Yoga South Africa

Yoga South Africa

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unreferenced = October 2007
wikify = October 2007

Yoga in South Africa, as published in Complete Yoga Magazine. The official magazine of the Yoga Teacher Fellowship of South Africa.

Yoga came to South Africa in the 1940’s when Divine Life society of Swami Sivananda was established in Durban. This brought many visiting Swamis to South Africa from India. At that time South Africa was in the grip of apartheid making it difficult for those of Indian nationality to visit the country, but did not stop people traveling abroad to learn yoga, which many did, bringing back the teachings of yoga to South Africans. The pioneers who visited India form the basis of Yoga in South Africa and eventually led to the formation of the Yoga Teacher Fellowship, the governing body of yoga in South Africa. In the 1960’s Maurice Krok of Cape Town wrote a book on yoga and also taught yoga. In 1969 Swami Venkatesananda disciple of Swami Sivananda paid regular visits to South Africa staying with Mani Finger. During 60’s. Swami Venkatesananda invited B.K.S Iyengar to do a workshop in Mauritius with some South African teachers which helped establish BKS Iyengar yoga in South Africa. Swami Nisreyasananda of the Ramakrishna mission in Zimbabwe was also a regular visitor to Fordsburg in downtown Johannesburg, influencing many, including Kavi Yogi Mani Finger and his son Alan Finger. Roma Blair well-known as a model in Johannesburg went abroad to live in Australia and became one of Australia’s leading lights on yoga known there as Swami Nirmalananda after receiving initiation from Swami Satyananda of the Bihar school. Roma had her own TV show on yoga and later went on to head up the International yoga federations Australian chapter.

Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger after receiving Kriya initiation from Yogananda went to India to visit the Forest Academy at the Sivananda ashram in Rishikesh he also visited Yoganandas brother Bishnu Gosh in Calcutta. Later he was to receive tantric initiation from H.H. Kavi Yogi Maharishi Suddhananda Bharati. Mani and his guru, together with his son Alan Finger developed the ISHTA system of yoga. Alan went to live in America in 1976 developing ISHTA into what it is today through his studios ‘Yoga works’ in L.A. and ‘Be Yoga’ in New York. Alan is regarded as one of the pioneers of yoga in America and has a Television show on yoga. ‘Yoga Works’ L.A. recently merged with Alan’s ‘Be Yoga’ New York to become the largest yoga enterprise in the U.S. John Weddepohl a pupil of Alan and Mani finger after travelling extensively throughout India has opened Yogalife in Stellenbosch South Africa. After studying Advaita Vedanta with H.H. Swami Suddhananda in 2006 John is now teaching yoga and self-knowledge. Unique to Yogalife is its Panchamåla or 'five garlands'. "Panchamåla is in response to the proliferation of yoga styles throughout the world, combining them into a user friendly format that represents the more popular styles. With the enormous increase in the popularity of yoga throughout the world, modern yoga resembles something like a gold rush, with everyone staking their claim and naming it in so many different ways. It all started with some naming it after themselves, and now the west has caught on branding it. In some circles modern yoga is regarded as a bit of a joke, a vulgarity even. Panchamåla is an attempt to simplify and help clear up some of the confusion. After all yoga and other similar practices are simply here to remind us of who we are." John Weddepohl.

Presently visiting South Africa are many yogis, Buddhists, and others:

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama visits and has given teachings on ‘The four noble truths’ in Durban. o Mahamandaleshwara Swami Veda Bharati disciple of Swami Rama and head of the Indian Himalayan institute in Rishikesh, was in South Africa initiating students in Ishta Mantra. Some initiates have visited the institute in Hardwar near Rishikesh. o Paramahamsa Satyananda of the Bihar school is represented in three centers in South Africa, two in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town, with students visiting and studying the Satyananda system at the Bihar Yoga Bharati university in Munger, the worlds first government accredited university devoted to teaching yoga. o Paramahans Swami Mahamandaleshwara Maheshwaranda who established the ‘Yoga in Daily Life’ system in Europe has established a center in South Africa. o Bikram yoga Jozi is flourishing teaching the Bikram system of yoga in Johannesburg and Cape Town. o B.K.S Iyengar has extended his following throughout South Africa with many accredited Iyengar schools and teachers. His daughter Geeta visits often conducting workshops. o Sam Busa has inspired a large following of Radha Soami Satsang Beas in South Africa. o Yogibhajans Kundalini yoga has found another home in South Africa through his devoted followers Pritam and Haribhajan Khaur Khalsa who as well as teaching his system of Kundalini yoga have established the Fruits and Roots stores which are one of the only sources of real organic health products in the country. o Another visitor inspiring a following is Swami Vishwananda of Mauritius who has established centers in Frankfort, England, and Switzerland and now one in South Africa. o Also here recently was H.H. Swami Suddhananda Saraswati who toured South Africa. Swamijis Samvit Sagar Trust Self Knowledge foundation has an ashram in Umzinto on the south coast of Natal . Swamiji teaches Advaita Vedanta in the lineage of Adi Shankara.

Research done recently funded by one of the Oppenheimer foundations and screened on The SABC,(the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the national Television station) revealed some remarkable facts about South Africas history. There are said to be some 2500 ritual worship, and burial sites, thought to be Indian in origin, scattered across South Africa extending from Cape Town to Zimbabwe. The ritual sites are thought to have been used for the worship of Agni the Indian God of Fire and Shiva around 2500 to 3500 years ago with some like the Shiva Lingam outside Nelspruit still in use today as a place of worship by the local Hindu community.The people of Kamatiepoort in the Transvaal apparently owe much of their genetic heritage to ancestors of both African and Indian origins. The word for trader in India is Komatie. The Komatiepoort area near Barbeton in the Transvaal was once a major trading root for Indian traders. Pottery and other artifacts used by the Komatie people bare a remarkable resemblance to those found in parts of India. The Komatie people are recognised locally as having markedly different features to the other tribes in the area, and as having very Indian features.Shonaland in Zimbabwe is also worthy of mention. Featuring the highest density of gold mines in the world, Shonaland and the Shona people perhaps owe the origin of their name to India. The word for gold in some parts of India is ‘shona’. It is thought that ‘Great Zimbabwe’ could have had monastic origins as well as gold mining in its historical past. The massive stone structure in the central area could be none other than a Shiva Lingam, which is surrounded by a number of small underground dwellings thought to be monastic in nature. The construction of Great Zimbabwe shows a remarkable similarity to the stone work found in southern India where historically the people, who are sailors by trade, traded throughout the world. It is thought that using the ‘trade winds’ to carry them south at the time of the monsoon they managed to establish supply chains throughout Africa.


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