YOGA… FIND THE PEACE WITHIN
I first discovered yoga when I was a teenager through my aunt who was a yoga teacher. This practice taught me to connect to and love my body, something which was very foreign to me at that stage in my life - like most teenage girls I felt a lot of anger and angst when it came to my body. Yoga was an appreciation of the body, it offered me the opportunity to tune in, come into presence and awareness of my body and thereby connect to myself.
When one practices yoga the body experiences a myriad of benefits which include strengthened muscles, increased blood circulation, flexibility and balanced hormones. But beyond the physical benefits there is so much more you gain when committing to a daily practice. “The whole of yoga - not just the movement, but the breathing, meditation, and various other components impact on the less obvious internal systems which smooth over trauma and stresses that are stored in our brains (and body). When the body feels safe and vital, we are primed for mental and spiritual health.” explains Lauren Strever, a fellow yogi and local yoga teacher.
Although there are many more people practicing this art now then ever before, many people feel scared or intimidated by yoga. Perhaps it’s the pinterest perfect pictures we see on Instagram and all the intimidating poses. This, however, is an illusion and yoga is truly for everyone. When starting to practice yoga for the first time Lauren suggests that one should just commit to coming to the mat daily, “your daily practice on the mat flows from you off the mat in your everyday life. Just practice a little bit as often as you can and after some time you have a treasure trove of experience”. One of the most profound gifts Lauren has received from her own yoga practice is the gift of presence. “I learned early on, that if you are practicing yoga with your whole self then you are truly in a present state. When I practice yoga I feel fully engaged and unable to be distracted. I experience stillness of the mind, grounded, centred and safe in the body”.
Magoebaskloof lends itself beautifully to yoga retreats and workshops because there is something about doing yoga in nature that has an even greater impact on ones mind body and soul. And these days, there are more and more retreats, yoga workshops and wellness weekends happening on ‘The Mountain’. Kirsty Cawood from True North Wellness has been hosting and curating yoga and wellness retreats up on the mountain for years now. “I choose the mountains to host my retreats as there is a spiritual and calming feel to being there that cannot be replicated elsewhere.” Kirsty is a yoga teacher who runs a yoga and wellness studio in Polokwane. Her love for yoga started in 2010 when she came across yoga at her local gym. Kirsty explains that when she began practicing yoga regularly she started to see profound personal shifts in her life. Not only did it begin to help her heal her relationship with her body, it also had a significant role to play in calming her nervous system.
Kirsty creates wellness and yoga retreats up in Magoebaskloof and says that when she curates these events, she really comes from a holistic perspective. “In my opinion, wellness is multifaceted and could look different for everyone, so it is important for me to curate an experience that encompasses all the different elements of wellness. My retreats include yoga, healthy nutritious food, sitting in a circle, connecting with others and oneself, being in nature and most importantly being in presence.” A retreat is a wonderful introduction to yoga and wellness and Kirsty says many of her attendees are beginners. “The retreats are a space for all, whether one is an experienced yogi or someone who has never had any experience of yoga. My retreats are a safe space for all to explore what wellness means to them.”
For me, as a young mom, yoga is a practice I always return to for presence and self-care. It is a choice for wellness, to become healthy in body, mind and spirit. Becca Tooley is a Sacred Birthkeeper whose role includes holistic birth education; holding space for women during their pregnancy and supporting women to explore their options for birthing and postpartum. She is also the mamma of two little wildlings who keep her on her toes and are her greatest teachers. She is passionate about women's health and self-development and is constantly searching, learning, healing and growing.
Lauren Strever offers yoga at her Lopo Studio at Amorentia Estate near Tzaneen as well as weekly yoga classes at Bramasole Guesthouse in Magoebaskloof.
Contact 079 145 8864
Instagram : lopo_yoga
Kirsty Cawood owns True North Wellness Studio, and is a corporate & wellness retreat co-ordinator as well as a Yoga Teacher
Contact: 083 766 4000