The Journey to Yogi-ness (part 1/2)
The Journey to Yogi-ness (part 1/2)


The Journey to Yogi-ness (part 1/2)


“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” – Muhammad Ali


By no means did I wake up one day, and proclaim myself a Yogi. No brothers and sisters, this was a 20 to 23-year journey, that started when I was 7 years old.

I was blessed to be brought up with my grandparents and aunt (Rayshie Mosie), when my parents split before I had even turned one. Dad Muslim, Mom Hindu, the rebels in their families, somehow couldn’t make it work. Dad left, Mom had to work 2 jobs to make ends meet and support her 3-month-old, and pay for the eye operations for her little babygirl. The domestic helper who used to take care of me, somehow ended up bathing me with cold water and not feeding me on time. I had asthma and Jaundice and my Mom decided it was enough, she couldn’t leave me in this person’s care anymore, but she needed to work to support us. So, she called on her parents to help take care of me, while she worked. The only complication was that she was in Johannesburg and her parents in Pietermaritzburg. And that’s how I went to live with my grandparents that started my picaresque journey.

Fast forward 5 years, my youngest aunt became violently ill and we went through various hospitals and doctors to diagnose the illness. Only to find out that she had advanced meningitis, with an abscess on her brain, that could have been treated if correctly identified earlier.

The only solution was to perform emergency brain surgery and what followed was 5 brain operations in a matter of 2 years, which resulted in a disabled Mosie, unable to walk, who could unfortunately feel pain, unlike other forms of paralysis where you are numb in the body part paralyzed. At the tender age of 7, this seemed so unfair. This young, vibrant, positive, intelligent and independent lady, 21, was disabled, but she was so kind and good. Why was she being punished? Raysha at 33 understands this now, in the grand scheme, the big picture, of dvandas (pairs of opposites, karmic debt and re-incarnation), but 7-year-old Raysha really pondered to try to make sense of it.

Thus, my exposure to various religions and rituals begun. My desperate grandparents went on a religious voyage, starting with Hindu prayers and rituals, homeopathic medicines, Islamic prayers and then for a long period, Christianity was the religion practiced at home. We went to church, when Mosie wasn’t too sick, otherwise, the pastors and preachers came home to pray weekly and sang gospel songs. It was so powerful and intense, and 8-year-old Raysha was in awe. I was intrigued and this led to me reading and finishing the New Testament of the Bible before my 10th birthday.

When we would go to sleep, my dearest Gran, would ask us to practice breathing exercises, thank God for all we were grateful for and pray for the next day. There was no singled-out name for God, it was just God or the Creator. There wasn’t rigidity and boxes or labels, instead, there was space to be curious.


At 11, it was finally time to be re-united with my Mom. My grandparents, finally decided to give in to my mom, asking year after year to have me back. But it cost my mom a career sacrifice and re-locating to Durban, a place near Pietermaritzburg.

A new adventure started, and my mom being the Rockstar that she was, planned a spiritual trip to India for us. My first plane trip and a chance to see the big world out there. At 11, I had lived in an Ashram for 2 weeks, had cold showers and woke at 3am to meditate!

And this is how my dear mom, inadvertently inserted the travel bug in my veins. We travelled from Bombay to Bangalore to a little Village called Puttaparthi, in the south of India. We made friends along the journey and learnt about Reiki, when I had my first menstrual pains on a 24hr overnight train from Bombay to Bangalore and there was no pain medication, so a fellow traveller performed reiki to help soothe the pain.  I learnt about a simple way of living, with shop owners who worked 16-hour days for minimum wage and slept on a simple mat, but were as joyful as care free toddlers. I learnt that the simplest things in life, brought the most joy. I learnt that an epic landscape was worth the thousand steps we walked up to the temple. I learnt that it didn’t matter how little you knew about a strange land, but that if you kept an open heart and made friends, your journey would always be filled with sparks of joy and sunshine.

Three weeks later I returned to school, the envy of my class mates. But for me, it wasn’t about travelling abroad so young, but about the life experience and lessons I got in 3 weeks. Thank you, mom!

A year later, we had to relocate to Johannesburg for my mom’s work and at 12, I had already lived in 3 cities.

The rest of my teen years, were spent figuring which box I fitted into, (Hindu, Christian, Buddhist or Atheist) and pondering, why exactly I needed to fit into a box. I mean, who made the rule??

I attribute eventually being able to stand out after this confusion of trying to fit in, to poetry. The beautiful written Word. I loved to write and loved to finish things. Poems were short and could be finished relatively quickly, unlike a book or a blog. It was also very therapeutic, like journaling, it helped me to cope with all the emotions of a messed up and confused teenager, and best of all, it was cryptic. I could spill my guts without anyone really knowing what I was saying, haha!

We went to temples, we went to the churches, the important part was that we prayed and knew God, a Higher Being. I wore a cross on my neck during my teenage years and early varsity. I wore a red Lakshmi prayer string. My dad taught me about some of the tenets Islam, I fasted during the Ramadaan that I lived with my dad. My mom continued to allow my curiosity to grow, she gave me the space to find my path. And by the end of high school I had completed reading the Old Testament Bible.

During varsity, I started exploring the teachings of Buddhism. We went to Buddhist temples and I just loved the inclusive, simple and warm-hearted culture, I was allowed to take my dog, Fluffy, into the temple!

You’re probably wondering why, I never did any studying or reading of the Hindu texts? Because at this point, all that I was taught about Hinduism was the rituals and traditions. And every priest/pandit, gave a different version of the teachings and it was frustrating. There were so many idols and they all represented different Gods and family members and friends all prayed to different gods and observed rituals, similar but different. At that stage, I wanted no part of it. It just added more fuel to the flame of confusion. But like little Santiago learnt in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, your treasure is in your back yard, but he would not have “realized” that, had he not gone around the world in search of his treasure…