Q&A: Leentje Visser

In response to an email proposal I sent her, Leentje Visser suggested we meet at a local café that makes its own chocolate and whose menu includes tropical vegan smoothies. As a big fan of scrumptiously nutritious goodies, I was in no way going to turn away an invite like that (heck no!)

So Leentje (sounds like Lain-tya) and I met up to discuss the idea: Would she be interested in donating time in her yoga studio so I could create some yoga videos for the Metta Center’s Certificate in Nonviolence Studies course? Over a raspberry-coconut smoothie and tea, we talked about the Metta Center’s course, how I like living in Harlingen thus far (I recently moved from Amsterdam to this Dutch coastal town), and our personal yoga practices and teaching styles.

Studio Hoog en Droog is a mind-body-spirit staple in our community of 16,000. When I spot people biking or walking by my apartment with a rolled-up yoga mat tucked under one arm, I know where they’re headed.

Leentje generously donated many hours of studio time, for the sake of serving the nonviolence course. I therefore feel called to introduce Leentje and her studio, which is located near the intersection of Hoogstraat and Droogstraat in Harlingen, the Netherlands (also known as Harns in the local Friesian language).

Photos are courtesy of Studio Hoog en Droog/Leentje Visser.

What brought you to yoga?
I first started practicing yoga when my sailing husband was far away, and I was at home a lot with my then-small children. I missed having some movement in my body, but I didn’t want to go to a gym—I’m not a gym person! I saw a TV show about a family with a similar background as my own family’s, but with a mother who practiced and taught yoga. She was my inspiration to go to the library and borrow a book about yoga, and then I was hooked. After I finished my yoga teacher training, I emailed this woman to thank her, and she sent me a lovely email back.

When did you open Hoog en Droog?
We opened the studio in 2013, with the intention of giving various teachers a nice space to teach classes and workshops. We now have five teachers offering several different styles of yoga for a wide variety of people.

How do you approach yoga as a service?
I think yoga is always serving. If you teach it, you do it for the benefit of your students, not for yourself. I see a tremendous need for peace and tranquility. People are so busy with their lives, that they forget to live. Our Yin and more relaxing yoga classes are filling up, while there’s less demand for power yoga.

Some people don’t have access to a yoga studio and/or can’t afford yoga classes. Can you give them any tips on starting a home practice safely?
It can be difficult to establish a disciplined home practice, as I’ve heard from my own students. I always offer discounted or free classes for those who can’t afford them. In my case, I would give people a few lessons to get started and recommend safe ways to continue practicing at home. Good lessons can be found for free on YouTube, and those might help.

Learn more about Leentje and Studio Hoog en Droog (in Dutch).