“I am simply myself. I had many labels, and I would define myself through them. It wasn’t just the world to label me. I was helping the world to put me in a box. Then I became a yoga teacher.”
Linda Germanis is an economist, a conflict and reconstruction specialist, a UN worker, a graduate from Bocconi University in Milan, a former student of Sciences-Po in Paris and from the International Institute of Social Studies in Den Haag.
But this is also Linda: a bundle of energy from her wild red curls and charming freckles to her toes perfectly upside down on the cover of her first book Heals over Head. Yoga & Yap healed Me. Who heals War? She’s born Italian but since 2012 she’s a citizen of the world on a very noble quest.
I took the risk of giving up income and stability, and I welcomed the fear of the unknown.
Two years ago she experienced a personal healing through yoga. She was heartbroken and extremely vulnerable and took action. She stepped out into the world and traveled around to pursue her dream:
a project that combines yoga, economics, conflict studies, healing, and more.
Linda is the founder and coordinator of Yoga Fusion, Yoga in Action for Post-Conflict Reconciliation, a project that supports individuals in contexts of war, natural disaster and structural violence to shape their future by addressing trauma through self-healing and yoga therapy. The project is a Participatory Action Research Network that embodies a proactive approach to social justice, practicing very simple sequences of yoga therapy as common good to defeat trauma and strengthen individual and social wellbeing.
She first started practicing yoga on her own in the middle of the ocean on the Island of Yap in Micronesia.
I am a yoga teacher who learned from her own healing experience the meaning of empathy and (…) started to question whether yoga should be an elitist practice or a shared one in today’s world.
Being an economist and conflict reconstruction specialist has given her a different view on yoga; being a yoga teacher makes her a better development worker and innovator in her field. “I believe that we are beyond what we do, and yet every experience and education we receive give us a unique toolbox to play with and help the world while developing ourselves.”
One year into the project Linda faced a great challenge: it seemed like everything was failing, so she started writing and a few months later her book was born.
But is she happy? “In my book one chapter is entitled Happy Me. Happy You. Happy World: I was looking for a more realistic definition of happiness, and I found a more surprising one…”.
Her long term goal is to make yoga available to school teachers, local leaders and institutions and reach out to vast populations. Through NGOs, universities and international organizations Linda teaches Yoga as Workshop Facilitation Technique to help individuals aknowledge their often invisible traumas by practicing very simple and practical exercises. These workshops are mostly held in societies where violence and repression are a reality (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand).
She recently stepped back into the UN system but in a different way than before. “I am not fighting labels anymore, I am simply myself in everything I am doing… So yes, I see myself doing this forever.”
At the moment she is using her economic skills to design a product that would give financial sustainability to her project. On the side she is finalizing a PhD proposal and since August 2015 she is Head of the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Programme in Bangladesh. She recently joined a very prestigious fellowship program on Innovative social entrepreneurship founded by the Ariane de Rothschild Foundation. Through this Linda was at Cambridge University in July 2015 and will be in New York in March participating to Innolead at Fahrenheit – 212, the world’s leading innovation firm. Be sure not to miss it!
Alter Ego’s Proust-questionnaire: Who is Linda Germanis
Hatha, bikram or astanga yoga?
– I am a Hatha teacher.
Toughest asana of the moment?
– Kapotasana, but it depends on the day!
Your dream location to practice?
– The island of Yap, where I practiced by myself every day for almost 3 years.
Best moment of the day?
– 5.30 am… sometimes sunset.
Your favourite colour?
– Green, but I also love red!
Who is you guru?
– I do not have a guru. I believe in fusion.
What do you like/dislike most about society?
– I love its imperfections, I hate its imperfections.
What would you change in yourself?
– Nothing and yet I am working on change every day.
Where is your spiritual retreat?
– The island of Yap… the one I carry with me every day.
Magic is the combination of discipline and strength with an open and flexible mind.
who: Linda Germanis
what: yoga for individuals in contexts of war, natural disaster and structural violence
why: yoga should be a shared practice in today’s world
Alter Ego Portraits features stories and works of selected individuals around the world that have an alterego in their lives. Based on the definition of the Latin term alterego as a person’s secondary or alternative personality we focus on their profile uncovering their alterego; our candidates perform a task (job or activity) that is not their primary occupation/education and the tension between original and new self influences their work in unexpected ways.
We are interested in people and projects that cross boundaries between arts and crafts, abstract and concrete, ordinary and bold. In uncertain times of deep crisis, fast change, fierce competition we believe in people that can inspire us to go beyond ourselves.