Native Yoga Toddcast

Isabella Nitschke - Ashtanga Yoga Malmö

January 19, 2023 Todd Mclaughlin
Native Yoga Toddcast
Isabella Nitschke - Ashtanga Yoga Malmö
Show Notes Transcript

Hit play and enjoy this inspirational discussion I had with Isabella Nitschke. Isabella is the director and owner of Ashtanga Yoga Malmo. She teaches yoga in the south of Sweden and has developed a tight knit yoga community that serves as one of the energy centers of the Swedish yoga landscape. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with her about what her experience is like being a yogi, teacher and a pillar for her community.

Visit Isabella on her website ashtangyogamalmo.se
You can find her on IG @ashtangayogamalmo
and on FB Ashtanga Yoga Malmo

Thanks for listening to this episode. Check out: 👇
New Student FREE Livestream Yoga Special ~ Try 2 Weeks of Free Unlimited Livestream Yoga Classes  at Native Yoga Center. info.nativeyogacenter.com/livestream Sign into the classes you would like to take and you will receive an email 30 minutes prior to join on Zoom. The class is recorded and uploaded to nativeyogaonline.com ~ Click Here to join.

Practice to a new class every day with our nativeyogaonline.com course called Today's Community Class with code FIRSTMONTHFREE.

Native Yoga Teacher Training - In Studio and Livestream - for info delivered to your email click this link here: https://info.nativeyogacenter.com/native-yoga-teacher-training-2023/

Subscribe to Native Yoga Center and view this podcast on Youtube.

Thank you Bryce Allyn for the show tunes. Check out Bryce's website: bryceallynband.com and sign up on his newsletter to stay in touch. Listen here to his original music from his bands Boxelder, B-Liminal and Bryce Allyn Band on Spotify.

Please email special requests and feedback to info@nativeyogacenter.com

Support the show

Native Yoga website: here
YouTube: here
Instagram: @nativeyoga
Twitter: @nativeyoga
Facebook: @nativeyogacenter
LinkedIn: Todd McLaughlin

Todd McLaughlin:

Welcome to Native Yoga, Toddcast. So happy you are here. My goal with this channel is to bring inspirational speakers to the mic in the field of yoga, massage bodywork and beyond. Follow us @nativeyoga, and check us out at nativeyogacenter.com. All right, let's begin Welcome to Native Yoga Toddcast. Today I have the distinct pleasure of bringing Isabella Nitschke to the podcast. She lives in Sweden, and her website is AshtangaYogamalmo.se. The link is in the description below. Please go have a look and check out Isabella. She's also on Instagram, and you'll find the links on her website. And go ahead and follow her. She's got some great posts, and you can get a feeling for a nice tight knit yoga community that's thriving in the south of Sweden. She offers retreats and she's just a really good stable, solid yoga teacher. And it was real pleasure to speak with her and I'm really excited for you to have a listen. All right on that note, let's go ahead and begin. I'm so excited to have Isabella Nitschke here with me today. And Isabella, how are you doing?

Isabella Nitschke:

I'm good. Thank you. Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure. I appreciate you taking time out of your day. You're joining us from Sweden. Am I correct? Yes. Are you born mama, mama. Thank you. Are you born? Are you born and raised in Sweden? No, no, I'm not. I'm from Germany. Got it? How many? My mother is Swedish? Nice. And your dad was German? Yeah, he is German. And I came to Sweden when I was six. Because my parents got divorced. And then I kind of grew up here went to school. And then I left when I was 18. And then I came back.

Todd McLaughlin:

Where did you go when you were 18.

Isabella Nitschke:

I went to study in France. In England, I went to the city in Champaign. I went to study French at university and literature. And then after I kind of moved a bit back and forth, and I started studying at university and then my study took me abroad and then I ended up really not ever coming back until until well now it's 10 years ago.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. And at what point did you find Ashtanga Yoga.

Isabella Nitschke:

That was a lot later, I think I had my first encounter with yoga. When I lived in Amsterdam in 2002. I, I've always been a very active person. So I used to play basketball and go to the gym, things like that. And then I had some leg pain that I got. I was a spinning teacher and in my spare time, and I had been overdoing it a little bit. So I got some leg pain. And then I got introduced to hostile yoga. Which I thought was Yeah, because it was the slope. I was used to more pace and more breathing. And yeah, I ended up googling or searching on the internet. I don't remember if there was Google yet in 2003. And I found David Swensons DVD. And that's how I started. I bought it I put it in the DVD player. I did it to the best of my ability.

Todd McLaughlin:

Isabella. That's so cool. Because right about that same exact time in 2003. That's how I practice my first Ashtanga class. Well, as well was opening up Yoga Journal Magazine, seeing David Swensons little ad in there, and me thinking I was in a different type of yoga and I thought what is this Ashtanga thing everyone's talking about? And I ordered his DVD and actually VHS I'm thinking right, it was VHS at the time, wasn't it? No, I

Isabella Nitschke:

got I got a DVD, I think Oh, cool. Yeah, I have a DVD.

Todd McLaughlin:

You're ahead of me. I don't know how. And that's amazing. That's so cool to hear. Is that a that's an interesting way to start as at what were your first thoughts when you put David's video on. And you started, okay, you were doing hatha yoga. And then you started trying to do this thing called primary series. What were some of the first thoughts that you had?

Isabella Nitschke:

Well, I really enjoyed the briefing. That was and I really enjoy that. He's so pedagogical, and so calm, even when he's showing like his handstands and stuff. I didn't feel I you know, I didn't feel stupid at all. Because of the way he was presenting things. And what I really thought I remember thinking specifically that some of the things were really crazy, like, sittin sitting on your foot, like that Johnny D, I thought, my God, how is this possible? Why should you sit on your foot? I was a runner also. So my feet were very stiff. So that was very painful for me. And I have very open hips, since always, so a lot of the nose. And all that stuff wasn't. It wasn't difficult. So I didn't think much about that. Yeah. Yeah, I was. I was intrigued. Yeah, definitely. And that's probably what kept me You know, I got warm. There was a pay. And that's what kept me doing it kept me coming back. And then I put it in the DVD player again, the next week. I wouldn't do it every day. I would do it when I felt like doing it. And and then it became more and more often.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah. That's really cool. When was the first time you were able to step into a room with a group of people with a teacher?

Isabella Nitschke:

ashtanga yoga,

Todd McLaughlin:

or other yoga? Ashtanga? Yeah.

Isabella Nitschke:

Probably four years later, then I'd been doing it on my own three times a week with a DVD for four years. Because I lived in China at the time where I got the DVD just before moving to China. And in China, there was no teachers. The only thing that was available was some Bikram yoga. And I, I went into a couple of classes, but there wasn't really Yeah, I enjoyed doing it before work on my own. And that was not an option with the Bikram yoga. So then I ended up just having to do it on my own. And it heals my injury that I had when I started. And then I started to feel the benefits of the of the practice, like mentally. So that's how I kept doing it. And then we moved back to Brussels to Belgium, where I lived before moving to China. And then I had the opportunity to go to see a teacher there. But she went to Mysore straight after, so I didn't have much time with her. And then I didn't see my real like, first real nicer teacher until five, after I had had the DVD for five years. When I moved to London. Then I found the teacher because in London, there's a lot of teachers. And then I went into my classroom for the first time. Yeah, that's really cool. 2009 2009. So I've been going with my DVD for five years.

Todd McLaughlin:

What did what did the teacher think having you come in saying this is the first time I'm actually in a classroom? And then I'm thinking that you probably were pretty proficient with primary series. By the time you entered into that studio. Were they surprised at how good you were considering it was your first time?

Isabella Nitschke:

No, the only thing I couldn't really do was headstand because I was afraid. So I'd never ever stood on my head. But after I think after only a few weeks, she put me into intermediate series and started teaching me until Douglas Ross and I think and this was October 2009. And actually before that I'd been to one week teacher course with David Swensen in London. So that's how I then got into the mitre room because I was really inspired by by by him coming and I got to meet him finally. And then I started doing the micro practice. So yeah, she put me into intermediate into straightaway. And then my first thought was, well, this is what I've been waiting for. Because I have I've had some issues with depression and for me primary series is we To grounding, and I felt that it was weighing me down a lot. And when I got to start intermediate series, I just felt this uplifting this stimulation. It was just amazing. It was like, wow. And then then I was really stuck. That's cool. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

Would you agree that David has such an amazing personality and style of teaching? I find he's, I love being around David. I think he's in pretty amazing teacher.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, he's wonderful. He's so humble. And he's funny. He's very grounded. And yeah, I love him. Yeah, I haven't seen him now for more than 10 years. But yeah, he's amazing. Yeah, I hear ya, are you I'm very grateful for for him putting that DVD out there at the time. And also doing that training with him at the time that I had moved to London was very useful for me.

Todd McLaughlin:

I know I always find the element of how when he did that, that that was so cutting edge at the time, because you're right, when you make mention about doing a computer search in 2003, it's, it's it's hard to really remember the dial up situation, and then how limited that was in the actual amount of information that we could get in relation to nowadays with social media, YouTube, and the likes. It's like we have more than we could ever imagine in front of us. But I remember David mentioning how he got into a little bit of like, trouble for releasing all of that information out there into the public. And now looking back, that just seems like it's no big deal at all. But I think I agree with you. And you say, I'm so thankful that he put that stuff, how you put his DVDs and his books and his teaching materials to make it accessible for those of us that didn't have access to teachers. It's interesting to me that it was so cutting edge, you know, that was a big deal.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, I mean, also, there were so few teachers around back then there was like, if you weren't in a big hub, like London, or yeah, there, there was hardly anyone and now there are so many everyone true. It's a really been like a big change, big change.

Todd McLaughlin:

So Isabella, you all do you own a yoga studio?

Isabella Nitschke:

I run a yoga studio. Yeah. It's, it's a bit. It's called a Stanley or the moment. But I don't own it in the way that I don't own the space and I don't rent the space. I have a partnership with kind of in Sweden, we have these sort of education for adults. And there are many kinds of nonprofit organizations that run this type of state sponsored training and everything from photo photography, literature, languages, dance, and yoga. So they have a they have a studio, close to where I live. And we have a partnership in that way that I run a few courses within their type of setting, and then I have my micro program within their premises. Nice. So in that way, we have a partnership.

Todd McLaughlin:

That sounds appealing to me, it sounds a little less stressful than holding a five year lease and having the commitment to you know, pay rent. Is it is it as good as it sounds? Are there any? Yeah. Are there? Are there any downsides? Of course they are good point. Good point. Yeah, but that sounds cool. Well, you don't have to tell me a downside. But what is the pressure point for you? Well, not setting? Well,

Isabella Nitschke:

the thing is, you know, if you you're in a partnership, and there are like the studio is chaired, you will have to share, like the space with people who might not always take care of the premises and the way that you would like, yeah, which causes frustration sometimes. And the other thing is, so the other thing is that when you share with someone, you can't do entirely what you want. Yeah, I can't leave my stuff everywhere. And I can't really design it the way it would want to. Maybe not as clean as I would like it to be in terms of not being you know, responsible for at least, and having that economic burden. Everything. In Sweden it's also very strict with all the insurances and all the side costs that are not included in the rent. So it would be for me Since I'm alone, it would be impossible to hold a studio and pay all the costs and also pay for my own apartment, for example, I wouldn't be able to afford both. Yes. So then I would have to live in the studio if I had my own. But that's not allowed in Sweden, you can't live in your business. So this is a really good solution. It was a really good solution during COVID. When, when we obviously had less students coming, and then less income, which means that, you know, for other studios, maybe they had to close down because they couldn't get enough people or enough income to cover the rent for the studio. But because we had the partnership that that was, we had we were open throughout COVID. Physically, I didn't lose that much money.

Todd McLaughlin:

Wonderful. That does sound like a good type of situation have been through the economic challenge of those years. Was Sweden, more open than other countries around the world?

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, we were we we didn't we didn't go into lockdown. But we did have a lot of restrictions with you know, how many people would were allowed in a space. At the same time, we have a big studio with, like the Sharla itself, this space where we practice is 120 square meters. And for each 10 square meter, you would be allowed one person, which means in this huge space where you could fit 40 People 35 People, you wouldn't be allowed to have 12 people maximum. And obviously, with a micro program, or micro class, you'll have rotation. So people come and go all the time, but still obviously, limiting. But yeah, so we had restrictions in place. But we I think we were a lot freer than many other countries in the world. Yes, I think that's good. Also, because in Sweden, most people, the majority of people live alone. Like, there are the most single households in the world, I think in Sweden. So if we would have gone into lockdown, I think people would have gotten really, really depressed. Also, with the darkness here and the winter, it would have probably been devastating from from that aspect. And I think the government thought of that when they they didn't go they decided to not go into lockdown. They thought about the consequences that wouldn't come further on, like for people with mental health, and so on. If if they did go towards lockdown,

Todd McLaughlin:

that's so interesting. I didn't realize that statistic or that there's a lot of people that are living alone. So that's seems wise on the behalf of the governing bodies to actually weigh that. You know, I've never lived somewhere where the sun doesn't come up for many hours of the day. We're in winter right now. How how many hours of sunlight Do you have where you are in Sweden?

Isabella Nitschke:

In Sweden, I'm in the south. So if you do you know where Denmark and Copenhagen is? Yes. Yeah. So we're just there as a bridge between Copenhagen and Malmo. So I'm just, we're just across. So we're very much in the in the south of Sweden, which means it's not that dark. The sun does go up. But it's often very cloudy. So. But yeah, I would say maybe for six hours a day, from from nine in the morning to three or four in the afternoon. We would have like daylight, but then you know, the 10 is dark. Yes. It's shifting now, though. going in the right direction. So we're, after the 22nd of December. We're always very hopeful. It goes in

Todd McLaughlin:

the right direction. Right. Things are getting better from here.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah. Getting Fed are getting lighter.

Todd McLaughlin:

Things are getting brighter. Yeah. What have your thoughts been? We just celebrated, you know, New Year 2023. Do? I know it's just an arbitrary, you know, number and it's just another day? I totally understand that. But do you feel optimistic about this year? What are your feelings and thoughts in relation to just everything we've been through in the last few years and where things are headed this currently?

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, I'm very optimistic. I think what I've seen in the past six months at least is the Sharla becoming more alive again. We are able to take in guest teachers and do live events that we were not allowed to do during COVID because of the restrictions of people in a room and not being able to touch each other and so on. So yeah, I'm very, I'm very optimistic in terms of that Sharla is coming more and more alive again, and we're coming back to what it was like in 2018. Almost to our 2019. Office. Yes. So that's, that's nice. And people are visiting from abroad, which was also restricted, obviously, before. So we have more international students also coming by. Yeah, it's, it's lovely, we have quite a few things lined up. And not only the retreat we were talking about before we we started recording, so I have a retreat in one week in Tenerife. And then after that, we have several guest teachers coming up. I think the program is full already until October.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. Congratulations. That does feel good, doesn't it? Yeah,

Isabella Nitschke:

it's a lot of work, because I'm doing it all on my own. So it's a lot of work. I'm teaching and I'm doing all the bookkeeping and all the everything, the website, the social media, everything on my own. But yeah, it's, it's awesome, then then it's nice when when you when you can, you know, when you see the results and things can happen. And you you really, you can invite people to come, you know, that's my,

Todd McLaughlin:

I agree. And on that note, you do a wonderful job on your social media. That's how I found you, as via the hashtag a song, the link on Instagram, and I really enjoy reading your posts. And I think you do a great job. So well done to to manage all those things is challenging. Is this your full time profession?

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, it has been since 2009. Nice. But I haven't had the studio longer than we've run a standard yoga mamas since 2013. So this year is actually 10 year anniversary.

Todd McLaughlin:

Congrats. And yours, right? So to make it 10 years as a professional yoga instructor, is a big deal. Do you ever sometimes think like, my wife and I run our studio here in Florida, and we I have a partner to share the workload with I liked the fact that you mentioned that in relation to owning a studio you had said like the way the Partnership does really work well for you is in terms of the fact that you are doing it alone. It's so much work as it is that you are Curie wonder if it would be possible if you didn't have a support system. And I have to give a lot of credit to my wife in the sense that I wouldn't be able to do this if I did not have a support system like it does take so much work continuously. Do you? Do you have people helping you? It sounds like I know you're like the you're managing everything. But do you have other teachers that are helping you either in the Mysore room or hold down led classes? Or is it solely you?

Isabella Nitschke:

Now now I have a few teachers doing some evening classes. So we offer yin yoga as well. I have a long term student of mine who is now teaching yoga and meditation. And then we I have another student that is also my assistant she teaches like half lead miter in the evening. Also covers for me if I'm not there. Yes. And so yeah, there are a couple of teachers, they are not paid by me. They're paid by the evening school that we're in partnership with because because I'm had to say I'm self employed, so I can't have any employees. But the so so the way it is that they they teach these classes or courses within the partnership that we have with, with the with this evening school, and they still run under our name and their names. So it's a win win situation, they get money, we get money. And they do some of the marketing and we do some of the marketing and then we kind of we kind of benefit from it both. So So yeah, that's the way that we can have classes both evening and morning. Before, up until 2018. I did it all by myself. So I was teaching six mornings and four evenings a week, and we had the Salah in two cities. So we had two separate studios so I had to go back and forth every day and teach either morning or evening in one place. And then I taught a lot for free because that was the only way to get it up and running to get enough people to come So I was teaching evening classes, all of them for free. So that we would, you know, provide something so that we would get more people in, basically. But there wasn't enough money coming in for me to get paid for everything. But then when we got enough people, I was able to then hand over the classes to others, I didn't want other people to teach for free. So that's why I was doing it. And then when we got enough people and could pay for the evening classes, then they gave the classes to someone to other people. So that's how, that's how we started, basically. And we started with evening micro classes, because people were not used to doing it in the morning. And then we offered self practice in the morning. And it used to be only me and one other person. And then we slowly throughout the years shifted, and shifted, and hardly anyone wants to come in the evening anymore. So that's why we have more like a course space. The ones that we haven't evenings are like courses more, that people don't have to sign up for eight weeks, and then they you know, so then then it's more than it's easier to get people to come in the evening. Cool. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

Oh, my gosh, I have so many questions for you. I'm one so you're running everything. And if an aspiring or a budding yoga teacher is listening to us, I think it's important that we're honest about the challenges of taking on the role of holding down a program and how full time it is. And you know, continuous The workload is, what are like the, what's the most the thing you'd like to do the least? And then what's the thing that you get the most joy out of, in the experience of holding down a program the way you are?

Isabella Nitschke:

Well, the thing I like to do the least is to get up at 10am get up in the morning. You could hear me swear, like, every morning, I wake up as like, the first word that I say out loud is a swear word.

Todd McLaughlin:

Well, what time is your? What time is your alarm going off?

Isabella Nitschke:

I don't practice before teaching anymore. I used to do that for a few years. Back when when was when was that like 2015 1617? I got off before teaching. But I don't do that anymore. It's not good for my health. So I practice after teaching. I aged a lot when I practiced at three in the morning, I just could see how bass was dropping, and they always horrible. So I just decided no, it's not good for my health. So I'm a bit vain. So I admit that

Todd McLaughlin:

I'm with you on the same on the same page. So we're in good company here. But I'm curious. Like so what time do your classes start out? Then what time do you need to be at the studio?

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, so I get up at 10 to five, I have to be at the school opening at six. And then I teach until just before nine and then I do my practice. And people can come and practice at the same time. So I've got the studios open for self practice. So if people like work late, or for whatever reason can't make it for class they can come after and practice at the same time as I do. And that's five days a week. And on the Sunday, we still teach on Sundays, not Saturdays. It's the micro program is at nine. So then I usually I go off and practice before teaching on Sunday. And then I teach in the evenings as well, like it's a beginners course on Monday evening. So and then I have I work also with yoga for mental health and stress reduction. So I teach a course in that as well. And that's also evening by so it's going to be eating both in in the springtime. What is quite a full on,

Todd McLaughlin:

that's a full on schedule, for sure. And so like if you're waking up at 10 minutes to five, to be there to teach at six to practice beforehand. You're getting up at 3am Maybe I would

Isabella Nitschke:

I would I would Yeah, I would have to get up at three practice. And that was just insane.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah, I know it sounds like you were able to give it like a good three to four year push. And I used to do the same I get up you know, get up at 334 o'clock come in practice and start teaching and I was able to maintain it for a little while and then my I just was like, Oh my God, I don't think I can. I am not happy.

Isabella Nitschke:

And so my goal was being jet lagged all the time. Yeah, it's awful. And then, you know, it messes with your blood sugar, your appetite, hormones. It's just not worth it. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

Okay, now your most favorite thing about running a program like what brings you the most Joy, I know there's a lot of things, but what's something that you just really get a kick out of?

Isabella Nitschke:

I don't know, it's there, as you say, there are so many things, I can just take one thing from this morning, we had about seven pregnancies during COVID. And all of them have, I think all of them have practiced to some extent during the, during the, during the pregnancy. And so this morning, one of the newest babies came into the shoreline and lay on the, on the, on the ground on a blanket practicing or what was his mother was practicing next to him. And it was just, it's so nice to just be the like, first you see the whole belly growing, and then you just you don't know who's inside. And then you have a quite close relationship to the mother. And then today, so the mother came in, and then the baby was helped him. So he was lying there. And this just is I know, it's the community. close you get to people, this caring. Just, yeah, it's, yeah, this energy that that that people are around have around them. It's just wonderful,

Todd McLaughlin:

great answer, I would agree with. That's a good one. Can I get to

Isabella Nitschke:

see how people develop? You know, like, here you see the pregnancy developing, there's new person coming out and, but just as well with the other people, you know, I have people practicing, the oldest one is 78 and a half years old, and the youngest one is maybe just still teenager, you know, that's the range of my other practitioners coming to the Sharla. age wise, you know, and it's just amazing to see the diversity, and all these different personalities and bodies. You know, how they develop as people or Yeah, everything.

Todd McLaughlin:

That's so cool. You and you you have a practitioner who said is 78 that I heard you right? Yeah, that's wonderful. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Can you my mom, it's your mom. That's so awesome. Oh, my gosh.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, she's so stubborn.

Todd McLaughlin:

She's so stubborn. I, I won't get all emotional or anything. But my my mom needs to practice here every single day, my mom and dad together. And she passed. She passed last year, almost a year ago now. And she made it very sorry. Thank you. And she made it to 76. And, and I was thinking today about how one of the greatest gifts, I think I've been given from being able to teach and work with my mom is she had Alzheimer's. And I was able to start working privately with her. And the experience of learning how to work with someone who's going through memory dysfunction was just such an incredible learning opportunity for me that I'm really thankful for. But when I heard you say 70, and I'm like, Whoa, she was close to my mom's age. So for when you say it's my mom, I'm like, Oh, that's so amazing. Isabel, you have like, that's a really special opportunity. And I love that you followed it up with She's so stubborn because it's real. Don't you agree that it's really hard to be your mom's yoga teacher?

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, it is very hard to have your mom in the office every day. Imagine having you know how it is. People say Oh, it must be lovely to have your mom. They're wonderful. Yeah. Imagine having your mom your workplace every day. No, but it's it's lovely. And to just also in the past two years, it's been very tough because he she actually got cancer. So she has practiced through her cancer and she survived it. And yeah, we still don't really know what's gonna happen, but so far Touchwood she had ovarian cancer. So she's been through major surgery and chemo and everything, and had some bad luck also, with some infections along the way. Had to do another major operation because of that, and but yes, he now she's, since the summer she's back on the mat every day. And she was practicing at home as soon as she was out of bed and like, the block. She She She She was on her mat, even in hospital and she was unconscious. He was having her legs in there like the doctors were saying, you know, what's he doing? Doing yoga? We've never seen that. 76 he was 76 at the time, six year old this mobile and probably that's what saved her that she was so strong to begin with. But she went from doing handstand and pincher to going with walking with, you know, one of these, what do they call it? I don't know what they're called in English when you have this for other people what they walk with

Todd McLaughlin:

a walker or Yeah. What is something? So I mean, I'm guessing that because you're having this experience that you're learning a whole bunch of different ways to teach people how to modify. I'm also guessing that if you had David Swensen as one of your first teachers that you're an Asana teacher that's open to finding any which way possible for people to be able to practice. Am I correct?

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. I'm not. I used prop. Yes, I used. I went to what some of my first teachers also, were often Marcy, and go up. Yeah, I mean, my first straightaway, I went to Boston, Marcy, and I learned so much from them. I planned and I've been to Richard and Mary are in Boulder, Colorado, and I also learned so much from them.

Todd McLaughlin:

Nice. My wife and I studied with Roth and Marcy and go out and then coping, Yang and Thailand. And Roth was my first official ashtanga yoga practice situation, which just Oh, wow, totally blew my mind. Completely

Isabella Nitschke:

wonderful person, like a saying,

Todd McLaughlin:

Oh, my gosh, Roth is like, I love him, right? We could probably get we could probably gush gush for the next, like, 40 minutes. How freaking awesome. Roth is. I know, I know, for when Tim and I were on our way to India to practice and Mysore and, and 2004. But before that, we were in Thailand, and I met a person in Northern Thailand. He say, I wouldn't even go to India. He said, There's this guy named Rolf, that's teaching dining coping gang, you should go and study with him. And so we were really intrigued. And I went on Ross website, and it said, No beginners, and I was like, and we were totally beginners. Like, we had no idea. We didn't know the sequence or anything. And I, I wrote Roth and I'm like, rah, you know, I promise I'll be a good student, you know, like, like, Would it be okay, if we come? And he's like, yes. Okay. It's okay. If you come in the first day, we kind of went up this hill, like, people were like, Okay, take a ride at the rock, and take a left at the tree that has like the red ribbon tied around it. And we kind of made our way up the hill. And we picked our head out, we had to climb up the steps and picked our head and everybody was like doing like, second, third and fourth series. So he's got a really radical Asana situation. And we I looked at Tamra and we both looked at her like she, we got it, we should go right, like, let's get let's run. And we're like, No, we made it this far. We have to go in there. And I mean, the end, Rolf synergy is just like, how can you explain it? How can you explain it? Can you explain what you feel when you're practicing when you practice with Roth, and Marcy is wonderful as well. So I, I don't want to just single out Roth, but

Isabella Nitschke:

I don't know. I'm just I'm just laughing because I have a similar experience. Because when I when I went to India to see well, and Marcy, that was, end of 2009. I had just been, you know, I just met David, a few months before and in London, and I had just started this my practice in London. So I know very much, you know, I just been when my DVD there was no I didn't know that there was something called Drop bag. I didn't know that there was all this pressure to do all these things, you know, that you had to bind and you know, and then I arrived, like, you know, I was quite I was very inspired by the Mysore room and in in London and all the practitioners that were there, but still when I, when then when I arrived in Goa, they were in a hotel, it's winter, where you have to like walk up the stairs and you sat in the stairs. And then as you're waiting you were moving up the stairs and I was at the top then after a while. And I looked into the room and there's all these trot had just had a retreat at purple Valley. That was the year that the puppy Joyce died. So she shrugged and had a small retreat at purple Valley. And it just ended and all the people I met not all that many of the people that had been there had gone to both afterwards. So there were all these senior practitioners. And there was like people standing up and behind their head, sweating. It was hot. Everyone was steaming and doing Dropbox and tic TOCs. And Marcy was running around. And I was just like, Oh, my jaw dropped and I saw this guy. Remember John Michael Doyle. He's in In. I think he's on the West Coast. He used to be at Yoga works with Marcy as well. And he's standing there, and Mike is helping him endure. But wow, I want to do that. And that was like, I had never seen anything like it and how it's like, wow, that's what I want to do. And I still remember that moment. It was just so I was not intimidated. I was just like, wow, this is this is so amazing. I wanted to I want to do this. Oh, yeah. And the energy, as you said in the room was with Wolf. I don't know. Wolf is German. So I speak German. And so the, the I don't know if that changes the relationship at all, but somehow, it just felt like, yeah, somehow felt a lot closer, because I was speaking his native language and made him very happy. And yeah, I don't know. It's just so I can't really describe the energy. So Whoa. And so kind. I don't think I've ever met anyone so kind, like so genuinely, genuinely. Soft person.

Todd McLaughlin:

Man, good memory. Great.

Isabella Nitschke:

Really want to go back. But it hasn't been possible since two that I was there the last time in 2011 12. And I haven't been able to go back after that. Unfortunately.

Todd McLaughlin:

I my daughter's nine. So we were there before she was born. It's 2022. So I guess that's 20 Sorry. 2011. Does that sound right? Yeah. 2012. So I thought that was the last time I had seen Rolf and Marcy was there. And the first time I got a chance to meet Marcy, and what I thought was so amazing, is like Marcy brought in this incredible IR alignment, understanding. And I'll never forget doing Kapil Tossa and having Rolf and Marcy tag team on me, and oh, my gosh, like, I don't know if I want to go back. And I'm joking. Like, but going so deep, you know, like, oh, I don't I don't think I've ever gone that deep before. But I do feel like he's very

Isabella Nitschke:

disciplined also, so he he will not, you know, let you get away with. Yeah, yeah,

Todd McLaughlin:

everyday practice was like, get ready. Here we go. So I'm curious, where are you now? Isabella with your practice in terms of your own personal practice? Like what kind of relationship experience are you having with it these days?

Isabella Nitschke:

I do have I still have a daily practice that practice six days a week, I still enjoy it a lot. I don't feel I hear a lot of people talking about like that a just making them you know, having to remove postures or that they're getting pain. For me. I've never been as strong as I am. Now. I wasn't that strong. When I was 20. I was much weaker or less. Even though I was into, you know, fitness and spinning and running and kickboxing, I wasn't as strong. And yeah, as I am now. So I feel that I don't feel that I have, you know, I'm still learning stuff. So I'm not, I'm not thinking that I should. I don't feel the need to do less. It doesn't drain me it gives me energy. And I don't feel and I don't think I've ever maybe in the beginning a little bit. I felt some pain, like when I just started doing back bends. But that's because I was in a really bad place and my body wasn't healthy. So but now, I don't have pain. I mean, of course I get sore muscles. But I would never I would never do anything that would cause me pain and I don't get pain from the practice. So yeah, I I enjoy it. I still think it's, you know, I learned so much about exploring you know, the differences from day to day, but also like trying to figure out things so that I can understand my students better. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah. Excellent, great answer. I'm so happy to hear that. That's amazing. Can you can you you made mention so I hope you don't mind me bringing this up. But if you made mention that you had struggled with mental health in the past, and Ashtanga Yoga really helped you to turn a corner and or manage it and or, like you said, You're enjoying yoga and you're feeling good and you're feeling Good in your body. If somebody's listening to this podcast that is going through maybe the dark night of the soul or having a really difficult time now, is there any advice you can share and or personal experience that could could help someone or maybe give some advice?

Isabella Nitschke:

Well, I think that every journey is individual. So what works for me might not work for someone else. I think that's important to say. And what I can say is that, as also yoga practitioner for mental health, I would never advise a student to just do yoga and drop everything do yoga can be a really good complement to other traditional like, medicine or therapy, but it should not like you should not exclude other things. I think it's important to, like, approach your health, mental or physical in a holistic way. For me, the kind of regularity of coming to the map, like doing it every day, or every second day, as I did, in the beginning, was creating a routine that kept me I think, that kept me sane. So having this routine to get on the mat, and to just listen in words, I think is important, or it was important for me. And then just, I don't know, it's, it's very easy, at least for some people that when you're depressed, or when you're not feeling well, or you have a lot of anxiety that or or both, that you become very ungrounded, you're not in your body anymore, you're somewhere else something newer thoughts are in those feelings that you can't make handle. And so the process of doing the physical postures and breathing, brings you back to the body to here and now, which might be hard because that's what you're trying to escape. But at the same time with this kind of learning with the breadth of the two, if you're if you're in a high anxiety state to calm yourself down with, with practice, if you stick to it, and if you have a teacher that can create a safe space for you. Or as I did a lot in the beginning, I was in my home, but it was a safe environment for me. And then you can learn the tools to help yourself to self regulate. And so very simple breath, body movements. It doesn't have to be it doesn't have to be Ashtanga Yoga for that's not suitable for everyone. If you are very traumatized and you suffer from PTSD or anxiety, maybe starting yoga is way too powerful to start with. And it might be way too powerful to start with the breath. Maybe actually just moving and feeling the ground beneath you is something that is enough. So difficult to say because everyone is so individual and what if we stopped talking about trauma, for example, trauma is so individual. Something that I might traumatize me might not traumatize you. So that's why it's very difficult to say no. And how and also how we react because we react very differently. Some people go into high anxiety, some people go into freeze, when they are faced with things that are overwhelming. So I would say giving general advice is a little bit difficult.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah, good point. I understand that. When the course that you're teaching in the evenings you said was has an emphasis on mental health. Is that correct? Did I hear you right?

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah. Yeah, it's called the hunger for stress reduction. Yes.

Todd McLaughlin:

Do you utilize Ashtanga Yoga in those classes? Or do you do more simple exercises like you made mention of like simple movement and breathing exercises.

Isabella Nitschke:

And I don't teach a sangha base class. It's, it's more it's called. Trauma sensitive Yoga is a special system where you work with kind of more Invitational language so that you give options to people that you can use your, if you want to, you can join me doing this or you could do that. Or you could just say and you know, so that people can feel more empowered to take charge themselves. Yes, if you have been through something difficult, very often you feel you might feel that you've lost control. So learning to that you are in control, again, of your body of your breath of your situation, whether it's doing an Asana or whether it's in you know, outside and life, that's important. And then also not forcing people or commanding people to do something because you want to create a safe space, right? So and then the course or the it's a lot based on raising the heart rate. And then lowering heart rate, raising the heart rate and lowering the heart rate. So because what happens often when you get highly stressed, or you burn out, your your nervous system will be out of sync, it will be out of balance. So we need to train it to come back into balance into the sort of the heart rate variability, you've certainly heard of that, that you strengthen your HRV. So that you become more stress resilient again, but you have to train that and practice raising the limit. So we do something maybe that is raising your heart rates mildly, and then lower it back down. And I say mildly, because for people who have experienced the high anxiety, just the raising of the heart rate might be experienced as the beginning of a panic attack, for example. So we need to just learn that this is not dangerous, you can raise your heart rate, and then we come back and we lower it. And so we kind of extend the like a rubber band basically like extending the the resilience. And also the the comfort zone where you are comfortable, like with your heart rate going up and then so it's like this constant practice of going up a little bit and going up. And so that's a lot how we work.

Todd McLaughlin:

That's interesting. Yeah. I appreciate the details there. How or what is the intersection of your awareness and understanding of trauma based or trauma informed yoga teaching? And your astanga yoga teaching? Yeah. Have you found that?

Isabella Nitschke:

By what I Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, no, as continue.

Todd McLaughlin:

I guess. I like the fact that you've clearly you've differentiated, what a room can feel like in relation to perhaps a stronger room where it's a very, I don't want to say command driven, but it's very focused. And it's, there's an intensity to it. And most people that are going are going because they like that level of intensity, and it works really well for them. And it sounds like the way you describe the trauma informed classes, you're really aware of the heart rate, and that you're consciously kind of working off that rhythm, which is pretty amazing. I was just curious if there's a when you're teaching a Stanga if there's something that you've picked up from the trauma informed world that you'll find trying to bring into understanding or awareness for one of the students that you're working with in the Stanga room?

Isabella Nitschke:

Well, in the trauma aware awareness class, I would not touch anybody. And so in the my server room, I always ask for permission, would you do you want my help? Can I touch you? Would you like my help today? How are you always also when people come in check, you know, it's not a huge mitre program. So I know everybody, and I know them well enough that I can say to them, you need to tell me when you don't want me to touch you. And I'm not going to be offended by that. You and so we have quite an open relationship. I also have practice cards where people can choose if they don't want to talk to me, they can choose a green or red or a yellow card in but it's by their map. And then I know most people don't use them because they prefer to talk to me. But yeah, definitely the touch and the strong adjustments. I also have backed off quite a lot from doing strong adjustments. I feel that people benefit much more from actually exploring and doing themselves rather than me putting them into classes. And I want to anything, I want help and You want to drop back, for example, before they have explored like strengthening the legs and so that when we do it together, we we both work and that not I'm not doing all the work and that they're just throwing themselves to the floor, for example. But yeah, the touching. And then I think often about how I say things. Because it's very easy to just like, give a vocal like, instruction and it can sound like especially with me, I'm quite direct. And I'm not like, bullshitting, so I can I can just say something very like that abruptly, and not very diplomatic way. And so I've, I've started to think more before I say something and how I present things, for sure. Yes,

Todd McLaughlin:

yes. I agree. Has that been a nice learning experience for you over the years does it is one of my favorite things about teaching is the finesse that I feel like is just improving over time. In relation to like, paying attention to like, what words we choose, when to touch not to touch? How has, how has the experience of COVID been like, okay, now I just can't even touch at all. Has that.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, that was horrible. I was horrible in the way that I felt really isolated. Like you were so close with you was so so far away. And human contact is so important. I mean, the thoughts and feeling the other person breathes. And just, it's so important. But it was useful in terms of people had to get used to vocal adjustments and vocal instructions. And already, when I started my teaching journey, I was with a teacher who was not an Asana yoga teacher. His name is Godfrey Devereaux, he teaches a style called dynamic Yoga is a very somatic type of yoga, where you are given very specific vocal instructions to, to, to send different parts of your body very sensory kind of experience. And so already, then I was I was taught to like, really feel and then give those learn how to give instructions in that way to myself and to others. And so that really came to us doing COVID Which,

Todd McLaughlin:

yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear ya. Oh, man.

Isabella Nitschke:

There are probably other things as well, that from that I can't really think of at the moment when it comes to trauma sensitive yoga, and the things that I have adapted into micro class, obviously, there are many more, especially after with the kind of what has happened within their standard community in the past few years. With terms of in terms of adjustments, and yeah, yes, the whole sensitivity around that,

Todd McLaughlin:

yes. Understood, I found that there was a time where I was coming in and practicing. And we were all in the room together, practicing and I was like, let's just keep the space going. And everybody, let's just go ahead and practice together and we'll, you know, maintain our space and just kind of feel out what's going on. And, you know, because I thought what I found was super challenging is even if I didn't have reservations about touching someone, it was really interesting how they felt and and if I, like maybe was thinking like, maybe they do want an assist, and then the energy of if, if I thought, Okay, well, maybe this would be okay, because I see this person every day. So I'm gonna go over and do it, but then somebody else that was in the room that wasn't okay with it, like the energy dynamic of that a rule is being broken, and then they didn't feel safe now that two people had made close contact was so fascinating to me. So then I was okay, we were not doing this for a little while. And then I had somebody say, I'm really missing it. And I did find that it was a really interesting learning experience for me to completely kind of take that whole component out of the practice, which I actually feel better for now. I don't want to go through it again. I don't think I definitely don't want anything like that to ever happen again, that's for sure. But I I do feel like I learned some things.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, I mean, definitely. And I think maybe improved also our communication One of our ways of communicating because we have to communicate in other ways. Also teaching over zoom, for example, I did have students over zoom at the same time as people in the room during COVID. And giving instructions. It just, I think it's, it's in a good way, it forced us to reflect on what we're doing. And how can we do it differently? And how can we make it even richer? Yes. And also the opportunity than for the students which, which I think should be there anyway, even if you give physical adjustments, adjustments, there should be this. You know, that it's, it's the students practice it and adapt justments should be, you know, always question why am I doing this? Why is this for the benefit of students? And also, you know, that the main thing is that they are exploring and doing and then I'm just helping, I'm not, you know, doing it for them.

Todd McLaughlin:

Yeah. That's a big one for sure.

Isabella Nitschke:

I'm just a resource. I'm just a guide. I'm not like I'm not a magician.

Todd McLaughlin:

But you can't be can't read minds yet. Isabella. You're not able. No. It's common. Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. Well, you might want to read your mom's mind. But that's just because you've been with her for so long. Yeah.

Isabella Nitschke:

Probably because I'm just as stubborn as she is. It runs and

Todd McLaughlin:

runs in the blood. Isabella, I'm so excited that we managed to pull this off. It's been a little bit

Isabella Nitschke:

really happy. It's been I've enjoyed it.

Todd McLaughlin:

Thank you so much. I know it's late over there on your time. So I want to be respectful of your time and not hold you long. But is there any time? Is there is there anything else that you would like to share? Add and or say as a conclusion?

Isabella Nitschke:

Oh, gosh, you're putting me on the spot there? No, I was I was just so involved in the conversation. I don't really know. You know, you don't have another question.

Todd McLaughlin:

Another question? Yes. Do Oh, come on, question popped into my head. No, I'm on the spot. Kidding. Um, you know, one thing I wanted to ask you earlier, which is completely off subject, I guess, but that I've always admired about Europeans. Is your ability to learn multiple language so effortlessly. And you mentioned obviously, we're speaking in English. And then you mentioned German, and now I'm gathering you speak Swedish? Of course. Um, are there any other languages in there?

Isabella Nitschke:

I do speak French.

Todd McLaughlin:

That's right. I thought that too. I was like, Oh my gosh, she probably speaks French as well. That's amazing.

Isabella Nitschke:

I did speak Chinese before.

Todd McLaughlin:

That's right. Because you said China. I totally wanted to go down that whole road but I figured that might take us far off the yoga subject, but Well, yeah, that

Isabella Nitschke:

would we would go for that was my previous life. Okay, with my previous career.

Todd McLaughlin:

Oh, okay. Gotcha. And was so different, whole different life, which language and tonics I know, there's a lot so which one we're used to.

Isabella Nitschke:

Mandarin. I learned Mandarin. And but then I haven't spoken like, professionally since 2009. When I left that, that way of living, became a yoga teacher.

Todd McLaughlin:

And you could speak professionally in Mandarin.

Isabella Nitschke:

I could speak like I always say I was able to speak in social situations. Yeah. So like I would manage I lived in China I would manage in social situations. I had Chinese friends. I could hold a conversation. I could read some you know, some things but you know, I didn't know enough characters to read a whole newspaper but I could. I was kind of I was quite good. I have to say and then I didn't in my in my profession. We always use interpreters because that's you have to like I was I was working for the European Commission in their embassy and in invading. So in I was working with political and issues like human rights, so we always had to have interpreters because that you wouldn't have a professional meeting without so. Yeah. No, I wouldn't say that I didn't use it in my job in that way, because we were not allowed.

Todd McLaughlin:

All right, well, you said you're not a magician, but I think you are, if you speak that many languages, like I don't even see, I just, that just is amazing to me. And I know now this is going down a whole nother subject. So the whole, the whole idea of is trying to, like conclude, but and I, I never want to go near politics, I don't even want to go there. But in in America, we have like this, like fear of China, kind of like rhetoric. And you've had a chance to live there. And I always want to promote, and or I'm always looking for humanity. And like in terms of like a global community, I see people. And I think we're all just trying to do the best we can. And that we probably have a lot more in common than we have out of common. So I guess maybe in conclusion, can you share a little bit about what you've learned by being a global citizen and learning all these languages and traveling all over the world? And having all these experiences? What do you see, as a bright future for the planet?

Isabella Nitschke:

Well, I think, I think what you're saying is, is that not only by living in different cultures and learning languages, meeting people, but also, I think, with the yoga experience, and the yoga philosophy, I think it's just, at least it has helped me to see, like, beyond all the surface, in terms that we are, as you said, We're all just human beings, we have the same need, we have, you know, we all need to be loved. We all need something useful to do, we all need a roof over our head, we all need a hug. And so we have the same needs, and we nobody is inherently evil, we're all just like, actually small, vulnerable beings. And if we would all see that we I think, I think we would treat each other very differently. And, and not like if somebody behaved badly, we would not lash out at that person or become irritated. Because we would understand that, you know, this person is just famous, I have the same needs. I wish I wish more more people would think like that, especially in terms of when it comes to. Like, in Sweden, there's a lot of racist and anti immigrants. How to say people are not yet not very positive towards people who have either came come here as refugees or as immigrants. And and I don't know, I think we could think if we would just think a little bit further, what has been this person been through, you know, I think often we are very protected here. We have, you know, everything we have a roof over our head, we have food on the table, we have, you know, we we are not cold in the winter, even if it's freezing outside, we're so spoiled. And people are shopping, they say, Oh, we don't have any money. And you know, on the weekend, they come home with all these bags of shopping and yeah, I just think I would just hope that people would, you know, maybe reflect a little bit and see how we are all just the same. And then, as I said, people when we might treat each other a little bit better, we might understand each other a little bit better, even if we are from different cultures and religions and what have you and language is still there. We have so much common ground. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

Oh, that's a beautiful closing message.

Isabella Nitschke:

Maybe I'm being naive. I don't know. I always wanted to save the world when I was younger. And then I realized he was not possible.

Todd McLaughlin:

I know. I don't want to lose that either. Isabella. I don't want to I don't want to lose that optimism.

Isabella Nitschke:

No. And now as you know, try to treat someone else if you want to be treated yourself. I know it's a cliche. And I know it's super difficult, especially when you know you react to someone you know, obviously we do because we can't be I mean, we can't see that you know distance all the time that we have time to reflect before we react and so we're going to be triggered by certain things, but I wish we could just treat everybody else as we want to be treated. I So, most of the time,

Todd McLaughlin:

yes. Oh, man. Well, thank you, Isabella. That's perfect.

Isabella Nitschke:

Thank you. And thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure to talk to you.

Todd McLaughlin:

Thank you. I mean, I've already been thinking in my mind a few times, like, I hope I get a chance to travel to Sweden. And definitely if I make it that far over, I want to come see you in South Sweden.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, yeah, sure. Yeah, definitely. I'll be fun. I was thinking of going to Miami, me to come and visit the new Miami. The garrison. They have seen on Tim Yeah, because, you know, Tim is coming here. He's visited our Sharla before coming again with we've got a plan visit

Todd McLaughlin:

here. So

Isabella Nitschke:

yeah, so we are together in Mysore. And because he's from Copenhagen in Denmark, I've bumped into into him a few times. And you know, winter has been visiting here. And so we were talking about me coming to visit but that was then COVID bounce back. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin:

Well, if you do, you can come visit Miami and you know, and teach two workshops on the same trip and and,

Isabella Nitschke:

oh, it wasn't XP wasn't 14. But I'd be happy because I'm gonna come and visit the Miami guy.

Todd McLaughlin:

Well, we got to plan it and January or February because it's so warm and beautiful and sunny here right now. I'm not trying to rub it in or anything on that. I know. Right. Right. Now you're in the cold. Like a good plan. Yeah, come over. In the winter. I'm not gonna be here and you'll be on the beach and your flip flops and sunbathing in the middle of winter. Yeah.

Isabella Nitschke:

So we're already solid.

Todd McLaughlin:

On that note, let's, let's stay in touch Isabella. I really enjoyed this. And I'm so thankful. I can't wait to publish this and have everyone have a chance to hear you.

Isabella Nitschke:

Yeah, cool. Thank you so much.

Todd McLaughlin:

Thank you. I wish you I wish you good luck, and I'm excited. I like I feel really happy thinking about you and your mom practicing together. That's amazing.

Isabella Nitschke:

Thank you. Thanks. So keep your fingers crossed for her. I will. She stays healthy.

Todd McLaughlin:

I will. All right. Thank you. Have a good one. All right.

Isabella Nitschke:

By

Todd McLaughlin:

native yoga podcast is produced by myself. The theme music is dreamed up by Bryce Allen. If you liked this show, let me know if there's room for improvement. I want to hear that too. We are curious to know what you think and what you want more of what I can improve. And if you have ideas for future guests or topics, please send us your thoughts to info at Native yoga center. You can find us at Native yoga center.com. And hey, if you did like this episode, share it with your friends, rate it and review and join us next time