Kersti de Beer

You recently asked me what I would say now to my younger self. I’ve been thinking about that and honestly, I don't know. I think I’m actually gonna be asking her for advice one day. I’ll be looking to my younger self and be asking, "how do I live more in the moment? How can I be more playful?"

I found yoga really early on in life, with experiencing my first downward dog in 9th grade dance class, when you’re 14 years old.. She made us hold it for so long, I hated it. I was like, what the fuck is this. [laughs]

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Then, a year later, Cara, who is like my second mother and a really big part of who I am today, took me to my first yoga class. I’ve always been a dancer so I liked the flow, and there was no competition and it was all about feeling good. I felt so naturally high afterwards. It's a bit of a 'the chicken or the egg?' scenario - I don't know whether it was first the yoga that began a whole new path, or my aunt, who during the same time began to influence my way of seeing life today. She gave me a book 'You Can Heal Your Life' by Louis Hay. It’s about how your affirmations, intentions and beliefs shape how you feel about yourself. There’s a dictionary at the back of the book explaining every 'dis-ease' with its connected emotions and positive affirmations to heal it. Finding yoga and reading that book at the same time is very much the start of the trajectory.

Your inner child is spoken about a lot in the book. So many of your issues come from your childhood. We are well aware of this now and it’s amazing how our generation is like, "duh obviously."

There were a lot of exercises about how to love your inner child: visualise a younger version of yourself, around when you were 4 or 5, and put her in your heart. When you go into meditation, see how that little Kersti is doing. Is it happy or crying or sad? My inner child was always crying. And then you visualise how you want to be towards your inner child now. Don’t ever say anything to yourself that you wouldn't to a three year old. Now she’s a lot happier, but I often think of that visualisation. The more I learn in life, the more realise we have so much to learn from children. We’re so untouched and society hasn’t shaped us yet. We haven’t been told who to be and who not to be, what’s wrong and what’s right. We’re so pure, in the moment, we speak to anybody and everyone no matter what clothing they’re wearing or what race they’re from. Cool, uncool - everyone’s a friend. Children really know how to let go easier. We get so complicated as get older.

Life is actually about learning how go back to the beginning. Pretty much like Benjamin Button.

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In theories about play they also suggest going back to your childhood and see what you enjoyed doing. Was is colouring, dancing, football, climbing trees? And apply that more into your life. Literally, have more fun. Many of my friends don’t have hobbies. Maybe in Cape Town it’s not such a thing because there so many outdoor activities, but I’ve had this conversation with friends. That they can’t think of a single hobby. 

I feel like my creative path, are all my hobbies.

How lucky is that? 

It’s not luck, you have to work for it. 

Actually, when I said it, I already wanted to take it back. There’s no such thing as luck in these things. You create everything. You design the life you love. Sometimes you have to fight the status quo to live the life you love. Because freedom is more important than owning a house. Or because it took you a while to realise you wanted to be a photographer instead of lawyer and you give up all your security by endeavouring on this new adventure.

I find, our generation, I don’t know if it’s just in South Africa, but I feel generally our generation, is actually very in tune with that. Our grandparents are very much like: the females do the female things, the men do the male things. The man works. The wife cooks. Our parents were like: I don’t know if this really applies. We still have to work hard, pay the mortgage. Our generation is more open to be like: actually, I don’t want to live that way. We’re more philosophical and questioning about life. Generally.

That is definitely a thing in Cape Town. I’m not sure how common that is on our side of the globe. 

Even in Amsterdam? Well, you have to remember, you’re surrounded by specific group of people here. You’re seeing a certain version of Cape Town.

For example, I trained with Meghan Currie, a 'celebrity' yoga superstar. She does walk the walk though, and she’s very authentic. If she’d come here, she might even be a bit too deep for Cape Town. The way she teaches a yoga class is so slow. Like, I’ve been told by studio owners that it can’t be as slow. It can’t be too this, it can’t too that. It’s about trying to create a brand out of the practice. Honestly, yoga has been raped. It’s something that’s such a pure sacred practice. Now it’s watered down to high intensity yoga in my short shorts, with my boobs hanging out. I have to be skinny and hypermobile. I have to be posting on Instagram every day that I am this 'spiritual guru.' I wouldn’t even call myself a yogi. I’m not a yogi, I teach yoga. The physical yoga, but I’m not a yogi. But there's so many girls who perform yoga asanas for half an hour a day and call themselves a yogi. Do we even know what that means?

What’s very interesting about Cape Town, is although it’s very spiritually inclined, it’s also very easy to run away from yourself here with all you can do outdoors. Where as in London, it was the most confronting experience. The energy of the city can make you feel alone. You really have to see your demons. There are no distractions of beautiful surroundings. That gave me a way deeper experience into myself than living here and going to a hundred women circles and yoga classes.

The Instagram fame is quite big here - "look at me, living my best life. With my smoothie bowl and my yoga poses on the beach."

When I came here, I wanted to get away from that in Amsterdam. Only to find that it’s everywhere. But it is with whom you surround yourself and how much you care. I think it’s because I didn’t know people here, I got to decide who to befriend. It’s a clean slate and you interact with people you vibe with. At home, when people don’t really fit the way you want to live your life anymore, it’s more difficult to break up a friendship. I find it easier to not care about what others have to say, I live more unapologetically.

I don’t know actually, maybe to some extent. Like now, I went to go to Berlin in June and ja, I don’t know if I fully agree on that. Like you said, you can’t run away from it. Especially with technology, unless you move to Namibia with no reception. Even in London where it can be so unhealthy and vitamin D deficient (i.e. pale as fuck). It's not Cape Town. There were still events there, where it was like a vegan festival with yoga, vegan food, all of that jazz. I’m coming from Cape Town and expecting everyone to be beautiful and glowing. But everyone looked like they went to a trance party the night before. Like rough. Thick layers of make-up, the food was okay but half of it wasn’t even vegan. But you still had the influencers there, on a more massive scale because it’s London. So yeah, it is everywhere. 

You briefly said you’re in a transition phase, could you tell me more about that? 

I’m becoming even more selfish. I mean, we are in this movement where everyone is speaking about self love and being 'selfish' is no more a negative thing but a positive way of being. When you’re completely full and okay with yourself, and you’re doing all the things that bring you joy, then you have more capacity to give to other people. And to be present with other people. You’re in a good state because you’re taking care of your own needs. So, for me, it’s becoming super balanced now, the art of giving and taking. How important that is!

InterviewsLinda Mertens