On Saturday 19th June, our doors opened at 17:30 for a yoga group lesson. First to arrive was Liek, a Dutch lady who had recently returned from India. She had told me at our sports club that everyone was doing yoga in India. Could it really be true?
Next to arrive on bicycle was Anna, an English scientist who was 7 months pregnant. While unsure at first about doing yoga at this stage of pregnancy, she soon realised that the breathing exercises helped calm her baby down. Her unborn child had been kicking and keeping her awake at night.
Merrenna, an Australian project manager who had been traveling nonstop for several weeks, looked forward to this 1.5 hour yoga session as a way to relax. The next day, she told me she finally slept well for the first time since her new assignment began.
Half an hour after the ladies and I got acquainted, Henk Fransen, whom I had met at a Dutch Indian dinner event in April, arrived with his friend Krishna from India. It was Krishna’s second visit to the Netherlands.
Instead of asking everyone to pay for the session, I made it potluck, i.e. everyone to bring a vegetarian dish for the dinner after the 1.5 hour yoga session.
- Liek: Turkish bread and different spreads
- Anna: mushroom, feta & tomato quiche
- Merrenna: fruit pie, whipped cream and rose wine
- Anne/Merrenna: penne in creamy blue cheese sauce
- Henk: Indian sweets
- Anne: drinks of fresh mint (from the garden) tea; chilled drinks – home-made elderflower drink, iced suntea, and sangria (peach, pear, apple, and orange slices)
What was unique about this yoga session? For one, I finally learned when to breathe in or out (breathe in when you go up, breathe out when you go down — according to natural forces of gravity). The rest, I’ll have to ask the other participants to LEAVE A REPLY below.
- it was authentic — ask Krishna about anything and he’d tell you something profound, for yoga comes from India. [I now understand why my non-Chinese friends prefer that I take them to Chinese restaurants rather than venturing on their own.]
- it was 1.5 hours rather than the usual 1 hour at fitness centres. At Yoga Awareness in Maui, Hawaii where I took a 1.5 hour group lesson, I felt 1.5 hour was more fitting.
- the small class size (4 ladies + 1 man) allowed Krishna to give us individual attention.
- the private setting contributed to the experience: a Dutch monument house next to a peaceful canal with a gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the linden trees
- the yoga session was spiritual with focus on breathing and proper technique — not the kind of exercise to sweat at fitness centres. [This is not to say yoga classes at fitness centres are wrong, but merely that the focus is different.]
After the yoga session, we filled our plates with different vegetarian dishes (contributed by everyone) and sat down on the oak parquet floor to enjoy a small concert. As the sun set just before Summer Solstice, Krishna sang devotional and folk music to his harmonium and told stories.
Everyone expressed thanks and interest in the next yoga session at the Monument House. But Krishna had to return to India where he lives and works. Who will be the next yoga teacher to lead us to enlightenment?
About Krishna Bijalwan, yoga teacher
Qualified as a yoga teacher in 2004, Krishna has been doing yoga since 1988. Besides his full-time job as a high school teacher in Uttarkashi in the Himalayas, he also conducts yoga workshops for school students in India and adults in the Netherlands (since 2007) and Israel (2008). His yoga workshop was aired on the Discovery Channel all over India in December 2006.
In Spring 2010, Krishna realised his dream of having a guest house and yoga centre on the banks of the Ganga River in the Himalayas. His newly built guest house “Anand Ganga” offers clean accommodation (to Western standards), home-cooked meals, and yoga classes. The quiet location is excellent for hiking. A week’s accommodation with 2 yoga classes and 3 meals per day cost under 200 euros. Ten days of the same cost US$ 300. More details on the website which will be updated with more information.
continued from part one