Interview avec Marie-Laure de Yoganida

Can you please tell us who you are and what exactly is Yoganida?

My name is Marie-Laure Hauters; I’m a Belgian entrepreneur born to a Dutch-speaking mom and a French-speaking dad who moved to Amsterdam about 10 years ago. I’ve spent most of my professional life in the worldwide HQ of large corporations, focusing mainly on infant and maternal health & nutrition. Aside from my corporate job, I also became a yoga teacher (E-RYT 200 & RPYT), something that took me completely by surprise yet strongly resonated with me. Over the years, I got certified not only in vinyasa yoga, but also in core flow, restorative yoga, pre/postnatal, baby & kids yoga, and most recently oncology yoga, always trying to find the very best teacher trainer in a given field.

Late August 2018, after I had decided to quit my office job to take the big plunge into entrepreneurship, someone approached me and asked me if I wanted to open my very own yoga studio in Amsterdam. Although it’s something I clearly did not anticipate and although I knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, the opportunity was just too tempting for me to decline it; that’s when Yoganida was born.

Yoganida is an award-winning yoga studio located in the heart of Amsterdam where you will immediately feel at home, nurtured and taken care of. Aside from “regular” yoga classes, Yoganida is also known for its strong focus on pregnancy (pre- & postnatal), baby & kids yoga.

 Next to yoga classes, we also offer workshops & special events as well as yoga retreats. Yoganida also welcomes world-class yoga teachers all-year round and is becoming a reference in offering specific yoga teacher trainings. Last year, I had the chance to welcome one of my teacher trainers (Jennifer More) from San Francisco for a 85h Yoga Alliance certified prenatal yoga teacher training which attracted yogis from Japan, Canada, Bahrein, Morocco, Germany, France, The Netherlands, etc.. This year, another of my teachers (Tari Prinster) based in New York will help making oncology yoga more known to European yogis, and we’ll also be hosting a 50h yin yoga & meridians teacher training led by Annie Au, who lives in Sri Lanka and is one of the very best yin yoga teacher trainers in the world.

How did you come up with the idea of working with mother, child and father’s.

I’ve been in this field for about 10 years and it’s strongly embedded in me. Both my dad and my grandma were actually expected to die in childbirth. At the hospital (where very few babies were born back then), my grandfather was told the baby was most likely dead and they’d do their best to save the mom… Luckily, they both made it. Since the day I heard this story, fighting maternal & childhood mortality became one of the missions I want to accomplish on this earth. As mentioned earlier, my background is strongly rooted in infant nutrition & maternal health. When I became a yoga teacher, I really felt the urge to also explore the yogic side of things and attended several pre & postnatal yoga teacher trainings. I also got certified in baby & kids yoga and am about to finish my First Aid Course to Baby & Child in case I’m ever dealing with a child in distress.

Countless studies have demonstrated the numerous benefits of prenatal yoga, e.g. improve the level of comfort during pregnancy, ease & shorten labor, etc. Postnatally, fostering a sense of community, supporting the moms’ recovery, and inviting them to further bond with baby through massages & playful exercises helps decrease the sense of loneliness and lowers the chances of post-partum depression.

When I opened the studio, I was shocked to notice how little awareness there was around not only about the needs of preggies but also new mommies (both physically and mentally), and felt I had a key role to play. Whenever a new mom tells me when she’s going back to work that I made her maternity leave so much more enjoyable, or when another says she was convinced that the prenatal yoga classes she followed with me helped her find both the calmness and the strength she needed during childbirth, it feels like another confirmation that I’m on the right path. Such feedback is the very reason why I get up in the morning, and the type of mark I want to leave behind. “My mammas” also send me quite often pictures of their little ones, birth cards, etc. and every single one of these really fills my heart with joy. I deeply care about them, and these sweet notes of affections are just so heartwarming…

Another aspect that struck me is that, even though the Netherlands is a quite liberal/feminist country, paternity leave is ridiculously short. Things will change this year, but still. I see how moms can bond with their little ones through massage & baby yoga, and I really wanted to give dads the same chance by offering ‘Daddy & Me’ sessions and creating a safe place for them to connect with baby and other dads. Besides, while dads & babies are at the studio, moms either get some well-needed “me time”, or special 1-1 time with their older kids if they have any. To me, it’s a true win-win 😉

Last but not least, I also truly wanted to work with kids. Over time, an increasing amount of adults have discovered the incredible benefits of yoga, an amazing tool that helps us a.o. dealing with the stress in our lives and being more connected to ourselves. But how about kids? Taught in a child’s language, yoga for little ones living in a “hurry-up” world is also extremely beneficial. Kids yoga helps not only reinforcing their focus & concentration as well as ability to relax, but also boosting their self-awareness, self-acceptance & self-esteem, improving balance & coordination, etc. I deliberately chose to teach family yoga (i.e. with parents) and not kids yoga (without parents) for now so they get to further bond in a fun & engaging way. I really love teaching these classes, yet I have to admit that from a teacher-standpoint, they’re pretty exhausting 😉