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rom March 12th to March 25th, 45 volunteers from 11 different countries in Africa came to Gwalior (MP) to participate in Community Sports Training Programme at Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education (LNUPE). In this Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India initiative, experts from various organizations were called to impart training in various aspects of sports and other physical disciplines to these 45 delegates. Isha Foundation was invited to teach them Yoga.

Two of us landed in LNUPE, Gwalior on 12th March in the morning itself and the African delegates were supposed to come in the evening. Whole day the International Hostel at LNUPE was buzzing with activities in preparation of their arrival. When the bus arrived in the evening, all the delegates were given a traditional welcome by the students of LNUPE with garlands and tilak. I personally have very fond memories of my previous visit to Africa back in 2008, when we went to Sierra Leone for two-and-a-half months and lived in the tribal villages near Tiwai Island, in order to teach Yoga and sustainable farming methods. It was a delight to see the joyful and enthusiastic people of Africa once again.

Yoga sessions for them started the next morning at 6:30am – a time too early for many of them. But soon all of them were in the class and we began with an introduction to Inner Engineering. After that the necessary conditions to practice yoga were explained and practice of Asanas began. They participated with great enthusiasm and within 3 days, they were doing proper Surya Namaskar.

Some of them were initially apprehensive about Yoga being a religious practice. But soon they realized that it was a very scientific process. On the 5th day they learned Isha Kriya, which was a very unique experience, as expressed by many of them. One lady shared,  “I like the song that Sadhguru sings at the end.” and she tried humming “Nandhati Nandhati…” in her own way, and wanted to know the meaning of the chant. They kept asking if we were going to give them the DVDs we were showing them, so that they could continue their practice and also teach it to others. Isha music, played during the dinner time, became an instant hit as well.

In those 14 days, they were not only taught yoga for their own practice, but we also trained them on various aspects of organizing and conducting the yoga program, so that after going back to their country, they can share this knowledge with others.

– Isha Yoga teacher