Interview by Visual Collaborative
March 2019 6 min read
Deborah Lundstrom is a Yoga practitioner based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With a connection to the arts and it’s expressive forms, she shares with us her experiences and growth from California back to her home and business on the African continent.
Yoga in a sense is an art form, but more of a science for the body and mind. Tell us how you became an Yoga instructor?
In 2004 while living in Germany, I found a program teaching the holistic aspect of yoga and that is when I started to practice yoga regularly and started to make it a part of my day-to-day life. After attending classes for a year as a yoga student, I decided to take a four week intensive teachers training course in India, at that point my intention was not to become a teacher but to know and learn more about yoga. I saw myself very new to yoga, but throughout my yoga journey I am learning more and more that teaching yoga is not about knowing it all but sharing what one knows and every session is an opportunity to learn and grow as an instructor.
After my first teachers training course in India, I had an even deeper longing to learn more about yoga and the oldest natural healing science; Ayurveda. so I continued studying at the American University of Complementary Medicine in Los Angeles for another 3 years. Alongside to my studies I was also practicing in these two fields; I was giving private lessons in Yoga, and giving Ayurvedic consultations and treatments. Now that I am back to my birthplace Ethiopia, I had the opportunity to open and run a Yoga and Ayurveda wellness center called Tulsi.
You have lived in a number of places and now Addis Ababa Ethiopia, do you have a connection to the country? Tell us what took you there.
My mother is Ethiopian and I was born and brought up in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. I left to Germany at the age of 17 to continue my higher education. Now that I am married and a mother of two I want my children to grow up in the culture I grew up in and get to know their roots. I also came back to Ethiopia with the aim to share, heal and service others with this ancient and traditional knowledge of yoga and Ayurveda as well as practice these with self-discipline and awareness of the nature of body, mind and spirit.
Recognizing many art forms and its patrons, we understand you have relationships in art industry. Does your company Tulsi draw any inspiration from any secular or ancient art in consultations?
Painting, singing, and writing. I combine my yoga sessions with dancers and painters and musicians to find the language of our soul through art and express it through art. It could be that we move through our poses with the music and allow ourselves to follow the breath and the rhythm of the music and make them all one – the breath, the movement and the music. We sing mantras or just sounds to feel the vibration and experience the feeling and at the end of the session some people paint and others write on their experience.
This ancient wisdom gave me the tools of how I can find the love and light within me and all around me through physical exercise, proper breathing, relaxation and meditation.
In Africa where you presently reside, many conservative Africans remain skeptical on the healing processes of Yoga. Is there an approach you use to demystify superstitions or do you prefer people who already have some kind of knowledge about the practice?
There is a misconception here in Ethiopia about what yoga is, some think it is a religion, some think it is only a physical exercise and others think it is just sitting around and meditating. At Tulsi we are trying to create the awareness in this holistic wisdom. We mostly focus on three aspects of yoga; proper breathing, proper exercise and proper relaxation. Yoga is just not limited to a classroom but it’s a lifestyle to be practiced throughout the day with every breath we take. I invite people who are new to yoga to come and experience YOGA – as yoga is not about understanding but having the experience. At the end it is that experience that makes people continue to practice yoga.
In your quiet or noisy moments how do you get inspired to inspire others. What ultimately motivates you to create work you do. Are you religious or physiological like many in your field?
Some what I practice every day are based on these facts: I am a student every time I stand in front of a class instructing. There is a lesson or two I take with me or I am reminded about in every session. Creating, co-creating and re-creating my day every day! Being present to the “now”, to what is happening around me and in me. It is then and only then that can fully share what I have to share and be open to receive what is being offered to me. Being able to see everything from the space of love instead of fear was life changing – This is what Yoga gave me. This ancient wisdom gave me the tools of how I can find the love and light within me and all around me through physical exercise, proper breathing, relaxation and meditation. Seeing the instant effect and experience in my students eyes, smiles and life; knowing that a seed is planted at that moment of practice that if nurtured doesn’t stop blooming to nourish body and mind; an ever flowing fountain of love and peace that will be shared to family, friends and community.
I have to share and be open to receive what is being offered to me. Being able to see everything from the space of love instead of fear was life changing – This is what Yoga gave me.
It brings about change on how we see ourselves and how we see others and the world, that is to say, to see all as one and the outer world as an extension of oneself. To see an empowered human being who is going to work for the good and the growth of humanity because she/he believes that to be in service of others is being in service to oneself. Knowing and experiencing that the more we share the more we gain – These keeps me going every day!
If you can time-warp back to any era, what time would it be and why?
This era that I am born into. The challenge of finding the peace and quietness in this fast paced world. In this world where we are bombarded with information every single second, yet still, it is exciting! And my purpose in life is to create the space and share the tools to others so they can find the peace in the chaos!
Its the year 2019, where does Deborah see her practice in 3 years?
Ohhhh no idea everyday is a growth for me, every person I meet each day, every conversation, every session I give, the countries I travel to I learn, I get to hear different interesting and new views of the world around me, the journey is the most interesting part. I will be where I need to be in three years – life is exciting !
To learn more about Deborah’s practice visit tulsiaddis.com