Katarína Varsiková

Joga a príbehy

Svet stvorený zo slov a ríša, ktorá sa začína za hranicou slov.
Dve mestá – Bratislava a Brusel. A doma je v skutočnosti miesto, ktoré nie je na žiadnej mape.

Yoga, yoga, yoga

Photo: Beneton meeting dogs in the park of Tervuren. The smallest of the band, for those who did not know him. 

Some years ago, not so important how many, we started to practice yoga together with a small group of people and friends. I was in the teacher training and full of desire to share what I was learning. The studio was a living room; the dog called Beneton was still in his best years. He loved the sessions, too, waiting until we come to the lying-down positions. That was his moment to jump up and harass everybody with happy kisses. He was also a master of downward facing dog asana. Beneton is gone, as my cousin put it – He is in the kingdom where deer always wait to be caught.

This summer 2017, two of my living room yoga band finished their viniyoga teacher training. Four years of studying, deepening the experience of a spiritual warrior. We have seen each other regularly during those years, on the mat, at the table of our favourite Indian restaurant called Agra, on walks in the park of Tervuren.

What does a yoga instructor diploma mean? Well, a little and a lot, as it goes with everything worldly. It is the fruit, the achievement, to be taken lightly, to be offered to the service, to be savoured with joy.

Grateful I am – for the gift of friendship and sharing. Remembering Beneton who was born on the very special day of summer eclipse in 1999 and lived his dog time to the full.

We learn to accept life in all its uncertainty and ephemeral nature. For Beneton it was so natural to run, love and, finally, let go. Not so easy for us, humans. Nevertheless, here we are and all the gifts of the present moment. Gentle summer rain breaks a sweltering heat wave. I love the dance of elements.

Wishing trust into the chosen path to all the yoga teachers. Dedicating this blog to Françoise and Kassia, of course. Well-done, girls.

From the Port to The Beach.

Picture: The path leading to the Maasvlakte Beach 

We zig-zag the roads and highways through the immense Port of Rotterdam: kilometres and kilometres of tubes, chimneys, steel and concrete constructions, smoking refinery plant towers, waste basins with no-entry warnings, no man land stretches between. A strange, almost beautiful ugliness of the industrial world this civilisation has created. It seems endless, but eventually we reach the end of it and leave the car in an empty parking lot under a raised embankment. Only few steps and there we are: At a beautiful, long, and broad sandy beach. It feels we are among the first to enter here – clean, sea-washed sand at the low tide, seagulls, and flocks of more birds and ship on the horizon.

The cool waves of the Atlantic and its strong pull. The wild joy of being enveloped in the elements of sun, wind, and water. If I did not come that way, I would never believe we are still a walking distance from the industrial harbour. A perfect beach afternoon. A perfect experience of discovering, being fully present and tuned. A meditation. Yes, the harbour is a metaphor to our mind: the maze full of smoking structures, complicated forms. Yes, it is useful; the seeming chaos is in fact ordered to create wealth. Yes, it is often tiring and demanding. When in mind, we do not see easily beyond, we do not know about the existence of the spacious shore of the pure consciousness. Until we willingly step out of it and into the immense territory. We gasp with awe and acknowledge our presence and joy. The place to come and rest and find strength and confidence.

Well, well, I am learning to live in both simultaneously; to seek beauty in the chaos of the mind, to go regularly into more openness and purity of the consciousness. It is the binding and supporting force of the mind, anyway. There are many ways to get there; skipping LSD and other drugs, I choose breathing techniques, asana practice and meditation.

But roads are many, we create them with every step.

To visit Maasvlakte beach:


Berlin.The Bunker and How Long is Now?

Part I. The Berlin Bunker

We pass the building couple of times on our regular way to the hotel at the Linienstrasse, Mitte-Berlin. Suddenly we notice: a crude concrete block structure with very tiny windows, graffitti and no sign indicating the content or the history of the place. It looks how I imagine Chinese or North-Korean torture prisons. Could be an anti-nuclear bunker, I speculate and we take a round only to appear in front of a green-grey metal door again. Somebody comes out and  before I have time to realize, Abram pulls a heavy handle and we find ourselves inside, among  sleek, neat concrete walls leading to a rather spacious entrance hall. A tall black-haired girl appears and asks a not so unusual question to Berlin visitors:

„Do you have a reservation?“

Of course not, until a couple of minutes ago we thought this might be a closed-down issue waiting for development, as so many structures in this city are. Well, the reservations are to be done two month ahead if one wants to see the  former anti air raid bunker built in 1942. Since the war it served to many purposes – from storage of citrus fruit imported from Cuba to the former DDR capital, through wild techno parties in the 90s to the contemporary art exhibitions nowadays.

With an elegant silver-grey visitors´card in hand we are out again onto the pavement harassed by the summer sun and we continue our road.

Berlin is very walk-able, especially in good company.

Bunker Berlin and I do not know why I so childishly love the alliteration figure:



Part II. How Long is Now?

Is written on the side wall of one of many dilapidated Berlin buildings waiting for a reconstruction. The pavements in the Mitte are very broad, leaving space both for restaurant and café tables and pedestrians walking. Many bars are exotic, as fashion goes, a favourite drink here is the orangey stuff served in bulky glasses called an aperol spritz, fashionable as everywhere, it seems.

Clouds build a strong league in the sky above Berlin and a thunder announces a storm. Wearing no hats and having no umbrella with us, we search for a refuge on the way to the friends´. Outside a big grayish house that looks like a squatter place are a few wooden chairs and tables; empty, as the hour is early in the evening. A few stairs lead to a basement bar; its smell reminds me of Bratislava cellar pubs in the 90s, the smell mixed of humid brick, faint aroma of beer and cigarettes. Candles are burning on all surfaces; the music backdrop is less known 50s pop. A guy with a mane of black-silver hair serves us beers, he carefully washes a glass for me, even though the practice is to grab the bottle by the neck. It is our first night in Berlin. And since tonight we would come every night while in town. The music would vary; a stretch of The Doors songs played on somehow mono-retro-sounding system pulls me into a different era of my life. I can talk, write, and be silent. All depends, and it feels like freedom. The storm of the first night is quickly over, leaving the bitumen glistening in the dusk, the leaves of the town´s abundant greenery fresh and new. Discovering repeatedly… How long is now?

To the X-Terrain Bar:







Čas cestovať…

Photo: Yorek by Lula 

Len kocúri zostávajú doma. Som vlk, ktorého duša potrebuje brázdiť rozľahlé pláne, alebo kocúr, ktorého svetom sú okolité záhrady, a napriek tomu žije v oku dobrodružstva? Bielo-sivý Yorek sa prešmykne popod plot k susede a otvorenými dvermi vkĺzne dnu. Usalaší sa na jej pohovke a dovolí, aby ho obdivovala v cudzom jazyku (nemčine) a volala iným menom (Snehulienka).

Som vlk aj kocúr rozhodnem sa.

Pre tých, čo sú toto leto v Bruseli, dva tipy:

Erasmus House v Anderlechte , kde múdry pán ku koncu života pobudol päť mesiacov na návšteve u priateľa. Nádherná flámska gotika, čarovná záhrada hypochondrov a filozofov, od ktorej mi dala uvádzačka kľúč. Je to mikrosvet, pozostatok beginského kláštora. A na neďalekom námestí jedno z mnohých bruselských café, toto konkrétne je grécke a kučeravá čiernovláska robí frappé presne ako na Peloponéze, s päťcentimetrovou penou. Vyložím si nohy na stoličku, lebo inak mi do nich ďobe drzý holub a počúvam, čo si hovoria miestni.

V Bozar je výstava francúzskeho umelca Yves Kleina, bol majstrom džuda a prostredníctvom obrazov a inštalácií hľadal to večné. Ach,ach. Yves Klein sa v čiernom-bielom prevedení prechádza nonšalantne pomedzi nahé modelky, ktoré sa natierajú farbou a váľajú po plátne. Zľahka ich inštruuje a stihne dať pokyny aj orchestru, súčasťou performance je hudba. Je to komické či zmyselne? Neviem sa rozhodnúť. Umelcova farba bola modrá. A Bozar otvoril novú brasserie-café.

Nie, za dobrodružstvom netreba chodiť ďaleko. Na druhej strane, prečo nie?

Erasmov dom:



Yves Klein a modrá:



Kairos a Chronos

Obrázok: http://www.tzum.info/2014/04/recensie-joke-j-hermsen-kairos-een-nieuwe-bevlogenheid/

Starodávny kočiar  umiestnený v klietke husto vypletenej čiernymi niťami – takmer ho cez ňu nevidno. Stojí v jednej z prvých miestností zámku Gaasbeek. Výstava sa volá Kairos Castle. Kairos je starogrécky boh, najmladší vnuk boha Chronosa. Mladík s dlhou šticou nad čelom predstavuje čas. Nie ten Chronosov, chronologický, ale čas umelcov, hodinkami nepolapiteľnú prítomnú chvíľu. Možno ho však chytiť za šticu, pozrieť sa mu do ligotavých očí a… byť. Tvoriť. Nemá minulosť, nemá budúcnosť.

Späť ku kočiaru – dívam sa cez tmavé pletivo, je to symbol detstva ukrytého v pavučine času, cez spomienky je detstvo síce prístupné, no aj tak beznádejne zahmlené. Tvorkyňou výstavy je holandská spisovateľka a filozofka Joke Hermsen. Inštalácie, experimenty s fotografiou, obrazy, filmy a hudba umiestnené medzi kusmi zámockej zbierky, na časom a dedom Chronosom ošúchaných tapetách, v spálňach, kde sa už dávno nespí, v kuchyni, kde sa dávno nevarí, v kúpeľni, kde sa dávno nikto nekúpe. Neviem kráčať po ostrej hrane prítomného okamžite neustále, myseľ ma z neho posiela preč, no je tu ten mladík s ligotavými očami a dlhou šticou, aby mi pripomenul, že sa to dá. V  jednej zo spální zastanem pred obrazom, ktorý k výstave nepatrí, je súčasťou historickej zbierky: dievčina v modrých šatách a papučkách hrá na lutnu a díva sa na mňa z prítmia. Chronos ju dávno vzal preč, je mu to jedno, má svoje hodiny, minúty a sekundy, no pre Kairosa je mladá a živá.

A Kairos je s nami pri obede pod hruškou, šalát a chlieb,  pohá ružového vína, no aj táto chvíľa už je z hľadiska Chronosa preč, lebo teraz, keď píšem, je iné horúce popoludnie, okno dokorán, Abram odložil šálku čaju a kačka s gágáním preletela – asi z jazera na jazero. Chytám za pačesy Kaira, nechá sa, akákoľvek fotka, obraz, farba, sa v ňom stáva skutočnou, ako keď sa zadívam do očí milovaného a nikam inam, vtedy je Chronos nepodstatný, dych splýva s emóciou. Je to skutočnosť. Potrebujeme dedka Chronosa, kalendár, hodiny, termíny u zubára, letenky, schôdzky, spomienky, projekty a svetlá blikajúce na vzdialenom pobreží. Akú úlohu hrá  v kalenári strach? Dajakú, rôznu. Pre Kairosa strach nie je podstatný – smeje sa na mňa očami a máva krídlami, lebo hej, krídla sú jeho spôsob prepravy od nikam nikam, lepšie povedané, SEM.

Kairos, po latinsky Occasio či Tempus, najmladší a najrebelskejší vnuk Chronosa, merača času. Stelesňuje správny okamih, ponúka inšpiráciu, tvoriosť a zmenu.

Výstava  sa dnes končí, inak by som vás poslala. Tu je link:


Sat Chit Ananda

Lying diagonally on my bed; hot night and not yet dark outside, the days are super long in Belgium this time of the year, I neither sleep, nor think. Quite a rare state of mind induced by the hours of yoga practice. Tired, yes, not so much muscles, it goes deeper through the physical layer. Not even happy or satisfied, or yes, there is a deep contentment at the core of the being.

Yoga is a teacher. It is Wisdom. A Tool. The Light. I love the metaphor of yoga as a magic basket. Like in a fairy-tale, one can choose what one needs in the exact moment: a text, a respiration technique, a sequence of asanas… Yoga is an action, a conscious and constant choice.

Patience. Yoga transforms, but it is not an instant magic wand kind of transformer. And even better so. The unpredictable, the unknown is a part of the thrill, the excitement of journey. The ego is always involved, though, and I now I am capable to admit that I tried to bend yoga to my ego needs in the past. I used the breathing techniques to soothe my mind, so that I could avoid sitting with those difficult feelings. I spent some time on the cloud I created by means of the practice, unreachable to myself, and then landed quite harshly on my butt. I also remember the ego shouting when facing somebody else´s suffering: What´s wrong with you? Can´t you just do a bit of yoga and all will be fine?

Well, no. It is not that straightforward and easy. A spiritual warrior does not run away from the battlefield when scared but acknowledges fear and breathes some courage into it. A spiritual warrior uses the techniques for the higher good, not for an easy escape. And he/she cultivates compassion.

Life evolves. I finished the relationship I had thought was for a lifetime. I am offering my heart, strength, and vulnerability to love again. Fear sometimes slips in.  The trust, the shraddha. I dare, embrace, and dare more… to stand on my head, to extend my love and to mirror a smile of another being… and I even smile shyly to the Unknown.

Beams of light that have found way to my heart during the Anusara workshop at The Tree of Life Yoga studio in Tervuren  http://www.treeoflifeyoga.be

This is Jaye Martin moving his slender body with grace, breathing, smiling, and conveying the following:

Be the unique, the artistic expression of an asana. Here and now, true to yourself, respectful to your body. Melt your heart and soften your face, and let the soul shine through.

It is not about how far you go, it is about how you go far.

If you do not know what you are doing, you cannot do what you want. ?

Reveal your heart, so that my heart reveals to you.

Grateful. A few pieces of puzzle have slipped into the ever-evolving mosaic of life. Very concretely, for the first time – and it has been 11 years on the mat daily – I felt freedom in my shoulder blades. Well, patience, right? Thee trust for the chosen path, right?

The first heat wave of the summer found its peak last night, then clouds appeared, they created a hot curtain above the town. The temperature dropped and some rain might come… Or not yet.




Love in Literature and…

This blog is mostly meant for fiction and literature lovers. The quotations and thoughts are of Rosa Montero, a Spanish writer and journalist. A special gratefulness to Raquel Ruiz, my teacher, who brings up  contemporary Spanish literature to me. And also to Veronika who pointed out the non-existence of the word mourning in the Slovak and the Czech language.

Rosa Montero has written a book that can be loosely translated as The Funny Idea of Never Seeing You Again. Mourning. The period after losing a close person. The transition to acceptance of the loss. There are languages that have a special word for this experience. El duelo in Spanish. In Slovak, one “wears sadness”. In traditional setting, it is shown to the world by wearing black. Do men wear black, too? Or is it only women?

A year that a human being needs to settle into the idea of never seeing the beloved face again; the well-known smile, smell, voice is gone. The book is neither sad nor pessimistic, on the contrary, it is invigorating, uplifting, tickling curiosity about people and their stories.

These are a few ideas that inspire me a lot. Reading the book is having a conversation with an intimate friend. So, I hope Rosa Monterro would give me permission to translate and share them.

Here they are:

“Creativity is an alchemist intention to transform suffering into beauty.

Art in general, and particularly literature, are strong weapons against Bad and Pain.

We need to narrate ourselves to live. Our memory is in fact imagined. A story we rewrite every day.

When I was younger, I wanted to raise myself as a writer and create a great book about the human condition. Now, I modestly aspire at the freedom… And it is not about raising myself, but the contrary, descending, going down to the bottom of my unconsciousness where I hopefully can hear a piece of the collective song. Because deep in me there are we all. Only in total liberty can one really dance, make love, and write well. And those are the most important activities. And therefore, if you are asking me: Are you completely free in the text you are writing? I respond: Well, not. But I am heading there.

Fictional characters are marionettes of the unconsciousness.

I think there is no good fiction that does not strive at universality, that does not try to understand what it means to be a human.

The more you are nearing the essential, the less you can put it in words.

The marrow of the books lies in the corners of words. In good novels, the important is in the eclipse, in the air that circulates between the characters, in little sentences. Therefore, I cannot say more about Pablo: his place is within the silence.”

 Finally, the last extract that brings up Carl Gustav Jung and the spirituality of being One:

“I have a raising sensation that there is a continuation of human mind. That, in fact, there is a collective consciousness uniting us, that we dance unison without knowing it. And the coincidences form a part of that dance, of that music, common song that we finally do not hear completely, because the wind brings us only isolated notes.”

 The official site of the author:




Compassion. Space. Safety. Trust. Gratitude. Autonomy. Breath.

These are the key words that I have brought from the Yoga Therapy Network conference in Amsterdam. Packed with the content and the pure joy and the need of connection.

The trees along the canals are releasing their pale pinkish flowers; already dry, soft, they create an uneven carpet on the pavement. What trees are they I do not know, but they are a nice metaphor to the life cycles, the seasons´ coming-going, the acceptance and letting go so natural for the nature and so difficult for the human ego.

The old sages knew the ego so well thousands of years ago, their texts speak clearly… About the need to practice, to keep a constant dialogue, to re-connect all the layers so that the union is established. What is great about the yoga is its evolution and adaptability. These qualities make it a great tool. Not a unique tool, as there are as many roads as people, but a perfect one. The words of Sanskrit, such as dharma, karma find their equivalent in modern languages. It is perfectly possible to combine different therapies and medicines and yoga and create space for: Healing.

Amsterdam on a sunny day in May is buzzing with its energy: All that is not forbidden is permitted. And even more. For some visitors, it means testing the boundaries of the what bodies can take. I have been there. And it is great to observe the people who do not, who just go about their usual days. So much to choose from – we are spoilt. Nevertheless, the choice does not make life easier, that is for sure.

But once I choose well and wisely, I know it. Yoga has taught me that, too. Not that doubts disappear ever completely.

I am walking along the canal that is on the outer edge of the inner city, not so many tourists, more locals sipping an aperitif or walking home from another work day. Cats on window sills, dogs being taking out. Two girls are trying out a dance choreography at the edge of the water. Bare-feet. The presence is growing with conscious breathing, the awareness of the body bringing me to those key words:

Compassion. Space. Safety. Trust. Gratitude. Autonomy. Breath.

Link to The Network Yoga Therapy:








Priestor. Bezpečie. Dôvera. Vďaka. Autonómia. Dych….

V názve sú kľúčové slová, ktoré si odnášam z amsterdamskej konferencie o joge a terapii tento rok. Deň plný obsahu, radosti a prepojenia.

Stromy pri kanáloch zhadzujú svetloružové, drobné suché kvety, ktoré na chodníku vytvárajú nepravidelný koberec. Neviem, čo sú to za stromy, ale tvoria fajn metaforu životných cyklov, striedajúcich sa sezón, prijatia a púšťanie. Také prirodzené pre stromy a také ťažké pre naše ego. Mudrci to vedeli už pred tisícmi rokov a ich texty hovoria o potrebe… mať disciplínu.

Na joge je úžasná jej schopnosť rozvíjať sa a prispôsobovať. Tieto vlastnosti z nej robia dokonalý nástroj. Nie jediný, lebo ciest je toľko, koľko ľudí, ale dokonalý. Slová v sankrite ako dharma a karma majú svoj ekvivalent v moderných jazykoch a v súčasných reáliách. Terapie a jogu možno kombinovať a vytvoriť tým priestor pre: Hojenie.

Amesterdam je v slnečný májový deň plný svojej špecifickej energie: Čo nie je zakázané, je dovolené. A viac. Pre niektorých turistov to znamená otestovať hranice, koľko telo znesie. Poznám. A je úžasné pozorovať ľudí, ktorí to nerobia, žijú si svoj bežný deň. Možností je toľko!

No fakt, že si môžeme vyberať, nerobí život o nič jednoduchším.

Ak si však zvolím dobre a múdro, viem o tom. Joga ma naučila. Hoci pochybnosti nikdy nezmiznú navždy.

Kráčam popri kanáli na vonkajšom okraji mesta, nie je tu toľko turistov, miestni popíjajú aperitív alebo sú na ceste domov z práce. Mačky sa vyhrievajú na parapete, psy dostanú svoju zvyčajnú prechádzku. Dve bosé dievčatá si na kraji vody skúšajú tanečnú choreografiu. Prítomnosť narastá s každým vedomým dychom. Vnímanie.

Earth. Water. Fire. Air. Space

Picture: Lula connected to the Earth and Fire in the garden of our cottage in Western Slovakia

The elements are parts of nature, therefore parts of us. We connect to them and have all kinds of special relationships with each one.

Thanks to the practice, I can spot the imbalance or prevalence of an element in my body quite easily. Reaching for a second cake, though my stomach does not need it at all, unable to cut off procrastination and get down to work… It is the dominance of the earth with its force to attach, to lock me in passivity. Having a day of several superficial conversations, hopping from place to place, being active but not really getting anything done… the vata, the wind takes the leadership. Coming home after a long summer day on a beach, driving on a swelteringly hot highway, the fire is just way too much.  I seek shade, semidarkness, a cold yoghurt for supper. A stretch of Brussels´ cold and rainy days can make me long for a dry, hot day at our cottage in the mountains of Slovakia. I picture myself sitting on the warm stone of the terrace, watching the orchard absorbing the heat, plums growing in front of my eyes. And I know that water is the essential one for me. I can deeply long for rain. I jump with joy when the first drops fall on town and the air tastes like metal  – it is the water meeting the dryness.

The elements are in a constant flux, in a playful motion. And yoga can provide connection with all of them.

Root yourself in the mountain pose, feel your feet firmly touching the ground and the nourishing earthy energy entering into the body.

Do a sequence of deep launches and feel the flow, the fluidity representing the power of water.

In a triangle pose it is the lower body that provides firm grounding so that the upper body can move deep into the asana. The linking element here is the centre, the core, the home to our fire. The principle of transformation.

Throw a warrior pose on a meadow or a mountain, ground yourself deeply and offer the upper body to the air and space, these are the lighter energies that invite us to grow, to expand and to explore, to evolve.

Gratitude is the ingredience changing the practice into a spiritual experience.

Gratitude for being whole and being the part of the Game of Elements.

Pick up your favorite one in this moment…