Anastasia Shevchenko was 15 when diagnosed with stage II scoliosis. Read in this column about how this started her yoga journey, what her dharma is and how this resulted into her now being a yoga teacher and founder of the Berlin Yoga Conference. At the bottom of this page, you will also find a discount for this inspiring event.
About Anastasia Shevchenko
Anastasia Shevchenko is the founder and the managing director behind the Berlin Yoga Conference and is a freelance yoga teacher. She is a proponent of authentic yoga experience for self-healing and self-transformation. Her special interest lies in the creation of bridges between yoga, philosophy, science, art, and spirituality. Anastasia’s newest passion is to teach yoga teachers how to best apply themselves in this industry.
How has your yoga practice changed your view on the subject ‘energy’?
My personal yoga journey started with yoga as a healing practice, and the little anecdote that follows reflects well on the subject of “energy”. When I was 15 and diagnosed with stage II scoliosis, I was “domed” by the medical institution of the day that told me I was too old to do anything about my deformed bones. My father suggested to me to start doing yoga in order to manage pain. Meanwhile, over few years, the practice of yoga helped me to heal my spine COMPLETELY.
Later, with my auto-didactic Quantum Mechanics studies, I came to appreciate that everything in this manifested reality that seems so hard and solid is energy at its core. Working with the physical and seemingly “hard” substance such as bone, “heating” it up continuously over time, you can shape it just like a goldsmith shapes gold.
All it took was dedication, perseverance, and a daily practice. Quantum Mechanics and Yoga are actually sister disciplines: they both teach you that at the core of the manifestation is the mind that creatively shapes subjective realities through manipulation of energy.
What does the word 'dharma' mean to you? And what is your dharma (as you understand it today)?
To me dharma is “the way things are”: it is about acceptance of the path and sticking to it, doing your best in your circumstances, even when at times you have fears or doubts. I’m not saying that you have to accept injustice or suffering, you can definitely try to alleviate it in your own way. Dharma is the way that You do exactly that, how you tackle the challenges of existence.
Which elements form your yoga practice? And if that is more than practicing yoga postures, could you then tell us more about this?
My yoga practice is comprised of all the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga as outlined by Patanjali. To me asana is just one of the tools in “toolbox”, and attachment to the tool, its continuous polishing and perfection, is probably the biggest challenge on the yoga path.
To practice yoga daily, year in year out, asks for a lot of tapas (discipline). What has helped your to create this habit?
Until the birth of my second child, I have practice Ashtanga yoga for over 8 years. This method specifically is very powerful and very demanding, creating the conditions for self-discipline and perseverance. It’s this method that has a carrot for the donkey and keeps you hooked, but at one point you need to wake up and realize that it’s not about the carrot, it’s about the journey that you have been taking in the process.
Would you like to tell something about a challenge that you faced (with regard to living your dharma)?
Like experiencing resistance or not yet making the impact you wanted to make. And what have you done to face this phase?
I would say that at the moment, my biggest challenge is to grow my heart project - Berlin Yoga Conference, due in May 24 – 26th 2019. I’m trying to get people excited about it, meanwhile there are just so many yoga events and festivals these days, and I also have two kids and a freelance husband who needs my help with his projects as well.
When things get difficult, I just remind myself that whatever has to be done - will be done, and whatever needs to happen - will happen. My job is to try, to work hard, to connect to people, and the rest is up to the universe. The good signs are there, and the good people come my way and we connect, resonating on the same frequency. This is so beautiful. Another gift that you get through a challenge is the gift of learning - you always learn and it is a true pleasure to grow in your awareness and understanding.
Which insight has impacted your yoga practice substantially? For example something from the yoga philosophy or a cue from a teacher?
I read a gazillion of books on yoga, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, quantum mechanics, mysticism, art, sociology, and a lot of great fiction, especially the classics. I have studied with many amazing teachers, mostly in the yoga festival and yoga studio formats. The biggest realization for me was that the most valuable “a-ha” moments come from the realm of your personal experiences. You cannot learn understanding from others; you can only get inspired and get exposed to new ideas and new directions for your personal self-growth and self-realization, which result in true understanding.
Which (yoga) book do you recommend?
Since I read so much, I tend to forget the importance of certain books, but in any case, I don’t believe there is such a thing as “the book” for everyone. If a book makes such a claim, it is for everyone, but in the end it is for no-one.
I think with books, on the one hand, it’s important to continuously learn in the field that is the most familiar and natural, the field of passion and true calling. But on the other hand, one should always go across disciplines to get really cool new ideas and creative connections between them. That’s what creates intertextuality and depth - approaching the topic from many different angles.
How can we support you in your dharma? And how can we connect with you (website, social media, etc.)?
I would be super happy if you learned about my project, Berlin Yoga Conference, and if you felt the impulse to be a part of it in any way: either by spreading the word and sharing it with others, or by offering your help with specific tasks, or simply by purchasing a ticket and coming over to Berlin in May to be a part of the first edition.
You now even receive a 10% discount on your tickets for the Berlin Yoga Conference by using the discount code "yoga-habits". Check the video below to get an impression of this inspiring event.
Feel free to email me and connect personally: [email protected]
Photo credit: Alessandro Sigismondi. And check the whole video here:
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