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SA’s spas slow to include yoga in wellness 10 July 2017 Pic by Craig Totten, courtesy of Mhondoro Game Lodge South Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to including yoga sessions in spa wellness programmes. Says independent spa consultant, Francisco Garcia: “As a niche market, yoga is very well positioned and is taking off in some spas that offer all-inclusive wellness packages. However, the reality of South Africa is that it is not ‘wellness educated’ enough for people to see the value of such wonderful practices such as yoga. Consequently, the trend of including yoga in spa wellness treatment menus is definitely not keeping up with the rapid pace of growth in the rest of the world.”Garcia notes that when he managed the spa at the Mount Grace Country House some years ago, he partnered with I.yoga Studio. “The teacher came to the spa every Sunday morning to conduct a mini ‘yoga retreat’ comprising a 90-minute Vinyasa yoga class out on the lawn. Following that would be light snacks from the spa breakfast buffet and then a guided meditation session in the hydrotherapy garden. Next was a Mandala ‘expressive yoga’ session. After that you got to enjoy the spa facilities at your own leisure and then the spa lunch, followed by a back, neck and shoulder massage for 30 minutes. The yoga instructor used to sell this retreat to her own students for R495 per person. We used to give it to our Mount Grace guests for free, except for the massage and lunch. I can tell you that if we got a take up of between four and six hotel guests for the retreat, we were lucky. Nonetheless we persevered with this programme for the greater good.“South Africa is such an amazing country with beautiful scenery and stunning retreats, which begs the question of why our spa sector is not doing more to create comprehensive wellness solutions that include yoga, like they’ve been doing overseas for a long time.”One property that is tapping into the yoga trend is the 5-star Mhondoro Game Lodge in the Welgevonden Game Reserve (Limpopo), which is offering a Detox and Yoga Safari from 20 to 25 November. The package includes five nights’ luxury accommodation and a complete detox programme with healthy meals and three detox juice fasting days, as well as personal coaching, yoga and meditation sessions (hosted by Monique Christiaans of Yoga Zenzo in the Netherlands), daily safaris, bush walks and mindfulness walks, as well as three spa treatments. (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)