Out of a shattered open heart springs a fountain of fiery sacred passion that will never run dry – Rumi
The summer of 2012 I moved to Nairobi, Kenya. I was hired by the Jois Foundation in partnership with Africa Yoga Project based in Nairobi. I chose ten hearing and four deaf yoga students from the local community. I then trained them to be Ashtanga vinyasa yoga teachers. They were hired by AYP to expand its existing program to teach in the settlement schools, orphanages and centers. We reached out to special schools teaching to the deaf, blind, mentally and physically challenged children and youth. We also made our way into the prison system working with incarcerated male youth. And as I left we began teaching to former prostitutes HIV/AIDS who are part of an organization to rehabilitate them and train them with job skills. The age range of those we reach is 3 to 25.
The fourteen received an income to support themselves and their families in an environment where unemployment is extremely high. This opportunity for an income and personal empowerment trickled down into the lives of over a thousand children and young adults a week with the yoga classes. Several of the schools and orphanages were also recipients of a much needed food program through the partnership.
During my year there I also taught Ashtanga classes at AYP’s Shine Centre. I also taught various workshops and Kundalini classes. On my departure some of the Jois teachers took over those regular classes.
My last two weeks in Nairobi I did another Ashtanga teacher training at AYP’s Shine Centre for over 50 people. Many of these people are now out in Nairobi teaching in various venues. I recently received a note on Facebook from one of those students that made me smile: “we are already spreading Ashtanga to everyone. You will not believe it when you come back.”
Once in a while we are given moments of real grace in our lives. Kenya was a year of those moments of real grace. I will always be grateful for this opportunity that certainly turned my world upside down. A piece of my heart will always remain in Kenya.
The evening before I got on a plane to leave Kenya students threw me a surprise party. One relatively new student took me aside to tell me this: “What started out as exercise has become a journey.”
Most people live their whole lives not knowing they are meant to find their purpose on this earth. And once finding it, pursuing it. I am blessed beyond measure to know all three.
With love from my heart to yours, Sharon