II stand on my yoga mat in the sun and somehow also next to me. In late January, I crossed an invisible border and turned a switch in my head. Out of the 30s, into the damn forties. I got various gifts with the new number, a few nice materialistic things, but also insecurity, dissatisfaction and self-confidence. With a life expectancy of 83.6 years, statistically speaking, as a woman I have almost half of my life behind me (men = 78.9 years). It’s exactly the time when many people look back and ask themselves if the path they have taken in life still feels right, or if there are adjustments somewhere. Like my right hip. Which brings me back to my mat in an instant.
I am at the yoga retreat “Yoga on”, which caters mostly to women and a few brave men in their prime. In the Gecko Beach Club on the Balearic island of Formentera, yogis bend over the views of the Caribbean Mediterranean and should feel completely at ease. “We all have certain patterns and beliefs in us about what life should be like,” says Inge Schöps, yoga teacher in Cologne and author of several yoga books (“Yoga for All”). Together with co-teacher Brigitte Bilger, she arranges the retreat several times a year.
“In the middle of life, we are suddenly confronted with private fates and crises,” the 57-year-old says. “An inner wall may also have built up at some point, behind which the same conflicts and issues unfold again and again. So we’re looking for a way to tear them down. Many are now asking themselves the central question: What makes me (still) happy at all? ”
As I float from dog down the board, cobra and back to dog, I also try to find an answer to that. Do I really still want to live in the city? Shouldn’t I apply for a job with meaning and does my partnership actually still feel right? Of course, I’m starting to think about how things could go on, how my life would look like 50’s or 66’s. I also know that staying at a yoga retreat will not give me any concrete answers to these questions.
Let go, focus, massage
But no matter what type of yoga is practiced here during the six-day stay at Formentera, each one has a positive impact on body and soul. The muscles are strengthened, painful tensions are relieved, the breathing exercises must provide relaxation and allow the body and mind to regenerate and focus better again. It is reported here that there have already been participants who have been childless for a long time and who have barely returned from the yoga workshop, have become pregnant. Many manage to regain access to themselves and accept everything as it is. And if something is not right, then yoga practice should help you find adjusting screws that lead you out of the wrong path back on the right path or help you let go.
In one of the exercises, Inge Schöps overturns her teacup on her way into a deep squatting position. A large puddle of water forms under her bottom, which slowly spreads over the entire mat. “Now this looks like incontinence yoga,” she says, laughing. Yoga can also help with pelvic floor problems or typical menopausal symptoms. There is even hormone yoga designed to balance the levels of estrogen and progesterone. It was invented by the Brazilian psychologist Dinah Rodrigues. Since 1992, she has studied menopause in its various aspects, physiological, psychological and aesthetic. She then developed a program in which certain yoga exercises (asanas) are practiced that massage the glands that are responsible for hormone production and thus stimulate them.
The willingness to accept what happens during the lesson or meditation is one of the core messages during the retreat. “There is a veil over all our perceptions, called ignorance, illusion or maya in the yoga philosophy,” explains Inge Schöps. “With regular yoga practice, we try to lift this curtain of ego, attachment, rejection and fear and see our innermost being more clearly.” She has the Supertramp song “Give a little bit” as the motto for the chosen Yogauge. Because if you give, you get a lot in return.
I mostly get burning muscles halfway after a three day yoga retreat and a total of 420 minutes of practice. And the realization that my skin on my cheeks is hanging in the direction of my eyes when I’m in a supine position and giving me a bad feeling: now I’m really getting old. It’s just the shell that our true I live in, I try to tell myself.
Stay on your mat
Nevertheless, flabby skin and wrinkles are obviously a problem among the participants, who are mostly in my age group. At dinner, options to get the chin and eyelids a little firmer again are discussed. “In the middle of life, many are stuck on the outside,” Inge Schöps tries to explain the phenomenon. “We are our own worst critics, and we can drive ourselves crazy with our thoughts.” Especially when we are constantly looking left and right at what is happening on the other mats (or in other lives). Comparisons make you unhappy. Therefore, all yogis here learn symbolically and figuratively right from the beginning: stay on the mat. This is especially true for balance exercises. Anyone who looks at their medyoginis on the mat and hears the sway there will have a hard time staying steadfast.
It’s not always easy for me either. Not in yoga nor in life when I see what others are experiencing or how it seems to go optimally privately and professionally via social media. The staged illusory world can reinforce the negative feeling that others have achieved more, are more successful, or have fewer wrinkles. The question then is: How can I find myself again and stay with myself? Inge Schöps advises me to use a simple mantra: “Breathe in and smile, breathe out and smile.” Our breathing just happens, we should be more aware of it and use the power it has in everyday life.
Every time I drift away in my mind or get into pondering and doubt, I call the mantra back to my mind. And makes me aware that I seem to have reached the bottom of the “U-curve of happiness”. Neuroscientist and head of the Department of Integrative Health Care and Health Promotion at the University of Witten / Herdecke, Prof. Tobias Esch, known for his “positive psychology”, uses this term to demonstrate the feeling of happiness throughout life. We experience the greatest happiness in childhood / adolescence and in old age.
I get a taste of it on day six of the yoga retreat in Formentera. During the farewell ritual, “Give a little bit” hums out of the soundbox again, while Inge Schöps and Brigitte Bilger hand out small pendants on which the word “hope” is engraved, hope. It also springs up in me. The regular yoga classes also helped me, but above all it was the small escape from everyday life and the in-depth conversations with the other participants that showed me that sooner or later most of them experience a minor or major crisis, and that even my the mid-term crisis will eventually be over. I want to trust that things will go up. And then I get up from my yoga seat and find myself solidly planted on the ground. No longer next to me, but where life wants me to be.
You can find more information and sign up for the upcoming yoga treats at Gecko Beach Club here. Prices for 6 days “Yoga on” with Inge Schöps from € 1485.50 pp
Participation in the trip was supported by Gecko Beach Club. Our standards for transparency and journalistic independence at: axelspringer.de/independence. Link https://www.axelspringer.com/de/leitlinien-der-journalistic-independence