Spring Yoga Retreat – 2 spots left!

We sold out this retreat this week, only to discover there is a new room available at the venue. So there are 2 more spots available if you’re wanting a yoga getaway weekend in Stanford.

Contact me to book: Monique 082 413 5896

If you’re still on the fence, here’s some inspiration:

Why go on a yoga retreat?

The traditional benefit of yoga is to still the mind, and going on retreat will allow you to focus on this more deeply. Instead of emerging relaxed from a class back into your busy home life you can carry that calmness with you throughout a whole weekend.
Practicing yoga at home can be full of distractions; the dog, your partner/kids, your kitchen (haha!) and of course, your phone. Getting out of your usual space helps you switch off and explore your practice distraction-free in a disciplined way.
Spending a weekend in this calm way helps you gain perspective of your life at large. You’ll get the chance to take a step back from daily life business, and reevaluate things. It’s a chance for true reflection and introspection.

If you struggle to find time to practice yoga in your everyday life then the benefit of going on a yoga retreat is being able to practice every day without distraction. A weekend of yoga will guide you deeper in your practice.

Giving yourself this space can be a truly healing experience physically and mentally.
To book: Monique 082 413 5896 | R3600pp sharing, R6200 private room

Why Use Props?

Props can help you no matter what level you are at. They teach proper alignment so that you receive the full range of benefits from a pose. Props help increase your staying power in a pose, which let’s you go deeper, giving you more time to reap the benefits. As we stay in a pose, the mind draws inward, unnecessary thinking is quelled, and we experience more objectivity and humility. For some, props symbolize admission of a limitation, and the ego doesn’t like that. So often yoga props have been ridiculed. But for the humble practitioner, props will help grow sensitivity in a pose and unlock more advanced poses that are not yet available to you. Then, when the prop is removed, your experience of a pose is amplified with deeper understanding and direction.

The Sardine Run 2019 – Yoga and Dolphin Experience

The Sardine Run – Yoga and Dolphin Experience

Experience the Sardine Run Ocean Safari, an event of spectacular proportions during winter on the South African coastline. This time of year is right in the middle of two migrations; shoals of sardines and pods of humpback whales. Tonnes of sardines are moving north to spawn, closely followed by their predators, namely dolphins, gannets and sharks. At the same time, pods of humpback whales are migrating north to warmer waters to give birth. Nature and wildlife enthusiasts as well as photographers will get a chance to capture ocean wildlife as never imagined. Yoga lovers will be guided twice daily for sunrise and sunset yoga sessions overlooking the bay. All this set in the beautiful rolling hills and rural african landscape of Mdumbi, Wildcoast.

Join us for this yoga, snorkeling and free-diving adventure! Everyone is welcome and there is no special training needed to join us for the yoga and boating experience. You will spend 6 days on the ocean, with 7 night’s accommodation. Meals and yoga/snorkeling equipment included.



Arrive 8th – Depart 15th June 2019 – Sold out

Arrive 15th – Depart 22nd June 2019 – 4 spots left


R28,000pp sharing


  • Ocean safari
  • Yoga twice daily
  • All meals
  • Snorkeling & yoga equipment
  • Marine guides
  • Accommodation
  • Wifi

Doesn’t include:

  • Flights to East London, South Africa
  • Transfers by road to Mdumbi

Iyengar Yoga with Monique

Monique LOVES Iyengar yoga. She has practiced yoga for the past 10 years has been teaching for 3. Monique has a background in Architecture and Sustainable Development, and has completed degrees in both. Since 2015, Monique has changed her career radically from Architecture to teaching yoga full time. She is passionate about teaching yoga because she believes it guides people to live more connected, authentic, fulfilled and sustainable lives. She believes in the powerful effects of yoga on the body and mind. Her teaching focuses on alignment, because she believes that it is with alignment that one finds true freedom in yoga, and that alignment can help one go much deeper into one’s yoga practice. Come on this trip and share classes with her twice daily!

Wildlife Photography with Steve

Steve is an ocean and photography addict, and has built his life around the ocean since 2009. He has lead sardine run trips for the last 9 years; a passion project he loves to share each year. Steve has advised, facilitated and assisted on expeditions with National Geographic magazine and the BBC’s Blue Planet II. He loves creating wild ocean experiences and rare photographic opportunities for clients. Steve is also the director of Animal Ocean, a wildlife expeditions company that brings you up close to the natural world (see more website and instagram). Join him on the Sardine Run for an action packed adventure that you won’t forget!


Mdumbi is the best place to experience the marine life on the Sardine Run. The rolling hills of Mdumbi Backpackers over look the estuary and the ocean. A quick walk down the hill each morning is where we will launch the boat. With only 7 places available, this trip offers adventure for those who want to escape the masses and find something unique. See more here

The Daily Routine

We start the day early at 6:30am with a 45 min yoga practice. Breakfast will be waiting at 7:30am, after which we will kit up and go. From 8:30am we are on the water with the whales, dolphins and sardines. The afternoon from 3-5pm is yours to relax, before starting an hours yoga practice at 5pm. Dinner will be waiting at 7pm. Each day promises to be an adventurous wildlife and yoga experience. Check out one of our past trips on Steve’s “Diary” section

What to expect / what to bring

Encountering the ocean in this unique way means being exposed to the water, wind and sun for the day on the boat (6hours). Ocean conditions can vary, so those prone to sea-sickness should bring the necessary prevention medicine. Bring sunscreen, a wind breaker, a hat, sunglasses, and a buff. Mdumbi is a rural village, with no shops or facilities. Bring all your essential items for this time. The evenings can be chilly, and we will be there in the mild South African winter month of June. Temperatures, on land, range from 14-21 degrees celsius in this season. Bring warm clothes for the evenings.

The water temperature ranges from 16C – 22C. We will be using 5mm wetsuits, as well as booties, gloves, fins and vests. We will bring weight belts and any equipment need for snorkeling or free-diving.

The water temperature ranges from 16C – 22C. We recommend at least a 5mm wetsuit with hood. Long blade fins are recommended, if you have them. We will bring weight belts and any equipment need for snorkeling or free-diving.

All yoga sessions will be held 3-5minutes walk away beneath a casuarina grove, on a tented deck overlooking the bay. These sunrise and sunset yoga sessions will be open to the natural elements, although protected from any rain we may have. Bring warm clothes for the final resting pose of each session. Mats and essential props will be provided. Water bottles and sweat towels won’t be necessary.

Getting to Mdumbi

The best way to join us is to fly into East London airport. There is a shuttle service for R2000 p/p (both ways included). Alternatively there are car hire companies in East London for your convenience. East London is 6 hours drive away from Mdumbi. Self-drivers must depart East London by 12:00 to arrive on time.

Email us at info@ayamayoga.co.za to get on board and experience the ocean like you have never before!

Pranayama – yoga breathing

Pranayama is the 4th limb of yoga, and is the science of breath. Prana means breath, respiration, life, vitality, energy or strength. Ayama means extension, expansion and ascension. Pranayama means breath extension or regulation. Regular practice of pranayama is as essential as a regular asana (pose) practice. We access the mind through the body and the breath. Emotional excitement affects the rate of breathing; equally, deliberate regulation of breathing checks emotional excitement. Through breath regulation we can begin to calm the nerves, soothe the body and ultimately control the mind. 

This workshop will begin with a restorative yoga sequence to quieten the mind and nerves, followed by guided pranayama. The fireplace will be lit and the room nice and warm to accommodate relaxation.

BOOK: Monique 082 413 5896

R200 pre-booked, R250 at the door

Set yourself free!

Tight pants, tight abs and poor posture
Your lungs don’t breath on their own, they are reliant on a symphony of muscles to inflate and deflate them. As you inhale, certain muscles expand the space for the lungs to inflate; the belly and lower ribs expand, creating a suction of air into the lungs as they expand. When you exhale, that space shrinks to expel the air, deflating the lungs. Your lungs will inflate only to the size of its vessel: the rib cage. When the muscles involved are restricted, the space of the vessel/ribs is compromised and therefore the breath limited.

When we breath, an orchestra of muscles are at work in the chest, neck, back and abdomen. Of this orchestra, your  diaphragm is the most important player. If the diaphragm is tight, your breath is restricted. Anything that restricts the movement of the diaphragm limits your ability to inhale fully. Tight clothes, a belt, a slumped posture or tight abdominals will all limit your diaphragms ability to move, and therefore your ability to breathe.

This is a good reminder not to slump in your forward bends. When your posture is slumped, your spine rounds backward and your front ribs dig back and compress the diaphragm. Our emotions can play a role too, as fear and anxiety leads to gripping of the stomach and diaphragm. Gym exercises such as sit-ups or crunches are a recipe for restricted breath. Since our nervous system is a 2-way communication system, any tension in our abdominals from sit ups can lead to fear and anxiety.

Tight, short abs can also contribute to chronic neck pain and headaches. When the upper abs are restricted in breathing, we compensate by using the neck, shoulder and upper chest muscles to force air in to the upper chest. This can lead to over use of the sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius muscles (front and back of the neck – see pic above). Neck strain and chronic neck tension follow, resulting in headaches and neck ache. So be weary of tight abs!

Yoga can set your breath free from the effects of tightness around your breathing muscles, and relieve the symptoms of fear and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong – strong abdominals are essential for a healthy back, but only if they are strong AND long. Yoga promotes a balance of both by ensuring your abdominals are stretched and long as well as strong and supporting. The practice of yoga also includes pranayama, or breath control. In this practice, the breathing muscles are prepared and stretch gently before practicing ancient breathing techniques. Learn more at my next pranayama workshop on 2 June 2019 – more infohere. 

In summary; opt for looser clothes, be conscious not to slump in forward bends, become aware of how you respond to stress (release grip on abdomens), and don’t do abdominal strengthening without stretching them too. Free up your diaphragm, do yoga!

Below are a two poses you can try to stretch out your breathing muscles: Ustrasana on left and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana on right (beginner friendly).

This information was summarised from an article written by Julie Gudmestad called “Anatomy of a Yogi. Take a Deep Breath.”

Restorative Workshop

Join us for this soothing and calming practice to wind down your weekend. You will be guided through a gentle yoga sequence, followed by supine (lying down) poses. You will gently stretch and relax in to each pose, supported by props.


BOOK: Monique 082 413 5896

R200 pre-booked

R250 at door

Benefits of yoga rope-work

Yoga Kurunta, or yoga ropes was invented by BKS Iyengar and is one of the lesser known props. The use of the ropes reverses gravity and allows the spine to gently decompress, which has major benefits for your spine.

This method promotes proper spinal alignment, deepens access into poses, and takes the pressure off your spinal discs, which are gel-like cushions between the bones in your spine. A negative pressure is created in the discs, that allows bulging or herniated disks to retract, and thus takes the pressure off nerves and other structures in your spine. This in turn promotes your bodies own healing potential; the space created allows the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disks so they can heal.

Doctors have recognised this method and use inverted suspension tables in order to suspend their patients upside down. You can use this method to treat various ailments, including:

  • Back/neck pain or sciatica (pain or tingling that extends down the leg)
  • Bulging or herniated disks or degenerative disk disease
  • Worn spinal joints (called posterior facet syndrome)
  • Injured or diseased spinal nerve roots

Come and hang upside down with me for optimum spinal health and regeneration. Book a class here.

Reset yourself with us!

We have been included as one of the studios to try for 2019. Here’s more about us and what’s on offer:

The experience: Up a cobbled side street in the quirky village of Kalk Bay, Ayama is right on the doorstep of Cape Town’s quaintest shops, restaurants and the Dalebrook Tidal Pool. The building dates back 200 years with a spacious and high-ceilinged studio interior. Whilst the studio is big, the classes are kept small. This allows students the individual attention necessary to ensure correct alignment and a personalised yoga experience. Each student progresses at their own speed, and is given the pose variation to suit them where they are. Beginners are welcome in all classes, however, there are dedicated beginners classes on offer. Monique Woolls-King, the owner and yoga teacher at Ayama Yoga, is passionate about the guiding influence which yoga has on the lives of its students. It inspires connection, authenticity, fulfilment and sustainable living. The studio’s name is a Sanskrit word speaking to the concepts of extension, expansion and ascension.

Styles of yoga avaialable: Ayama Yoga is one of the few yoga studios in Cape Town to specialise in the traditional style of Iyengar yoga. Teachers of this method are trained for 3 years, ensuring a high standard of teaching regulated by the Iyengar Family in India. The classes are slow and focus on alignment, a characteristic of Iyengar yoga. It is through this alignment that students finds true freedom in yoga and are able to go deeper into their yoga practice.

Why Practice Headstand?

Headstand is one of my top favourite poses. It leaves me feeling invigorated and inspired, clear and somewhat more alive, rejuvenated and clean. I practice headstand every single day, sometimes for a whole 10minutes. Here are two of my personal favourite benefits of headstand: 

Being upside down stimulates and replenishes the pituitary, pineal and hypothalamus glands in the brain. These are the “master glands” that regulate all other glands in the body, and are therefore vital for overall wellbeing. Hormones by definition are chemical messengers that regulate our physiological and psychological behaviour. Just think about that for a second – physiological and psychological. That’s basically all of you. And headstand helps regulate all your hormones, therefore all of you! This is huge. Headstand has been proven to alleviate diseases associated with hormonal imbalance such as diabetes and depression.

My other favourite benefit of headstand is that it brings you in to the present moment because you have to balance. The moment your mind wanders, you fall. In our increasingly crazy busy world, this simple mental exercise is profoundly important for our mental health.

Other benefits of headstand are:

It draws your attention inwards
Helps releives stress, anxiety and fear
Relieves insomnia
Keeps mind sharp and clear
Relaxes and simultaneously strengthens the blood vessels in the brain which prevents migraines
Increased blood supply to the brain which improves mental function
Improves digestion
Rids water retention in legs
Stimulates the lymphatic system which helps rid the body of unwanted toxins
Takes strain off the heart
Assists venous blood return, allowing un-oxygenated blood that may be “stuck” at your extremities to return to the heart and be replenished
Lessened risk of ischemic stroke

Join me for group yoga in Kalk Bay, or book a private yoga class to sharpen your headstand practice!

Why do a home yoga practice?

We are already heading into 2019 full steam ahead, and during this busy time we can easily be side-tracked away from our yoga practice. Here are some reminders of why keeping up your home practice is so important.

Classes vs home practice? Yoga is ultimately your practice. Attending classes helps you start and hone your skills, while giving new inspiration and challenges. Classes help spark new sequencing ideas, build different focuses and give us a disciplined environment in which to practice. This is the foundation for practicing yoga.

Going to classes is fundamental to keeping on track, and one should always seek new knowledge, however a home practice is crucial in its own way. A home practice is where you explore what you’ve learnt in class and cement it into your own understanding. It’s helps you realise what you might need further clarity on. So when you come back to class, you’re coming with in with questions. In your home practice you can begin to explore what works for your specific body and needs, and focus on those aspects.

Our lives get busy fast. However, we need to prioritise things that contribute to our mental and physical wellbeing. I always say that yoga doesn’t take time, it gives time! The time you sacrificed to do your yoga will come back tenfold; because yoga gives mental clarity and makes one more productive. Yoga gives you something back, some new energy, some extra quietness, something that is just for you.