The (Dutch) Week of Psychiatry 2014

Anneke Sips, Amsterdam

The next Week of Psychiatry is from March 24 – 30th 2014. This 40th edition has the theme ‘Being owner of your own life!’. The basic principle is that people with mental health problems are as much as possible, directing their own lives.stigma 364px

The underlying question is what these people can do themselves to gain this ownership (again)? What can they do themselves to address their social responsibilities and role(s) in society and participate as citizens? Restoring you do yourself basically , but often in collaboration with others. And that leads to the question: What facilitating role can, or should, play the other? Family, social workers, friends, neighbors, police, doctors, churches , health insurers…. Yoga therapists? The Week of Psychiatry 2014 focuses specifically on this group. This all within the context of the governmental changes within and around the care of a participative society .

If you like to know a bit more about the history of the Week of Psychiatry in Holland, click here.

In my role as a Dutch health care worker (RN) I have strong ideas about how we should ban Stigma out of our work climate. Also we as health care professionals, or maybe: especially us health care professionals are should be very aware of this. I see it happen over and over and over again that psychiatrist or other workers think FOR the patient and are not really listening so well. It takes away the power of a patient who becomes weaker. Some facts about stigma:images

  • Stigma may be described as a label that associates a person to a set of unwanted characteristics that form a stereotype.
  • Stigma may affect the behavior of those who are stigmatized. Those who are stereotyped often start to act in ways that their stigmatizers expect of them. It not only changes their behavior, but it also shapes their emotions and beliefs.Members of stigmatized social groups often face prejudice that causes depression. These stigmas put a person’s social identity in threatening situations, like low self-esteem. Because of this, identity theories have become highly researched. Identity threat theories can go hand-in-hand with Labeling Theory.
  • In Unraveling the Contexts of Stigma, authors Campbell and Deacon describe Goffman’s universal and historical forms of Stigma. One of the kinds of stigma is: Known Deviations in Personal Traits – being perceived rightly or wrongly, as weak willed, domineering or having unnatural passions, treacherous or rigid beliefs, and being dishonest, e.g., mental disorders, imprisonment, addiction, homosexuality, unemployment, suicidal attempts and radical political behavior.
  • Members of stigmatized groups may have lower self-esteem than those of non-stigmatized groups.

How can we help them? First: create awareness and…. STOP STIGMATIZING! I created lots of awareness and learned much about how to do this in the LEAP training by Xavier Amador. How to build relationships with clients. How to really listen. How not to think ‘we know everything better’ as a mental health care professional. How to work at common ground on a solution the person you work with prefers. It’s empowering! Think well about how someone can be the owner of their own life again!stigma bpd

As a yoga teacher/ therapist we should also be mindful about this too. Do you label yourself? Others? What about a yogi from another tradition? Do you ever decide what is ‘good yoga’ and what is ‘bad yoga’? A good or bad yogi perhaps? Do you think of fellow yogi’s as weak willed or with rigid beliefs? Being dishonest or untrue? Could you judge this? Non-judgent can be a practice too!

• Yoga Therapy is a self-empowering process, where the Care Seeker is responsible for his/ her healing process.
• Yoga Therapy is taught in an individualized one-to-one setting .
• Yoga Therapy is multi-dimensional in its approach, often utilizing many tools of Yoga
• Yoga Therapy is based on the individual’s needs
• Yoga Therapy is context sensitive, respecting the stage of life, occupation, ability and other parameters of the individual
• Yoga Therapy is an evolving process, not an instant solution
• Yoga Therapy is a collaborative and complementary system of self health care


Yoga is an ancient, self-empowering practice that utilizes a wide range of tools to enhance well-being and to maintain and restore health. I want to teach people to let go of expectations and fear and learn from their own direct experiences, make contact with their intuition and trust (and Love) themselves (again). I don’t believe in changing people or ‘fix’ them, but rather help them find their own true nature and healing. This counts actually in both my work as a social psychiatric nurse as well as being a yoga teacher/ therapist.

“Yoga, as a way of life and a philosophy, can be practiced by anyone with inclination to undertake it, for yoga belongs to humanity as a whole. It is not the property of any one group or any one individual, but can be followed by any and all, in any corner of the globe, regardless of class, creed or religion.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

In both Yoga and social psychiatry our work is based on connection. Connection within yourself but also the connection with the world outside one self. With others. In social psychiatry we learn that you cannot see the individual separate from the context. Then again, what facilitating role can, or should, play the other? In mental health care? And what facilitating role can play the teacher of yoga? These are very interesting question to think of. And I Love to invite you all to talk about this in the next Yoga & Mental Health Sangha. Do you like to connect with like-minded people to discuss this more? Please leave a message if you like to be invited too!! Because our great teacher Desikachar quoted:

“With the right connection – beautiful things can happen.” – T.K.V. Desikachar

With Love,



Osho about Fear

Osho’s book on fear.

A journey through what makes human beings afraid, into a new relationship with our fears.

In Fear: Understanding and Accepting the Insecurities of Life, Osho takes the reader step by step over the range of what makes human beings afraid—from the reflexive “fight or flight” response to physical danger to the rational and irrational fears of the mind and its psychology. Only by bringing the light of understanding into fear’s dark corners, he says, airing out closets and opening windows, and looking under the bed to see if a monster is really living there, can we begin to venture outside the boundaries of our comfort zone and learn to live with, and even enjoy, the fundamental insecurity of being alive.
Fear ends with a series of meditation experiments designed to help readers experience a new relationship with fear and to begin to see fears not as stumbling blocks, but as stepping stones to greater self-awareness and trust.


Fear is as nonsubstantial as your shadow, but it is. The shadow also exists—nonsubstantial, negative, but not nonexistential—and sometimes the shadow can have a great impact on you. In a jungle when the night is approaching you can be frightened of your own shadow. In a lonely place, on a lonely path, you can start running because of your own shadow. Your running will be real, your escaping will be real, but the cause will be nonsubstantial.
You can run away from a rope thinking that it is a snake; if you come back and you look closely and you observe, you will laugh at the whole stupidity of it. But people are afraid to come to places where fear exists. People are more afraid of fear than of anything else, because the very existence of fear shakes your foundations.
The shaking of the foundations is very real, remember. The fear is like a dream, a nightmare, but after a nightmare when you are awake the aftereffects still persist, the hangover persists. Your breathing has changed, you are perspiring, your body is still trembling, you are hot. Now you know that it was just a nightmare, a dream, nonsubstantial, but even this knowing will take time to penetrate to the very core of your being. Meanwhile the effect of the nonsubstantial dream will continue. Fear is a nightmare.
What is fear made of? Fear is made of ignorance of one’s own self. There is only one fear; it manifests in many ways, a thousand and one can be the manifestations, but basically fear is one, and that is that “Deep inside, I may not be.” And in a way it is true that you are not. Godliness is, you are not. The host is not, the guest is. And because you are suspicious—and your suspicion is valid—you don’t look in. You go on pretending that you are; you know that if you look in, you are not! This is a deep, tacit understanding. It is not intellectual, it is existential; it is in your very guts, the feeling that “I may not be. It is better not to look in. Go on looking out.” At least it keeps you fooled, it keeps the illusion intact that “I am.” But because this feeling of “I amness” is false, it creates fear. You know that anything can destroy it, any deep encounter can shatter it. It can be shattered by love, it can be shattered by a serious disease, it can be shattered by seeing someone die. It can be shattered in many ways, it is very fragile. You are managing it somehow by not looking in.
Mulla Nasruddin was traveling on a train. The ticket collector came; he asked for the ticket. He looked in all his pockets, in all his suitcases, and the ticket was not found. He was perspiring, and he was becoming more and more frightened. And then the ticket collector said, “Sir, but you have not looked in one of your pockets. Why don’t you look in it?”
Mulla Nasruddin said, “Please don’t talk about that pocket. I am not going to look in it. That is my only hope! If I look in that pocket and it is not found, then it is lost, then it is absolutely not anywhere to be found. I cannot look in that pocket. Mind you, I will look everywhere else; that pocket is my safety, I can still hope that it may be in that pocket. I have left it deliberately and I am not going to touch it. Whether I find the ticket or not, I am not going to look in that particular pocket.”
This is the situation with the ego too. You don’t look in, that is your only hope: “Who knows? Maybe it is there.” But if you look, your intuitive feeling says it is not there.
This false ego, which you have created by not looking in, by continuously looking out, is the root cause of fear. You will be afraid of all those spaces in which you have to look. You will be afraid of beauty because beauty simply throws you within. A beautiful sunset, and all those luminous colors in the clouds, and you will be afraid to look at it because such great beauty is bound to throw you inside yourself. Such great beauty stops your thinking: For a moment the mind is in such awe, it forgets how to think, how to go on spinning and weaving. The inner talk comes to a stop, a halt, and you are suddenly in.
People are afraid of great music, people are afraid of great poetry, people are afraid of deep intimacy. People’s love affairs are just hit-and-run affairs. They don’t go deep into each other’s being because going deep into each other’s being, the fear is there—the other’s pool of being will reflect you. In that pool, in that mirror of the other’s being, if you are not found, if the mirror remains empty, if it reflects nothing, then what?
People are afraid of love. They only pretend, they only go on playing games in the name of love. They are afraid of meditation; even in the name of meditation at the most they go on practicing new ways of thinking. That’s what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation is—it is neither meditation nor transcendental, it is simply chanting a mantra. And chanting a mantra is nothing but a process of thought, concentrated thought. It is again a new device, a device not to meditate. People are repeating Christian prayers, Mohammedan prayers, Hindu prayers—all ways to avoid meditation. These are not meditations, remember. Mind is so cunning that in the name of meditation it has created many false phenomena.
Meditation is when you are not doing anything at all, when the mind is not functioning at all. That nonfunctioning of the mind is meditation—no chanting, no mantra, no image, no concentration. One just simply is. In that isness, the ego disappears, and with the ego the shadow of the ego disappears.
That shadow is fear.
Fear is one of the most important problems. Each human being has to go through it and has to come to a certain understanding about it. The ego gives you the fear that one day you may have to die. You go on deceiving yourself that death happens only to others, and in a way you are right: Some neighbor dies, some acquaintance dies, some friend dies, your wife dies, your mother dies—it always happens to somebody else, never to you. You can hide behind this fact. Maybe you are an exception, you are not going to die. The ego is trying to protect you.
But each time somebody dies, something in you becomes shaky. Each death is a small death to you. Never send somebody to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Each death is your death. Even when a dry leaf falls from the tree, it is your death. Hence we go on protecting ourselves.
Somebody is dying and we talk about the immortality of the soul, and the leaf is falling from the tree and we say, “Nothing to be worried about. Soon the spring will come and the tree will again have foliage. This is only a change, only the garments are being changed.”
People believe in the immortality of the soul not because they know but because they are afraid. The more cowardly a person is the more is the possibility that he will believe in the immortality of the soul—not that he is religious, he is simply cowardly. The belief in the immortality of the soul has nothing to do with religion. The religious person knows that “I am not,” and then whatever is left is immortal—but it has nothing to do with “me.” This “me” is not immortal, this “I” is not immortal. This “I” is just temporary; it is manufactured by us.
Fear is the shadow of “I.” And because the “I” is always alert somewhere deep down it will have to disappear in death.… The basic fear is of death; all other fears only reflect the basic one. And the beauty is that death is as nonexistential as ego. So between these two nonexistentials, the ego and death, the bridge is fear.
Fear itself is impotent, it has no power. It is just that you want to believe in it—that’s its only power. You are not ready to take a plunge into your inner depth and to face your inner emptiness—that is its power. Otherwise it is impotent, utterly impotent. Nothing is ever born out of fear. Love gives birth, love is creative; fear is impotent. It has never created anything. It cannot create anything because it has no substance. But it can destroy your whole life, it can surround you like a dark cloud, it can exploit all your energies. It will not allow you to move into any deep experience of beauty, poetry, love, joy, celebration, meditation. No, it will keep you just on the surface because it can exist only on the surface. It is a ripple on the surface.
Go in, look in … and if it is empty, so what? Then that’s our nature, then that’s what we are. Why should one be worried about emptiness? Emptiness is as beautiful as the sky. Your inner being is nothing but the inner sky. The sky is empty, but it is the empty sky that holds all, the whole existence, the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the planets. It is the empty sky that gives space to all that is. It is the empty sky that is the background of all that exists. Things come and go and the sky remains the same.
In exactly the same way, you have an inner sky; it is also empty. Clouds come and go, planets are born and disappear, stars arise and die, and the inner sky remains the same, untouched, untarnished, unscarred. We call that inner sky the witness, the watcher—and that is the whole goal of meditation.
Go in, enjoy the inner sky. Remember, whatsoever you can see, you are not it. You can see thoughts, then you are not thoughts; you can see your feelings, then you are not your feelings; you can see your dreams, desires, memories, imaginations, projections, then you are not those things. Go on eliminating all that you can see. Then one day the tremendous moment arrives, the most significant moment of one’s life, when there is nothing left to be rejected. All the seen has disappeared and only the seer is there. That seer is the empty sky….

About the Author
OSHO is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. He is known for his revolutionary contributions to the science of inner transformation, and the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.

Vinyasa Krama-rama-rama

Settledown in your conscious sequence

Years go by, step by step, breath after breath… You once stepped from one train into another. From childhood into youth. From youth into adolescence and right hop, hop… into maturity. From high school into university into your job into another job and hop on another train. The Vinyasa is the element that sews together the various moments in a sequence of (life) changes. It is like the string on which beads are strung for a Mala. The linking may be of two types: the conscious one or the unconscious. Do you ever stop yourself? Change is always occurring – even when you’re not running. Usually a sequence of changes is linked by unconsciousness; or in other words, the conscious mind doesn’t seem to perceive this. The yogi is able to perceive the moment-to-moment sequence of changes past, present, and future. When one perceives clearly both the instigation and the outcome of moment-to-moment changes, one can choose to undertake a sequence of actions that has a conscious end point and will have a particular effect.

This will be the first post in 2012. The first one in a series of monthly focus. In this first post. Tale a minute to stand still.

Listen: Click to Listen

Are you a reflective person? Did you think of what you did last year? Are you satisfied? What could you have done different? Did you help others ? Did you do the good things for the good reasons? Do you have regrets? Do you like the train you’re in? Enjoying the ride? Is your sequence of changes conscious? It’s time to still the mind to reflect and change. What are your new year resolutions? Did you really be honest thinking of those? Are these really changes you want to make? ‘You are the change that you like to see in this world!’

Happy New You! Anneke twitter: @Yoga_Amsterdam

Happy Mukti Day!

It’s Mukti Day!

(Mukti in Sanskrit: मुक्ति, literally “release” -both from a root muc “to let loose, let go”- is the liberation from samsara)

Another sunny day in Amsterdam, Liberationday.
It’s celebrated each year on May 5th, to mark the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. For many it means it’s time for yet another party, and for me it is not. Or well…. depends what you consider a party.

Since my washing machine start button broke a couple of weeks ago, I chose to add some stress in my life by complaining about this button to Stijn, my boyfriend, and piling up responsibility for it on his chest. (why?) I thought that was a good idea, it would fix the problem fast… but nothing was less true. I would bring my Dirty Laundry to cozy gatherings, cause others do have a working machine and free to use by me. Dragging my stuff from North to South and back. It does the job.

But, inspired by the powerful teachings yesterday night by Sogyal Rinpoche, a Tibetan Dzogchen Lama of the Nyingma tradition*, I liberated myself from some layers by being mindful.

My day started with The Yoga of Washing Laundry. Quarter past nine in the morning. After emptying a bucket I was opening the tap aware of the wrinkles on my forehead that I was letting go just a moment later. After adding some detergent I filled up the bucket in the kitchen, hearing the clatter of the water, feeling what the right temperature would be. Feeling the warm wooden floor under my feet while I walked this bucket to the bathroom and felt the change of sensation of the footpad when the wooden floor become cold tiles. I washed and I rinsed. Until the water stayed clear and clean. Never knew black socks and leggings became this dusty. What a sweet feeling of water on the feet, washing your own clothes by hand, feeling it’s pretty tough as well. Feeling particular muscles in my back that I am using during this activity. I am realizing how ‘lucky’ or a better word spoiled we are by having well working washing machines who do the job for us. Why? ‘Cause doing it by hand takes a lot of time.’ Hmm. Wasn’t really the case. I didn’t feel like I ‘lost’ time this morning. My clothes got clean and they smell absolutely fresh now.

I remember well, the ladies in Thailand, Cambodia or Laos who wash their clothes by hand daily. Also I remember Damescene very well. My friend and guard I met in Rwanda last summer. He washed mine and many many pieces by hand. Day after day. I know we live in this society where washing machines are ‘normal’ but it wouldn’t hurt nobody to just sometimes, wash your clothing by hand. As an exercise, of being mindful. And for fun!

Sogyal explained meditation yesterday. He said being not distracted, fully aware and present – whatever you then experience is meditation.

He added that distraction is the root of all problem. And the senses are a source of distraction, it’s hard to just let them ‘be’. So, especially in the beginning of meditation practice, it’s possible to use them: by hear well, smell the fullest and gaze in awareness…. Listen to a mantra, gaze at a Buddha statue for example. It’s taming your own (monkey) mind. His Buddhist words are so comparable to Yogic words. He was talking about space. Creating space, giving space! Space to your self, your ideas.. your mind. In Yoga we create space in the body, the mind. To breath and just be. He said:’ Never give up, give space’. ‘Be spacious, centered and open’. ‘Become friends with yourself, your mind’…. (And your Dirty Laundry and broken electronics ^^)

And after we danced…

Mukti, Mukti, Mukti!  Anneke

* He has been teaching for over 30 years and he is also the founder and spiritual director of ‘Rigpa‘ and the author of the best-selling book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.


“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”

Jim Rohn


Inspired by my colleague who’s working with me in night shift at the psychiatric hospital, I write this.

He just told me about his hospital experience in the past. He became very ill.  For some reason, blood coagulation didn’t work in his veins which could lead to traumatic and even lethal internal bleeding. Not the doctors nor my colleague knew where the illness came from. He had the best doctors around him in the best hospitals, who could test him, but couldn’t heal. They could try out treatments but couldn’t ever give the promise it would work. He was scared, scared to death even.

In this sudden moment of a total mental and physical crash, he knew that the only thing he could do to get healed was practice Satya, truthfulness, to himself. At that time he didn’t know what it was he was doing ‘wrong’ but he did take full responsibility for ‘it‘ in his own body. After taking all the space and time in the hospital he needed to think about himself, his life, his choices he decided at one moment to make radical changes in the way he was living. Knowing he would create personal insecurities that might have enormous consequences on his life and relationships, he took that risk. He trusted his gut feeling.

It didn’t take more than one day after this radical change to start the physical healing process. In a mysterious way his body started to create healthy blood corpuscles, not many, one or two the doctors concluded. Later these two became six, ten, fifteen healthy blood cells maybe. And very very slowly his body transformed from a sick one into a healthy one again without treatment.

I am not telling that nobody needs any treatment, I accepted medical treatment for a while when suffering from Hyper Thyroidism. But I also knew I was responsible for what happens to my body. My body is my vehicle and I need to take the best care of it I can. Which I didn’t do for a while. I knew I was crossing my personal borders mentally, my body reacted on that, gave me messages daily which I refused to listen to up to that day that changed my life radically. From my experiences I must say, to make that one choice for drastic change is most the difficult action but the most powerful as well. I had to work hard on myself, the cure was very close to me… In nature the cure is never far away…  My Yoga was one of the things that helped me enourmusly. I didn’t need medication anymore after a little while. My Thyroid taught me something and the imbalances never came back after.

At the end, just seconds it takes to make a change … Just one moment to jump, fearless into the unknown. But you know you’re doing the right thing. You know you are choosing right, you feel it without a doubt in these seconds. The thoughts of doubt, fear and insecurity rise up right after this moment. Which can totally mess up the jump and cover it all up with a dark grey cloud. Then you must believe in what you just thought a second ago and take full responsibility to do what’s right for yourself. Taking full responsibility to live happy and healthy. Because when you are creating happy and healthy energy, you will give this energy. And what you will give, you will receive back. When practice full responsibility with small things you will be able to be responsible when you need it when big issues occur in life as well.
When taking full responsibility for your life, for the good and the bad, you should not forget taking all responsibility for the wonderful things that happen to you. Be open to feelings of true joyment you receive after creating something, when working hard on something. You did this! You created it! Feel more like an artist after making that painting, enjoy the meals you made yourself with Love more and truly feel more satisfied, balanced and happy. And remember Ghandi’s words: Be the change you want to see in the world!
Well, these were my nightly thoughts I am responsible of working my last nightshift in a psychiatric clinic… Goooodnight!
Love, Anneke

Practice Love

“Love will find a way”

Very thankful I am to be able to sit here in my body on my urban balcony and just let the rays of sunlight hit my skin. A new day, new opportunities and ideas. The year just started and I made New Years resolutions just a couple of days ago… at the end of December and they took over my mind a bit.

The last few weeks were a bit stressful because of the transformations that are taking place. For me, seeing the year is being eaten up by itself and the new year will start, is a great moment for reflection and creation. It feels like destroyoing Shiva-ish powers were active messing up my ideas of who I am.  It’s a bit tricky, like closing a circle that’s already been closed or never will be. For me, I am at least always inspired by these feelings to become aware of the unclosed circles in my life… some things needed closure and they did. Other things will pop up and start developing. Creation.

In these weeks I worked hard on an assessment. I decided to go back to school. I work in a psychiatric ward as a nurse and at work I got the opportunity to enter this post-Bachelor program that leads to become a Social Psychiatric Nurse. This assessment made me a bit insecure, another big moment of reflection entered my path. But, at the end I got it all done and also I had a great talk with the head of the program. I would really Love to combine my psychiatric work and my Love for Yoga. For some reason I was a bit anxious that an institute like a college or university would be against these ideas but I was happily surprised that in this first conversation with the head of the program, she even stimulated me to bring Yoga into the Amsterdam Psychiatry! Two thousand and eleven… there is work to do! To be continued…….

Back to my balcony, where I am siting now and writing this post, the waters in front of my house attract a lot of water birds, especially when they are fed. How much I like these birds, it’s great to offer them bread especially in the colder winter months the seem very appreciated of that. Amazing how many there are when the sun is shining and because of that their shadows on the ground will even double their number. It might be just an illusion but I think it’s a pretty one. I feel inspired by a message I just saw today from Sharon Gannon from Jivamukti Yoga NYC. A few senteces from this message:

Gardening. Many [yoga] teachers, as well as [yoga] students, are expressing the fact that they live in apartments in dense cities where gardening is just not possible. The concept of gardening can be stretched to included taking care of anything or anybody-feeling joy in contributing to nourishing another and seeing them blossom-becoming happy and healthy. It doesn’t have to be that you have a plot of land in your back yard and grow lots of vegetables. You could have one rosemary plant in a small pot on your kitchen windowsill, or there may be a cat or a dog whom you take the time to feed well and provide for, thus improving their lives. That cat or dog may not even live with you, but perhaps with a neighbor, or perhaps the dog or cat is homeless and lives at the local shelter and you go and visit them once a week, volunteering to take the dog for a walk or bring them some special food.

This made me think of these beautiful ducks, seagulls and swans. My dream is to live in a place with animals and nature around me, the sun shining on my face in the morning, feeling love and share this with others around me. It’s a delight feeling that basically I am living my dream already here at my urban Amsterdam balcony in the wintertime. Soak up the first sun of the year, feeding the birds and taking special care of my little Aloe Vera plants I love so much… Sweet realization, sweet practices of Love!

All you do, do it with Love ♡ Practice Love… And warm up your heart.

Sun-Kissed-Salutation, Anneke

We can be Heroes, just for one day

And heroes we are! Or, we could be…

It’s not very difficult to ask the old woman next door if you could help her carry her groceries or paint her livingroom. Helping someone is often a small motion that create great happiness, that create happiness again.

Very happy I was too see that many people were willing to practice Yoga to help others by donate money and create awareness. The Global Mala was a great succes! We at the Astanga School Amsterdam together with The Yogastudio Eindhoven and Yogaplace Sittart raised over 500 euros alltogether! That’s awesome! All for Project Air. All these sweating Ashtangi’s were heroes for at least one day…

The next project will be: Youth Aṣtanga Yoga (YAY) in Amsterdam.

So young heroes, com ‘on over and learn something new. November 4th will be the first day in a series of 8 weeks of teachings. (and then after the holidays again another cycle of 8 weeks classes). In these weeks we will teach you the basics of Aṣtanga Yoga. The classes are specially designed for youth between 14 and 18 years old, every Thursday from 16.00u till 17.15u.
November 4th will be the first- and Open Day so free to come check it out.  More Info? check or for more info about me, my background and teaching philosophy on

Another new project I am busy with is northern Thai (yoga) Massage. I am learning it right now and will continue to do so. It’s great to learn an acient art like this and I can’t wait till i’m good enough to start my little massage business.. It’s a pretty strong massage but after you’ll feel like renewed!

So, all updated… enjoy Autumn wherever you are and soon more about the Teens and stuff…

Love, Anneke


Summer seems to make space for the winter to come. Until then, autumn. Wind, grey, cool, wet are words fitting best in the description of this new period.

Season Changes. The only changes I do not like. I Love spring and summer and all that comes with these seasons. Sun, warmth, flirting, birds, sea, sand and shells… Never I enjoyed to let that go, even knowing that it would come back soon enough. Clinging to the sun, waiting for warmth, traveling to get some of that… But here it is, another opportunity i am getting to learn to enjoy this change and be exactly where I am.

Being happy in the rain, satisfied with grey. Just as it is, it is. For here and now. Changes need to be accepted. I believe we have two options; go with the Flow or fight against it. To go with this Flow might also bring some wonderful changes or surprises, to be missed when i turn my back to them. So I decided to choose the Flow, whatever that might included.

Trust me
It’s Paradise
This is where the hungry comes to feed
For mine is a generation that circles the globe
in search of something we haven’t tried before
so never refuse an invitation
never resist the unfamiliar
never fail to be polite
and never outstay your welcome

just keep your mind open and
suck in the experience
and if it hurts
you know what… it’s probably worth it

you hope, and you dream
but you never believe that something is gonna happen to you
not like it does in the movies
and when it actually does
you expect it to feel different
more visceral
more real
I was waiting for it to hit me
Hit me

I still believe in paradise
but now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for
cause it’s not where you go
it’s how you feel for a moment in your life
and if you find that moment
It will last forever

Orbital, Beached


Closing doors, opening doors

and it’s all good.

I do miss Africa at times. The friendship felt, the beauty seen. Back in Amsterdam, a few things became visible. How much I Love this city and how much I feel home here and how fast you get Africanised or simply get used to a country after a while. I found this country so ‘white’ and also off course cold. I caught myself looking up into the air all the time when a helicopter would fly over. I had no idea there were so many heli’s here in Holland. I guess I never paid attention to them before. In Rwanda I was always wondering what these things were doing up there…

I miss teaching Yoga every day. I do practice myself (almost) every day. And I found a place to sub teaching in Amsterdam. Shape. It was nice to teach again. Then I am very excited about organizing Global Mala this year at the Astanga Yoga School in Amsterdam! This event will be organized to raise awareness. On this day we will practice 108 minutes of yoga while creating this awareness for the Rwandan women are practicing the art of Ashtanga yoga for healing, taught by Project Air.
Admission will be on donation and all donations will be supporting Project Air. All levels are welcome! The yoga school will be open from 10.00h – 15.00h. Yoga class starts at 11.00h – Come and Join!
After class there will be healthy finger food and tea provided while there is space to see and buy original Rwandan photographic artwork, made by local Rwandan yoga students. The pictures made by the donated camera’s. hey Loved this project as well! Through images we share their reflection on life, while giving them the opportunity to sell their work. Pure Fair Trade. I will teach the yoga class and also share some of my experiences.. What a great way of sharing what I saw.. I am very thankful for this opportunity!

I didn’t want this project to stop after I left Rwanda, and it won’t. From this chapter I will move into the next one.. walking our way up to the House of Love

To be continued!!!

Some Things

While I am eating my last ‘Stroopwafel’ imported from Holland by myself, I write another blog entry. I just had one package and ate them very mindfully. That way i could enjoy this sugary sweetness up until the day of today, here in Rwanda!

Early this morning. Concentration level was low, the Love level very high. The women at Ineza where the sweetest today, although they couldn’t be still during yoga class. I taught them this morning, these ladies are so precious.

After that class, I taught the adolescents group.
Their concentration level is very very high and their relaxation level… gone. They seem to push themselves so hard to be ‘good’, my task in class is to find ways to slow them down, relax, smile, breath, enjoy, learn… the opposite from what happened this morning at Ineza, I had to move them into Yoga by motivate them and find creative ways to start by make them be still. One would make a sound, all would laugh. Over and over… and loud!
Which is fine. i am sure there is a reason for their lack of concentration today, they have no easy lives. Poverty, HIV..etc.. And probably my energy had something to do with it as well, i felt a little sad today, they were restless but very sweet. If I see peace in Savasana and after that bright smiles, and woman who thank eachother to share their yoga, I do feel happy.

One of the adolescents (Aimable, the boy left on the photo, who will become a future local yogateacher, he was just asked last week by me if he was interested in starting training for that, he smiled brightly and said: “Yes! i feel very ready for that!” -sweet!-) asked me after class: ” Anneke, you make pictures of us, that way you will always remember us. We don’t have camera’s how do we remember you?” I replied that they can do, every morning 5 rounds of Sun Salutations in their houses.. that way they would remember me! They smiled an knodded, that seemed like a good idea. I hope so…
After the morning Ineza class I bought a few cute little ‘heart-shaped’ bags from them. And a yoga-mat bag. Truly fair trade. These ladies making bags all day, that’s their job. (click here to see the profiles of the ladies)
We-act is facilitating these opportunities (WE-ACTx, the NGO that works with HIV+woman, we work with very closely as well).

After this morning, i was busy busy making many arrangements in, around and at the program here. My guard here, Damascene, he’s very sweet, he became my good friend, since it’s just him and me now in the house at the moment. He speaks a little bit English (i am teaching him English) and a little bit French and Kenyarwandan off course. So, we kinda made our own language. A mix of English and French words, a small selection, and Kenyarwandan words, again, a small selection but then from my part). Here in Rwanda, Damascene seems to understand me very good. It’s very interesting. We talk very much, without knowing each others language. He pays very good attention though (next to his work, he has a busy job here in the house and does that in an excellent way), he seems to feel very well what i mean or need. A little example this, very cute:
Today after yoga in the afternoon, in my very busy schedule, I was planning on going to buy some souvenirs, like a wooden mask or something. I know there is a market close by. So I asked Damasecene to go with me, since I don’t know exactly here it is, and he does.
“Yego!!” he off course answered. He’s always in the mood to come with me for some fun. But, then when i arrived home from teaching yoga, i saw that the market was in front of the house! When I was gone, he went to the market by himself, to see the prices. He saw it was crazy expensive and decided to ask one of these guys to come to the house if they were interested to make some money.. And that’s what happened. The market man with his son and a few others and all his wooden statues, dolls, masks etc. were in front of my house, on the street. Sweet! That was just what i needed after a crazy and busy day like today… Then they didn’t have the mask i liked, so Damascene and I explained what i was looking for ( a few things) and tomorrow morning before yoga, the guy comes back with things i might like. Easy for me, good business without competition for him. Good prices that way for both of us, everybody happy.

After dinner, this same Damascene showed interest in the yogamat laying there and tried to get into a yoga posture. Before we knew i was teaching him a complete yoga class. He was unstoppable. The more acrobatic, the better.. off course. I had to slow him down. But his excitement for yoga was nice to see. Hope he will continue to learn this… tomorrow i will teach him more. Sun-salutation in the right way to start with. On the picture, Damascene on, probably, the first Downward Facing Dog of his whole life! (a moment to treasure) But i suspect not the last one.

Also, very clearly we’re getting closer and closer to election date. Many helicopters in the air during he day, because.. who knows! And posters and other campaign material everywhere!Rwanda's President And that’s that.

Also today was a sad day for some of us. I feel very sorry about that. The bad news Stijn told me yesterday, that Maria died in Spain. My thoughts were with them all day…. A day crazy and very very sad with sparkles of Love from the beautiful people here, came to an end… Goodnight!

Anneke x