Meet Nothemba Mkhondo, Fashion Writer Turned Yoga Teacher.
Deadlines, interviews, and industry events were part of Nothemba’s dairy a few years ago. She is now living her best life by teaching yoga. Read her inspirational story on how she transitioned her career into the slow lane.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Nothemba and I’m a writer and yoga teacher with a penchant for all things wellness. If you met me a few years ago, I was a fashion writer chasing deadlines and interviewing my favourite designers. These days, alongside my 9-to-5 I am a yoga teacher and founder of Khanya Yoga – a ‘space’ I created that illuminates the pathway back to self through yoga, breath, and meditation.
How did you discover yoga?
I first tried yoga when I was at university when I was looking to explore an alternate form of exercise. I have been doing it on and off for years but I reconnected with the practice on a new level last year during the lockdown. It all started when I challenged myself to do 21 days of yoga – the initial length of lockdown. 21 days later I started to feel a shift within me and I knew I needed to keep going. A few months later, I felt called to apply to do a yoga teacher training to get to know the practice on a deeper level, and now here we are.
How long did it take and how has the transition been from an everyday woman to a yoga instructor?
I wouldn’t say it’s been a transition. I got my qualification at the end of 2020, and I only recently launched my Yoga business, Khanya Yoga as a passion project which I am building alongside my 9-to-5. Yoga is a journey and teaching yoga is a pathway along this journey that is unfolding with every class and with every moment.
What are some of the things you needed to do to prepare?
I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to certain things. I knew I needed to have some sort of a plan before I started teaching – I wasn’t ready to just jump in. So I sat down and asked myself why I want to teach and what that might look like. That’s when I came up with Khanya Yoga – a yoga ‘space’ that illuminates a pathway back to self. For me, it’s about the energetic space that I create be it online or in a physical space with a student during a one-on-one session. I knew I needed to be ready to hold space for others on a regular basis, which is why I took my time before opening Khanya Yoga up to the world.
How is Yoga linked to self-care?
Yoga is more than a physical practice, it’s a chance to connect and come home to yourself. That’s why yoga has become so important to me. I see it as a moving meditation. It’s just you, your body, and your breath – everything else stands still while you are on the mat. I think that any moment when you are intentional about connecting with yourself, is self-care — it doesn’t matter what you are doing.
How many times must one practice to see the effects?
It all depends on what you want out of your practice. Yoga is a very personal journey and you can feel different every time you practice. All I know is that I never leave the mat feeling how I did when I started. I always feel a shift in my energy. I walk away feeling more centered, more at home in my body.
For people who think and are uncomfortable that yoga represents another religion instead of theirs what would you say?
Yoga is not about religion — anyone can practice yoga. The Bhagavad Gita says, “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” You move your body and use your breath to meet yourself more and more. You aren’t required to adhere to a particular faith or obliged to observe religious rituals in yoga. In fact, if you look at the history of yoga, yoga was practiced by people of different religions when it began thousands of years ago. It is about you and your energy and becoming more aligned and awakened within yourself and in the universe.
What has yoga taught you about yourself?
Yoga brought me back to myself. I left a fast-paced job in publishing because I was burnt out and didn’t know what I wanted anymore. I was disconnected from myself and couldn’t figure out what next. The problem with our grind/hustle culture is that when you are on a hamster wheel, it becomes so easy to lose sight of who you are and where you are going outside of your career ambitions, and what the world dictates your life should start to look like after a certain age. I stepped off the hamster wheel and yoga helped me stand still and regain clarity and be at peace with who I am and where I am in my life — which may not always be how you imagined it to be. It taught me to love myself in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.
What are some of your daily self-care routines that you would recommend to our readers?
Apart from yoga – pranayama and meditation in the morning are my favourite ways to start the day. My favourite centering breathing exercise is called Nadi Shodhanah — which means alternate nostril breathing. When it comes to mediation, I enjoy Anapana which is a meditation where you become mindful of your breath. I. also really enjoy listening to podcasts – I am currently loving Tara Brach’s podcasts which are a combination of talks and meditations. I also consider cooking for myself a form of self-care so I always make time to make myself a good meal for dinner.
What is your view on slow living and why we should all try it?
I’m a firm believer in slower living. We are all so caught up in the daily grind that we forget to disconnect and do things more mindfully. For me, it all comes down to mindfulness and intentionality. Doing the things you really want to do and doing them fully present. Life is so much more beautiful when you slow down.
Foods and herbs that you incorporate into your diet?
I have always been quite experimental when it comes to my wellness and how I eat and exercise. I’m that person that will try anything once to see if it will benefit me in any way (I even tried Celery juice for a hot minute lol!). Generally, I try to eat mostly vegetarian meals during the week — I always have chickpeas, butternut, baby spinach, tenderstem broccoli and cauliflower in my kitchen. I stopped drinking dairy a few years ago and now I live for oat milk! I also have at least one glass of hot water with lemon, honey, and a splash of cayenne pepper every day – it’s great for digestion.
Follow @thembzm and her beautiful studio @khanya.yoga