As part of Regenerative Travel’s #WomenInRegeneration series, we recently caught up with the inspiring Wellness Director, Romy Paull at Future Found Sanctuary, about her understanding of global gender inequalities and her energetically-based advice for women finding their balance.
Meet Romy Paull, the spiritually-minded, devout 500-hour Ashtanga Yoga Instructor and current Wellness Director at South Africa’s Future Found Sanctuary. Having previously run her own regenerative and wellness practices on an organizational level, Romy was integral to creating Future Found’s whole being-inspired hospitality brand while continuing to co-curate the Sanctuary’s innovative collection of well-being experiences.
When we reached out to Romy about her understanding of current gender inequalities and how Future Found Sanctuary is working to reverse them, Romy drew upon her knowledge of ancient wisdom to describe her take on their deeper roots, whilst offering her advice for women to rediscover their balance.
Could you tell us more about your role at Future Found Sanctuary?
I am the Wellness Director at Future Found Sanctuary and consulted on the creation of the brand from the start. Not only is our sanctuary experience imbued with wellbeing but also, we have created integrative and personalized retreats and experiences. I also own wellness and regenerative practices on an organizational level and I am holding our vision of becoming regenerative as it’s so intricately connected with wellbeing and our ‘WholeBeing’ philosophy.
I believe that to be in balance and harmony on the inside, we need to also cultivate the same on the outside – that our inner and outer worlds are reflective of one another and that we can harness the wisdom of nature in both practical and metaphysical ways.
I was drawn to mysticism and philosophy from a young age and was always a bit of a nonconformist. I question the concepts and constructs we’ve abided by and feel we have been living against nature’s logic, which is why we find ourselves in this current climate. I started studying every practice and book I could find on ancient wisdom and began a deep spiritual journey from a young age, sometimes veering away from it in order to find and come back to it.
I started studying Hatha yoga (Ha meaning sun and Tha meaning moon) 16 years ago and then became a devout Ashtanga Yoga Practitioner. After I had my son in 2014, I gave up my career in branding and marketing to start teaching yoga, meditation and mindfulness. I also started to study and do healing work with indigenous people from the Amazon and I think indigenous wisdom is key to re-imagining a new (ancient) way of living and being in the world that is more conducive to life. I am also a biomimicry practitioner and hope to utilize this practice in order to bring regeneration into all that we do.
What do you consider to be the most pressing concerns for women in the 21st century?
I think that not only do we come up against the barriers of the patriarchal constructs in our outer, daily lives, but we also have to look at a deep inner transformation around our internalized value as a reflection of this and instead of trying to compete with our male counterparts, own and claim the value that we bring in a way that is authentic to each one of us as an individual.
I look at this through a more energetic and spiritual lens, and reclaiming and valuing the ‘yin’ or ‘energetic feminine’ aspect of creation is something we all need to do together, men and women, within and without.
I believe in doing this, together, we need to restructure and re-imagine a world that is more conducive to balancing these aspects of ourselves and creation – and finding harmony and balance throughout society through the symbiosis of inner and outer wholeness. I know as a single mom and sole provider in my household, balancing these energies within myself is a challenge and I feel that restructuring the way we live and work to make space for this is imperative because I also feel that raising conscious, valued children with healthy attachments is key to a healthier, whole future on this planet.
You mentioned that you understand women’s challenges by focusing on the ‘yin’ or ‘energetic feminine’. Could you explain this concept in more detail and how to understand the difference between masculine and feminine energies and how these can be balanced for “inner and outer wholeness”?
I think that the world we live in is kind of like a ‘school of duality’ – In the Tao, these energies are referred to as ‘Yin’ (feminine) and ‘Yang’ (masculine) and are not necessarily gender specific although we each identify as or represent one of these predominantly. This concept is echoed throughout many ancient texts (not just Chinese Spirituality) and the philosophy behind it is that these dual energies, when in their healthiest forms, are what creates harmony and balance and what gives birth to creation. The word Yoga means “yoke’ for instance, and self-actualization is when we are operating from a place of wholeness. The Yin (or feminine) represents the right brain – intuition, creativity, creation, spirituality, the moon, receiving, cycles and rhythms, ‘being’, and the Yang (or masculine) represents the left brain – logic, action, science, the sun, giving and ‘doing’.
It is my feeling that as a part of the patriarchal constructs society has been living within, we have learnt to over-value the ‘yang’ and undervalue the ‘yin’ – and we all have both of these energies within us. Even the way our schedules work are more about doing and achieving and less about being and working in cycles which can be more conducive to productivity! Women have had to harness a lot of ‘yang’ energy in order to ‘compete’ with men and while this ‘Yang’ energy is something we all need to harness at times, we also need to tap into our ‘yin’ and learn to really own it. This goes for men too. In fact, I think that encouraging men to value their inner yin is also pertinent right now.
I think we need to come back to a world of harmony – acknowledging and utilizing our different strengths as a way to co-create from a place of wholeness. We are all living threads in an ever-changing tapestry called life. We can do this internally through developing deep self awareness and living very intentionally and externally through applying whole-systems thinking to all that we do.
In your own experience and opinion, why is it important for women to both honor and acknowledge their differences to men, and how can women’s acceptance of these differences accentuate their leadership?
Those who identify as women, who are truly tapped into their ‘yin’ power, can be extremely intuitive, connected, creative and visionary and I think the world is in need of this right now. A simple example is that the ‘yin’ can have a vision and the ‘yang’ can build it. And again, this can be done internally by one person or it can be done in a relationship or by teams in an organization. I feel like deep feminism is the true realization of the feminine being equally valuable – but not exactly equal. No two people are exactly equal. Just like nature relies on diversity in order for life to thrive, so must we.
Can you describe how women, and particularly female leaders, can embrace their spiritual connection to femininity and utilize that energy to drive change?
I think mindfulness, meditation and self-care is key. Right now, the world needs conscious women leaders who are courageous enough and know their worth enough to step up and speak up and can hold that inner knowing in spite of what they might come up against.
I also feel like harnessing polarity in relationships and mothering in a conscious way are simple yet hugely transformative ways to create a long term ripple of change. Living in relationship with nature and asking her how we can do better and embodying a new way of being, relating, working and parenting are powerful revolutions.
You also mentioned that you are working on implementing mindfulness-based practices at Future Found Sanctuary that can help to empower female employees to heal and see their inherent value. Could you share more about what these mindfulness practices encompass and any advice you would give to women to benefit their daily routine/spirituality?
For employees, I have already started a men’s group and I will soon be starting a women’s group where we learn all kinds of mindfulness and meditation tools to increase self awareness so that we can live in an awake and intentional state. In these groups I’ll also do workshops on how to harness nature’s wisdom, tapping into our cycles and rhythms, the art of effective communication and more. I’d love to upskill our employees through training and also bring in experts to continually empower and uplift.
We have also designed retreat offerings and other experiences and amenities that make use of nature’s rhythms, cycles and wisdom with both yin and yang elements to promote the practice of wholeness.
In terms of daily practices, every woman is different and must find what truly resonates for her. Spirituality is such a deeply personal and experiential thing and cannot be prescribed, but nature is something that connects us all. I feel that spending time reconnecting with nature is important for personal and environmental health – and scientifically proven to enhance wellbeing. I do believe that starting the day with movement, breathwork, silence and intention and ending the day with gratitude is key to cultivating and sowing a beautiful thriving ‘mind garden’- a metaphor I use a lot. I also believe that learning to lightly dance with duality – surfing the ebbs and flows of our emotions – and of life – is important for processing and healing and that women (and men) will really benefit from giving themselves permission to do this with radical compassion.