Turn off everyday stress for a while: Yoga can be a help. We did a 60-minute self-experiment in Ulrike Mertens’ yoga class in Reeßum.
Reeßum – The day is still young, the room temperature is pleasantly cozy, but not too hot, the lambswool rug on the thin foam mat is so soft and the jogging pants fit – the best conditions to stretch out and take another nap. At the very least, it’s very tempting to close your eyes again and give the workday an imaginary snooze button – maybe just for a few minutes? But there is no sleep now, even when it comes to relaxation: For there is yoga on the program in the Reeßum multi-house. To be more precise: Hatha Yoga, and even more precisely: Viniyoga. The latter describes a specific way of teaching yoga. And that is of course the task of director Ulrike Mertens this morning in Reeßum.
It is eight o’clock sharp. Next to Mertens stands an open laptop on a stool, on the light wooden floor in front of her lie eight mats plus students, each with a U-shape. On a block stands the editor who dares the self-experiment. Although there has again been the possibility of face-to-face for a while, yoga friends still attend Merten’s courses via the internet. On this day, one participant logged in online.
calm in the room
A car drives past the building outside and gives a short, muted reminder that there is also a world outside this bubble that the students have ventured into for a short period of time. Other than that, the room is quiet like a mouse, only a clock on the wall is ticking quietly, but time still does not play the big role in this moment. In a calm voice, Mertens begins to give instructions, while not a word comes from the students. They perform the exercises that Merten’s guides step by step, quietly and concentratedly: slow inhaling and exhaling, slow arm and leg movements. This ensures that it does not take long before the braking affects the whole body as well as the flow of thoughts in the head, which otherwise rarely calms down – and not at all on a working day. At the entrance to the room, the other appointments of the day and what was still waiting on the desk in the office were still in mind, now the thoughts focus on the breathing and the exercises.
“Exhale with the letter ‘F’, ‘Ch’ or with Ujjayi,” explains Mertens. The latter is a special yoga breathing technique. Basically, all three methods must ensure that the breath escapes from the body in a controlled manner through gentle resistance. In fact, the exhalation lasts longer and is much more conscious.
First lying down, then standing up, then sitting on a stool that Mertens placed next to each mat before the lesson started: It is always about coordinating the movements with the breathing. “And now, as you exhale, wrap your body around your navel and point with your fingertips toward the ceiling,” Mertens says. Although this form of yoga is considered a gentler variant – it is not completely without physical exertion. The concentration also becomes more and more during the exercises, the camera for the necessary pictures is mentally far away for a while – even if it is ready for use right next to the mat.
Nevertheless, a pleasant relaxation spreads more and more, which especially at the end of the lesson experiences its development while lying on the mat. The metallic sound of the singing bowl, which Mertens struck with a soft hammer, then leads out of this silence again. And although it is clear when you pack the blanket and put on the jacket that it is now time to return to everyday life – it does not hurt to have a little relaxation in your luggage.