“There’s only one yoga, and that’s your yoga”
Over the last few years, yoga boomed. That’s no different for Antwerp; the city houses multiple yoga studios. One of them is Hatha Yoga Surya. Located in the basement of the arts center De Studio, this yoga studio is a true hidden gem. “We go back to the core of yoga; we start from the fundamentals.”
These are the words of founder David Somers, son of Bob Somers, one of the first yoga teachers in Antwerp. He started Hatha Yoga Surya five years ago. When he was only nineteen years old, he went to India for a yoga training course. Ten years later, David played with the idea of starting a studio of his own. “I was at a party in De Studio, when I stumbled upon a beautiful room in the basement. I knew immediately I wanted my yoga studio to be there.”
The basement of De Studio is a rather unique location for a yoga studio: one large room, low ceilings, mosaic floor tiles, and back pillars every few meters. “De Studio used to be a bank, my own yoga studio was the vault,” says David. “It’s almost a bunker: large, thick walls that radiate safety. There’s no phone reception, so you’re protected from radiation. It’s quite underground, yet in the center of Antwerp.”
Sun and moon
Hatha Yoga Surya mainly focusses on, yes you guessed it right, hatha yoga. “Hatha translates into two words: sun and moon. Which you could see as yin and yang, or the Chinese principles of balance. Hatha is the core of yoga. It focusses on the balance between exertion and relaxation, with breathing as a bridge in between them.” Yoga is becoming more and more popular in Antwerp, but little studios focus on hatha. “Most studios teach westernized yoga forms, such as ashtanga or vinyasa. We only teach hatha and yin. Yin is a beautiful complement to Hatha. It’s a soft, therapeutic kind of yoga that focuses on stretching. In our busy society, it’s important find ways to relax, and yin is perfect for that.
Yoga for youth
Have you ever heard of yoga for adolescents? “Many adolescents face stress and pressure,” David explains. “Figures show that depressions are mainly localized nowadays in the age range of 13 to 20 years old. It’s scientifically proven as well that their brain functions differently. We offer support for this kind of insecurity and stress that lives amongst the youth. We teach mindfulness, which tackles questions such as: ‘What is stress?’, ‘How do I set boundaries?’ and ‘How can I communicate in a non-violent way?’ And we teach yoga of course, in which the core question is: ‘What do I feel?’ The combination of mindfulness and yoga for adolescents and children is unique in Antwerp.’
“Yoga teaches me to live with myself, from myself,” David concludes. “It makes me conscious about the unrest I sometimes carry. And when I’m conscious about something, it’s easier to change. I try to show my students how they can connect with their body and mind as well, to find their own yoga practice. It’s so important to respect the boundaries of your body. There’s really only one yoga and that’s your yoga.”
Interested? You can find the yoga schedule on their website. Classes are available for everyone, with or without experience. Each class lasts 90 minutes and costs 12 euro. Yoga mats are free to use.
Text and pics by Roxanne Wellens