At the age of 18 I bought my first yoga book. I was fascinated, not only by the strange poses, but more by what seemed to emanate from them. Right then, I thought I would learn yoga. However, family needs and political life took priority. When I finally went to a yoga class, I realized that I would have to search a lot to find what I really was looking for. In 1988 I came in contact with Iyengar Yoga at the Kosmos in Amsterdam. I was so enthusiastic that I soon started the Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training Course and began giving lessons. Eager with the desire to go deeper, I traveled to Poona, India to work with Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar himself.
Later I also accomplished the Four Years European Yoga teacher training Course taught by Dona Holleman and Orit Sen-Gupta.
What we pass on is the fruit of our teachers, the wisdom of our friends, the books we read, the information and the observations we gather and finally how this knowledge is absorbed and used in daily yoga/life.
In former times a guru would have only a handful of disciples during his whole lifetime. They were selected according to their background, health, religion, etc., and from an early age they were taught the art of Yoga. These gurus achieved liberation while in the confines of their bodies. They were ephemeral/ethereal and could perform the most amazing feats. The last of these great masters was Sri Krishnamacharya (1883-1987). He was the distinguished teacher and guru of Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga Yoga), B.K.S. Iyengar (Iyengar Yoga) and T.K.V. Desicachar (Viniyoga). One could say that these three lines put together (the flow, the precision, and a state of wide heart) is what we have come today to call the Vijñāna way.
I believe that the technique of the asana is important and has to be learned. But the integration, the oneness of body mind and soul, the understanding of the landscape of the body, the calmness of the mind to be able to work with the body instead of against it, has to be felt and understood. This takes time. This took me to sit in meditation: to just be. With the meditation came the quietness of the mind, the possibility of “undoing of the body” (not to do – relaxing) and seeing beyond. Only with these elements can we go into a full and intense yoga practice with calmness of the mind, relaxed body and wide heart!
My continuous search in yoga was partially instigated by one Sutra of Patanjali: “The posture is stable and pleasant.” It intrigued me tremendously, since what I felt was everything except stable and pleasant. I had to search for a long time, but it was worth the while.
We need to practice and learn from ourselves. It takes discipline and a strong will, it takes devotion which is a state of heart, and it takes believe which is something that comes with the practice and is confirmed by the practice: be it in meditation, pranayama or asana.
Finally I came to understand better the yogic texts. How to unfold them (the Upanishads, the Sutras, or others), how to see some of the hidden secrets, how to integrate such deep teachings. They opened another door to the self and to the possibility to understand a knowledge that can be infinite. I am sure that the yogi of my first book new about these secrets!
I have been teaching now for about 20 years. In October 1995 I opened my yoga studio – Studio Asana in Amsterdam.
I am very grateful to all my teachers.