In this biography, we learn about Monika through the eyes of Monika’s oldest daughter, Defne Sarsilmaz. Defne writes about her Mom, Monika’s, life, her times spent in different countries. Defne also writes about Monika’s journey becoming the yoga teacher she is today.

Yoga has been a part of Monika’s life for more than twenty years. During these years she has evolved from a student to an instructor, never ceasing to be a learner. She has developed her own unique style, which is applied in her classes, as well as in  her teacher-training programs.

This is a picture taken in 1985 in Bodrum Turkey. Monika is holding her son Derya's hand and has her oldest daughter on her back as they walk to the neighbor's farm to get milk.

Monika’s perspective on life had taken a hit at the age of nineteen when she traveled to the United States. During her visit she stayed with a group of young people who had chosen an alternative style of living, one that aimed to go ‘back to nature’. Monika was very drawn to their philosophy and sure enough she would apply aspects of it into her own life later on.
Monika’s life took a major turn when she moved to Italy after finishing high school, leaving her home country Germany behind. Meeting her Turkish husband in Florence had determined where her home base was going to be for the next thirty years: Bodrum, Turkey.
Monika’s family home, a beautiful house built of natural stone and cedar wood, eventually became her first yoga studio. In fact it was more than a studio; it was a center where people met, got inspired and trained.  While starting a family, Monika started changing her life style. She became a vegetarian and started meditating. This meditation path eventually led her to yoga, at a time where yoga was still unknown in Turkey.

Monika's home, also a community meeting place. Photo taken in 1983.

In the early 90’s Bodrum started developing a scene of ecologists, nutritionists and other people that were interested in alternative living. Yoga fit right into this scene and Monika had a lot of work to do. Through her weekly classes she tried to raise awareness on various levels. She utilized yoga to raise the physical and mental awareness, whereas meditation was the answer for spiritual consciousness.
While her weekly classes and seasonal workshops continued on a local level, Monika started her frequent trips to Germany. She successfully completed a certification program in yoga therapy at the European College of Yoga and Therapy in 2006, while continuously attending a certification program in Iyengar Yoga in Munich between 2004-2008.

The teacher training courses she took with yogi master Aadil Palkivala (2006-2007) were fundamental in Monika’s teacher training style. In 2007 she registered with Yoga Alliance as ERYT500, in 2008 she launched her own yoga school “Aspects of Yoga” with Yoga Alliance RYS200 and in 2012 added 300 hours of yoga therapy RYS300. Monika also partook in yoga conferences and healthsymposiums in San Francisco and Germany. She has held workshops, trainings and speeches at various institutions around Turkey, Europe and the United States. She was featured in renowned magazines and has been documented on Turkish national television programs. She has worked with numerous celebrities, taught yoga Donna Karan and published her first yoga book in Turkish in 2004.

Monika believes that if we want to change the world, we must change ourselves first. By constantly changing herself for the better, she continues to positively influence the people around her. She travels between Bodrum, Turkey and Pennsylvania, U.S. where she teaches yoga and trains teachers.

Defne Sarsilmaz
Monika’s Daughter

Monika's Resume:

Education & Accreditation

  • Registered school ‘Aspects of Yoga’ RYS300 with Emphasis on Yoga Therapy 2012
  • Attended various workshops and trainings for yoga for scoliosis in NYC 2011 – 2012
  • Registered school ‘Aspects of Yoga’ with Yoga Alliance RYS200 2008
  • Yoga with Cancer Patients with Jnani Chapman in San Fransisco 2008
  • Registered with Yoga Alliance as ERYT500 2007
  • Health Coaching Symposium in Heidelberg Germany 2007
  • Continuous Teacher Training at Yoga Conference in San Fransisco 2007
  • Teacher Training courses with Aadil Palkivala in Munich Germany 2006 & 2007
  • Teacher Training and certification with Michael Forbes at IYoga-Munchen, Germany  2004 – 2008
  • European College of Yoga and Therapy in Gerode, Germany, 200-hour- yoga therapy training at ECYT 2005 – 2006

Responsibilities I Strive For As A Yoga Teacher & Trainer

  • to provide a safe environment
  • to help students grow in consciousness by self reflection and personal exploration
  • to understand where teacher’s and student’s limits lie
  • to keep boundaries
  • to maintain professionalism and integrity
  • to encourage students to seek alternative practice or help when necessary
  • to invest time and energy into teacher’s further development and self-study

Professional Experience

Founder and owner of Yoga Center Bodrum in Turkey 2000

  • this center had its beginning in 1983 with meditation groups
  • serves as a center for an ecology, organic food and meditation movement
  • serves as yoga studio where weekly classes, teacher trainings, yoga therapy trainings and seminars are held

Held Following Classes & Personal Trainings since 1990

  • in many cities of Turkey
  • in Munich and  Hamburg, Germany 2003 – 2004
  • at a meditation convention in Venice, Italy  2001
  • at a retreat teaching teachers in Oregon, USA 2002

Workshops since 1998

  • along with founder of ecology movement (Bugday Movement)
  • themed workshops internationally (London, Germany, Turkey) on the following subjects: anatomy, therapeutics, stress reduction, spirituality & corporate environment
  • British American Tobacco in Istanbul 2006
  • Heingas in Hamburg Germany 2003

Holds Teacher Trainings since 2008

  • Extended and intensive training programs in both Ankara and Bodrum. These were the first teacher training programs registered with YA in Turkey.
  • 200-hour-TTs and 300-hour-advanced TTs with emphasis on yoga therapy

National TV in Turkey:

  • documentary, often rebroadcast, about Monika introducing yoga, meditation, health and nutrition 2000
  • interviews 1998 – 2002


  • at sports university in Denizli, Turkey 2000
  • at convention in Istanbul about spiritual aspect of yoga in Istanbul Turkey 2002
  • in ethnically and religiously diverse communities in London, UK 2002
  • at physical therapy center in Bodrum, Turkey 1998

Author of A Yoga Manual. Book published in Turkish 2004

  • first yoga book with pictures and detailed descriptions in Turkish
  • a learning tool for new coming yoga teachers in Turkey

Articles in Magazines

  • Cosmopolitan, Yoga Round The Clock with a few quick exercises that can be done throughout the day 2008
  • National Geographic personal profile featured in article titled ‘Another Face of Bodrum’ 2004
  • Local magazines, introduction to yoga and conscious living 1999, 2006, 2008