Having taught Yoga in Mozambique in 2014 and 2017 has given me quiet some lessons. My main lesson? How to be creative whilst teaching Yoga in Africa and on how to approach my classes! In this blog I’d like to share with you what I have learnt from this current – Travel, Live and Work abroad – trip in Africa. My message? How to be creative whilst teaching Yoga in Africa.
The intention to arrive on time
I think it is wise to point out that teaching Yoga in Africa is a challenge and it is very enjoyable at the same time. You only need to have an open-minded, creative and flexible attitude and forget about time. Nothing in Africa goes quickly. People often arrive at the time a class is supposed to start or in most cases much later. Why? Most African people like talking and laughing. So in Tofo, whenever we met a friend in that little village, we stopped, chatted and chatted some more and then we went to our destination. The same counted for my students. We all did it with the intention to arrive on time.
This is Africa
Like we have been saying during our time in Tofo and Vilankulos: ‘TIA’, ‘This Is Africa’. This is what we and others keep on referring to. What does this imply? I means that:
- Everything always takes longer than expected!
- Everything always goes differently than expected!
- It is almost impossible to plan anything!
Teaching Yoga in Africa (Tofo & Vilankulos)
What other lessons did I learn from teaching Yoga in Tofo and Vilankulos in Mozambique, Africa? These were situations I came across:
- People are not always happy with you being there to teach Yoga. There is also competition in Africa.
- You don’t always have a great Yoga space nor people who understand the concept of Yoga.
- Africa? It is hot, dry and dusty. It influences what classes you can teach.
- Classes are influenced by the weather. If it rains, nobody comes to class. Most people don’t have/use umbrellas.
- People who work in Africa, don’t always have a lot of money to spend. There are of course exceptions. Meaning that the Yoga pay is even lower than at home.
- You don’t always have the materials you need and Yoga materials come from far, so you need to improvise a lot.
- Yoga mats easily get damaged due to dirty feet and the salty ocean breeze in case you teach near a sea or ocean.
- Africans love their music. So do your neighbours next to your Yoga space.
- You don’t always speak each other’s language.
- You will have all levels and all ages in class and people from various cultural backgrounds and belief systems.
Yoga classes Africa
What solutions did I come up with to teach great and fun Yoga classes in Africa?
- Collaborate. Don’t compete. Unite instead!
- Work with what is possible. Create a Yoga space on the beach or perhaps even at somebody’s house or use a roof top.
- Make sure there is shade and a mosquito net and/or mosquito spray.
- Make sure there is an easy to reach indoor space for when it rains. Or just let people know before hand: rain = no class. You might also not have an umbrella yourself.
- Make sure you have savings that you can spend. You might earn a descent amount of money when you teach at a five star resort, but not in a backpacking Walhalla like Tofo.
- Make sure you offer package deals to suits everybody’s pay check and tell them discounts can always be negotiated.
- Make sure you can buy and use other local materials like grass mats to serve as Yoga mats when the ‘real’ world (shops) seems far away. Make sure you can replace the mats easily too. Or use grass mats underneath the Yoga mats to keep the mats clean and tidy. Turn anything into a Yoga prop: pillows, towels, shirts, books, scarfs.
- Make sure you can offer a clean, dust free and animal free space, but then again also remind yourself and your students with a smile about ‘This Is Africa (TIA)’, there is only so much you can do.
- Make sure you can create a quieter space by turning off Wi-Fi during class, so nobody comes and sits in front of the Yoga space to call home. About Africans and their music? Not much that can be done. Perhaps just remind them and invite them to class.
- Make sure the student who does not speak your language can see you by practicing next to him/her, or put him/her next to a more experienced student. Or have another student quietly translate your instructions. Even a private class might help, so you can truly focus on this one student. If (s)he does fall into the pool, well, than that’s is just it. I have almost see it happen when somebody practiced the Yoga pose ‘Flip Your Dog’.
- Stop preparing classes. Focus on who is in front of you. Teach the student. Don’t follow your lesson plan.
- Speak a language most students can understand and make your class as neutral as you can and don’t force people to hold their hands in ‘Namaste’ nor let them chant a mantra if that doesn’t resonate with them.
Remember whilst teaching Yoga in Africa, you might not have a fancy Yoga studio nor expensive equipment yet or a ‘clock’ that works for you, but for sure you can have a lot of Yoga fun. I hope you can enjoy the African vibe of going slowly and taking care of each other if you ever get to teach Yoga in Africa. Remember too, don’t do complicated Yoga poses next to a pool or on a roof top. Enjoy!
How to slow down? Simply take a break and do Yin Yoga.
Sit still. Stretch. Breathe. Continue.
Yin Yoga with Marianne
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