By Bruce Mbugua
Posted in Africa Yoga Project Blog, on November 30, 2020
“The belief that I wasn’t enough was something I never thought I’d overcome.” Boniface Muchiri, Year 2 Academy teacher
Transformation is not the same as change. It’s an inside-out shift of values, beliefs and perspectives that result in a brighter outlook and create a different, greater purpose. Just like how the butterfly cannot reverse into the caterpillar, transformation makes you become a whole new person and you adopt an entirely different way of thinking and being.
At Africa Yoga Project there is no shortage of wellbeing warriors whose lives are a testimony to the transformation that this practice inspires. I had a chat with 23 year old AYP teacher, Boniface Muchiri from Nairobi, Kenya to get some insight into how his life has transformed since starting yoga.
Bruce: What was your life like before you started yoga?
To be honest, I was struggling. We didn’t have money for me to further my education and go to college so I took up whatever small jobs I could find. In my home, the most popular and accessible kind of work for any young man is at a mjengo (construction site). Whenever I got a mjengo job, my workmates and supervisor would criticize me for being short. Saying I was ineffective because of being small and I could carry way less weight than the average man. This had a real deep effect on my self esteem. It almost kept me from applying to become a yoga teacher because I was scared they’d reject me for the same reason. I felt like my body was always going to stop me from moving forward in life.
Bruce: How did you end up finding yoga?
I discovered yoga through a friend called Samuel Muindi (who's also in the AYP academy). I’d always attend his outreach classes at home in Huruma. I just loved how the classes made me feel. One day, he asked me and two other students of his to apply for this scholarship to become a yoga teacher. I was so excited I did it first thing! You can only imagine my anxiety when the other two students got the call despite the fact that I was first to apply. Eventually, thankfully, I got a call informing me that I’ve been chosen. It was that acceptance that began to cement my love for yoga. Yoga is indeed for any BODY. I had finally begun to feel worthy.
Bruce: How has your experience at AYP been like?
There’s a word that gets used a lot in our AYP family, “community.” For me, it’s more than just a word, it’s a culture, a way of life. The teachers, staff and friends of AYP have all made me feel loved and supported in a way I’ve never hoped of feeling before. The community spirit has pushed me to lose my self doubt and I feel inspired to be and do better because I have a family that cares about me who I’d never want to disappoint. Community has been everything for me.
Cassandra (Power Yoga Canada), Boniface and Patrick together on the Give Joy Get Joy Seva Safari
Bruce: What has been the biggest transformation in your life since you started practicing?
I’d say that for me, even though I do enjoy the physical asana, the major transformation I’ve experienced with yoga has been mentally. Firstly, it was a big deal for me to let go of my insecurities about my body. The belief that I wasn’t enough was something I never thought I’d overcome.
Secondly, the teachings and culture of yoga shifted my perspective on the LGBTQ community. It made me realize that the same way I was battling with my body image is the same way someone else was battling to simply be who they are. Nowadays I feel empowered to treat all people from a place of love and understanding because we’re all fighting our own battles.
Bruce: Lastly, why do you feel yoga is important?
One word. Transformation. The hope, wellness and connection that this practice has inspired in me has made me become someone I’m so proud of today. It feels like in the past, I was just wandering around but now I can see a path and I know that yoga is what’s helping me do the work to get to where I’m going.
Boniface leading a light session during AYP’s 2020 Mombasa Teacher Training session.
Boniface has had a very active 2020. The pandemic has given him a chance to step up in his leadership and be of service to his community. From being a rafiki (friend) and leading a team of yogis on one of our Seva safaris (service trip), to helping facilitate our 2020 Teacher training in Mombasa, Boniface is breaking the limits of his old beliefs.
As someone who we trained together, his growth and transformation has truly been a beautiful thing to watch and I’m happy to call him a friend and fellow teacher.
It’s my hope that you share this story with someone in need of a little inspiration today & it will give them the push needed to make a transformation in their lives.
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