For many, yoga is a daily practice. It is a ritual they undertake in a class as part of a group, alone in the privacy of their home or, if they are very lucky, outside communing with nature. Performing the Surya Namaskar on a hilltop in the Serengeti was an unexpected, but inspired move by Demi Piriya who is a yogini who grew up in Thailand, but currently resides in United States. This is the story of how Demi found spiritual inspiration on her trip to Tanzania.
Demi was raised in Bangkok, Thailand. She currently resides in San Diego, California, where she attends university. She visited the Singita Grumeti reserve with her partner and his extended family. Yoga had first entered her life as a tool for healing and personal development, but has since grown to occupy a key role in her life. Her aim as a yoga teacher is to help people form a connection with the practice.
Yoga is often viewed as just a set of poses, but dedicated practitioners know it goes much deeper than that. The poses (or asana) are merely a preliminary utility. The true power of yoga comes from breath work (pranayama) and meditation, but for newcomers this is not immediately apparent. It is this aspect of the practice that inspired Demi to take to that hill.
Focusing on her teaching practice meant that her personal practice had to take a backseat. The visit to the Serengeti allowed Demi to immerse herself completely, finding what truly moved her spirit and allowing her to back into a space of personal focus. The raw beauty of this natural wilderness broadened her view on what constituted humanity’s interaction with nature and their surroundings. We often find ourselves isolated from what we feel is feral. Practicing yoga in what is often considered wild served as a reminder that humans are inextricably linked to their wilder roots.
Her favorite spot was a stone-lined lawn, which overlooked the plains below. This became the backdrop for her practice, its gorgeous views setting the tone for the expansion she was searching for. What better place to practice than at a safari lodge in southern Africa. In the end, it was her time out on the Savannah, which made the biggest impact. Being free and playing in the heart of the wild make up her fondest memories. Becoming a part of the finely balanced ecosystem surrounding her: A leopard lounging with her kill in an acacia tree, baby elephants learning how to drink at the watering hole or the cheetah appreciating the sunset.
Time out here in the Serengeti provided Demi with the space to connect to herself and the wildlife. It allowed her to realize just how fragile this system and its inhabitants are. This area is thriving thanks to local conservation efforts and it allowed her to see how we ultimately influence our surroundings.
*The material in this article is adapted from the original reflections of Demi Piriya,
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