We wanted to find out more about the practice of yoga, so we had a chat with Mariah and Tamsin from the Shala yoga studio in Cape Town.

The Shala is a creative and sacred space for people to explore the practice of yoga in Cape Town with the support of experienced and inspiring teachers.

Briefly, tell us about yourselves and your studio?
My Name is Mariah Betts. Tamsin Sheehy and I co-created and co-own the Shala. We opened in May 2012 and have since renovated and now occupy the entire heritage building. With continuing education as a focus, we serve to create an individual experience for each student and have classes for all levels of yoga experience.

the shala

How is yoga different from other kinds of fitness?
The physical aspect of yoga differs from fitness in the way that it is practiced. While fitness is about pushing ourselves to new places with strength and will, yoga teaches us subtle awareness, connection, and strength. Yoga is not only about stretching our muscles but also toning; cleansing and strengthening our organs; keeping all systems of the body working efficiently. There is also a therapeutic aspect of yoga that heals injury physically, emotionally and energetically.

Yoga looks intimidating. Do you have any advice?
There are no prerequisites to begin a yoga practice. I suggest an absolute beginners yoga course to learn the foundation for the practice in a room full of other beginners. Learning the correct foundational alignment in the postures sets you up for a lifetime of healthy practice, regardless of your current fitness level.

the shala yoga

Is it better for yoga newbies to start by attending classes rather than starting out at home with YouTube?
Participating in a class with a well-trained teacher will give you the advantage of personalised instruction, adjustments, and cues for injury prevention. A teacher on YouTube can not give you that kind of attention through the screen. Yoga is about relationships – to self, but also the student-teacher relationship and the relationship with the greater yoga community of like-minded individuals on a similar path of healing and growth.

How quickly can I progress from being a complete beginner?
You can safely practice six days a week. It’s always good to take at least one, maybe two days off to rest per week. I suggest yoga at least three days a week to notice a steady improvement. It is not at all about the poses you achieve or the moves you can do. It is about the high-frequency energy your organs receive when you practice with correct alignment. It is about what you learn about yourself and the connections that you make on your way through your practice. You will always feel better after a class than you did before. Always.

What problems can be experienced in yoga?
Everything is revealed in yoga; you can’t hide from yourself. You will see all your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes having a real good look at ourselves isn’t pretty, or easy, or how we want it to be. It can often be easier to stay asleep and shut down. Yoga stirs things up and triggers our insecurities. This can be overwhelming, but if we stick with it, we learn that crisis is an opportunity for growth.

the shala

Some people say that yoga is boring. How can one change that mindset?
The more you go inside and pay attention to the subtlety of what you feel, the more magnificent and entertaining the practice becomes. There is so much to pay attention to if you are willing to focus the mind in the moment. Something as simple as the breath can be playful and fun if you are prepared to give it your full attention.

How does one become a yoga teacher?
To become a teacher, one must complete a certified course. The level one certification requires 200 hours of training. The more committed you are to your practice, the more benefit you will receive from it.

What’s the best response you’ve had throughout your practice of yoga?
Seeing people evolve and change before my eyes. Seeing people become stronger and more empowered. I love seeing the light in peoples’ eyes in the afterglow of a yoga practice.

the shala yoga

What are the top 5 reasons to practice yoga at your studio?

– The studio is housed in a gorgeous heritage building in the vibey neighborhood of Dunkley Square. The studio has restored wooden floors, lots of fresh air, wall space, and light. Everything in the Shala has been chosen with intention; either handcrafted by local artists or up-cycled

– We have the most incredible community of inspired, alive, international people coming to practice every day

– We have experienced and passionate teachers who are living the practice of yoga and are fully involved

– The Shala Café: We have a rocking plant-based soul food café which has become a vibrant meeting place and community event centre

– We do fundraising and educational events with the excellent NGO, the Earthchild Project to support yoga and education in underprivileged communities.

Where 15 Wandel Street, Dunkley Square, Gardens, CBD
When Check the schedule and make an appointment
Cost Click here for rates
Contact +27 21 461 2717 (Reception hours 8 am – 3 pm), [email protected]

Photography courtesy The Shala and Shanna Jones

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