SoldierMuse met up with Ruqayya Bryce and we spoke about Kaya Yoga and how you can take a break from a stressful life and reconnect to your body:
“I began practicing yoga while at university in America and was sold after my first class. I only went once a week but I always felt so much lighter and happier afterwards and I couldn’t wait for the next session. I was really stressed at the time with full time study and full time work and the yoga class was a chance for me to just stop and connect to myself.”
“It was a different kind of challenge than what I was used to from physical activity. I used to go to the gym a couple of times a week and do lots of hiking and outdoor activities, and that was fun and stimulating in its own way, but yoga asked something different of me. I had to summon a different kind of concentration and determination. Getting into and holding a posture in sync with my breath and with the correct alignment meant that I had to focus entirely, there was no room for distracting thoughts and that in itself was a relief. That is what I really came to yoga for and still do every time. It helped me to calm my mind and be absolutely present in the moment. It was like switching off the incessant planning, worrying, analyzing, listing, and remembering that went with me every other moment of the day. I remember so clearly the first time I realized that’s what it was, I was standing there between postures and suddenly noticed that I wasn’t thinking about anything and I just felt this sense of utter peace and calm that I had never experienced before. It was that that I became addicted to.”
“After graduating from university I moved to Cape Town and started hot yoga. It was something I did very regularly but it was just a background thing. I did it because without it I would feel irritable, restless and I didn’t sleep well. One day while chatting to a friend the idea came up of me teaching yoga. I was already teaching history and my friend suggested I combine my love of teaching with my love of yoga. It had never occurred to me before but it immediately felt like the right thing to do. I have always been passionate about sharing the things I am excited about and love the relationship between teacher and student. In 2014 I did my teacher training course with Jim Harrington and began teaching almost immediately afterwards.”
“While my classes are based on the traditional Ashtanga primary series, I want to create a fresh, modern environment in which to study yoga. I teach in a small space so that the classes remain intimate and I can properly attend to all my clients. I carefully select music (often from local producers) to help set the tone. While the focus is always on moving with the breath and having the correct alignment, as is traditional, there is no Sanskrit, incense or chanting. I don’t have anything against that, but I have found that it can create a barrier for some people who would otherwise enjoy and benefit from yoga.”
“For most people the benefits of a regular yoga practice are quickly evident. In addition to feeling energized, becoming stronger and more flexible, there is also better sleep, less tension in the body and a general lightness of being. It is a great way to take a break from a stressful life and connect to your body.”
All photographs by Mads Nørgaard and styling by Cherize Ross.