For the casual observer, it’s pretty easy to admire a practice like yoga, though slightly intimidating, as well. Bliss Yoga Director Janelle Kroon reveals that behind those serene photos of stretched poses on tranquil beaches is a lot of dedication and practice, practice, practice. She and her team are committed to helping others deepen their connection with the spiritual as they dive into yoga’s wide array of physical benefits. Kroon is an entrepreneur with a side of explorer and epicurean, and she has quite the passion for aviation, too.
Kroon was born and raised in Vancouver, though connections to Europe run deep. Of Dutch descent, Kroon spent her childhood Summers at the family’s Summer home in Holland. Her parents both worked in aviation, and the family travelled extensively, a passion she holds to this day. She speaks English, Dutch and French fluently, and also a little bit of German.
Kroon’s journey to the world of yoga began in her late teens. Growing up, Kroon played competitive volleyball, but decided to leave the sport at age 18. After nearly a year away from sports, Kroon was introduced to Bikram yoga, training alongside Ted Grand, who later created Moksha yoga. The commitment and consistency required for the practice resonated with her, not to mention all the health and holistic benefits. “It gave me the roots and the foundation to be able to breathe through the storms of life at an early age.”
In 2002, with the encouragement of friends living in the Islands, and seeking new adventures, she moved to the Cayman Islands. Now a yogi with several years of experience, she noticed a lack of studios and an opportunity. A dream was born, though it would be several years before it came to fruition. Slowly, she was able to assemble a team, and, in 2009, Bliss Yoga finally opened its doors to the public.
Kroon emphasises the value of yoga, both on and off the mat. “Fitness is great to be fit, but yoga is really good for you to be totally healthy. Our organs are healthy. We choose better things to eat naturally, in the process of getting to know ourselves and the quality of our awareness being heightened.”
Most of Kroon’s mornings start before dawn, as she teaches a 6 a.m. class several times a week. In those early waking moments, she believes the key is to stay far, far away from anything digital. “The first thing I do is not touch my phone. I either pick up a book that I’ve been reading, or I make my bed. Then, one of my favourite things in the world is to have a cup of coffee. I’m such a European girl. I have a giant latte.”
Upon arriving at the studio, she balances leading multiple classes with her responsibilities as director. She may teach as many as 14 classes a week and collaborates with her team on scheduling, accounting and marketing. She credits Bliss’ team dynamic for maintaining the studio’s soulful flow.
“I’ve always wanted to ensure that Bliss and our studio and their family were side by side,” she says. “It’s been a massive group and family project, where it feels like a home. You can feel it in the studios, because they’ve been so nourished.”
Outside of Bliss, Kroon finds her joy in spending time with loved ones and cooking. She says London is one of her favourite culinary destinations. Grilling is always a crowd pleaser for her get-togethers, but for specialty dishes she draws on Indonesian influences, like chicken satay. As for aspirations, in addition to growing Bliss’s endeavours, she’s got her eyes on the sky, literally: Kroon’s dream is to earn her commercial pilot’s license.
Next up on the horizon for Bliss is a weekend event designed to help yoga enthusiasts disconnect and reconnect: a digital detox retreat at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman from September 21–23. The three-day event includes workshops for all experience levels, and devices are kept to a bare minimum.
“It’s so important for us to have face time, not just screen time,” Kroon explains. “Space and stillness [are] as valuable… as eating and sleeping.”
Author: Jessie Gilmartin
Photographer: Photo Credit: Paul Aiken