Let’s start by addressing the question that comes up most when I share about the Africa Yoga Project: “Is Yoga really what Africa needs?”
Although this question was once a source of frustration, I now see it as a great way to open up the conversation of what yoga is truly about and how our understanding has become limited in modern times.
Yoga is an ancient Science of Living designed to cultivate a sense of oneness on an individual and collective level. It’s a set of tools designed to awaken us to the truth of our interdependence and unbreakable connection with each other and the world around us. The reason yogis become passionate about fighting injustice, humanitarian aid and environmental work is because they realize that when any of us suffer, we all suffer.
The mission of Africa Yoga Project is to connect impoverished, underserved populations in 19 countries in Africa with service-oriented yogis around the world that have a desire to give back. AYP’s Seva Safari trips, which integrate service and travel, give volunteers the opportunity to experience the culture and wildlife of sub-Saharan Africa, while also funding Yoga Teacher Training for local Africans and outreach programs for their communities.
At this point, over 50% of youth in Africa are un-employed or underemployed, not only making it difficult to have their basic needs met, but also leaving them at risk to be recruited by extremist groups and even political groups for crime and terrorism.
During my last trip to Kenya, I heard the firsthand accounts of young girls in the slums forced into working as “street girls” and the unimaginable trauma they endured as a result, young men shared about the desperation that led them to drop out of school and commit crimes, and mothers of disabled children explained how they were abandoned by their husbands with no means to look after their families.
By providing scholarships for Yoga Teacher Training, Africa Yoga Project empowers local leaders to create positive and sustainable change in their communities. Yoga teachers in Africa can earn a living wage teaching yoga. But it doesn’t end there.
AYP Yoga Teachers have a responsibility to take their yoga beyond the mat and create outreach programs including education, special needs programs, fresh water projects, safe houses for women, and more.
For the first time in Feb 2019, we are pleased to introduce the tools of Y12SR focused on trauma and addiction recovery offered by highly accomplished Yoga Therapist Nikki Myers. Yoga students, teachers and wellness professionals around the world will be trained alongside 60 African teachers at the Shine Center in Nairobi.
So is Yoga really what Africa needs? A source of deep personal healing, a skillset that empowers individuals to transform their lives and the lives of those around them, an opportunity to earn a living wage, and to find peace in the most difficult life circumstances. I’ll let you be the judge!
To learn more about joining this service trip to Kenya or make a donation visit the links below: Look Forward, Give Back Seva Safari: Feb 21st – Mar 2nd
Make a Donation!
Mary Tilson is a yoga teacher, retreat leader and passionate world traveler. Her love of yoga, which she understands as a vast science of living inspired her to base herself in remote areas of the world where she could learn from cultures defined by simplicity, community, and close connection with nature. Mary served as the Head Yoga Teacher at Hariharalaya Retreat Center in the Cambodian countryside, and has led retreats, trainings and service projects throughout Southeast Asia, Central America and Africa. Mary is now the Yoga & Wellness Director for Nihi Sumba, a philanthropic resort in Indonesia named “Best Hotel in the World” by Travel+Leisure in 2016 & 2017. The focus of Mary’s offering is to help others awaken to their own inner guide and realize their highest potential in a way that is supportive and widely accessible. www.marytilsonyoga.com
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