My name is Pınar Üstün. I was born and raised in Ankara, Turkey. I probably belong to the last generation who had the freedom to play outside on the streets, before Nintendo and Macintosh took over. As a high school student, I was very confused and had no idea about what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a linguist and became an engineer instead
My first contact with yoga was in 2008. I was happily practicing Aikido in my university years but had to give it up due to a health issue. I was heartbroken and was in search of a ‘softer’ way of movement. Yoga was my second best thing. My first yoga teachers in Ankara, who were actually recommended to me by someone from aikido, were a mother and a daughter who had committed themselves to the path of yoga. I was very lucky to embark on this journey with them, where the roots of traditional Hatha Yoga were still respected and kept alive
Then came a dark period in my life following my move to İstanbul in 2010. I started working for a fancy multi-national company and was under a crazy amount of stress every single day. Yoga became a distant mirage that I dreamt about but was too depressed and burnt out to do anything about it. My health visibly deteriorated and my mental well-being became questionable. One evening as I was struggling in the dreadful commute from work back home, I found myself asking this simple question: "So if you die tomorrow, will you go happy?" The answer was a stomach-clenching, gut-twisting NO. Some things had to be changed
After quitting the job and the industry altogether, I went back to school to study psychology, and yoga came back into my life. I met my teacher Defne Suman shortly thereafter, through one of her books. She was a student of the Shadow Yoga school and the kind of guru-shishya relationship she was describing in the book was exactly what was missing inside me since my Aikido days. The force of the attraction was very strong, and again the stomach and the gut were involved in the process. I reached out to her with an impulsive email that kicked off a series of miraculous events. I became her student and later on her apprentice. I also had the good fortune to meet the founders of the Shadow Yoga school Shandor Remete and Emma Balnaves and kept on studying with them annually throughout these years.
I have been teaching Shadow Yoga since 2018
For me, one of the many things that came out of yoga was the realization that I could no longer continue living my life fixated on the external environment. Something on the inside had to be changed. Yoga does this internal reconstruction, but it is a daily struggle and depends on how much your mind is willing to let go. In the ‘attentive’ sense of the word, one becomes more sensitive to one’s daily choices and tries to live in such a way that is most compatible with one’s current self at any given moment. If nothing else, yoga gives you a better grip on reality. It gives you the courage to look at yourself, and to those parts of yourself that you ignored for a very long time. All of these, with the assumption that you work whole-heartedly with a good guide
I came to Tel Aviv two months ago. I met an Israeli guy, one thing led to another, and now I am here! It sounds very funny when I say this because it actually took us a very long time to unite, considering all the bureaucracy we needed to go through with Misrad Hapnim in the time of corona. We met several years ago in one of the yearly Shadow Yoga workshops abroad and our paths have been weaving towards each other ever since. The decision to move to Israel was not an easy one, but then again, it was not so difficult either. Life is so much more simple when you lean back and let the universe do its thing for you