It's not a typo.
The name of the location is the Wildfarm. The activities were indeed all focused on well-being.
As for the wild bit (I speak for myself only): a little bit.
Let me explain:
My dear friend Theo owns the Wildfarm Backpackers and lodge in Wilderness.
As a Garden Route local, I've frequented the establishment many times over the years, to chill/ party/ eat the best pizza in town, and to watch the sun go down.
The Wildfarm has arguably the best sunset view in the Garden Route.
It's special, every.single.day.
In 2020, Theo and his beautiful life partner, Genevieve, held their first "Wellness Weekend".
A weekend full of yoga, taichi, meditation, sound-journeys and nature.
They host one each year and after having missed their first two events, I figured it was about time I joined.
I love both yoga and meditation and feel the benefits massively when I actively do them, although I go through phases of doing and not doing. Lately, I have not been doing so much, so when I saw this being advertised, I thought it would be the perfect catalyst into doing again.
I was excited about the description, which read:
Yoga, Meditation, Music, Dance, Drumming, Tree planting and Vegetarian Food!
"Count me in!", I texted Theo.
Come the Friday evening, I arrived at about 17h30'ish, in time to share a veggie dinner with a group of cool people.
Once there, Genevieve, Theo and I caught up over a beer and I met a few of the other attendees.
There was a lovely young lady from Oudtshoorn with the most eclectic personality. A down-to-earth accountant (I think) who was so confident in herself and welcoming of everyone. There was also a cool hippie'ish mom and our sound journey teacher too, amongst a couple of other people who came and went throughout the weekend.
As we enjoyed the evening together, eating, drinking and getting to know one another - I found myself becoming easily annoyed when views were vastly different to my own. This is something I only started noticing about myself shortly before that weekend - this new "trait" which I very much don't like.
I never used to be that way but over the last 2 years, apart from work - I have purposefully spent most of my time alone.
I guess it resulted in me becoming used to my own thoughts to an extent that affected my dealings with others.
I'm thankful that I recognised it in the moment and chose to acknowledge it. By doing that, it reminded me that it's actually quite silly and a waste of time to be annoyed by others - whether they are right or wrong, and more than that, it made me reflect on the fact that who is to say there is a right or wrong in any case.
I immediately felt better and went back to a joking me. It felt good to let go of the shit that I unknowingly allowed into my life and internally asked myself to work on it beyond the weekend.
The first evening ended with us all laughing, happy to be there and excited for a full day of soul-fulfilling activity the following day. I went to bed that night with a fondness for the one I initially wanted to walk away from, thinking about how I nearly missed out on knowing a gem.
I woke up feeling fresh that Saturday, looking forward to it all, especially re-introducing a yoga practice into my life.
Genevieve led us through an hour long yoga session, gently but firmly.
We twisted, turned, inhaled and exhaled - deeply.
I took off my watch, in the first 5 minutes of the practice - this is a big deal for me. As a triathlete and someone who tracks my sleep and heart rate variability, my watch never comes off except to charge it every few days.
It's not that I am overly attached, it's just that it serves a purpose for my lifestyle and has therefore become part of it. During the practice, when I looked down and noticed it, seeing the time, in those first few minutes, I found myself wishing that I hadn't seen what time it was.
I didn't want to know the time, then or for the rest of the weekend. I just wanted to be there, in the moment.
I just wanted to be.
We went through the day, following a basic guideline but in no hurry - doing yoga, and meditation and we even each got to plant a Yellowwood Tree on the property.
We ate food made with organic ingredients, sourced mostly from the farm itself. In the afternoon, Janine took us on a sound journey.
I had no idea what a sound journey was before going there and was not sure what to expect.
Having met Janine the evening before though, and becoming enamoured by her - I was all in.
Janine is beautiful, very beautiful.
It's a natural beauty that makes you look twice. She has big, kind eyes and long locks. She has a beauty spot above her mouth and I think that she has no idea that she is wonderful. I should tell her sometime.
Anyway, that aside - her inner is as mesmerizing. She is soft-spoken and she listens with love, to everyone.
She could have been offering some dodgy journey that day and I would've said yes please, dear.
It certainly wasn't a dodgy journey though, it was her giving of herself entirely in her endeavour to take us to wherever our hearts wanted us to be. We lay down on our yoga mats, on the grass and closed our eyes.
I can't remember if she spoke. I listened to her playing her instruments, at first thinking back to a "floating session" I had done a month before. In my mind, I laughed remembering how at the beginning of that session, I struggled to calm my mind and all I could think about was how much money I was wasting and how wrong I turned out to be in the end, after loving it. As Janine continued to play her thingymajiggies, I drifted away.
I wasn't asleep but I wasn't there either. Obviously, I was physically but my mind was somewhere else. Somewhere pleasant. When she sounded the gong to end it, I came back slowly. She told us to take our time coming out of our moment, and to move gently. I opened my eyes and looked around. I looked at Theo and he smiled at me.
I said, "What the fuck was that!? It was amazing. I don't know where I was. I loved it."
I don't know if he answered me.
Janine told me to drink lots of water for the rest of the day.
We eventually started moving around again, chatting amongst ourselves before a break to go do our thang.
Some went for naps or a stroll around the farm, I went to lay on the couch with my book.
Said couch was inside the bar area, which was empty when I settled. It didn't stay empty for long because soon after, my friend Laurent walked in. Well, he was probably more of an acquaintance when he walked in but after I got up to say hi and we proceeded to talk both lots of rubbish and a small bit of sense for good measure throughout the rest of the evening, he wheeled his way into my heart's friend circle.
These are the sorts of people that one meets at the Wildfarm, without fail - non-pretentious, life-loving, easy-going, kind-hearted, good-humoured people.
If you listen to their stories, you will hear of adventures of the best kind. You'll hear about travels around the world and the various forms of wonder that ensued, be it mayhem or hilarity. Sometimes you have to poke and prod a bit to get it out because most of the time, they're a humble bunch and you might only by chance find out that they've saved lives.
They will in turn listen to your stories and smile the brightest smiles upon hearing them, showing only delight for your dreams and goals. They will be proud of you even though they just met you.
That was what my evening held, all while enjoying a full moon and the heartbeat of a drumming circle. I didn't join in to play. I was content as it was.
For our last day, Genevieve led us through another yoga session. She expertly adjusted the flow to suit us - there was a bit of a breeze and some of us (me) had had too many beers the evening before.
Therein lies the beauty of a yoga festival at the Wildfarm - they keep it real. We are a mixed bunch of people, with different interests and habits. Some of us are business professionals or adventurers or creatives. Some of us smoke or drink or all of the above and more. There is no judgement there, except for the judgement that we ourselves may walk in with.
It turns out, the Wildfarm is a good place to let go of it.
Thanks, guys. I love you all.