Don’t know your asana from your elbow? Here is a short introduction to yoga and where you can do it in the Netherlands.
To many people, the word yoga conjures up the image of a long-haired, bearded Indian man sitting in the lotus position and chanting. It has been increasingly in the public eye, mainly due to celebrities such as Madonna, Geri Halliwell and Gwyneth Paltrow singing its praises.
Reported improvements such as toned upper arms, trim stomach and firm thighs and bums have encouraged them to take up yoga classes, but for the uninitiated and uninformed, what is it all about? Yoga originated in India around 6000 years ago. The practice sometimes seems to have an air of mystery about it, which perhaps prevents many people from trying a class. It can be seen as new-age, ‘alternative’ or a bit of a fad in the exercise world. In reality it is a holistic practise that benefits body, mind and spirit.
People take up yoga for a surprisingly wide range of reasons: to gain flexibility, to tone-up or lose weight, to improve their ability to relax or to prepare their body for a physical event such as childbirth. Regular practice of yoga will improve your general fitness and body shape, make you stronger, calmer and more able to cope with the stresses and strains of life. Types of yoga Hatha (or physical) yoga is broken down into eight stages or limbs.
Traditionally these are followed progressively to reach Samadhi, the last stage, where the spirit is liberated and becomes ‘at one’ with the universe. Yoga practised in the west mainly encapsulates stages three and four. Stage three (Asana) is the practise of the postures or poses and stage four (Pranayama) is rhythmic control of the breath.
There are many styles of Hatha yoga currently being taught, all of which have slightly different emphases.
- Astanga yoga is the form of yoga currently enjoying the most attention. Also known as power yoga, the moves or transitions between asanas are performed at a higher speed than usual, thus providing an aerobic workout, missing in the alternative yoga forms.
- Iyengar yoga, based on the teachings of BKS Iyengar from Pune, India, concentrates on the postural alignment of the body and limbs. The practice makes use of ropes, blocks and belts to aid in the attainment of the asanas.
- Sivananda yoga focuses on the flow of energy in the spine. This style is built around a specific sequence of twelve postures or poses.
What to look for in a yoga class
Yoga includes elements such as stretching, balancing and posturing – the combination of which can seem like a contortionist act to the newcomer. However, a good yoga teacher will tailor the postures to suit the different abilities within a class. Some classes will focus heavily on meditation and visualisation, but for others, meditation simply refers to the period of cool-down or relaxation at the end of the session. Controlled breathing is a hugely important part of the practice.
Yoga is suitable for both men and women and can be enjoyed by the full range of fitness abilities. Even if you have trouble touching your toes, yoga can still be open to you. Classes can be found by looking in the telephone book or by recommendation from friends or work colleagues.
There are numerous teachers in the larger cities and a few are listed below. Try out one or two sessions before committing yourself to a lengthy course, as your relationship with your yoga teacher is one of the most important factors in your enjoyment and progress of yoga.
Text by Julie Knight
Yoga classes in the Netherlands
Ajit Kaur Sandur
Holds classes at various locations around Amsterdam – call for details.
Tel: 020 6798753
Email: [email protected]
1013 CG Amsterdam
Tel: 020 422 23 93
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Amsterdam
Studio De Loods, Prinseneiland 20G (2nd door)
Classes, self practice, workshops and training by Katiza Satya and Anna Stella.
Classes taught in English, open to all levels of experience.
Classes taught in English and Dutch, open to all levels of experience. Also teacher training classes, pregnancy yoga, mantra chanting, yoga for children and intensives
Iyengar Yoga Center
Niewe Achetgracht 134, 1018 WV
Tel: 020 627 6523
Amaliastraat 5, 1052 GM Amsterdam
Tel: 020 6883418
Email: [email protected]
25 classes a week, taught in both English and Dutch. Sunday workshops, pre- and postnatal yoga as well as private classes.
020-622.2353 All classes are taught in English. 3 classes 7 days a week, divers levels.
Largest Yoga studio in Amsterdam. Located in the beautiful Jordaan (Downtown Amsterdam)
Yoga Nieuw West
Multibox: Huis van de Wijk, Jan de Louterstraat, 19, Amsterdam.
Wednesday: 19:30- 21:00
Thursday: 20:30 – 22:00
Yoga in the English language: a gentle combination of yoga asanas and meditation to work on rebalancing body and mind. Classes are suitable for all levels.
Contact: [email protected]
Hatha Yoga Studio
Nieuwe Kerkhof 3
9712 PT, Groningen
Phone Anneke Draaijer for more information
Tel: 050 534 4499
English Class Tuesday 19.45-20.45
St. Janshovenstraat 1, 3572 RA
Tel: 030 267 9478
Mobile: 06 14188574
E-Mail: [email protected] Situated off the Biltstraat in Utrecht, Yoga Moves (previously YogaMotion) has classes 7-days a week and is the first school in Holland to specialise in Ashtanga & Vinyasa styles of Yoga (interpretation: Power Yoga, Madonna’s & Sting’s type of yoga). Hilary Menting, an expat herself from California, has opened it. We also offer classes in Iyengar, Pilates, Post-Natal, Meditation and you can get one of the best massages in Holland (Ken is an expat too!)
BKS Iyengar Yoga Studio
Vasteland 27, 3011 BJ
Tel: 010 4047962
Yoga lessons in both Dutch and English.
IJsclubstraat 71, 3061 GS
Tel: 010 4524436
If none of the yoga courses listed above are near you, then you can try to locate a course in your area via the website www.yogafinder.com.
Yoga is taught in numerous places including private studios, community centres, yoga centres, healthclubs or even in your workplace. You can also find classes for children.
Expatica readers’ suggestions taken from your comments to this article:
Het Domein 4
1261 JP BLARICUM
Tel: +31 (0)35 538 47 12
Yogatree offers classes in all levels of Yoga as well as Pilates, Qigong, Meditation,
Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam
Bikram Yoga is a popular yoga around the world, which is growing rapidly due to success in the Netherlands. It is a Hatha yoga performed in a heated room, and is a great physical work out.
There is already one school in The Hague, two in Amsterdam and one opening soon in Rotterdam. All classes are in English, or English and Dutch and suitable for all levels.
Heal with Yoga
Het Domein 4
1261 JP Blaricum
T: 31 35 538 47 12
Casa Yoga in haarlem
Kundalini Yoga in Hoofddorp
Hatha yoga, meditation and relaxation – in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe West
Sai MIthra yoga centrum in Amsterdam
Unlimited Health Yoga Center in Amsterdam