Wisdom From the Yogis Next Door

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Suddenly it’s everywhere.

Have you noticed? More and more friends, colleagues, her-next-door… they’re all at it!


It’s come a long way since bendy ladies in shiny leotards or dusty hemp-clad hippies (no offence – I’m a bit of a hippy myself!). It really is the new cool.

When did it become so popular?

And could it be that it’s available to everyone? Do you have to be super-flexible and a master meditator or… can mere mortals try it too?

If you feel a bit left behind, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Although, saying that, there never really is a fuss. It seems to be an activity people quietly fall into. Kind of in a dignified way, just doing their thing.

No pushing!

I realised I have many yoga teachers in my circle of friends. Each of them is very different, but they all have in common a certain zen, an inner peace, a shiny presence, a light. You get the feeling they are comfortable in their own skin.

Who wouldn’t want that?

So I asked these six women (no men! not sure why not not – please get in touch!) just three questions in my quest for a piece of their cosmic knowledge. These wonderful yogis were willing to share their answers with me, which in turn I pass forwards to you.

Here is some wisdom from the yogis next door.

Meet the yogis next door


1. When did you begin yoga and why?

My adventure with yoga started over 20 years ago. I was running a lot at the time and I saw yoga as a great way to compliment my regular running training. I realised very quickly that there was so much more to yoga then stretching muscles and was thirsty to drink up as much knowledge surrounding this fascinating practice as I could. It took me 18 years to finally apply for and begin my teacher training qualification and my life has changed profoundly since then.

2. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think yoga is for them or doesn’t know where to begin?

Yoga is for everyone and everybody.

For someone starting out and nervous about attending group classes why not find an online pre-recorded or live beginners practice? I offer some up myself.

Getting familiar with how to move the body in the different positions and learning their names will hopefully then encourage the student to join a physical class and become part of a bigger community.

It’s really important to listen to your gut. If you do a class with a new teacher (hopefully they offer the first class free with no obligations) and something doesn’t feel right then your intuition is guiding you to find someone else. You’ll know when you meet a good teacher because you’ll feel peaceful practicing with them and you’ll trust them.

New and even existing students can be put off by what they believe they ‘should’ be achieving in their practice and therefore they feel they will never be good enough. There are a lot of images online of yoga where people are contorting into mind-boggling positions. These are not achievable to 99% of us. We are all uniquely made and the insta-yogis (as I have fondly named them) simply have bodies that bend and stretch into these unique positions.

Learning to accept what our bodies can do and acknowledging that each and every day we wake as a new version of ourselves (which will fundamentally affect the way we interact with each moment, the people we meet and our practice) is one of the most powerful early lessons that yoga can teach us.

3. What are the main benefits of yoga in your opinion?

Yoga is Union. Uniting the body, breath, mind and spirit. As well as uniting us in our communities.

The practice dates back over five thousand years and there are many many benefits. Thankfully in recent years western scientific research is actually backing up many of these. For example how pranayama (breathing practices) can help with dementia and other cognitive functioning problems.

Yoga is so much more than a physical practice on the mat. The mat is like the beginning foundations, the ground where we come to learn what it feels like to be in a state of peace and joy. The practice on the mat also teaches us many tools that help us to deal with those human traits that continually come up for each and everyone of us – anxiety, stress, fear, anger etc. etc. Our greatest teacher (ourselves) will soon find ways to incorporate those yummy feelings and clever tools into our life off the mat.

From time on the mat we learn to accept who we are and that ultimately we are all the same. Learning not to judge others or compare ourselves to anyone (or indeed ourselves 5 minutes ago) allows us some much needed self-compassion.

Equilibrium both on and off the mat, this is the real practice of Yoga.

A sentence I repeat regularly to my students is “This is yoga practice, not yoga perfect.”

We all have off days and practicing yoga won’t mean you become immune to being human but it will help to guide you to accept you are a Human Being and not a human doing. Learning to BE here and now with all that means for you in this given moment – well that is a real WOW.

Note from Eilidh: I recently began Laura’s online classes and they have immediately become one of the highlights of my week. Her group is welcoming and Laura guides us with grace, gentleness and humour through her hour-and-a-quarter long class, ending with a meditation. I leave the class both more relaxed and invigorated. And I feel it in my body the next day.

Laura is soon starting her own course for beginners. Details to follow on the website.

You can book a class here, where Laura also offers meditations.


1. When did you begin yoga and why?

Nina Klein yoga
Nina Anais Klein

I started yoga when I was a kid, because my mother Renate Klein was a yoga teacher, one of the first in Bavaria. She used to tour the villages with her mat, and I went along – and spent a lot of time giggling, because it all seemed so strange! I guess the question really is why I continued.

Practicing yoga means ‘home’ for me, a place where I feel at ease with myself, and in connection. I have practiced ever since, and I am glad that I can carry my “yoga home” with me, just like a snail – which is just what I need as I have lived in several countries, and moved houses a lot.

Now ‘my’ yoga has found a new home with me here in the south of Belgium, where my partner and I have started a small eco-project, combining yoga seminars and permaculture gardening.

2. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think yoga is for them or doesn’t know where to begin?

Not everyone needs to do yoga, so thinking it’s not for you is fine – for some people it really isn’t the right thing, for whatever reason. Yet if one feels a desire for unity, for connection, for a calm mind, for ease of movement, for a better quality of life, then one could try out yoga (ok, who doesn’t want all that?!).

Personally, I wouldn’t buy a book or follow an online course to experience yoga. After all, in the Indian tradition yoga was always something personal, an exchange between teacher and student. And for me this is part of its charm – it is real, not virtual! Finding the right teacher is a (fun) challenge. There are so many ways to do yoga, and one of them could fit. Be sure that your teacher has proper training – and not just a two-week course. The European Union of Yoga has set up standards for yoga teacher training programmes, which should include at least 500 hours of teaching. You can read more about that here.

3. What are the main benefits of yoga in your opinion?

It calms my mind, it gives me energy, it reconnects me to myself.

It is a great help to me in times of crisis, be it a disease, sudden emotional shocks like the death of a loved one, or the challenges of the climate crisis.

I have experienced the health benefits of yoga over and over again, which is why I now teach yoga therapy – a specialization where I work face-to-face with one student. Together, we devise a practice which is completely adapted to her health issues, but also to her current situation and personality.

If you’re interested in yoga therapy, check out the website of my teacher Dr N. Chandrasekaran (Chennai/ India).

Visit Jardin Prangeleu for Yoga & Yoga Therapy in the Belgian Ardennes. Contact Nina for details: nina@ninaanaisklein.de.

Note from Eilidh: I was lucky enough to have a very beneficial one-on-one yoga therapy session with Nina which you can read about here.


Pamela Strasser, based in Luxembourg, is a certified Positive Psychologist and an advanced yoga and mindfulness teacher with an MSc in Applied Positive Psychology. She offers classes, workshops, retreats and programs on yoga and Mindfulness in public, private and corporate settings. Her ongoing scientific research focuses on Embodied Positive Mindfulness.

1. When did you begin yoga and why?

Pamella Strasser
Pamela Strasser

I was introduced to yoga as a child but stopped practicing until 2004, when I started suffering from panic attacks. Getting back on the mat was a way to reconnect with my body, my breath, and a sense of aliveness and agency that I had lost.

Yoga is for everyone. The yoga industry makes it look like you need to be in your twenties, thin, beautiful and an athlete/contortionist, but that is just what the yoga industry has made of it – it’s just another way of making you buy their products (like make-up, dieting pills, etc) so that you look like the ‘ideal’ the industry puts in front of you. But yoga is nothing like that – the word yoga means ‘union’ – yoga is a way to bring your mind, your body and your heart back into (comm)union and back into balance.

We live in a society where we are cut off from our bodies, cut off from our hearts, cut off from our deepest needs as human beings; stepping onto our mats, we can learn to reconnect with our body, with our heart, with our needs and heal the disconnect inside of ourselves.

2. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think yoga is for them?

Being connected to our body, to our heart, to our needs is a basic human right, so it is for everyone.

You just need to find the style that suits you. Remember there are lots of styles out there, you will need to keep trying until you find the one for you. Don’t give up after the first class/style. Like everything new, it can be a frustrating experience, and the first things you’ll notice is how disconnected you are from your body, your breath, your heart. It’s an integral part of the process. Be kind to yourself and keep practicing.

The moment when you first come back into connection with yourself is priceless. You may not know how that feels yet, but trust me, you will never want to go back!

3. What are the main benefits of yoga in your opinion?

Yoga has many physical and mental health benefits – I won’t list them all here – but personally, the biggest benefit for me is that reconnection with our deepest self and with all the different parts of us. We only have one life, knowing your body, your heart and your mind intimately and learning to love each part of you is really the only way to live a fulfilled life.

For more information or to work with Pamela, you can contact her on pamela@makelifegr8.com or visit her website here.


‘Tammy is a force of nature; woman of honor; seer of nuance; & an accidental inspirationalist who writes.’ 

She’s also a yogi!

1. When did you begin yoga and why?

I started doing yoga in 2003 after the birth of my son. I had always been a fit person and pregnancy caused me to lose all my ab muscles.  As I needed to get back in shape, I read an article that said one yoga pose a day was a practice.

I knew I could do one pose. So, I started with one pose and then continued to do more and more

Tammy Breitweiser
Tammy Breitweiser

After I had gone as far as I could on my own which included reading everything I could about yoga, I started to attend yoga classes at a studio. I became friends with the owner and was asked to do yoga training. I was encouraged by my partner at the time because he wanted me to teach yoga to his swim team in order to strengthen the swimmers and reduce injury. My training took over a year where another woman and I did intense learning. We read, we took over poses in classes, helped adjust people, and then eventually taught our own classes for the studio and beyond.

2. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think yoga is for them or doesn’t know where to begin?

There are many types of yoga and there is a variety for just about everyone. Teachers are available on the internet and Youtube as well. You just have to find the style that matches your needs. I believe yoga is often misunderstood. There are portrayals of the practice in movies and advertisements. It isn’t magic, and it can be challenging. Often you find through yoga practice where you hold tension in your body. You can then learn how to release that tension but you have to pay attention.

Yoga is about balance. Balance in the body and also with the mind. You can keep your practice purely physical, but I find people often have spiritual changes as well.

Even if that only is how you see yourself.

3. What are the main benefits of yoga in your opinion?

The biggest benefit in my opinion of yoga is body awareness. Knowing how you feel in your own body makes you treat it better. It reminds you in a gentle way who you are. After practice, you sometimes feel muscles in your body you didn’t even know you had. I have struggled with body image my entire life and yoga helped me make friends with my physical body. It is also hard to worry about anything when you are trying to hold a balance pose, like tree for instance.

Yoga allows you to turn your brain off for a little while.

Read writing from Tammy Breitweiser on Medium or sign up for her newsletter here.


Artist and yogi, Tanya Lofy, is based in Luxembourg.

1. When did you begin yoga and why?

When I was 26 I went to Thailand for 6 months. They had traveller bookshops, with some really old books in them. I found a yoga book published in 1969, Richard Hittleman’s 28 day exercise plan.

This started me on my path towards learning about progress, relaxation, meditation. The book also has thoughts for the day. Through the sequences I built and built and built.

I was really happy with it and felt changes in my body, so I started going to classes, not regularly, because I was working in nightlife so I’d pop in and slowly build it up myself. I went on yoga holidays as well and would really immerse myself in yoga before stepping out for a while. I’m mostly self-taught and tried all kinds of classes (ashtanga holidays, vinyasa, a lot of different styles) and then I’d come away again.

2. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think yoga is for them or doesn’t know where to begin?

Seriously, if someone thinks it’s not for them, I’d think, ‘OK. Don’t do it!’

I’m not trying to convince anyone. Do what you want.

Whatever path you want, you take.

Yoga is firstly about connecting with yourself, with the body you have, the physical, mental and energetic parts of you, how it all relates; how breath and emotion affect you.

Why wouldn’t you want to find out about that?

It changes the way you relate to yourself and things that happen to you. Life won’t stop happening to you because you do yoga but yoga might provide you with the tools to deal with it. It gives you a connection and deals with a lot of big subjects – fear, death, pain, your ego, addictions, your aversions. There’s everything in yoga if you want it: happiness, joy, where you carry things in your body.

Whatever paths you want to explore.

I’ve also trained in mantras. I do mantras every morning. I sing. It’s very calming on the nervous system and has definitely changed my painting.

3. What are the main benefits of yoga in your opinion?

There are so many.

Connection, stability… It’s a practice as well, which is very important. The more you put in the more you get out. It keeps your body and mind supple and strong and helps you live your life to the full.

Yoga changes over your lifetime as you need different things at different times in your life.

It brings you acceptance and the ability to relate to things around you in a centred way. Being connected and living in the present moment because that’s all there is really, isn’t there? There’s no behind there’s no in front…

It helps you to view yourself.

There are so many interpretations of yoga and you can learn a lot from other teachers too. Everyone has their own experience and that’s fascinating and fantastic.


1. When did you begin yoga and why?

I took up yoga 15 years ago when I was having a bout of panic attacks and it totally saved me as it taught me how to breathe and calm the mind. I also loved the freedom it gave me in my body as I was doing a pretty dynamic form and so it felt like exercise as well as magic!!

2. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think yoga is for them or doesn’t know where to begin?

Yoga really is for everyone and I understand that some people think it is a bit strange, but with the right teacher they will discover lots of good things… about their body, their strength of mind and of course improve their strength and flexibility. Begin with getting on a mat and giving it a go. Some things will be hard, but the more you do the quicker the flexibility comes.

It’s not the result but the journey…learning to be present with where we are at!

3. What are the main benefits of yoga in your opinion?

Yoga helps restore the nervous system by focusing out of our busy brains and on to the postures and the practice.

It becomes a moving meditation when we allow ourselves to remain fully present instead of worrying about past and future.

It also opens the body up which helps to release stored up tensions and toxins. There are many different styles out there. My favourite is vinyasa flow as it links breath with movement.

You can find Zoe at The Refinery in Hackney, East London. During temporary closure (due to COVID-19), online classes via Zoom are available.

Final words of yogi wisdom

One thing I love about these interviews is that although the answers are all so different, there are many similarities too.

Both Nina and Tanya respond that if you think yoga isn’t for you, then why do it? But this leads them to say: yoga has all of these incredible benefits and provides tools to help us through tough times. Yoga offers so much. Who wouldn’t want that?

Laura also mentions the tools that yoga provides us with for dealing with life’s challenges.

Connection (and reconnection) is mentioned multiple times by Tanya and Pam.

Tammy and Tanya explain how you discover where your body holds tension so you can release it.

The importance of finding the right teacher is highlighed by Zoe and Laura.

Pam stresses that the yoga industry is not what real yoga is all about. Tanya also insists that yoga is a practice. Putting the two ideas together, Laura says, it’s ‘yoga practice, not yoga perfect’.

Shadow of seated figure with peace fingers
Peace and yogi wisdom

Yogi Wisdom Inspiring Me

As someone who has dabbled in yoga throughout a lot of my life, I am now even more inspired to transform my dabbling into a daily practice. I feel the benefits when I regularly do yoga – even just 10 minutes a day. I feel it in my body, in the way I walk (er, taller!). My head is clearer.

I feel a deeper, more peaceful connection between my mental, spiritual and physical being.

Publishing this article is meaningful to me. And I’ve realised that yoga has not just arrived here ‘suddenly’. It’s been around for 5000 years, working its discrete yet oh-so-powerful magic through wise, incredible yogis. Just, people… who enjoy its multiple benefits and welcome it to live life to the full.

Like yoga? Like Instagram? You’ll love these accounts

Laura’s account is here.

Tammy, The Accidental Inspirationalist is here.

Find Zoe at The Refinery.

My Instagram feed is lit up by yogis that I might not have met personally, but who I’d like to mention. If you’re interested in pursuing yoga, these accounts are well worth a follow (with not a single one of Laura’s ‘insta-yogis’ to be seen 😉):

Mardava brings you compassionate yoga.

Mumaste is for every stage of womanhood, for example, pregnancy and menopause.

Ayalayoga brings beautiful short videos and ideas for inspiring children through yoga and creativity.

Feel the yogi love!

To Laura, Nina, Pam, Tammy, Tanya, Zoe

Infinite thanks to my yogi friends for sharing your passion, wisdom and love for yoga with me. Thank you for allowing me to pass on a vision of yoga through your lens.

Elephant god plaque on wall

Thank you, readers, for… reading. I wonder now, could you be the next yogi next door?

I hope this has inspired you in some way. Perhaps even to give yoga a try. Is there any piece of yogi wisdom that has surprised you? Do you have something to share? I’d love to hear…

🙏🏾 Namasde! 🙏🏾

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    1. I really love this article myself – as it was basically written by six different people (and me), all with their own perspective on yoga, but all equally passionate about it. Thanks so much for your contribution, Tammy! x

    1. Eliza if you haven’t tried it, I would really recommend it. As you can read from these passionate yogis, there are so many different styles, no ‘one size fits all’. I find it really puts me in touch with… myself, my body, my spirituality – it just makes me feel better when I (sometimes force myself to) do it! Sending you love and sparkles xxx

      1. I tried online yoga which wasn’t for me. When things lift around here more then hopefully I’ll look into yoga in real life…

        1. I hope you find a teacher you like 🙏 It is something that has really helped me with healing – I always feel better if I do a little (even if that just involves lying down and breathing!) 💖

  1. This is a wonderful post. In recent years, I’ve wanted to try yoga but haven’t yet. I had no idea about the mind-body-spirit connection. Yoga is definitely in my future.

  2. This article was enlightening, Eilidh. 😊 I do believe there is a major misconception among the public about what yoga is and who should practice is. You interviewing these different ladies, showing different perspectives, is/was brilliant! I love it! You’ve made yoga a down-to-earth practice, as it should be.

    Simply being still and learning to quiet or breathing alone has amazing health benefits. I’ve discovered this as I have dealt with fear and anxiety. When we lose the ability to calm ourselves, to understand the what and why of what we feel, it has long-lasting consequences. Our bodies begin to break down and we experience chronic pain, among other health conditions. It’s absolutely no fun!

    Bravo for bringing yoga to all of us, sweet friend. You’re amazing! ♥

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