“Carsten’s Yoga classes are a mix of Pranayama, Meditation, dynamic and static high level bodyweight exercises (Asanas) and Qi Gong executed with the precise instructions of an Iyengar teacher on steroids.”
The emphasis is on you, the student, to find new depths in your mind and body constitution. Picturebook, show-off Asanas are not the aim of the class.
Everybody’s body is different. For you to feel better, you need to rebuild YOUR body slowly, step by step. Carsten encourages you to explore your inner body in class. With awareness you strengthen your weaknesses and correct your muscular imbalances. Your body becomes more dynamic and less compromised. At the same time you get rid of your joint pains, usually in your (lower) back, knees and shoulders.
For many, the word “meditation” brings up images of long-haired hippies listening to new age music, sitting in a room full of incense smoke and preaching about their vegan lifestyle.
This description might be true in some instances, but meditation is not some weird spiritual practice!
It’s a very practical tool to help promote a calmer, more focused and more productive life. In fact, two Harvard studies by Sara Lazar show that regular meditators have more grey matter in their frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls memory and decision-making. The studies revealed that 50-year-old meditators had as much grey matter as 25-year-olds who didn’t meditate. But that’s not all. The results of the research also showed that meditators are happier: While the frontal cortex gets bigger from meditation, the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for feelings of stress, fear and anxiety – gets smaller.
It’s never too late to start and it doesn’t require any severe lifestyle changes. In fact, there’s hardly anything more minimalistic than meditation: All that’s required is stillness and focus.
Carsten incorporates meditation into every class, beginners and advanced alike.
And before long you’ll be noticing the rewards.
“If the best in the world are stretching their ass off in order to get strong, why aren’t you?”
(world-renowned Olympic coach for USA Gymnastics)
Nowadays people beyond the age of 30 have spent years sitting at a desk day in day out making a living. They still do some sort of sport or training, but usually not outside their physical conditioning. Therefore their bodies have become fragile and their physique is compromised: They have no mobility and very little core strength.
The less mobile they are, the more prone they are to injury. You might hear friends saying “I was just outside, running around with the kids and busted my knee!” Seriously? Your knee is that tight that it blows running around or missing a step? That doesn’t happen to kids whose mobility range is not yet compromised from years of desk patrol.
The same goes with joint and back pain. In most adults lower back pain isn’t lower back related. It’s oblique related, which is a muscle of the trunk.
So in order to strengthen these people, their mobility has to be rebuilt first, followed by their core, which means not only abs, but also obliques and lower back.
For most people, especially guys, though, strength or cardiovascular training always takes priority over any stretching. What they don’t understand is, that high levels of technical performance in any sport always come from a solid foundation of physical preparation, which means correct range of motion, good mobility and connective tissue.
Traditional strength training with barbells is too simplistic. The training of isolated muscle groups makes training much easier which explains why it has become so popular, not because it is so effective.
Physical preparation is number one priority for Carsten’s classes. The Asanas he uses are high level bodyweight exercises which rebuild your physical structure first. You shift into your mobility and body awareness and find an increased range of motion.
“You need a surplus of range of motion, of mobility, and a surplus of strength and stability, so your body is prepared when things go wrong and you don’t get hurt!”
The body thrives on this, because it’s what the body is supposed to do!
Come and experience it for yourself!
Pranayama / Breath Holding
Breath work (Pranayama) is usually terribly neglected in Yoga classes, especially for beginners. It is usually kept from class until some mystified advanced stage has been reached. Often the teacher is not really familiar with it either.
In contrast to the norm Carsten makes breathing an essential part of his teachings right from the start.
The reason is: It’s just too important to be postponed.
Humans breathe about twenty to twenty five thousand times a day. Therefore one could think, everybody’s breathing muscles are well developed, but this couldn’t be further from the truth: Most people’s breathing is extremely shallow, so the intake of oxygen is reduced to the bare minimum.
Findings of the PNAS study from 2014 show that during “Wim Hof breathing” adrenaline levels are even higher than the levels induced in your blood during your first bungee jump. At the same time the pH-level in your blood increases (making the blood more alkaline) from an average value of 7.4 to 7.75 and will stay like that for 80 minutes and longer.
Holding your breath is not just about holding your breath for a long time because it’s a big challenge or it’s fun. It is a self exploration – You want to get to know yourself better. You want to challenge yourself. You want to know what it feels like to enter unknown territories inside your body, inside your mind, maybe even inside your spirit.
So you gain control over your body and you gain control over your mind.
QiGong is an ancient Chinese health practice and means to work with energy.
Chi energy or Prana is the vital life force flowing through your entire body. The more chi you have, the healthier your body is.
In order to have a good energy flow in your body, you must have a good structure. The style of QiGong Carsten teaches you in his class synchronises standing or still positions to the breath and has, like yoga asanas, the aim to improve the range of motion in your joints. At the same time your concentrated focus is very important, giving QiGong qualities similar to meditation.
With practice you’ll be able to use your breath to directly influence your body’s biochemistry, i.e. increase the body’s capacity to take in energy and move it around. It all sounds a bit abstract in the beginning, but with practice you’ll be amazed what you are capable of. It ties in, reinforces and complements meditation and asanas in a very powerful way.
Come and experience it yourself.