We caught up with 200 hour Zuna Yoga graduate, Iris Riesen, to hear her story of finding Zuna Yoga, and how she applies what she's learned to riding the waves of life's changes.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am from Berne, Switzerland but now work in Zurich, Switzerland. After 20+ years of working in Asia, mainly Singapore & Hong Kong, I returned 3 years ago back home, to be closer to my aging parents and my sister. I did my initial vocational degree in trade and commerce in a pharmaceutical company. Then the aviation industry lured me in and the fascination has never left me. Currently I am in charge of managing & overseeing a commercial operation of a small fleet of business jets out of Switzerland. I am in a rather technical and fast paced industry. If you now add up the experiences I made, you can take a guess that I am a bit more than 28 years old...this year I will be celebrating my 55th birthday!
What motivated you to do your 200 hour YTT with Zuna Yoga?
While working a crazy schedule in Hong Kong I felt more and more stressed. I have never taken any joy in going to the gym. Weekends I was hiking around the many national parks in HK but needed something more. A friend asked me to join yoga, which I did and got hooked. After 10+ years of practicing yoga regularly, undergoing a 100hours yoga teacher training and some specialized workshops in Hong Kong, I wanted to know more, especially what yoga does on one’s body and mind, anatomy, etc. I researched online and Zuna Yoga's 200hr traditional Yoga teacher training seemed the perfect fit.
On a personal level, what is the most important lesson or lessons you took away from the Bali Yoga teacher training?
Understanding the body, the joints, the spine, how they work, are interconnect and what kinds of Asanas are more or less suitable for certain conditions or how they must be amended, so as not to do any harm to our body. Another important lesson was how to build a good class sequence of Asanas and Pranayama.
On a professional level, how did you integrate the knowledge from the training into your work life?
I try to apply a certain mindful relaxation, no to get too worked up about things at work. When I feel a reaction to some action at work is building up inside, I try to breathe more mindful and thus remain calmer…I am not yet at my set goal – but getting better. When on biz trips especially after long range flights, I do practice some Asana and this re-energizes the body and loosens stiffness. So a great tool.
What kind of changes have you seen in your professional life since your training?
My whole life was in transition at the time I took my Yoga teacher training, I was moving back to Switzerland after 20yrs in Asia, changing to a new company after 23 years in the same company, moving from international environment to very domestic one, so most things were upside down in my life. But I suppose a better understanding of yoga philosophy, how all is interconnected and we cannot change how others behave but rather how we react to it, helps me to better cope with the big changes.
What surprising benefits did you see from the Yoga teacher training?
Right after the training, I felt extremely “awake” and very positive. If I do not practice regularly, at home or in the studio, it affects my mood. So I see a clear positive benefit of knowing what asana or pranayama can help lift our mood, and calm the mind.
What advice would you give to prospective Yoga Teacher Training students?
Embark on it, open minded and curious. Take away for yourself the parts that suit you best and apply them regularly. Do not understand yoga and the things learned at yoga teacher training as too abstract, Yoga is an ancient philosophy, we need to understand it in our current world’s context. This said, the core of yoga is timeless and helps us stay connected with ourselves, which is crucial in our digital world. Last but not least, you are never too old to learn yoga!