Yobaba’s Bathroom Bliss. © Christine Spring
– A Roaring Souls interview with Gertrud Keazor –
– Founder, Yobaba Lounge, award winning french yoga retreat –
“Challenge yourself and believe.”
“Do you listen to the calling of your heart, of your soul? When during your journey, if at all, do we consciously seek to define our unique self in terms of passion and our spiritual destiny? Are we too motivated by a need for safety, security and success to spend time cultivating our spiritual well-being?
These are questions that the extraordinary Gertrud Keazor, founder of Yobaba Lounge has faced throughout her journey. Her life story is premised on having conceived of change, garnering courage, challenging self, and believing in her ability to follow her heart and live a passionate life.
Gertrud’s journey from national fencing champion to establishing a retreat in the south of France has not been easy, but it fills her with a soulful energy that shines and enables her to ‘hold’ those that are fortunate enough to experience an Embodied Meditation retreat at Yobaba Lounge. To my mind, her soul definitely “roars” with its truth!
I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce Gertrud to you and share her story – it’s a tale of how a German National fencing champion, became an IT guru in London and ended up owning a village chateau in Chalabre, France that is now rated by The Telegraph as one of the greatest yoga retreats on the planet (June 2017)! Yet, the accolades for Gertrud’s Yobaba Lounge do not stop there, Business Insider rated it as a “Top 15 European wellness retreats January 2017”, The Times included it in its list of “Top 20 yoga retreats in the world, January 2016”, and in 2014 it was awarded Best Wellness Holiday on Healthista.com.
Without, a doubt these accolades reflect not only the Embodied Meditation that is taught, the ambience of the chateau, and Gertrud’s soulful energy – but also her extraordinary menu of raw food delights that she ‘cooks’ and serves!
Gertrud – I am curious, but actually not even sure where to start!! Your life story is premised on challenging yourself and believing in your ability. You fenced from a young age, then became a self-taught IT guru for the financial markets, and now Yobaba Lounge. It seems to me that whatever you turn your hand to you seem to have an extraordinary ability to focus your energy and create your dream.
I suppose really what I am keen to ask is – Could you share how your find the ability, time and again, to have faith in self and embrace your dreams? How do you find the courage to overcome your fears, to risk failure? I suppose what I am asking is – How do you ‘know’ how to follow your heart and believe in self?
Thank you, Christine for this wonderful introduction!
I’m lucky that I have been blessed with a fearless and rebellious spirit, and that it has not been ‘educated’ out of me. My choices have also ‘blessed’ me with constant uncertainty, which has taught me never to take a decision on the basis of fear.
Once I’ve acknowledged my curiosity and passion for a new direction I also avoid planning myself into a dead end.
I just take a first step, see what comes up. Starting a new path usually also involves letting go of an old one, leaving a job, a city, a relationship. I know that I’m standing before a new path when I’m getting really interested in something, and excited about a change in my life.
I then question if I’m getting excited about something new, is it because I’m avoiding dealing with something here in front of me (i.e. Am I running away?), which would be a reason to hang around the old path for a little longer. But, if I decide to hang around a little longer, I also question if I’m doing that because I’m afraid of the change, of the uncertainty.
This means that either way I choose, I bring new life, and new energy to that path. When my heart signals a potential change in direction, the feelings are very strong: excitement, a sense of freedom, and adventure ahead. I literally see wide epic landscapes and galaxies in my head, my heart feels spacious, it is as if Nature is calling me.
The art of course, is in knowing when to stay and continue with the existing project, and when to move on; and to take full responsibility for the choices we make. The latter is key, because if we don’t, this uses massive energy and leaves us with little to manifest any alternate path.
You asked! 🙂
So, I am wondering about the energy you are expending to grow and create your new life at Yobaba Lounge. Can you talk to us about what motivated you to first buy the village chateau, and then what inspired you to create the Yobaba Lounge concept? Now that it is up and running – what motivates you to keep your energy focused?
So, whenever it gets challenging, I do question myself if there is anything I’d rather be doing. And there isn’t, so I carry on. We all have creative energy and it flows all the time. The choice is merely to what we apply the energy.
The curious thing is that what I’m now doing was not planned at all! It kind of unfolded through the previous choices I had made in my life.
All of a sudden now, all the things I have done, the challenges I have faced, even some of the more eccentric artefacts I have collected over the years, now make full sense in the context of the retreats. I had bought the house as a holiday home, and at that time I didn’t even like yoga, or cooking! But eventually, a friend nudged me into holding the first retreat. This is the one time that I haven’t started a new path from a place of excitement and passion, but it was also at a time when I had closed down, and was shut down, as a result of living a more secure life for the benefit of my children (that’s my excuse, anyway). Yet, isn’t it beautiful, that when I could no longer feel my heart’s desire, a friend felt it for me!
I was ground down enough to not offer resistance, but habituated to follow through. Many times, I questioned what I was doing and why I was doing it. Each time, I resolved to continue. This way, my soul delivered to me all the people necessary to teach me the wonders of mindfulness, the power of breathing and reconnecting with my body. It is a hugely healing journey. I was not open to it before.
I continue to be excited by this inner journey I’m on, and it is reflected on the outside. I’m sorry if that sounds esoteric, but my biggest soul journey is this one and I didn’t even spot it myself. So, we should trust our souls, they bring us to the right places, at the right times. All the plans we make, the intentions we set and the goals we have, they are simply preparation so that we can follow our soul, when she shows up.
You’ve been following this path for 5 years now, and it is obviously successful with many accolades. But what do you think of is its soul magic – what makes it different from so many of the other dreams that you have already achieved in life?
The biggest difference is that this one never was a dream, it was never a consciously intended project. This one is a coming together of all of the things I learned, the difficulties I have faced, and the ones I have avoided (!). This one is a far more conscious expression of my soul than all the others. It is also premised on serving and ‘holding’ others while they are on retreat, so that they have the space to breathe and to reconnect with their true nature.
Gertrud, I promised you only seven questions – so I will make the last three short – could you in a few words share some of your soul learning and wisdom –
What has your soul learnt about courage?
Courage cleanses my soul, and opens my path.
How important is resilience and how have you grown it?
To be resilient, I have to drop judgement. When I drop judgement I drop shame, and then I am open to learning, to forgiving and to feeling joy again. Being resilient in this way is absolutely essential on the path to shining your true colours into the world.
If I asked your soul “what is freedom?” what would it say to us?
Freedom is to be still, to be, and feel the entirety of the inner universe.
Gertrud – thanks so much! I wish you safe travels on your journey ahead and I really look forward to following your story on www.yobabalounge.com.
You inspire me.
Your personal courage to commit to your passion, purpose and a life lived true to self is so reflective of all that I wrote in Liberating Self – A Soul’s Journey. Truly in my world you embody ‘soul beauty’!
Thanks for being curious to connect and be inspired.
Ps Check out philosophy here.