Prana & power

Posted on January 1, 2014

1383733_668982133121365_437675182_nSipping a coffee at Mitchell Park’s Vida yesterday with my new friend and fellow yogi, Kea, she told me about an amazing initiative called Township Yogi. In fact, I remember before she even shared the details, her words were, ‘you’re gonna love this.’ And indeed I did!

Township Yogi is about raising hope and changing lives through the power of yoga. The queen behind the scene is Elle Matthews, a South African author and film producer who has perfectly identified her life purpose and now lives and breathes it daily.

South Africa has more than its fair share of problems with rife and ever-increasing levels of crime, poverty, sexual violence, unemployment and HIV / AIDS. In fact, South Africa has the highest incidence of Aids in the world and nearly 40% of the HIV/Aids population live in townships here in KwaZulu Natal. A yoga junkie herself, this led Elle to research the effects it has on health, especially diseases like HIV/Aids and thereafter, to launch the Township Yogi project.

Starting in the heart of Inanda township, studios have been set up and the idea is to train and employ yoga teachers from within these townships, so that they can go out and teach the people suffering in their own communities. Funds are being raised to support the filming of a documentary that will follow the lives of these individuals as they transform their lives through yoga practice. The focus is very much on the benefits it can have on people suffering with HIV/Aids such as boosting immune system activity, reducing stress, improving muscle tone, combating wasting and slowing the progression of the disease. If yoga can be used to improve their health and quality of life, the potential and long-lasting consequences could be profound. A large percentage of the film profits will go straight back into the set up of studios in neighbouring KwaMashu and other townships and to train and employ yoga teachers within them.

Township Yogi is empowering individuals and giving them hope for a better future. It is a work of passion and compassion, a project that can bring real, sustainable and long-lasting support to the Inanda township and in turn, others in KZN.

I’ve yet to meet Elle but I know our paths will cross and in the meantime, I start my 2014 feeling inspired by the selfless service of an individual to bring the opportunity to teach and practice yoga to change lives and empower communities at grass-roots level.

Learning about this project seems fitting after a conversation last night amongst four good friends, when we discussed the tragic state that much of the world is in and how every single individual is responsible for doing their bit to give back. If we all did just one little good deed every day, one selfless act to help the community and environment around us, then we’d be making great strides to a better future.

Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”… words said in the 6th century but which ring so true today. We have 365 days ahead of us, a 365 page book to write any way we wish. I hope many others will join me in recognising the efforts of Township Yogi and thinking how they too can share their skills and spread their passions to those who most need it.

Over & out and here’s to another magical year on this wonderful journey, we call life!


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