Yoga passion helps empower women

Brigitta Bouwer is empowering women through what she has learnt in her own life.

A Hout Bay resident who has used yoga to bring about a massive change in her own life is encouraging women to break away from the type of linear thinking men have traditionally employed to get ahead in the corporate world.

Brigitta Bouwer, 28, has been highly successful in the textile industry, and while she still spends much of her day as a knitwear co-ordinator for Sunlit Fashions, her passion for yoga has opened up new ways of bringing balance to not only her own life, butthose of her yoga students, whom she calls her “tribe”.

Most days of the week, she can be found instructing this tribe in the mornings from a space in Cape Town CBD before tackling the challenges of her corporate job. Ms Bouwer then returns to the “mat”, as it were, as a fitness instructor in the latter part of the day.

Juggling such a frenetic schedule has taught her valuable lessons, many of which she hopes to use to empower people, and women in particular. “I moved from Johannesburg in 2008, after graduating with a B.Com degree in Business Management. When I entered the corporate world through the family business, I became extremely stressed out. It was then that I started yoga classes, and I immediately realised I was reducing my stress levels,” she explained.

“For some time, I had an inkling to do a yoga course, but it was something I never got around to. Then one evening three years ago, I signed up for a six-month course.”

After learning the finer points of technique and teaching methodology, Ms Bouwer decided to start her own studio in the CBD – while still trying to do her corporate work.

“I was living in town and working full-time and running the studio, and I realised it wasn’t working out. That was when I decided to take a three-month break. When I came back, I decided to rent a space in Harrington Street and hold morning classes through my business Yoga Motive. That was when I learnt how to juggle the two (professions).

“What I have learnt is that too much of anything is never good. I have also learnt to have compassion for myself. It took me a long time to realise this.”

Her experience in the corporate realm has also been of great value, however, as it also made her come to the realisation that women need to reassess their approach in life and business.

“Us women in the corporate world have picked up male qualities, in that the thinking is very linear. Things are put in place in order to reach a specific goal. For women to compete, they have also had to become linear in their thinking. However, the way of the feminine is to work through the community and through collaboration, and allow the processes to flow.”

She said she had to take a big step away from masculine thinking.

“I now ask myself, ‘How can I work with people?’ It is about working with the community to open up a person’s creativity.”

Yoga, she said, has been pivotal in changing her mind-set, as it allowed people to “calm our autopilot”. “Yoga has taught me stillness. The more you practise, the more you hear your inner intuition.

”Last year, Ms Bouwer began hosting a series of women empowerment workshops, along with counsellor Eleftheria Kakambouras, to whom she was introduced on Facebook.

“I handle the yoga and she covers the counselling side, and we work incredibly well together,” she said.

“We need women to understand that they can be strong but also have a beautiful feminine side. Women in history always made decisions together. Even in ancient times, the women always represented wisdom which then would be shared with the tribe. This has become lost. What we are hoping to do is re-instill this sense of collaboration and nurturing.”

The women always try to find venues that offer a variety of accommodations to suit different budgets, but everyone who attends receives the same instruction. They are also in the process of establishing the Root to Rise Academy, a place of learning where their skill-sets can be passed on to empower other women.

Further information on the Root to Rise Academy can be found at https://www.facebook.com/femininecore/.