An African Yogi
‘Listen to your body: if your body is whispering ‘yoga’ then it’s your duty to honour that calling and fulfil that need.’ – Beauty Boois
A business woman, psychologist in the making, poet and yogi: Beauty Boois is transforming the image of yoga on the African continent.
After an old friend introduced her to a few Surya Namaskaras or sun salutations, she fell hard for yoga. She began reading and practicing, exploring the limits of her body and inner self. It was her passion to learn and grow that drew people to her. Soon people were calling her for yoga lessons, and that birthed Yoga By Beauty.
So what is yoga? Yoga is a Sanskrit name that means ‘to yolk’ or ‘to join’. Yoga wishes to create balance between mind, body and soul. It is about finding balance you and everything around you. Many make the mistake of seeing yoga as a religion. Beauty puts it beautifully when she says ‘There is no god to be worshiped in yoga; it’s all about getting in touch with oneself, taking better care of oneself as well as the environment.’ Yoga is a practice that involves breathing, meditation, physical postures (known as asanas), and most importantly ahimsa. Ahimsa is practicing non-violence, which includes physical, mental, and emotional violence towards yourself and others.
It is for this reason that yoga is not a sport. Yoga is not competitive; it encourages introspection and the nurturing of the self. Its does not discriminate regardless of sex, race, religion, height or weight. Yoga’s ability to easily adapt to various body types makes it accessible to everyone. One can say that yoga abides by the Ubuntu principle. It is about honouring oneself in a way that honours the souls of those around you.
Beauty highlighted the following as only some benefits that yoga provides:
• Perfects your posture
• Increases flexibility
• Builds muscle strength
• Makes you happier by increasing serotonin levels
• Increases self-esteem
• Encourages self-care
There are many yoga initiatives on the African continent that look to change the perception of yoga on the continent. One of these initiatives is the African Yoga Project, where Beauty obtained her 200 YTT hours. The African Yoga Project (AYP) looks at developing change makers that promote overall wellbeing in their communities. AYP looks at using yoga “as an avenue to education, empowerment and employment”. The AYP footprint is growing; more than 200 young Africans have been trained as teachers, with 300 community weekly yoga classes in about 80 locations.
Another great initiative is the Prison Freedom Project. A maximum security prison is Cape Town is the last place you would expect to find yoga, but Brian Bergman saw how yoga could transform even those that society deemed ‘unchangeable’. What started with one mindfulness class in the Pollsmoor maximum prison, has become weekly classes in various facilities that reach over 350 inmates. The project has also given inmates that have been inspired by the yoga journey an opportunity to become yoga teachers themselves by enrolling in a six module Teacher Training Course.
Individuals like Beauty Boois and initiatives such as the African Yoga Project and the Prison Freedom Project are all indications of how yoga has evolved and adapted to Africa and its people. No longer is the pursuit to emotional, physical and spiritual balance limited to the Western world.
By: Ros Limbo