Belgium has one the largest Tibetan refugee community in Europe, which makes Brussels a beautiful place to explore Buddhism without having to fly far away. Peaceful and secretive, the Buddhist Temple of Samye Dzong in Louise offers daily meditations, seminars, tibetan studies, mantra chanting, yoga and buddhist rituals. The temple doesn’t actually look like a temple from the outside - yeah, I too fell in the trap and expected a shiny golden temple at a street corner just like in Thailand - but it is a celebration of Tibetan craftsmanship inside; rich colors cover all walls and ceilings. Check out the website for seminars and activities.
Shanti Home is a beautiful space in a classical Brussels architecture house in Forest. They offer mantra chanting classes, Meditation, Yoga Nidra – a form of deep relaxation and sleep meditation through yoga – and Yoga Sutras, yoga philosophy classes for committed yoginis. Shantala who teaches some classes at Shanti Home, and others at her own home Sankrit Belgium is inspiring, generous and loving. I highly recommend joining one of the many mantra chanting sessions she offers throughout the week.
© Photo courtesy of Sanskrit Belgium, mantra chanting class.
If you are looking for drop-in Yoga classes, the easiest is to join one of the big Yoga studios in the city. Yoga Room has two studios, one in Ixelles (Defacqz) and one in Uccle (Fort Jaqo). The teachers are talented and attentive, you can choose Yoga style and level – Yin, Hatha, Flow, Hot, Pranayama Meditation, ... –. Beware that some classes are packed, your personal space is the mat. It is best to arrive 15min before class to choose your favourite spot and relax. If you are in Brussels for longer, I recommend taking the unlimited yoga discovery pass. The studio is up to the latest standards with individual shower rooms, lockers, free tea and water, hair-tummies, a yoga shop and an overall very relaxing atmosphere.
© Photo courtesy by Yoga Room
YYoga is another popular, yet intimate, Yoga Studio in the City Center near Place Sainte-Catherine. Prices are more affordable, and they also offer community-yoga every week (classes for 7€). The space is extremely relaxing and offers more comfort for after-class chit-chats with fellow yogini friends. If you are tight on a budget, you can always offer some help to clean in exchange for a free class ;-) (not guaranteed, but worth a try).
Other options for Vinyasa Flow and Hatha Yoga classes include weekly classes at the cultural community space La Tricoterie in Saint-Gilles or in smaller groups like the one with Yoga Deki Tsollo. Restorative Yoga, Yin and Nidra Yoga classes can be found at the Buddhist Temple, Shanti Home and Sanskrit Belgium. The Ashtanga Space Shala offers exclusively Mysore Ashtanga Yoga – a traditional and higher pace class. The studio has a good reputation among higher level yoga practitioners and remains the best place to learn and practice Ashtanga in Brussels.
Each year, the city holds the Yoga Spirit Festival. A chance to attend seminars, workshops or say hello to international yoga teachers and friends.
In the north of the country, near Dilsen in Flanders, is Belgium’s official Dhamma-Pajjota Vipassana Meditation Center. The center offers the traditional 10-day Vipassana retreat and short meditation weekends. In the Buddhist tradition, Vipassana means insight into the true nature of reality. It is the oldest form of meditation and can be practised by all, regardless of culture, religion and background. The classes are taught in English with a combination of French, Dutch and German translation. My 10-day Vipassana retreat at Dhamma-Pajjota is possibly the most life-changing spiritual journey I have taken. It is difficult, but worth every moment, commitment and effort.
© Photo courtesy by Balance Boat
Healing the mind and soul goes together with a healthy and balanced diet. Probably the most popular Vegetarian restaurant in Brussels is Dolma in Ixelles. They have a very yummy all-you-can-eat buffet for Lunch and Dinner time. It is Vegan, Vegetarian and friendly for all type of Ayurvedic diets. Tip: You can also take-away an all-you-can-fit doggie bag for (almost) half the price.
Other tasty temple food can be found in Tibetan restaurants around the city. Mo-Mo specialises in Tibetan momos with fresh organic and local products, they are open for lunch and dinner with different menus. Chez Dukhar at Cimetière d’Ixelles is also super delicious and offers a variety of Tibetan options to satisfy all diets.
© Photo courtesy from Mo Mo
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