A moment of reflection for your hectic day

Your replies on my last email humbled me ☺️! 

 

To connect and exchange with you fulfills me. It's my main intention to write to you. So thank you so much for taking time and sharing your challenge on what and how to start. 

 

One big insight from all your responses in Switzerland, the USA, Germany and Portugal. 


You're not alone. 


In common you've got, that in the hectic daily life, you need to find time for yourself and balance among the different roles you carry while fulfilling your expectations and the one from others. 

 

Especially with your kids and partner, you see yourself in the dance of guilt, and "but, I need my care". And also, you feel the constant pressure of performing in your job and providing for your family.

 

And before you realize you'll say something like, that you feel tired, exhausted, disconnect, overwhelmed. Would you agree?

 

Here's what I'd love to share with you from my experience. 


A vital thought that I've come to believe is that there's no such thing as balance. You can't control happenings and events in the outer world. They come, go, and you'll need to find a way to manage it. 

 

I couldn't have said it better, than Berta in her response to my last email: 

 

"So my life is always in adjust mode, starting, figuring out the best way, lots of times one step in front, two in the wrong direction, always making little adjustments."

 

 

Though you may not control the world around you, you do have the chance to balance within yourself. It's a constant process, of knowing who you are and what's best for you. 

 

I've come to experience that my Yoga practice grounds me, strengthens my body, clears my mind, and fosters my compassion and detachment. And when I speak about balance, that these senses of being express it to me the most at the moment: 

 

Ground, strength, clarity, compassion, surrender.

 

They help me to deal with the ups and downs of daily life in a rooted place and with an open heart likewise and therefore I feel less stressed, anxious, and overloaded. 

 

To deal with daily life is a practice. Some days don't work well. And it's ok for me as long as I keep trying the next day again.

 

 

So, my questions are, supposing that taking care of yourself, does enhance the quality of your life:

 

Why do you feel challenged to do it? 

Why do you carry resistance turning to yourself first? 

Why do you feel guilty about doing it? 🤔

 

With all my heart, I'd love to hear from you, your objections. Send me an email here! Because you've got an inner spark worth to be cherished. 

 

 

Always with love

 

Your Stef ❤️

 

 

 

PS: On a note re Yoga practice, even a small amount of regular practice can bring you positive results for yourself and daily routines. You won't need much time to begin with Ashtanga Yoga. In four to six sessions, you'll be able to practice the fundamentals. You want to try it? 

 

You can use my 2-1 or 1-1 programs or join me in my group classes at Aravinda Yoga Shala, downtown Lisbon. Reply here! I'm an email away. Love to hear from you! 
 

Six tips to get started and stick to it - anything!

Don't tell my son Zion, but yesterday I caught myself munching his salt & vinegar Pringles. 

 

Just the day before I was arguing with him over the exact Pringle's box in the supermarket. Whether to buy or not and why I'd recommend him the usual hummus and veggie crisps.  

 

But you know, Pringles from Kellog's. 

 

And while I was picking one after another Pringle out of the box standing thinking in my kitchen, I smiled with myself. There I was eating these crisps. Shamelessly. 

 

At this moment I knew, I own Zion a new box. 

And I knew, I betrayed my own arguments. 

 

Isn't it like this? 

 

You keep telling yourself, your partner or bestie that you need to do (more) for your health, your mind, that you've been thinking to change your life because [fill in here your reasons: I feel so stiff, disconnected, alone, anxious, unfulfilled... ] and that you've wanted to start with taking care of yourself yesterday? 

 

I bring this up to let you know, I get you. 

 

Just in my last convo with my dear Ashtangi fellow and wonderful friend, she said to me: 

 

It's hard to start. 

 

She aims to be without phone over the weekend to relax and spend more quality time with her four kids. 

 

A small change in the daily usage of a device! That's something doing for your health. And how you do it. In small steps day after day

 

Here're my six tips to help you start and keep it up!

 

  1. Make a promise to yourself! That's key. You don't break promises, do you? Following your own commitment fearlessly will shape your process and progress into your version of success.

  2. Have a precise time-frame and frequency in mind! Let's say you want to resume your yoga practice: I'll practice twice a week, 20' at 6:30a till December 2019 and check-in again. I recommend you one up to three-month experience. Then you can adjust, expand, try something new.

  3. Put your me-time in your calendar and make it non-negotiable! I know that you sometimes cannot make it due to kiddos, work-travels, etc. I hear you, and it's totally ok. Think about these challenges and look for alternatives before you set yourself up for your mission. Because 95% is about showing up.

  4. Share your goal with your family and friends, so that they can help you along the way by either giving you your space or encouraging you the best they can. You may need to distance from them. And that's the hardest.

  5. Be kind to yourself! When it doesn't go the way you want it, or you hit a turning point, or experience a setback, find caring, loving words for yourself and get back on track.

  6. Celebrate your small steps to success like nobody's watching! You can't do this often enough. Because it fuels the soil for appreciation, presence, and independence from other people's opinions or praise.

 

 

Curious to hear from you; what's hard for you to start with and how's your process going! Know, I'm here to help. Just leave a comment below!

 

When you look for yoga practice and still need to clarify some doubts, I'd be happy to talk with you. Please send me an email to schedule our conversation! Reply here or book your session here!  

 

Take the first little step and then the second and the third. Walk forward with consistency while you stick to your promise. When you do that, there's always room for a guilty pleasure. 🙃

 

Always with love for you, 

 

 

Your Stef ❤️

 

PS: When your partner, friend, colleague, a family member has been wanting to take the first step for too long, forward this blog! Because it may inspire. 

Fear? Yes, please! 🤗

Ok, one more vacay story. 🖖


It's about fear. 

Been writing about it in my blog (click herehere and here!). But this topic lights me up. Again and again. 


Because I feel it. Because I hear the word in my work. Because I see it in daily life. OFTEN. 


In hope, it takes you out of your comfort zone into the life you so want, here's my latest take on fear. 



First, the story.  

My son Zion, six, is a water ninja, as his surf teacher Lourenço likes to say. Familiar with sea and Atlantic ocean water, he still needs to overcome some fears. 


Like this one: Zion was scared to jump from the base. 


Every day in our holidays, he'd say I'm gonna jump on my birthday. Which was a couple of days to go. 


Just one day before his anniversary, Zion firmly stated: today I'm gonna jump. I kneed down, looked into his eyes, and confirmed: you sound sure about it. 


You must know that Zion's very competitive. All he wants is to succeed. Feeling weak is his weakness. 


So I asked: Would you promise it to yourself? 

Yes, yes, he nodded his head, I promise. 


Off we took our walk down through the wood to the hidden calm lake. Arrived Zion withdrew and wept, there'd be no jumping today. 


Mmmm, I replied. You promised it to yourself, didn't you? Then he busted out in fear and rage at the same time. 


I could see him fighting inside, so I let him do what he needed to do; stumping the food, shouting, crying. Calmed down, he sat on the base turning the back to the water, lowering his head down into his knees, I came next to him to be close and caring. 


After a while, Zion mumbled: I need help. 


We went to the flat area of the water. I held out my hands, Zion took them, and on three, he jumped. Wow! His eyes turned to two shining stars. 


Again, he shouted. 


We walked further up the base to take the next jump. Again with help, Zion jumped. Done! 


He got more confident and aimed to do the next one by himself.

In the deep water. 


Slowly Zion walked up, stood there silently, and did this: 


Putting his hands to prayer and speaking to himself this mantra several times. 


"I am calm. I am brave." 


He started to run and took the ---- leap. 


Back on the shore, he screamed: I did it, I did it, I did it. 


You can imagine from this day on, jumping was around the clock, down there in nature's beautiful lake. 



The essence of this story? Marie Forleo'skeynote brings it to the point:

Fear is a GPS for where your soul most wants to go! 🔥
(I'm a freakin' Marie Forleo fan, and this nugget gives me goosebumps all the time. )


That's so right for me. 

I'm going to break it down, how I see it here: 

  1. Fear's a valuable emotion. It deserves its present as any other feeling. That's why it'll be there with you anytime, anywhere in your life.

  2. Embracing your fear within yourself and not with your rational thinking is vital for your forthgoing.

  3. Ask yourself truthfully, whether the thing you so genuinely want to do is either expanding or contracting you.!Then follow, what expands you.

  4. That will give fear the right spot along with your choices - on the back seat of your ride. Like, you're welcome, but you've got no vote.

  5. Get help when you need it! I know from experience, that fear can reveal shame too. Which's often way stronger than the fear itself. Do seek for a mentor, coach, teacher, anyone who you want to trust and invest in your growth.

  6. Create a mantra, belief, conviction. Like my son: I am calm. I am brave.

  7. Take the leap!


"Test it, live it, experience it" (from the interview with Marie Forleo, Marie TV, 10 September 2019. Click here!). 


You see, a regular Ashtanga practice can genuinely help you dealing with your fears. Because it directs you towards it, makes you feel them without judgment, helps you accept them, and then you move through them practice after practice with the sole help of your own. 

You begin to collect positive experience with fear, which will level up your confidence from a place of appreciating yourself like nobody else. You begin to know your little quirks, and flaws and your talents and strength and all that stuff. With time and love. 

The practice will proof you, that you're worthy of your Self, your space in this world, your purpose and dreams by teaching you who you are and what's your goal and what to do next. All with care and love and patience balanced with persistence, challenges and humiliation. Deep deep down in your soul. 


Just a little bit of regular practice will do. Trust me! 


Now, I'd love to hear from you! 


What's the one thing you always wanted to do but feel scared to do? And which (even if it's just a tiny) step would you take now, to move closer and eventually leap?


Reply in the comments below, because I'd love love love to see you spark up!

I mean it. 


Last but not least, thank you SO SO much for being here and reading and sharing. Appreciate it! 


Always with love,


Your Stef ❤️


PS: Is there a friend, colleague, encounter, that may need some encouragement. Forward this blog post and send some extra love! 


PPS: When this story inspired you to give Ashtanga Yoga a go, hit this link here! I'm just an email away.   Private Tuition or my only Group Classes at Aravinda Yoga Shalain downtown Lisbon. 🤩



One of my fav life ingredients


Hey there 🌟!


Morning hour in Berlin city. In casual I'm hanging on my sister's balcony looking over the skyline. 🌇


My eyes are catching skyscrapers, the "Potsdamer Platz", where the former East and West Berlin meet, the famous "Gedächtniskirche" and about five cranes while I'm curing my hangover with water and herbal tea.


Though I just had ONE glass of champagne at last night's inauguration of my friend's surgery clinic in Berlin-Mitte. Her name's Astrid, and we were bf during our university times. Longtimeago. Galp!


At this party, I met Astrid's friends I hadn't seen in ten years. The conversations circled about the classic - work, kids, and house.


Now and then my chats got crashed when somebody I didn't know, said goodbye. As an uncomfortable observant, I was patiently waiting until they'd finished the goodbye ritual. Know this icky feeling?


Fair enough. I'm not a social geek.


I decided I want to do it differently.


Taping Astrid on her shoulder about to say Good Bye, my sister got into a talk with her. And me, well I shyly glanced at the man Astrid was talking to. I smiled, looked away. Then we smiled at each other, looked away; until I took a deep breath of courage and said Hi.


We stayed for another two hours. 🥂


With Sören, that's his name; I had this conversation that totally fires me up. 


After an emotional burn-out, that's how he described it; he took turns on his life. He began the journey into his inner world, he marveled with absolute conviction. He seemed so inspired, and I just loved this vibrant energy.


Sören pointed out that he started his change with just 50. Saying he's at the beginning and yet feels super content.


And guess what, his dream is to get a surfboard in his hands and come over to Portugal.


Two takeaways I took out of this conversation: 

  1. It's never too late to unravel and take another shift in life

  2. Contentment's THE place to grow from. You need to know what you've got to allow yourself to want and desire. Anything else's greed; it seems to me.


Contentment is one of my favorite behaviors suggested in the yoga scripts.


Provided you've set the best intention for yourself, with a regular and consistent Ashtanga Yoga practice this behavior embodies within you and almost becomes a natural act in your life.


It's a sweet, quiet, fulfilled yet sturdy sensation regardless of the daily ups and downs.


That's what I call to rock a "balanced" life. To remain peaceful inside when changes and challenges in life are inevitable on the way to achieve your endeavors.


How do you think about contentment, and what role does it play in your life?


Leave a comment, because it's so worth to think about that.


Enjoy your life!


Always with love.

Your Stef.


❤️


PS: Worth to share my email with a family member, friend, or colleague? I'd be grateful when you forward it!


PPS: Follow me on Instagram @stefaniebirkholz




The truth is...

Hi  🌟,


An unplanned stop.

After my first class this morning, I paused at the beach along my way. I pulled my car right side on the parking of Cresmina beach, swapped into my Havaianas, threw the towel over my shoulders and took the notebook in my hand.

 

That's all that I needed.

 

In the sand, the towel sheltered me. Unusual for July the sky was grey, clouds hanged low covering the cliffs and the air was chilly.

 

I started to write to you. But the truth's, I couldn't get my thoughts structured, nor clarify one essence that I learned. My mind's full of insights, excitement, and curiosity of life.

 

You know, July wasn't easy. Challenges popped out like the lid from a champagne bottle.

 

Struggling at the beginning with my inner conflicts, especially the emotional ones, I decided, I don't hold my mask up, nor I run away. I stood my ground.

 

I dove in. I did my best to take the challenges on, to find my place in each one. I saw it as it is; I listened, asked, sorted, clarified, spoke up, said sorry, failed, re-adjusted, connected, kept silence, wrote (many pages), breathed, and stayed present.

 

Wanted to say this to you, because I've learned that your July wasn't the easiest either - a break-up, death, illness, mean actions, misunderstandings.

 

Thank you for sharing.

 

I've figured, when you speak the truth, you've got a great chance to connect. And connection, with yourself and others, is the foundation for a steady mind, and an open heart and a soulful, beautiful life. You breathe from a place of calm and peace and choose your battles and make your choices from there.

 

Love. Expansion. Growth.

 

During the struggle friendships deepened, my work became more professional, collaborations are in the making, my family's growing stronger and me, I've gained a tiny portion more trust in myself and in what I love and how I do it.

 

Now I need to take a deep breath.

I'd love to hear from you. What was the most important learning from July and why? Because, you know, connecting. 🤗

 

 

To re-connect, sometimes you need to disconnect, to step back from everything and overlook the events from the outside. Insights need to settle in, new structure forms, positive memories store, and you're able to draw from them to take your next steps.

 

Saying this, my holidays are on the wa-hhahayy. Leaving this Friday, I'll be back on schedule from Thursday 29 August.

 

On Thursday 29 and Friday 30 August, I've got two lunch spots for you. Want to practice one one one? Reply here!

 

Again and again, thank you SO much for being here, reading my emails, sharing and building a better life. ❤️

 

Now let's summer!

 

love & love & love.

 

Your Stef ✌️

 

P.S.: Ah, big news! I'm on Instagram. Follow me @stefaniebirkholz!

Would appreciate to have you over there.

 

Spin the bottle!

Hey,

On the search for Madonna's video shot on Batuka at Ericeira's coastline we never made it to the Capela de São João.

My friend Michael and I hadn't seen us for years. Together with my son Zion, we ended up on a beach close by talking about life, what and who evokes change and - well, how to free yourself.

On this day under the sun, the sea felt powerful, shined light blue and the waves splashed some freshness on our skin. It was windy though, and soon we looked for shelter in this simple restaurant on top of the cliff.

A classic after the beach time: We ordered a fresh beer, cooled white wine, a limo, veggie toast and nourished our souls with this stunning view over the Atlantic. It always makes me feel at home.

🌊

Zion came up with "spin the bottle". He was totally in charge of the rules. And we had to answer questions asking each other. It turned out to be an exciting game.

Discussing Karl Marx's theory that the material world defines culture, education, and human growth, the question to me was, what my favorite "thing" is.

I had to think.

Getting a hint like, it could be chocolate, I finally got my answer.

When I practice Ashtanga Yoga intensively and come off my mat after about two hours the best thing to do then's to drink water.

Fresh, natural, smooth water.
This natural power and I feel like one.
The clarity of the taste's subtle.
The sensation of clearing's sensational.

💦

Life's fragile. Life's marvelous. And I believe life happens in the details.
All details combined designs you.
Details express in taking action, not just pondering on big words, like, love, appreciation, courage, forgiveness, etc.

How does it look like in your daily life?
What's your favorite material good?
How do you express love?
Which situations call your courage?

Let's play "spin the bottle" and reply here with your share!

Because, when it's water OR salty caramel dark chocolate, we're already two.

Raise your awareness, look out for your details, and enjoy this day!

Sweet love and as always, deep appreciation for you to be here
reading and replying to my email. It means so much to me.


Your Stef ❤️


P.S.: Inspired to practice Ashtanga Yoga? Or to give it a try? Send me an email for private tuition here!

Thought I'm sharing this with you too

Confession time! 🌟

In my twenties, I danced myself away in Berlin's nightlife.

Vibrant times around the year 2000. Freedom lingered everywhere. People expressed themselves, especially at night.

When window-light sparked darkness wrapped its arms around me, I felt protected to let loose. There was this night club called "Boom." The name was program.

Best drinks, latest music, underground and lively - women, men, queens, gay, straight, stylish, hot, chic - let your imagination go wild! I so drank this moment of diversity. I felt I belong.

My daytime was different. Very much. Reading the wrong books (mathematics and statistics) in university and jobing aside to pay bills, I felt desperate under my skin. Lost like a particle in space, having no idea what was happening inside me.

I kept seeking. Still unconsciously.
Until I was able to hear something.


Seeking, I've come to believe, is a call from your soul.

A whisper within yourself that thrives you to be vibrantly alive. It invites you to question, reflect, deconstruct your life so you can feel deeper, look from a different perspective, create, change, and re-build it.

You seek. Whether you'd like to gain more clarity, enhance your business, do what you love and earn money with it, create more time for yourself, parent differently, tap into your potential, build healthy relationships, there's only one way out which's - IN.

Ashtanga Yoga can help you do just that. As an internal practice, it teaches you to listen.

Listen to your body, emotions, mind, intuition, and see you clearly from outside. You could also say, the practice helps you raise your awareness of who you're and who you want to become.

Listening's a vital skill that needs practice. Begin gently. And, with the time you foster a reliable connection with yourself and ultimately embrace yourself.

Self-love's possible. ❤️


These are some of my words after the Ashtanga Yoga session; I had the honor to give at Jorge Coutinho's coaching program Be:Coach yesterday in the morning.

Thought I'm sharing it with you too. As well as some shots below.


You're an extraordinary soul. 

I'm so glad you're here, and together we're on this journey.

Mil beijinhos 🙌

Your Stef




Ps: As Bob Marley sings: "some good good loving, never try to resist:" You've got a life to live! Feel love for yourself!

Pps: Reply here and let me know how you feel about yourself? How do you express love for yourself?

Ppps: pics and my post from my session at Jorge's program in March - click here!

Wow, what a question!

Listen to this!

"Do you think, I resist to be strong?" a student asked me. 

This question was so interesting I kept pondering it for days 🤯. 

Until I saw Brené Brown's brand - new talk, exclusively produced for Netflix, released on 19 April in 190 countries and 29 languages. 

An absolute MUST WATCH, when you care for yourself, your family & friends, your work and our planet.  

Weaving elegantly and amusingly stories in her talk, Brené draws the red line of her outstanding work as a vulnerability and shame researcher. 

She's found, that being vulnerable is” the most accurate measurement of courage” and the “birthplace of joy, connection, creativity”; that you belong to yourself first and that new leadership is about embedding it into the work culture. 



Sobbing, laughing and nodding my head over Brené's talk, I figured resisting to be strong's so possible. And, that there's another way to go. 

Here's my thought stream. 

I want to think of as being strong in the sense of courage. Speak: being vulnerable. 

Vulnerable - the center of shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety,  uncertainty. 

It's saying or doing something when you don't know the outcome. 

When have you've said the last time - 
I love you first 
I'm sorry, I'll get better 
I need help
I'm scared of 
I'm feeling, that
I'm making the story up in my mind, that
I made a mistake
...

Yes, I agree. Emotions, you want to numb or in other words "resist". Right?

BUT, opening up and telling your story of who you are, that's when your courage lingers in too. These're all brave actions. 

Belong to yourself first! 
Show up! 
Grow as a human being!
Connect!
Create!
Trust, those who love you! 
Express gratitude!
Be joyful without purpose! 


You see, it creates such an astonishing human field of emotions. I understand you tempt to resist diving right into it. Yet, that's where life blossoms. Take that leap and jump! Show up! 

With my whole heart I encourage you to watch Brené Brown's talk on Netflix 🌟. Here's the trailer.

When you don't have access to it, click here to listen to her talk  "The Power of vulnerability"! Among the most five watched ones on TEDx, it'll be so worth your time.

Hit reply and share with me your most significant insight! Or comment below!

Because don't be afraid to be seen. 


With so much love, 

Your Stef


P.S.: Ashtanga Yoga's a beautiful practice to learn how to be present in an emotional moment. You'll build the strength to be courageous. Every breath you take. Reply to this email and get info about the qualities of Private Teaching or book your session! Group classes every Tuesday & Thursday 12:45-14:15 hrs at Aravinda Yoga Shala, Chiado, Lisbon. You're so welcome ❤️!


P.P.S.: Inspire your family and friends and forward this email! Get some tacos, hang out and watch Brené's talk together!