By Anamaria Guerra Forero
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on May 30, 2017
"I will be the youngest black yoga teacher in my community. Yoga has been for me a very useful tool of self-knowledge, of empowerment as a woman. Also a path of connection with my inner force.” - Soso
5000 kilometers due south of Nairobi in Cape Town, South Africa, nineteen-year-old Sonwabise Sifo (Soso) practices yoga to brighten her Khayelitsha neighborhood and her own life. According to Soso, Sonwabise means “Makes us Happy” and that is exactly what happens when South Africa meets Kenya through AYP’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training!
Soso started teaching yoga two years ago without any formal training at the Earth Child Project located in Western Cape Town. With smiles and patience, she taught the young and old how to practice yoga in order to connect with themselves, and with the earth.
Inspired by yoga, Soso believes that anyone can gain the courage to reach their goals and live a life that makes them truly happy.
A Young, Bright Teacher
“[My personal mantra is] life begins at the end of the comfort zone.” - Soso
Soso knew she would need official yoga teacher training to grow in her practice. However, factors of cost, a passport and a visa, were serious obstacles - and that’s where Africa Yoga Project entered Soso’s life.
In 2015, Soso was part of the beneficiary group -AYP Seva Safari Project called “Be the Light,” in a Cape Town which was hosted by AYP founder Paige Elenson, Leah Cullis and Jessica Micheletti. Paige, Leah and Jessica realized that their project had sparked something special, and made a promise to send one of the participants to Kenya for the Africa Yoga Project Teacher Training.
After two years of waiting, Soso finally received her passport, a scholarship and, in March 2017, attended AYP’s 2017’s “Expand your Power” teacher training in Kenya!
“The training for me was mind opening, it was a journey through the mind, emotions, and physical awareness, which transformed me to be confident and to be able to stay in my way.” - Soso
During the 2 teacher training and one week STAY program with all AYP Scholars, Soso deepened her understanding of the importance of yoga in the daily lives of AYP teachers and young leaders. She also gained friends from 29 different countries!
“It was really amazing to have the opportunity to share with many people of different countries and backgrounds. It doesn't matter how different we are, we all are humans, we face the same problems and support each other.” - Soso
When asked if she would do the training again, Soso laughed and said: “The training was so hard! But I loved the group and doing the homestay with the AYP teachers!”
Giving Back through Yoga
“I will be the youngest black teacher in my community. Yoga has been for me a very useful tool of self-knowledge, of empowerment as a woman. Also a path of connection with my inner force.” - Soso
Now, back in South Africa, the lessons and experiences from Nairobi are close to Soso’s mind and heart. All AYP-trained teachers commit to give back to their communities and grow as yoga teachers and Soso has big plans!
Currently, she’s working to start a yoga class for parents and their children and an outreach class - a free class held weekly for a specific over six months.
Soso also knows that sometimes yoga alone is not enough to help alleviate all of life’s pain. A current undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Capetown, Soso looks forward to integrating the two studies together.
“I can help my patients through yoga, to stay positive and release the worries and problems they have.” - Soso
As Soso starts down this new path, she has the advice and support from her new yoga network, which includes all of her AYP training friends from 29 different countries!
Soso is very excited to share yoga, explore her new-level of confidence and to have the possibility to expand her dreams. She is ready now to “be a yes,” to be an agent of empowerment and to be an inspiration for her community.
* Pictures of the Teacher Training Program “Expand your power 2017” - including pictures of workshops; practice yoga sessions and practice teaching sessions..