February 10, 2010

meeting with kasia {an interview}

beside the Ganges. Rishikesh, India

This week I had a chance to interview my dear friend Kasia whom I met while living in Kenya and ever since it has been an inspiring experience and friendship. She is an honest, sincere, caring and warm person with a delightful sense of humor.

Kasia was born in Poland and now lives in Lagos, Nigeria with her husband Alex and their three adorable daughters, Natalia, Constantina and Liliana. She is not only a devoted and affectionate mother but also a yoga practitioner and teacher. She is planning in two weeks time a charity yoga session for Haiti earthquake victims at the American School in Lagos and donating this entire income to the Haiti Relief Fund.

Kasia's family. Lagos, Nigeria

I asked her to share some of her thoughts and experiences and she graciously shared some of her free time for this interview.

Kasia's yoga background

Most of my yoga experience comes from the Manasa yoga school in Kuala Lumpur where I practiced yoga for 3 years with my guru Manoj Kaimal (the founder of the school together with his wife Sandhya) and that is also where I did my teacher's training.

Manasa, in Sanskrit language means mind. Manoj wants to particularly stress the involvement of our mind into the yoga practice.In yoga we should move from gross, which is the physical body through breath to more subtle and that is mind and ultimately our soul. That is in short the philosophy behind the school I have been with for the past ten years. The idea is to bring back the traditional meaning of yoga as opposed to the modern side of it where it is practice along with pilates or aerobics. Manasa Yoga interweaves the teachings of Manoj's gurus and schools he practiced with; among others the schools of Swami Sivananda, Pattabhi Jois and Iyengar. All these teachings complement each other and form a perfect balance in practice.

initiation ceremony. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Also in Manasa there is a big emphasis on studying ancient scriptures. Manoj's knowledge about them is amazing and he is always trying to share some of it with his students. One of the most important texts in yoga is Yoga Sutra (the techniques of yoga). It is a collection of the ancient aphorism written over two thousand years ago by the man who is considered to be the father of yoga Sage Patanjali. It focuses mostly on our mind and soul on its way to enlightenment.

The original is written in Sanskrit language and over the years various teachers have been writing translations and commentaries to the ancient wisdom. My guru, Manoj, has written one as well, and his commentary is very contemporary and explains things in a great way. The book is called "Making Patanjali Palatable" and is accessible online from Amazon. Last year, I attended a yoga retreat in India where Manoj lectured us on Yoga Sutras and took us through and explained his commentary.

How did you first encounter yoga?

I started the practice of yoga exactly 9 years ago. For some reason I was always drawn to yoga and meditation even before I knew what it exactly meant. In 2001 I moved out of my country where I had a full-time job and never enough time for anything and I found myself in Malaysia (where my husband got a job). With plenty of time on my hands, I remembered that I promised myself to try yoga when the time would be right. And that was the right time.

I started looking around for classes and I found my teacher Manoj. Till today, I am grateful to the universal intelligence for getting me together with my teacher because that moment completely changed my life. I have been practicing yoga ever since and my philosophy about life values and priorities, about my family and a lot more has changed completely.I cannot explain how much deeper and happier my life is with yoga. It is helping me with every aspect of my life. In all the challenges that I meet in everyday life starting with motherhood and ending with our lifestyle and constantly moving around the world. Yoga is my grounding, the element that doesn't change in my life, something that I always take with me, something I can not imagine my life without anymore.

practicing in Jakarta, Indonesia at a workshop for Kasia's students. Manoj's and his wife Sandhya who is also a teacher of Manasa yoga were teaching the workshop

Who and what inspires you?

The person that inspires me most in my life is my Guru Manoj. I cannot be more grateful and thankful enough to him for introducing me to yoga and for sharing all the knowledge I have within me. I always look up to Manoj as a teacher and as a person. He is the most amazing teacher I have ever met (and I have tried a lot of different classes within the last 9 years), he is a real yogi.

with Manoj beside the Ganges. Rishikesh, India

Funny yoga stories?

I cannot think of any at the moment except for the one when I was teaching in Kenya. One of my students, and a very good friend, is very flexible and got into a posture and could not get out of it. She had both her arms under her thighs and she was folded forward with her chest on the floor. Everyone could not stop laughing and she was calling out for help to get her out of this....

What about motherhood?

Motherhood...... a beautiful thing...... It is amazing how yoga made me enjoy my kids even more and taught me how to be patient. This has been my personal issue and for a long time this was my big problem. I was losing my temper very easily. Its unbelievable how becoming aware of that and working on it has changed me. I sometimes find it hard to believe but I know it is all because of my practice and awareness that I am trying to bring from yoga into my everyday life that has changed a lot of things for me. I am able to accept things that happen more easily and I just trust that whatever is coming into my life is there for a reason.....

Sandhya adjusting Kasia. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Juggling motherhood, yoga practice and teaching is not easy as I sometimes wish I had more time for myself and my yoga. But my three sweet little girls need me at the moment and I have to be there for them because they grow so fast, and I am sure in the future, I will have plenty of time just for me. That is what I always think when I have to choose between them and yoga. But having said that, I always try to have my personal practice on a regular basis (maybe not for as long as I would wish to) and I am very committed to my classes. I am always there for my students and just teach fewer classes at the moment. So I think it is a nice balance.

The perfect day?

A perfect day....... it depends a lot on the day. I am into the moon cycles at the moment and I learn how our bodies respond so differently to the same events depending on the moon phase and other astrological factors and I am amazed by that. But definitely, regardless of the moon and my energy levels, I love to start my day with a practice of Asanas followed by a session of meditation and then a nice healthy breakfast. Then take some time to relax and do some reading and studying. There is so much still to learn.

yoga practice. Jakarta, Indonesia

Also, throughout my yoga years, I have realized that we can learn things from anybody, especially and mostly from our spouses. My wonderful husband Alex is very supportive of all my yoga activities and that helps me enjoy it even more. It is also amazing how much we can learn from our children. Their innocence and honesty is something that we very often lose later in our life. We learn from friends and from strangers, from teachers but also from cleaning ladies in our building who always have a big smile and greet us everyday no matter if it rains or shines. And once I realized all that, I started paying more attention to situations and people in my life and what they are there for; and what am I going to learn from a particular event.

yoga workshop for Kasia's students with guests Manoj & Sadiyah. Jakarta, Indonesia

head stand. Bali, Indonesia

Your hobbies?

As for my hobbies, I love traveling and getting to know new cultures. The diversity of people in the world is so amazing. I am really enjoying observing people or listening to their stories, their rituals, their customs and religion.

practicing yoga beside the Ganges. Rishikesh, India

I also enjoy photography. Many years ago I took a course in photography hoping that I will have time to practice it. I have been taking a lot of pictures but I never got a chance to get into it the way I always wanted. Having little kids does not help, but I do plan to deepen my experience in that field when I have more time for myself. I also enjoy cooking. I think this is an art. I enjoy looking for new recipes and trying new ingredients. But mostly I enjoy just putting a few things together and creating my own dish.

Indian Ocean. Photo taken by Kasia. Mombasa, Kenya

colorful khanga on the beach. Photo taken by Kasia. Mombasa, Kenya

The afternoons I like to have for my children and spend time with them when they come back from school. We love doing art, whether it is drawing, painting, gluing or cooking. We also all enjoy reading together. I also love the way my youngest one, who is now almost 6 months, enjoys just lying on the bed with me and laughing and hugging with me. She is such a hugger. These are absolutely priceless moments... and I would love them to last forever....

with Constantina & Natalia at the beach in Nigeria

Kasia & Liliana at the beach in Mombasa, Kenya

Kasia teaches yoga on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in Lagos. If you're in town and would like to attend one of her classes, you can contact her directly at: kasiagendis@yahoo.com

Many thanks to Kasia for sharing a bit of your life with us!!!


  1. Inspiring post. Off to read some of your earlier posts.... Lovely blog!!

    Happy thoughts!

  2. Thank you for your comment! I had so much fun working on this post with Kasia. She is always open to new ideas and a truly wonderful friend. I wish I could live closer and attend her classes :-)

  3. Thank you Anabel so much for taking your time and writing about my yoga!! You are such a wonderful friend! Muchos besos a ti!!xxx

  4. Besos back! Thank you for sharing :-))

  5. Thanks for a great interview. I met Kasia through Manasa Yoga in Malaysia. She's a lovely person and it shines through her sharing...Wonderful to read about her.Enjoyed it very much.


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