Using the adjective “proud” might not even begin to describe it. I am extremely proud to have followed my heart and got involved with Africa Yoga Project. I got to experience firsthand how this organization makes a difference every day, practicing: change.
First, it’s nice to go back and actually know how I got here. When I say here, it means a week after my arrival from my trip to Nairobi, where I spent two weeks.
Hawaii, February 2014. Level one training with the Baptiste Institute. A training led by Baron Baptiste where Paige Elenson assisted. At some point in that week, Paige talked about an organization that she directed and co-founded with Baron Baptiste: Africa Yoga Project. We saw the documentary “practice: change” and I was in tears. The reason it touched my heart so deeply was quite simply: Paige had the vision for an organization where people were empowering each other to make a change in each corner of their communities. That day, I wrote on my journal, action: learn more about AYP. Then, level two happened a month later, and since I was hooked, there I was. Paige led this training and I got to hear Walter (a teacher from AYP) and Paige talked about AYP and I got to see the same documentary again. Again, tears. Again, journal: “action: apply to be an ambassador from Africa Yoga Project”. And so I did.
My commitment with Africa Yoga project was this: I needed to fundraise $10,000 for them and once I completed my fundraiser I got to pay my own way to spend two weeks in Nairobi, Kenya. As I started my fundraiser, I made a goal with the AYP programs coordinator, Angie (at the time) that I was going to travel in the spring of 2015. As the challenges of fundraising arise and I started to doubt myself, Angie and I talked about actual dates and she said “you need to have your campaign completed 3 months prior to your departure” I said, no way, it won’t happen. Then she said I could change my initial plan and go later. I then said “no way”. Changing my commitment was not an option for me. So I didn’t changed it, AND I finish my fundraiser almost on time (about 5-6 days late). Once I understood that I had to become unstoppable, people followed me. My campaign was humbling, very challenging and extremely rewarding. I am so grateful to everyone that trusted me, what I was up to and my commitment to AYP. All those people were going to Kenya with me. Now, it was time to go to Nairobi.
Upon arrival there, Irene and Jon were waiting right at the exit door of the airport. Irene is the ambassador’s director, Jon my assigned “rafiki”(it means friend in Swahili). So my journey began.
The program is designed in two weeks: first week is about receiving, the second, giving. So in my first week, I got to go to two outreaches (places where AYP teachers teach yoga) a day. I got to witness the work done on the ground. For some classes I assisted, others I taught yoga and even taught dance. Oh, and another very important part of this week: I got to be hosted for lunch at an AYP teacher’s home. I wish I could tell you what I loved the most about this week, and I just cannot. Every part of it was so wonderful, masterfully coordinated by Irene, who by the way, would solve major issues throughout our days with no sweat and without me even knowing about them…..This week was truly remarkable. From an orphanage, to a silent yoga class (where the teacher and students were deaf), to a community hall or school. All these places had the same thing in common: joyful faces when the AYP teacher arrived and an even more joyful faces when the class began. To me the biggest learning and take away was this: TEACH, SHARE, ANYWHERE, TO ANYONE, ANYHOW. What a lucky woman I am to witness the positive impact that sharing the passion for yoga has in each corner of each community I went. Thank you AYP teachers. You taught me every day how to practice: change.
You would think that I couldn’t feel any fuller and complete after my first week. For a day or so I kind of thought that too. The thing is, I still had my “giving” week to go. I actually got to teach contemporary dance (my profession) for 4 hours, during three days and with a final “showing day” of two hours. It was amazing! The level of appreciation for me and for what I had to offer was incredible. I actually taught a pretty intermediate level workshop. And it was challenging. And it was fun. And it was unforgeable. Every day after my classes, I would say thank you in our final circle and I would choke up. I am so thankful. Thankful for the welcoming that I received from every participant and their willingness to do it. We danced, we laughed, we created. Thank you. Honestly, the week didn’t feel that it was about “giving” to me. I was certainly on the receiving end of acceptance, appreciation, and joy.
To top it off, I taught the amazing Saturday community classes and had a blast!
During my time there, I felt safe, supported, taken care of and a part of AYP. I wish I could bring the wonderful Shine Center with me. And I am. I actually have all of my new friends and all the communities they work at with me. Through inspiration, acceptance, kindness, empowerment and the willingness to PRACTICE: CHANGE. I am forever grateful. Now on to planning my next fundraiser.
Are you someone that can think strategically (big picture) and execute tactically? Do you love a challenge? Are you comfortable with ambiguity? Can you thrive in a remote work environment, needing little structure? If so, you may be what we are looking for!
Africa Yoga Project is looking for a key leader to manage EVERYTHING in our U.S. Operations. We expect managers to dive in from the beginning, learn quickly, ask questions when clarity is needed, manage moving parts and take on significant responsibility. This is a U.S. based full time position working from home.
For more information and application instructions, please review the Managing Director Job Description.
"We plan on being the biggest and highest quality premier yoga training academy in Africa."
Check out this blog on LVY from our friend Amy Widdis in Australia and read more! Thank you Amy & LVY for sharing what we are up to.
Kawira Nyaga (Kenya) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: Courage, Perception, Responsibility, Discipline
The first outstanding thing that I can distinctively say has shifted for me is courage. You see I'm super passionate about yoga and the effect it has had in my life since I started practicing and for the longest time I've wanted to stretch myself out with it to going out and teaching what I have learned and continue to in my years of practicing.
After the teacher training was done, I was excited yes, but then the question of whether I'm actually going to do it started creeping in. Though still nervous to guide people in their practice, I have found courage to go out there and make connections whether I get rejected or not; that is something I didn't have before and I learned it's not a big deal to make mistakes through the groups that we were put in during the training.
The other thing that has shifted is the perception I have of me and my practice. For the longest time I've enjoyed being a student and now every-time I call or introduce myself a yoga teacher I feel there's a certain expectation that I put on myself and my practice, that was never there as a student.
I like the way it pushes me to learn and take responsibility for my growth as a teacher and at the same time the student in me just doesn't like it because I just want to practice and have fun. I'm still learning to have a balance between the teacher and student.
Last but not least, I thought I was disciplined before but I think I'm on a different level of discipline now with my practice and life in general. Thank you Africa Yoga Project, I am officially a yoga teacher. -Kawira
Ndarake Aniefiok (Nigeria) - 2015 Teacher Training Scholar: His journey across Africa
JOURNEY ACROSS AFRICA
Am so happy being selected one amongst the numerous number of participant to take part in this great game of reality, I call it “GAME OF REALITY” because my mentality has been change and have been intuited mentality of Love, Peace, Joy, Unity and numerous to mention, I can’t believe myself being real and sincere to people, but just a game of 200HRS I was transform, Flexibility, Body stretches, Life expansion, Peace of mind is being accountable for in my Life.
I want to use this medium to advice and encourage people living with the Word “Stereotype” this word is so powerful in human life which make one stuck in life and career, So my advice is please fellow Africans use this sentence “GIVE UP WHAT YOU MUST” for stereotype so you can move forward in Life, They is proverb that says “NO GOOD THING COMES EAZY” people have start criticizing me of worshipping idol, indulge in cultism but I never mind because if nobody talk about you that means you are nobody, so I now realize that am somebody and am also taking a good steps.
In just 200HRS in Nairobi, Kenya am transform, Empowered and have become person many are looking-up to, person who give breakthrough to people living in Stuck Or Stagnant situation, my vision has shifted from imagination to reality, am made to understand that Great men of today started from One step yesterday, so what am I waiting for pushing my steps to success and reality to diminish imagination.
These is a One in a Life time experience, which every person had to be indulge and engage, I want to acknowledge Africa Yoga Project for shifting my vision and giving nuclear vision in Life, If not for Yoga game of Love who will I be in my home country.
They story has just begin sit-back and relax for continuity of my story, thank you each and everyone in Africa Yoga Project. -Ani
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.