From a 14-yeard old girl diagnosed with incurable scoliosis and chronic back pains to the woman whose path of self-healing become a beacon for so many others, Anastasia Shevchenko found a way to expand her kindness limitlessly and as a result started a movement that inspires. True leaders are not those who you follow because you must, due to them wielding swords of power over you, but those you follow because you want to and because you honor their humility in constant learning, which in turn teaches you to become a fully integrated loving human being.
Therefore, we at Looxa are so very grateful to Anastasia, the founder of Berlin Yoga Conference ( 24-26/05/19) for taking the time to talk to us about all things concerning life, love, yoga and letting our people gently in to get to know the person and the journey behind the BYC. We hope you enjoy the dialogue as much as we did.
1.How did your story begin and what was the first spark that ignited the love for yoga that now healed you on multiple occasions? What are the core disciplines you practice and what other areas would you still like to explore in the course of your lifetime – within yoga and outside it?
I was born (1988) in Ukraine in the times of post-Soviet Union collapse. At 14, I was told I had a bad case of scoliosis and there was no hope of curing it. At 15, I had a chance to move to Canada to join my father’s family who immigrated earlier on. Upon my dad’s advice, I started practicing yoga to combat chronic back pains caused by scoliosis. When I was 19, I had a snowboarding accident which left me with a broken and paralyzed arm. On these occasions through yoga, I learned how to heal my body. The scoliosis has been cured. Of course, over the years of practice, a lot of emotional healing has been possible as well: through this continues process of self-awareness and self-study.
Over the years, the physical practice is still important, because it helps to keep the body in a working order, but meditation became a primary focus, something that helps to stabilize the mind. Periods of fascination with the breathing exercises come and go, meanwhile I try to live in accordance with the yogic ethical principles, the yamas and niyamas.
What I would like to explore still? At this point in my life, I’m manifesting my dreams in accordance with my service obligation to humanity.
2. Could you tell us more about your private and professional path that lead to founding the Berlin Yoga Conference? How was the idea born? What are the main goals of the BYC and do you believe that the best things are always created on the crossroads of wisdom of tradition and contemporary flows of consciousness, technology and the specific architectures of this concrete time-space-culture circumstances?
I was pregnant with my second child and many things came together: the practical (the need to work more during the day instead of evenings), the psychological (the need to share my personal insights and a vision for a better world), and the spiritual (the need to find my way of serving to the needs of the local and global communities).
The conference is an extension of who I am as a person and what I have learned and achieved in my life prior to the project. It is a work-in-progress. While it is thought out as a transformational space for others, it has been a major transformative experience for me as well.
The event is meant for those who have always suspected that yoga is much more than a way to stay fit and pretty, who have questioned the meaning of life and have sought their purpose. It is made for those people who cherish quality over quantity, value the magic of the present moment, and embrace the creation of true bonds between real people.
3. What is your vision and the ethos you’d like to cultivate for the conference? What do you want to build and incorporate into this experience for the visitors? Who else is a part of the team and what would be your advice to those building new brands and events? How do you see the future of the Berlin Yoga Conference 10 years from now?
The vision for the event is to stay true to the fire that manifested it, to build on the expanding network of like-minded individuals who are in the process of the expanding their consciousness and participating in the evolution of human kind.
I’m the founder and as someone who birthed the project, I do 99% of work. However, I do have help and support from various remarkable people who have resonated with my vision and made it their own, at least for now. I’m very grateful.
I cannot think 10 years ahead, because I’m not building a business, I’m building a movement. All movements have a life of their own, and I bow to the inner wisdom of its own logic.
4. What would you characterize as the most rewarding aspect of your job/mission on this planet? What is the greatest thing you’ve learnt so far as an ultimate life lesson you’d like to become a universally applied truth? Do you have a life moto or a guideline that keeps you grounded? What do you love and what are you learning to love?
The most fulfilling aspect of my work is to feel the spark, make it glow strong enough for a few people to notice and care, and then to make a bigger fire out of it with the help of many different individuals who see value in this, and share the basic ideas about the meaning of life.
The greatest lesson, the universal truth. Big words, but good timing. Just recently I discussed this topic with my husband, with whom we have a sacred spiritual bond. We both agreed that life in itself is meaningless: we float on this fire ball covered in dust in the middle of a vast, empty, expanding space. We have these human tendencies to experience the world in a certain way, to believe in certain things, but it is ridiculous to assume that our human consciousness can grasp something so mysterious as life itself.
What we can do is create our own shared human meaning, which time after time basically comes to this: love, create, and uplift.
5. If there is only one message you’d like to say to the yogis joining the conference and/or young people who’re just starting to understand yoga as a whole person encompassing discipline, what message would that be now after a decade and a half of dedication and experience?
To all of the human beings who embark on the yoga path, my message is this: be honest, be bold, be fearless. Don’t stop learning, don’t stop questioning, don’t settle down for mediocracy.