Anne Vandewalle Paris, France

“I can do whatever I want but what is it I want?” this is the place life had brought to Anne when she decided to go to a Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas to surround herself in yoga and chanting. Life had just “randomly come to a stop” having made plans to travel Asia. But this stopping point led her to practice yoga in the Bahamas, the opportunity to chant with Krishna Das being a definite draw. Chanting for Anne is immensely healing with a deep resonance for her.

Anne is a Certified Anusara Teacher in Paris. She is so vibrant she shines. Life’s challenges haven’t tampered with her beaming light. She draws on the support of those around her in times of need, and generates that support outward to others in such a palpable way.

A clear demonstration of this was during the resulting impact on the people of Paris after the shootings of November 2015. Many of who didn’t know how to deal with something so deep within. Anne received so much support from her friends worldwide that she made an unwavering resolve, “I’m choosing life, no question, I am on the side of life!”…this gave her such strength to hold that space for her students, some students having a more difficult time being so clear around what they were experiencing from the tragedy. But Anne does well bringing people together as a way of strengthening the individual. She provides an open space for people to move the experience. Creating an intimacy that is essential to being true and authentic . Anne takes note that ironically, most of us haven’t been raised to tap into the resources we innately carry, to deal with life stuff when it comes up. She has a huge desire to share this, to connect the dots again through coming together. Because when we’re supported we’re able to support others…having a common connection for the greater good.

As a teacher Anne has such a bright approach that comes so naturally to her, stemming from her knowledge that ”connecting with others helps us to remember what is possible between people”…to show there are ways to deal with things, and to share this, and to be honest with what you’re going through. “Sometimes we screw up or are scared, but there’s more to it”.

I quote Anne in the following: “The more you’re trying to live mindfully and honestly, the more you’ll see what’s in your face…and people don’t tell you that when you begin to practice. Beginning yoga is so great, but it will dig up the stuff and you have to face it because you’ve seen it. You can’t ignore the challenge, you have to work with it. Yoga shines light on it and yoga makes you take responsibility. So sometimes the challenge is wanting to make it easy again”…awesomely put, hey? She and I smiled in mutual understanding that no one tells you when you begin yoga that you’re going to have to face yourself (and sometimes in big ways), but by the time it happens, it’s too late to turn back. It takes courage to be real and Anne says so beautifully that “yoga is how we navigate through all of it and embrace all the flavours of life, not just what we like”.

The method of navigation close to Anne’s heart is through chanting, and she is further strengthened through meditation. She feels that when we can let an aspect of ourselves emerge that we don’t interact with all the time, it gives more space within, reminding us there is more than just our thoughts and emotions. She looks forward to connecting to this. Her way of teaching asana very much encourages the same approach…using the body dynamically, going to that place through the body itself. Using asana to ask…what quality am I trying to ignite?

Perhaps it was that “stopping” point in Anne’s life that gave her the following wisdom: People need to be clear about what they want when they say they want to practice yoga. What are you after?...because then you’ll find the teacher. Ask the right questions and if you keep digging from those initial questions you will access your deeper needs and longings, and there lies the real question. Get in touch with that deeper longing. You don’t have to have the answer right away. The answer will come at some point along the way.

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Letters in Yoga