In Yoga she found a way to heal herself and to live her dream life – Interview with Marieke, co-founder of the Online Kundalini Yoga School

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, 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 a yoga book on her mother’s bookshelves, and started mimicking the exercises. Not long after she presented herself in a neighbouring village, on the doorstep of a home where a meditation course would proceed. They couldn’t believe it, but while her 10 year old peers where horse back riding, she became the youngest participant.

Puberty followed, including everything that comes with it. Turning18 years she left for Paris where she picked up a modelling career. Upon return, 22 years of age, she auditioned for a 4 year study to become a theatre director, got admitted and a new chapther in her life begins. Only a few years before her younger brother had taken his own life. While therapy didn’t work for Marieke to help her deal with this second big loss, in yoga she again found a means to process al the complex feelings that lay under the surface. Instead of a yoga book she found an actual teacher who once told her: “Everything you do in life, is a form of self healing. When it’s done, you move on to the next thing.”

After completing her studies she founded Ubuntu, a successful non-profit organisation working with street children in Namibia by means of theatre. “My partner in Ubuntu, and best friend, was practicing Kundalini yoga and tried to convince me to give it a go, but it didn’t appeal to me at all. Too sectarian. And those turbans! But then I almost hit a burn-out and knew something needed to change. During a 28 Day Detox, it was like the resistance towards Kundalini Yoga melted away and all of a sudden I felt the desire to go to a morning sadhana. It took me two weeks to find the courage to get out of bed at 4 AM.”

“It took me two weeks to find the courage to get out of bed at 4 AM.”

It was the chanting of mantras 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 it 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 again made contact with my spirituality, putting it on number one of my priority list.”

“I believe that the world becomes a better place when we do what we love.”

Back in The Netherlands she started teaching Kundalini Yoga a few times a week, combining it with her work for Ubuntu. She remembered the words of her her first yoga teacher: Everything you do in life, is a form of self healing. When it’s done, you move on to the next thing. “There was no way I was ever going to quit Ubuntu or theatre. I was convinced I would do this for the rest of my life”, says Marieke. “But my yoga teacher was right. After seven years of being a theatre teacher and director of a non profit, a natural transformation took place, I started teaching Kundalini Yoga full time.

In 2012, she founded Kundalini Yoga Amsterdam, her yoga school in Amsterdam and combined teaching daily classes, organising workshops and retreats. Yet, theatre hasn’t disappeared completely of the stage in Marieke’s life, she feels there are parallels with teaching a Kundalini Yoga class. “Teaching yoga can really feel like teaching an acting class, it offers an opportunity for people to explore and feel a range of emotions.”

A lot has changed but the proneness for hard work is still there. “My drive, passion and motivation are a great power but also a challenge. Besides teaching all the daily classes in Amsterdam, Tim and I started the online Kundalini Yoga School in 2016. It was super exciting and fulfilling but after two years I had to admit to myself that running two intense jobs at the same time was too much to handle. Last year I felt myself spiralling down again towards a burn-out. Tim helped me face the fact that I have a work-addiction and I knew I had to deal with it again. Acknowledgement it is the first step, acting upon this knowledge is the hard part, but I have Kundalini Yoga as my ally. I made the neccesary changes and I found a business coach that helped me go about it smartly.”

“The spiritual path isn’t always a fun proces, because you meet your ego all the time.”

The spiritual path isn’t always a fun proces, because you meet your ego al the time. 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 as a teacher. Yogi Bhajan 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, we would live in a different world.”

Marieke de Lange has clearly found her calling in life. “Last year during a holiday on a Greek isle I said to Tim, imagine our lives can truly be like this, travelling and working anywhere we like. The moment after I said it I realised we’re already doing just that. We are combining discovering the world with the work for our online school. The most fulfilling work I can imagine, I’m very grateful for it. I see myself doing this for the rest of my life” She grins. “But of course I said that before and then it turned out differently.”

 

Interview written by Lise Lotte ten Voorde
Picture by Lisa Galesloot