My Vinyasa Yoga induction was an eye-opener. I consider myself relatively fit; I work out regularly so I did not go to my first class unfit and jelly-limbed thinking it was going to be an hour of meditation and relaxation. I came out of it alive, barely. My muscles had been challenged to the extreme, I was sweating, weak-limbed but surprisingly relaxed. I was hooked. Yes, admittedly the first few sessions saw me slightly disoriented as I learnt to move through the many poses; sun salutation, warrior pose, downward-facing dog, plank pose, child’s pose…by my third session I was no longer looking towards my partners on their yoga mats but was moving through my poses effortlessly, well slightly…still breathing hard and sweating and in most cases shaking but slightly effortlessly.
Vinyasa Yoga is one of many yoga styles which roughly translated means ‘flow’, as it emphasises synchronised breathing and flowing movements. The class is taught by two ladies who started teaching after realising there were not that many places for one to go for Yoga Classes in Accra.
Ana’s journey to being a yoga teacher was a circuitous one, but in the end her decision to teach yoga full-time was reached after assessing where she was happiest in her life. And that place was, ‘on her yoga mat’. After many years in the corporate world, interspersed with travel to South East Asia and a subsequent return to the corporate world, this Business School graduate gave it all up when she found the corporate world not as fulfilling as it once was.
Gretchen, a corporate lawyer, who has been teaching for over four years qualified as a yoga teacher in Hong Kong and found herself in Ghana, having moved here with her family around the same time that Ana who had already been teaching Yoga in Accra was about to go on maternity leave. She had tried to find rental space for a Yoga Studio but a lack of available and affordable space scuppered all those plans. She however found herself thrown into teaching some of Ana’s classes. Their meeting was serendipitous in many ways and with it all Karma Yoga was born out of their mutual need to give back. Ana and Gretchen do not charge for their lessons but people attending their classes are encouraged to donate to the ‘Karma can’ in any small way. The donations are then made towards charitable organisations.
Karma Yoga supports the Agboboloshie Market Creche which is set up for the vendors’ children and the Street Girl Programme that looks to up-skill street girls in life skills and reintegrate them back into society. Life skills include sewing, cooking and hairdressing after which their integration and progress in monitored with the help of the Assemblies of God Relief and Development Services (AGREDS). To date the project has donated twenty sewing machines to the Street Girl Programme. They have in addition provided funding for three girls to go to school for two years each through their support of Futures for Kids, a volunteer organisation that provides education funding for children from low-income families; last year it made a donation to the Royal Seed Home Orphanage.
Cristin, another yoga teacher who has been in Ghana for less than two years, together with other yoga practitioners in Ghana has been looking into the opening of a Yoga Centre in Accra, like her fellow yoginis she comes from a corporate background and got into yoga through her yearning for the fulfilment that her job did not offer. She teaches Kundalini Yoga, whose emphasis is more on the chanting of mantras in combination with the poses. Last week was my first lesson of Kundalini Yoga and though slightly different, I was again weak-limbed and exhausted after.
What they have all learnt in the years they have been teaching here is that there are many yoga teachers in Accra, teaching very different styles but there is no one place for one to go and details around the where and when of lessons is spread more by word of mouth. Cristin, together with other Ghanaian and expat yoga teachers recently launched the first Ghana Yoga! site which is an information hub for all things Yoga, from a directory for teachers to a listing for classes and retreats being held in various places in Accra.
For further information visit: www.ghanayoga.com.