Teacher Spotlight: Ann Schreppers

Posted in teacher spotlight |
Teacher Spotlight: Ann Schreppers

At Manduka, we were founded on the simple concept of creating a foundation to support those (teachers, studios, community guides) who Inspire the Practice. The yoga teachers and studios inspire more than they will ever know. They become people and places of familiarity, comfort, community, and joy. They help create strength in the chaos. They push us when needed and grant space when it's best. They facilitate our own 'moments' on and off the mat. Quite simply, they are our inspiration.

Manduka is grateful for the thousands of teachers and studios who make it part of their life's work to create a sanctuary for us to move our bodies, free our minds, and find peace. Even if for a moment, we honor you and say thank YOU for Inspiring the Practice. Inspiration is what unites us all to make ourselves and this world a better place.

In line with our ongoing commitment to Inspire the Practice, we're thrilled to introduce you to Ann Schreppers. We're excited to learn more about her. Who is she? What drives her work? What is her mission? What fuels her inspiration?

Meet Ann:

  • Name: Ann Schreppers
  • Residence: Belgium
  • Project: Yoga4Kenya

You're meeting Ann, a dedicated yogi who's been immersed in the practice for a decade. With a background in classical and modern ballet, movement has always been her medicine, a way to express emotions and connect with herself. Her journey intertwines with a profound spiritual quest, sparked by a deep compassion for all living beings and a fascination with the universe's mysteries.

It all started during an international internship in Indonesia in 2014. Amidst the unfamiliar culture and personal struggles, Ann found solace on the yoga mat, despite the language barrier. Since that transformative moment, she's devoted herself to yoga, accumulating over 1000 hours of training and close to 10,000 hours of teaching.

Returning to Belgium, Ann's commitment to her practice caught the attention of friends and roommates, leading to impromptu group sessions and eventually teaching opportunities. This journey led her to become a full-time yoga instructor, managing a studio and guiding others on their yoga path.

In 2019, Ann embarked on a new adventure, traveling the world to teach at retreats and wellness centres while also creating her own yoga teacher training and empowerment programs, including her most recent project Yoga4Kenya.

Through her yoga journey, Ann continues to discover more about herself, fueled by curiosity, compassion, and humility. Her mission extends beyond the mat, inspiring positive change within herself and the world around her.


How did Yoga4Kenya come about and what is your vision for this project?

I am convinced that education is the single means to create equal opportunities and empower children - and all people- with knowledge that often is left out in their home environment. I am specifically fascinated by healthcare, and mental health in particular, and ways to embrace a more preventive approach to health and medicine in this society.

The ‘Conscious Curriculum’ - and pilot project 'Yoga4Kenya’ is my aim to institutionalise consciousness as a basic human right in society, starting with educational institutions. It’s an accessible framework that introduces yoga philosophy and practice in a very scientific way and translates it to simple practices that can make a huge change. Nelson Mandela’s ‘be the change’ is and remains my main mantra to consistently move forward in this journey with strength and determination.  

I have been traveling full-time for the past 5 years and as I was leading one of my annual Italy retreats one of the participants mentioned her sister founded a school in Kenya, called 4KENYA, for integrated medicine. I did not hesitate to reach out and went there to host a retreat and live and work at the school to get a feel for the students and to learn more about the challenges they face in their day-to-day. As I was there, many of the, incredibly bright, students inquired about a more formal certification or training and initially the idea arose to host a certified 50-hour training YTT. 

Recognizing the need for accessible training, I developed a program focused on the 'lower three chakras' and the foundational connection to the soft skills of ‘safety, emotional resilience and self-esteem’ as a key focus. Drawing from my own experiences as a young student (struggling with stress-related health issues such as stomach ulcers and anxiety in college), I crafted a curriculum that respects both their cultural identities while promoting universal values. 

Can you describe your approach to teaching yoga to the yogis participating?

The group of students consisted of 30 community health workers aged 18-25 who are ambassadors in the community for education about mental/physical wellbeing. They form the bridge between hospitals and communities and offer services in the community (which are largely illiterate) to address endemics and other health challenges in the country.  As the students were completely new to yoga, young and sometimes a bit shy, the yoga classes were brought in a very light and supportive way. In every class, I focused on what connects us (students and me - whilst acknowledging I am the biggest student and learner in all of this)  and started from a place of openness, trust and understanding. Service is my dharma, my purpose and I have come to believe that building safety through your own presence and energy as well through clear communication is essential.

Play and sharing laughter was key in this journey as well as its important to learn to enjoy the process of falling and getting back up. We practiced more powerful classes (we played with hand stands and they helped each other getting in there and overcoming fear in a safe environment) as this gets the body moving and helps a lot with the resilience and confidence as it removes the build up tension and stress. In light of ‘stepping out of the comfort zone’, we also explored intuitive movement, shared dances and more meditative practices such as Nidra, breathwork and even a sound healing. I also shared theory classes about some holistic/preventive approaches to health (Ayurveda and Chinese medicine), the nervous system, trauma and mindset to complement and deepen their experience.

How does the practice of yoga foster physical, mental, and emotional growth to these yogis?

We live in a mind-dominated society, often caught up in the stress linked to future and past. Given the fact these children often carry a heavy financial burden of the family, money-related matters can cause a lot of stress, as well as fears around their own academic future and ability to make a living. The constant input of information leads to an overflow of sensations and a complete overload of the nervous system. To move the body in a mindful way, creates a space for inner exploration and highlights the capacity to process and digest instead of consuming new information. To just pause and breathe, as its all about energy management and to often we are reactive and spend all our precious energy on worrying (because we simply have not been taught to do it differently).

It also teaches us to invite new approaches through challenges by building more resilience in the mindset. The connection to the present moment makes the students aware of oneself and their capacity to choose the way to engage with challenges and demands every day. As we learn to regulate the nervous system, we no longer merely react to challenges, but rather create and meet life with more compassion, curiosity and clarity. The component of sharing this in the community, created a very powerful climate for the students to share ideas with each other and celebrate each others success.

By complementing yoga with journaling to understand key priorities and breaking them down in a way they can direct their own energy towards what they can change and control, take action on day-to-day basis, while being more accepting and open to the outcome.

My passion lies in guiding others towards self-empowerment, transforming feelings of victimhood into proactive steps towards personal growth and self-love. To grow from a place of acceptance and love for oneself, to me.. is the most beautiful gift life has. 

Projects in Action

I was very blessed with the willingness of the incredible team of the school / college when setting up the project. I could have never done it without the help and willingness of my surroundings and it has been a true blessing to receive this support. From the support of Manduka Europe for providing the yoga mats, to the financial support of my community for making the documentary and photos, to the support of UGent in establishing a scientific base for the program.

Just as with everything, nothing ever is possible without the support of the surrounding… So my deepest gratitude to everybody who has believed in me and supported this beautiful project in any way.

Moving forward, I plan to integrate this project into the school's curriculum and expand it to other schools and communities. Additionally, I'm developing shorter trainings focused on female and sexual empowerment through the science of yoga. I believe that self-awareness holds the key to any challenge faced by a human being. And that any external therapies or trainings, we can commit to is always reinforced when we can plant the seeds within of intention and love. Creating community and connecting like-minded souls, whether this is in a workshop, retreat or training environment. To be seen and validated by others is key to slowly see and believe in ourselves. 

In 2024, I aim to collaborate with organisations and hope to use my passion for public speaking and empowerment in corporate environments. The aim is to motivate and move people in leadership positions towards a more value-centered approach to productivity and sustainability and to align actions with more intention and compassion for oneself (body and mind) and the greater community.

As I continue my projects, I'll invite more yogis to join and seek partnerships to expand the reach of the 'conscious curriculum' to educational institutions, with the ultimate goal of integrating it into mainstream education. As I will go back to the same project in 2025, I am optimising the program (its duration, its scientific outcomes, other points of feedback) and opening myself up for more avenues and partnerships. I'm dedicated to supporting sustainability and humanitarian projects through ongoing donations, with plans to establish a formal NGO. Step by step, I strive to empower others through education and positive change.

Connect with Ann

Follow Ann on Instagram and YouTube! Plus, don't miss out on the chance to join a complimentary online class by signing up through Conscious Corner

Ann's offerings include a range of options such as online classes, yoga teacher trainings held in Portugal and Nicaragua, and rejuvenating retreats. For further details, explore more here.


Give Back

Manduka has contributed 30 yoga mats to the Yoga4Kenya project, aligning with its mission to promote conscious living and foster a society rooted in self-awareness, compassion, and courage.

In 2024, Conscious Corner spearheaded an educational initiative for Community Health workers in Kenya. Through Yoga4Kenya, they introduce them to the science and techniques of bodywork, breath regulation, and nervous system management, evaluating their effects on acute stress levels, self-esteem, and emotional resilience.

Discover more about the impactful work of Yoga4Kenya.

Sharing good vibes + the best mats, apparel and yoga gear since 1997.

Sharing good vibes + the best mats, apparel and yoga gear since 1997. #inspirethepractice