The International Day of Yoga was proposed by India at the 69 session of the United Nations and was commemorated for the first time last year on 21 June 2015. This years’ observance highlights the important role healthy living plays in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. In light of this observance, UNIC Windhoek learned more about yoga from Beauty Boois, the owner and instructor at Yoga By Beauty.
Boois’ yoga journey began five years ago, when she learned about Surya Namaskara, a yoga sequence known as ‘sun salutation’. She then became very interested in deep breathing, meditation and the physical practice aspects of yoga and established a daily practice and shared her yoga journey on social media. People began to approach her for guidance and lessons, and in 2013 Boois began teaching yoga for free once a week at Parliament Gardens.
After a year of teaching, she received a scholarship from the Africa Yoga Project to complete a Yoga Teacher Training in Nairobi, Kenya. Since then, she has established her own yoga business, Yoga By Beauty, through which she offers group, private and corporate yoga classes as well as hosts yoga events and community outreach.
Boois explains that yoga has positively impacted her life, in more ways than one. “I’ve largely used yoga as a form of therapy, by expressing myself through the different poses, by sharing my practice with others, by becoming a more compassionate, tolerant and calm person through meditation and learning to let go of things that do not serve me and using every set back to grow and transform into the person that I want to be,” Boois says.
This well-rounded activity offers multiple benefits as a form of exercise. In the United Nations Secretary General address on the International Day of Yoga 2016, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasizes that, “Physical inactivity is linked with a number of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which are among the leading causes of illness and death worldwide. By improving fitness, teaching us how to breathe correctly, and working to diminish stress, yoga can help to cultivate healthier lifestyles.”
As a graduate from the University of Namibia in Clinical Psychology and the recipient of a certification in Yoga Psychology from Yoga Vidya Gurukul in Nasik, India, Boois understands that yoga offers a wide range of benefits besides just physical benefits.
“Because yoga is a multifaceted practice which encompasses ethics, meditation, breathing exercises, physical postures and concentration amongst others, the benefits reach not only the physical body but also the mind and behavior of human beings,” Boois says.
She continues, “With a regular and disciplined yoga practice comes an increased awareness of self, healthier diet, better lifestyle choices, more balance, increased strength, mindfulness, more flexibility, open-mindedness and relaxation.”
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also echoes yoga’s multipurpose nature. “Practicing yoga can also help raise awareness of our role as consumers of the planet’s resources and as individuals with a duty to respect and live in peace with our neighbours. All these elements are essential to building a sustainable future of dignity and opportunity for all,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says.
Boois mentions that yoga unites people, saying, “Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means to yoke, join or connect. This connection speaks to the connection between the mind, body and human spirit, not only in and of itself but also to the mind, body and spirit of the world around us.”
She continues, “When we become self-aware, when we heal, when we better ourselves and cultivate our own sense of inner peace, we can then expand and share those beautiful things that we get from our yoga practice to others and the nature all around us.”
Boois leads various classes through which she guides people on a journey performing different poses. Her favorite position is the headstand. Boois explains, “Number 1: [The headstand] keeps me humble, whenever my ego tries to creep into my mind while I’m in this pose, I fall. Also, I like the feeling of being physically upside down because it makes the impossible dreams in life seem possible, it makes me feel strong and capable of literally putting my mind to something and then accomplishing it.”
Yoga By Beauty also engages in various community projects, offering children’s yoga to the youth from low income areas as well as other types of support groups. Boois highlights that because yoga is about a person’s personal journey, anyone who wants to can partake in it because there are many different types of yoga.
“Nothing in yoga should be forced. I believe that by increasing our level of self-awareness, we come to know what feels and is good for our minds and bodies to function at optimal level, therefore I believe that yoga is for anyone who feels they are ready to come to the practice,” Boois says.
“Also because yoga is not purely physical, it offers a variety of practices to choose from, for example those who are less into physical activity can opt for a meditation practice. However, one is advised to graduate into practicing all the different parts of yoga,” Boois says.
No matter where a person is in their yoga journey, even if he or she has yet to start his or her journey, Boois encourages people to listen to their bodies, as yoga is about growth rather than an end result or performing a certain position.
Boois says, “The most important thing is to listen to your body, your inner voice and follow your wisdom to trust that you know what is best for yourself innately. Just start where you are, with whatever you have – if you don’t own a yoga mat, use a towel, if you don’t have a teacher, read a book, if you can’t do a handstand, stand tall in your mountain pose.”
She continues, “It doesn’t matter where you’re at in your practice, believe in yourself and know that everything comes with a regular practice and don’t forget to breathe it all in and love it all out, it’s not about the destination pose it’s about the journey of the practice.”