Learning to listen: healing body and soul according to Mirjam Wagner

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Photo credit: Mirjam Wagner

I first saw Mirjam during the BYC 2014. It was a Yin Yoga class, and there were so many people who came to practice with her, that they had to be accommodated outside of the building with open doors and windows. With the grace of the goddess, with this quiet and sweet presence, Mirjam managed to preserve a very special atmosphere throughout the class, despite the circumstances. It all started with a beautiful performance of Mirjam singing alongside her life partner David Lurey, the two voices flowed in a perfect unison, radiating calmness, peace, and love. During the practice, Mirjam repeatedly invited the participants to go inside deeper and deeper, to listen to their bodies in order to access the healing powers of within. After the class I felt quite serene and I was so impressed with this experience, that I wrote about it later on.

As a dedicated Ashtangi with a Hatha Yoga background, I can very much appreciate the gift of a quiet practice such as Yin Yoga and Therapeutic Vinyasa Flow, of which Mirjam is a big proponent. In fact, according to the Ashtanga Vinyasa Method, the new and full moon days (as well as lady’s holidays) are either days of rest or of a Yin practice. It helps us balance out our energies and to keep an open mind about practices that are very different from our own. Ever since 2014, Mirjam gave me a gift of the Yin Yoga practice and I’m very grateful for it.

I’m happy and proud to present this very special interview with Mirjam Wagner. I believe that not only her story is very inspiring and touching, it is a story that is more-than-ever relevant today. As yoga is becoming very popular and all kinds of different and, often times, contradicting voices are forces are heard in this big community, it is important to discern those that provide the true value.

A: Mirjam, you are such a beautiful and multifaceted human being: you are a yogi, a therapist, a healer, a mother, a goddess… you sing, you think and write, you use many modalities of human-self expression and self-realization. How did it all start for you? How did you initially embark on this path? And how long had it been already?

M: You are very kind, thank you so much for your generosity!

Well, my own journey started 24 years ago when I became a mother. Raising my two children and seeing their innocent and pure reactions to my behavior made me realize that I had lost the connection to my true essence and that I needed to change the way I was going through life. I started to look for ways to understand who I was and what my values were, so I could guide my children in a loving and empowering way through their own challenges while being a living example.

When I separated from their father, I did not want to go back into the luxury hotel business where I used to work before. Instead, I wanted to make an impact in this world and support the wellbeing of human being. Through Pilates, Yoga and massage techniques I found my way into the magic world of the human body and the immediate reflection of psychological suffering in it.

In 2004 I followed my heart’s desire and, against all advice and predictions from those around me, moved with my children to Palma de Mallorca, to find simplicity, fulfillment and happiness in a new country with a new language and new habits. As if invisible hands were guiding me, all doors opened for me and my children; within a year we fully integrated within the Spanish culture and found a new home. I got incredible opportunities to build up my own company (Rebalance) and worked independently while always finding enough time for my children, which was one of my priorities. When I subscribed to a 3 ½ years study of Osteopathy & Fascia Therapy I got all the answers I had been looking for: the scientific knowledge and exploration of the human body with the direct relationship to emotional & mental behavior patterns, reflecting in the physical health.

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Photo credit: Mirjam Wagner

I was fascinated! This was what I had experienced in my own life: when our soul is sick, our heart is broken, fear takes over or destructive believe patterns extinguish our light, than the body is calling out for help, for our attention, for subtle or drastic changes.

I had found my passion! I deepened my experience by treating hundreds of patients, teaching yoga in a local yoga studio, giving anatomy and yoga therapy workshops in different place, all with the same purpose – to support the healing from within!

Without knowing that it was a proper Yoga style, I asked my patients to do Yin yoga poses to bring more space and life quality into mostly stressed out bodies with over-demanding life styles. I was lucky to have had Paul Grilley and his lovely wife, Suzee, as my teachers, and learned so much more about this healing practice as well as about anatomy and the unique bone structure of each body.

2 years later I started to study with Sarah Powers. Having her as a personal mentor and guide since then, I have been diving deeper into Buddhism, Meditation, Chinese Medicine and the miraculous connection of the organs with our emotions and thought patterns. Since last year I am a member at the Scientific School of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture in London, learning more about the powerful effect of the acupuncture points.

I am driven by an organic longing to grow, to understand life as itself, to overcome my fears, to step out of my comfort zone, to become a better person and be able to step fully into my light while being at peace with my shadows. All my personal experiences are interwoven with scientific studies, holistic healing practices and universal spiritual perspectives.

Through my beloved husband David Lurey, I connected to another aspect of healing: singing! 40 years ago I believed someone who told me I could not sing, but participating in Kirtans I cultivated a voice, my voice, and am now using it in all different ways. David and I recorded a CD together during our honeymoon in 2013 and are planning to release a second one in the near future.

A: You teach Vinyasa Flow, as well as Yin Yoga. Do you find that these two methods complement each other nicely? How do you decide which practice to do on which day?

M: Vinyasa is a dynamic active yoga style whereas Yin Yoga is the therapeutic healing practice. Yin & Yang never stand alone and complement each other wonderfully. Some circumstances require focus, action and strength, whereas other situations invite us to practice stillness and acceptance. Every morning, I start with 1 – 2 Yin poses, pranayama and meditation. Then I just listen to my body, what she needs most, be it a gentle yin practice, a nice flow, or an energizing bikini workout

A: As I catch you during your 9th year of Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training, and thank you so much for finding the time for this interview meanwhile, how long have you been teaching yoga as of now?

M: I have been practicing Yoga for 24 years  and started to teach 17 years ago.

A: As you practice and teach it, what is the goal of yoga?

M: To raise the awareness of who we are in every moment: on the mat, but especially off the mat, in our daily life, so we are able to contribute consciously to the well-being of humankind and the planet. Every thought, every word and every gesture creates either fear and suffering or peace and trust. When we go inwards and listen, then we become aware of what needs to be changed, we can then take wise decisions to support our own and the healing process of others.

A: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect on the yoga path and why? How did you overcome this challenge yourself?

M: To not fall into the temptations of fame and egocentric motivation! Yoga has become so popular, it can be used as a tool to sell everything to everyone. The intention of my teachings has always been to make my students get to know themselves better, to trust themselves, to feel lovable and feel good enough in any situation; these values are not often emphasized amongst the competitive, work-out focused yoga schools or businesses, nor by the popular stars on Instagram.

I remember very well when David and I were offering a pre-conference program at a well known Yoga conference in Germany. While our famous colleagues had up to 50 students, we had just 15 people register for our Therapeutic approach of Yin & Yang practices. We spent a sleepless night, questioning our teachings and values and asking ourselves whether we were following an illusion or a real calling…. and the answer was simple and clear: “This is who we are, this is what we believe in and these teachings are the ones we consider as important to share with those around us.” It was a very important moment of personal commitment, where we took a clear decision to share what we are passionate about with the world, no matter what the outcome would be.

From this moment on, which I considered a sort of test regarding our deepest intention, we always have had full programs and trainings, which we are deeply grateful for.

A: As a therapist and a healer, please share your insights on the subject of why most people are sick and how they can work towards more health and vitality in their lives?

M: Most of the suffering in our modern world doesn’t come from a physical trauma. Most of acute and chronic pain comes from emotional experiences and self-destructive thought patterns. When emotions such as sadness, anger, anxiety, stress or worries are not recognized and expressed appropriately they find a way into our bodies where they block our life force (Qi) and inhibit our systems from functioning properly.

The same happens with our mind: every thought is either based on fear or on love. Both of these qualities spread the corresponding energies throughout our body and can either bring great freedom and health or restriction and suffering.

To heal ourselves we need to know ourselves.
To know ourselves we need to listen to ourselves.
To hear and feel the signals from body & soul we need to pause, soften and connect.

True self-love and healthy relationships to others and the divine are the foundation of health on all levels: physical, emotional and spiritual.

A: How do you integrate your work with the Greek Goddesses, the female archetypes, in your practice and teachings of yoga? Is there a different yoga method that is best suited for specific goddesses?

M: The work with the feminine archetypes through 7 Greek goddesses is a powerful tool to access our inherent qualities, our light and shadow sides, and use them with more joy and responsibility.

Through the different aspects of yoga, such as Yin & Yang asana, pranayama and meditation, we can support the potential of each archetype, invite qualities of other goddesses and raise the awareness of the vulnerable sides of each character. 

This enables us to step into our light and to contribute our part to the healthy functioning of the whole.

A: From mother to mother, I am curious, would you say that yoga helped you to be a better mother or that having a child helped you to be a better yoga teacher and a therapist? 🙂

M: For me, the best teacher to become a better human being, in all aspects, is still life itself. As a mother I get real, practical opportunities, as my children reflect my state of mind back to me, to become aware of my own behavior patterns and fine tune them with every gesture, every word and every thought I have. 

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Photo credit: Mirjam Wagner

A: Finally, what words of wisdom would you share with the yoga practitioners around the world, regardless of the method of yoga or the level of advancement?

M: Our bodies are already perfect – there is nothing to fix, nothing to improve. Only true self-love and full acceptance are required so we can enjoy our practice and relate to the world around us from a place of love and compassion.

Mirjam will be teaching the following classes at the Barcelona Yoga Conference 2017:

Friday July 21, 2017 Yin Yoga 6:00pm – 7:45pm

Saturday July 22, 2017 Yin Yoga  3:30pm – 5:15pm

Sunday July 23, 2017 Yin Yoga 10:15am – 12:00pm

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