Meet yoga teacher Ingrid Jæger
- Yoga is for everyone. I have had yoga classes with everything from kindergarten children to an elderly gentleman of 101 years. It's about making adjustments to the body you have. The yoga positions should not hurt, says Ingrid Jæger, who likes to recommend loose and comfortable clothes in wool or cotton as yoga attire.
Jæger runs her own small yoga studio in Bergen, but also travels to visit companies, nurseries, schools and nursing homes with yoga exercises, breathing techniques and relaxation in her suitcase.
- Yoga was developed in India several thousand years ago. The purpose was to prepare the body to tolerate sitting still for a long time in a position during meditation, she says.
More than physical positions
- What was your first encounter with yoga?
- As a young person, I was curious, searching and eager to travel and felt drawn towards Asia and especially India. When I was 18 years old, I started my first course in classical yoga here in Bergen, she says.
- On the course, we were introduced to both the physical yoga positions (asanas), meditation, breathing techniques and various cleansing methods, such as nasal rinsing. Many people associate yoga with physical positions, but it consists of so much more. I remember at the time I thought the nasal rinse was a bit strange, but still found a lot on the course that appealed to me, says Jæger.
Eventually she attended several different yoga courses, including hatha yoga and other classical forms of yoga. In addition to asanas, breathing and relaxation, we were presented with yogic rules of living such as vegetarianism, avoidance of alcohol, non-violence etc. I remember thinking it was very exciting and at the same time quite different, but that it aroused a great interest in me.
Jæger also tried hot yoga during this period.
- Some people think it is wonderful to practice in a warm room, where the muscles and joints are helped by the heat to get into the positions more easily. My challenge was the other way around, namely that I have hypermobile joints. One of the instructors therefore advised me against this form of yoga to avoid injury.
Fascinated by India
But the attraction towards the country of origin of yoga, India, was strong, and already at the age of 19 she traveled around the country for 5-6 weeks. Since then, she has been there regularly over the years for travel and studies.
- I wrote my master's thesis in social anthropology about the role of the elderly in a society in North-West India, in the Indian Himalayas.
In total, she has spent close to two years in the country, on various trips and in various places. Everywhere she came into contact with different environments within yoga and practiced with different teachers.
- I also traveled to Rishikesh, which is located on the banks of the Ganges, where the Beatles found their meditation guru in their time, and which is considered "The Yoga Capital of the World". My interest in yoga and meditation has grown as I have been able to practice and learn with different teachers, within different directions, but where you can see that the goal is usually the same, namely to find inner peace and physical well-being.
Jæger lived for a year in Nepal where she worked for an organization that runs
climate research in the Himalayas. Then she practiced yoga several times a week in an old palace.
- What attracted me to yoga was the feeling of both physical and mental freedom that yoga gave me, of both energy and calm. Being able to be completely myself, in a room with many others, but where you turn your gaze inwards on your own breath and body and only focus on yourself and how the exercises are experienced by the individual. The feeling of well-being that yoga gave me was very enjoyable.
- I was probably also fascinated by a form of mysticism connected to yoga, and became increasingly curious about the yogic mindset and way of looking at body and health. The fact that yoga has been such an important source of health in Indian society meant that I eventually became thoroughly familiar with Ayurveda, the traditional Indian health science, closely linked to yoga.
Changed job direction
Ingrid Jæger has had regular jobs in organizations and business for many years, and has thrived and learned a lot there, but has always wanted to start for herself, which was more in line with her original search and curiosity in India and the Himalayas.
- I took the step two years ago, when there were downsizing at work. I was offered new jobs in business, but told myself I would regret it if I didn't do this now. Since then, I have run Ingrid Jaeger yoga full-time and have not regretted it for a second!
Her yoga studio is located at Skjold in Bergen. Here she organizes classes and courses, when she is not out at nurseries, schools, businesses and homes for the elderly.
- Even those in wheelchairs can take part in yoga, in what we call chair yoga, she says. I am keen to teach an inclusive form of yoga where the vast majority of people can join.