With a list of benefits as long as the Orange River, yoga has been a philosophy rooted in a culture of health and wellbeing. Besides the physical benefits, it helps lower stress levels, improve your mood and can even boost your self-confidence – especially when you unfurl your mat in nature. We round up three favourite yoga spots in Wild Card parks and reserves.
The best part about practising yoga outside? There’s no need to rush to get floor space, or worry about soundtracks and artificial studio air. Here are our favourite places to unwind and practise wellness in the wilds:
Terrains to test your flexibility
Maloti Drakensberg Park is the perfect spot to greet the sunrise – and a World Heritage Site at that. With towering peaks and great open spaces, roll up your mat and wander the trails for the perfect setting to stretch (there are plenty from which to choose).
Practise your warrior pose amongst the diverse scenic splendour of the famous Drakensberg Amphitheatre, where Zulu warriors used to roam — or do an eagle pose in the home of the black eagle, bearded vulture and herds of graceful eland.
On Rhino Peak in the Garden Castle section of the Drakensberg practitioners Inner Zen Garden and YogaSpirit found a way to take their practice to a higher plane. Their video shows jaw-dropping scenery and enviable yoga poses.
What are you waiting for? Pack your mat and book your next trip to Maloti Drakensberg Park.
Stretch it out, canopy style
Leafy greens, the fresh scent of pine and a cool earthy breeze: the Knysna Forest’s cool canopy is ideal for uninterrupted meditation in Garden Route National Park.
Forest guide and massage therapist Meagan Vermaas refers to this as ‘forest bathing’, which comes from the Japanese term, shinrin-yoku. “It is a recognised relaxation and stress management activity in Japan,” she adds.
Trikonasana (the triangle pose) will come naturally, alongside the forest’s majestic giants: the Outeniqua yellowwood, stinkwood and red alder. Close your eyes and revel in birdsong, while you hold your Chaturanga plank pose.
Book online or call SANParks Central Reservations on +27 (0)12 428 9111 to book your forest escape.
Make it a full-on retreat
Hooked on the outdoor yoga experience? Why not make a full retreat of it? De Hoop Nature Reserve is a sanctuary for both humans and wildlife, and yoga retreats hosted at Die Melkkamer cater to guests coming from all walks of life and yoga levels.
The goal is to restore balance through nature and yoga therapy, according to retreat director Kate Ball:
“De Hoop is the perfect setting to nurture present-moment awareness,” she says, adding that yoga is all about making a conscious effort to create regular mini-sabbaticals to escape an ‘always-on’ world.
“A yoga retreat…offers more than just a holiday. Yoga has transformative power, I’ve experienced it in my own life and I love to share it with others.”
The retreat offers a holistic experience. Limited access to electricity encourages attendees to unplug and detox from devices, while Die Melkkamer’s resident chef serves up wholesome food to meet your physical needs. The programme also includes time for vlei walks, spa treatments and a drive to the beach at Koppie Alleen for a chance to glimpse a southern right whale or two.
Read more about a yoga retreat at De Hoop in the spring 2019 issue of Wild magazine.