Can you share with us about where are you from? What were you like as a kiddo?
I’m a Dutchie who grew up in the Amsterdam area. I lived in The Netherlands until I was 27 years old, I then lived for 2 years in Brasil before I finally settled here in San Francisco. As a kid I was super blond, really blue eyes, super curious and later on also kinda rebellious. I loved making up stories and playing that out with my friends.
How did you get started teaching yoga in San Francisco?
I moved to San Francisco in January 2015 with a yoga training in Vinyasa yoga and Boxing Yoga. It was Boxing Yoga that got me in the doors. Something new, something different. It triggered people in different ways and it helped me to launch my career as a yoga teacher in this city. Boxing Yoga soon grew to opportunities to teach Power Yoga and Vinyasa yoga classes. And now you can find me every morning at Yoga Garden SF teaching Power Yoga.
What is one of your hidden talents?
Finding good music and creating playlists… although my students might argue that’s not so hidden. I love to write and am good at transmitting my own struggles, life lessons and thought waves on paper.
What wisdom do you most want to transmit to your students?
Life is always changing, we have ups and downs, good times and bad times and sometimes all of it at the same time. When we come to yoga we learn to put controlled stresses on our bodies and through that we get to experience moments of intensity, stress, resistance and mental blockages. It’s how we deal with these moments that counts. Where does our mind go? Can we stay present? How does our breath change? Do we push harder? Do we give up? All this information will help you when you are faced with hardship in real life. You will start to recognize your patterns and will be able to keep a calmer, more conscious and stable mind.
What challenge(s) has yoga helped you overcome?
Yoga has helped me to be connected to myself. When I was younger I had the tendency to overwork myself and push so far over my boundaries that I would go to a place of complete exhaustion. Yoga has helped me to not just live in my head, but to be connected to my body. To have a deeper understanding of when I go too far and to respect my boundaries. When something is your weak spot, you tend to always struggle with it. So I am not perfect at this yet, but I now have the tools to recognize and be mindful. I can now catch myself on time and take the necessary measure to take care of my body, my mind, my spirit and my soul.
Who is your hero/heroine?
Etty Hillesum. She is jewish young woman who lived in Amsterdam during the second world war. She unfortunately died, but got enlightened during this period.
Even though she was at danger herself (because she was a jew) she went to the transport camps (the camp people were gathered to be put on trains to concentration camps) to offer emotional and mental support. She wrote a diary, which has been a big influence on my ideas of spirituality and the Self.
What still excites you and keeps you inspired to teach and share this practice with students?
I just absolutely love teaching. When I teach, it’s not only my students who are learning something new, I am also constantly learning. How to be a better teacher, how to be off better support, how to work through some of our daily struggles and suffering. And because it is a two-way street, I am charged and energized from what students are giving back to me during their practice. It is the most beautiful thing to see someone move through a challenging sequence and see themselves grow because they realize they are stronger then they thought, or overcome their fears because once they try it turns out not be so scary. To be there as support and to see their being be calm and their eyes radiating after class, that’s what makes me tick.
What is your spirit animal?
A butterfly. The butterfly stands for the art of transformation. It is the ability to know the mind or to change it. My life has gone through major transformation in the past 2 years and every time when I doubted, somehow the butterfly showed up in my life. So I have embraced it. I have embraced that life is always changing. I am no longer fearful for it, but instead I am excited about it. And the butterfly, as beautiful and elegant as it is, shows me that when we accept the change, after a messy period, a beautiful creature is born.
What shifts once you first unroll and step on your mat?
I immediately breath and let go of all my worries and my day. It’s me and my mat, it’s me and my body. It’s the Self breathing, moving and experiencing the present.
If you didn’t teach yoga, what else would you do?
I actually have another job also. I work for the YMCA Embarcadero where I am responsible for all that happens around Group Exercise and the Fitness Floor. Why I love that work is because the Y stands for community, making an impact in peoples life.
My background is in Corporate Anthropology and I absolutely love being in different cultures, working with different cultures and understanding cultures in companies. So I would also love to work on building cultures in start-ups or helping companies with cultural shifts.
What’s your finest advice for a new teacher?
Love teaching, if you do, it doesn’t matter who will show up, because you will give your best regardless. And your love for the practice and teaching will be contagious, people will recognize it and want to be part of it. So be yourself and show your love for the practice.
What do you have in the pipeline? Are you working on any exciting projects?
I love good music in class and I also love deep house music. I found a DJ that I really like, so we are talking about collaborating and offering deep house yoga with a live DJ. There is also a retreat in the works, which I hope to be announcing later in the year.
Where can we connect with you off the mat? (Social Media, Website, location, etc)