We connected with Stine Brink, Danish yogini, traveler and foodie.
RYB: How and when did you fall in love with yoga?
SB: I met yoga at the age of 14. I had just been through, and was going through some tough years after I injured my back. I experienced many different kinds of therapy, and finally I tried yoga for the first time. It wasn’t love with first downdog, but I kept on showing up week after week. Slowly, yoga grew on me, and I became addicted to it. Around the age of 17, I decided I wanted to become a yoga teacher later in my life.
RYB: How would you describe your yoga classes?
SB: I made a promise to myself as a teacher, to only preach what I practice and practice what I preach. My teaching is a reflection of myself and my own practice. I am taught in the Astanga tradition, but I love mixing up my own practice with creativity and funny flows. I love to challenge myself – and my students. I often teach Vinyasa Flow classes, but you can also find me teaching Astanga, Acroyoga and even Hatha yoga classes. No matter what kind of class I am teaching, I teach with creativity and flow, and you will see me glowing with happiness. My aim as a teacher is to make every individual feel seen and challenged no matter the level of experience.
RYB: How have you seen your practice evolve since you began?
SB: When I started yoga I tried out a lot of different styles of yoga, but it was mainly slower classes. When I experienced the more dynamic part of yoga (the flowing style) I realized that there are endless ways to move and reach a state of stillness, and that yoga was a lifelong practice and the mantra must be patience. When I look back I can really see how my body has changed, how much stronger my body is now. But in the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what kind of poses you are able to do, how flexible you are or how long you can hold a handstand. Where I can see the biggest change, is in my mind. It’s the way I look at life, and the way I understand myself better. Through my understanding of myself, I have a better understanding of life.
RYB: One of your most memorable yoga experiences?
SB: I have used my teaching skills to reach a lot of different kinds of people. I have taught yoga for drug addicts and alcoholics, as well as children. I have taught yoga in fitness centers, studios, in parks and on sandy beaches. I will always remember was teaching yoga in an asylum center in Denmark, as there were many refugees from war zones in Africa and the Middle East living there. I taught the women classes twice weekly, where language was a barrier and only a few would understand me if I was teaching in Danish or English. I knew that in this situation the body language was more important than words. I will remember always is the change in the women’s eyes from when they walked into the class until when they walked out. The life in an Asylum Center is very stressful and the benefits of yoga are really visible in places like this. I am forever thankful for the opportunity for teaching these women as it has helped me to understand yoga even more.
RYB: One of your funniest yoga experiences?
SB: I have quite a few funny memories with yoga. For me it’s always a pleasure when people are having fun and laughing while they practice. We (especially grownups) can take everything so seriously. When I teach teenagers, although they might be shyer about their bodies, or think yoga is weird – they continue to smile and just laugh about it. Once I was teaching 40 teenagers in Thailand, and they just laughed for 1½ hours, while doing the yoga poses. This made me laugh, and it still does when I look back at it.
But probably the funniest memory is from the beach in South Goa, where I had the pleasure to teach 20 some young Indian footballers from the organization OSCAR, with the always lovely Lauren Lee. In general this whole class was pretty funny. Teenage soccer players with stiff legs, however the funniest part happened when they had to do Ardha Purvottanasana, reversed table top. Lauren was teaching, and I was demonstrating the poses. When Lauren instructed them how to lift their hips higher, one kid shouted “PUSH MY BODY UP” as he wanted an adjustment. I think we all were laughing pretty hard, and even more when the class was over.
RYB: How do you see the world of yoga evolving?
SB: For the past 11 years yoga has been a big part of my life, and ever since I started doing yoga I have done a lot of research. It’s amazing how yoga is evolving, even in the past 11 years. I really see the difference in a city like Copenhagen, where I am based.
Since I moved there for the first time 4 years ago, the amount of yoga studios has tripled. Every half a year a new studio will come, and if you look at the street, so many people are biking around with their yoga mats on their back. I think it’s wonderful that more and more people are opening their eyes to yoga - and it’s definitely needed. More and more people suffer from stress, depression, back pain, headaches - only because we simply forget our selves (body, mind, breath) in our stressful daily life. Unfortunately, with yoga becoming more popular, it has also turned into a money machine. You can almost sell everything as long as you call it something with yoga: Yoga shoes, Yoga food, Yoga chair, Yoga hair bands. I don’t like this part of the evolving, and I am afraid that this will just be worse in the future. I can only continue to share my authentic teachings and hope more people see the reality behind the consumerism.
RYB: 3 things you remind yourself daily:
- Happiness is a decision
- Rome wasn’t built in one day
- I AM.
RYB: When your not teaching, where can we find you?
SB: If I am not teaching (or practicing myself) there is a big chance you will find me with someone laying on my feet, or find me hanging on someone’s. If I am not doing Acroyoga you can probably find my being creative in a kitchen, experimenting with vegan recipes. And if not there – I am somewhere around the globe with my backpack exploring new corners of the world.
RYB: One place in the world you would recommend everyone goes and why?
SB: There are so many places I would recommend people to go. Places that have changed the way I see the world have been East Africa, Nepal and Myanmar.
- East Africa because of the simplicity, the wildness and the happiness. And not to forget all of the dancing.
- Nepal because of effortless spirituality. You don’t need to put any effort into it, it’s just there, and you can’t deny it. The mountains gave such a peace in my mind.
- Myanmar again because of its spirituality, for the friendly people, and for the magical places.
RYB: One of the best pieces of advice ever given to you:
SB: “Just be true to yourself, Stine”.