Yoga teacher and Ayurvedic massage therapist Christine Döring is helping Overbergers realise their joyous full potential through ancient Indian holistic practices, writes Sarah Taylor.

Early on in her television acting career in the mid-1990s, whenever Christine Döring stepped onto the stage or in front of the camera, she developed stage fright and couldn’t breathe.

“When I stumbled across a magazine article about yoga and breath, I realised I wasn’t breathing properly. None of my singing and acting training had taught me how to relax. In fact, I had been taught to breathe, to sing, from my chest and not from my belly, which is completely the wrong way,” explains Christine, who was born in Germany, trained originally to be a nurse and now lives between Hermanus and Potsdam/Berlin.

“When I began exploring yoga, I had to ‘unlearn’ these bad breathing habits. Even the simple yoga asana, Savasana, the corpse pose, where you lie flat on your back and breathe into your belly, was a challenge for me at first,” says Christine, who also had a stint working as a nurse in state hospitals for three years in her early 20s.

After 10 years of TV work, however, including starring in 134 episodes of the soap opera Mallorca – Suche nach dem Paradies (Majorca – Search for Paradise), from 1999 – 2000, and the popular German crime series, SOKO 5113, from 2000 – 2008, Christine began to realise that “acting wasn’t my scene”. 

“I was young. All I wanted was to sing, to be free and to lead a normal life out of the public eye. It bothered me that so many people felt they knew me, but they knew only the mask. I didn’t even know myself,” says Christine. “With yoga, I discovered it is the complete opposite: it’s a journey to your inner self. And the good thing is that this journey never ends! Every day I am in the process of finding out who I am and how I want to live.”

A two-month trip to India on the eve of her 30th birthday was a spiritual awakening for her. While staying in a Sivananda ashram, she was beset with questions about her future. 

“Sitting on a beach in Goa, I felt an invisible hand touch my shoulder. I was flooded with an incredible lightness and I felt as if I could fly. Suddenly I knew that whatever I did, it would be fine. I didn’t need to worry. We’re all going to die at some point, so what is left to be afraid of?”

India was also an introduction to the benefits and pleasures of Abhyanga, a full-body warm-oil Ayurvedic massage from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

“After my first Abhyanga, I felt new-born! This was when I decided that I wanted to give such massages.”

Christine describes Ayurveda as the sibling to yoga. This ancient traditional health system focuses on maintaining health through diet, cleansing rituals, massage (Abhyanga) and exercise (yoga asanas and pranayama or breathing exercises). Returning to breath, she adds that most people breathe incorrectly and this may be related to issues of self-image. “Many people are ashamed of their bodies, of their bellies, especially women, and this affects how they breathe. They are ‘taught’ by society to suck in their bellies, rather than how to breathe properly and relax.

“After the breath realisation, the next thing I realised with yoga is that we need to focus inside. My first yoga teacher instructed us not to look at others while practising yoga. Our lives are very much led by what other people have done or directed by what other people think. With yoga, it’s about yourself. It’s about who you are, realising that, and knowing how to use your body as a tool to live a happier life,” she explains.

“In our lives, we are so ‘guided’ by career success and by what other people think, but what matters in the end, I believe, is how much love you put on the planet in your lifetime, not how much money you have made or which university you went to. We wear masks – and I don’t mean just in the Covid-19 era. Fame and fortune, image and money… It’s just a big bubble.”

Christine has found meaning in the practice and philosophy of yoga, with its 5 000+ year-old history.

“Yoga means uniting the body, mind and spirit. It is the combination of the three. Yoga and Ayurveda take each individual into account. We are all one and come from the same source, but we are also individuals and certain practices are not good for everyone. People with heart issues, for example, should not do the shoulder stand. This is why I like giving one-on-one yoga classes, to make sure the practice is in sync with the practitioner.

“With yoga and Ayurveda, I now understand why I am here, what my talent is that I can give to the world. If I hadn’t found yoga, I would be completely lost – and I am not! And I want to help others find their true selves too.”

To book an Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage or a one-on-one ‘at home’ yoga session with Christine, contact her on 0749918443 or rupiniyoga@gmail.com

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