This week in Mystic Mag we interviewed Lara van Zuydam, an astrologer and yoga teacher based in London (United Kingdom). Lara talked with us about her story, how she integrates yoga and her many other interests and knowledge and also how to deal with the stress and anxiety in the big cities. Check out our interview.
Please present yourself to our audience
I am an astrologer, mystic, yoga teacher, and financial services lawyer. I also work with tuning forks which correspond to planetary and other sound frequencies.
I am very focused on the development of the soul and how that dynamic manifests in individuals’ lives. As such, much of my work as an astrologer centres on working out what the individual has been given to engage with in their lifetime, and what skills they can leverage in the interests of soul growth.
When did you put together your teaching style, integrating meditation and other techniques with yoga?
I began to integrate what I will loosely refer to as “the occult” (“the unseen”) with yoga as soon as I began to seriously practise yoga in 2006. It became very clear to me at the time that yoga was far more than just a physical practice – and indeed on further study, I learned that the purpose of the physical practice (asana) is to prepare the body for meditation. Asana also aligns the body in very specific ways to optimize the flow of energy (prana) in the body; for example, by stimulating the meridians (energy channels) where postures are held for longer periods of time.
My early yoga practice also taught me how to meditate – a crucial skill which subsequently gave me access to deeper layers of awareness and practices such as mediumship and vision work. That early meditation practice was straightforward and effective – my teacher simply asked her students to visualize a candle flame. By watching the flame, it became easier for us to control the natural tendency of our minds to wander.
Yoga means “union” in Sanskrit. Many yoga practitioners overlook the fact that the fundamental purpose of yoga is to align the soul with that which is divine. And for many students of yoga, the practice is transformative – when practised on a regular basis, yoga will bring about an awakening as students purify the “gross” physical body and begin to access the subtle body. Students often recount spontaneous mystical experiences to me, such as seeing vivid colours and travelling out of their bodies during savasana (the resting pose at the end of the practice).
Yoga also helps practitioners to become more aware of their physical bodies – by tuning in and refining our awareness of alignment, we begin to notice the messages that our bodies are sending us and we begin to heed the early warning signs of emotional distress. That in turn brings awareness of imbalance so that we can address the root of the problem. For example, an aching lower back will have a physical cause as well as an emotional cause – the individual may be feeling ungrounded or insecure – or may be worried about their material needs.
This is because the lower back is connected to the base chakra, an energy centre which governs those matters. If unchecked, emotional imbalance can lead to more serious physical problems. Obviously emotional problems can’t necessarily be cured overnight, but awareness is the first step towards recovery.
How did you discover your interest in Astrology?
I was always fascinated by sun signs as a child – I even presented a talk to my grade 8 classmates on my sign (Aries)! I was obsessed with Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs!
But sun signs are of course just the tip of the astrological iceberg and the Tarot was the true catalyst for my introduction to astrology. Frustrated by the limited understanding that I had of the astrological references in the Tarot, I decided to enroll in an introductory astrology course. Before I knew it, I was deeply immersed in the serious study and practice of astrology. The subject is immense, and it will be a life-long study.
You recently spoke at the 2021 UK Tarot Conference. Do you believe all your interests coincide and how do you know which technique/knowledge will be helpful to a certain person?
My recent presentation at the UK Tarot Conference sought to combine Tarot and Astrology by examining the Moon as an archetype. There is a natural synergy between the Tarot and Astrology as they are mystically linked. I also wanted to offer some basic astrological techniques to participants who weren’t astrologers; for example, by introducing them to their Moon signs.
All my mystical practices – including yoga – are interconnected. I use different methods for different clients – some are only interested in yoga; others specifically seek me out for astrology or Tarot readings. Having said that, my overriding philosophy is always the same: what is important from a soul point of view?
You are based in London, one of the most fascinating cities in terms of diversity and knowing people from all over the world. It’s also a big city with lots of problems like many others: it’s expensive, noisy and competitive. What do you recommend to people that live in cities like London and are feeling stressed and anxious?
I love London, but it does have its challenges.
What helps me at times of stress is to turn inwards. By that I mean finding the time on my own to reflect on what I am feeling, what I can change and what I must live with. That usually means spending time in a sacred place, processing my thoughts and using specific decks of cards that I pull out at times of crisis to shine the light where there appears to be darkness. I may also ask my guides for insights.
Sometimes I am given dreams to help me. Often there is no quick fix; I must live with a difficult situation for a period of time – it then becomes even more crucial to have a coping mechanism.
Some people like to talk to others (such as family, friends or psychotherapists) as a way of processing their emotions; in those cases, they may not necessarily be seeking a solution – they may just want someone to listen.
Whatever the methodology, I would encourage readers to find their own way of managing difficult emotions – it’s essential to actively engage with emotions and restore emotional equilibrium as quickly as possible to avoid developing physical or other problems on the back of emotional dysfunction. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to feel anger or grief or despair – rather, it means that we can acknowledge the pain and then work towards letting it go so that we can move forward.
There will always be times when we experience pain and distress in life; when things don’t seem fair – that is part and parcel of being human. The mystical key is how we respond to those challenges.
Please share with us a special message in these challenging times.
One of the defining characteristics of our humanity is having the freedom to choose. Even if we are locked in a prison cell, we have the ability to exercise freedom of thought. We should never lose sight of that freedom.
Whatever our choices are, they should be made with wisdom and discernment, with one eye on our development as souls, with respect for others’ choices, and with willingness to accept responsibility for our own actions rather than to seek to put the blame on others. The easy route is often not the correct route.
Developing wisdom means having the courage to take the more difficult path where necessary. Where choices are unclear, inner reflection – free of all external influences – will reveal the answer. When we have refined our ability to meditate and we are in touch with our higher wisdom, the answers often come through with startling clarity.
Where there is a choice to be made, I also find it helpful to visualize myself in both scenarios. I then ask myself how I would feel in situation A versus situation B. My body always gives me the answer.