Yoga at Monument House Utrecht (part two)

On Saturday 19th June, our doors opened at 17:30 for a yoga group lesson. 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).

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.

  1. 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.]
  2. 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.
  3. the small class size (4 ladies + 1 man) allowed Krishna to give us individual attention.
  4. 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
  5. 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.]
Yoga teacher Krishna at Monument House Utrecht, June 2010
Yoga teacher Krishna at Monument House Utrecht, June 2010

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.

Krishna's new guest house and yoga centre Anand Ganga in the Himalayas
Krishna's new guest house and yoga centre Anand Ganga in the Himalayas

continued from part one

Dutch Indian celebration of Spring Festival and Queen’s Birthday in Voorschoten

How wonderful it is to receive photos from someone else who had also enjoyed that marvelous cultural programme of the Spring Festival and Queen’s Birthday of the Netherlands India Association

The realisation that there might be many cultural associations where our piano guitar duo could participate dawned on me when Robert appeared on stage. He represented the Dutch part of the cultural programme, after the Indian classical dance.

How wonderful it is to receive photos from someone else who had also enjoyed that marvelous cultural programme of the Spring Festival and Queen’s Birthday of the Netherlands India Association! This past Sunday 25th April in a village between Utrecht and the Hague, about 100 people gathered to enjoy a meeting of two cultures. I mingled among the members of this cultural association, while Robert waited in the dressing room for the show to begin.

A tall Dutch gentleman told me about the kind people he befriended in India. It’s like a second home to him, and he encouraged me to go there. Today I received his e-mail with three photos of the performances that evening. He wrote:

“We hebben elkaar afgelopen zondag ontmoet tijdens de bijeenkomst van the Netherlands-India Association. Het was leuk om je te leren kennen en wat gedachten en ervaringen uit te wisselen.” We met each other last Sunday at the event of the Netherlands India Association. It was interesting to get to know each other.

Kalpana Raghuraman, Indian classical dancer. Photo: H. Fransen
Kalpana Raghuraman, Indian classical dancer. Photo: H. Fransen

While watching the Indian dancer on stage, I wondered whether there is a Dutch-Chinese cultural association, or a Dutch-Taiwanese, or Dutch-Singaporean, or other cultural associations that I could be part of.

True, I was fascinated by the Indian culture largely through movies I’ve watched and my Punjabi neighbours from Okinawa who introduced me to Indian food. Practising yoga brought me closer to India, but I have still not set foot in that country of a thousand scents and languages. Some ladies even asked if I came from the north eastern part of India near the Himalayas. Is India so vast that I, with my Chinese features, could be mistaken as an inhabitant?

Robert Bekkers introduces his programme. Photo: H. Fransen
Robert Bekkers introduces his programme. Photo: H. Fransen

The realisation that there might be many cultural associations where our piano guitar duo could participate dawned on me when Robert appeared on stage. He represented the Dutch part of the cultural programme, after the Indian classical dance.

Robert Bekkers, Dutch guitarist at Netherlands India Association. Photo: H. Fransen
Robert Bekkers, Dutch guitarist at Netherlands India Association. Photo: H. Fransen

Robert Bekkers did not mention that he was playing a concert guitar built by a Dutch man in Amsterdam. His programme was not Dutch though he did choose well-known guitar solos by non-Dutch composers, namely

  • Cappricho Arabe Francisco Tarréga
  • Decameron Noir -II Leo Brouwer
  • Ultimo Tremolo Augustín Barrios Mangore
  • Asturias Isaac Albéniz

Below is a short extract from Ultimo Tremolo of Barrios.

At the end of his programme, he paid tribute to the evening’s celebration with a guessing game of famous Dutch tunes. I particularly enjoyed his improvisation on the Dutch national anthem —- something I will video in the tulip gardens to share with the world.