What I love the most about Yoga is the way it makes me feel! It helps me calm this monkey mind of mine and move my body in a way that is so conscious – it keeps me present. That is all thanks to the focus on breathing. I hadn’t experienced this with anything else before. After yoga, I feel so refreshed, like I can handle anything coming my way!
My name is Gözde, I am Turkish, and I live in Berlin. I am a software engineer most of the time – the rest of the time, I am a yoga student and teacher.
I became interested in a career in technology from a young age. I was really into games when I was a kid, so I started using a computer more and more often. It was intriguing to see what you could do with a computer – that is, connecting to the Internet and finding information so easily, or speaking to people from the other side of the world. I loved these opportunities! But also, I was always pretty good at maths and solving problems, so I decided I wanted a career of solving complex problems and making life better for people. Considering all this, I studied computer engineering at university and specialised more in software.
I lived in England for a couple of years – I did my Masters and then started working there. However, due to work visa rejections at the time, I decided I would hunt for new opportunities in Europe, so I left the country to move to Berlin. Berlin had caught my attention because it is one of the top tech hubs in Europe, and has a cool, open attitude. I really like how global this city is – I would say that I’ve met more international people than Germans here!
Outside of work, I spend most of my time doing yoga. I first became interested in yoga right after graduation (which was unfortunate timing, as I feel like I could have used some yoga during my studies, but better late than never!). I was looking for a new activity during my time off and I came across an online offer at a new yoga studio near me. I had no idea what yoga was like at the time, so I decided to give it a go. On the second day, I quit my gym and committed to an everyday practice at the studio because I loved how it made me feel, both physically and mentally. I realised I was not really working out my whole body going to the gym, but with yoga, I could.
I trained in Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Yin. I love all of them, but my own practice is usually Vinyasa. I tend to have Ashtanga weekends, usually because I have more time – as that one takes 1.5 hours. And I do Yin when I need a more relaxing session.
I usually do yoga for 15-30 minutes in the morning before anything else. I don’t always do the same thing every morning; that is why the time changes. But I love starting my day moving – even if it is just 5 minutes, I do it before I start work. And being a desk worker, I feel I really need to move after all that sitting. This is the reason I break up my yoga practice during weekdays; a little in the morning and a little in the evening. I usually do 30-45 minutes after work. Other than that, I try and be mindful and conscious every day to help myself grow.
I am a certified Yoga Teacher. This began when I was having a break from work, after leaving England. While interviewing for a job, I realised that it was the best time to get my yoga teacher training before starting work; because when would I actually have a month-long break if I were working? It would basically mean using up my entire holiday package if I wanted to do such a thing whilst working! So, I started looking for 200-hour yoga teacher training courses and came across a magical place in Transylvania. Next thing I know, I am having an hour-long chat with the lead yoga teacher there to convince myself that I can handle an intensive course like that! I feel so lucky for having come across such a lovely place and wonderful people.
I was also very lucky to have been offered to cover the weekly yoga classes at my previous company for a couple of months when I came to Berlin, right after my yoga teacher training. I also taught at a movement studio at the time, making it two classes a week. After that, I did not start my own classes due to work being very busy. So I occasionally covered classes. However, during the first Covid lockdown starting in April 2020, I gave weekly online classes for free for two months. It was a really rewarding experience. Later, I decided to give monthly online yoga classes at work as a part of a Thrive community for a few months. I am hoping to keep doing this, as I really enjoy helping people at work to wind down with yoga and feel amazing, like I do, after each session!
The most important thing I try to teach my students is to focus on breathing. This really helped me be present and let go of all the other things that might be happening around me, reminding me that I am here and only here. Slowing down and being more mindful of your breaths also has the power of relaxing you greatly, activating the parasympathetic nervous system which you do not use much at work! It is basically a way to tell that anxious part of your brain that you are safe.
I have a few future goals with my yoga journey. I love learning more about yoga with each class, workshop, or book. It has already taught me so much and made me a new person, a better version of myself. So I want to continue my learning and do my advanced teacher training some day in the future. But more importantly, I want to spread this amazing thing to more and more people to help them grow and be a better version of themselves!
When you look at both yogi and engineer work life, they may seem like the complete opposite: with all the stress and pressure you may feel at work as an engineer, and the peace and calm you feel as a yoga teacher. Yes, that is certainly the opposite, so it’s a perfect balance when you do both. However, I think they are very similar in one way: you always need to keep learning and practising in order to get better, be it better at work or a better person in general. I strongly believe that anything will come with practice no matter how hard it is, so this does not only apply to engineering and yoga, but anything in life really!
I definitely think that yoga has been a benefit to my technological career. Although I was an ambitious engineering student, I sometimes did not believe in myself fully – especially when I started working, as it was a completely different world from university. But yoga proved to me that I could get better with consistent practice, and that made it easier for me to have faith in myself and my abilities as an engineer too. I know that I can learn and grow each day, and I will with practice.
My advice to anyone interested in yoga is to not let your impression or society’s opinions on yoga affect your desire to give it a go! Do not let your own brain trick you into thinking “You are not flexible at all, how can you do yoga?!” or “You don’t like meditation, how will you do yoga?!”. Yoga is not about flexibility or sitting in silence for hours. Yoga is about you. It is very personal, and everyone’s practice is unique. So some day, if you feel stressed out, suffer from working from home sitting all day, and want to grow as a person, just give yoga a chance! I promise it is not all woo-woo, and you will see its benefits tremendously in your life, your body, and your mind. You just need to take that first step. In fact, to make that a little easier, I will offer a free (group) yoga class online to whoever follows me on Instagram or Facebook and writes to me about this post – until the end of 2022 (31st December). Any feedback is always welcome. Hope to encourage you! 🙂
Finally, I’d just like to say that there is always more than tech. I don’t think anyone only has one interest; I personally have so many other interests apart from yoga that it’s hard to find time for them all. So you need to focus on your favourites – the ones you are more passionate about. Tech is only a part of our lives; it may be a big part of it, seeing as we work long hours during the week. However, there are other things that make up the rest of our time. Who would be interested in just the cover of a book? Isn’t reading it more interesting? You bet! You get more inspired by the book itself and you take something from it for yourself. You grow. You improve. I believe this is the reason why it is very important to share the creative passions of techies all around the world.
Gözde’s Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/yogozzy/
Gözde’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/yogozzy
Gözde’s LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gozdeozcan