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Mike Green
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The rise of yoga in South Africa

16 July 2014, 08:41

The yoga craze has slowly spread all over the world, and South Africa is certainly no exception. From its humble beginnings in the 1940’s with Swami Sivananda, to the dozens of yoga centers in Cape Town today, South Africa has truly embraced yoga as a part of its regular lifestyle. In fact, yoga is becoming so popular globally it has spurred the rise of international yoga fashion , and even">apps for your smartphone.

We all know yoga as the ancient physical and mental practice that has taken the western world by storm.  Historically, South Africa saw a rise in yoga teachers during the 1960s. Many people also left the country in order to learn more about the art. The last five decades have brought both native and foreign gurus into South Africa who have now formed their own yoga schools and organizations.

Even the Dalai Lama has visited and taught about the principles of yoga in Durban, where the rise of yoga started more than seven decades ago. Yoga has already been deeply rooted into the modern South African tradition, and many locals are now realizing the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of the tradition.

There’s no shortage of locations to practice yoga - many centers can be found in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Aside from the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute of Southern Africa, you may also find the South African School of Yoga which practices the Satyananda Yoga tradition, the ever popular bikram yoga, or hot yoga, and its many variations.

Yoga in South Africa is not only about the actual practice, however, as many schools also try and influence their followers through its philosophy. Some institutions even encourage charity work as well as pilgrimages to India for personal growth. Other volunteer yogis have used the exercise as a rehabilitation technique, visiting the Pollsmoor Correctional Facility to conduct yoga sessions for the inmates – often resulting in dramatic improvement.

 Each school has a different method of teaching, so those who are interested in experiencing yoga might need to do a little research before enrolling or committing to one type of practice.

With many yoga masters accepting South Africa as their home, locals can expect their influence to rise throughout the years. Yoga in South Africa, at this point, can no longer be considered as a trend, but as a solid part of the country’s culture and as an adopted lifestyle.

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