You said that one of your students from the teacher training course that you were holding in Thailand invited you to come and teach in Ghana, how did this come about and what made you decide to accept the invitation?
Both Nieves Lahuerta (in Ghana), Onanchi Chapet and Leila Hassan (in Ivory Coast) have been teaching for a while – they are very talented and experienced teachers. They have been through many trainings (through Samahita and elsewhere). And both Nieves and Onanchi are teaching the same pranayama and asana as we do at Samahita, from the same traditions/lineages, so going to their studios was like coming home in a way. The students already had a solid foundation and I wasn’t starting from scratch with them. Nieves, Onanchi and Leila are doing a great job teaching the students there.
The main purpose in going is to help the students continue to build their practice, and to encourage them to go deeper and keep it up. For those new to the practice, going helps them get started. Ideally everyone will keep up the practices. Nieves, Onanchi and Leila continue to do a great job guiding the students. And I hope to return and help them build the practice over time. Maybe some students will come to Thailand as well, for different trainings and retreats; they can benefit from those learning experiences as well.
How long were you in each country and what type of yoga were you teaching?
I was in Ivory Coast and Ghana for 4 days each. I wish I had more time, but I know I will return :)
What is the yoga scene like in these countries, is it still in it’s infinite stage or is it quite popular and accessible?
There is not a lot at the moment. But it is growing, with the help of people like Onanchi, Nieves and Leila.
What are the more prevalent yoga styles in these countries?
In Ivory Coast Onanchi and Leila (the women who invited me) work with a couple of other teachers there. They hold Asthanga Vinyasa, classical pranayama (from the Kaivalyadhama tradition), Jivamukti, Sivananda and Restorative classes. They mainly work with expats, but there are some locals that come as well. We have one local Ivorian student coming for our training in May.
What were your highlights from your trip there?
When I was in Ivory Coast we went to a local Ivory Coast dance rehearsal, which was especially for us. A woman named Rose Marie Guiraud founded the school — the translated name of the school is “The Hero of Ivory Coast.” For many years she has been taking in abandoned children and teaching them this art form. It is also a cultural exchange program, and she invited us back to teach them yoga. It was heartening watching them perform. And we hope to keep up the connection with them in the future.
I also profoundly enjoyed connecting with all of the students in both Ghana and Ivory Coast, talking and sharing with them. That is what yoga is about – the connection, the exchange, the mutual sharing and understanding that we gain through our everyday interactions and relationships. This of course extends beyond the asana and pranayama classes.
Anything else you want to share with our readers with regard your trip to Ghana and the Ivory Coast?
It was a real honor to be able to go – a deeply moving and inspirational experience. And I look forward to doing more there in the future.
Many thanks Elonne! Wishing you well on your yoga ventures especially in Africa from all of us at YAA :)