The Yogi Next to You


The Yogi Next to You - Katrine van WykWhat’s your yoga story? How did you find Mala?

The first time I ever practiced yoga was when I was 15 in a movement class at my performance arts school. Our teacher started talking about the root chakra and Sun Salutes and we were all quite stunned and thought she was a bit crazy.

Who knew I’d end up teaching it myself one day!

When moving to New York seven years ago I discovered yoga at a local gym. I practiced it here and there, but was convinced it wasn’t enough of a work out for me. Man, was I wrong! I kept going now and then and eventually discovered a few teachers that I really loved and that made me sweat enough to convince me this was surely a work out! I also started appreciating their words of wisdom and the safe space the yoga studio offered me to play, confront myself and breath A LOT! I kept going more and more often and eventually decided it was time to learn more and to share my passion and love for yoga with others. I completed my teacher training at Yoga Works and the experience was incredible.

I found Mala after moving to this lovely Brooklyn neighborhood from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. I love the community feel, the light and bright space and the amazingly knowledgeable teachers that keep me coming back for more.

What pose could you do all day? What pose could you never do again?

Besides staying in Child’s Pose all day you mean?

I think I’ll have to go with the Rock Star (aka Wild Thing)! I mean, the name says it all! I love how it energizes me and open up my heart towards the sky. When you do the pose slowly and with control there’s something quite elegant and dancer-like about the pose too which I love. It makes me feel invigorated and beautiful.

However, if I never had to do a revolved triangle pose ever again I’d be quite OK with that. There is so much going on at once and I struggle not to clench my teeth and just tighten everything in this pose… But I know the drill – this is the pose I will learn to love – one day!

What are your biggest yoga obstacles and how do you overcome them?

While I keep working on my asana challenges – the handstand in the middle of the room or the arm balances that are so challenging to do – my biggest obstacles are not on my mat, but when I take what I learn in yoga in to the “real” world. Mindfulness and awareness and staying present with every moment is a continuous practice in my life. Patience is another one. I am learning to take one step at the time and doing the work instead of hoping for quick fixes and instant satisfaction… It’s a continuous practice and coming back to my mat or even taking a few deep breaths helps me reconnect and reminds me what it’s all about.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

During my yoga teacher training my teacher spoke about ahimsa, non-violence, in what for me was a new way. She talked about practicing non-violence towards ourselves! I had always thought about ahimsa as this anti-war or even vegan-ist statement and loved how she turned the perspective on to me. We tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else, say violent, harming things to ourselves about how we look, how we do at work or in our love life and these violent words don’t serve us any good.

When I worked as a model I was judged every day on how I looked, my body. It became this separate entity that I was fighting against instead of an integrated part of me that I was nurturing and caring for. Now I practice ahimsa towards myself – cutting myself some slack now and then. If I need a child’s pose I’ll take it, if I need to sleep in I will and if I need some dark chocolate, I’ll have it!

Where is your favorite place to get coffee, or a drink, post-yoga?

I love me some green juice so I’ll go to Nectar on Court Street or down to Park Natural’s juice bar for a hydrating fix. I might also make a pit stop at Sugarshop for my favorite chocolate, Fine & Raw, made right here in Brooklyn!

If you could practice yoga anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

I am in love with Tulum, Mexico and would go back to practice yoga there again and again! The food, the ocean, the people, the vibe – it’s all there.

And funny enough there’s not a lot of yoga going on in Norway yet. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with some cold-blooded Viking’s back home!

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life? 

I’ve learned to respect and love my body in a whole new way. I’m grateful for the vehicle that I’ve been given and for all the places and spaces it has taken me so far. I have also become a lot calmer, more patient and aware, both towards myself and towards others, my husband included!

We’re thrilled to bring you the stories of Mala yogis in their own words.  Maybe you know them, maybe you’ve never seen them before, maybe they look familiar, maybe you once knew their name, but forgot.  Whatever the case may be, here is the chance to learn a little more about the person practicing on the mat next to you.  Click here to read about other yogis.


About The Mala Yoga Blog

We are a Brooklyn-based studio that focuses on alignment, balance and community. Have a read, try one of our Practice Podcasts, or come in and say "hi" in person!
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One Response to The Yogi Next to You

  1. Sheila says:

    thank you for this post – I needed to here this today: “We tend to be harder on ourselves than anyone else, say violent, harming things to ourselves about how we look, how we do at work or in our love life and these violent words don’t serve us any good.”

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