Yoga In Zanzibar: An Interview With Aimee Barnes
Which brings us to Aimee Barnes – a true South African yogi who recently brought a “peace” of yoga to Zanzibar.
This Jozi (Johannesburg) girl with her heart bleeding for movement took her yoga entourage away for a bit of R ‘n’ R on a yoga retreat for a few days. We sat down with her to hear all about her journey…
First off thank you for talking with us Aimee. Before delving into your yoga Zanzibar excursion, tell us about your background as yoga instructor in Africa.
I’ve been a yoga teacher for 3 years. I’m based in Johannesburg and teach in Randburg, Illovo and Morningside. They are arguably some of the best studios in the country – I am very loyal [laughs].
I started practicing when I was 18, I committed to it after a colleague of mine introduced me to a yoga studio when I was 21. She’s an instructor herself and it didn’t take much convincing on my part because I was already keen on the idea. Yoga appealed to me in the physical sense because I enjoyed being active and it intrigued me with the promise of the mystical.
There are myriad of options for yoga fans out there. Why did you decide to go to Zanzibar over any other destination?
Tropical Island Bliss kind of speaks for itself. The fact that it is a short flight away and is affordable for South African travelers made it a no-brainer.
There’s been a lot of attraction to East Africa for yogis of late – the African Yoga Project springs to mind. Do you have an idea why that is? How does yoga influence people’s life?
It’s getting people connected to themselves and their bodies. Yoga is a powerful and transformative any community. I’m glad that Kenyans are realizing some of those benefits.
You traveled to Zanzibar for a number of days to offer yoga retreat. Give us a typical day’s schedule.
We practiced yoga at sunrise at 6.30 for 90 minutes. We started with a strong Vinyasa (flow) practice. This was followed by a buffet breakfast of hot and cold varieties. Once breakfast was finished people were free to do with their days as they pleased. Most participated in the plethora of tours and activities on offer including island tours, visiting spice farms, stone town, markets, water activities and more. Others chose to lounge around the divine pool. Lunch was also included which was another lovely buffet at midday. Every evening we practiced a 90 minute Yin class to soothe and relax after the day, which we timed at sunset. Finally ending with supper before star gazing before bed time.
What was your guests reactions towards the end of the retreat?
They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was everything we had hoped for and more. Just going on holiday to a destination like that is fantastic but being able to work on yourself and your mind by practicing yoga daily really helps to shift people’s frame of mind…
Would you recommend travelling to Zanzibar to friends and family?
Absolutely, the people of the island are so special and friendly. I really can’t stress that enough.
Do you have plans to hold a yoga retreat again in the future in Africa?
Yes absolutely, being a teacher has made me realize I have a passion for human movement so I am currently working toward a degree in Biokinetics. That has taken a lot of my time and energy but I am eager to either return to Zanzibar or try a new destination in the next few months!
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