This Is Yoga

By Jody Edgar
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on May 12, 2014

I think I did visit the Africa Yoga Project website more than 1000 times. I was keyed up of the scholarship I had been awarded. A 200hour yoga teacher training opportunity! I am asocial media guru. You can guess my next moves. I looked for, liked, and followed AYP on all the social media platforms I’m aware of. It does give me satisfaction when I become part of causes or projects I see are changing lives. Take a tour of the AYP site and you’ll gain an insight into how yoga is changing lives in Africa.

One year ago, while serving a humanitarian mission on Rusinga Island, Denise Magee-Gray had not left her yoga cards behind. I did know little about yoga. An opportunity to start the journey into my own spiritual alignment was brewing somewhere around the corner.  Denise and I called the children we were working with into a circle-the usual way to start an outdoor play with kids in Kenya.  Ten minutes later we were all airplanes; I mean the airplane poses. Together with the children I had attended my first yoga activity.

Today I am a certified Yoga teacher instructor. I will rewind the timeline back to the moment I was picked up by the taxi at the bus stop in Nairobi. I did not know where the Shine Centre was located. The driver knew. But I kept on checking my google map. I was that eager to get there.

With an African theme and an amazing lighting, the Shine center was beaming with energy and enthusiasm as I rolled down my yoga mat. The instructor was so refined in his words. Cue after cue I felt the words resonate within my inner self, evoking the untamed energy that I had brought along with me. Well, I was already in fifth gear. “How comes?” I asked myself, “It’s not even day one of the 200hour training!”


Now this is amusing! I had so much zeal to learn Sanskrit language- the original language of ancient yogis. On the walls of Shine center hang canvases of Power yoga teaching methodologies. I did read these words, ‘Baron Baptiste’. And for a few hours I thought they were Sanskrit until when I heard the facilitator talk about a Baron Baptiste who had created the power yoga sequence. I cracked up, making sure no one noticed lest they asked me why!

Never before in my life had I been exposed to human diversity as it did happen to me at AYP. Twenty three plus countries, and all the continents represented in one place. Can you feel the power of yoga?  I was astounded just the way you are now! I used to dream to be in place like that, with people like that. And now I was. I felt the world as one. There was no more colour, race, or culture barrier. We all shared our hearts out. We all had the same challenges and success stories in life. Right now we were on the same path of harmonizing our bodies and minds. A path of true seekers.

I fell in love with my matt, just like everyone else did with theirs. I vowed to flood it with sweat every hour of the 200 hours of the training. A real yogi has to connect with their matt. Power yoga insists on grounding oneself for core development. It’s only through this that a true-north alignment is achieved. This makes one concentrate on refining their personalities, gaining mastery of their body, and developing an energetic awareness of oneself.


Did I tell you the theme of the teacher training? No, not yet! A journey through the Great Rift Valley with scenic views is normally called a Safari.  Prefix it with the Sanskrit word ‘Seva’ and you come up with Seva Safari-a selfless service journey. Amidst the tranquil and serene nature of Lake Naivasha, we indulged ourselves into sensory transcendence. For the first time in my life I managed to draw my awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. Previously during the training I kept on having emotional breakdowns. I had just buried my beloved grandmother days before travelling to the training. Grief was still taking toll on me. Fortunately, now I was presented with an opportunity to take a step and look at myself. I realised this was the opportunity to leap forward and move on.  I started to cultivate detachment from my senses and directed my attention internally. My breath was the most powerful tool I had. It was the bridge between my mind, body and emotions.

I felt connected, not only with myself, but also with my fellow yogis. We all opened up to one another and shared our hearts out. We created love. Nothing beats the pleasure of knowing that you are loved from Honk Kong to South Africa to New York.

I am back at home in the community. While in Nairobi we did visit many outreach programmes in the slums ran by Africa Yoga Project. Yoga is changing lives of the youth in the slums. One on one interaction with these youths was a true eye opener to possibilities, opportunities and benefits yoga has for young people. I want to fully share my experience at AYP with my community. I know yoga is going to change lives here too.  

I honour the place in you in which the entire universe dwells, I honour the place in you which is of love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. Let the light that shines in me shine in you.-Namaste!

Shanti! Shanti!

Abass Swaleh




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Africa Yoga Project Educates, Empowers, Elevates and Expands Employability with youth in Africa using the transformational practice of yoga. Our vision is to create opportunities for youth to step into their greatness and become self-sustaining leaders in their communities.

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