“Every day for six weeks… How does one not become bored of teaching in the same place? ” he asks.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions on the yoga deck, without a doubt.
I smile at his honest curiosity. And my question in response is heartfelt: “When you, as our guest, wake up each morning and go on your safari, knowing that endless possibilities within the bush lie ahead, waiting to be discovered by you, do you ever become bored of the same routine while at Londolozi?”
“Most definitely not. Never.” He answers firmly.
“Why is that? “, I ask.
“Well… I suppose it is always different. Each experience presents itself at the perfect time as if the bush has choreographed the appearances, the sounds, the events that take place as a series of wonderful encounters to us visiting humans”. Just as those last few syllables leave his lips, the sound of crunching branches and a loud ‘ brrrrrrrrr‘ resonates through the bushes in front of us. There are elephants meandering about 30 meters in front of the yoga deck. Good thing we hadn’t moved into balancing postures yet, as any form of focus would have gone straight out of the window.
“I suppose boredom only creeps into the eyes of those that lose their sense of wonder for where they are, which means noticing less of the little moments that stop time and retain our full focus. Be it on an animal, a spot in the sun or a delicious mouthful of tastes. And particularly within the yoga space, these movements that guide us into the sweet spots – the moments when your eyes are shut – that help us remain present and full”.
“What exactly do you mean by that? “, he asks.
“Let’s begin…You’ll see “, I answer, gently.
We moved through various postures systematically beginning to open up the body. To warm up the tight muscles and the stiff joints, beginning to make space between the stuck vertebrae. While the long hours on the vehicles often add to the stiffness of the lower spine, the hips and the hamstrings, each day brings an awareness of how good it feels to begin to move after long travels and reground through this gentle practice.
“Extend the left arm over…relax the fingers… Find a point that feels good for the left body, the lower back… settle in there… Hold… And breathe ”
The honking of the passing Egyptian geese bounces around the open deck like surround sound and I notice a few eyes fluttering open, noticing, in response.
Of course, these are the sorts of variables in our bush studio that are remarkably different to those that one would find in the city studios. We have, for example, no musical playlists that match the rhythms of the posture-flows. Our soundtrack is that of the fish eagles calling, the grunting hippos, the bees in the trees above us, and – on occasion – the sound of a bushbuck alarm calling after seeing a secretive leopard pad through the riverbed in front of the deck. There is no noise from a road outside, but only the symphony of bird calls. We cannot control the heat of the summer air or the chill of the winter breeze. There is no ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign that is adhered to by the curious bumble bees buzzing into the class, or the monkeys swinging onto the deck to get a closer look at our ‘down-dogs’, or any of the other creatures, large or small. Where city studios have large photographs on their wall of popular poses, our wallpaper is unplanned and organic; the light that filters through the trees, the grasses and bushes that sway gently in the breeze, and the ever-changing sky; nature’s surprises in live form.
And while some summer days we sweat (and sweat!) through heated Vinyasa flows, and winter classes end in Savasana (corpse pose) requiring blankets to stay warm, the ever-changing weather patterns keep us humble to the importance of adaptability and enjoyment of the practice of yoga in all kinds of favourable, and sometimes unfavourable conditions. After all, we are searching to find peace amongst the chaos; stillness within the constant motions.
“Stretch right hand long in front of you, left leg long out behind you. Find space between hand and foot. Take a big breath in. Bring elbow and knee to touch. Exhale, release. Inhale as you lengthen.. Exxxhhha..”
“EXCUSE ME, SORRY, BUT THERE’S A LEOPARD! THERE IN FRONT!”. She points with both hands. Within seconds we have all found our feet and raced to the edge of the deck, crouching down to marvel at the image of the animal, a good 50 meters in front of us. Her beautiful shape slinking slowly across a rock, blissfully unaware of the excitement she has brought with him by simply just showing herself. Naturally, the concentration levels were nowhere following that wonderful distraction.
As if they each have a choreographed moment to shine, on cue, the creatures appear, and a series of sightings and interactions keep staff and guests alike, excited with their presence.
“Have you ever visited Disney world?”, he asked.
I shook my head with a small smile as I answered, “Never”.
“Well, it’s an enormous man-made amusement park that will blow you away.” He paused and gazed at me with large eyes before continuing.
“However, nature seems to have its own version too. It is absolutely magnificent. I could never have imagined it before visiting. We are standing in it right now.” His smile widened his face.
“It’s called Londolozi”.
Over the next few days, we enjoyed every bit of the outdoor yoga deck as much as we enjoy all the animals that tend to surprise us.
Upon his departure, I left him with some words:
“So, back to your original question – Every day for six weeks… How does one not become bored of teaching in the same place? Perhaps, our African Disney World has answered your question?”