The Gift of Yoga in the Wilderness of South Africa

Julia Geffers is a traveller driven by a passion for compassion. It is a passion that has led her, as a Registered Yoga Teacher, to share the art of yoga with schools in disadvantaged communities. Julia is also the Director of Hotel Member Services at Relais & Châteaux.

The schools she has brought the power of the mat to are the  Digital Learning Campuses of the Good Work Foundation, a registered NGO that has been working with grassroots education in Africa since 2003, and that is supported by Londolozi Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

After experiencing the joys of an African safari at Londolozi, Julia headed into the local community to visit GWF’s Hazyview and Huntington campuses to share the joys of yoga with the young learners. The students, the process, the community would give her so much more in return.

In a blog for the Good Work Foundation, Julia shares how the foundation became a home away from home where she could realise that deep passion for compassion.

Words below by Julia Geffers. Discover more about GWF and Londolozi.

Throughout our lives we are told  that we need to build our future and our homes. We are told that there are plans to follow, career plans, personal life plans, you are supposed to do, to be, to have, according to guidelines someone someday defined. Looking at  those guidelines more closely you realize that they have nothing to do with who you are. Nevertheless in our childhood and youth we follow the rules given to us without asking too many questions.

Until one day – the day – we start wondering why the nicely prepared plan apparently does not work out  and we start questioning the plan altogether.  I had it all figured out in my plan: have a family, have a career, play my sports, live in a  nice place…in a few words, a plan as written on one of the hallmark greeting cards.  Life does not work that way though and when things to do not go according to plan,  latest then is the moment when we start listening to our call inside.

A  few years back I started questioning the order of things and took off on a quest to my true self and my deep calling. I wandered in a confusing labyrinth of people, places and events, I went through moments of happiness and dark times, through sadness and tears as well as laughter and joy. What was I searching? After all I have a loving family, dearest friends, an accomplishing career and the opportunity to live a full and satisfactory life. I am deeply grateful for the blessings I have received and this search is not triggered out of dissatisfaction or sense of something missing.

The search inside myself is more the fruit of the certainty that there is another purpose in my life that so far I have not fulfilled, a void in me that, despite all goodness I have received, needs filling. It turns out what I thought needed filling actually was a need to give. A need to be there for others, to share some of my wealth – my personal wealth in terms of learning/lessons I have received, studies I was allowed to make, experience I lived and help others find their path.

Giving, this is the clear calling in my heart.

Where to start? How do you give? Whom do you give to? Is it arrogant to think you have something to give in the first place? Many questions in my heart and in my mind on this urge I feel, but do not quite know what to do with.

One fine day a dear friend takes me to a place close to her heart – a place where young humans are given the opportunity to change their lives thanks to access to education and learning. A place hidden in the deep heart of South Africa, in a rural community that has experienced hard times, apartheid, sickness, drought, economic recession, poverty. A place where generations live under the same roof to support each other but also because there is no alternative. In this place the first digital learning center has seen the day a few years ago: a concept so simple and yet such a challenge: bring learning to people so they are given the opportunity to change their lives. A challenge that goes way beyond the individual since the change this is bringing about is an entire shift in generations of people.

My friend takes me there and I immediately feel I have arrived where I belong. It is nothing rational nor is it possible to really explain it with words. I simply know that this is it…

I wish I could come back and be part of this – in any possible way – by giving something I have my energy, my love, my smile and of course my time.

The Good Work Foundation has become my home, the place where I can be the best version of myself and be there for others.

Home is where the heart is they say and my heart is here with this incredible group of people who devote their lives and work to building a better world – actively and concretely. With words but also with facts and vision.

Home is where children come with joy and enthusiasm to learn guided by young adults who have had the same calling: educate, teach, share knowledge and generate growth.

Home is where youngsters have access to education and can make a choice to change their lives through knowledge.

Home is where I can share everything I have to contribute to a smile, to a growth, to life.

Here is home, a home where I am finally able to give, a place where I can share, where I can contribute to something that may appear small far away from here and in reality is a huge opportunity and a chance to make an impact. It is a first stride to something that step by step can change the world. Thank you Kate, Ryan, Gogo, Shan, Dave and the entire team of the Good Work Foundation as well as to all the young human beings who are giving me the opportunity to follow my call: the call of GIVING.

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Julia shares her passion for Yoga with Bridging Academy Students from the Huntington Digital Learning Campus.

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Bridging Academy Students at Hazyview campus take a break from digital learning to a relaxing yoga session with Julia.

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Open Learning Student pulls one of the most difficult yoga moves Julia showed them.

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“Home is where the children come with joy and enthusiasm to learn, guided bu adults who have had the same calling : educate, teach, share knowledge and generate growth.”

Seybrew Beer-Battered Fish & Chips – A Recipe from the Seychelles

“Recipes are by nature derivative and meant to be shared – that is how they improve, are changed, how new ideas are formed. To stop a recipe in its tracks, to label it secret just seems mean.” ― Molly Wizenberg

In the name of sharing, of innovation and kinship, North Island in the Seychelles has shared with us the recipe of one of their guests’ favourite dishes – the freshly-caught Job fish battered in one of island’s finest brews, and served with tartar sauce, saffron mayonnaise and French fries.

Caught sustainably from the waters surrounding the island, Green Job fish is a white, fleshy fish, popular in the Seychelles. When cooked, it is very tender, flakes beautifully and has a lovely subtle flavour. Learn how to make your own Seybrew Beer-Battered Fish and Chips in this recipe from North Island below.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Beer-Battered Fish
800g Job fish (or sustainably-caught local white, fleshy fish)
Pinch of sea salt and cracked black pepper
250g Tempura flour
350ml Seybrew beer (or a local beer)
2L Sunflower oil
500g Potatoes, cut into French fries
Mayonnaise
2 Free-range egg yolks
30ml White wine vinegar
15ml Dijon mustard
500ml Sunflower oil
Pinch of Maldon salt and cracked black pepper
Tartar Sauce
100g Red onions, finely chopped
100g Capers, finely chopped
100g Gherkins, finely chopped
15ml Italian parsley, finely chopped
Mayonnaise
Saffron Mayonnaise
Pinch of saffron strands
Mayonnaise

Method:

  • First make the mayonnaise by placing the egg yolks into the blender along with the mustard and white wine vinegar.
  • Add the oil in a steady stream and keep blending until all the oil has been incorporated.
  • You can also make this by hand in a bowl by whisking at the same time as adding the oil in a steady stream.
  • Divide the mayonnaise into two bowls.
  • Place the onions, gherkins, capers and parsley into one bowl, stir in some mayonnaise and check the seasoning.
  • Place the saffron into the other bowl and add some strands of saffron, stir to bring the colour out.
  • Place the oil into a frying pan and heat gently.
  • Once hot, fry the French fries and cook until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and keep in a warm place.
  • Cut the fish into smaller pieces, roughly 100g each, to make it quicker to cook.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
  • Place the tempura flour into a bowl. Add the Seybrew local beer and stir until combined.
  • Dip the fish into the batter and drop it gently into the oil. Make sure the oil is hot by testing a piece of battered fish first.
  • Fry the remaining fish until golden brown and drain on paper towel.
  • Serve with the tartar sauce and saffron mayonnaise as well as wedges of lemons and limes.

Discover more about North Island on the Relais & Châteaux website.

Rooibos – The Wonder Plant

“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.” – Chaim Potok

There is a right time for tea and a wrong time, I have been told. When having drinks at a bar or while dining out, the taking of tea is not socially acceptable. I know this, because people have made comments, as I sip my Rooibos and they their Pinotage. The right time for tea appears to be at breakfast or afternoon tea, or should someone “pop in for tea”.

I’m all for “socially acceptable” when it comes to napkins and toothpicks and cellphones, but not tea. Rooibos is too delectable to restrict. It tastes very good between G&Ts, in fact. And in the bathtub, in a meeting, on a plane, with chicken or beef. Its the perfect nightcap, calming and warming the drinker before bed.

I grew up with Rooibos like some do siblings. “Here,” my parents said to me as a young only child, “drink this, you’ll feel better.” And I did. Always. And I still do. Always. Because Rooibos is a wonder plant. It has untold benefits for body and mind.

The next time someone scoffs at your fancy for tea, simply quote Thomas de Quincey to them… “Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities, will always be the favourite beverage of the intellectual.”

Or tell them to read this blog. Because, below is a look at this uniquely South African plant, as explained by Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat,  one of the best places in the world to find and enjoy Rooibos in its many forms.

Rooibos is as much a part of the Bushmans Kloof experience as the warm, caring service and hospitality. They serve jugs of iced Rooibos tea on arrival as a signature welcome drink, while steaming pots of Rooibos tea are popular at High Tea.

“Where there’s tea, there’s hope.” – Arthur Wing Pinero

History

The indigenous Rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis), has received praise from across the world for its delicious taste and proven health benefits. This wonder plant grows naturally only in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape and can be found growing wild across the expanse of the reserve.

It was first discovered by botanists in 1772, and was named ‘red bush’ by the Dutch settlers. The ancient Khoisan civilization that lived in and around the Cederberg used it as a herbal remedy for many different ailments, and it’s believed that they were the first to discover that the needle-like Rooibos leaves could be used to make a refreshing brew. The Rooibos pioneers used axes to harvest the plant in the wild, after which they then bruised the leaves with hammers, before leaving it to ferment in heaps and then dry in the sun.

Today the plant is harvested and processed in very much the same way, although more sophisticated equipment is used of course.

Its modern history started in 1968, when a South African mother, Mrs Annetjie Theron first put the spotlight on Rooibos, claiming that it soothed away her baby’s colic. She published a book on her findings and went on to launch a full range of health and skin care products with Rooibos as the basic ingredient. Rooibos then made headlines in Japan in 1984 as an anti-ageing product, and has since been used in many anti-ageing body and skin care product ranges.

At The Spa at Bushmans Kloof, extracts of the Rooibos plant can be found in many of their therapeutic face and body treatments, and it’s integral to the signature B| Africa product range, which combines indigenous African plant extracts with the natural resources of the sea.

The Benefits and Uses

Nowadays, enjoying Rooibos as a tea is perhaps its most recognized form – a delicious, healthy and caffeine-free drink that is packed with anti-oxidants. It has a unique, sweet and slightly nutty taste, which has a soothing effect on the digestive and central nervous systems.

Executive Chef, Charles Hayward is big fan and is fond of using Rooibos tea as an ingredient in some of his Cape Country dishes. Previously, Bushmans Kloof has contributed to Rooibos Limited’s cookbook, ‘A Touch of Rooibos’, voted the best single subject cookbook in South Africa, and the third best cookbook in the world at the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

One of only a few indigenous South African plants to have become an important commercial commodity, Rooibos tea is still produced mainly in its natural distribution area – the districts of Nieuwoudtville, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal and Piketberg, and then exported all over the world.

RECIPES FROM BUSHMANS KLOOF

“I am in no way interested in immortality, but only in the taste of tea.” – Lu T’ung

Discover more in Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat‘s  blog.