By Billy Sadia
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on March 31, 2014
Each Seva Safari with Africa Yoga Project is different; the yogis who attend, the teachers who host and the work that is done is always changing and evolving. With this growth each Seva group creates a unique and everlasting experience.
This Valentine's Day, Dana Trixie Flynn, owner of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centre and Lotus Flow Yoga from San Francisco and Manhattan, came to Nairobi, Kenya. She came straight from the Big Apple with her team of colourful yogis to teach us how to grow our hearts in her ecstatic expression of yoga, music, divine love and community. Dressed in psychedelic swag she taught a yoga class and workshop to over 300 people at the Shine Centre.
The Grow Your Heart Seva Safari brought a group of Australians, Canadians and Americans inspired to experience AYP and Dana Flynn's teachings. Dana and the Seva group travelled through AYP's outreach classes, meeting children from the Gracious Kideo primary school, Flomina orphanage and Langata Women's prison. Together the yogis travelled to rural Kenya to build wooden desks for a Masai community school while spreading some of Dana Flynn's Laughing Lotus glittery love from Nairobi all the way to the dry plains of Amboseli under Mount Kilimanjaro.
Dana considers her students like family; a community of lovers. She encourages us to be ourselves in full expression and complete authenticity. Her t-shirts don logos of "Namaste Bitches" and "I Sweat Glitter". Not only do you leave her classes shiny with sweat but also sparkling in glitter.
With bright smiles and open hearts our Seva group met to practice every day with a mix of AYP teachers and Lotus Flow teachers. The energy was contagious as we chanted and cheered to yoga and music. Dana's classes are powerful and colourful just like her stylish New York/San Francisco flare. She flashes a sparkling smile as we dance, move and explore one pose to the next. Her pace is quick as she encourages us to let go of the details and simply interpret the flow in our own style while rocking out to her epic taste in music. With her signature move: OMG, a type of graceful bowing to the divine; placed between flow poses where you usually would find a traditional Utkatasana, we all say it out loud "Oh My God" in complete
unison. Her classes captivated the "OMG" experience of Seva Safari itself.
The Seva group travelled to places that we never thought we could venture. We bonded in Dana's vision as a family; singing and laughing as we took to the Nairobi slum.
Seva Safari is a trip of service, where you are encouraged to step outside of your comfort zone. Participants acknowledge their lives of opportunity and give back in understanding that no matter where we are born we are all equal and deserve equal privilege. The Grow Your Heart Seva Safari collectively raised over $60,000, including an incredibly successful NYC flash mob organized by the Laughing Lotus crew in downtown Manhattan last October. The group travelled to Nairobi to work, to see and to shake hands with those benefitting from the fundraising.
In the "Dare to Fly" workshop Dana taught us a triple mudra mantra of "Grow" "Your" "Heart", inspiring us to go deeper in unity and connection to our hearts and to Africa. "This" "Is" "Africa" she chanted as we fully engulfed ourselves in experience. We reached a new land, we opened our eyes to it with each day with each movement and each breath. The collective three Oms at the end of class were expanded in love and compassion to ourselves, to our community and our loved ones. The Seva Safari group of yogis and yoga teachers was full of light and love, covered in glitter and sparkles. The remnants of sparkles from Dana's classes are eternally imprinted on the mats of the Shine Centre representing the joyous energy that filled the minds and the hearts of each yogi who practiced with us that week.
At the end, our hearts had grown so big from everything we had learned, many of us were inspired to further our work with AYP in becoming mentors , Join the AYP teachers and community leaders in spreading the unity of love and teaching others how to "Grow Your Heart" back home.
This 2014 Valentine's Day success brought NYC to Nairobi with bright smiles, able hands, open hearts and minds. Every participant left knowing that Seva Safari has a life of its own and is totally worth the time and effort in service for truly obtaining the experience of a lifetime.