Saturday, September 29, 2012

Eight years ago I left my two thriving New York City Next Generation Yoga studios in the hands of others so I could go & fulfill a deep desire of mine: a 3-week adventure in Africa. My itinerary included co-leading a family yoga retreat in Mozambique, a safari in Zambia and a visit with a friend who was working for UNICEF in the bush of Malawi. The latter leg of my trip left me forever changed, solely because of the children, families, schools & unimaginable environments and sites that I witnessed.

As a master kids yoga teacher & trainer, throughout my time in Africa, I spontaneously took the initiative to share my gifts & talents with children with whom I met. Whether it was at an impoverished school or a random meeting in the bush, the African children received my playful yoga teachings with curiosity, glee, gratitude & a thirst for more. I always knew I would return to give more.

Upon my arrival home to my blessed life in Manhattan, I was inspired by the children I taught in Africa, and their disadvantaged shoe-less lifestyle, to close the doors of the Next Generation Yoga studios. While this was a challenging lesson of detachment for me & the NGY community, it simultaneously was the amazing opportunity for me to realize that my mission was bigger than four brick and mortar walls.

Always holding Africa in my heart, this year I set the intention to return to be of service, teach yoga to the children & train the teachers. By way of the law of attraction, social media and Be Present Inc., I connected with the non-profit organization, Africa Yoga Project. I immediately spoke with founder Paige Elenson who expressed her desire to have me come and lead Next Generation Yoga TeacherTraining for the AYP instructors. An invitation I was honored to accept.

The mission of the Africa Yoga Project is to “use the transformative power of yoga to empower communities and change lives.” Presently, they have over 50 teachers, between the ages of 16-30, who have studied with & been trained by the well-regarded master yoga teacher: Baron Baptiste. AYP Teachers teach over 200 free yoga classes per week in communities, and reach 5,000+ disadvantaged Kenyans in the slums of Nairobi. Amazingly, AYP Teachers now share their passion & purpose and earn an income teaching yoga because of fundraised money.

AYP Teachers presently share yoga with the children of the slums, orphanages & schools, yet they have no formal training on how to teach yoga to kids. This is where I feel called to be the change.

In partnership with Africa Yoga Project and an amazing group of dedicated assistants, also known as Team Next Generation Yoga, in 2013, we will going to Africa, this time with my Next Generation Yoga manuals and props. I will be leading the AYP Teachers in 6 full days of NGY Teacher Training so that they are educated, skilled and equipped to share kid-friendly yoga with the children of Nairobi. As well, during our 2 week stay with AYP, we will work closely with the children in the field and model for the AYP Teachers & local educators a meaningful yoga program.

In order for us to make this journey around the world, we are each individually fundraising, as all Africa Yoga ProjectAmbassadors do. Our raised monies will go towards our travel, expenses on site, documentation of our work & AYP Teachers pay for kids yoga classes. For many of us, including myself, this is the first time we are asked to raise funds. It is true, any amount helps, and nothing is considered too small.

I invite you to stay connected with this blog as a way to stay up to date with Team NGY members as well as learn more about the powerful work we are doing. I, for sure, am looking forward to seeing how this journey unfolds.