An addiction to tea means that Perth-based yoga teacher and physiotherapist Christiane Steinward feels she can hardly judge people for their lifestyle choices.
I’ve known Christiane for about seven years, since we met in the lobby of the New Woodlands Hotel in Chennai, India. We’ve been friends ever since.
Our paths have diverged since then. She was yet to finish her yoga teacher training; I was already teaching. I gave up teaching because I was bored with the sound of my own voice; she was so serious about yoga, she took on a physiotherapy degree so she could better understand the dynamics of the human body in order to be a better teacher. That’s dedication. That’s kind of … extreme.
Originally from Manchester – a city known for its club scene and drinking culture – in the United Kingdom, Christiane used to party hard.
“I used to take a lot of drugs; drink a lot,” she says, in a voice that suggests a lot really does mean a LOT.
She felt she really pushed the boundaries with that lifestyle and has come to see herself as an “extremist”.
I am surprised by this – I would never have described her as such. Rather, she has a breezy and easy-going nature that seems to me totally different what you would expect a serious and full-on yogi to be.
“I’m a secret extremist,” she says.
Party-hard lifestyle loses its appeal
After discovering yoga after moving to Sydney, the appeal of her former lifestyle slowly started to wane.
“It seemed particularly unappealing, like it was taking me in the wrong direction.”
As she progressed in her understanding and experience of yoga, she found herself questioning who she was after a night out on the tiles.
She felt a discord – who am I? Is this really me?
The direction she, along with her husband, is increasingly taking is more of a “personal revolution”. She wants to reach her potential from a spiritual perspective rather than a material or social one. This, for her, is living with integrity.
She has given up the booze, and doesn’t eat meat. Her “vices” now are tea and… well, just tea. About 20 cups a day. She is English after all, and there’s that secret extremist coming out again. The whole vegan thing though, is not going to happen, what with all the milk that goes into all that tea.
“I can’t give up dairy. How can I preach to anyone when I’m sooo addicted to tea!”
I asked Christiane whether she thought you could live a life of integrity without this total dedication.
“Totally! 100% I think you can. We all have our own path and there are so many different ways it can unfold for different people.”
You can practice yoga to make your body feel better or to calm your mind, but it needn’t be your whole path.
There are many different paths to reaching the goal of any discipline and yoga is no different. You can completely immerse yourself in it, as Christiane has done, or it can be an addition that complements and enhances your life.
Photo: Michelle Newton