I guess my first introduction to archery was in the old Robin Hood cartoons and Wild West Cowboy and Indian movies I watched when I was little. So when I discovered a pop-up yoga archery course in my neighbourhood, the first of its kind in the Netherlands, I was intrigued and had to try it out! My hubs LOVED the idea to try out archery, so we decided on a family outing to the archery range.
THE DREAM OF OPENING AN INDOOR ARCHERY RANGE
In an old Post Distribution Centre in a quiet residential neighbourhood of The Hague you can find the Mymer Yoga studio of Franciska de Bruijne, she is a yoga instructor and archer who decided to combine her two passions into a very unique and interesting new yoga style.
Franciska has been offering yoga lessons for years. When long term roadworks started infront of the door she was looking for a temporary quieter location, that is when she stumbled across the old warhouse-sized 2 floor facility. She asked around to find the facility manager, whom she then approached with her idea to rent out the place to establish a temporary indoor archery range (1st floor) and her yoga studio (ground floor). Less than a week after receiving the key she was ready to welcome her first students. On the first floor she created an archery range. She set up a wall of hay bales with bullseye cards , while the archers shooting location is marked by a single rope hanging in a distance of about 12-15 meters from the hayball wall. The entire hall is about 40 meters long, meaning that both first time archers and experienced ones will have room for practise.
Franciska shares her passion for archery with her partner Didier Belksma, who was a great archery teacher. He clearly explained the ins and outs of archery and showed us what we needed to know to safely embark on our first attempts to hit the bullseye. Didier has year of experience with English longbow archery and is also a highly skilled stickfighting practitioner and teacher. Fighting with sticks or cudgels was accepted for judicial duels in medieval Europe, and Didier is fascinated with medieval fighting techniques. His passion is contagious.
The Birth of Yoga Archery
Yoga and archery have many things in common and are a natural fit:
#Strength, Alignment/Technique and Posture – are three things that are important when it comes to yoga, as well as archery.
#Yoga, as well as archery does wonders for the body, mind and soul, both sports are all about aligning your breathing with your movements.
#Both sports require strength, but built strength gently and slowly as a side effect of practising.
#And I dare to say both sports give you a sense of self-confidence ,as they sharpen your focus and bring you into a zen like state.
#Archery and yoga is something you can start at any age or fitness level.
In order to take part in the yoga archery classes, you need to have yoga AND archery experience. Most people interested in the yoga archery have a yoga background, but lack archery experience.
Franciska is safety conscious and won’t allow you to take part in the class if you have not had at least one hour of practise ( and show that you can work with the bow and arrows in a safe manner). You can practise for an hour during one of the walk-in yoga days or in a private archery lesson.
Wonderful sense of POWERFUL calmNESS
I experienced my first archery session as a calming experience. Archery is something that anyone can learn pretty quickly and then it is all about fine tuning the skills.
When I attended my practise archery lesson my little one and hubs were with me, as the latter way dying to try it out himself ( needless to say he LOVED archery and true to his adrenaline junkie self, is already seeing how he can make time for archery more often).
Franciska and Didier created a space that allowed me to focus on the archery, while my two men were happily playing on the kids archery range set up in the back of the big hall. So although they were there, I could fully concentrate and get lost in the archery. Even as a beginner I could really feel what it was like if I shoot with my elbow low or high and could already “work on fine tuning my archery skills” . A couple of times I managed to align my breathing with my shoot, the times ‘ I got it right’ it felt like when you are in the flow during an Asana sequence.
Archery felt powerful and empowering. Drawing the string bow was at first a little intimidating. Watching the arrow fly and hearing hit the strawbale or bullseye card was a great feeling. Yoga archery is about improving without striving for perfection or comparing your skills to the archer next to you. It was a very empowering and powerful lesson in calmness and concentration.
As with yoga, Franciska makes sure that her students shoot from both sides during a Yoga archery lesson, while lying, sitting or standing. She told me that her eye sight has changed due to the practise of yoga archery. What I mean with that is, that she said when shooting some people have a dominant eye, some keep both eyes open while shooting and others close one, and this ‘shooting vision’ of hers has changed since she practises yoga archery. It is a lot more balanced she says.
BRING YOUR KIDS
For children they have a kids archery range set up, with a toddler bow and arrows and also a small playarea for the little ones. Children as of the age of 10 may shoot at the real archery range with a guardian present. There is plenty of room for the little ones to safely run around in the warehouse.
Useful to know
# The indoor archery range is housed at its current location temporarily (for more info check the Mymer website or contact them via email@example.com or phone: +31(0)624637762). The indoor archery range is housed in an old warehouse-sized facility that is COLD, due to issues with the heating set up. So dress warm!!!
# Franciska also offers massages, and offers a variety of other lessons, such as pregnancy yoga and meditation lessons. These lessons are in a room downstairs, which is nice and warm, so no worries about the temperature issues there.
# On 3 days per week, namely Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday between 2pm -0430pm there are walk-in archery sessions offered, which cost 10 EUR per hour per person incl. rent of a bow and arrows ( 5 EUR if you bring your own bow and arrows).
This blog is part of my Staycation project Being a tourist in your own city -The Hague/The Netherlands, check out our other posts about things to do and see in The Hague on our where we have been page.