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"The love and kindness you devote to others has assisted me in learning to cultivate my own."
- A student about Marije E. Paternotte 

 

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Introduction

Marije E. Paternotte (E-RYT, RYT-500), owner of Be Your Own Yoga and co-founder of the Living World Yoga School, received both her foundational and professional level yoga teacher certification at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Massachusetts (USA). She is now a faculty assistant in the Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training,  and is an experienced yoga retreat leader. Her teaching style is precise and compassionate, with a focus on safe anatomical alignment, and breath and body awareness. Marije enjoys teaching gentle, mindful yoga, as well as physically challenging classes. She always encourages her students to find their own yoga and witness themselves with compassion, in order to discover who they truly are.  
 
Marije is one of the first certified Reconnective Yoga Instructors in the world. She received her certification to teach Let Your Yoga Dance® from the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica, and has completed a YogaEd. program for teaching yoga to children. Also, Marije studied with the Boston Trauma Center through which she was certified to teach Trauma Sensitive Yoga. Furthermore, she studied at School of Life in Amsterdam for two years; an integral training for consciousness, healing and reading. Through this program, Marije learned healing and reading skills, as well as conscious communication.

My Story
 
I would like to share with you how I found my way to the path of a yogini, hoping that it will inspire you to find yours.

Physical exercise has always played an important part in my life. I practiced ballet for ten years, three of which were training to become a professional ballet dancer. Later, I looked for another way to train hard, so I joined the University Rowing Club. I was selected as a member of the University Rowing Team and trained 7 days a week. At that time, the physical training was more important to me than personal growth. Let alone spiritual engagement.
 
For ten years, I worked as a lawyer serving big corporations and wealthy individuals, both in The Netherlands and in Curaçao. Though I enjoyed the challenges and rewards of the work, I also felt the accompanying stress. It was during this time that I discoved the benefits of yoga and a window to a new way of life was opened.  A way that would bring me joy and peace of mind. 

I first started practicing yoga in 2002, in order to recover from work related stress. The classes I took just helped me to relax and I didn’t think of it as anything more than that. Two years later, I started to practice a little on my own. At that time, I was living on a Caribbean island where it wasn’t hard to get up at sunrise to do my asanas outside on the deck. I noticed that my practice quieted my mind, which felt to be a good start to the day and it helped me to be better focused at work.

In 2006, my yoga practice started intensifying: I studied  both Bikram and traditional Hatha yoga. It wasn’t difficult for me to just copy the postures I saw other people doing in the yoga class. At first, the Bikram yoga class was no more than an ordinary workout to me. I wasn’t aware yet what it did to my body and mind. However, at times, especially during the Hatha yoga class, I would get very frustrated and irritated when I was not able to do a posture the way I thought it should be done. Little did I know. When I confessed this to my Hatha yoga teacher, he told me to be patient and to never show how I felt during practice. “Just keep your face relaxed”, he said. Since I am a perfectionist and want to do everything right, I just decided to keep my face relaxed during class. Amazingly, this had a very positive effect on my practice. It seemed that the postures became easier, just by keeping my face relaxed. Also, I learned to consciously breathe into the parts of my body that would feel stiff or in any other way not cooperative - going into the resistance and then releasing it. Gradually, I began to understand that the resistance in my body was just a reflection of the resistance, or inflexibility, in my mind and the way I looked at life. Instead of denying this resistance, by facing it and going into it, I was able to release it and transform it.

In September 2007, I became a student at School of Life, an integral training for personal growth, consciousness, healing and reading. This program offers it’s students tools to become a spiritual therapist with reading and healing skills. A large part of the first year’s curriculum entails becoming aware of, and dealing with, one’s childhood issues and so called defence mechanisms, assisted by sessions with a professional therapist. These sessions, combined with some painful events in my personal life, put my whole life upside down. I experienced some very difficult months, during which I touched the bottom of a deep black pit, so to speak. In the meantime, my body seemed to exert its own wisdom and made me go to my yoga classes even more often. The yoga practice helped me to stay grounded and “stay in my body”. Also, I became aware that the deep and slow breathing I practiced in class made me more relaxed outside class. In addition, I found that the balancing postures brought balance to my thoughts, helping me to get a grip on the chaos in my mind.

Early in the summer of 2008, it felt like I was done processing the issues I’d had to deal with. I decided to go to Bali, Indonesia, to attend a yoga retreat. During this six days yoga retreat, I attended yoga classes two times a day. It was then, that I truly experienced what yoga did for my body. After two days, my body felt more “open” than it had ever done before. Suddenly, I could do some postures I had never been able to do. Moreover, I felt a direct relation between my emotions and all the practice I did. One afternoon, a last wave of sadness came out. It was clear to me that this appearance of hidden emotion was just caused by all the stretching during practice. A good example of how the mind-body connection works! The peace I felt in my body afterwards was unbelievable. My mind could go on having all kinds of thoughts, but my body was just silent and feeling soft from the inside out.

Since that yoga retreat on Bali, I practice yoga everyday. It has become as natural as brushing my teeth. It feels like something is missing when I don’t. I have never felt so happy and at peace in my life. The real me has emerged. According to my friends, I look radiant, healthy and relaxed. I feel stable and balanced and more in tune with everything around me.

A friend, who is also a yoga teacher, once told me: “You don’t have to go look for the right yoga teacher training, the right one will come to you”. And so it happened. When I was on Bali, I read about the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Massachusetts, USA) in a Yoga Magazine. Something inside me stirred. At home, I checked the Kripalu website. It resonated deeply. I just knew: “This is where I have to go”.

Then, in Richard Faulds’ book on Kripalu Yoga, I was amazed to discover that the way I think about yoga practice and “living yoga” is in tune with everything I read in this book.  During that earlier time when I was feeling so miserable, as I described above, I had begun learning how to be compassionate with myself. This has had such a positive effect on my feelings that it has become my favourite subject to talk about with other people; to be compassionate with themselves and others. I believe it is not a coincidence that the yoga I felt drawn to is all about compassion. Kripalu literally means “compassion”.

With the emergence of the real me, my life has changed dramatically. I was working as a lawyer when I began practicing yoga every day. Though I was no longer happy with the work I was doing, I thought I could deal with it. My body thought differently and I became very ill. I knew this to be a signal to make me aware of the fact that I was forcing myself into something that wasn’t serving me well. It took me several months to recover and to mentally prepare for a big decision. Eventually, I said goodbye to my life as a lawyer.

Now, I am exploring the path of a yogini.
 
I wish to share the benefits of yoga with other people, for which reason I travel around the world to teach yoga classes, workshops and retreats. I sincerely believe that if everybody on this planet practiced yoga, the world would be at peace. I am dedicated to help people find their True Self and to be compassionate with themselves and others. 
 
Namaste, Marije

Testimonials from students:
 

"Thank you Marije! I started today with 5 min Yoga, and I feel the difference!" - K.I.

"YOU ARE ONE of the best things that EVER happened to me!! - E.R.S.

"Marije is an extremely knowledgeable, creative, and compassionate yoga teacher who makes every class a unique experience. She encourages everyone to develop their own practice within the class, and everyone at every level seems to walk away with exactly what they need." - Kelly 
 
"Marije brings a beautiful balance of teaching to the vastness that yoga is.  She intuitively responds to the collective energy of the room and her solid and unifying teaching displays a high level of commitment to her own practice - which, to me, is the most inspiring quality in a yoga teacher.  With Marije, I'm continually moved to take regular classes, be on time and to always step up my own practice.  After 15 years of practicing yoga, I feel that my understanding grew exponentially from working with Marije - she helped push my inner refresh button, shake off some energetic dust and stabilized my own foundation in the core principles, increasing my overall understanding of my own body, and beautifully reminding me to allow my own healing energy to just be. Marije is a gift to everyone who is part of her teaching". - Patricia  
 
"With the majority of my own training being in the external and internal martial arts, I was especially taken by the fullness of energy I experienced in Marija's class - her ability to set both the overall energy of the space and the individual internal energy of her students being a rarity in my formal yoga experience.  Overall, I was very glad to encounter such a skillful, balanced teaching style that most reminded me of my favorite Tai Chi maxim and most flattering compliment: "No Deficiency, No Excess". JP 


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© Be Your Own Yoga, 2013
pictures © LauraCPhotography and Different Agency.