The sports interview: Dr. Ronald Steiner is one of Germany's most sought-after yoga teachers and an advocate of the traditional form of "Ashtanga“ Yoga
Briefly before the re-opening of the studio, SZ/BZ had the chance to talk to Ronald Steiner in person.
Interview by Jürgen Wegner
Ashtanga – what's that to start with?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "There are hundreds of different types of yoga. Most physically challenging forms originated from Ashtanga. This century-old tradition has a continuous line of teachers and pupils. To put it simply, the main principle is to link dynamic, physical movement with conscious breathing. I am happy that there is now a studio in Sindelfingen which concentrates on this aspect and thus on the main thing.“
Why are you a supporter of this type of yoga?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "In Ashtanga Yoga, we always practice the same practice series. This allows us to quickly perform our practice autonomously on our own. Even in the simple positions, which we call asanas, we can work on ourselves and our breathing. Very quickly, we lose ourselves in this practice which is also part of the philosophy. As a result, a yoga practice with a high degree of consciousness and precision develops very soon and we can reach a meditation in motion in this way. We focus on ourselves without truly realizing to do so and are thus completely one with ourselves.“
The main thing is to meet challenges with a certain degree of seriousness but also serenity - just like in life in general.
Not all exercises look very pleasant.
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "No, but that's part of it - and similar to other things in life. You like some asanas, you don't like others. The main thing is to meet those challenges with the necessary serenity but also with a certain seriousness. This approach can be transferred to everyday life as well where we are also, again and again, confronted with problems we need to solve.“
Is this the reason why more and more people are practicing yoga? Some even talk about a veritable boom.
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "Yes, but it's a very long boom. There was talk about a boom in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s. And now again.“
When they hear "yoga", others think of incense sticks, chanting matras and long-drawn-out "omms“. Are these prejudices?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "This is a question I'm asked again and again. At least all of my Ashtanga classes start with a mantra. However, nobody needs to be afraid to have ended up in a sect or cult. We merely thank all teachers before us, who have passed on yoga and its contents over centuries. That's a tradition to be proud of. Moreover, it's a signal for each practitioner: now it's time to leave everyday life behind and focus exclusively on yoga. From this point on, we also do no longer talk about work, money or politics in the practice room. Those who let themselves in for the experience will soon come to value it."
From a sports physician's point of view: is yoga sensible for athletes who work out several times a week anyways?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "Most certainly. For one thing, yoga develops basic physical skills such as strength, flexibility, endurance and coordination in a very balanced way. Secondly, muscular dysbalances which often cause injuries are reduced. Football players, for instance, often suffer from shortened muscles at the back of their legs and over-tense adductors. Strains of these muscles may be the result. A further aspect is the psychological factor which is decisive for all professional athletes.“
Can you explain that in further detail?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "As I said, it's all about meeting challenges with the necessary seriousness but also a certain calmness. Just imagine a penalty kick in a sold-out arena and you will know what I'm referring to.“
Can yoga also be counterproductive?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "Yes, if you overdo it.“
What does that mean?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "You should not aim for too much too soon. Yoga is not about the complexity or difficulty of the exercises I'm performing. I can also work on the simple positions for months and concentrate on my breathing. Only when these asanas start to become boring is it time to start new ones. The general rule is: the degree of difficulty is not significant. It's also not important if you do the entire series or not but whether you practice on a regular basis, ideally daily. If you do this, you will reach the serenity I mentioned before.“
Is yoga sensible for everybody?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "Everybody can practice yoga. In a wheel-chair, with only one arm, in old age - all that doesn't matter. It's the teacher's job to adapt the practice accordingly.“
How can I tell whether I'm in the right hands?
Dr. Ronald Steiner: "In a studio, you will soon realize whether the teachers practice themselves and whether they live what they're talking about.“