Michelle Mulala (Kenya) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: How Teacher Training opened her eyes.
Teacher Training was eye opening!
I was transformed in the way that I now speak to people, the way that I react when offended, and the way that I look at life in general.
I see people for who they are, not for what they are wearing or how they talk. I understand that it’s OK to just listen to people’s problems and not give advice, its OK to let people experience their own pain without trying to make it better. The three concrete results in my life are
- I am able to keep eye contact and just hold the space when someone is talking to me.
- I am a way better listener.
I chose myself at the training and that has carried on to my daily life, I no longer feel like a failure just because I fail once, I am confident about myself and I feel its OK to mess up.
Mukisa Jackson (Uganda) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: His perception of his own life changed.
I loved my teacher training experience.
My perception about my own life changed totally, I learnt that the greatest repentance is self-acceptance; this discovery helped me to gain a high self-esteem and notice that am not inadequate to cause transformation now know that with in me there is positive power and ability to transform the community and the world at large.
Since teacher training I have started teaching yoga in my community and I keep growing in confidence every day. I also recognize the greatness of others in my community and I am determined to help them see it too.
Gergentia Shome (Namibia) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: How Teacher Training changed her life.
Teacher training changed my life!
- Awareness enhancement; I am more aware present to my emotions and feelings of others. I have grown more compassionate towards myself and others in my everyday life since the training begun.
- I have also become more attentive to my surroundings and my thoughts and what comes out of my mouth.
- I have learnt a new expression of speaking from l, and authentic communication.
What is also new is living my yoga every day from my mat and sharing that with others especially family, friends and my community.
I found acceptance of myself and everyone else as they are and as they are not.
I am thankful to AYP for this, and will extend the love of yoga to all I come in touch with.
Charity Kahuki (Kenya) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: How Teacher Training helped her choose herself!
Teacher Training 2015, One of the best experiences of my life!
I was excited about teacher training; being a new AYP staff member I thought it would be a teambuilding experience and that I would strengthen my relationships with my colleagues and that would be pretty much it.
Team building, I sure did. The level of connection however, I never could never have predicted! 2015 Teacher training participants feel like family to me and I would move heaven and earth to help out any one of them.
Above and beyond the connections was the fact that I found my truth at teacher training.
I was in denial about my health for a long time hiding behind the story that it was ok for an African girl to be curvy and that a few extra pounds were no big deal, in fact I called myself curvy yogini and laughed off my fears. The laughter was just a mask though and through teacher training I confronted the fact that I need to do something about my health as it affects my vitality and how I show up in my different engagements in life.
I am now taking care of myself, eating healthy well balanced meals, hydrating, working out four times a week and already I can see a world of difference on my skin and in my energy levels. I am also leading the change amongst my friends and family with some of them signing for yoga classes already and others coming for community class on Saturday and loving it, which is a huge step from their usual lives.
My take home from teacher training, choosing myself and others as they are, and as they are not; I am work in progress but I truly embrace me and those I choose as they are and as they are
Tinashe Michael Muza (Zimbabwe) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: What his Teacher Training journey has inspired him to do.
Memories of yesterday can't fade away; being part of this exciting Africa yoga project teacher training program was epic.
As I applied to be part of the training it never really dawned on me what I was to expect in the process but alas outside of having to learn the poses on my yoga mat I got to learn distinctive personal values of integrity and authenticity.
The experience was enlightening; in every discussion session we had I learnt of profound life concepts concerning conflict resolution and wellness.
My thinking has been broadened and I am living open to possibilities of being up to something bigger than myself.
I am inspired to spend more time and energy on being a solid supportive person who uplifts, inspires and motivates others to strive towards their ultimate potential being.
Three concrete results from teacher training program;
- I now teach Baptiste yoga with an in depth understanding.
- I am able to do the Baptiste yoga journey to power sequence from integration to deep rest using the four pillars.
- I have gained flexibility, my dancing has improved I feel more open and lighter in my movements
It was fun meeting different people across the globe, interacting, sharing making friends with amazing people, the vibe and sense of belonging was overwhelming thus I am forever grateful for this experience.
April Khutsafalo (Botswana) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: Her AYP Teacher Training journey and how it is changing her life.
When I applied for the Africa Yoga Project scholarship, I felt that my life would change forever but just how much, I had no idea.
I walked into Kenya and into the training unprepared, I was prepared for Yoga teacher training but I was completely unprepared for the form the training would take. I just thought that we were going to be given a manual, sit on a chair and attend class a couple of times and do a bit of Yoga.
I arrived at the airport on the second of April, jet lagged and very tired, thinking that I would rest a bit and start training on the 3rd but boy was I wrong. I started training on the second and I didn’t stop until graduation.
The Live Your Yoga teacher training is the craziest thing that I have ever done in my entire life, I remember thinking to myself “surely this guys just hate me.” My body has never been put to its limit in such a way, my mind was exhausted and my emotions were all over the place. I felt so frustrated sometimes with the process and with myself, I secretly wanted to quit in times when I did not get it but I stuck with it because something told me that beyond this there will be something of worth waiting to happen, just what that thing was, I just was not sure.
The first twelve days of my time in Kenya were a rollercoaster, I never knew from one minute to the other exactly how I was feeling, I couldn’t analyze the process and try to hatch an escape plan because I did not even know (even with the schedule) what was going to happen next and for the first time I had to completely let go and trust in the process and trust in my teachers because I had no other choice. Besides I was just too tired and there was so much to do that I just did not have time to feel sorry for myself.
My family and my friends were so far away so I had nobody to complain to, all that I thought I knew all that was familiar was quickly changing and shifting. My excuses in life stopped making sense, the stories I had told and trapped myself in were being exposed and I felt so naked, so raw and so sensitive and open and I had the painful awareness that I was walking around naked and mask-less. I think that is the place they call the edge, where you are too tired to justify yourself, to reinforce mental stories where there are just two options, whether to flee or to give yourself completely to the process. I chose to stay.
After the ups and downs and the mental, physical and emotional roller-coaster I did emerge on the other side feeling strong and supported. All of a sudden so many things started to make sense to me, I did not just go to Kenya to learn how to teach yoga, it was so much more; it was as they say in the training “showing up for something bigger than yourself” and this was big. I re-learnt the spirit of Ubuntu here, where we sweat as a team, practiced as a team, won as a team, failed as a team and lived as a team to a point where no seriously we sort of had the same smell. Showing up for myself and for others in this way was completely new to me, it gave new meaning to the idea that we are all interconnected and really the one is the many and vice versa.
The one thing that stood out for me were the service projects, I used to feel so poor so helpless and I always thought that poor people had no obligation to help others, that it was the rich people’s responsibility to help. I was humbled by my Kenyan hosts, they live in the slums, they live and eat so modestly but I never got the feeling that they were poor. This is because they gave so much of themselves, their talents, their homes, all that they have they are always willing to share and these are young people who have more than enough problems of their own. And I just thought of how much I could give back to my own community if only I gave up the limiting believes that I was so small, insignificant and week to effect any change.
The one thing I will always treasure from my time in Kenya is the sense of community that I felt there, where people have not only taken responsibility for their lives but for all lives and for all that happens around them. I got to build chairs for a school, to practice yoga and games with the children at Ngoza Njia, danced at the Kariobangi community hall and I had never felt so free to be myself and to engage with people without soliciting or trying to earn their love in some way. Margaret hosted me at Kariobangi and I felt so instantly welcome and so at home and she being so young taught me so much about life, lessons that I will treasure forever.
I have built long term friendships, met people who are kindred spirits, met myself and pushed myself to be more than I thought I could ever be, yoga is not just about headstands or how deep you can go into meditation. Yoga is everyday life and connection and I am grateful for this lesson because my everyday life will be so much richer because of this. I have learnt to love myself and my community in ways that I never thought were possible.
I went to Kenya to learn how to teach Yoga, but what I have learnt was how to be part of something so much bigger than myself and Africa Yoga project is, the outreach projects that I am organizing are so much bigger than I am and I am happy to “come from I am ready now,” to trust the process and to go right in because in Africa Yoga Project I feel so supported. I feel so grateful for this training because it has given me so much more than just a certificate.
Africa Yoga Project is committed to changing lives through the transformative power of yoga, and to creating connections between our teachers and the yoga community around the world. That’s why we started the AYP Mentorship Program, helping us to provide a support system for our teachers, like Dylan Maina. Dylan has been partnered with Dawn Rizzo, a native of Staten Island, NY (just like Paige!) where she teaches at the 5 Boro Power Yoga Studio. Below Dawn shares her journey to becoming part of our family as well as some of her wonderful insights about what she and Dylan are creating together...
I met Paige Elenson when she visited the 5 Boro Power Yoga Studio in Staten Island, NY a few years ago. That is when I was first exposed to AYP. I have had the opportunity to meet several AYP members throughout the past couple of years as they passed through the studio! My own mentor, Karen Torrone, first told me she was also a mentor to an AYP teacher a few years ago, but I didn’t quite know what that involved. Then, in October 2014, I was re-introduced to Paige and the AYP Mentorship Program during my Baptiste Level 2 Training in Sedona, AZ.
I became a mentor to first of all give back to someone who wants help and second, to help someone who is empowering themselves. The notion that someone is aware of their potential for greatness is an important first step towards action. By becoming a mentor, I have realized that we all need the support of one another, even when it seems as though we are doing alright. Dylan’s experiences are very similar to my own. It is through honoring our similarities that I am learning that we are actually helping one another to grow.
By becoming a mentor, my mentee is obtaining a new perspective and the ability to hold himself accountable. Dylan is also learning to connect with his students through his own experience, to be vulnerable and to have fun. Dylan and I talk about his outreach. We share similar experiences regarding our teaching, particularly around challenges. We are creating connection through understanding that we both have similar challenges in our teaching and in our life.
My advice for anyone considering on becoming a mentor is to come with no expectations. I originally thought that my mentorship would be giving of myself to another, where in fact, it has become a full connection with another being, where we mutually share, learn and grow from one another. I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to spend time within another human being, halfway around the world. I am humbled to know that we are from different backgrounds, in different countries and with different challenges, yet we are still the same in many ways!
Dylan in Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana)
Meet Kevin Acha who says yoga has taught him generosity.
Some years back Acha had an Aha moment when Paige Elenson said something that has forever changed his life. She said, "If you feel like taking something that is not yours, immediately you should give something; even if you have nothing! Give even if it is a glass of water." These are words Kevin has lived by and he has learnt to share material things as well as his passions which include yoga, traveling and trading life stories and lessons.
This Easter, Kevin plans on sharing his love of Yoga and more of his life story in powerful classes taught at Diani Beach which is along Kenya's beautiful coastline.
Whether you’re an experienced yogi or a curious newbie, a yoga getaway is a great way to refresh and rejuvenate, join him as he shares deep and powerful life lessons, In his words, "Humanity is an ocean, if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, then the whole ocean is dirty."
We’re excited to share some incredible insights from one of Africa Yoga Project’s newest additions to the mentorship team: Kelly Skinner!
Kelly lives in Shelbourne Falls, MA and has been partnered with Samson Mahalia over in Nairobi, Kenya. Kelly’s curiosity about Africa Yoga Project stemmed from first learning about it back in 2013 at her Baptiste Level One training. But it wasn’t until listening to AYP’s founder, Paige Elenson, speak about the mentorship program at her Baptiste Level Two training that Kelly knew she had to get involved with our organization and she saw the mentorship program as an amazing opportunity to have a huge impact from halfway around the world..
“It was the way Paige spoke from her heart, showed us raw emotion and expressed how she and Kenya truly needed our help, and that our involvement could make a huge impact in the lives of the yoga teachers in Kenya. She pulled at my heart strings and I left a longing to step up and share in the development of another’s life. It was right then and there that I made a commitment to myself to sign up.
Becoming a mentor has taught me the power of truly being of service to someone else, the power of active listening, and the power of being worlds apart while still creating connection. I am committed to Samson’s growth, and to helping him reach his goals; and I am learning that it is all about the journey and not just the end goal. I am learning that while I am helping Samson discover his path, he is also helping me discover mine. We share very similar goals, which makes us completely relatable and a perfect match for one another!
Becoming a mentor has given Samson an additional support system in his life; he is an amazing man, father, husband and teacher - and by having another teacher stand by him as he makes career and personal decisions, he is able to find a sense of comfort in knowing that he is not alone on his path of spreading yoga.
During our monthly calls, we discuss more personal things like what is going on in our lives, our day-to-day routines, how classes are going, what we love about teaching. And we also talk about where we come from and where we want to go, short and long-term goals, and together we are continuing to create a framework for him to achieve these goals. We determine tangible action steps that help keep him focused and moving forward towards his dreams.
My advice for someone considering becoming a mentor is simple: GO. FOR. IT. Just sign up. Being a mentor for Africa Yoga Project is one of the most gratifying and beautiful experiences I have been a part of. The monthly donation may seem daunting at first, but when you take a step back and consider the meaning and power behind your contribution, it really is quite doable. And let me tell you, you absolutely have what it takes to be a mentor. You have the skills, but more than anything, you have the heart, the drive, the passion, the energy and the excitement that is exactly what your future mentee needs.
You are ready now. Be brave by making an impact in someone else’s life. Be whole by sharing your whole self and releasing any self doubt that holds you back from sharing your greatness. Be you by showing up authentically with all of your flaws and get to the core of what matters. Being brave, being whole, being you is how you become innately flawless and that is how you make an impact and implement change in your own life and in the world.
The links between yoga values and values in African society are many, and with two such beautiful worlds coming together… What’s not to like? It is a perfect match made… in the mind and on the mat.
Yoga lovers in Nairobi are inevitably familiar Africa Yoga Project because the AYP headquarters are in the Kenyan capital. But the teachers and AYP community spend a lot of time on the road so you can bump into them greeting the sun when you least expect it.
Read the whole article on Meanwhile In Kenya.