Meet Yoga Instructor, Bonolo Phaladze
‘Seated Spinal Twist Pose’ or ‘Restorative Twist’: are these phrases familiar to you? What about ‘breathing control’ or ‘conscious breathing’?
Well, this week, Voice Woman chats with a certified hatha and vinyasa yoga instructor, Bonolo Phaladze, about all things yoga – the ancient art and science of achieving perfect health and higher quality of life; holistic benefits that the Lobatse-born blogger (nolsynols.com) so passionately wants to introduce to others in an easy and enjoyable manner. Phaladze began her blog in 2018 to “share her perspective on life as a working mom and wife”.
A Financial Markets professional at Absa Bank, the mother-of-three, who is currently pursing MSc in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at HEC Paris, is also an entrepreneur with two companies – Yownn Yoga and Kalastone Digital.
Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who is Bonolo Phaladze?
Bonolo Phaladze is a teacher. What I do best is learn complex concepts and break and impart my learning to other people in a way that is accessible to many, that is my purpose. It is perhaps for this reason that I decided to become a yoga teacher among many of the hats I wear.
I’m a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Yownn Yoga, a wellness lifestyle company whose vision is to make wellness convenient and accessible.
Take us through your journey to becoming a yoga instructor?
My yoga journey started accidentally, so to speak. I was into fitness, did gym religiously but never yoga because I couldn’t understand it and probably even judged it because it didn’t look like “doing much”.
It was my ob-gyn (obstetrician-gynecologist) who would nudge me in the direction of yoga due to a high-risk pregnancy.
As a person who was used to being active, I had no choice but to try yoga. my first yoga experience was at about 7 months pregnant; I was totally blown away.
It was intense in a way that I could never have comprehended, but yet so glorious in such a mystical way. Immediately after birth, I went back to practising yoga.
by the time I went back to work, I had lost the maternity weight and felt amazing. I would flirt on and off with yoga for a few years. In 2017, I came across Khutsafalo Kasale of Muntu Yoga Rising and she took me on as a private client for a 40-day transformation programme.
The programme was indeed transformative, I felt an indescribable amount of joy, a joy that you want to share with the world. It was then that I decided I wanted to teach yoga. I would go to Thailand for yoga teacher training in 2019, and start teaching in 2020
Do tell us more..
Yoga is a lifestyle; it is not just about the physical practice. It is an all-encompassing mindfulness lifestyle, how you interact with the environment, other people and most importantly how you interact with the self.
There are 8 limbs of yoga, which is sort of the blueprint whose objective is to help us lead a joyful, meaningful and mindful life. The physical practice (which most people know as yoga) is only 1 of the limbs.
The first two limbs focus on how we interact with the environment and with others, which I like to call basic human decency. The third limb, called Asana or the physical practice, and the fourth limb is pranayama or breath control.
At the end of the spectrum, we have withdrawal of the senses, concentration, meditation and pure contemplation.
And how has this lifestyle changed your life?
Yoga has changed my life in many ways, I have become more confident in my ability and my potential as a person.
The physical practice is somewhat the entry level of yoga, in my opinion. It is quite explorative, these funky and creative yoga postures challenge you to want to progress to the next level and in that way it forces you to practise and show up for yourself daily.
It teaches consistency, it challenges your creativity and, when you finally get to nail the posture, your confidence soars. And little by little you start to believe in your potential because you have experienced the benefit of practice and consistency.
Yoga has taught me to believe in the power of micro steps, it has given me the confidence to believe that I can start a business from literally nothing and grow it daily with practice and consistency.
What style of yoga do you specialise in?
I’m certified to teach hatha and vinyasa yoga. But to bring it closer to home, I have honed my teaching skills to appeal mostly to beginners; I love working with my students to build a solid foundation so as to be able to practise at home and take advantage of free yoga classes online.
Speaking of online classes, YouTube, especially, has many a yoga instructor offering various techniques and methods. Is it advisable to learn virtually as opposed to in-person?
We do actually have a YouTube channel as well – Yownn Yoga. I would, however, advise people to start with an instructor to learn proper alignment and just become comfortable around the practice before advancing online.
With that being the case, there are, however, YouTube teachers who are excellent at teaching beginners such as ‘Yoga with Adriene’ and Yownn Yoga, yes really!
Some of the styles/methods are rather suggestive. Should a Christian practise yoga?
Yes, Christians can practise yoga; in fact, any religion can practise yoga. The beauty of yoga is that you have the opportunity to make it your own practice; you can take what works for you and leave the rest.
It is meant to enrich your life in a way that resonates with your spirit.
Plus-size people, like myself, do struggle to imagine themselves executing certain yoga poses. Is it really possible for the pleasantly plump to ‘twist into a pretzel’ or do they need to lose weight first?
Yoga is for everybody and every body. You come to yoga as you are and you build from there. I’m happy to offer a free yoga class for plus-size people just to demonstrate how accessible yoga truly is, the only catch is that you’d organise the venue and free adverts.
I mean it when I say our vision at Yownn Yoga is to meet you exactly where you are in your fitness journey.
Have you had any of your students sustaining major injuries during class?
None that I know of; people come to yoga class with a myriad of physical ailments, and report feeling better within a few weeks of a consistence practice.
Our classes are on the gentler side of the spectrum, curated with beginners in mind.
You’ve an upcoming event; tell us more about it.
We host Yownn Yoga Breakfast in partnership with Ate@Design twice a month, the objective of the event is to introduce people to yoga in a fun and accessible way, have a nourishing breakfast and network with likeminded people.
It’s such an amazing space to start your Saturday feeling awesome, you can bring your friends or come alone and either way you will have a great time. The next session is on the 22nd of April, 2023 at Ate at Design. You can scan the QR code to sign up.
I challenge you to arrange a session for plus-size people and I will teach it for free. Other than that, if you’ve always wanted to experience yoga, I’d like to invite you to sign up for Yownn Yoga Breakfast, it is truly the friendliest space to try yoga for the first time.