Oona practicing yoga at age 7
Teacher Oona Giesen grew up with Iyengar yoga. She took her first yoga classes at the house of Margriet Post in 1972, so this year 50 years ago, when she was about 7 years old. (In the same class then was also for example Cle Souren, who later became the head of the Iyengar Association in Amsterdam/the Netherlands.) She was trained by Agnes Hillen, Margriet Post, Victor van Kooten and, most of all, her mother Jeanne Buntinx, who were all trained personally by mr B.K.S. Iyengar and were the founders of the Iyengar Yoga movement in the Netherlands in the '70s. Yoga was not popular yet.... Oona's first yoga holiday, together with her mother in 1973 in France, with one of the first yoga teachers in Europe teacher Agnes Hillen-Mineur, was the inspiration for what she is doing for 30 years now: organizing yoga holidays on the Greek island Paros.
Oona started teaching - Iyengar based - Hatha Yoga 30 years ago, in her mothers yoga school in Amsterdam/The Netherlands. Together with her mother she started the first yoga holidays (now called retreats) on Paros and back then, she had to explain still the concept of yoga holiday/retreat. She started the very first yoga school on the Greek island Paros in 1990. Although she has a softer approach, you can feel the influences of B.K.S. Iyengar strongly in her classes. She broke her spine in a very bad car accident in 1998 and since then recovered herself extremely well with her yoga. In this proces she became expert by experience in managing back pain with yoga. (For more information about this, click on button Media and read the interviews of 2006 in the newspaper and in the Yoga Magazine).
Here you can find a free yoga class from Oona on You Tube. She has just placed the camera in the corner of the room, sound could be better, but it gives you a good idea of the classes and you can use it for your home practice.
Oona takes a soft approach to practicing yoga and likes to remain down to earth, focusing on the bodies movements and positions rather than chanting and worshipping. Oona specialises in back problems after yoga played an essential role in her recovery following a car accident. Therefor she believes in the healing power of yoga. She puts a particular empahisis on alignment of the spine. She focuses on the connection between the mind, the body and the breath; the three pilars of yoga.
Oona's lifetime of experience and professional accreditations mean that she is more than capable of coaching people of all ages and abilities. She believes in the healing power of the body and that yoga is about understanding your own body better, making you feel better and hopefully having to see less doctors. Every class can be adapted to suit each persons individual level and Oona is always on standby to offer advice or answer any questions.
Classes start and end with 10 minutes of breathing. Because of the international character of the groups, classes will be given in English. No chanting, no worshipping but basic down to earth yoga practice with postures/asanas and breathing/pranayama. Emphasis on alignment and on the connection between the mind, the body and the breath.
Props will be used (pillows, blankets, belts and so on) to adapt the exercises to your own level. Small groups of maximum 15 people ensure enough personal attention and correction. Therefor people of all levels are welcome; from those without yoga experience, to more experienced yogi's. Yoga for 'every body', for people of all ages, from 7 and up to 77, also for the less flexible and less sportive. For people with back problems. For other yoga teachers who want to deepen their knowledge about yoga and back problems, hands-on-adjustment and the use of props. No competition, everybody works at his/her own level. Classes will be given in an open way. There is space to ask questions. The atmosphere is friendly and non-competitive.
I believe that the aim of yoga is not to perform the most difficult yoga poses. With that you can easily overdo it and cause injuries and hurt yourself. The aim of yoga is to learn to listen to your body. To the signals it is giving you. To get to know your body, and therefor yourself, a bit better. After this week of yoga hopefully you will have a better understanding of your body, of your body's possibillity's and limitations, and of the signals it gives to you.
Yoga helps to find more balance, more strength, and more flexibility. Yoga helps to calm down the nerves, it brings down the blood pressure and the heart beat. Therefor it is extremely helpful in this modern times with a lot of external pressure and competition. You don't need to be 'super-fit' to do yoga. Everybody has stronger and weaker parts in his body. By paying a lot of attention to this while doing the yoga-poses, and by continuing this attention throughout the day, you will reach a better balance. Discover how easy you can relieve stress with simple yoga poses. As stress in our everyday lives continues to grow, yoga becomes a valuable tool for stress relief. If statistics are to be believed, yoga is the number one preferred technique for dealing with stress. A regular practice of yoga can help fight many of the stress related disease like high blood pressure, headache, stomach problems, sleeping problems and so on. Discover how well yoga works to handle back pain. Because of the importance of the alignment and the spine in many yoga exercises, it is very helpful against back pain.
Yoga is about practice, practice, practice......If you practice on a regular basis, preferably daily, peace of mind will come by itself. I believe that yoga is about understanding your body better, and therefor understanding yourself better. Learning to listen to your body and the signals it gives you. Knowing what you can do and what you can not do. About accepting your limitations and exploring and maybe even expanding your possibilities. About feeling good with what you can, and with what you can not. Or can not anymore, maybe after an accident or getting older. Above all, yoga should be nice, and make you feel better. I always love it when I see people leaving the classroom lighter and taller as when they came in.
Oona's Yoga School was chosen by 2 million members of L(uxury)T(ravel)G(uide) to offer the best yoga holiday in Europe for 2018!
Pictures taken in the old yoga school, before we started the hotel.
For more recent pictures go to the Photo Gallery button top right;-)