Local yoga stretches

2016-10-11 06:00
 Residents attended an open yoga class in Bokmakierie on Friday.

Residents attended an open yoga class in Bokmakierie on Friday.

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A young woman from Bokmakierie is transforming her passion for yoga into an initiative which aims to transform the community in distress.

The area has been plagued with drug-related activity in recent times, which has led to an increase in the frequency of crime, while unemployment levels remain high.

Since Melissa Nyman took to yoga over a year ago, she has gotten a renewed outlook on how she could make a difference in the community she is proud to be a product of.

A copywriter by trade, Nyman was encouraged by her aunt, Roseline Nyman, to become a yoga instructor.

Nyman is a practitioner and instructor in Kundalini yoga, which is the yoga of awareness.

Kundalini yoga was brought to western culture in the 1960s when yogi Bhajan introduced his own brand of Kundalini yoga to the United States.

“On a personal note, yoga has definitely changed my life in a great way. It has changed me in the sense [that] I am no longer an addict when it comes to drinking and smoking. This has happened over a space of only six months. It has been a really effective practice that I have delved into,” says Nyman.

She believes that because she is from the area and understands the nature of addiction, it will help community members reconnect with themselves.

“That is what addiction is; it is not being connected to your self. Once you can tap into the self and reconnect with who you are and find a purpose, the addiction won’t be there anymore,” she explains.

Nyman and her aunt currently teach yoga at the Catholic Welfare Development (CWD) cultural hub in Athlone and have also formed the Community Yoga Teachers’ Group. The group’s sole purpose is to teach yoga in disadvantaged areas in Cape Town and allow people who cannot afford studio prices to experience yoga.

“We are spreading yoga in more areas that currently include Athlone, Hazendal and Manenberg. We will also start teaching yoga at schools such as St Raphael’s and the Dominican School of the Deaf,” adds Nyman.

She says that growing the popularity of yoga in Bokmakierie will be a process, but that it has always been a dream of hers.

“This is one step closer to that dream and it is really big for me. I need to start where I stay.”

She says that the classes are growing at the CWD and hopes that the same will happen in Bokmakierie.

“There needs to be consistency. There needs to be passion for this.

“It has taken over my whole life. I do not see myself as [just] a copywriter anymore. I am going out there and I am going to schools to teach yoga. Once that passion is there it will resonate with the students and it will resonate with the community. Once you commit to something, which is the first step, there needs to be commitment from both sides. Even if there is only one student, there needs to be a commitment from the teacher to spread yoga,” says Nyman.

She is aware that community-run initiatives have failed to live up to expectations in the past, but she also feels it is a great opportunity for those she wants to serve.

“In yoga you learn that it is not about you, it is about the students. It is not about your ego or how good you are or how flexible you are. It is what you are giving the student. If that essence is kept intact then the students will come back, like they have been coming back at the CWD.”

Arnold September, chairperson of Bokmakierie’s neighbourhood watch, is also involved.

“We are going to take it to the hall and have it every week. I am prepared and willing to do anything if it is something to help and make a change. I am prepared for anything,” he says.

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