For Nadja Dinzl, life is a game of balance. Being a yoga instructor and an HR lawyer at the University of Vienna, she knows a thing or two about what it takes to offset seemingly polar aspects of her existence, both in a physical and a spiritual sense. In her search for something to quiet her mind in a very fast-paced and oftentimes tumultuous era, Nadja discovered a branch of yoga that changed everything for her.
Having only ever experienced the classical forms of yoga, such as Hatha or Vinyasa, she stumbled upon Kundalini yoga in a purely serendipitous turn of events in 2009. Her path led her on a peace-seeking journey towards self-discovery and a heightened level of awareness. While attending a Kundalini yoga class at a regular fitness club, she encountered a teacher who, several years down the line, inspired and encouraged her to pursue her brand of teacher training.
“Through a personal youth crisis,” Nadja told the Sonophilia Foundation, “being 25 and studying law and not knowing what I would do with this kind of study, it was very hard for me because I’m more of a physical type of person. I like to build stuff and paint and I’m not so much a person who is perfect for the job of a lawyer… When my mother asked me as a young kid [what I wanted to do with my life], I would answer that I wanted to climb a mountain and stay there to meditate.”
Nadja explained that Kundalini is also known as the yoga of awareness, giving us power over some of the more painful aspects of life that we may not otherwise reflect upon. We often neglect to consider why we do the things we do. This branch of yoga is all about activating our physical selves in a very individualistic way. She likened it to “a snake which is coiled on the bottom of our spine,” adding that practicing yoga helps us purify all the channels of energy throughout our bodies.
“You could call them meridians,” she said. “You could say it’s the area where our nervous system connects to our body… We sometimes do very, very rigorous body movements with our spine and our arms. We want to get the blood circulating, and as we move our body in the spiral motion around the spine, we also put literal pressure on the organs and we get our glands to secrete. The effects of yoga come from activating the physical body… How you feel the subtle air spiraling around your spine is your personal matter of healing yourself… The Kundalini yoga helps you to identify thoughts as thoughts and puts you in a position of being able to feel those energies and how they move through you.”
While beginners in the Kundalini yoga practice may feel very turbulent and intense metaphysical movements, Nadja acknowledged that those strong emotions tend to become more subtle the more they are felt. At first, you may feel “so full of love and so connected to everyone and can feel the flowing energy of the divine feminine within oneself, as well as the stability in the spine and the power of the neutral.” A clear sense of calm descends and settles into you as familiarity grows. In a way, it becomes a sort of spiritual extension of oneself.
“If you put it into a spiritual context,” Nadja expanded, “you could also say it opens you to communicate with your inner goddess or with your inner guru… Kundalini yoga derived from Sikhism, and in that religion, the prophet in his scriptures mentioned that God and humans are not separated and that every human has one diamond, one sparkle of God inside. There is no separation between people and the divine life force or being.”
Needless to say, the relationship between spiritual energy and creative thinking is quite distinctive. Truly living in the moment and nurturing your creative energy will also, as Nadja puts it, “connect you with the primal energy, or the sexual force. As the Kundalini energy travels up the centers of awareness, it becomes a purifying and creative power, which essentially, is what yoga is all about: channeling your energy into manifesting whatever you personally experience as creativity.”
Bringing her background as an HR lawyer into the mix, many do not consider the legal field to be a particularly creative one, an impression which Nadja flat out rebuffed. Just because a case cannot be easily put into a straightforward box does not imply that it doesn’t require unique and novel solutions, much like mathematical formulas. Being responsible for matters in alien law at the University of Vienna for their employees, Nadja explained the process through which she helps them attain residency permits, which, contrary to common belief, can take a fair amount of creativity to clarify to confused clients.
“The creative aspects of law are in those spaces where some kind of outside-the-norm thing has happened,” she noted. “We have to take the mathematical formula and apply them to a very specific situation, and I think this can be very creative since, for example, we have regulations on how to move forward with certain types of contracts. We often get asked why we operate in this way and why we have to follow those rules when we want to attain this or that contract. We put those rules because it’s way clearer for us internally how the process works, and we will get better results for our clients, but [it would not suffice to simply say] because that’s the way it works. We must find a legally sound answer; it has to reference some kind of law, such as taking care of data protection.”
Although she admitted that her role with the Sonophilia Foundation has become somewhat less pronounced since beginning her role as an HR lawyer, Nadja by no means takes the lessons she’s learned for granted. With a very broad interest in notions of AI and the cognitive sciences, but very little theoretical knowledge of such topics, she is always eager to participate in interdisciplinary conversations. With that desire to ask questions, she feels her yoga background, as well as her legal training, aligns nicely with the values of what makes the Sonophilia Foundation tick. However, as with many things in life, she confessed that the ball is also in her court to reach out to the community and join in collaborative endeavors.
“I’m really glad to have met all these people, especially in the yoga context to elaborate on how we all experience consciousness, which is I think, a benefit to all of our fellow Sonophilians. I think what drives us is somehow the deep wish to understand life a little better, and also to apply this knowledge to make it more tangible for our fellow Sonophilians.”