On Yoga and Digital Relationships

Dandayamana Danurasana. Greenside, Johannesburg. 2016. Photography by Sean Brand.

I don’t know about you, but I am sorta-pissed off about the state of our modern relationships.  I know I’m a yogi and being angry isn’t quite the ideal one has of a yogi.  But I do get super angry-sometimes too, when it counts.  I cannot live inside my phone anymore and have pseudo substitute relationships with the people in my life.  Most communication in our modern relationships is happening online and not face to face anymore.  My heart has had a hard time with this.

For the longest time, I was a culprit.  It was just so much easier to pop a text or email, instead of calling someone and expressing myself with my own voice, and really listening to the other person on the other side.  There is something comforting in hiding your real feelings in carefully typed out words.  Your voice doesn’t lie, though, and neither do your eyes when you’re connecting with someone face to face and heart to heart.  So, I was angry that too many of my relationships were in my phone or online and had not been in my heart.  I did something drastic about it and turned it all around.  You can expect to hear my voice and see my face a lot more.  The wheels are already in motion and in two swift weeks, I have reconnected my heart to the special people in my life.  And it it glorious!  It is true: the magic is in the heart to heart connections.

Backbend and heart opener. Greenside, Johannesburg. 2016. Photography by Sean Brand.

So, what does virtual reality and online pseudo relationships have to do with yoga, though?  I had a conversation with a business friend of mine recently who encouraged me to take teaching yoga to the net and teach virtual classes across the globe.  Financially, it makes sense. If you build up enough of a following, you can teach thousands of people in one go as opposed to forty or sixty per class.  I was horrified.  That is not what yoga is about!  Am I getting that old?  I work in digital media, I know how this stuff works.  However, now that I’ve been teaching yoga, my heart leapt out and declared, hell no!  Yoga is about you connecting to your body, not to your mind.  A good teacher holds the space for you to let go of your mind and get real inside your body.  That is where the magic is.  I don’t think you can translate that magic through a screen for a premium.  Do you?

Thinking about this virtual yoga idea spun my mind left field and I realised that this is the future.  It is just a matter of time before someone takes virtual yoga to the next level.  Are we losing our connection to our humanity? Are we losing the connection to our hearts?  Am I turning into one of those hippies who says hells-no to technology and it’s potential destructive influence on our lives and our relationships?

My answer: it all depends on how you use it.  If you use technology to expand yourself and create solutions for the world, and you’re coming from a love space, go right ahead.  But if you’re using technology that stunts your emotional growth and you’re coming from a fear space, you’re going to have a hard time.  The advertising industry is renowned for monetising people’s feelings.  Movies do too, however it is usually a win/win because you learn something new about yourself through watching other stories and projecting your psyche onto the characters.

I cannot stand for the emotional axing I see around me anymore.  I encourage you to get real and speak to each other face to face, human to human.  Do a group activity and connect to each other at a heart level.  There is power in collective energy and the connection of a shared, lived experience.  Isn’t that what we are all here for?  For the love?  I think so.

Where to now with this particular insight?   Is there a way to merge yoga and technology together in a beautiful and beneficial way?  Watch this space.  YogaTherapy is 80% close to finishing up on a re-brand…

See you class.

xx Eliza



Yoga and the Beast

To ego or not to ego?  That is the question, isn’t it?  Yoga teachers are not perfect and putting anyone up on a pedestal has a ton of drawbacks that eventually play out in some way or other.  I have put a few teachers on a pedestal at some point in my ten years of practicing.  Now that I am teaching, I am being made aware of just how easy it is to ride that ego-magic-carpet and think that you know “better” because you are “teaching” people.  Hot26 yoga has a ton of instructions that need to be clear, concise and in an ordered fashion – that is the style.  It demands discipline. I can only teach you from my body and my experience, you get to do all the hard work yourself.  There is nobody that can save you from your own self.  You have to put in the hard work.  This is why the dialogue is so specific.  The words do not make me a guru or anyone else a guru for that matter.  I think it’s important that you know this if you are practicing any yoga; it is not a religion and your teacher is not a god.  Don’t give away your power like that.

Standing Head to Knee
Standing Head to Knee Posture, Dandayamana Janushirasana. Newtown Johannesburg, South Africa, 2106. Photography by Sean Brand (c).
There are times when the ego can come in handy.  For example, as a television producer and director, my ego helps me get things done quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.  I need to be able to confidently tell a large number of people what to do, how to do it and when to do.  Add in travelling to different African cities on the continent, working with many other egos and personalities in often very short time frames, I can tell you now: I would not be able to do my job well without my ego.  But do I need my ego at the yoga studio?  Hell no.  I’ll gladly leave that at the door, it is such a relief!  So, in short, I both embrace having an ego and not having an ego equally.  The context really does make all the difference.  It is wise to know this difference.

Backbend. Newtown Johannesburg, South Africa, 2016.  Photography by Sean Brand (c).
There is still so much to learn along this journey.  The biggest lesson I’ve taken from becoming a Hot26 yoga teacher is that it isn’t easy, it doesn’t get easier – it gets different.  I still practice as often as I can and teach as much as I can.  Each class brings with it new rewards and insights.  Seeing people smile at the end of class after working incredibly hard inside class feels good in my heart. I live for the transformation and growth.  If I can grow and transform the way I have, so can you.  It’s a commitment to yourself that you get to keep and see results with.  See you all in class! xx Eliza 

Standing Bow Pulling Posture, Dandayamana Danurasana. Delta park, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2016.  Photography by Sean Brand (c).

On Yoga and Reclaiming your Power

Neil Joss and I inside Ponte Towers doing a pretty slick Tuladandasana, Balancing Stick posture.
What does it mean to really feel your power?  There are so many postures in yoga where the teacher says: engage your core, that’s where your power comes from.  For the longest time I didn’t quite understand what it meant in concrete terms.  Of course, in abstract terms, using your core is a lofty ideal, but which muscles are you physically using when you engage your core?  Your abs?  Your pelvic floor? Your psoas?  Your bandas?  It’s one thing to feel your power on an emotional and energetic level, and a whole other thing to feel it physically in your body.  I know the three are connected.  Feeling it in your physical body is the easiest way because you can see measurable results.  For example, in any balancing posture you need to engage your core to balance and hold the posture in stillness.  Feeling strong emotionally is the least easiest way because emotions are subjective.  For example, today I may feel strong and confident about myself, while the next day I may not.  Feeling strong energetically, well some people would call that charisma, magnetism, attraction or power.  Here, you need feedback from your environment and feedback from the people around you.  I have been playing with this form of power recently and I have questions.  What is this subjective power all about then?  Is it inherently something you already have that you need to re-discover or is it something you build from scratch, piece by piece?


I am of the opinion that reclaiming your power is a process that takes time, moment by moment, experience by experience.  It is a combination of both being born with power and of cultivating power as you grow.  In my yoga practice, I have learnt to feel what my inner power feels like:  physically in my body, emotionally when sitting with difficult emotions and energetically when I leave class feeling absolutely rejuvenated.  It is an ongoing process.  It is a daily  journey. Then, the tricky part is taking that power with me into the world and interacting with the people around me.  Can you relate to giving your power away to people who you secretly think are ‘better’ than you or ‘know more’ than you or ‘have more’ than you?  That feeling of not being good enough; that feeling of striving to be more and give more?  The need for approval from others?  These are all ways that we unconsciously give our power away and leave ourselves feeling depleted and ‘less than’. When you subordinate to others and inject their values into your life, that’s a sure fire way of dis-empowering yourself.  Equally, if you over power others and inject your values onto them, it is also dis-empowering because unconsciously you know that the power you hold is an illusion.  You can read more about values here. Or click on this article for a more in depth look.


I have found one of the most practical ways to empower yourself is to align your goals with your highest values, do the things that matter most to you and make you feel fulfilled.  Surround yourself with people who inspire and uplift you, people who think big and allow you to expand.  Your happiness is your responsibility.  Do what you love and love what you do.  Yes, it is easy to say and sometimes difficult to implement.  But trust me, it is possible.  I have a few workshops coming up in the next couple of weeks that address practical steps you can take to doing what you love and loving what you do.  I will keep you posted.

In the mean time, I will see you all in yoga class!

xx  Eliza

On Yoga and Fully Embracing your Adventures

The Kids of Berea
Inside Ponte City Apartments. Photography by Sean Brand Photography.
If there is one thing that I have learnt well, it is that life is too short to not fully embrace all your experiences.  Whatever shape or form these experiences come in, embrace them.  If you meet the Universe half way, the Universe will meet you half way too.  The same goes for your relationships: you give 100%, you get 100% back.  My yoga practice has taught me to give myself over to the moment and the love I have been receiving lately is absolutely incredible.

This week, I travelled to Malawi again for work.  This time we spent four days in Blantyre.  As poor as the country is, it is richer in spirit and heart than anything I have ever experienced.  The people are warm and present.  I interview a lot of top end banking executives and if you know the corporate banking sector, it can be a little stiff and formal.  Not so much in the rest of Africa.  When people greet you, or give you a hug to welcome you to their country, they mean it.  And that kind of connection is what I am talking about.

In between filming and interviewing, of course, I managed to get onto a rooftop for a quick little customary asana or two:

Warrior, Trikonasana.

Blantyre 2
Standing Bowpulling, Dandayamana Danurasana.
And then over the weekend, just to add a cherry to the top of an already awesome week, Steven over at Yogaworks held a Hip Hop Yoga event inside Ponte City Apartments with Safiyah, and they killed it!  We had to go underground because of the rain, and it was PERFECT!  My highlight was getting to take some beautiful photographs inside the tower.  It was pretty trippy.  The building has a lot of history which you can read about here.

My heart is feeling open, more open than it has in years.  It’s the kind of openness that shines right out of your eyeballs when you smile.  And that kind of human to human connection is what I have been moulding my life around.  It feels oh-so-goooooooooood.  What on Earth are we here for then, if it is not to fully embrace our humaness?  Live yours exceptionally well 😉

These kids are everything!
If you are not following me on Instagram or Facebook, please do.  There are plenty new yoga photos in the pipeline as I continue to select the best ones for my yoga book in collaboration with Sean Brand Photography.  Please send me your feedback and your own yoga stories, I always love hearing from all of you!

See you all on your mats.

xx Eliza