A reflection of Michael Rybachenkov and Alya Latrygina
In 2016 CA founder Gert van Leeuwen, and business owner and CA devotee Michael Rybachenkov, initiated the idea to create a Critical Alignment Therapy and Yoga Institute in Moscow. After years of preparation, the studio started to operate in March 2019, with Van Leeuwen leading the content and Rybachenkov managing the business. We asked Rybachenkov to look back at how the CA Institute started, blossomed in the years following, and grew in importance since Covid and our new reality since 2022.
Rybachenkov: “The official start of the CA Institute was in March 2019, which was a remarkable moment for us. The former Dutch ambassador Renée Jones-Bos opened the doors and said that it was the first time in her career that she was opening a yoga studio with the Dutch-originated content. In her opinion, Van Leeuwen was acting like Dutch Yoga ambassador in the world, and in Russia in particular.
The main mission of the project was, and still is, to support the development of Critical Alignment Therapy and Yoga (CAT-Y) in Russia to help people in our society regain their natural health and joy of life. After one year of successful operations, the CA institute became a self-sustainable organization. Both the introductory teachers training programs (TT1.0) as well as the advanced teacher program (TT2.0) created a large group of very inspired CA teachers, not only in Moscow, but in many other locations with Russian speaking audience. Our CA retreat center in Valday also became a very important part for teachers and students.
As for all yoga studios and teachers, the lockdowns due to the Covid pandemic interrupted our normal operations in March 2020. At the same time, we decided to start an online program that allowed the Russian speaking audience to have access to Critical Alignment from any place in world.
For 19 months (from March 2020 and until October 2021) Van Leeuwen was not able to teach in Moscow, which had an impact on the CA teachers in Russia. They had to confront their fears and insecurities, mainly about how to implement their knowledge as a teacher, and how to conduct their own research within their profession of being a CA teacher. Looking back, it was the moment when the CA Institute became really mature. We realized how important it is to work together as a group, to not have any barriers or to isolate ourselves. Still there was so much gratitude and relief when Van Leeuwen was able to teach in Russia again in October 2021.
Everything changed after February 2022
After February 2022 we all felt how fragile this world is, and how life can literally change in one moment. The level of isolation became incomparable to what we had experienced during Covid. Many people left the country and tried to start a new life abroad, but for most people this option was, and still is, not available. Many people felt and feel totally lost and confused.
This is when we realized the impact of the CA practice: CA supported many people not only with their physical problems, but also – and most importantly – it supported them to touch base with the inner world and stillness, instead of losing themselves in panic, fear, and stress. The shocking new reality threw many of us out of the matrix of the inertia and false society settings (which until that point was mainly about success, security, power etc.), and into a search of a new realization. We started to feel the blessing of true giving, of interconnectedness and peace. Many of our students shared that the CA studio was their only “safe place”, a place where they could face and deal with the uncertainties and pressures from the devastating everyday reality.
Transformation and unity in times of conflict
We were and are grateful beyond words that Gert has been able to continue the CA teachers training programs and retreats: it helped us to feel that we are not alone, that there is hope, that despite all the barriers we are still all one.
For us, Critical Alignment Yoga is about transformation, about unity instead of fragmentation and conflict. We believe that sharing these values through our practices and teaching is like planting the grains of empathy, of importance to understand others. Mahatma Gandhi understood nonviolence from its Sanskrit root “Ahimsa”. Ahimsa is translated to just mean nonviolence in English, but it implies more than just avoidance of physical violence. Ahimsa implies total nonviolence, no physical violence, and no passive violence. Gandhi translates Ahimsa as love. We believe that these circles of positive can grow even in these tragic times and our responsibility is to act accordingly.”
Michael Rybachenkov and Alya Latrygina
Critical Alignment Institute Moscow