Melanie: Midwife, Yoga teacher (AYI® Advanced and BDY) and TCM Therapist. In Kitzbühel you are the director of "KraftQuelle“, a center with a midwifery and alternative medicine practice, a yoga school and a seminar space all under one roof. You sound like Superwoman! Would you like to tell us a little bit about your journey?
Martina: My journey began as it does for many of us, at a time when my subconscious had taken the lead - and without me being fully aware of where I was heading. What I do clearly remember is that I had made a conscious decision to stop studying Medicine after 5.5 years, after having realized that what I was studying lacked an integrated, holistic approach to human health.
Of course part of this process was me working through my own personal issues, which then simultaneously provided me the necessary clarity to support my decision to drop out of med school. The external tumult of life is so powerful that we often times don't feel the gravity of what is missing. In my journey, a major step was when I realized that I was lacking authenticity. Today I know that precisely at that point is where my study of yoga began.
What followed was a midwifery diploma and a 7-year training in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where I earned the title of Masters in Acupuncture. In 2006 I made my way to the yoga mat when I began a 'Yoga for Midwives' teacher training. Back then I was looking for an alternative way to make a living as a self-employed midwife, as the small birth center at the clinic where I had been working had closed. I wanted to remain self-employed and work in a similar area as I had been, but I had no desire to work in a large hospital. Through the yoga teacher training I was able to broaden my possibilities and sustain my autonomy.
After that I took part in in an Ashtanga teacher training in Vienna and a "Learn to Fly" workshop led by Ronald. The workshop with Ronald was a major turning point for me. The 4.5 years of AYI® teacher training provided me with countless opportunities to look deep within and understand who I truly am. Once I was able to align my perceived self with my true self, my path became apparent. With absolute clarify and gratitude I can affirm today that yes, I am in many ways Superwoman! One of my superpowers is that I am strong enough to acknowledge all of my wonderful qualities alongside my weaknesses without holding self-doubt because I realize that in the end every single one of us are just practitioners.
Melanie: What was your vision at the beginning of your journey? Did you know that things would turn out the way they have on this path?
Martina: I think that in the beginning my main focus was on how I would be able to deviate from quotidian small town life and at the same time not become an outsider in Kitzbühel. Since becoming a single parent in 2009, I had doubted my ability to pursue my goals because of my responsibilities to my two children. At some point I recognized that I actually had more stamina and drive than I had ever imagined. My AYI® teacher training was not only demanding but it was emotionally challenging. My mother fell ill during this time and then passed away last October. Nevertheless, I found the strength to make it to all of the training modules. Through this experience I have learned so much more beyond the Primary Series. I was able to then take this know-how and synthesize it with my work as a midwife to create the KraftQuelle center. I am forever grateful and I am truly proud of what I have been able to create.
Melanie: You guide couples with the desire to have children through conception to birth preparation classes to post-natal classes. What role does yoga play in this process?
Martina: Yoga allows me to feel confident even in times of self-doubt and rings true to my personal motto which is "If you are on the path you have created, you can't be overtaken". Man is a cyclical being, and in our modern times it is common to find yourself out of time with your natural rhythm due to hectic and stressful situations in daily life. I see my job as a guide for men, women and children alike to take responsibility for themselves. This means self care, listening to one's body and making decisions that are carefully thought out. For this type of reflection and conscious living silence is imperative. Yoga is the most valuable tool to help guide people to this point.
Melanie: And vice versa? How does your experience as a mother who has given birth to two children influence your yoga lessons, for women who you have guided through births and then maybe for women who are not pregnant?
Martina: My yoga classes are generally influenced by my personal experience both on and off of the mat. What I offer to my students comes out of my own experience. To my mind as a teacher you practice what you preach. My goal is to make a common space for everyone in my lessons and I do my best to intuitively share my knowledge when and how I see it to be useful. Let's use the example of an onion to explain this inward journey in yoga. With an onion, you have the skin and then a series of layers which surround one another and if we unravel them we make our way to the core. In our metaphorical onion of yoga, you first peel away past your ego, then past your inner 'couch potato', then past your excuses and limitations all the way to the core, which is your true self. As we go deeper, we have the opportunity to let go of all of these things which are often holding us back and allow us to be redirected to our personal paths.
I was able to experience this during the labor and delivery of my own children. By nature our bodies already know what to do and can understand through very clear physical impulses what is coming next. Modern medicine can sometimes confuse us because pain killers dull our senses to a point that we can't feel what our bodies are telling us to do. In this way we lose some connection to that core that can guide us.
Melanie: What recommendations would you offer to a pregnant woman who practices Ashtanga Yoga Innovation®? How can she adapt her yoga practice during her pregnancy?
Martina: As I always say, "Everything that is good for you will also be good for your baby". It's a simple rule that is really important in order to build a trusting relationship with your own intuition as a mother. There is nothing really that you ought not do except what your body tells you not to do. If you listen to your body you will always find the right way!
Melanie: What can a pregnant woman expect when she comes to one of your pre-natal yoga classes?
Martina: Time, attention and a sense of being present. I am so thankful to be able to guide women on this exciting path into a new phase of their lives. In our practice a woman can experience elements that can be useful on and off the mat. What is most moving for me is that I don't need to convince anyone of anything because each person who comes through the doors of the KraftQuelle center are already consciously aligned in many ways.
Melanie: You also offer Mama+Baby Yoga as a post-natal class. What advantages does yoga have in comparison to typical post-natal fitness classes?
Martina: This particular type of post-natal fitness is a much more holistic approach. In a typical post-natal fitness class the core focus is an exercise program designed to restore the anatomical structure of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. I have developed a concept in which I can combine the AYI® method with Traditional Chinese Medicine and body awareness to connect body, mind and spirit. This is very useful for young mothers to accept their new lives as mother, wife or partner and still maintain a sense of self.
While we have spoken a lot about pre-natal classes, we do not offer classes exclusively for expecting mothers. We offer daily AYI® classes in a range of levels which are appropriate for beginners all the way to Mysore practitioners. Anyone is welcome to come to practice, find inner peace or to deepen their knowledge of yoga. I also teach regularly at the Q!Resort in Kitzbühel and other hotels where I offer AYI® classes.
Melanie: You are currently preparing an MTC on the topic "AYI® Prenatal“. What can participants look forward to in this workshop?
Martina: This MTC is my baby (pun intended) and it is just about to stand on its own two feet. The workshop will show how AYI® can be modified for expecting mothers and how much freedom should be permitted for pregnant women during an AYI® class. My years of know-how and experience as a midwife, TCM Therapist and Energy therapist are all elements that are interwoven in the theory of the workshop. The aim of the workshop is to allow instructors to confidently and joyfully guide pregnant women in their journey to motherhood.
Melanie: Would you like to share anything else about yourself? What else is important for you in your private and professional life? What helps you to maintain physical and emotional balance?
My personal focus is to cultivate vitality within myself. I am still exploring and learning about who I am as a woman and I sense my "yin" qualities in a new light every day. I don't just read or talk about these things, I actually embrace them. For example, I have put aside my gift as a multi-tasker to be completely present in what I am doing in a given moment, working steadily and working on one thing at a time.
When I teach, I teach.
When I love, I love.
When I am with a loved one, I am there 100%.
When I lose a beat and can't find my rhythm, I close my eyes for a moment and connect with my next inhale, then I exhale and give it another try.