Old and new love

When Victor Thiele talks about yoga, it brings up big feelings. “Without yoga I can’t imagine my life,” he says. Victor is a passionate yogi and teacher as well as the owner of yogafürdich in Berlin. Yoga has defined his life for over 20 years, so it’s hardly surprising that his very first yoga class also brought up a big feeling: love at first sight. 

stefanhaehnel_yogafürdich
©Stefan Haehnel

“I was weight training when a friend suggested a yoga class afterwards.” Curious, Victor went from the gym to the studio. “Yoga wasn’t as big in the late 90s as it is today, but the class was full.” He came out with wobbly knees and a smile on his face. “My thought was, ‘This is something I’ve been looking for all my life.’ I was fully centred, happy, cleansed – just from one yoga class. In the whole 90 minutes I had no thoughts in my head other than the next position, where my tailbone is, where’s left and right. That was pretty special.”

From party kid to yoga teacher

The way yoga made Victor feel changed his life and became his passion. After his first class, yoga never let him go. He practiced regularly and then began training as a sports and fitness trainer. He completed a six-month internship in a yoga ashram, and worked as a yoga instructor in fitness and yoga studios. His students talked him into opening his own studio which we now know as yogafürdich. You can catch him teaching in four studios across Berlin.

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“I used to be a party kid and that was cool, but through yoga I started to get more stable and it gave me strength,” says Victor. “Yoga balances emotions. When I’m hyper, it calms me and when I’m lethargic I become more active.” It also invigorated him during the pandemic. Every morning he kept fit either with cross-training or yoga. But he missed having people around him and the interactions with his students. “It does something to you,” he says.

©Stefan Haehnel

The closeness was missing

For six to nine hours a week, Victor got used to teaching via live online courses during the pandemic. “I definitely want to continue doing that,” he says. “The added value is killer and online I can bring yoga to anyone anywhere at any time.”

But missing his community during lockdown made him realise he had two passions in life: His own yoga practice, and teaching yoga within his community. “I never thought I’d miss hugs so much. Working with my students, helping them with the asanas. All the conversations. You get a lot back, but I didn’t really appreciate it in normal times,” he says. “Some of my students wrote to me asking if everything was okay. They wanted to lend me money, even give it as a gift. I found all that very touching and I really became aware of how important yogafürdich is for many people.”

Joy is in the foreground

Now his goal is to give back even more. During the pandemic, he began to delve into the philosophy behind yoga. “For me, yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit. It’s about becoming a comprehensively optimistic and self-reflective person,” Victor says. “The subject of yoga philosophy is a very broad one, and I still have a lot to learn. I will do more of that now, even though it’ll take a few years.” 

stefanhaehnel_yogafürdich
©Stefan Haehnel

Victor will be 50 next year and he’s already achieved so much. He’s a pioneer in the field of yoga, and he’s found inner peace, thanks in part to yoga. “A lot of people I know, myself included, just want to quickly forget the pandemic,” he says. “Now the focus is on the anticipation of seeing each other again, hugging, talking. The fact that I can only teach a few students at a time means I can get to know new students and reconnect with old ones. We need to get used to being back, just like after the first lockdown.”

Love at first sight? This time, it’s more like rekindling an old love – and Victor and his community are ready for it.

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