Following on from a discussion with Boyd Varty on what city-slickers can learn from bush-dwellers, I recently spent some time with Londolozi yoga instructor, BeJay Watson, on the yoga deck next to the original Varty Camp rondavels. From the vantage point of an individual who has spent much of her life in the hustle and bustle of the tourism industry, in recent years BeJay has focused her energy on helping other people to access the true stillness (and wonder) of the wilderness through yoga and meditation. Here’s what I learnt from this self-proclaimed “razzle chick”:

Ryan: Tell me a little bit about your own journey, and how you’ve come to enjoy and appreciate yoga, specifically yoga in the bush.

BeJay: I used to be what I call the “razzle chick” (laughs). I know many people will associate with that persona – always talking, always at the party, and never in a quiet space. I spent too much time in other people’s business and not enough time in my own. Over the years though, and thanks to many mentors, I have spent more of my energy finding the time to “just be.”

We are blessed at Londolozi to “be” in an incredibly beautiful space, and – if you allow it – natural spaces tend to guide you. You fall into a natural rhythm, a rhythm that allows you to surrender to the intelligence of life. Like Boyd Varty said in a recent interview, in the bush, we rise and fall with the sun.

Yoga allows me to enhance a state of “being”, and it really is a practice that gives me the daily space to focus on aligning my words, thoughts and actions.

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“There is an ancient Shangaan saying: You cannot see your reflection in the river when it is rushing. You can only see your reflection when the river is clear.” – BeJay Watson

Ryan: You mention mentors. Who have some of those mentors been?

BeJay: You know, I discovered late in life that people have the ability to communicate without talking, especially using positive energy. We talk too much, and we rely on speech too heavily as a form of communication. Koelle Simpson, an American horse whisperer, really opened my eyes to that fact. I have had the privilege of working with Koelle, specifically using the non-verbal language of horses to redefine my approach to communication.

I also spent some time this year at a Byron Katie workshop. Byron is a real “spiritual innovator” and, in her teachings, I love the simplicity in the act of actively questioning reality. So often we add a layer of meaning to our lives that is not true, and we accept those un-truths as our reality. The ability to stand back from our lives and inquire and deconstruct especially negative realities is incredibly empowering. And actually, the process of doing that is not difficult – we just have to make the time. Both Koelle and Byron believe in “making the time.”

Have the courage to break the reality that you have created for yourself, and you will find that your environment becomes a much more peaceful place. For the record, while I love hot water and vegetables, my reality definitely includes ice-cream and chocolate.

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Wildlife lives in a state of peace in the present. In a wordless present. Yoga – especially in an outdoor, natural setting – encourages us to drop out of the verbal mind and into the non-verbal physical body. – BeJay Watson

Ryan: BeJay, is there a philosophy or approach to yoga at Londolozi?

BeJay: There is an ancient Shangaan saying: “You cannot see your reflection in the river when it is rushing. You can only see your reflection when the river is clear.” It’s such a beautiful phrase, and it speaks directly to our mission to create a space in which individuals feel they have the freedom and the stillness to reconnect with nature – and more importantly – with themselves. In consciously using the gentle breeze, the sunshine, the sounds of the “bush” and the energy of the natural world, we provide ourselves with the tools to access the state of “wordless” peace that animals perpetually live in.

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“Towards the end of our outdoor yoga experience, BeJay asked us to lie down, close our eyes and listen to the sounds of the natural world around us. It was late afternoon and the camp was quiet as everyone else was out on a game drive. I thought the sounds of the baboons chattering away in the trees was pretty special, but about a minute or so into our silence, a pride of lions started roaring far off in the distance. After an hour of stretching out my body in the bush, I was lying down in a state of complete relaxation and lions were roaring into the early dusk. That is a cherished moment that will stay with me forever.” – Londolozi visitor

Ryan: Any words of wisdom or advice from the Londolozi yoga deck?

BeJay: Here’s something to think about: when I started yoga years ago, I would be nervous when there was someone on the deck who was clearly more experienced than me. The “instructor” is supposed to be the best, right? And that applies to all of us – we all experience times when other people challenge us in the field that we expect ourselves to be “fluent” in.

Over the years I have been able to move from a place of “I” to a place of “we”. On the Londolozi yoga deck, everyone is an instructor, and we all share in each other’s energy. Yoga and nature both teach us to unravel the ego and find a shared wonder. We find a common rhythm, and while we are feeling the stretch in our own bodies, we share the sound of a fish eagle gliding along the Sand River, or the collective sounds of our breathing as a group. It’s a wonderful, wordless communication with our surroundings and ourselves.

Yoga postures practiced at Londolozi include Forrest, Sivananda, Ashtanga and Kundalini. The classes are suitable for beginners and intermediate level and conducted on a yoga deck or in private. Join us to greet the sun or strengthen the vital life of the body alongside the cool rush of the Sand River.

Filed under 2020 Vision Life

About the Author

Ryan James

Contributor

I am the Head of Development at Londolozi's not-for-profit partner organisation, the Good Work Foundation (GWF). GWF focuses on education, in particular helping people living in rural areas to connect to a new, digital Africa and all of its opportunities.

View Ryan's profile

9 Comments

on Yoga and Learning to Slow Down in the Bush

marinda drake
Guest

Lovely blog

Jenifer Collins Westphal
Guest

love you BeJay Watson, and I am putting you down as one of my yoga mentors for April. So sweet to read about your journey…:-)

Jill Grady
Guest

Wonderful blog…just reading it makes you start to feel at peace. You definitely have the most beautiful yoga “studio” BeJay! Thanks Ryan for another great blog and the pictures are lovely.

Ryan James
Guest

Thanks Jill. I agree, it’s the best studio. I have had the privilege of “stretching it out – body and mind” with BeJay and friends, and it was incredible!

SN Nethery
Guest

the sound of baboons and lions AND down dog……..jealousy rears its head!!haha!

Ryan James
Guest

(Chuckle) – my favourite was “Salute to the Sun” but, as we’re in Africa, BeJay does include some bushveld postures. My favourite was “Drinking Giraffe”.

SN Nethery
Guest

wish I was there to try it out!!!! Susan

Kate Collins
Guest

I love that saying BJ, it’s so true. Lovely blog.

Comments are closed.

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