Ron Katwijk knew early on that yoga would play a large role in his life. He was teaching yoga before it was popularized, and what he offers has its roots in a deep and ancient tradition. His journey has become one of community, with an impact reaching far beyond this peninsula.
Ron owns and runs Magic Pond Yoga based out of the World Gym in Yeouido. He is the Honorary Secretary for the International Yoga Federation (IYF), though it’s not something he would mention. He was also bestowed the title of Yogacharya, which is given to someone who is yoga, who has become yoga. While it’s true that his 30+ years of practice have allowed him to embody yoga, this is another label which he sees simply as “superficial.”
Like a ripple effect throughout the international community, his students go on to live with more confidence and a stronger connection to themselves and the world around them: increasing harmony to improve themselves and to teach others to live and communicate fully, from heart to heart.
His message is both universal and necessary as we progress into a more complex and connected world, and to rediscover our intuition and tune into the frequency that joins us all to each other and the micro and macro cosmos.
1. Why did you come to Korea ?
I am from the Netherlands, I knew subconsciously that I could never manifest my potential fully without leaving the comfort and identifications of home. It was Hapkido that initially brought me to Korea, but that was merely a stepping stone. Yoga has always been my heart’s content. I first came to Korea in 1996 to visit and came back in 1997 to stay.
2. What is Yoga?
Yoga is the science of life. It is an esoteric science, an ancient practice which is as old as human consciousness. It is based on the idea that if we can increase personal insight, we can prevent conflict. We can increase harmony within ourselves to improve our lives. So much of our lives are ruled by fear, as we make decisions based out of instinct or lower emotions. We all make better decisions when we raise our consciousness and make decisions from a place of love- the heart.
3. How does yoga help people?
Yoga is a practical approach to increasing sensitivity and understanding of our own psychology, which brings us to higher levels of self-control. The promises which the yoga books (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Hatha Yoga Pradikipa) offer are real. However, one must be initiated into yoga by a true practitioner, as these texts misrepresent themselves due to the time in which they were written and shouldn’t be approached alone or in a literal way.
4. What kind of changes do you see in your students?
I jokingly say we should take “before and after” photos of students in the Basic Teacher Training Course (TTC), but I think we really should. Students have more energy, improved health, and they are lighter in the sense that they have less worries and more confidence. It’s amazing how much someone can change in five months time.
5. How many students and from what backgrounds have taken your TTC?
I’ve taught 30-60 students a year for the last 15 years. So somewhere between 700 and 800 students. Of course many more join me in my morning and evening asana classes.
6. What is the most common misconception about yoga?
The most important aspect of yoga is harmony. Everything we do in yoga is all about creating harmony. Every technique, every approach and explanation in the texts of Yoga is all about building more harmony. Almost nobody, including the “masters” of yoga understand this, unfortunately.
7. Do you plan to teach a class in Korean anytime soon?
I’m studying Korean every day; it’s going to take some more time because I’ll have to be able to teach philosophy in Korean. Once I set my mind on something, I persist until I reach that goal. Hopefully, I can offer the Basic course in Korean soon.
8. What certifications do you offer?
I offer yoga Teacher Training Courses recognized by the IYF and Yoga Alliance both for the Basic (200-hour) and by the IYF for the Advanced (500- hour) course.
9. When are your classes?
I teach a morning Asana class from 7 to 8 am Monday through Friday. Basic teacher training courses are on Saturdays. I also teach in Seocho-dong; I teach on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:50 to 8:50 pm.
10. Where is the studio?
Most classes, including all TTC, are in Yeouido at the World Gym (subway line 5, Yeouinaru station, exit 3). River Tower, the location of our studio, is the next highest building. Magic Pond is located on the 5th floor.
The gym in Seocho-dong is close to Seoul National University station (Kyodae or 교대역), on the subway line 2, exit 6. It is called Oasis Plus and is located in a building called, “G-5 Central Plaza.”
*In full disclosure, I recently graduated from Ron’s Advanced Teacher’s Training Course.