Baptiste Yoga: a journey into the power of letting go



Wed, 11 Jul 2018 - 10:10 GMT


Wed, 11 Jul 2018 - 10:10 GMT

Egyptians in a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

Egyptians in a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

CAIRO – 12 July 2018: According to Baron Baptiste, author of "Journey into Power" and cofounder of the Baptiste Yoga, yoga is never about physical postures (Asana) alone; he thinks that yoga necessarily comprises meditation (Dhyana) and inquiry (Niyama) as well.

While the physical postures expand your physical power and help you explore the magnificent capabilities of your body, meditation allows you to be present and awakened; to explore the possibilities of the now, to cherish whatever you are putting your heart at in the present regardless the outcomes, to accept the present moment as it is and as it is not; knowing that it is the most sacred pillar of your journey into power. Life happens now.

The process of being brutally honest with one's self, admitting what loops one is keeping him/herself in, what patterns one is repeating and what is holding a person back from being his/her true authentic self and living up to his/ her true abilities is inquiry or Niyama. Inquiry is the question "What must I give up to be me?" It might be pride, resentment, disappointment or anything that is not bravely addressed and that is putting barriers in the way of becoming the free unburdened self.

Together, these practices are like a mountain with no top; they accompany the person along his/her journey into the power to give up their own resistance to development and growth, granting one priceless moment of disclosure and self-actualization. The Baptiste Yoga practices transform yoga from a kind of workout to a lifestyle and take you from doing yoga to being yoga, on and off your matt. But, how does one become yoga? Yoga in Sanskrit means union or connection; we become truly united and connected with ourselves and others.

Who is Baron Baptiste?
Baron Baptiste is a U.S. teacher and a student who believes that learning is a circle and a cycle where people exchange roles constantly; teachers are originally students of their own life experiences, they become teachers only when they humbly share their experiences with their students, who in turn become teachers by sharing their own experiences and displaying their own perspective of life issues. This approach has made Baptiste and his students highly impactful teachers.

"Share yourself in ways that impact others" – Baron Baptiste

Despite being able to reshape the yoga scene as well as whole communities, Baptiste and his students do not claim possessing a special brand of wisdom and are so far from being guru-like, which is surprisingly empowering. It is just us, humans, being true and generous in our practices, and lifting ourselves, other people and communities up. It is just the sincere version of us that makes miracles.

"Your work in the world is meant to be about representing the power and spirit that is within you" – Baron Baptiste

The Africa Yoga Project (AYP)
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the AYP is supported by the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute along with other prestigious partners; the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute sponsors students, encourages volunteer participation and provides the project with financial and training support, according to the AYP official website.

Egyptians at a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

Not only does the AYP help people of different ages and backgrounds discover distant glowing spots in their souls and abilities through yoga, the project also helps increase employability in Kenya, where more than 70 percent of citizens are below 30 and face an unemployment rate of 40 percent, as well as in 13 other African countries. Working from the conviction that yoga is service, the AYP provides free community yoga classes to some 6,000 people in 80 locations, including schools, orphanages, prisons and special needs centers.

One dedicated teacher at a time

In 2007, senior Baptiste yoga teacher Paige Ellenson, co-founder and executive director of AYP, accepted the invitation of Kenyan acrobats, whom she had previously met while on a safari in Kenya, to come back to Kenya to teach them more about yoga.

Ellenson accepted going back to train people she was not supposed to see in the first place as she was not supposed to get off the Jeep during that safari. She also accepted staying in the informal settlements of Nairobi where most people lived on less than $1 a day simply because it was her true calling. That is how the AYP started.

During the training, Ellenson met the “Ghetto Girls”; five teenage girls who lived in a small room of iron sheets and who gladly traveled over two hours every day to attend the yoga class as it made them feel clean, strong and happy. One of the famous Ghetto Girls, Catherine Njeri, would later be director of teachers in the AYP and a source of motivation to many girls including myself.

Egyptians at a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

She also met a boy who excelled in acrobatics but had to support his family of five after his father died in a car accident, and got involved in drug dealing and picking pockets.
The boy, Walter Mugbe, encountered grave challenges in the life that looked nothing like the one he aspired for; he witnessed a couple of his friends getting killed by a mob when he was only a teen. When asked about the incident, Mugbe said "I knew I was going to be the next person to die."

Mugbe described getting into yoga poses for the first time, "I felt so free and safe at that moment; I felt light, like something was weighing me down and all of a sudden I felt free. It was a brand new experience for me." Finding yoga, Mugbe found something to hold on to; he kept taking yoga classes until he was offered the teacher training scholarship. Now Mugbe is part of a team of 200 teachers at the AYP, spreading the light yoga once shed on their souls.

PHOTO-2018-07-04-15-57-09 Egyptians at a class by the Africa Yoga Project - Photo provided to Egypt Today

I am a proud student of Catherine Njeri and Walter Mugbe. Them coming to Egypt was a golden opportunity for me and other local Yoga teachers. I learned that Yoga has no religion or ethnicity. Those teachers come from strong beliefs, solid commitment, hard work and real-life experience; they pursue their passion and seek to unlock the doors behind which the passion of their students lies hidden with ultimate perseverance and sincerity.

It is because of teachers like them that a lot of people have found their voices, and their true callings. To Baron, Paige, Catherine, Walter and all the teachers who make unveiling the essence of their students the higher mission, I send love and light.

Egyptian Yoga instructor Riham Magdy with Catherine Njeri and Walter Mugbe from the Africa Yoga Project

Here is the promise Catherine and Walter made on the first day of the Baptiste Yoga Immersion Training, "Expand Your Powers"; the promise that kept us going through days that were most intense and eye opening, "You will discover for yourself what is holding you back from being your true and authentic self. You will embody the practices and techniques of Baptiste Yoga on and off your matt as a contribution to yourself and others. You will leave the program with the ability to teach a 90 minute Baptiste Power Vinyasa yoga class." They kept their promise, every bit of it.



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