Friday, February 18, 2011

Vision: How Yoga is Transforming a Kenyan City

via AlterNet, by Anna Clark

In Nairobi, the Africa Yoga Project is training HIV+, poor, and disabled citizens to be yoga instructors, creating jobs and changing lives.

Here is what the Africa Yoga Project wants you to know: it is not religious. Nor is it a collective of devil worshippers. If you come to AYP’s free and rambunctious Saturday morning class in Kenya’s capitol city, you will certainly not be lured into practicing an unfamiliar faith. Also, AYP will not give you money to do a few downward dogs.

Given the missionary tradition of East Africa, these are the not unreasonable suspicions AYP instructors face when they invite Kenyans to practice yoga. But just over three years since its founding by American ex-pat and yogi Paige Elenson, AYP has gathered enormous momentum. Those Saturday classes? About 70 people come each week, many traveling some distance to the studio in Sarakasi Dome on Nairobi’s Ngara Road. Students show off their acrobatics before the opening child’s pose—balancing on each others’ knees, pulling themselves vertical.

Throughout the two-hour yoga class in a sunny room marked by colorful graffiti and gleaming mirrors, students noisily whoop and groan and sigh with relief as they move through a vinyasa flow. There is no meditative music playing; the sounds of this studio are all voices and breath and movement. As the teacher of this class rotates, AYP instructors practice alongside newcomers, children, mothers, teenagers, and a handful of ex-pats. Afterward, sitting up on the dusty black mats, everybody claps.

By training yoga instructors who come from the same Nairobi slums that are the center of the program’s outreach, and by making explicit connections to the acrobatic and dance arts many potential yoga students are already doing on street corners, AYP hosts 200 free classes a week, reaching 3,000 students with 42 local yoga instructors. Most students are aged 16-30, living on about $2 a day, and many live with HIV/AIDS.

Read the rest.

[If an item is not written by an IRMA member, it should not be construed that IRMA has taken a position on the article's content, whether in support or in opposition.]

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...