lost in translation – what asana means to me

This month, one year ago – November 2012, I quit smoking and I’m really glad I succeeded in staying away from it because 40 years of puffing away was leaving me breathless. I don’t know which was worse, the smoking or in recent years the constant nagging in my head that I had to stop, but couldn’t.

When I started hot yoga I really had a hard time keeping up.


If I only got through Standing Head to Knee without panting, and take it easy in Standing Bow, Savasana would give me just enough juice to make it to Half Tortoise. Then Camel I would get out of early, which was okay because I wasn’t the only one, and the rest I sort of pretended. Still I returned day after day, but every class was rounded off with a cigarette, a reward for my two and a half hour of abstinence. Yes! I was really investing in my health.
Later on I got to the point where I could do the whole series, but got home so wasted, that all I could do was slump in a chair and stare blankly ahead. Was this the “ Find your Stillness..” they talked about in class? Certainly my physical activity was in balance with my mental state. So washed-out that getting up to make a cup of tea took a lot of intention, all of my determination, two wobbly legs and a lot of patience. But I still had that feeling, what time can I start again tomorrow?

Of course over time things improved, but even as I started teaching, I still had trouble properly pacing myself. My studio owner, wanting me to be on the mat at least three times a week besides the eight classes I taught, told me to just not to go so deep in the postures.

Alright I thought, now we’re talking, permission to take it easy.

But that never worked for me. Pretending through practice, posing through postures? Did I sweat for years only to be holding back now?

And what was worse, students would come up to me and describe the same problem they were experiencing and I could hear myself saying that they didn’t need to go so deep in their practice. I couldn’t even follow my own advice.
I really needed to come up with something to keep believing that yoga was right for me, to keep believing in my possibilities of becoming a knowledgeable teacher.


Could it be Subtle Energy, Beauty, Gratitude? No, too loose. Love? Hmm, maybe later. I needed something more practical, more fitting. Holding back in practice left me with a void which I needed to fill up with something as challenging as the physical exercise.

And then I read something in a book by B.K.S. Iyengar. And immediately I knew I had found the solution to my problem.

Do you recognise that feeling? That specific words, or a sentence can touch something within you and give you an instant clarity of what is being talked about in a broader scope. I love those moments, connections are being made within milliseconds, proteins tissue grey matter, as if everything is changed to a state that is different from two seconds ago. You Know. It just took these specific words at that moment to release the latency, to realign feelings and thoughts and worries and inklings. The memory of a class three weeks back which went supersmooth, everything.
The words were: ” The Sanskrit term, asana, is sometimes translated as ‘pose’ and sometimes as ‘posture’. Neither translation is wholly accurate, as they do not convey the element of thought or consciousness that must inform each movement of the asana”.

This was exactly the extra dimension I needed. It came at exactly the right time.
For me it’s the word ‘translate’, that does the trick. A concept common enough to relate to. A bridge between thinking and knowing.

I know I have heard similar things in different form for years, but it just didn’t connect. Of course I sincerely thank all my teachers for laying the foundation without which even a thousand words would not have touched me.
From then on I truly enjoyed my yoga. I was able to bring awareness and tranquility into my practice. And funny enough, this brought me deeper into the postures. Connecting your breathing with the asana’s. Translating your wilfulness into movement, your movement into alignment, your practice into a smile on your face. Light Up.

Viktor Arnolds


I started Bikram Yoga in 2011. I had done some running, but because of funky knees I had to look elsewhere. A tango teaching friend suggested Bikram. Thanks Jessica! I finished my evolation Teacher Training in Madrid, in May 2013. Initially coached by Huub Verweij of Forty Degrees Yoga, Amsterdam, I’m currently teaching at Absolute Yoga, also in Amsterdam. As well as yoga I’m a professional photographer for Film and Television Productions.