Name: Marlene Henny
Date of birth: February 12, 1967
Place of birth: Naarden, The Netherlands
Siblings: One brother, 1 year younger and a half brother and sister
Marital status: Not married
Current residence: Amsterdam
Could you tell us about your upbringing?
I had a bohemian upbringing. My parents were hippies, free thinkers, who married young. My mom was seventeen when she had me, my father was twenty-one… I remember my childhood as nice, messy and chaotic.
When I was five years old, my parents divorced. For a couple of months I stayed with my dad, who met another woman with two kids my age. That was a confusing time; suddenly everything changed and there I was, in a new family, missing my mother and little brother…I remember the difficulty of having to choose, how can you choose between parents?! Later my mom showed up and took me with her, she had decided to draw back a little from her chaotic way of life and find me and my brother a stable place to live.
And she did. We drove around Loenen (a beautiful, village in the centre of Holland) and she picked out a lovely, vacant house. It was perfect, the only problem was the lack of money…But armed with her unique, charming looks she went up to the neighbour’s house, who turned out to be the owners and just got us the place…
In this house we grew up. Mom went away a lot, she travelled to India and Bali, buying and selling clothes on markets. I remember we had many visitors, from all over the world coming over to the house, free spirits and bohemian types.
There were times that I wanted my mom to be like the other kids’ moms in school. You know, with a pearl necklace, a decent skirt and blouse. But my mom dressed like a gypsy, kids would stare when she visited school… So yeah, sometimes I felt awkward about ‘being different’ and not fitting in. But around the age of thirteen, fourteen, that changed. Suddenly our style was cool. It was cool to be different. Our gypsy household was cool. (laughs)
I didn’t finish high school. Being a big-time party girl, I left my mother when I was around sixteen and went to live on my own in Amsterdam in a little apartment. I worked mainly as a model for painters. I did that for years and really enjoyed it.
After the age of twenty-three I became a little more serious and moved into dance. I met a teacher from the States and really got into it. Dancing became my passion. Years later, a friend took me to a yoga centre and introduced me to yoga. I had once attended a class with a long-bearded teacher that bored me to death, to be honest, making me decide that yoga was definitely not for me…
“Trust me, you will like this,” my friend said, so I went. And that class changed it all.
I loved it. It was dynamic and strong and so different from my first experience!
I really went for it, attended many classes and teacher trainings and I slowly developed my own, dynamic style over the years.
Looking back, what seems to be an important theme in your life?
Movement. My mom told me that I could walk when I was nine months old, and had simply skipped crawling. Instead of crawling on hands and knees, before I could walk, I would be on my hands and my toes, moving real fast through the house…I attended ballet classes when I was a girl, and in my twenties, I engaged seriously in dancing, as I mentioned before. When finding my own style of teaching yoga, I loved to bring movement into the postures. I am not a dogmatic, traditional teacher, but will always look for a personal expression, look for what is needed now. For me, yoga is not about holding on to tradition but allowing it to change and move into new forms.
What, besides yoga, are you interested in?
I love to travel and visit new places. I used to travel back and forth to Israel, where I assisted in dance workshops. Later, when I discovered yoga, I went to India for longer periods of time, to learn and teach. But most of all I love to visit cities! I love the dynamic energy of the city, meeting new people, getting inspired…And I love fashion. I like clothes, I like shopping. (smiles)
What inspires you?
My students. They inspire me to teach them how to find their own voice and core and how to reveal themselves in the world. That is a strong motivation for me. What else? Empowerment and energy inspire me. I see myself as a student as well. Learning new things is a source of inspiration to me on a personal level, but also in yoga. My life philosophy is: I am here to celebrate my life. And I like to inspire people in my classes to do just that.