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“You cannot look at the world freely with a bent, stressed posture”

“You cannot look at the world freely with a bent, stressed posture”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/ Illustratie Janneke Swinkels

Yoga walk-in class on Wednesday and Thursday

UM Sports opened the doors of the new university sports centre one year ago. Each week, Observant shows up in sports gear to participate in one of the sessions, and will do so until the summer. Today: Yoga walk-in class.

The beginner: We were told to sit up straight. Sounds easy, but it's not. Certainly if you are used to - in instructor Marijke Heemskerk's words - “sitting like a shrimp” all day long. After some quiet exercises in the lotus position, everyone picks up a rubber bar – or “strip” as it is officially called. We are going to lie on this today, in order to massage the back. The top part bent into a loop, the strip presses on the vertebra that connects the back and neck and so reduces the bump on the upper back. This spot, which is the first to become painful when you have been sitting at the computer too long. By doing the exercises – raising your pelvis, bringing your arms together – the pressure increases. A little painful, but not uncomfortable.
It is time to get up. “Take a large step forward, bend your front leg and reach for the ceiling with your arms. This is the warrior pose.” It doesn't feel very warrior-like when your legs are wobbling. But there is hope: those who are experienced have a stable stance and bend their legs even further to make the exercise tougher.
The strip returns for the relaxation at the end; lying on your back – or in this case, on the strip – with your eyes closed you try to empty your mind. “Feel your body become heavier. Thoughts come into your head, but disappear again.” After some five minutes, everyone slowly stands up again. A little more supple and calmer than an hour before.

The expert: “I once brought along some meditation seats (which help to improve your sitting posture during meditation, ed.), also known as ‘kneeling benches’. While I was discussing something with a student, the group had already sat down. Indeed, on their knees, just like in church,” Marijke Heemskerk grins. To her, yoga is about connection, tranquillity, wisdom and freedom. "It is a true experience. The exercises help you on your way towards openness, compassion and self-confidence. The body mirrors: you cannot look at the world freely with hanging shoulders and a bent, stressed posture. That is a little sad.”
Heemskerk teaches Hatha yoga, the basis. “These days, there are many different kinds of yoga. Not all of it is good. Performance-oriented yoga is more like a work-out and you miss the deepening.”

Target group: There is a permanent group that turns up every time, but we often have new people coming in. The majority is student and female. “In a group of 25, there are three men. The employees are more inclined to choose yoga during lunchtime, although some do attend here. We could have more of them,” Heemskerk feels.

The facts: Yoga walk-in class, Wednesday from 16:00hrs - 17:00hrs and Thursday from 19:15hrs -20:15hrs.

In January 2017, all employees can try out sports five times free of charge. With the TRY FIVE – UM STAFF ONLY offer, employees from Maastricht University can try out five activities from the sports programme – including group lessons such as Zumba and Workout Mix, workout training, badminton, spinning and fitness. No strings attached, every day of the week. Contact the University Sports Centre for more information.



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