It is 09.30 in the morning. My backpack is ready. There’s a laptop in there, yoga clothes, maybe a portable breakfast if I didn’t have the time to eat it before leaving the house. I hop on my bike, get out of the Staadsliedenbuurt, cycle across the Westerpark – that fresh morning wind bringing me back to life -, and then I find this tiny bridge which welcomes me into the Spaarndammerbuurt. In the wink of an eye I am unlocking the door of Tula Yoga.
I take my shoes off, turn the heating on, light up candles, and some incense. I will wait for the others to arrive. I breathe and start getting into this delicious mood of just being. This is how my day starts when I am hosting at the reception of Tula Yoga School. On other days it might start the same way, except for the fact someone else is lighting up the candles, and setting up the tea. Sometimes I find myself thinking of how luxurious it is to embark on a day in this fashion – especially when I picture the way my mornings used to look like: rushing, or what’s worse, just dragging myself from one place to the other. Yoga brings me out of that place of numbness, helps me prepare for the day, sets me free.
I am a karma-yogi, at Tula. I give the school some time and attention, and in return, I get yoga classes. Simple, and genius. After a class, I usually have a tea with my fellow yogis and the teacher. That’s the moment of the day I feel the lightest. A warm body, tea, lots of light, green all around, and happy faces. One of the special things at Tula is exactly this: people sitting and chatting to each other. Sharing. Connecting. Have you ever found yourself dreading, at some point, at how impersonal the big city is, and how people do not even seem to notice your presence? I can never forget this experience of walking into the changing rooms of a yoga school I used to attend, saying “good morning” to whoever was in there, and getting absolute silence in return. This happened in eight out of the ten times, and it was something of a shock. That is one of the reasons Tula proved to be SUCH a fix. Neighborhood atmosphere rules, if you ask me.
After making sure everything is back to its place at Tula, I head directly to a cafe in my neighborhood where, with a black potion by my side, I will be working on my laptop. In days like this, my ability to focus stupidly improves. But let me give you a bit of context. Yoga is a 5000 years old discipline, original from the ancient Indian philosophy. It is a physical practice with a meditative and spiritual core. In Vedic Sanskrit, the word yoga refers to union, or connection. By focusing on the breath, and moving mindfully, one frees the body ( or brings it to balance, if you will), and calms the mind. The priest in me will tell you that yoga works for everything. It restores my energy, makes me physically stronger and more flexible, regulates my appetite, makes me connect with myself, brings me back to the present moment, alleviates pain if I am sick, and – imagine this – offers me peace of mind. In a very simplistic way, I usually resume it as my medicine.
Having rooted myself in yoga is one of the habits I am the happiest about. Once on the mat, I go through my physical blockades, I get rid of the stuff which doesn’t help me – my body as the medium not only to the mind but somewhere unattainable, which I guess we can call the spirit. The thing is that, no matter how though times might be, I found a way to come back to myself, and connect with my core. Put things in perspective. Keep on going. Yoga is the road to this place of tranquility which I know I can always return to. My dearest Tula is the vehicle which allows for this.
Might you want to give yoga a go, know that Tula offers you different yoga styles from the most demanding ones ( Ashtanga Yoga 90 minutes) to the most relaxing ( Restorative Yoga or Lu Jong). In case you want to start with something in-between, go for Vinyasa or Yin Yang. If you are an absolute beginner I would recommend the 2-hour workshop for beginners ( the next one is on the 26th of February). Last but not the least, might you be a non-Dutch speaker, classes will be taught in English. If, on the contrary, you do want to immerse yourself in a native environment – and get more familiar with the local language -, this is the perfect school. Did I already say that neighborhood atmosphere rules?
* Picture on the header: Dana Marin