Monica – Padma Shakti

My first contact with yoga & meditation was in the summer of 2003 during a 14-day course at the retreat centre of the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School, located in the forests of Sweden. A sense of home coming.

Back in the Netherlands I joined the four year Raja Yoga teacher training at Samyama Yoga in Naarden. At the end of the training I was invited to teach at this school. Since then teaching yoga and meditation has deepened my own practice and understanding of this vast and beautiful science and continues to do so on a daily basis.

Monica, Kumbh Mela Prayag Raj, 2013

During the years of training until now I’ve participated in numerous longer and shorter courses culminating in the 3-month Sadhana under the guidance of Swami Janakananda Saraswati, initiating me into the practive of Kriya Yoga. I’ve also joined Elleke van Kraalingen on her retreats in France and travelled to India on various occasions to enhance my experience and knowledge. My ‘love affair’ with yoga continues to deepen.

Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth-Consciousness-Bliss)

Back to nature. Iceland 2017
Kumbh Mela
Monica & Matsyendra, Khajuraho
Matsyendra, Sweden 2019.


Originally from England, I hitch hiked to India in the 1980’s and chanced upon the Kumbha Mela in northern India, the largest gathering of people on Earth. Over 25 million pilgrims, gurus, shaman and yogis come to bathe every 12 years at the confluence of three holy rivers, the Ganges, Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati.

Matsyendra, Sweden 1992.

Living among the foremost authoritative experts for the months that the festival lasted inspired a search across the country for a deeper understanding, which lasted a couple of years. I visited monasteries, ashrams, temples, and mountain caves, and was blessed with numerous encounters and initiations. However, despite all this, I still found it difficult to follow the simplest of instructions: ‘sit down, shut up, and be still.’

Sitting for extended periods produced all kinds of pains and agonies, and attempting to quiet my thoughts only resulted in even worse thoughts. In practice, stillness proved to be an elusive concept that existed only in books.

Matsyendra on the front cover of the Yoga periodical Bindu, 1997, demonstrating Naumukhi Mudra (closing of the nine gates).

Realising that there wasn’t any short cut and the journey was longer than anticipated, more preparation was needed.
Returning to Europe I entered the ashram of Swami Janakananda, in the lineage (parampara) of Swami Satyananda, to recieve a thourough training in the depth and breadth of the various aspects of yoga, lasting ten years.

Deep in the heart of a Swedish forest, Swami Janakananda provided a space to explore one’s physical and mental capacities fully and to loosen the knots that bind.
In addition to teaching on retreats and internationally, life in the ashram included various activities such as biodynamic farming, offset printing, forestry, cooking, construction, and whatever else needed to be done.

After completing this phase, I returned to the Kumbha Mela in 2001 for another bath, marking the end of my time in the ashram. I then embarked on a new journey as an independent yoga teacher and created my own yoga space in Copenhagen.

Swami Janakanada’s book Yoga. Tantra and Meditation in Daily Life, featuring Matsyendra on the cover, 1999

After meeting Monica during a month-long silent yoga retreat and later bathing together at the Kumbha Mela in 2013, we underwent another transition in our lives. This involved relocating to Amsterdam and establishing Mangalam Yoga.

I teach a number of traditional meditational practices, such as Kriya Yoga, Antar Mauna and Yoga Nidra, locally and internationally in classes, workshops and teacher trainings.

Prayag Raj Kumbh Mela, 2013.
Monica and Matsyendra bathing at the sangam of the 2013 Kumbh Mela, Prayag Raj.
Baba Cesare & Matsyendra, Hampi, 2015
Teacher training in Iceland, 2018
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya. Lead me from darkness to light.