Interview with Dorinda Farver
Dorinda Farver is the owner and an instructor at the Yoga Site, a thriving yoga studio in Breda. An American expat who has called the Netherlands home for the past 20 years, Dorinda lives in Breda with her Dutch husband and two sons.
I visited one of Dorinda's yoga classes on a typically rainy Thursday morning last autumn. Mortified and frustrated by my 40-minute late arrival (thanks to an excruciating traffic jam), I attempted to sneak into the class unnoticed. Dorinda ignored my attempts of a stealth entrance by smiling and welcoming me. After class she took the time to chat about the struggles and process of adjusting to expat life. I was immediately grateful for her warmth and compassion towards a virtual stranger.
I asked Dorinda a few questions about her own history with yoga and how it has affected her life as an expat.
How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get started?
I started practicing yoga in 2001. My teacher in Breda was British and she moved back to England. At that time no one else taught power yoga in Breda so I decided to take a teacher training course and continue to teach the groups that she had started.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to teach?
God gave me an opportunity and I took it. I was not really happy just after moving to Breda and needed to start over again.
When did you open the Yoga Studio?
I started teaching yoga in 2003 and made it official (KVK) in 2005.
Did yoga help you in any way in relation to your experience as an expat?
It helped me to see that Challenge is growth. It also taught me that I do not need to be afraid when it gets a little tough... to breath, smile... laugh when you fall, get back up. To live in the moment… not to spend time longing for the past, or hoping for the future.
I had already lived in the Netherlands for 10 years and I spoke very good Dutch. I think that being American actually helped me as a yoga teacher in Breda. It made me "a bit more interesting." I also have a lot of contact with American Yogi’s who come and teach at my studio.
Is your clientele mostly Dutch?
Most of the clients are Dutch but I think about a quarter of the clientele are from other countries. I teach half in English and half Dutch, which seems to work well for everyone.
What is the biggest misconception that you think people have when they think about yoga?
In Dutch they call it goat wool socks or swerverig. In English, that yoga is "out there."
Do you see a difference in how the Dutch practice and take an interest in yoga as apposed to other countries?
I think it is growing here and in Europe in general. Yoga is much bigger in the United States and England at the moment but it seems as though there are one or multiple yoga studios in all major cities.
What is your impression of the yoga culture in the Netherlands?
I think it is still developing. I also feel that if you expect something of the yoga culture you also need to invest time and energy into it. What you put into it, you get out of it.
Yoga can be an intimidating word for people. What would you tell someone who is interested in beginning a yoga practice but is reluctant because they feel too inflexible, too impatient, or not spiritual enough?
For people who are interested in beginning a yoga practice I would say come to a proefles (lesson) and experience it. If you are not interested enough to come you will not. Yoga is something that needs to be done and felt, not just talked about. And then it is helpful to visit several studios, styles and teachers to find the one that fits best with you.
If someone is still struggling with learning Dutch, what do you think they can still attend Dutch-speaking class?
Yes, I think they can go to class anyway. Perhaps they make a private appointment or come early to have some of the basics explained before class starts. But it is also a good way to start to practice Dutch.
What is the most rewarding thing about your profession?
I love my job. People show up because they like me and they like the way I teach. What a great thing to have! I am able to connect with people on a personal level. I use my own life as an example. I love helping people learn to look differently at their own situation.
A bit about Yoga
With hundreds of studios springing up in the Netherlands over the past few years, Yoga has quickly become a popular addition to the already healthy Dutch lifestyle.
Yoga, a 5,000-year old combination of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation is said to help fight diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma. It reduces stress, fights anxiety and depression, relieves back pain, improves mental performance, and much, much more. Some people call it physical and mental therapy.
And you do not need pretzel-like flexibility or constant inner calmness to take your first class. Just bring your adventurous expat spirit and the countless rewards will likely be worth the initial discomfort.