My Journey: From Overwhelmed to Empowered

Verena's journey from overwhelmed to empowered

My name is Verena, I’m excited to share the story of my transformative journey from overwhelmed to empowered with yoga – a journey that began in 2008, more than 15 years ago, during a time when my hectic 60-hour work weeks, and constant travel pushed me to the brink of burnout. 

Determined to reclaim my health, despite having done yoga only once before, I signed up for a week-long yoga intensive in Switzerland to bring structure to my days while not working. Little did I know, that it would mark the beginning of a profound chapter in my life!

Following the unfamiliar movements of the yoga classes demanded a lot of concentration, getting me out of my head and grounding me in the physical experience. My racing mind slowed down and I felt like I could finally breathe again. This newfound sense of calm is what brought me back to my mat again and again.

My foundational 200-hour yoga teacher training took place with the Africa Yoga Project in Nairobi, Kenya in 2017 and I started teaching yoga mainly to my work colleagues during lunch break to provide a refreshing pause in a hectic work day.

Fast forward to 2019, navigating the joys and challenges of pregnancy and postpartum life with my daughter Amelia born in March, I added a pre- and postnatal training with Bliss Baby Yoga. Despite the blessings of a thriving baby and a seven-month break from work, all wasn’t rosy, and I struggled with postnatal depression. My yoga practice became my sanctuary, my mat a space to reconnect with my body, feel my needs, emotions and desires and just be kind to myself, in a time I was otherwise absorbed in caring for my baby.

Returning to work in October 2019, I quickly encountered the enormous balancing act which is combining early motherhood and full-time work: it took only two weeks until I had to stay home with my ill daughter – one of the many colds/flus of the early years – during a major conference at work.

Parenting in the Pandemic

And then came the unexpected turn of events that affected us all – the pandemic. March 16, 2020, marked my daughter’s first birthday and the first family event canceled due to COVID. With the closure of childcare facilities, my husband and I found ourselves working 100% from home while caring for our energetic one-year-old. With no family support nearby, our life looked like this: early mornings to  work before Amelia woke up, tag-teaming childcare and work throughout the day, dinner, bringing her to bed, catch-up on work, sleep, repeat.

While we navigated the challenges, the toll on my well-being resulted in another burnout, which took much longer to recover from, because, well – you can’t take off from parenting. With my energy running low and time being a precious commodity, my yoga routine shifted towards slower, more restorative poses. What really became my anchor, though, was the meditation practice I’ve stuck with since 2014. Now, a 10-minute morning meditation has become my non-negotiable self-care minimum.

The birth of Yogamelia

In 2021, I proudly completed my 500-hour advanced teacher training with the inspiring Brett Larkin. Initially drawn to the powerful and meditative nature of Ashtanga, my focus has evolved, especially since becoming a mother. These days, I find solace and joy in teaching and practicing vinyasa flow, yin, restorative, as well as pregnancy and postnatal yoga. Also, breath work, meditation and mindfulness have gained a bigger part in my own practice, life and teachings.

Yoga has been my rock, every time leading me from overwhelmed to empowered, especially during times of upheaval – including burnout, the unexpected passing of a parent, divorce and postnatal depression.

Looking ahead

As a busy mom juggling a demanding career in global health and running a thriving yoga business, I intimately understand the pressures we all face. Through firsthand experience, I’ve witnessed the profound impact yoga, meditation, breath work and mindfulness can have on finding balance, reducing stress, and improving both physical and mental health.

As my journey unfolds, my passion for supporting mothers in all phases of their lives continues to grow, and I have completed my training as a Mental Health First Aider and a Parental Burnout Expert in 2023. So over the months to come you’ll hear much more from me about Parental Burnout and how to identify and treat it.

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