You are originally from South Africa, why did you move to Amsterdam?
‘I suppose the traveling bug just bit me. I went to India and Thailand and when I returned home, I realized I just didn’t want to live in South Africa anymore. I missed my friends and family when I was away, but I didn’t feel any magnetic force keeping me there. Then my Austrian passport came through. This gave me the chance to explore Europe as much as I wanted. A voice in the back of my head kept on telling me to start in Amsterdam. I planned to stay here for three months and then move to the next spot. But my inner voice told me, that there was a future for me in Amsterdam. So I stayed.’

When did you start your yoga practice?
‘I started yoga about 8 years ago. My practice on the yoga mat gradually filtered through to my daily life. My eating habits changed and I became more mindful. I was healing just by doing yoga. At that time I worked as a medical representative (artsenbezoeker voor de farmaceutische industrie), but I didn’t like my job anymore and eventually left. I also ended a longtime relationship. Yoga really gave me the courage to quit the things that were wearing me down.’

‘When I discovered that yoga was my passion, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. In 2015 I started with a 200-hour teacher training in Rishikesh at Nada Yoga, this course incorporates music with yoga. From there I went to Thailand and attended a 50-hour Yin Yoga course at Exhale. I also did courses in vinyasa, power yoga and reiki.’ 

What has yoga brought to you?
‘A whole new world. I used to live in a three-dimensional world. When yoga came into my life, I was transported into a five-dimensional world. I learned that physical poses can help to detox on an energetic level. Yoga also crumbled barriers and brought in new things. The energy exchange and the flow of things became much more apparent to me.’

‘In my classes, I try to share what yoga brought into my life. I hope that this message resonates with my students. To remind them of the importance of simplicity, to take time for yourself and how to incorporate yoga into your daily life.’

SOMA breath workshop 14 October
‘The breath is the foundation of life. For a long time, I have taken breathing for granted. Throughout all these yoga courses, I was reminded of the importance of breath. The breath is what’s keeping you alive. It’s fascinating that something so vital can be disregarded as automatic. When you bring back breath to your conscious mind, you discover that it is possible to control this automatic process. Many people are not aware that breath can influence your health both in a positive and in a negative way. Breath really can help you to heal.’

‘During the SOMA breath workshop, we are going to explore the state you can reach by concentrating on the breath. We will be doing a short sequence of asana’s, but the focus is on breathing. After that, we will be breathing in beats on music. I will guide you when to breathe in and out. In that way, it is possible to activate your inner pharmacy. When I was doing my SOMA training, it felt like being on drugs. My hands started tingling, I saw patterns on my hands and colors all around me. It was a profound experience for me, to discover that you can reach this state by just breathing.’

Is there a connection between breath, yoga and daily life?
‘Breath is the foundation, you place the pose on top of the breath and not the other way round. Often I tried to stretch deep in the pose by holding my breath. Then a teacher would say, don’t forget to breathe! And I would end up panting excessively to be able to hold the pose. For me, it’s breathing and then stretching into the pose. Don’t hold your breathe to reach your toes, but exhale and move. The breath should come first, the pose follows. Your toes are not the destination. If you breathe deeper, you can move deeper and more conscious.’

‘Breathing exercises in daily life can make a really big difference. You can relieve yourself from stress, it gives you more energy and helps to fall asleep. You can literally heal yourself. I wish somebody had told me when I was a child.’

‘I am worried that many people don’t take enough time for themselves. Stop being a human doing and become a human being again. One of my Indian guru’s said to me: you have to be careful with your breath. You only have a certain amount of breaths for your lifetime. If you are breathing quickly, you are ending your life quicker. You need to breathe mindfully and deeply, in that way it’s possible to extend your life. So just make time to breathe.’

Carla teaches Hatha yoga on Tuesday morning 9.30 and Yin yoga on Thursday afternoon 14.30.