Step into the serene world of yoga as we embark on a journey of self-discovery and inner peace. In this edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Katherine (Sutra Studio), an accomplished yogi in the vibrant city of Amsterdam. Katherine's expertise and dedication to yoga have propelled her to become a trusted guide in the realm of mindful movement and holistic well-being. Join us as we explore into Katherine's yoga journey and uncover the transformative wisdom she imparts on finding inner balance, and nurturing a harmonious connection between mind, body, and soul.
- Dear Katherine, can you describe your personal yoga journey? Was there a specific trigger moment for you to start yoga?
I started practicing yoga 16 years ago at the age of 16, seeking relief from anxiety and overwhelm. My parents' high expectations led me to focus solely on academics, resulting in anxiety, sleep issues, and an eating disorder. Luckily, a Kundalini yoga class opened in my town, and I immediately connected with a passionate teacher. We worked together for years, but eventually, I outgrew his teachings and explored other yoga styles like Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga. My latest passion is Yin yoga, which combines gentleness with hidden challenges. Now, I'm drawn to bodywork, breathwork, and somatic healing for trauma release, using my own experiences to help others on their healing journeys.
- Which is your favorite style of yoga? And why?
It's a journey with its ups and downs, never following a straight line. You fall in love with it, and then you learn to let it go. Someone once described Kundalini yoga as being similar to antibiotics - you don't need it all the time, but when something goes really wrong, it becomes a powerful tool to rely on. It works on multiple levels, such as the body, chakras, energy, emotions, mindset, comfort zones, triggers, and even on a soul level of connection.
If I were to teach right now, I would primarily focus on yoga and breath-work. Just as a doctor doesn't prescribe antibiotics constantly, there is a need for gentler approaches, like vitamins and supplements. I strongly believe in the power of finding stillness and inner quiet that yoga provides, as it serves as a valuable tool for our overall well-being.
- What does your daily practice look like?
I believe in the power of daily yoga practice. It provides a sense of structure while also allowing for fluidity. I don't recommend following a rigid routine because everyone's body and needs are different. It's important to develop a deep connection with your body and listen to what it requires each day. Sometimes, a restorative practice is needed, while other times, you may crave an energizing and fiery practice. That's why curiosity is key—try out different yoga styles and practices to see what resonates with you.
During winter, I opt for a gentle practice, often lasting around 20 to 30 minutes. I reassure people that it doesn't have to be strict or lengthy. Even just 10 minutes of yoga is better than nothing because this discipline is about taking care of yourself every day. In winter, I focus on three poses from yin yoga to stretch, ground myself, and create a sense of safety before facing the world. Winter can be tough enough, so there's no need to overwhelm ourselves further.
As I sense the arrival of more energy and a shift in seasons, I may feel a bit lazier but also ready to push myself. That's when I incorporate exercises from high-intensity training or gym workouts. Jumping and interval exercises work wonders, as they bring a cardio element that is not typically found in yoga. I enjoy exploring different aspects and adding a touch of fire and energy to my practice. Sometimes, I even dance to my favorite music, embracing guilty pleasures like Britney Spears, to get my body moving even when I may not initially feel like it. It serves as a warm-up, preparing my body for a more structured yoga flow that combines yin poses to stretch, connect with the breath, and cultivate flexibility and strength.
If time allows before work, I also include grounding poses because, like many people stuck in their heads, I need extra grounding and time for myself. This is how my practice unfolds. In the summer, I tend to have longer sessions and focus more on core workouts, especially when the energy feels sunny and warm.
Meditation is also a daily practice, as it complements and enhances my overall yoga journey.
- How do you incorporate breath work and meditation into your yoga practice, and what role do they play in your practice?
While physical exercise is important, I believe that meditation takes precedence. Yoga prepares the body to sit still and meditate without being distracted by discomfort. However, I respect all forms of bodywork, dance, and movement because the ancient creators of yoga didn't live in our modern world. They couldn't anticipate the stress and tension we accumulate in our hectic lives. As a full-time office worker, I don't always have time for a two-hour yoga practice in one go. Instead, I start my day by meditating in bed. Meditation can take various forms—I simply close my eyes, connect with my breath, and check in with my body and energy level. Lately, I've even incorporated positive affirmations to counteract my strong critical thinking. It's not always about fighting or conquering; sometimes, finding peace and affirming safety, love, and happiness can shift our mindset for the day.
I also practice meditation and breath-work before going to bed. It's a way to prepare for sleep, such as using box breathing—inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding again for equal seconds. Just three minutes of breath-work can have a profound impact, completely altering the flow of energy. For those struggling with sleep, I recommend breathing solely through the left nostril, as it activates the calming parasympathetic nervous system.
- You recently started women circles under the name of MoonTrybe. Can you tell us about this initiative? What was your intention to start this initiative?
This endeavor is my baby. Like a baby, it takes time to grow. Patience isn't my strong suit, but passion fuels me. Taking it one step at a time is a challenge because I envision its vast potential and the desire to help more people through it. It's about women's circles. I started this journey six months ago when a meditation session revealed a clear calling to share my practice. It felt like a conversation with my intuition or a higher power. I embraced the challenge, despite feeling unsure about leading women's practices as someone who isn't traditionally 'girly.'
However, being surrounded by strong, independent women in these circles has taught me that we all face similar struggles. We've lost touch with what it means to be a woman in today's world. Women attend these practices seeking connection and reassurance about their femininity. What we often fail to see within ourselves is the inherent strength we possess. We carry this notion that being strong diminishes our femininity, but that's a misconception. It's a challenge our generation faces, but it's a beautiful one, and I feel blessed to be part of it.
At this point, I feel drawn to working exclusively with women because the energy that emerges when we come together is different. We realize there's no need for competition or proving ourselves to our egos. Women are natural collaborators, and we have the power to create together. Surrounding myself with women has shown me that I'm not alone in my experience of navigating the world as a smart yet emotional woman. We're redefining what it means to be a woman, free from the conditioning of our youth. This is the essence of the Moon Tribe, connecting women and embracing practices that help us reclaim our bodies and embrace all aspects of our femininity.
- Can you walk us through a your women circle session, from start to finish?
A women's circle is not a fixed practice, and each teacher approaches it in their own unique way. When you attend someone else's class and then come to mine, it might not be what you expected. Some circles focus on women sharing and relating to one another through conversation. However, I have a different approach—I'm a doer. I love sharing tools that have helped me, mostly connected to body practices like yoga. In my circles, we engage in activities together that align with the seasons, lunar cycles, and monthly energies.
For example, during the New Moon, a time of intuition and inner reflection, we recently had a beautiful and profound healing meditation. It's a deep and still practice. As we transition into the fire season, marking the start of the new lunar year and spring, we incorporate more Kundalini practices to empower ourselves, connect with our emotional intelligence, explore our anger, and establish boundaries. Dancing is always part of our circles because I strongly believe in its ability to awaken the feminine within us. It's a way to feel our bodies, tap into playfulness, and experience the joy of life.
Regardless of the variations in each practice, we always include breath work and meditation. The rest depends on honoring and respecting the energies present. It's important to align our energy with the natural flow rather than going against it. This connection to our inner world and its harmonious relationship with the outside world is an essential aspect of the feminine experience.
- Thank you, Katherine, for being a part of this interview and sharing your incredible journey with us. Your openness and insights have been truly valuable. We appreciate your contribution to our exploration of yoga, meditation, and women's circles.
For more information about Moon Tribe and Katherine's women's circles, visit their website at https://www.moontrybe.com. The circles will continue throughout the summer in Westerpark. Don't miss out on this opportunity to connect with like-minded women and embrace the beauty of feminine energy.