MEET: Lianne

Lianne is also one of my Shamily (remember Shanghai family ?) members. I met her while she was studying Mandarin in Shanghai, not yet married, not yet a mum, not yet a cancer survivor. I admire her for her "always positive" attitude though she went through so much. She is a great example to me of seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. She is also pure candy sweetness/kindness. You will find her story with her body and yoga very inspiring. A great example of the ever evolving nature of our body and our yoga practice.


Name : Lianne

Age : 34

Nationality : Dutch Indonesian

Current city : Maastricht, The Netherlands

Current job : Hospitality & Guest experience Consultant

Years of yoga practice : 6 years


Could you briefly describe what yoga means to you?

Yoga means quality time with myself. The vitality I feel after each practice, makes me feel happy and proud about myself. It is a treat to my body, to be able to continue the day in a powerful way. Yoga helps me to love and trust my body again, other than being worried about my body, I can enjoy it again.

How did your path to yoga begin and how was the first time?

In my 34 years I have “started” yoga many times. When I was nine years old I started jazz dance and developed to the National highest level. Three times a week practice and every single time we started with “yoga” for 30 minutes. Only in a later stage, I realised we were actually practising yoga before starting jazz dance training!

Six years ago, during my first pregnancy, I “started” yoga again. This time I felt different and very aware of what yoga could do to my body and mind and the goodness for my baby, in a different way than dancing.

Why did you continue your practice? What does yoga bring to your life?

After a long break of physical challenges in my life due to breast cancer, I was happy to start with yoga again as being the first workout after my breast reconstruction and three months recovery phase. Step by step I could get to know my body again, to find out I was able to do more than I expected. I keep surprising myself, which gives me confidence in my body again. It is always eye opening to experience I can actually breath my body into a pose. After a good yoga session, I have the feeling I can continue the day with power.

What insights have you gained through yoga?

The mental part of yoga is important to me, it makes me able to accept the challenges in life and come at peace. It actually empowers me psychologically, which now I even feel, as if I am not in need of any other external help, which often is needed after a cancer diagnosis.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve been facing in your practice in the overall (on and off the mat)?

Ha! It’s the biggest challenge once other (medical) people are deciding what is good for your body, IF you are actually allowed to practice or not. Letting go is the key.

When I was allowed to start yoga again three months after my first breast reconstruction, I was very motivated, practiced three times a week and challenged my body to the max. Knowing that in three more months, I would need to have a second breast reconstruction, with again a recovery period. It was a challenge to accept that I was forced to take a long yoga break again, after being so proud of myself and knowing my body limits. Recently I have received green light of my doctor and started practising yoga again. It feels I have to start all over again, find out what my new body allows me to do, what are my new strengths and weaknesses.

Due to different factors, unfortunately I injured my back a few weeks ago during the “Halasana Pose”. According to my osteopath, I am not allowed to practice yoga for the coming two weeks. It has been a major rollercoaster with my body, I realise this while typing, but I am extremely grateful and proud to have come this far with yoga. Time is precious and I just need a little more patience with my body. The more gentle I am to my body now, the more I will be able to enjoy it later on.

What’s your mantra, if any? Your personal ethos?

During my recovery period I meditated a lot. Although I often couldn’t practice yoga, I could still keep up with the mindfulness part I love. Before my yoga class starts, I prefer to be in the room 15 minutes in advance to start my personal meditation. I used to live in Bali for a few months, walking through the rice fields by myself was meditative to me. So before each practice, I go back to the rice fields in Canggu for a little while, it feels like a little treat.

Outside your yoga practice, what other routines help to support your body and mind?

Following a healthy life style keeps me strong and boosts my immune system. High Fat and Low Carbs is a diet I gradually found my balance in, combined with lots of sinning during the weekends. If I can’t practice yoga, I walk and cycle a lot, I am still a Dutch girl !

I read a lot of enrichment books, to feed my mind and gain new insights in life. These books go very well parallel with yoga. My recent books were “Chi the power from within” from a Dutch writer who even opened a “Chi-centre in The Netherlands and “The way of the Wizard – Deepak Chopra” translated in many languages and almost is like a bible to me. Currently I am reading another Dutch writer “Buddhism in all simplicity”.

What advice from your yoga practice you would like to share with other yogis ?

I would advice to focus in your breathing and stay within yourself, since it’s a gift for your own body & mind. To me focus means I practice peacefully with a little smile on my face, I don’t talk to others and don’t react when some teachers or yogis joke or can’t concentrate. Full focus means I can achieve more with my body. I can even compare it to giving birth; with full focus on mind and breathing, I can take away the pain and my body was able to give birth without any pain, stress and frustration.

MEET: Jasmine

Jasmine, aka Jazzy, is for me one of a kind. Her heart is as big as the oceans, and her spirit as open and sparkling as stars of our galaxy. Yeah it is possible ! ;) She is part of that Yoga Gang we formed with Angie (see previous story) and is the one who initiated me to yoga. She has, as Angie, a very special place in my heart. She taught me so much of life, relationship, friendship and all and all. Good Californian she is, she has sunshine and all in her practice... and smile ! Enjoy the read ! xx C.


Age : 32

Nationality : American

Current city : San Francisco

Current job : Communications for a shared electric vehicle company

Years of yoga practice :12 years (since sophomore year of university)



Could you briefly describe what yoga means to you?

Yoga is me time. It’s what I do to reset and rebalance. When life adds up, I can always find my balance again on the mat. I practice yoga to slow my mind and heart, and to stretch and strengthen my body to give me the flexibility to handle what life throws at me. Over the years, yoga has also become a social activity for me, a place to bring friends together in a healthy way and a practice to share with those I love.

How did your path to yoga begin and how was the first time?

My first yoga class ever was in University. My roommate invited me to a class in a studio on a hill overlooking the ocean. I remember bumbling through the poses and looking around at everyone to make sense of it all. I continued occasionally through school, but it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco and was introduced to Rusty Wells at Yoga Tree that I was hooked. His 100+ person classes with live music became my weekend routine. I used to joke that his classes were my “church”. To this day, I still hear Rusty’s voice when I do backbends or sneak in an extra pushup between vinyasas.

Why did you continue your practice? What does yoga bring to your life?

When I first moved to Shanghai in 2010, I struggled to find a studio that compared to the established ones of San Francsico. I remember going to a class at a gym that was more a gymnastics class than yoga! Yoga was still new to Shanghai and we all have to start somewhere, right? I missed yoga in my life and was thrilled when I found a studio that fit my needs. I felt like I had found home in a foreign place. I began making a yoga routine again, looking forward to it after a busy day or work, and bringing friends along to make it a social event. Yoga brings balance, relaxation and flexibility to my life.

What insights have you gained through yoga?

When my best friend, Angie, started to do yoga with me a couple of years ago, I admired how she always pushed herself. There were a number of poses I had done for years, and never tried to enhance, simply because I was stuck in a routine. Angie would sometimes look over at me during class, with a twinkle in her eye, and say “try it, Jazzy” when the teacher suggested an advanced pose. And the amazing thing? I often could! It was just mind over matter and having the bravery and inspiration to try. That is something I try to always carry with me today, on and off the mat.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve been facing in your practice in the overall (on and off the mat) ?

Not getting to class “enough” and then being hard on myself for not going “enough”. But then I remind myself: it’s all enough. It’s all good. We’re all doing the best we can. Sometimes you can go to yoga every day, and other times, once a week is what’s in the cards. I do sit a lot at work these days, so on a mat or not, it’s important to find ways to move my body and keep it lose and limber. When I don’t have time for class, I like to walk to and from work, or stretch on my living room floor.

What’s your mantra, if any? Your personal ethos?

My family has always been big on those. Probably “ask, believe receive” if I had to pick one. Wait, also “when life adds up, subtract”. When I’m stressed, I like to remind myself “you have all the time in the world”. And when faced with tough decisions, I often hear my father’s voice reminding me “be generous”.

Outside your yoga practice, what other routines help to support your body and mind?

Love. Falling in love. All over the place. With my partner, my family, my job, my home. Remembering that it’s all a big game and we’re here to play and support. Spending a balance of time between friends and down time. Walking places to move my body and process my busy mind. SLEEP. It’s the key to my happiness (maybe too much so!). I’ve been working in the garden and playing with plants recently. That’s always meditative to me.

What advice from your yoga practice you would like to share with other yogis ?

Any time on the mat is time well spent. I love Caroline’s quote the other day that said “the only person you should compare yourself to, is who you were yesterday”. And finally, just try!