Who of us hasn’t been encouraged to follow our calling, to seek fulfilment? Heeding such advice, though, comes with a risk spectrum, at the other end of which lies a more meaningful life.
Anna Kleb, 33, is one of the lucky ones to have been able to pursue her passion with success. Settling into a comfortable cross-legged seat on a yoga mat, the Reebok ambassador is in her element.
“Yoga is a character thing,” knows the professional yogini who goes by the moniker Yogaliebe (German for ‘yoga love’). “You have to be willing to let go, to go with your breath and instincts. The lack of structure might scare some.”
This philosophy is the perfect metaphor for Anna’s jump from a well-paying job in the automotive industry to the world of zen. The idea started brewing already seven years ago at a time when her life was unraveling.
“I had a lot of stress at work, I was breaking up with an ex, and I was leaving my home town. I needed something in my life.” In search of that something, she ended up going to a yoga class with a friend. The next day, she went again.
The basics of happiness
In the beginning, Anna was lured in by the physical benefits yoga. “I wanted to move. I wanted to do my sports. Little did I know yoga would end up changing my entire life.”
She recites her old career in a way many can relate. “Since leaving school my life was geared towards the corporate sector. Yes, I had a safe job and financial security, but I was too busy to see what was really good for me. And once you’re in the hamster wheel, it only goes faster and faster. I kept running for 12 years.”
Lost in the tumult of inner pressure and external expectations, over time she became unhappier and more unsatisfied. What, then, is Anna’s definition of happiness?
“Early on, my mother saw how much I enjoyed working with people, not numbers or money. She was right.”
Let go and set your own rules
Quitting her job was a long process, the apex of which came one year ago after a three-month sabbatical. Today, in her own yoga studio in Metzingen near Stuttgart, Germany, Anna’s professional domain is Strala Yoga.
“It’s essentially yoga without rules, “she boils down the method founded and popularized by Tara Stiles. “Emphasis is on freedom, and on transitioning to poses one breath at a time. There is no ‘wrong’ or ‘misaligned’ way of moving. If it feels good, it’s right. This is why Strala is also called the yoga rebel.”
The Strala approach underpins Anna’s values. “I don’t want to have rules, or better yet, I want to make up my own rules,” she says, quickly followed by an elaboration. “It’s not that I don’t follow traffic rules or the rules of society, “she laughs. “I just don’t want to have rules that prevent me from being myself.”
Anna recalls having a lot of barriers to engage in introspection, and also lacking the confidence to do so, in her previous life. This is why she sees freedom as the most important thing also in business.
“As a leader, you need to give people freedom to explore, to find out what they’re capable of,” she encourages.
So you think you can flow?
Yoga has the power to mold both mind and muscle. Anna has witnessed this over and over again both in her classes and in herself.
“People often ask me what else I do besides yoga. To me, yoga is the best sport. On the mat, we work with our own bodies, shifting our weight side to side, forward and back. And the injury rate is low.”
As an athlete at peace with herself and her community, Anna thanks Strala to showing her the way to bravery. Any fitness, she believes, has the power to transform lives by sharpening the mind.
“And with that mind-body connection, you can go out and do great things.”
Whether you’re a hooked newbie or a veteran yogi, Anna’s Instagram is full of inspiration and positive energy – for the love of yoga.