[ Gepubliceerd op het blog van Kundaliniyogaschool.org ]
Marieke de Lange has always asked herself this question: what is life about. In the West, yogi’s are often people seeking an antidote to something – anything, from trauma to (mental) health issues or a much needed break from society’s fast lane. Marieke, earnestly passionate about everything she does, found in yoga a way to heal herself, a means to support her determination and a way to fully live her dream life. Everything Marieke learns and experiences while traveling and unravelling herself, she passes on in her teachings. She is firm, loving, witty and wise, and has the brightest smile you can imagine.
When she was very young still, the death of her baby sister shook Marieke and her family to the core. In finding a way to deal with the why and the effect of the loss, she somehow felt attracted to this yoga book on her mother’s bookshelves, mimicking the exercises. Not soon after she presented herself in a neighboring village, on the doorstep of a home where a meditation course would proceed. They couldn’t believe it, but while her peers where horse back riding, she became the youngest participant.
In yoga she found a means to process al the complex feelings that lay under her surface
Puberty followed, including everything that comes with it. She left for Paris where she modeled. Upon return, twenty two by then, she started her theatre education. Yoga classes with a spiritual approach entered her life in the third year, allowing her to pause in her, then already, hectic life. Only a few years before her brother had taken his own life. While therapy didn’t work for Marieke, who had felt the pressure of this second loss, in yoga she found a means to process al the complex feelings that lay under her surface. It was her yoga teacher that told Marieke this: “Everything you do in life, is a form of self healing. When it’s done, you move on to the next thing.”
By then she had already started Ubuntu, a successful non-profit organization working with street children in Namibia by means of theatre. “My partner in Ubuntu, and best friend, had been advertising Kundalini yoga, but it didn’t appeal to me at all. Too sectarian. And those turbans! But then I almost burned-out. I inserted a book-based detox. Then, suddenly, I felt the need to go to a morning sadhana. It took me two weeks to find the courage to get out of bed at four.”
It was the mantra singing that hooked her. “It felt like coming home, like finally being able to experience the greater whole, unity. This was what I had been longing for.” Before she knew it she had signed up for a teacher training. “You have to do a forty-day sadhana to begin with and you need to adjust your life in order to keep up. I couldn’t ignore my body anymore. That’s what kept me from actually burning out.” The first long holiday in years brought her to India. “I made contact with my spiritual side again, putting it on number one.”
I believe that the world becomes a better place when we do what we love.
Back in The Netherlands she started teaching, combining it with her work for Ubuntu. She remembered the words of her her first yoga teacher. “There was no way I was ever going to quit theatre, I thought”, says Marieke. “But of course she was right. And the irony of it is that I did because of yoga. Yoga had healed parts of me that made my need to do this other work disappear.” Don’t think Marieke stopped working. In that same year, 2012, she started Kundalini Yoga School Amsterdam, combining teaching, organizing workshops and retreats and the first group journey to India.
The trick is that you have to give in to the chaos
“India has this combination of mystical and tangible spirituality that I find thrilling” Marieke elaborates on the subject. “Traveling trough India is yoga practice in itself. Through the school and the retreats I want to share this with people who have a longing but don’t know how to venture out on their own. The trick is that you have to give in to the chaos, the smells, the people, trusting that everything will be allright. It’s not necessarily a fun proces, because you meet your ego al the time. So the challenge is to be compassionate towards yourself. This is something I strive for, to fully accept myself as a human being. The deeper you can go yourself, the more you can offer. Yogi Bahjan says: “If you want to master something, teach it.” I’m not a missionary, but I am convinced that if everyone would make that inward journey, less bad things would happen in the world.”
Yet, theatre hasn’t disappeared completely, there are parallels with yoga. “These aspects of being human come to the fore ground. Teaching yoga feels like an acting class, you’re creating adventure, an opportunity for people to explore a range of emotions.” And there’s also that proneness to hard work. “Besides the physical classes, Tim and I set up the online school. Both times my activities moved from working with actual people, to sitting behind a computer all the time. Last year I felt myself spiraling down again. Tim helped me face this work-addiction that I knew I have to deal with. Acting upon this knowledge is the hard part, but I have Kundalini Yoga as my ally. So I cut a large part of the physical classes and I found a business coach that helps me go about it smartly.”
Marieke de Lange has clearly found her calling in life. “I was lying on a beach chair on a Greek isle and I said to Tim, imagine we could work anywhere we like. Then I realized we’re already doing that, discovering the world, sharing. I’m very grateful for it. I see myself doing this for the coming years.” She grins. “But of course I said that before and then it turned out differently.”