A biographical essay  

Beauty surrounds me where I live. My music and yoga studio across from Muizenberg beach overlooks False Bay. The sun rises over the mountains, in the distance, over the ocean. The most popular Cape Town surf spot is right in front of the studio and apartment. Muizenberg mountain is approximately in the middle of the peninsula range, between Table Mountain and Cape Point.

A very different community from where I grew up lives here. As a child I did not bother much to conform to the orthodox society of Worcester, where I remember childhood as mostly listening to a lot of LP’s, reading, cycling and kicking balls, playing in the outdoors with friends. Or playing on my own, that was great. I was not sure how to make all this work as a career, the stuff I liked was very different to how most people seemed to make a living (dying for a living wasn’t attractive to me). That feels like 1 000 years ago, yoga so much amplified what I wanted to do with my life, and gave me the means to do it.

Some 25 years later I deepened my yoga experience in the foothills of northern India, above the banks of the holy Ganges. After 25 years of yoga practice my life started to make even more sense.

Johann Kotze Meditation

All the things I got looked into, discarded or got excited about, and learned from in yoga started to come together. The crucial point where I realised that even though I studied yoga and meditation and yogic philosophy non-stop since living on a beach on the island of Crete in 1989 it felt as if the universe pointed the way for me to be my better future self.

I’m surrounded by the bustle of family and home businesses, and as distracting as this can be, we consume less resources allows integrated, holistic living. More and more people are paradigm shifting towards informal work away from the office. Looking for meaning and healthier lifestyles is morphing with out-of -the-box work modes and turning the world inside out – the standard system of school, bank, shop, office, career, everything we know, continuous, yet is changing.

I’m excited by how much yoga has meant to me in these processes. When I think back to formally qualifying as a Sivananda yoga teacher 1996, studying yoga while working in a shop selling CD’s and teaching classes and managing bands and recording artists, freelancing in music journalism to help break several successful new acts and album releases I mostly remember it as a lot of work. There was some media exposure, newspaper and magazine articles, radio and television appearances, but it felt too busy.

I was only to happy to let all that go in 2003 for full-time yoga teaching. The previous decade of teaching in rented rooms and halls gave way to new skills; I had my own studio and continued to hone my style at the University of Stellenbosch gymnasium, one of the largest and leading gyms and sports institutes in the country, teaching classes of up to 80 persons. The High Rustenberg Hydro Spa was another great source of skills development, and the experiences of working with a massive quantity of diverse bodies and personalities helped me prepare my self-published book, the Five Keys to Well-being, in 2006.

“Being” became the name of my yoga studio and style of yoga, which included a well-being center and a festival of well-being. A brief time doing corporate workshops followed, with a highlight an invitation to speak in the House of Assembly in Cape Town, to present a well-being week for Members of Parliament. A few articles on and by me followed in national newspapers and magazines, plus a few radio spots.

That also amounted to much of a rat race business and my love of and passion for creating music did not, go away. My first AppleMac changed my life. I started to record my own acoustic music digitally and discovered the joys of an easy to operate home music studio. I switched to electronic music and Being Ambient Music was born in 2007. It quickly became more than a hobby. “While it is a challenge at times to have twin passions of yoga and music it makes no sense for me to choose or prefer one when above the other. The music is so much part of my being, and yoga is my being itself”.

How exactly it will all work out I don’t know, but I always saw myself teaching yoga for the rest of my life. Yoga gives me lifestyle and creativity wings. At present, living and working next to the ocean allows me to paddle out for a surf, to be inspired, to work and relax and stay active. I strive to keep living simple; though it does not always work out that way. Which is probably true for most people. Everything, including well-being, health and spirituality, has its up and down cycles.

With music and yoga I can always work out something to ease out the challenge, and share my insights and techniques, knowing that my efforts are meaningful because as I evolve my well-being every day, that it serves others well. And I know of no magic as potent as an open mind and heart to bridge the gap between bliss and pain, the ordinary and extraordinary, as a surrender to conscious awareness. This is a process that excites me.

Johann Kotze Yoga

My Yoga Studio in Muizenberg opened in 2011, after some 20 years of teaching yoga in Stellenbosch – since 1991 the longest running Yoga Studio in Stellenbosch. At the Muizenburg studio, on lovely weather days we open the studio windows to invite the energy of the big blue ocean in, to hear, smell and catch a glimpse of the sea.

My small group classes has no set levels. Beginners and more advanced yogi’s are welcome. My style is focussed simple and advanced postures with breath, meditation and relaxation practices; a thorough, holistic or integral yoga practice based on gentle loosening, non-acrobatic, therapeutic Sivananda influenced vinyassa flow that aids deep loosening. From here profound energetic shifts release old bodymind and emotional patterns that doesn’t serve us and causes persistent, chronic pain, injuries and illnesses.

There are enough challenging poses to leave practitioners with a firm sense of exercise, for mental and physical stamina and focus, agile strength and athletic progress. Any person in sport and those with spiritual aspirations can benefit from my yoga. And people of all abilities and capacities should have the opportunity for yoga, so my classes are not to indulge yogic gymnastics or iron man practice or thrill seeking.

My studios are my bodywork-spirituality laboratories; this is where I figure out, with the students, how to best apply the best science and technology techniques on the planet – popularly known as yoga – to our lives. Yoga is yoga not exercise alone, its deep understanding of the body as energetic system is based on knowledge of the chakras and the life force, Prana – esoteric metaphysics are necessary aspects of yoga.

Here are two links in the Yoga Awakening Africa online magazine about me and my Muizenburg Yoga Studio.

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