MIKE de Kock’s horses are trained in sophisticated ways and now a number of his grooms and work riders are being equipped with inner strength and focus acquired via the ancient spiritual practice of Yoga – specifically what has now become known as ‘Township Yogi’.
Diane de Kock explains: “I read about this project at the beginning of the year and thought it would be a great idea to start with our grooms and work riders who could only benefit from yoga.
“Finally in November we started with our first class held at the Lapa (thatched outdoor area) at the Randjesfontein Training Centre. Instructor Kwazi Khumalo flew from Durban to give the first class and we have had three further classes with our local instructor Irene Tieng-Templeton.
“The guys are loving it and some are really good. We do it after work on a Monday and they are very enthusiastic to get to the class. I’m so excited about them doing yoga as it makes them feel so good afterwards. It relaxes their minds and their bodies and teaches them to breathe properly which in turn helps with any health issues they might have.
“Every week the class has increased by a couple of new additions and I might soon be looking for a bigger venue.”
Film producer Elle Matthews and her husband launched the Township Yogi Project in February 2014 in three townships in Durban – Inanda, KwaMashu and Ntuzuma. She now has 17 people on her team, 14 volunteer teachers, and up to 60 people attending classes on a weekly basis in just one venue.
She says: “We decided to focus on the townships of Inanda, KwaMashu and Ntuzuma in KwaZulu-Natal, notorious for their crime and violence and HIV/Aids incidence, and then roll out the project into other townships across South Africa,” says Matthews, who has registered the project as a non-profit organisation.
“Our goal is not to change townships, but rather to change individuals who live in those townships – and then the spirit of the townships will change. We want to change hopelessness and desperation to peace and hope, ill health and suffering to strong, empowered people who can face their ill health and difficulties with true strength of spirit… that’s the kind of change we’re seeing because of the power of yoga.”
The practice teaches people to breath correctly, as well as strengthens the immune system, thus reducing stress. “Yoga promotes strength, flexibility, relief from pressure on the abdominal organs, and enhances circulation, and can be hugely beneficial to the millions of people we have living with illnesses such as TB and HIV,” says Matthews.
“Ultimately we want to use the benefits of yoga on people suffering in various desperate situations, and see whether it can be used as a practice to improve their health and quality of life – which could have huge consequences for South Africa going forward, as the country struggles to manage its Aids crisis, as well as rising poverty, unemployment, crime and violence statistics.” – (www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com).