Helen Garner Weaver is a familiar presence on the North Coast. She’s an accomplished champion freediver, mom of two children and four dogs, eternal student, serious yogi, and Instagram influencer with over 27 000 followers. She shared some of her story with us.
WHEN we meet with Helen Garner Weaver, she’s in the throes of mid-week homework chaos with her two children, Freyja and Stieg (her husband Ant, a pilot and forester, has Norwegian roots). So we first meet Helen the mother; frenetic yet patient, stern yet loving. It’s the eternal push and pull of motherhood in action.
In Ashtanga yoga, Helen’s preferred practice, there are six series, or levels, through which practitioners advance, with only a handful of people in the world adept in the fourth series.
“This is the seventh series of Ashtanga in action, isn’t it!” Helen declares, referring to her daily family life, the real toil and trials of educating and protecting children, grappling with daily stressors and overcoming the obstacles that life throws at us.
Already a competitive swimmer, Helen took the next step and moved to Egypt, a Mecca for freediving, and during her two years in Sinai she broke six South African Deep Diving records in 18 months…
Now, we’re meeting Helen the yogi. Her first trip to an ashram was in Mumbai, in 2004, where she attained her teacher training qualification, gained in the sparsest of surroundings.
“You get a bucket of water,” she explains, “and that’s it – it’s hours and hours of daily study and practice.” Helen
the yogi is evidently disciplined and is a seeker of knowledge. Her teaching led her to Cape Town’s first hot yoga
studio, before she discovered (at age 33) one of the other great loves of her life, freediving in The Big Blue.
Already a competitive swimmer, Helen took the next step and moved to Egypt, a Mecca for freediving, and during her two years in Sinai she broke six South African Deep Diving records in 18 months, before returning home to
open the first hot yoga studio in Ballito.
“Ant and I joke that he spends his time high up in the clouds and I spend mine under water!” she laughs.
The combination of yoga and diving seemed a natural fit for Helen, as both involve the complete control of the breath, and both aim to attain Samadhi, the complex concept of meditative consciousness.
“I miss it big time,” she replies when asked if she still dives. “It’s not deep enough here. I can’t even get to 30 metres, and if I wanted to dive I’d have to hire a boat, schedule the trips out to deeper waters… it’s not conducive,” she explains of our local coastlines. It’s one of the reasons she lived in Egypt, where she could reach the depths required to both train and break world records. While she yearns for her diving days, she’s certainly not resting on her laurels. She’s learning Sanskrit, and is currently gearing up to head off to India again in March next year, where she’ll tackle her third series Ashtanga training with a 65-year-old teacher she tracked down on the Internet.
“There are only a handful of people in the world who can claim to know fourth series,” she explains, so her task was not an easy one.
“I’ve become selfish with my time,” she adds, and I feel I’m now at the top of my game,” a feeling that can only be borne out of experience, and considered reflection. The homework chaos ensues as we part ways, but our sense is
that Helen takes it all in her stride, while some part of her mind is unconsciously always seeking Samadhi.
Contact Helen on 079 368 4486, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Instagram @helen_garner_yoga