Meet Our Visitor: Joanna

We’re really excited to introduce an international visitor from Bulgaria: Joanna! She joined us for classes at YogaCamp. Read her story here.

Meet our visitor from Bulgaria, Joanna

I feel inspired to share my beautiful yoga experience.

What a year! In February, I traveled around Hungary, still laughing off the COVID-19 hysteria. At the beginning of March, I traveled to the Netherlands to attend an inspirational youth exchange for storytelling. The first thing I packed was my schedule. I had already planned my entire summer and didn’t know how to live without it. I was starting a food truck business and was really excited about it. On the plane, I drew my business logo: Funckin’ Food.

Canceled. So, what now?

Suddenly, thousands of emails started to appear in my inbox: canceled events, canceled projects, canceled meetings, canceled training courses. Even my yoga classes were canceled. In one day, my life changed so much I didn’t know what to do and where to go. So, what now? I decided to stay in the Netherlands for a while and to volunteer at the Olde Vechte Foundation.

Volunteering at Olde Vechte

For those of you who haven’t heard of Olde Vechte, it’s a really magical place: a house lying between a river and a forest, where the birds are louder than your thoughts. Olde Vechte hosts a lot of Erasmus+ projects and organizes training courses on personal development and life coaching.

I bloomed

So, I suddenly found myself living in a beautiful small house in nature, together with three amazing women who taught me about nonviolent communication, coaching, gamification, and many other things. I really bloomed. While the world was in lockdown, I was having brunches with 30 beautiful people from all over Europe, cooking ravioli and drinking prosecco, playing games, painting, and exploring the surroundings. We put on workshops for each other and held movie nights. Set up sharing circles, fool moon rituals, and dancing classes. How cool is that! I couldn’t believe it.

Yes, I gave up my food truck dream, as well as my relationship, but this was so much better. The only thing I missed, was my daily yoga class. But I found Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube and enjoyed it. I was happy.

Volunteering in exchange for yoga classes

But at the end of July, during my daily yoga practice, I suddenly felt a need for a company. So, I looked for yoga opportunities in Ommen. As I couldn’t afford yoga classes (volunteering doesn’t pay much), I emailed Yoga Ommen if I could volunteer in exchange for classes. I missed the yoga atmosphere: the smell of the mats, sitting in a studio together, listening to the teacher’s voice, and changing my clothes before and after class. I soon received a reply. Irene Vos, the owner of Yoga Ommen, wanted to meet with me and discuss the possibilities. I was overjoyed. Covid-19 didn’t affect my life at all. At least, that’s what I thought. Until the day of the meeting.

A wave of anxiety

I was on my way to the yoga studio when the bubble burst. Although I was in the same town I’d been living in for the last five months, everything suddenly felt different. I felt unsafe. A foreigner in a place I didn’t fit into, with a language I didn’t speak and a culture I hardly knew. A wave of anxiety washed over me. I wanted to stop, but I was in the middle of the road. My hands were shaking and I couldn’t breathe.

When I arrived at the studio I couldn’t relax, even though Irene was really welcoming. Thousands of questions raced through my mind: Was I keeping enough social distance? How much are 1.5 meters exactly? Should I shake hands or hug? Which chair should I pick and should I wash my hands first? I know it sounds stupid and simple, but I was drowning. I felt small and insignificant. The cop in my head was punishing me. There it was: the corona\COVID\pandemic panic, zealously making up for the lost time.

YogaCamp at the Lemeler Esch campsite

Irene invited me to attend a yoga class during YogaCamp, an event she organizes every year. And even though I was way out of my comfort zone, I said yes. She picked me up in the morning and we drove to the Lemeler Esch campsite, near Ommen. One thing I love about the Netherlands is their campsites, where people from all over the world come to meet each other and connect. And Lemeler, beautiful and clean, is a great place for camping. A big tent awaited us and soon after we arrived, other people appeared as well. My anxiety was still there, but I was determined not to let it destroy my experience.

Like a hug

You know that feeling when you’re really stressed out and someone just gives you a long hug? You suddenly remember to breathe, your heart rate goes back to normal, and warmth embraces your body. The universe stops for a few seconds and you find peace. This is exactly how I felt during yoga practice.

The language was no longer important. My body moved by itself. I felt comfortable and surrounded by love and support. From the very first minute to “namaste” two hours later, I felt peace. It was about my body being free to move, conducting prana like small needles on my skin. And most of all, it was about being connected with those twenty people there, strangers just a few minutes earlier. I didn’t speak their language and we were from different cultures, we differed in age and experience, but none of this mattered. I didn’t bring my social masks, power dynamics, fears, and stories. Instead, I brought my soul in a state of presence. I let myself be guided and it felt easy. Like coming home.

Shared love and understanding

After yoga class, I almost cried out of fulfillment. I realized how much I’d missed my yoga classes during those 5 months and why. It was shared love and understanding. Like holding hands in COVID terms; from a distance. Someone was holding space for me and I felt connected with everything around me! And for those two hours, I wasn’t alone.


For those interested

Are you interested in yoga and would you like to experience the benefits of yoga yourself? You can! The exercises are easy to learn and (with a bit of practice) can also be done at home. If you don’t live in or nearby Ommen, our Online Back Care Basics program offers a great alternative! Or join our free 6-day challenge “From Back Pain to Back Gain” first, and discover what yoga can do for you!

If you live in the neighborhood or are visiting Ommen, feel free to visit us. Or sign up for a trial class or a private (live stream) class.

Schedule your yogaclass

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