Yoga conjures up images of downward facing dog and utterings of “Namaste”, coaching of deep conversations regarding ones inner life and the third of unforgettable adventures tracking down wild animals in the African bushveld, so at first glance it may seem that any connection between the three is a substantial reach. Interestingly enough though, they combine to create the deepest wildlife experience and re-connection with nature out there. Here are a few reasons why this trio form the ultimate experience…
- They subdue the mental chatter:
Humans are social animals and yet the culture we live in now is highly individualistic. This perpetuates the belief that we all live separate lives and creates a deep sense of loneliness. We feel that our problems are ours alone and we have to solve them on our own. We see patterns of feelings arising, particularly in the Millenial generation, of unworthiness, disconnectedness and anxiety. Most of these are based on incorrect or unquestioned thinking habits. Frankly, most of our problems are mental.
Our thoughts are not dangerous but we become attached to them and without inquiry it is this that causes suffering. As Byron Katie says, “don’t believe everything you think”. Easier said than done right? Sometimes we’ve done this for so long that to simply say “don’t believe that thought”, or “don’t stress it’s all going to be ok” just really isn’t enough. In fact some of our thoughts are so deeply imbedded, we don’t even know that what we’re constantly telling ourselves is untrue. To shift this we need to do the opposite. We need to become more embodied and support and guidance in starting this process is key. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to quiet the internal racket and experience life from a peaceful place? It’s possible and the wilderness truly is the best place to retreat to do this. It is deep in nature that you begin to see that animals are not stuck in this awful mental chatter and they’re a lot more aware as a result. They’re the best (and most inspirational) teachers there are. On a wellness safari we quiet the social voices and begin to listen to the wild ones waiting within.
2. They draw you into the present moment:
In an article published in the Huffington Post, Dr Travis Bradberryn says, “almost all our problems occur because we time travel: we go to the past and regret things we’ve done, or we go to the future and feel anxious about events that haven’t even happened. It’s all too easy to slip into the past or jet into the future. When you do, you lose sight of the one thing that you can actually control”- and that is how you choose to meet the present moment.
When we time travel we essentially begin to live inside a story of our lives that we’re imagining rather than being aware of what is actually happening. And the best ways to become present and to stop listening to the story comes from tapping into your direct bodily experience and becoming so filled with wonder at the immediate moment that nothing else seems to matter anymore. When you’ve got an elephant so close to you that you can make out its individual eyelashes there really doesn’t seem to be anything else of importance in the universe. As you come more fully into the moment, life becomes pregnant with joy and possibility.
3. They teach you to feel:
All of these encourage you to move and breathing consciously. These keys empower you to tap into how you feel and not just what you think. Constantly looking at computer screens, running through to-do lists and rushing from one task to the next perpetuate thinking and an objectification of our experience and of the world around us. We essentially come up and out of our bodies. Amazingly enough, a lot of us aren’t actually aware of how we feel in a given moment. When we slow down, take a breath, tap into our bodily awareness in a beautiful environment we suddenly realise we can feel pretty profoundly. And it is this bodily wisdom that you can then use to guide you. This capacity to feel is the gateway to greater freedom.
4. They improve your overall health and well-being:
Life coaching, the practice of yoga and time in nature provide both a physical and emotional cleanse. At a more superficial level safaris can be rather sedentary, where you move from a game viewing vehicle to a seemingly endless array of delicious meals. A wellness safari incorporates movement and physical exploration so that your body is more open, relaxed and healthy by the end. But deeper than this, a safari of this kind calms your entire nervous system, replenishes your cells and leaves you restored.
5. They make you kinder:
Studies “are finding evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and to increase our attention capacity, creativity, and ability to connect with other people.” What’s even more amazing though is evidence that nature makes us more kind and generous. It is for this very same quality that yoga has been considered such a powerful practice for centuries. On a safari like this you return home kinder to yourself, to others and to the world around you. As your inner world becomes more compassionate, your outer world reflects that. It’s the greatest gift you could give yourself and your loved ones.
6. They’re fun:
Spending time with social animals like elephants, lions and wild dogs is not only a completely magical experience but a fun one too. These animals teach us how to play!
World-renowned researcher, Stuart Brown calls play a “transformative force”. When we play, we open ourselves up to profound learning experiences.
Amazingly enough, it’s also a key factor in establishing what makes us feel safe with another human and contributes to connection. Brown says “the basis of human trust is established through play signals” and that bonding and the early roots of a community that is altruistic and cohesive develop through play. It’s how we learn emotional regulation, physical capabilities, social norms, build imagination, learn about the world, improve memory and trigger feel good hormones that affect mood.
Play is being touted as a hugely important area for making us happier and more successful, but I think more important than that, it inspires us to hold life a little more lightly. And at the very least, you’ll end up having a little fun.
7. Remind you who you truly are:
Yoga is union with what is, a remembering of who we truly are so that we can remember our place in the world and our connection to all beings. When we remember this we truly meet the animals, trees, land and people on safari. We feel the sentience of the environment, we remember our place in it and truly wish to preserve it. We begin to find ourselves both on and off the mat. It is in nature that we find a profound sense of belonging. As you become more conscious on safari, you deepen your overall wildlife experience because the chatter of the world you’ve become so used to falls away.
Incorporating wellness practices into your safari is not a distraction from the wildlife experience, to the contrary it only deepens your time in the wild. It reminds you of who you truly are and how connected you are to everything. It reminds you that you belong to the family of all things.
When these elements come together the experiences are truly transformational.