Yoga is an ancient practice, and it’s origins date back to ancient India thousands of years ago. Since then, we’ve seen the crossover to the Western world and the practice has undergone somewhat of a rebrand. The concept of yoga and wellness is firmly attached to a well-off, conventionally attractive white woman. Anesu Mbvizo and Banesa Tseki are changing these ideals and building an inclusive community in Johannesburg, South Africa with this 100% Black-owned yoga studio and wellness center, The Nest Space.
Get to Know The Nest Space, a Black-Owned Yoga Studio in South Africa
This month, we spoke to Banesa, one of the co-founders about how the business has evolved, why they started the wellness center, and how they’ve pivoted in the times of coronavirus.
ATPB: The Nest Space is a zero-waste grocer, vegan cafe, yoga practice and offers therapy too – what prompted the multi-functional aspect of the wellness center, and why did you both open it?
The Nest Space: We started off as just a yoga studio. We both wanted to create a space that we would have liked to have found when we started our own yoga journey. 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 prompted and motivated our desire to create a wellness space that was Black and female-owned with 100% teachers of color. The Nest is rooted in being an inclusive wellness space offering holistic health services to all. We wanted a space built around the values of inclusivity, simplicity, fair representation, freedom of self, connection, community, harmony, self-celebration, and self-expression.
Once we had successfully done that with the yoga studio, our community showed us that they wanted to delve more deeply into a holistic lifestyle and take their practice on the mat, off the mat too.
ATPB: Representation in yoga practice can be lacking, have you both felt the direct impact after opening up The Nest Space?
TNS: Absolutely. The lack of representation in yoga especially ironically on the African continent is what fueled us to embark on this journey. The impact we have felt has been overwhelming and humbling, to say the least. It has also shown us how underestimated our community is.
When we first toyed around with the idea of this wellness center we often got people warning us that our business model was unviable. We persevered because inherently we knew this could not be true. We were both Black and we knew how much we needed and appreciated these knowledge systems and accessibility. When we opened our vegan cafe our lunch buffet was sold out by 1pm and continues to be a weekend favorite. This has directly impacted our sense of purpose in this world.
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African Kundalini Yoga created by @kundalini_africa_rising is an inspiring mix of spiritual, mental and physical practices that draw on Indian knowledge systems and the deep wisdoms belonging to African spirituality . It combines movement, repetition of mantras, dynamic breathing techniques, meditation, earth rituals, ceremonies, and ancestor work . The aim is to strengthen all the physical systems of the body, build control over the mind in order to break unwanted habits, and create powerful self-control within the acknowledgement of the interleaving systems of our existence . Both our Kundalini Yoga teachers are graduates of this specific curation of African Kundalini . To experience this for yourself join @jadestarflex every Monday at 17:30 & @organic_nomad every Saturday at 08:00. . Sat Nam ✨
ATPB: How has COVID-19 pivoted some of your business?
TNS: Covid-19 has definitely brought us to our knees but our spiritual practice taught us that perhaps that was exactly where we needed to get to in order to make the changes we have made and be in the perfect position for prayer and surrender.
We had to pivot by moving all of our yoga classes online, and re-training ourselves and our incredible teachers on how to teach yoga and wellness via zoom.
Our Vegan Cafe shifted and gave birth to thenest@home weekend boxes where clients could access the seasonal blackboard menu and could get a chance to learn how to make their favorite vegan meals at home. We included the ingredients and recipes in the boxes upskilling our community while also giving them the option to just receive the meals ready-made too.
It hasn’t been easy but it has been an incredible learning curve and we can not deny we are all the better for it as going online allowed us to access a broader market.
ATPB: What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned?
TNS: We have learned that having a community is crucial, our community is our stakeholders and they feel invested in this movement and it showed for when Covid-19 hit it was our community that came to our rescue. Volunteers stepped up to help us pivot, donations streamed in and our online community pushed up our digital presence with organic marketing and world of mouth.
We also learned how to surrender, an ethos that is entrenched in our spiritual practices and yet not always easy to observe. When we were stripped of all sense of control it was then that we realized we never had it in the first place; it was all just in our minds.
ATPB: You run a monthly full moon gathering online – what prompted the need to start that event?
TNS: We run both Full Moon and New Moon gatherings each month. Other than the strong personal connection that we both have to the lunar cycle, but more so we knew we wanted to make sure that over and above having affordable classes that we were still accessible to people who may not be in a position to afford our fees. Our Moon Gatherings are all donation-based and have opened up our community extensively.
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#fullmoonceremony 🌕 . The upcoming Full Moon in Aquarius is happening tomorrow and has been predicted to highlight our desires for freedom, revolution and change. This full moon will also encourage us to better balance our hearts with our minds, and to ultimately release anything that no longer serves us . Full moon energy is all about illumination, with each full moon helping us unravel or understand some part of ourselves with more clarity than ever before . Join us tomorrow evening from 18:45 – 20:00 on our IG Live for some movement, breath work and meditation guided by @freedohm_yoga and @organic_nomad we will also be hosting a pre-gathering chit chat at 5pm on insta live . What you will need? . – A private space to practice with little to no disturbances . – A yoga may or Blanket laid out flat . – Loose and comfortable clothing . – Any crystals or person items you intend to charge to cleanse . – A shawl or blanket to cover yourself during relaxation . – An open heart 🤍 . Cost? . – All of our moon gatherings are donation based . Full moon energy can be felt two to three days before its inception and two to three days after it ends so sit tight and enjoy the ride . Namaste ✨
ATPB: And finally, any advice for Black and brown women business owners?
TNS: Yes, collaboration is key. There are not enough of us yet for us to not be working and supporting one another. Let’s work together, let’s recommend one another and indiscriminately choose each other when it comes to services and suppliers.
- Set an Intention for Yoga Practice
- Wellness and Yoga Retreats
- How We’re Restoring This Month
- 21 Days of Abundance Meditation Challenge