Black-owned yoga studio, The Nest Space, combines wellness and sustainability in their business
Wellness duo Banesa Tseki and Anesu Mbizvo have found a way to incorporate wellness and sustainability in their business.
The founders of The Nest Space offer a yoga studio, vegan café, and zero-waste grocer.
We caught up with the duo who told us more about their wellness journey.
How did you get into yoga?
Banesa: I got into yoga while I was at the University of Cape Town and I joined the Art of Living club where I learnt about the power of breathwork and yoga. I regularly attended hatha yoga classes, but it was only when I moved to Johannesburg that I began my apprenticeship in yoga and subsequently completed my teacher-training course.
What did you have to unlearn about the practice of yoga?
Anesu: There has been quite a lot of unlearning on my part when it comes to yoga — the most prominent being that I had to be a certain size, shape, or race to do so. Feeling like yoga was not an African practice, and therefore not for us, was dismantled after better immersing myself in the history of yoga and learning that yoga can first be traced from Africa through the Egyptian Kemetic lineage.
What challenges have you faced starting up a yoga studio?
Banesa: In addition to the expected challenges that come with starting any new business, we also had to combat the stereotypes that people held of not being good enough to practise yoga for a myriad of reasons. The very same unlearning journey we had to go through is one that our clients have to go through too.
What makes your yoga studio unique?
Anesu: The Nest Space is a zero-waste grocer, vegan cafe, yoga practice, and we offer therapy too. We started off as just a yoga studio but we both wanted to create a space that we would have liked to have found when we started our own yoga journey.
Banesa: Going into spaces of healing that felt unwelcoming because we were unable to see ourselves in the teachers, students, and community was something we wanted to change. This further emphasised the importance of representation and how difficult it would be for our community to truly heal from past and present traumas if there was no space to do so. This motivated our desire to create a wellness space that is Black- and female-owned with 100% teachers of colour.
Is yoga an inclusive/welcoming practice?
Anesu: Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit term “Yuj” which means “to join” or “to unite”. It is truly for everyone: an ancient and evolving healing technology and discipline that is deeply aware of our mind, body, and soul journey.
Banesa: Through processes of colonisation and commodification, yoga has become exclusive and inaccessible to people because of their race, gender, body type, or age. But at its essence, the practice of yoga is one of the most welcoming practices available today.
Is it expensive to practise yoga?
Anesu: It shouldn’t be, but the reality is that a lot of yoga studios are priced way outside the financial capability of your average South African — and that’s a big problem. Even having access to the online “free” classes or YouTube videos is a privilege in itself.
Is there a right or wrong way to practice yoga?
Banesa: There are many approaches to yoga but it’s best to practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher in order to avoid injury and understand the practice better. Whichever tradition or approach you take to yoga, if it doesn’t lead you to some truth and understanding of yourself you may be practising incorrectly.
What is your advice to yoga beginners?
Anesu: Find a good yoga teacher as it is more enjoyable to learn yoga from an experienced, qualified teacher. YouTube videos or apps are also a great way to guide you.
Banesa: Try not to push yourself unnecessarily. “Ahimsa”, the practice of non-harm, is essential to fully understand yoga. We would also advise a beginner to focus inwards on their own practice. Yoga is not a sport, so accepting there will always be people who are more experienced than you is a helpful way to appreciate the subtle progress of your own practice.
What two principles should everyone live by to make the world a better place?
Anesu: Learn to go inward when navigating your way through this journey of life. Mindfulness practices are an incredible tool to connect with your inner voice. Practise stilling your mind in order to connect with yourself.
Banesa: Understanding that we have the power to change the world just by being more conscious of what to spend our money on is a principle we have learnt and hope to share with the world.
This article first appeared in the March 2021 print edition of S Mag.
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