Banesa Tseki on how yoga gave her a new lease of life

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Banesa Tseki, a yoga teacher and co-owner of an inclusive wellness center called The Nest Space in Johannesburg, owes much of her mental well-being to yoga. Banesa was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder when she was 15, and was treated with antidepressants and anxiety medication that left her completely deaf.

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“To relieve my pain, the medication made me completely deaf. Granted, I couldn’t feel the pain anymore, but I couldn’t feel any more joy or happiness either, and that was too much of a sacrifice for me. There had to be another way,” she shares.

NEW BEGINNINGS

Then things took an interesting turn when she moved to Cape Town for university in 2008…

“In Cape Town I was introduced to breathwork, meditation and yoga through a five day course offered by a society called Art of Living at the University of Cape Town. I did the course and absolutely loved it,” Banesa recalls.

Additionally, it made sense to enroll in the course as she had just read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, but lacked practice in the book’s teachings. With regular practice, Banesa found yoga to be an incredible healing tool, which later benefited her when she was off medication for depression and anxiety.

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When she moved to Johannesburg in 2015, Banesa met Itta “Ravi” Roussos, who became her Kundalini Yoga teacher.

“I trained in community-based yoga at the African Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training of Southern Africa (AKYTTSA), whose motto is ‘Social Justice is a Spiritual Practice’, and was a member of the founding committee. Itta was very interested in teaching yoga to more people of color so we could go back and spread the teachings in our communities,” says Banesa, who has since taught yoga to both adults and children in various community centers and townships.

YOGA AND HEALING

Banesa is also the full-time Head Yoga Instructor at Shapa Soweto powered by Nike, where she teaches about 10 sessions per week. “I’m more suited to community-based than studio yoga,” she notes, before continuing, “Our yoga is trauma-based. It is for the disadvantaged and those who have experienced trauma to use this healing method to connect with an inner power that encourages them to take control of their lives.”

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On the relationship between yoga and healing, Banesa explains:

“Most of the time, emotions are experienced through our body or breath. When we’re sad or upset, the rhythm of our breath adjusts to the emotions we’re experiencing,” she says, warning that unprocessed emotions usually manifest as tension in our bodies.

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She explains that if you don’t work through those emotions, that feeling of unease just sits there. your advice? Be aware of that tension and where it sits, then work through it to release the trapped emotion. “When that tension resolves, a lot of people in my classes start crying or go through something. That’s because there’s therapy through the body and talking is just another form,” she says. Through the body, she adds, we release emotions without necessarily naming them.

THE BUSINESS OF YOGA

Banesa and her business partner Dr. Anesu Mbizvo opened The Nest Space in 2018 and went online during the lockdown. In November last year, they reopened their boutique wellness center in Parktown North, Johannesburg, which now features a yoga studio, vegan cafe and zero-waste grocery store. With that in mind, cheers to the healing – may we embrace it with all our hearts!

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