Last weekend a colorful Yoga and Vegan festival attracted many Yogis and plant based food lovers from Brussels and beyond. La Tricoterie in St. Gilles was turned into a playground for all fans of Yoga, meditation and Veganism. “Yogific,” a community volunteer organisation based in the UK made its debut on the Belgian yoga and vegan scene. A well appreciated and needed initiative in a country where even a simple cappuccino with non-dairy milk is a rarity.
However, a very diverse line-up of different Yoga teachers and styles awaited the visitors. From morning to evening you could attend classes ranging from Ashtanga, Power Vinyasa, Hatha, Yoga Nidra, Iyengar, Tibetan Tantrayana Buddhist Healing Yoga, Kundalini and OM & Bass Yoga Rave. A wide spectrum of yogic possibilities was on display, but missing was a significant one which would have complemented the other styles immensely. What was really needed was inclusion of Anusara Yoga, which is a fast growing style of Yoga in Belgium and worldwide. Its foundation is rooted in ancient tantric philosophy, modern body alignment and community. New teachers are being trained at the Tree of Life in Tervuren from January 2019.
Many different talks on Yoga, food, philosophy and nutrition were organised in parallel to the classes. Peter Verhaegen the founder of Yogakitchen drew the line between how the Yoga tradition is tightly connected to living a vegan lifestyle. Vegetarianism/Veganism originates from an ancient yogic text that compiles all previous traditions into one: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It draws on many different traditions and therefore describes many different ways of how to reach a harmonious and peaceful state of mind. One of the ways is the practice of Ahimsa (non-violence/not wishing to do harm). Factory-like animal “production” is a constant violation against every creature’s birth right to live in harmony and peace. By not letting any products from these “factories” onto your dinner plate and into your body shifts your yoga and meditation practice from the sticky yoga mat to real life implementation of principles. An active contribution to world peace!
Well, after a hearty Yoga practice on the mat, many Yogis were on the look out for the expected yummy vegan food options. Equipped with “bring your own plate and fork” in order to avoid and reduce waste, most wandered down to the food stalls. Of which there were only two! Where was the rest of the Belgian vegan scene? The two options, however, were excellent. Nirvana kitchen the Leuven based Indian restaurant offered some fantastic vegan dishes. After a taste of India – onto the deserts at the next stall. Banana bliss balls! Simply mind and taste bud blowing. Ike Uwa, the healing power of nature with a Nigerian twist and innovative sustainable business cards, too.
After the most reasonably priced yoga classes in the whole of Brussels, it was something of a shock to find that the banana/melon smoothie at the bar was even more expensive than one yoga class. There were still plenty of opportunities for other retail therapy at the various stalls selling cosmetics, meditation cushions, mats and jewelry. But clearly there exists a gap in the market and plenty of scope for entrepreneurs to develop more reasonably priced and innovative vegan and vegetarian food and drink offers for the growing demand in the city.
The organizers are planning to take the concept next to Greenwich and Cork in October, and next year to Helsinki, but at present there are no plans yet to repeat the festival in Brussels next year.