I definitely had to learn that there is disappointment too. Now, I know the polarities exist and a whole spectrum in between – what makes our life really interesting. Through Katonah Yoga I learned to get in touch with my emotions better and articulate them more quickly, that helps. And, I see my sensitivity as a gift, it offered me the chance to work with the subtlety of crystals and facilitate healing sessions.
Dages: What is implicit becomes explicit in time… get to know me and you’ll see!
How does a perfect day look like for you?
Reni: Wake up with the sunlight and have breakfast with my husband. Enjoy a long yoga and meditation practice for myself. Go surfing or go working, I love both. A yummy lunch, siesta and read my books or study. Meet my friends, exchange and laugh. Be outside for the sunset, maybe with a picnic and a glass of wine. Have a bath infused with oils and crystals and go to bed early. If you take me dancing: I’d love that too!
Dages: It depends where I am! In NYC: morning meditation and writing, herbal infusions and broth. Self practice and self care or pleasure in partnership. An afternoon looking at and discussing art with a friend, or in the studio making it. Glass of wine outside with the early evening light. Dinner with friends followed and snuggling with honey at home. Or a spa day. Or an adventure to a place I’ve never been. Or a long bike ride. Or wildcrafting herbal medicine.
Photos by Miki Ash