Local Heroes #46

When Katri moved from Poland to The Netherlands she discovered her love for yoga. The urge to share her passion and inspirate others convinced her to open up her own yoga studio – in Rotterdam.
Published by Laura M. on 04/05/2016

I have been practicing different styles of yoga for over 5 years. Yet, it was only when I discovered Yoganesa, a yoga studio in Kralingen, Rotterdam, that I started to really feel a difference, and I truly miss it when I’m away from home. Now, almost 2 years later, I feel that I am truly starting to practice yoga.

What I love most about this yoga practice and about my local hero, Katri, is that for roughly 75 minutes, I simply stop thinking and start focusing on the then and there. They say every yoga teacher is different, for me, every class with Katri is different. She is my local hero in Rotterdam, and I naturally wanted to know more about her.

Hello Katri Marcinkowska!

Born in Poland, Katri Marcinkowska’s first passion was to dance, a passion that led her to Austria and ultimately to The Netherlands where she studied choreography and began to work professionally. When a friend took her to her first yoga class, she knew she has arrived ‘home’: yoga became her new passion. She wanted to share it with others and decided to become an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga instructor. Katri currently teaches Vinyasa, Yin, and Kurunta Yoga as well as Pilates classes at Yoganesa Rotterdam.

Katri, why did you decide to name your studio Yoganesa?

The name Yoganesa consists of two words: Yoga, which means union and Ganesa, which refers to the elephant-headed God in Buddhism. Ganesa is also my teacher, tutor, and the guardian of the studio. Ganesa offers us an inspiration and determination to get through the obstacles that you encounter in your life. Interestingly, the image of Ganesa has a very strong symbolic meaning and we can learn a lot from it such as:

The large head for ‘thinking big’

The small eyes for ‘concentration and focus’

The big ears for ‘listening’

The small mouth for ‘talking in moderation’

The trunk for ‘flexibility and adaptability’

That one tusk for ‘preserving the good and discarding the bad’

The big stomach for ‘the quiet digesting of all the good and bad moments in life’

When did you first think of opening your own yoga studio?

I thought of opening my own yoga studio back in 2009. Actually, I opened a small space first. I wanted to see how it feels to create my own space and offered Pilates and yoga classes. Having this small space gave me the possibility to experiment. I had to learn everything from the beginning since owning a studio is not only about teaching good classes, but also about managing the space and the people. After 2.5 years I knew I liked what I was doing and I wanted to continue. So, I decided to expand and move to a bigger location. This is how the story of Yoganesa began.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you have from practicing and teaching yoga?

There are many memorable experiences that I have from practicing yoga. Starting from the experience of openness in the body to emotional awareness and mental clarity. Looking from the perspective of all those years during which I practiced yoga, I have become more myself and every yoga practice creates integrity and happiness within me. The same goes with teaching yoga. I see the changes happening in my students. They open up and become stronger on a physical, emotional, and mental level.

Have you ever faced scary situations when you practised yoga?

I felt I truly faced my fears when I started practicing hanging yoga for the first time. It was scary to put the body upside down and stay in the pose for a few minutes. I noticed the difficulty in letting go of having control over my own body and surrender to the belt and to the practice. It is fascinating to see how such fears build up within us over time. As a child, most if not all of us did handstands, bridge poses, jumped, and danced, without any fear of falling or letting go.

Yet, as we grow older, fear takes over and such experiences become scary. The result: we do not dare to engage in such experiences again. On the extreme side, we build up the fears and in the end we might even be afraid to talk to our neighbors or even step out of the house. The practice of yoga helps us to overcome the fears. It helps us to create freedom and flexibility in the body and mind.

What inspires you when you teach a yoga class?

My biggest inspiration for teaching is life, music, and my students. I love to see how my students grow and develop physically and personally, how they learn to enjoy every moment of their life. What I further love in yoga is the freedom given to the practitioner. We stand on the yoga mat the way we are and we start practicing where we are. Some students focus on physical, others focus on emotional, yet others focus on mental benefits. Nowadays we can choose from various yoga styles: we can practice dynamic Vinyasa Yoga, calm Hatha Yoga, mindful Yin Yoga, energizing Kundalini, or any other style. As long as we practice yoga, we develop on multiple levels.

Can you tell us a fun fact about yoga from your own experiences?

I find it interesting and funny at the same time to see how the yoga practice reflects our daily life. I see students who often struggle in their yoga practice and this is reflected in their daily life: they always aim to do their best. Similarly, I see students who are always moving very fast in their yoga practice and this is reflected in their daily life: they always try to get somewhere. Regular yoga practice creates awareness and helps us to reflect on our lives.

Where can we find you when you are not at the studio?

I spend all my free time on writing and connecting with nature. At the moment, I am writing poems and essays as well as working on two yoga books: “The Moon, Yoga, and You” and “Finding More Flow”. The books will be available in print or e-book format from the beginning of June 2016.

Curious to know more or even give it a try? Yoganesa offers not only yoga classes, but also different workshops about healthy cooking, meditation and massage. You can read more about the studio and the many wonderful experiences that it offers here.

Laura M.

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