Yoga about town

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Participants lie back in a relaxation posture at a free yoga class at the Education Learning Resource Centre (ELRC) on Rhodes campus. Photo: Ruth Woudstra

Participants stretch it out in downward facing dog pose at a free yoga class at the Education Learning Resource Centre (ELRC) on Rhodes campus. Photo: Ruth Woudstra

For a conscientious person, hard work or study is often a simple matter. The challenge, however, can be in finding rest, and creating a balance between work life and relaxation.

Yoga practice is all about balance. Put simply, it comprises of a series of breathing techniques and postures that allow the mind and body to take time out, and provides a method of coping with stress.

As raja yoga instructor Kelly Bernard says, “In busy times it is easy to become off balance. Yoga is a way for me to reclaim that calmness and clarity.” Vinyasa instructor Tash Dom adds that even though yoga is not purely a physical practice, the physical postures help to unlock the spiritual and emotional self, which can assist with healing and transformation.

That transformation is enhanced by being present. Gillian Rennie, who has recently opened a studio in town, quotes prominent yoga teacher BKS Iyengar in her definition of yoga: “Your body exists in the past and your mind in the future. In yoga, they come together in the present.”

Makhanda (Grahamstown) offers a wide variety of different yoga styles in diverse settings. The Yoga Commons, found by Dylan McGarry, offers free outdoor classes for anyone. They take place at the ELRC at Rhodes three times a week. Natural Affinity (NA) has a studio in Stones Hill, and the recently opened On The Go at The Workshop in the industrial area. NA offers raja and vinyasa flow, the latter of which is also offered by some instructors privately. Private sessions are typically held in church halls or small studios, and also include hatha yoga and a form of Iyengar.

To the yoga novice, these titles may be meaningless labels. However, all styles have one thing in common. The instructor has found benefit in his or her practice, and is eager to share it with anyone who is called to attend a class. Vinyasa teacher Meghan Harris refers to the relationship between the physicality of the practice and emotional well-being it brings as one of its primary benefits. For instructors and participants alike, it creates a sense of calm and awareness, and reminds us that most obstacles are merely in the mind.

“It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes,” says Tash Dom. “Yoga doesn’t discriminate against how flexible you are. I think it’s important that people know yoga classes are a safe space for everyone to feel welcome.” Ultimately, she adds, it is about devoting time to yourself.

Whether you are new in town or have been a resident all your life, it is never too late to try a yoga class as a way to find relaxation and renewed balance.

Contacts

Commons Yoga – armadylan@gmail.com (Dylan) If you are a yoga teacher and would like to volunteer, please contact Dylan.

Natural Affinity – thenaturalaffinity@gmail.com (Lindsay)

Grahamstown School of Yoga – mottache@gmail.com (Ruth)

Facebook: Yoga Grahamstown

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