Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. The World Health Organisation defines it as “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
Yoga provides a physical, mental and spiritual system of health and it is for this reason that it is seen as India’s gift’ to the planet. No wonder over 15 million people in the USA alone practice Yoga and there is now a wealth of research on how practicing Yoga improves your health.
Through a series of stretches and movements that gradually increase in complexity as the student becomes stronger and more flexible, Yoga takes you back to what you were like as a child: being physically more open and flexible; and mentally, more observing and less judging.
Yoga strengthens the body, makes it more flexible, and improves circulation, bone health and organ functioning. Apart from these physical benefits, the practice of focused breath-work and meditation, creates space to explore the internal landscape of your being. It provides you with a framework in which to become still and find an internal peace – something that eludes most of us in our day-to-day lives. The deep relaxation through breathing and meditation brings an amazing sense of well-being, and this coupled with the movements lead to a calm and focused state of mind and an amazing sense of vitality.
Stress is very much a part of life these days and addressing stress is essential to be healthy and well, as it affects every single aspect of wellness. When people actively seek to reduce the stress in their lives by quieting the mind, they not only begin to feel better, and happier – the body often then also begins works to heal itself. This means that Yoga can be seen not only as a way to get into shape, but also as a tool for self-healing.
One of the key elements of the philosophy of Yoga is avoiding violence in all its forms – and perhaps most appropriate here is violence to yourself. Violence to yourself manifests in how you see yourself, the subtle or not so subtle messages you give yourself about whether you are good enough, have enough or do enough. Acts of violence to yourself include feeding your body things that break your body down rather than nourish it. It is also evidenced by feeding a cycle of destruction through stress not being attended to and not allowing yourself the time of day to stop, check in and realize: how you feel matters, your life matters, you are important and you matter.
In this philosophy Yoga sits so well in the Health Spa arena – a place to treat yourself – because you matter. Cultivate that attitude of looking after yourself as you would the person you care about most. We care better when we care for ourselves. There are of course many many ways of caring for ourselves outside of a spa! Experiencing it in a spa just provides a very strong visceral response which is so powerful in our bodies interpreting and experiencing acts of self-love.
While this is new and fresh in Port Elizabeth, Yoga has already found its way to into spa’s here in South Africa. In Cape Town, Yoga in some of the most prestigious spas will set you back between R150 and R300 per session. Us Baaienaars have access to yoga in a world class spa environment, taught by an internationally qualified teacher – for regular yoga studio prices. Yoga is for and should be accessible to everyone.