Do you reward yourself for a week after you've had a productive minute? by Cherryl Duncan

Are you one of those people who does something productive and then rewards yourself for a week afterwards? I am.
In this culture of self love and rewarding yourself for a job well done is not a band wagon I need to jump on- I feel like I invented that wagon! I have to work quite hard at keeping the balance between effort and reward, as well as keeping tabs on what 'reward' really means for me. I need to be very honest with myself in recognising that celebrating doesn't mean causing chaos (no matter how little).

You see, I am so often overwhelmed by good feelings that I can easily sabotage a too-good-thing by any means possible- drama, chaos, celebration and distraction (too  many to count). I have come to recognise this as an Upper Limit Problem (read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks) and I have now come to realise that I simply need to allow myself to feel the good feels.

I got so good at being with discomfort I forgot that we tend to run away from good feelings too! Why? Basically because we have deep rooted limiting beliefs that somehow make us feel we don't deserve them, or we'll alienate loved ones, or we'll basically just be too shiny for the world - for real. This is obviously the stuff of unhappiness- making and so I now I keep an eye out for those good feelings and expand into them, instead of running away from them. The result? More happiness and a continued upward spiral of everything. Yes, there are bumps in the road, always, but with internal resilience and happiness as my companion, I just move around them, over them, whatever. 

I wasn't born resilient, I had to work on it. I now can say I've crated a system that really does work and I am thrilled to be coaching people on a daily basis in this program.



Choosing growth over perfection by Cherryl Duncan

Hi there

I sincerely hope your year has gotten off to a good start and that you are still believing in and pursuing your goals with wild abandon, or at the very least, enjoying the journey. Are you?? Or are your well intentioned resolutions but a distant memory?

I'll tell you where I am, apart from in a new country which automatically led me to a place where I had to redefine my goals.

Achieving your goals and realising your dreams can often feel like the end of a good book. You wanted to so badly get to the end, to find out what would happen, only to be left kind of empty and lost once it's over.

We are hard wired to be following a dream or a goal (perhaps they are the same) and when we lose the fire to aim for something , this can cause a deep sense of purposelessness and even lead to feeling downright depressed. 

One of my desires was to have a partner to share my life with. I had achieved a lot of my career goals, my financial goals, my social goals, and I was pretty damn chuffed with myself and my life, but I did have the feeling, despite my previously failed relationships, that I'd like  someone to share in my successes. 

For me that meant having to essentially give up said life in Munich and move to Zürich. I made the choice willingly and decided to eat the proverbial shit sandwich that the choice came with. In this case, all the difficulties of being in a new place. If you've ever moved countries you will be familiar with the stuff that goes a long with it. There's the good stuff,,, new places, new sights, new smells, new ideas, new new new and that's very exhilarating , but it's also strange, lonely, foreign, and isolating for a pretty long while,,, until it isn't. 

This is when my tools for Self Mastery become my religion and goal setting and the capacity to dream never more urgent, but the goals are different. They're a little smaller again and it can often feel like 'I've been here before' and actually,  I have, and that's ok. 

Life is not linear, it's circular. Sometimes we have to revisit the same places, and do them a little differently. It's not easy but it's possible. 

So, if you're still reading , (Thank you by the way), and you are having to redefine your goals, know that you are not alone and that this process can literally start at any point, no matter where you are. Before you do anything however, and this is something I will often ask my clients before we start working together, and that is....

Do you want to grow ? Because realising your dreams will require growth. Fact. And growing can be painful. Growth can also, if you're very very clever at this, be the entire reason for doing the thing in the first place!  In my mind, one of the smartest things we can do; is develop a taste for the growing pains,,, that's a mega kind of personal freedom very few achieve and yet...  absolutely possible!

The alternative? Stay where you are or give up. For me that's almost never an option, but a perfectly valid position. I don't think this work is for everyone.  But if you do listen to the call, I will promise you this....

If you're very aware , quiet and open enough ,,,, perfection comes , at the moment you least expect , in a way you could never have imagined or forced or planned for ... because you chose to grow.

This is self mastery and also what yoga teaches us.

Good luck 😉 

Redefining Luxury by Cherryl Duncan

For those of you who know me well, know that I enjoy a touch (ok, more than a touch) of luxury just as much as the next girl.
You don’t spend as much time in Schloss Elmau  as I do without a true appreciation for everything that the 5th star in a 5 star hotel gives you.

I consider myself to have lived a somewhat adventurous life so far, and I am lucky enough to say that I have also had my fair share of the fancy and the luxurious throughout my travels, mostly afforded by my job which, sadly (depends on who’s perspective) constitutes a luxury goods item.
Please do not misunderstand me, my life has not been one long 5 star ride, it absolutely has not, nor have I come even vaguely close to teetering on the edge of starvation and homelessness,  but I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy many wonderful places and would absolutely choose an upgrade (if offered/hustled) on a long distance flight as opposed to fighting it out with the people in economy as some statement against the wealthy.
I recently found myself seated next to a biologist traveling from South Africa to Switzerland, who, after I suggested they at least let the economy class folk in a door after the business class section (I didn’t think it necessary to see the life we’re missing out on) said, ‘I feel sorry for the people in business class because they have nothing better to spend their money on.’ Which for a scientist I thought was a quite frankly, a bad argument or at least a false statement.  I am sure there are many people flying business class who have great ideas on how to spend their money and a night of good sleep, no muscle ache and a decent meal in my mind is a great way to spend money, if you have it.
Which brings me to my point, what does luxury actually mean to me?
Have you thought about it?
Because, while I enjoy fluffy white towels and scented candle baths and good champagne and anything from Sandro or Maje, I also enjoy quiet, sleep, wholesome simple food, very clean drinkable water, space, nature, being warm, and large stretches of time; time in which to engage with the real pleasures of life,

which for me when I think about it, are actually really simple:
Being in nature (ok, do not think camping style for that would be a proper wrong view of what being in nature looks like to me )
And more recently, LESS AIR TRAVEL.

So regarding flying, luxury to me does not actually mean a business class flight (although I’d still choose it over an economy one), but rather it means not flying at all.
Where our planet is headed, and taking into account the dire situation regarding its natural resources, a new definition of luxury will and perhaps already is being imposed upon us; the luxury of air, water and fresh food.
This happens to mirror a lot of what is fast becoming my new definition of luxury.
Time, however, is not dependent on anything other than the choices we make on how to use what we’re given. Of course one could argue that time is the ultimate limited resource since we’re absolutely only given a certain amount, but that’s missing the point somewhat.
My recent visit to Eremito, the forward thinking design hotel in Italy, and where I will be hosting the Vintage Yoga retreat (together with wine maker extraordinaire, Mark Weldon of Terra Sancta Wines) was the inspiration for me to start thinking about what luxury means to me. It evoked an invitation to examine what it means to have a life that looks good as opposed to what it feels like.
Marcello, the owner of the hotel has done this too perfection.
Simply luxury without the over -the –top opulence, there’s an exquisite taste to starting to view the world in this way; and that is the taste of discernment.
When it takes a little bit from the side of the person enjoying the experience – a certain subtlety, a certain imagination, a taste for nuance and I hesitate to use this much overused term, but I will; mindfulness. When it isn’t thrown in your face with obvious extravagance, but takes a moment to notice it’s innate quality and beauty.

This is my new luxury and this is what my journey is about this year.
A smaller, bigger life. That means sensuality, a lot more time, slower, richer, deeper…
Join me at Eremito where my luxury becomes a reality.
You can read all about the retreat here and email me here to book your spot.
Find me on Instagram where I’ll share a bit about my journey and of course all my yoga classes, trainings, and workshops and just about my life in general and my most recent move to Switzerland.
With Love

The importance of Play by Cherryl Duncan

As you know, I’ve recently moved my home base to Zürich, but have spent exactly 5 days there since I arrived, after a wonderful holiday in South Africa, a short trip to Italy and this week here in the mountains.

Next week takes me to Munich where I will be teaching and coaching mostly privately, with one public event at the Yoga an Engel in Bogenhausen.

This is a very special workshop in that it integrates a key component of my Self Mastery coaching program. This will also be taught in the upcoming dharmaKaya® teacher training program happening in 2019. The key component is simply PLAY!

Did you know that playing is an essential ingredient to being happy?
If you don’t believe me, just think of a world where there is no play.

There would be irony, no books, no movies, no art, no jokes, no flirting, no daydreaming, no comedy, no irony! – how awful!

The sad truth however, is that as we adult more and more we lose the ‘skill’ of play. We don’t trust ourselves to spontaneously engage in play because we were told it’s inappropriate, or we have to work more, succeed more, and basically get on with it.

I have recently been inspired to look at play and realised that a great place to start, is to look at my own childhood and remember the most joyous moments. I ask myself the question, what kinds of play did I love the most? When was I completely absorbed in the moment, doing something that had no other purpose, other than because it was fun.

As a child I was obsessed with alternate realities (That hasn’t changed) and my most fun activities where building different worlds (In my cupboard, in the garden, behind walls, or just simply imagining a portal I could easily step through where everything was magic).

I also loved running in the rain, jumping in puddles, dancing and being very active using my body.

Did you know there are different kinds of play? (According to fancy doctors that study this stuff from a scientific perspective).

To name a few, there are

Object play

Rough and Tumble



Our fascination with being airborne

To name a few…


Sometimes it’s fun to play with others, (more social play that invites trust and builds relationships) and sometimes it’s fun to play on our own.

What is your special play history? And how can you infuse your personal play patterns into your life?

This is one of the topics I delve into when you sign up for my coaching program, but next week I’ll be bringing the element of play into my work, into the yoga space.

Let your curiosity guide you on this one and if you’re sensing that you’ve lost a little bit of joy in your continued journey to achieve, then this is exactly the medicine you’ll be needing. I can’t wait to share this with you; it’s going to be so much fun- at the very least for me :-)



Some Myths about following your heart by Cherryl Duncan

After coming back from Italy having spent some time with the creator of Eremito, the hermitage style design hotel that’s made it to the list of top 5 hotels to visit as a solo traveller, I started thinking about what it really means to follow one’s heart.

After establishing a famous clothing brand in the eighties, Marcello decided to follow his heart and quit the fashion business. Embarking on a 2 year round the world sailing trip, he found his inspiration to open first an eco hotel in Mexico, and then later, Eremito in Italy where he continues to redefine luxury in terms of what we really need; harmony with nature, sustainable luxury and spirituality.

He talks about following ones heart in order to be happy. Not an entirely new or original idea and yet there’s truth in it, or is there?


I found a kindred spirit in my new friend Marcello, but I thought it worthwhile looking a little bit deeper into, dare I say it, the practicalities of following your heart.

What does it actually mean and what can we expect if we do look to the heart as opposed to the brain for direction.

When answering this question, I found myself having to debunk some myths that seem to be married to the notion of heart following.


Myth Number 1

You need to have already made enough money to pay your bills to follow your heart.

Probably sound advice for those not willing to throw it all away and live hand to mouth while doing what we love all day long. Nothing can suck the life out of your passion, like not knowing how you’re going to pay the rent or your dentist bill. However, there is something between throwing it all away at once, and a careful, considered plan to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Yes, it’s trickier, yes it requires a lot of work and little bit of faith (ok, heaps of faith) but you do not need to be a millionaire to take the first step, and then the next one, to follow your heart.


Myth Number 2

Following your heart will make you happy. In my experience, following your heart will make you miserable, heart broken and challenge every ounce of your self confidence at first, and then, once your heart has mended in a way that makes it stronger, more resilient, more whole and soft and open all at the same time, then comes the happiness; the kind that lasts. There is no wholeheartedness without a little bit heartbreak. If you’re lucky, this happens all at the same time and you simply feel more alive. What’s the alternative to living more alive? I don’t know exactly but I do know it’s nothing for me.


Myth Number 3

It will be easy.

It won’t.

It will be fun, but it won’t be easy


Myth Number 4

The answers all lie within your heart.

False. The heart can be an illusive, unclear, misleading, bitchy little cretin with (if your heart is like mine) a huge sense for irony.

The head and the heart are so often in conflict that it can be very hard to know who is saying what?

And like I said, sometimes the heart can you lead you on all kinds of crazy adventures, not always good (Immediately) BUT, the heart is always serving the soul and the soul is always, ultimately what will make your life meaningful and yes, even pleasurable.


Myth Number 5

Your sex organs are not your heart.

Don’t confuse lust, desire, distraction and avoidance for following your heart.

Your heart is in your chest, the other things are lower than that, and definitely have less intelligence.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t follow our desire. Our desire can lead us into deeper realms of self-knowledge and exquisite vulnerability, but not if we’re using it as a means to distract or avoid ourselves. Careful with that one.



If you’re truly interested in understanding your purpose, what gives your life meaning and how to intelligently follow your heart using some time test ancient wisdom from yoga philosophy, modern psychology and a touch of mysticism, then get in touch with me to start your journey to what I call Self Mastery.

This is my work, this is what I’ve done and continue to do for others, but you’ve got to be ready, and how do you know you’re ready? Your heart will tell you.










Life is better without Netflix by Cherryl Duncan

I gave up my Netflix account a few months ago in an effort to spend less time in front of my screen, especially at night.

I did this because I had this gnawing feeling I could no longer ignore, (as is with most gnawing feelings, their innate and inevitable unignorabality) that I was avoiding something.

I didn’t know what, but I’ve been doing enough work on the path to self mastery that I trusted it would come to me if I just stopped, if I got still (albeit uncomfortably so) and waited. I wish I could tell you that the moment I stopped watching TV series and movies and whatever else animated my screen, that a blinding epiphany came to me and filled me with a deeper sense of self and connection to everything and everyone, but that’s not what happened.

Here’s what did happen however.

Because I’ve always loved to read, and knew that I missed reading as much as I used to – Thank you Netflix, Instagram (and other more boring and awful social media platforms) and general life-related business,

I decided to start reading again. To fill the time I would’ve spent zoned out in front of my screen, rather instead of a book. A paper one.

This in and of itself was really difficult.

I realised, with shocking clarity that I struggled to focus as easily as I used to. Thank you again, my beautiful but dangerous IPhone, proving the science (again) that constant, short bursts of 15 -45 seconds of focus (The amount of time it takes to check your phone) is making us more stupid and decreasing our ability to focus for longer periods of time.

I struggled to find a book I could really engage with.

I tried all my go-to self mastery titles and authors,  nothing. I tried fiction, nothing. I was like an listless addict uninterested in the things that used to engage my interest and imagination.

In hindsight I think I was in a kind of detox process. I had to just get through it.

After a few weeks, the habit was broken and I found myself simply doing other things. Going out a bit more, pushing through books, even when it seemed a bit boring (at least they put me to sleep), and generally getting used to just being. As in the more being less doing kind of way.

Just being is a hard thing to do, especially when we are trying to (unconsciously or not) avoid something, which as I mentioned, I was.

I was avoiding my creativity. My writing. I was avoiding creating and writing because I was avoiding the feelings that go along with my creativity and my writing.

I had to the icky job of feeling my feelings again, being with me, being in my body, out of my head, (oh my god, all the things I teach and coach). I had temporarily forgotten myself.

It’s a tricky thing when your work is what you live. After a full day of teaching and coaching yoga and methods to self-mastery, guess what I want to do? Take a break from yoga and self-mastery tools and practices, and yet they are the very tools that keep me happy and fulfilled.


I abandoned that unproductive line of thinking, named it a non-dilemma, pulled up my big girl panties, and swiftly put my own principles back into practice and came back to myself.

I didn’t need a break from my life’s work; I needed to engage with the space I had been filling with screen time.

I got myself off to a second hand bookstore, because I love everything about second hand bookstores; The smell, the energy of millions of words still living on pages written by those long dead (well some of them). I feel like the wealthiest woman in the world standing in the section mostly dedicated to thinkers, philosophers and revolutionaries. For about €7 a book, I can access worlds and ideas and basically converse with the dead. I had found my love for books again.

I also had time away. I had time away from teaching and coaching. I had nothing but space to fill and feelings to feel and books to read.

I started with the Unbearable lightness of being by Milan Kundera, (the irony not wasted on me). I was unbearably light. Our colours and all that make us spectacularly human (if felt at the depths we have capacity for) being the lightness that makes living almost unbearable at times.

I think that’s why we hide in the things that make us feel numb, we avoid our potential, we avoid our humanity, we avoid the magnificent sadness, the joy, the everything because it’s easier.
It’s easier until it isn’t.

Last night I fell off the wagon and started a series on Netflix (not my account – I wasn’t prepared to take that step). I struggled to sleep after two episodes of whatever it was I watched.

I instantly missed myself. I’m no longer comfortable in the avoidance. I woke up and recommitted again to my books and to my writing.

This is the result.

Thank you for reading.

I teach play and creativity as being vital to enhancing our lives and as I get back to my own creative process, I encourage you to get back to yours.

Creativity is not a hobby, and optional extra, any more than sleeping is a hobby or an optional extra. Creativity is an essential outlet to keeping us happy and fulfilled.

So, go ahead, create like no one is watching, because they aren’t (they’re checking their phones). I totally stole at least half of that line from someone else.

What habits do you have in your life that you use a tool to avoid your greatness?

Commit to reducing that thing even by a fraction at a time, in an effort to spend those 5, 10, 15 , 45 minutes doing something that sets you on fire.

I remember reading somewhere that television is like spray paint to your third eye. I usually hate any statement that uses the third eye as a meaningless yoga analogy but this one is good. It can stay. You can use it too :-)

The price of 'The examined life' by Cherryl Duncan

The price of an examined life is a certain amount of sorrow, that’s just a fact.

I think a lot of people are trying to skip past that or skate over the surface or just zone out on a screen, and I think the spiritual revolution and to a large extent, the yoga world, is also guilty for a lot of what has come to be known as spiritual bypassing – Grandiose and falsely positive statements in an effort to avoid the difficulty and the darkness.

This is short- sighted and quite frankly ineffective.

But part of the reason I love the work that I do, the work I do as a coach, teacher, writer and speaker is just to bare witness to everything that life is.  A lot of it is unspeakably beautiful, but there are going to be dark times and we’re all going to have to face them before we get through them.

And that’s where I feel I do my best work – as a kind of authentic and honest witness to it all.




My 'Why?' by Cherryl Duncan

I listen to a podcast called How I built this – a show that features innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists and the stories behind the movements they built.

Just this morning I was listening to the story of John Zimmer and how he built Lyft. A company that helped make ride-hailing a fixture of American urban living.

In response to a question on why he is so competitive, he says, ‘We’re out to win, but we’re out to win for the values we represent’.

And I was like YES!

I’m all about values. Defining your own, really though, thinking about them, throwing out ones that don’t work, taking on new ones, throwing them out again, until you have a set you can honestly, hand on heart (even when no one’s looking) live by.

That’s what I did when I created dharmaKaya®

At a time in my life when I needed every philosophy, practice, ritual, faith and whatever else I had trained in and learnt, I realised with shocking clarity that most of it didn’t actually work.

Another freethinking kindred spirit friend of mine said just today, Yoga alone won’t save your fucking life.

Right??!! I yelled (too loudly) this is how I’ve felt for a long time now.

I also told him I’d steal the line and use it as my own. So there it is.

Not only Yoga alone, but the many different philosophies, religions, practices etc  I found either out-dated , too convoluted to grasp or in reality completely unattainable.

So, just 3 years ago, I threw everything out (along with my own belief in my self) and started from the very beginning.

That is how dharmaKaya® was born; a system to Self Mastery that took me from being on the verge of being kicked out of Germany, living on friend’s sofas, knocking on yoga studio’s doors (and by the way, being rejected) to being financially independent, doing what I love, a schedule so full I have to turn people away, but much much more importantly, a system I believe in. A system that I use and live by.

I have taken some ancient ideas and made them relevant.

There is incredible wisdom that we can use from the ancient teachings of yoga, Buddhism, psychology and mysticism, but not all are relevant or even helpful to our culture and our age.

It is my mission to share what has worked and continues to work for me, and that it was I teach. It is not a path to enlightenment, but it is a path to

Greater Awareness

Greater Confidence

Personal Power

Better and more fulfilling relationships

Better health and vitality

Better sleep

And Creating the life you want

dharmaKaya® is also not about yogic acrobatics, the yoga scene and a green juice, gluten free, peace and Namaste health fad.

It is an authentic and modern expression of some old and deep philosophies delivered in a way that is useful, relevant and always, always remembers to not take itself too seriously.

In a world where we have found a way to use ancient paths to liberation as another means to oppression and a measure against impossible standards, I feel it is critical that we find a more compassionate and realistic approach to personal freedom.

I cannot tell you how many conversations I have with yoga teachers, yoga practitioners, health coaches and even business coaches, living under the tyranny of over inflated ideas of perfectionism, too afraid to admit to drinking cows milk in a cappuccino (even worse if it didn’t come in a bamboo, recycled cup) too afraid to have a negative thought, less someone catch them out on their unenlightened state, beating themselves up when they don’t get to their yoga mat, or have an hour meditation practice daily, or don’t have a mantra, or haven’t met their guru,,, the list goes on.

This is the opposite of liberation.

This is not enlightenment.

So this is my big fat WHY I do what I do.

I hope you will join me on this incredible journey to self knowledge ... and it is my sincere belief, that the deeper the relationship to and knowledge of self, the deeper the relationship to and knowledge of the world around you.