Yvonne Wrede, from the Katonah Yoga® Festival, interviewed Gillian in January 2020, to find out more about her choices to implement Katonah Yoga in her studio, her journey into the material, and choosing to make Lumines Yoga the first Katonah Yoga® Studio in Germany in 2019.


So many different styles of yoga - why then Katonah yoga? What makes this style so unique?

Katonah Yoga offers a practice which uses the intelligence of the universe, mother nature, the writings of ancient philosophers, to underscore the guidance system that really serves as the GPS for our souls. The body. We live within this micro-universe, which at best, serves as a pleasure center and worst case scenario, a cavern of torture and for some is merely reduced to a transportation system, to get their minds to the next meeting.


What if you could reorganise, reposition yourself, literally, to allow the entry for more data? Learn to filter when your feelings are something to listen to and when they are using ancient technology to keep you safe from something that no longer exists (like running from a sabre tooth tiger). Ultimately we are talking about having a more joyful and fulfilling experience in the journey of life. 


I believe the accumulation of diverse practices, lineages, beliefs and disciplines that Nevine Michaan has created and compressed into a series of diagrams, maps and glyphs gives us a means to calibrate our own personal vessel, our soul’s house, to position ourselves correctly, to interpret and understand what our body, our navigation system, is nudging us toward or away from.



How and why do you think one would become a Katonah Yoga teacher?

There are a lot of seekers in the yoga industry. You hear stories about professionals becoming disenchanted with their lives and opting for something a little more simple, or meaningful. Within the industry you find the same. The disenchantment of the inevitably unreachable nirvana, or enlightenment. Whatever lineage you’re talking about. It’s not translatable into our modern society. It’s definitely not usable for a mother of three. I’m not a Guru sitting on a mountain top contemplating life. I’m IN IT. My body created three other human beings. I have feelings about that. I’m confronted with personalities in my family that were created by the union of my husband and I, a harmonious pairing, and I still have these challenging moments with these newly hatched humans. 

There is a required 200 - hour path in Katonah Yoga. You need to be certified in another lineage. A teacher of another tradition. So that you bring all of that into what you learn from Katonah, in order to create something completely new. Nevine wants that intersection to happen. The discernment of the teachers to pick and choose what matters to them and weave it into who they are and what they teach. 

Attending certified and approved teacher’s trainings is the first step. Finally as part of the 200 hours, a 20 - hour training with its founder, Nevine Michaan wraps up your certification.




What fascinates you about Katonah yoga?

The idea of repositioning yourself, using the geometry of your own body, and referencing the intelligence of the universe, it piqued my interest. In my case, it was a physical and a psychological chain reaction. Years of ashtanga practice that exacerbated shoulder and back issues. The rejection of the Hindu religion which, in my mind, is based on a caste system and has no tangible place in my modern life. Buddhism which is preoccupied with suffering of the human experience is depressing. Years of reading, discussion and researching texts such as “the finding of the third eye” by Vera Stanley Alder, introspection on the writings of poets, philosophers like Plato and my fascination with the Dalai Lama brought me to a certain place. Larger questions that traditional yoga had no reference for. So learning the design of a pose that architects like Gaudi would understand, that Pythagoras wrote about. It’s intriguing. Having more air in a pose that is elongated because of its basic set up makes sense to me. And the lines on my feet have meaning. They mirror the narrative of my life. The compression in my shoulder has a psychological translation that was palpable and traceable to Chinese medicine. And the language that is used is rooted in Dao philosophy. Not religion. Over the years of searching and reading, it was the only thing that made sense to me.



How has your yoga changed through Katonah? What insights did you get as a teacher?

I changed the way I construct the practice. Opting to to check personal geometry first, and iron out a few creases, before beginning to flow into poses that otherwise would cause more harm than good. For myself, I practice more longevity poses, more breathing practice, and I honour that my body, at 54, has other needs than it did when it was 25.


When teaching a class I infuse my flows not just with funny anecdotes (which I had always done) but with palpable material from the Katonah world and from the resulting personal search into the world's philosophers, physicists and architects to round out the insights my students might be having. I always wanted to provoke thought, and now, for better or worse, I have a means to do it to a captive audience.



Please also connect with me on Instagram, facebook  or gillian@luminesyoga.de

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