Hello lovelies! It gives me immense joy to be sharing this week’s inspiring woman post with you! My beautiful mother, Atma, who is equal parts mom and guru to me. Atma has been teaching yoga for nearly half a century! (Growing up people used to ask what my mother did as a “yoghurt teacher”!)  Over the years, she has touched many students through her yoga classes, workshops and retreats. At 73 years young, she still glows with a light from within. (I know you might think I’m biased, but I’ve heard her praises sung from many many people.) I hope you will enjoy reading her interview…

Introduce yourself

My name is Atma, a spiritual name given me by my teacher Yogi Bhajan. It means the Soul of God.
My Soul Journey this lifetime has undoubtably been Yoga. The journey began 45 years ago when a friend gave me a book called “Yoga for Women”.
Armed with my book, and a very large suitcase, I arrived in South Africa from my native Kenya, in search of adventure and good prospects. In time I found my first teacher in Johannesburg, and loved getting up early on Sunday mornings to walk barefoot in the grass, to soak up “prana” before class began.

In time, I moved to Cape Town and found another yoga, a different style. And so the journey continued. I was pregnant with my first child when I went to a demonstration given by the great guru B K S Iyengar. 18 years later, and a number of very good teachers, I was reasonably accomplished, but felt a deep longing for a “spiritual something” that was missing from my practise. Quite by chance, I was invited to a class given by a visiting teacher from America. This style of yoga was called Kundalini, and I fell in love, in fact I wept throughout the class and was on a high for days later. I had come home. At that time there were no Kundalini teachers in Cape Town, but eventually teacher training arrived. I was the first certified teacher in Cape Town and loved the pioneering spirit in which it was received. The rest is history. I have lived my dream of having a beautiful yoga retreat called “Little Samadhi” far from the busy city. My intention is to continue teaching for as long as I have breath in my body!

Tell us about your eating philosophy.

Over the years, I must have tried almost every eating philosophy under the sun. Now, finally, I’ve learned to listen intently. Listen to the voice of inner guidance to do with my physical, mental and emotional needs. This relates to not only the food types, but also the time of day I choose to eat. For instance, I’m a firm believer in an honest to goodness breakfast, either before my yoga practice, in which case the practice comes later, or an early start practice and a good rewarding breakfast/brunch after. Yes, I have the extreme luxury of being able to choose (unless I have guests or people retreating.)

How do you like to move your body?

I’ve been moving my body in some form or other for decades. It’s as important as breathing! Some mornings a beautiful day will call me to walk. Other days I head straight for my mat. There are also those days when I just have to put on some good music and dance!

Do you have a meditation practice? If so, what does it look like?

In Kundalini yoga, Meditation is woven beautifully into the practice. Most of the time you have your eyes closed and focused up to the Third Eye (just above and between the eyebrows) – this helps to hold the mind in focus on the inner observation of thought and appropriate action. Traditionally, there is always another dedicated mediation after relaxation, in completion and augmentation of whatever theme one has been addressing during the Set or Kriya. For instance the Kriya (the physical part) may be for releasing fear and the meditation to follow might be for releasing fear of the future.

What is your morning routine? What do you do when you wake up?

I’m not big into set routines. How i start my day is determined by a number of factors! However, first thing that goes down is a mix of a teaspoon full of Vita C 2000 and Diatomaceous Earth, both crucial to our wellbeing. I have to mention “The Cold Shower” part here!
Its part of yogic health and hygiene called Ishnaan. A nice body brush first to remove old skin cells, then massage almond or sesame oil over entire body, then literally plunge into a stream of cold water! A good rub down with a bath size towel and you’re good to go, (Ishnaan works especially well in Winter – keeps you flu free and radiant!)

What makes you feel most alive and vibrant?

Doing Yoga!  And just as invigorating:  a swim in the freezing Atlantic Ocean!

What do you do to relax and unwind?

More yoga!  🙂 Enjoying the company of family and friends is top of the list too.

Have you ever had to deal with any health (mental or physical) ailments and what helped you overcome it/them?

Very recently, this past year brought with it something I hadn’t  even heard of before – Leaky Gut. It literally turned me upside down (mostly with indignation as I have always been very healthy). The only so-called symptom was my skin – all those toxins escaping my damaged colon appeared horribly visual on my skin. An itch from Hell came with it, particularly at night. After months of an intense protocol of appropriate diet and supplementation, the gut has healed! The skin is slowly getting there. I still want to explore a course of Colonics alternating with Liver Flushes. What helped enormously in the healing process was the support of my friends and my wise Health Coach daughter, Oona. (***EDITOR’S NOTE: Didn’t pay her to say that!***)

What wellness trend would you like to see more of?

I’m a lifelong advocate of Yoga, I would love to see it being introduced into every school, hospital and business in the world!

What wellness trend are you sick of?

What trend I have little tolerance for is fad diets of every description. They seem to put the body into confusion and disarray.

What’s your go-to healing meal or drink?

My all time favourite night time drink is Golden Milk: mix a heaped teaspoon of non-irradiated turmeric together with a few grindings of black pepper to activate. Add enough spring water to make a creamy paste and gently simmer for 7 minutes. Add about a cup of milk of your choice (nut milk/rice milk/coconut milk) Add a teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil during simmering. Add your choice of healthy sweetener (mine is brown rice malt syrup) and enjoy!

Any supplements that you swear by?

During my leaky gut trials, my daughter suggested using Solal’s Energising Adaptogens. Adaptogens are pure herbal extracts that support and invigorate the body and mind during times of stress and fatigue.

Any healers, trainers, health care professionals that you’d highly recommend?

Healers and trainers….there are so very many  committed and  dedicated people with a calling to help and serve humanity. We have so many healing modalities available to us. They all have worth and value. At the base of any healing journey, I believe we need to learn to trust the body/mind’s capacity to heal itself, given half the chance.

What does your skincare routine look like? What products are you using?

I’m a “soap and water girl” when it comes to skin care! The soap needs to be fragrance free and natural. I love to wash my face using a gentle buffer and a splash of cold water afterwards. My number 1 favourite product is Gaia Organics eye-zone serum tissue oil,
which I gently massage all over my face and neck.

Your favourite quote, words of wisdom that you live by?

My favourite quote or words of wisdom (among the millions) is permanently tacked to the wall above my desk. It goes:
“True intelligence is the capacity of the mind to honour the wisdom of the heart.”…… and there’s another…..
“Courage is Grace under pressure.”

What does your night time routine look like?

My bedtime routine is pretty routine! A good page turner helps to settle the mind and gently detach from the day. Cell phone out of bounds after 9 pm. Some pranayam (breathing techniques) if the mind is very busy. Lights out by 10 (ish)

If you could give one tip/piece of advice for a healthier, happier life …

If I could give one tip of advice for a healthier happier life it would be to learn to deeply listen to the quiet voice of your Soul.
Nothing we need to learn is outside of us and everything we need is within. We need only to listen.

Atma has recently sold her heavenly yoga retreat, Little Samadhi, but you’ll be able to find her teaching, giving workshops and teacher training in Cape Town later in the year. To follow along on social media, you can find her on Instagram at Radiant Aging Za.