Colourful, traditional, diverse – Munich’s city districts. Our “Out and about with ...” offers very personal insights through the eyes of the people who live here and who know their neighbourhoods best. This time: Sinah Diepold shows us her Lehel.
Yoga teacher and company founder Sinah Diepold runs her studio in Lehel, a small neighbourhood in a very central location adjoining the Englischer Garten. At their company “Kale & Cake”, Sinah and co-founder Sophia work with their team to create a space for BodyMindTherapy – a concept that she explains in this conversation. On our walk through Lehel we also pass by her favourite spots, meet a veteran politician on the street and find out what she thinks makes this part of the city so exciting. Out and about with Sinah Diepold!
Sinah, you do so many great things. Introduce yourself briefly:
I’m from Munich and I have my own company named “Kale & Cake”. But my work has nothing to do with food – we call our concept BodyMindTherapy. For us, that means looking at the question of how we can find our way back to ourselves. I do it mainly through yoga, movement, breathing and coaching. And I also love eating cake!
So “Kale & Cake” is about finding a balance in life, as the name suggests?
Exactly! We are real fans of the middle way – because taking things to extremes causes us to become hard and impenetrable, and means we lose our connection to other people. The philosophy of yoga also says that nothing is right or wrong, and instead that it always depends on the dose, as it were.
For many people, the idea of yoga is simply a mat on which physical exercises are performed. What is yoga to you?
For me, yoga is a compass in life. Navigating through this modern life is quite a challenge. Yoga helps me as a guide; on the one hand of course it’s about spending time stretching and contorting on the mat, but then it also gives you the tools to live from the inside out instead of from the outside in.
Do you have a favourite tool from this philosophy that you use often in everyday life?
Pausing. We practise that through meditation, but also through the asanas – the poses. When confronted with an external stimulus we often have an immediate reaction based on habit, one which is almost always unconscious. In the practice of mindfulness through yoga, we try to allow a space to arise before a reaction. I practise that every day and it does me good not to jump on everything immediately. It’s incredibly freeing!
Fascinating; let’s chat more about your yoga practice later. But first tell me – you’ve danced in New York, completed your yoga training in Bali and often visit Berlin – why do you live in Munich when you’ve seen so much of the world?
Munich is home to me. I’m a Münchner Kindl (Munich child) through and through – yes, we still exist! My grandparents and parents were born here. I love the mix of village and city life here – I have everything I need and I also always run into someone I know in the street.
Today we are focusing on the streets of Lehel. What does this neighbourhood mean to you?
I especially love where it crosses with the Englischer Garten and its surfers on the Eisbachwelle river wave, as well as the Fräulein Grüneis food kiosk. I also like the funny mix of solicitors who work here, the many Italians and a certain atmosphere that makes it feel as though you are in a different city. Everything here is a little older, the streets are narrower – and there are absolutely no supermarkets! You can let yourself potter around and yet quickly get yourself to the Englischer Garten or to the Haus der Kunst art gallery.
Sinah, what else are we going to do today?
We can walk through the district towards St.-Anna-Platz, or we can do a little detour and watch our government at work (laughs). We’ve already encountered Mr Stoiber [former German politician Edmund Stoiber] on the street! His office is opposite our studio.
Shout out to anyone who wants to meet him – come to Lehel!
Exactly. Then we’ll walk to the Englischer Garten and call in at Fräulein Grüneis.
St.-Anna-Platz has an Italian flavour and invites you to sit and do some people-watching – just like they do in the land of pasta, pizza and amore. However, Sinah Diepold also has a tip for us about a different culinary gem nearby – Korean restaurant Arisu. What makes it special?
Fantastic food! They do a great bibimbap at lunchtime. But be warned – it gets long queues, so you should make sure you have some time to spare.
What is bibimbap?
It’s a rice dish with various vegetables such as carrots and beans, served with sriracha and a fried egg. Tastes amazing!
Do you have any specific rituals before or after your time here in the studio?
Yes – I love to get straight into the Englischer Garten once I leave the studio. Today I simply went for a walk in the sun with a friend.
Going from the little village of Lehel to one of the big inner-city parks. ..
... yes. We have great cultural offerings here, but also nature and peace and quiet.
Speaking of peace and sport: is there any particular yoga pose that you still find challenging?
Yes – the forward fold. It looks easy from the outside because I am very flexible, but it actually takes a lot out of me. I am not great at going quiet and focusing inwards. And even if it looks easy on the outside, that doesn’t mean it is easy. In any case, that asana has taught me a lot.
I can imagine. What tips do you have for people who want to experience Munich through physical activity?
I really recommend cycling tours! We ourselves also offer outdoor yoga twice a week, and we have friends who organise pop-up yoga in various places too. Or why not try surfing? I’ve done that before – it was very funny, I swallowed gallons of water! Or just jump into the Eisbach and swim against the current for a minute!
We’re actually standing on a bridge over the Eisbach right now. There are a few things that you simply have to do as a Munich local, for example having a dip in the Eisbach and...
...then getting the tram home! Lots of people get in the water even in winter, and train themselves to deal with the cold because it is a very meditative technique. I love jumping in during the summer when there’s always something going on. You can watch the pros surfing the big wave, E1, and from time to time you can see some beginners on the wave behind it – E2.
One last question for you: Can you go back to the individual principles at “Kale & Cake” and explain a little about them?
Various forms of movement are very important to Sophia and me. Sophia is also a coach, which helps the yoga philosophy to flow into our classes so that they are applicable to the Western mindset. What yogis came up with 5,000 years ago is so clever, and it’s all as relevant as it ever was. Though there is often unfortunately no bridge between the two, we don’t want the yoga mat to be separate from life.
Charity is another component of what we do. We regularly organise events to raise funds for various organisations. After all, yoga is about giving back what you would like to receive. The people of Munich enjoy moving and are interested in cool new things – so what we offer is a great fit for that.