Why You Should Give Yoga Another Try

It’s easy to think that yoga is something for other people, as your head throbs while you attempt to rest the weight of thirty, forty, fifty years upon it. I kept hearing people say that, while it originated in India, “yoga is for everyone”. It doesn’t discriminate, but rather transcends religion, culture, race, gender and age. It may be easier to learn than the Argentine tango, but I often wondered, when glimpsing out from under my own shaky downward dog at the bumbling happening on the mats around me, if yoga is perhaps not for everyone.

And then I detected the changes.

The subtle ways my body started to give way more than it used to. The freeing of my breath from the chest and stomach. The quiet that replaced the noise. The stillness that transformed the tension. The passion that flowed back into the compassion. And the future that returned home to the present.

And what I realised was that yoga is something we get better at, the more time and energy we dedicate to it. It is a practice that demands practice and that rewards loyalty and tenacity, each time you roll out your mat. It feels foreign at first, as much as that tango, but, slowly, it becomes a part of you. And you, and you, and you.

It was the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, who called for a day dedicated to yoga, during a speech at the UN General Assembly:

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.”

The 21st of June was chosen as the date to celebrate the day on, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and has a special significance in many parts of the world. Modi’s hope was for International Yoga Day to help spread the practice of yoga and its positive influence around the world.

As Indian spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, “It is very difficult for any philosophy, religion or culture to survive without state patronage. Yoga has existed so far almost like an orphan. Now, official recognition by the UN would further spread the benefit of yoga to the entire world. India is the land where yoga was born and we must finally take the responsibility to spread it everywhere, starting from classrooms. This will help young people to move away from gun culture and violence.”

While spreading from north to south, east to west, yoga made a home in many of our lodges in remote parts of Africa, including Londolozi Private Game Reserve, with yoga teacher, BeJay Watson, and Royal Chundu, with Kundalini teacher, Live Shanti. In places where the stillness of the wilderness, the simple fresh air freedom, serves as the idyllic setting for yogis of still beginning their journey, wondering, as I have, if yoga really is “for everyone”, as well as the more advanced yogis.

Take a look below at one of Royal Chundu’s yoga retreats held on the banks of the Zambezi River and discover more about Londolozi’s yoga sessions in their blogs, Conscious Safari: Yoga at Londolozi, and A Place To Be: Londolozi’s New Yoga Deck 

“Why they always look so serious in yoga? You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver. Practice tonight at hotel. Not to hurry, not to try too hard. Too serious, you make you sick. You can calling the good energy with a smile. (From Ketut Liyer, the Balinese healer).”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

The 10 Rules of Slow Travel, Inspired by Bushmans Kloof

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Like a rolling stone

The beauty of going slow when on an adventure is the gift of time, seeing more and seeing it more fully. I read somewhere recently that the smallest moments contain the whole universe if we just slow down enough, are present enough, to recognise them.

This is what I love about Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat. On the journey to the lodge, in its remote mountain valley in the Cederberg, travelling by car from Cape Town, my mind can wander through the clouds and the faces of the people we pass and the lyrics of Rodriguez and Bob Dylan that play over my speakers as the city slips away. As the red rocks of this part of the country come into frame through the window of the car.

I like things slow. Some of us simply do… our natural rhythms flow to a gentler tune. We get to see the little wonders that connect to the larger ones this way. You don’t have to do more to see these. You don’t have to think more, say more, be more. You just have to stop, to sit in the safari vehicle at dusk or around the dam in the sunlight and do nothing else but sit in the safari vehicle at dusk or around the dam in the sunlight. Like Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, says, Why do we eat? To eat, of course.

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In those moments we see it all… the zebra grazing on the ground, the foals rubbing their soft fur against Mom’s legs, the eland and bontebok dining beside them, a hawk in mid-swoop, the bees and sunbirds doting on the fiery flowers of the aloes, the sun and moon moving too slowly to detect, and the dung beetle at work, like a rolling stone…

You don’t miss it. You don’t miss out on the bright little moments that are life itself. The next time you find yourself embarking on an adventure, even if it is simply the daily adventure of life, consider these…

10 Rules of Slow Travel

  1. Slow down
  2. Pack less
  3. Get out of the car
  4. Be patient
  5. Look and listen
  6. Connect and Interact
  7. Keep that mind open
  8. Seek authenticity
  9. Journal it all
  10. Play more Bob Dylan

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Read more about Bushmans Kloof in these articles on Instants

The Bushmans Kloof: Reconnecting with the Human Past
The Bushmans Kloof: The Cave
The Bushmans Kloof: Food, Shelter and Fire

The Artist’s Way in the Cederberg

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“The imagination needs moodling, – long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”
― Brenda Ueland

The Cederberg is known as a place for rock climbers and hardy hikers. What with its 71,000 hectares of rugged mountainscape, some 200km north of Cape Town. But rocks take on another meaning here, their size and peculiar shapes attracting not only the avid mountaineer, but the artist, too. The creative, the writer, the painter, photographer, the seeker of silence. It is a place of adventure for the imagination as much as the feet, a place where “long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering” is as welcome as new rain in dry river beds.

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Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Reserve in the Cederberg has created a place for artists, a place to create, or, simply, to moodle aimlessly a while, with activities to expand the mind and feed the soul. There’s more to creativity than creation.

Here are five ways to enhance your creativity on an artist’s holiday at Bushmans Kloof:

1. Enrich your mind

Let nature be your muse while learning about the unique environment of this part of the world – the birdlife, entomology and rare and protected species. Go on a journey through the galaxy with the lodge’s guides, exploring the Cederberg’s crystal clear nights and inky sky dusted with planets and shining constellations. And find inspiration in the works of the original artists of the area – the Bushmen, exploring the ancient rock paintings left as their legacy on several sites on the reserve as well as the lodge’s unique San medicinal and herb garden.

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2. Creative Pursuits

The comfort of the lodge combines with the peaceful surrounds to make for an ideal writing or painting retreat. Water colour sets are available in all the rooms. Find inspiration in the well-stocked library or out in the fresh air of the reserve. Photographers can play with the intense shadows and light creeping through rock formations and fynbos grasses.

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3. Meditation & Healing

Experience the healing waters of the remote 500 million year old mountains, take in a restorative crystal healing session at the spa, or enjoy yoga on mats provided – whether on your private veranda or out in the natural world, to the sounds of birdsong and the rustling of fynbos grass.

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4. Food for thought

Book a culinary weekend or an epicure’s package and allow meals in a variety of settings to fuel your creativity. Think bush breakfasts beside a cascading waterfall, picnics on the banks of a sparkling river, or lavish dinners at a secluded cottage deep in the reserve.

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5. “Write drunk, edit sober”

Take time for a wine tasting in the lodge’s award-winning wine cellar, with special wines from the surrounding region.

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