Q: Jeannie Holmes, you’ve recently opened AWAKE Yoga Studio, a new yoga studio on the top floor of the centre, and I’ve seen the floor-to-ceiling sea views: jaw-dropping! But apart from the views, what makes AWAKE any different from any other yoga offering in Sea Point?
A: The intention of this studio is for yoga to be relatable and accessible. All levels, all ages, all walks of life are welcomed. There are classes for kids; for people who enjoy physical challenges; for people who prefer restorative yoga; for people who enjoy spiritual upliftment; for people who need deep relaxation. Whatever the class, the focus is on intelligent sequencing, detailed alignment, core activation, breathing techniques and meditation. The purpose throughout is to promote physical and mental well-being.
Q: Speaking about well-being, I read somewhere that your approach is based on something called yoga therapy. What is that?
A: Yoga is a means of harmonizing our various systems (digestive; nervous; respiratory, endocrine; lymphatic; circulatory; muscular; etc) as well as our mind; vitality; and intellectual and emotional states, in order to elevate wellbeing and awareness and to release dormant energy and uncover latent potential.
Yoga therapy does all of this, but takes an individualized approach, ‘prescribing’ personalized yoga programmes to attain the state of equilibrium and optimal health. Various time-proved methods (postures; breathing techniques; meditation; conscious relaxation, etc.) are recommended and taught to stimulate; regulate and harmonise body, mind and spirit.
Q: Sounds like something we all need! But what drew you to yoga in the first place?
A: I have always been drawn to experiences and learning that dawn new perspectives. Freeflying, a discipline of skydiving, taught me how our perceptions of time / space are truly relative and that in just 30 seconds one can experience an entire journey with wondrous epiphanies. It was at the drop zone that I first discovered yoga, as in order to hold the vertical positions and transitions yoga was needed for coordination, balance, strength, focus, steadiness and ease.
I have also always been fascinated about our potential to self-heal. In 2007 I attended the university Yoga Vidya Gurukul in India to study yoga in the hope of discovering how to also heal a particular digestive ailment that I’d struggled with for many years. I found the answer to that, and so much more. That 250hr yoga teacher training course, under the guidance of Dr Vishwas Mandlik who taught how a plethora of illnesses, disorders and ailments can be eased or alleviated altogether through yogic practices, led me to return to India some years later to study and obtain a 250hr Diploma in Yoga Therapy in 2017.
Q: So what else has been necessary then to reach this point in your career and yoga journey?
A: In between my two study trips to India, I also attended the 200hr Yoga Teacher Training and Advanced Teacher Training at The Shala, along with a mentorship program with renowned yoga teacher Tamsin Sheehy, and an Anatomy and Physiology course with Jim Harrington right back here in South Africa. I have practised and taught yoga for many years, and also volunteered at various organisations. With the help of FOSCHA, 2017, I started a support programme for the caregivers and doctors at the Red Cross Childrens Hospital, offering weekly therapeutic yoga lessons. I now also find myself so grateful and inspired to teach daily at the most magnificent studio in Cape Town, thanks to Andrew and Paul Rothschild owners of BUC Fitness Club, 3rd floor of The Point.