Teacher Oona Giesen grew up with Iyengar yoga. She took her first yoga classes at the house of Margriet Post when she was about 8 years old. (In the same class then was also for example Cle Souren, who later was 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.... Her first yoga holiday, in 1973 in France, with Agnes Hillen-Mineur was the inspiration for what she is doing for almost 30 years now: organizing yoga holidays on the Greek island Paros.
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!
Oona started teaching - Iyengar based - Hatha Yoga about 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 island Paros in Greece around 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 Interviews).
Oona's first yoga class in France 1973
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 that yoga is about accepting your limitations, expanding your possibilities and above all, making you feel better. 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 12 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......about learning and about trying as much as you can. And some body's can do things more easy then others. It is about the road to get there, not the destination. It is not about performing and competition. It is not about singing, dancing, mystification, religion or searching for happiness in something outside yourself. It is about you and your body.
If you practice enough and 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.