Interview: Brenda van der Toorn

Whats your story/background?

When I was younger, I was always fascinated by people who had figured out what they wanted to do. I wasn’t one of them but I knew I had to get out of the small town I grew up in. Coming to Amsterdam to get some change I didn’t really have a foundation or a clue what to do. I went out a lot and was a bit all over the place, working at a day care because family and people were important to me. 

At some point, I finally had the balls and saved up some money to go to India and stay in a Sivananda ashram learning a bit about yoga….but yet again no clue what to do with it. But I loved yoga. After a while, my money ran out so I went home but hated it. Went to work in advertising because it sounded much cooler than day care. I got into Bikram yoga and intensified my practice. After a while, my work life got duller and duller. Watching people on the street during my office hours, I wondered how they manage to spend time outside and got a bit envious not wanting to be locked inside an office space for 5 days a week. 

A teacher training was in the back my mind but far from a reality that I could imagine being my own. At some point, my mom, who observed me quite well, pushed me and said if I don’t enroll in a training, she will do it for me. Bali was always a dream of mine and I found a teacher training that was just up my alley and it felt like the place I needed to be. But it was fully booked…no chance to get in. I tried everything but no chance…I even offered to set up a tent there to make it happen. So I wrote a looong letter with all my heart and they loved this attitude so much that they quickly got me in as well. It was meant to be. So I took the chance, left my job and went for the adventure.

When back, I was full of energy and thought how to get this yoga thing going. Own space? Difficult and risky. So I started talking to people and there was a girl who had a yoga space but was pregnant and asked me to step in for her…everything falling into place the way I asked for it. Then I thought how to get people. At a wedding, a friend heard my story and said that their company would love to take yoga classes but has no space…I had a space….everything falling into place, again.

I started realizing that as soon as I asked for things to come into my life and remaining open for it, almost everything happened the way I wanted it. 

My own confidence was the last “issue” I had to overcome. I started working at delight yoga as a host, combining it with teaching the company classes. Soon, people started referring me. Before I could realize, I ended up teaching at more and more studios. 

I always listened to what others said and if they thought I was ready but I had to learn to listen to myself because once I felt something was at its time and I opened up for it, things happened. That was one of the key developments. This gave me trust and made me feel at home in the yoga space so also teaching came much more natural. By now my entire week is filled with yoga classes and I make sure that my weekends are free. Which I love and value a lot. That all was a process of 3 years and in September I’ll finally return to Bali, where it all started and do another training.


How would you describe yourself?

Sometimes a tad weird and a sometimes a bit awkward (laughing) I love to dance and sing, which I’m not really great at but still love to do it. I eat too much chocolate and think I have a positive outlook on life.


How would your friends/students describe you?

(Laughing again) Also, a bit weird and a bit different than the rest, putting my flavor to life. Dancing to the beat of my drum.


Any big passion besides yoga?

Music and Dancing. If I don’t dance for a while I go crazy. Dancing makes me feel alive. I dance at festivals, alone at home and with my boyfriend during our secret morning raves on cold pressed juices in the living room, I simply love it.


How did you first get on the mat?

Just at a gym in Rijswijk, where I grew up. I was a gymnast when I was younger, and I wanted to work out a bit. I think I was 17 or sth. 


What is your favorite yoga pose?

Natarajasana, Dancer pose. Because it’s a combination of back-bending, heart-opening, balancing and strength and makes me feel amazing. 


Which one do you keep avoiding?

Inversions because my wrists are shit. (laughing) I want to be able to do it but my wrists are super weak and keep collapsing. That’s my weak point. I need to accept that for now.


Words of wisdom? 

Do what makes your heart sing. Like my company name…it’s about a “constant state of happiness” and finding that place where you are the best version of yourself, no one is happy 24/7 but once you do you, it’s easier to flow through life.


Who was/is your most influential teacher and why?

Tori Hyndman because she taught me about Ayurveda, which opened up a whole new magic box of getting to know myself. She taught me to surf the waves of life instead of riding against them.

Also, Everett Newell inspired me a lot. He was the teacher of my teacher training and blew my mind. He brought me to places I’ve never seen before through Pranayama and other techniques that opened up my entire yoga journey.


Whats the biggest vice you want to get rid of?

I can be a bit jumpy and loose my focus quite quickly…maybe a bit more discipline would help me. And remember people’s birthdays 🙂 


Whats your biggest vice you want to keep?

Is chocolate a vice? (Laughing)…you know I don’t see it as a vice.


Whats your favorite place in this world?

Home? Wherever my loved ones are….I feel very happy right here and now. And it means a lot to me, taken where I’ve come from. I don’t want to run anywhere, not run away from something. I’m happy right here and that’s awesome. 


When it comes to a no bullshit approach towards yoga, what has been your biggest learning? 

Come as you are and do not try to be more or better. Rather accept where you are right now…that will bring you furthest. Finding contentment where you are. 


What would you want to give people starting with yoga on their way?  

Don’t worry. Do what you can and just breathe. Sometimes I see the fear in peoples eyes and I would love them to relax and just be happy with where they are because that’s ok. 

Whats your favorite song?

It goes in waves and stages….at the moment it’s a Burningman song: “I need your loving” by Jamie Jones…it’s a really good remix. It means a lot to me as I connect it to a lot of love and experiences I had while being in the desert. 

At our morning raves in the living room, it would be Talking Heads – This must be the place. Any other time anything by the Red Hot Chilly Peppers will get me going.

To take a class with Brenda check here schedule:

Published by Yogi-D

Yoga, music, love and good food. More love than reason, more "lets see what happens" than the perfect annual plan. Listening to that space you can call guts feeling, heart space or whatever you want to call it, and combining it with a healthy portion of balls to challenge established views and cut through the bullshit. I have a background in nightlife, where I ran an event agency and a nightclub. Later a quick and intense stroll into advertising brought me to fall in love with Amsterdam. I love good wine, can eat till I drop and love having people and good music around me. That's me. Or at least how I would summarize what's on my mind mostly :)

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