Yoga Service Trip to Rwanda

Soulful Journey: Yoga + Service Trip to Rwanda

Subscribe to Outside+ now to get unique access to all of our content, including sequences, instructor tips, video lessons, and much more. Chandra Easton and Sarah Powers took a group of yogis to Rwanda in May, and the trip had everything that makes up a classic yoga retreat—daily yoga and meditation sessions, wonderful food, and beautiful settings. However, it also provided participants with the opportunity to laugh and weep with Rwandan women, to feel the unfathomable agony of a country that has endured genocide, and to see the optimism of a people who sincerely believe in the power of forgiveness.

Powers and Easton were chatting about their goal to help ladies in need one day when they came across each other.

They chose to volunteer.

As a result of their collaboration with two other like-minded business persons, Jo Ousterhout and Deepak Patel, they founded Metta Journeys, a firm that organizes trips that combine yoga with philanthropy.

While the trip included some traditional tourist activities (such as a visit to the Virunga Volcanoes region to see mountain gorillas), the emphasis was on connecting with the Rwandan people, specifically those involved with the nonprofit Women for Women International in Kigali, the country’s capital city.

Its program (which is available in a number of countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan) matches women in war-torn areas with “sponsoring sisters” in other countries who write them letters as a sign of friendship and a reminder to those who feel abandoned by the world that someone does care.

The tour participants were invited to a graduation celebration for a group of Rwandan sisters, where they were able to meet their own sponsored sisters, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for participants in Women for Women International programs.

The author’s goal was to design a vehicle through which individuals may donate to a community while integrating the experience via inner practices, which would ultimately improve their ability to provide a support for other people.

A personal journey, illustrated with photographs shot by award-winningphotojournalist Alison Wright, whose career has been dedicated to capturing the lives of women and endangered cultures all around the world, is presented in the following section.

Sweet Surrender

Chandra In my hotel at the Serena Hotel in Kigali, I’m five months pregnant and reflecting on how lucky I am to be doing this lovely journey before the birth of my second child. My friend Sarah and I arrived in town a few days early so that we could teach yoga to the staff of Women for Women International. Our goal is to provide them with opportunities to recover and refill themselves so that they may continue to be of service to the women with whom they collaborate. Sarah Today I’m going to pay a visit to the Women for Women International complex.

  1. The ladies are really kind to me, as if I were an old friend who had not seen them in a long time.
  2. It’s quite simple to establish a connection with them.
  3. I keep seeing the genuine kindness of the people in Kigali, and it never fails to impress me.
  4. There is no one following me about, as there has been in many other underdeveloped nations I have visited, attempting to sell me something or insisting that I accept a handout.
  5. During my wait outside the American Embassy, I come across a number of different elegantly dressed women, each of whom greets me with a grin and the words “Bonjour.” It gives me great pleasure to be a woman when I see them radiating with dignity.

Community Connection

Itinerary for Day 1 Yoga and meditation, breakfast, a visit to a Pentecostal church, a tour of Kigali’s city center, orientation and introductions, and a group supper are all included. Sarah When our group comes, it’s clear that it’s a varied collection of folks. While some have never practiced yoga, they have previously sponsored sisters via the Women for Women International sponsorship program; others are yogis who are new to the Women for Women International sponsorship program. Everyone has the same goal in mind: to reach out to others in any way they can while being open and interested wherever they go.

  1. Because many of them are still exhausted from the long travel, many of them opt to stay in the hotel after a balanced yoga session to catch up on some sleep.
  2. As we go into the church, we notice that a space has been designated for us in the middle of the entire crowd.
  3. It’s a joyful occasion, and I find myself standing in front of 200 people, thanking them for their generosity in welcoming us and extending their affection.
  4. For our group, it’s a beautiful way to begin their journey—to witness firsthand how individuals can rise above sorrow in order to discover spiritual inspiration even in the middle of difficulty.
  5. In spite of all of the brutality she witnessed at such a young age, Hashmat, who is Muslim, claims that her brief escape strengthened her trust in God.
  6. Our morning and evening yoga and meditation workshops will provide us with the opportunity to process all we see and hear on our journey.
  7. Morning meditation and yoga; breakfast at the Kigali Memorial Center; afternoon at the Women for Women International market; evening meditation and yoga.
  8. This morning, I’ll be teaching the advanced class while Sarah will be teaching the basic class.
  9. After breakfast, we will pay our respects to the 250,000 souls who are buried at the Kigali MemorialCenter.
  10. The afternoon yoga practice begins, and it becomes evident that we require some form of coping mechanism to deal with what we have witnessed at the memorial.

I mostly focus on Yin Yoga in order to provide everyone with time to relax and reflect on what we’ve learned thus far. After being so sad, the tranquil, relaxing positions let us to find our footing again.

Soul Sisters

Itinerary for Day 3 Yoga and meditation, breakfast, a meeting with sisters at the Women for Women International office, the graduation ceremony, lunch at Africa Bites, a women’s rights education session, yoga and meditation, and supper at the Novotel Hotel are all on the schedule. Chandra Her eyes are the first thing that catches my attention. They demonstrate her fortitude and thankfulness. She is a widow with three children of her own and four additional adopted children, all of whom are orphans of the genocide, to care for.

  1. Because of my gift, her own dedication, and the assistance of the Women forWomen International team, she will graduate from the program in a year’s time with a new understanding of her rights as well as a skill that will enable her to support her family.
  2. The two groups of people gathered on the grass in front of each other, and when Muharubuga’s name was announced, she stared directly at me.
  3. As we said our goodbyes, she leaned in and placed a kiss on my forehead with her chin.
  4. It seemed as though two spirits had come together.
  5. Our sisters graduated from high school last year, and today, after meeting them, we will watch their graduation ceremony.
  6. It was quite invigorating.
  7. We had a fantastic time together.
  8. She appears to be quite bashful, scared, and defenseless at this point.
  9. We hug, and I gift her a pair of black pearl stud earrings from Tahiti, which she hastily tucks inside her sarong to keep them hidden.
  10. It doesn’t matter what happens to them in the future.
  11. The opportunity to meet her in person, to introduce our children to one another, to hug her and gaze into her eyes, and to share a few moments with her is truly a blessing.

Moreover, I am delighted to be able to share this experience with my husband and my 16-year-old daughter, both of whom will be permanently altered as a result of this.

A Difficult Day

Itinerary for Day 4 Meditation and yoga, brunch, genocide monuments at Nyamata and Ntarama, drive to Gorilla’sNest Lodge, supper, and a brief evening yoga session are all included. Chandra Looking at it from the road, it appears to be a typical church. However, within the churches, skulls and bones are on display as a terrible reminder of people who were lured into the churches under the pretense of seeking safety, only to be slaughtered. A statue of Mother Mary watches over a pile of clothing that have been left exactly as their owners left them.

  1. The situation is incredibly challenging for all of us, but it serves to remind us to be grateful for our lives and for those who continue to work, as well as to emphasize the need of never letting something like this happen again.
  2. You begin by extending the meditation to yourself, then to your loved ones, then to your so-called adversaries, the country, the planet, and further afield yet.
  3. In preparation for a more advanced Tibetan Buddhist practice known as Tonglen, or “sending and receiving,” lovingkindness meditation helps us to cultivate our ability to be present in the present moment.
  4. Each of us believes that the techniques are essential in allowing us to remain present with what we’ve witnessed while not getting entirely overwhelmed by it all.
  5. It only grows more and more lovely as time goes on.
  6. We will stop at the genocide memorials at Nyamata and Ntarama on the route.
  7. In my bones, I can sense the sadness and agony of the world.
  8. We eventually arrive at a resort in a beautiful, foggy valley on the boundary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

When Hashmat, a beginner yogini, comes up to me at the conclusion of class, tears in her eyes, she exclaims, “This is the first time I’ve truly relaxed since the genocide.” For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’ve found my place in myself completely.”

Finding the Sacred

Itinerary for Day 5 Breakfast, a hike to the Gorilla’s Nest, lunch and free time, yoga, and supper are all included. Chandra Because we had to leave early in the morning, there was no yoga today. Once we get at the trailhead, with guides, porters, and guardsmen keeping an eye out for poachers, we begin an exhausting hour-long climb to the gorillas’ habitat. Finally, we come upon them: a family of five silverbacks, consisting of a father, mother, and three offspring. They’ve taken up residence in the bushes, where they’re eating and resting.

  1. They appear to be habituated to people and unimpressed by them.
  2. I’m only a few inches away!
  3. Everyone is taken aback by how near the baby has suddenly become.
  4. We spend about an hour among them before making our way back down the mountain.
  5. It is the middle of ourYin Yoga lesson when we notice a bunch of children singing and dancing on the grass outside.
  6. When I am not dancing with my kid, I am dancing with a small girl who is approximately eight years old, the same age as mine.
  7. As soon as we’re through, we return to our practice with the buzz of the dance still vibrating throughout our bodies.
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Closing Time

Itinerary for Day 6 Yoga and meditation, breakfast, journey back to Kigali, and dinner are all on the schedule. Sarah Today, we’ll be practicing outside on the patio for our morning routine. It’s cold outside, and a layer of mist hangs over the neighboring mountains. Yoga is practiced in a group setting by both beginners and seasoned practitioners. We alternate between correcting students and talking them through the postures, and Chandra and I do the same. While Chandra is providing instructions, I take a glance across the horizon and notice a school not too far off in the distance.

  1. Their antics are hysterically amusing.
  2. They’re having a good time, though, flailing their arms and attempting to join us from a distance.
  3. Following supper, each of us gives a brief summary of our experiences.
  4. Everyone is in a state of intense tenderness, and several have expressed how profoundly beneficial these experiences have been.
  5. It was a genuinely one-of-a-kind and life-changing experience for all of us.
  6. Chandra Everyone agrees that this trip has transformed them and that it wouldn’t have been the same without the yoga and meditation practices that they engaged in during the journey.
  7. Additionally, I’m taken away by the beauty and friendliness of the Rwandan people, particularly their ladies.
  8. Additionally, witnessing firsthand the work of Women for Women International was quite encouraging.
  9. Sarah Powers and Chandra Easton are yoga instructors who live in the San Francisco Bay Area and travel the world to share their knowledge of the practice.

More information on Powers may be found at sarahpowers.com. To find out more about Easton, go to shunyatayoga.com/easton. Lauren Ladoceour works as an associate editor at Yoga Journal.

Yoga Adventure Rwanda in Rwanda

Journey with Souljourn Yoga creator Jordan Ashley and yoga teacher/reiki master Joanne Silver on a journey of a lifetime as we visit Rwanda, the “land of a thousand hills,” and its rich and diverse culture. The 10 night/11 day vacation will provide us with a comprehensive cultural immersion, including activities such as game drives in Akagera National Park and chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park, as well as hikes through the Volcanoes National Park and boat rides on Lake Kivu.

On this trip, give back to yourself while also giving to others and helping the girls of Komera, whose mission is to develop self-confident young women through education, community service, and sports participation.

Join us for a wonderful and life-changing event that will change your life!

Our FAQ’s, Waiver of Liability, and Participant Agreement can be found here, and you may sign them there as well: * The deadline for making a deposit is May 25.

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Guides
  • Bottled water
  • $300 payment to Komera (a tax-deductible donation)
  • Participation in any and all activities* unless otherwise stated. Flights
  • Obtaining a permit for gorilla trekking costs $1500 and must be done in advance. Trekking with Dian Fossey costs $75, plus $30 for a visa upon arrival, gratuity, and travel insurance (which is required).

a room that is shared Available till the 1st of June, 2019. It also comes with a $300 tax-deductible gift to KomeraSingle Room. Available till the 1st of June, 2019.

Rwanda

The dates are June 29-July 8, 2020. Join Jordan Ashley, creator of Souljourn Yoga, and Alison Riazi, a Chicago-based yoga instructor, on a trip of a lifetime as we visit the beautiful and diverse country of Rwanda, known as the “land of a thousand hills.” A comprehensive cultural immersion will be provided on this 9-night/10-day tour, which will include everything from a wildlife drive in Akagera National Park to Golden Monkey Trekking, trekking in Volcanoes National Park, and taking in the breathtaking splendor of Lake Kivu.

Besides that, we’ll be immersed in the local culture (seeing numerous markets and art galleries, including a women’s collective in Kigali) and even hosting a coffee class.

“Komera” is a Rwandan phrase that translates as “be strong, have bravery.” We’ll get the opportunity to spend the day with these inspiring young ladies and witness firsthand how your contributions can make a real difference.

The New York Times published an article titled “52 Places to Visit in 2018” that highlighted Rwanda.

Itinerary

Day 1: Greetings from Rwanda! Greetings from Rwanda! You will be greeted at the airport and transported to the Heaven Boutique Hotel in a private vehicle. After a long travel, you’ll have the afternoon to unwind and get settled. Allow yourself to unwind and explore, and we will begin our tour with a welcome meal. During the night, stay in the Heaven Hotel Residence. Day 2: Visit to the City of Kigali After an exhilarating yoga session, we will go on a walking tour with the Nyamirambo Women’s Cooperative, which will take us across the village.

  1. In the evening, we will return to the Heaven Hotel for dinner.
  2. Day 3: Mbyo Village and Inema National Park Beginning with yoga and brunch, we will then travel to Bugera, where we will take a community tour of the Mbyo Hamlet (a reconciliation village where perpetrators and survivors of the genocide live together).
  3. During the night, stay in the Heaven Hotel Residence.
  4. Immediately following breakfast, we will convene at Question Coffee for a workshop.
  5. Dinner and a night’s stay at Akagera Game Lodge are included.
  6. In the afternoon, we’ll head back to the park for lunch, yoga, and a little leisure time.
  7. Day 6: Mountain Safari in the Sierra Nevada The next morning, after an early breakfast, we’ll go out on our epic game drive.

We will stop for a picnic lunch in the center of the park so that we can take in the sights and sounds of the African bush environment!

Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge is where you’ll spend the night and have dinner.

This afternoon, you’ll get the opportunity of a lifetime: tracking down a family of gorillas.

Cost of gorilla licenses is an additional $1500 (the Rwandan government decides the price of gorilla permits).

If you intend to go gorilla trekking, we strongly advise that you get your permit as soon as you register for the retreat!).

We will travel through the jungle on the Dian Fossey tomb route, which will take us to her tomb.

Dinner and a night’s stay at the Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge are included.

After that, we’ll begin our magnificent trek to Lake Kivu, where we’ll spend the night.

Dinner and overnight accommodations at the Emeraude Kivu Resort Day 9: Canopy Walk followed by a Tea Tour Wake up to the sound of the chanting ritual of the local fisherman laying their nets in Lake Kivu as the sun rises.

Afternoon at leisure or join us for a visit of a tea plantation factory (optional).

Dinner and overnight accommodations at the Emeraude Kivu Resort Day ten: The day of departure Following breakfast, we’ll head to the airport to catch our return flights home.

*** Please bear in mind that we will be in a foreign country and that things may be delayed or modified due to situations beyond our control.

We thus ask that you have an open mind and a “go with the flow” mentality. So embrace the spirit of adventure and prepare to go on an incredible trip that lies ahead of you! Single Room:$4280/£3293 | Shared Room:$3575/£2789.13

Yoga Service Trip To Rwanda Yoga Retreat In Rwanda Yoga Journal

Trip to Rwanda to Provide Yoga Services Retreat To Rwanda For Yoga Practitioners Trip Yoga is a Distance Learning Service that is available. During a yoga retreat in Rwanda in May, chandra easton and sarah powers led a group of yogis through all of the classic elements of a yoga retreat: twice daily yoga and meditation sessions, excellent food, and beautiful surroundings. However, it also provided an opportunity for the participants to laugh and cry with Rwandan women and to experience the infinite grief of a country.

  • african-american author, jen Murphy travel to practice yoga Yoga service trip to Rwanda is a soul-stirring experience.
  • Pranayama, old potent breathwork methods, and mindfulness sessions are all included in the price of the course.
  • Every day, consume 5 detox greens, 5 cleaning juices, and 1 cup of nut milk.
  • 3 day boutique wellness spayoga retreat in the Kent countryside, including with wonderful espa treatment.
  • See more information Here.
  • A three-day reshape fitness and yoga retreat on the Isle of Anglesey in the United Kingdom.
  • 3 day finding space yoga retreat on the west norfolk coast in the United Kingdom.

The retreat is based in yoga and meditation.

Review of the Heaven Rwanda Hotel Travel to Kigali, Rwanda, with the Africa Telegraph.

Your retreat experience will include 5 nights of lodging in a beautiful boutique-style hotel, daily breakfast, brunch, and supper, as well as all scheduled sessions.

They make it their aim to raise finances and awareness for girls’ education in impoverished nations via each and every trip they organize, and they accomplish this goal through their efforts.

All packages from omnilifestyles retreats in Kapaa, United States of America On bookyogaretreats.com, you may choose from 1627 yoga retreats and holidays offered by organizers all over the world.

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Everyone from all areas of Rwanda is welcome to participate in the national tournament in Rwanda.

Please consider following us: Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, Rwanda, and Rwandatv are some of the websites that you may use to find out more about the world of Rwanda.

Our creator, hayley Saraswati, and her lover jaya, invite you to this slice of heaven on earth in this video.

“Brain Awareness Project in Rwanda” reopening for top winners announcement, to all participants in the worldwide brain awareness project in Rwanda dubbed “Brain Awareness Project in Rwanda”

Wellness

Schedule a private yoga or meditation session, or come to one of our monthly community group yoga or Zumba programs to learn more about yourself and your body. Energize on your own in our state-of-the-art fitness center, or plan a private personal training session with one of our fitness professionals! After your workout, pamper yourself with a skincare treatment or massage, and then relax in our saltwater pool to restore your energy. Heaven Boutique Hotel and The Retreat guests may now take use of the Heaven Fitness Center, which is now open.

  • It also has vast garden views and indoor/outdoor shower facilities.
  • Our recently restored solar-heated salt water pool and hand carved stone patio are the perfect place to unwind with a mojito poolside.
  • Our whirlpool and sauna will help you to relax and refresh.
  • Take care of yourself by scheduling a private or group yoga session during your stay, or by participating in one of our weekly yoga programs during your visit.

a playground for the senses

Heaven Rwanda, with its advantageous position in the centre of the city, two restaurants, and a plethora of services, provides an unlimited supply of things to do. This is the ideal excuse to go on your African journey or to sample our delectable culinary offerings. Our Social Networking Site Heaven is assisting Rwanda in the development of its most valuable resource: its people. Sourcing in an ethical manner Affirming the efforts of hundreds of farmers, vendors, artists, and technologists. excellence in customer service Since 2008, we have been making investments in the next generation of hospitality executives.

  • The entire crew was friendly and helpful, which helped to make the first day of quarantine a pleasant experience.
  • A welcome find after a 16-hour travel, the gym was a welcome respite.
  • Allison and Josh have made Rwanda not just their home, but also a destination for people from around the world!
  • Argentina’s Ushuaia is a popular tourist destination.
  • The staff at Heaven is really kind, and their generosity made our recent stay extremely delightful, despite the fact that we were traveling at a particularly odd season.

Service that is exceptional, lovely gardens, a fantastic gym, and one of the greatest breakfasts in all of Kigali are all provided.” Taylor, Oregon, United States “This is a great boutique hotel and restaurant that is located in the midst of the city yet has the impression of a woodland hideaway.

  • All of the rooms are spotless, cozy, and well decorated.
  • On request, they may arrange for a driver as well as trips.
  • Heaven Restaurant and Hotel comes highly recommended by me.” DmindryAltadena, California, United States “I cannot sing the restaurant’s praises highly enough.
  • It all starts with the incredible cocktails created by the equally amazing Gisele and ends with delectable foreign cuisine that melts on your mouth; in fact, the only regret I have is that I didn’t try more other places after being addicted to the excellent food at Heaven restaurant.
  • Emanuel was a wonderful waitress who went above and beyond to ensure that all of your culinary needs were met and that you had a pleasant stay.” Dirk WAtlantic Beach, United States of America “We only stayed for one night and came late; we wished we had remained for a longer period of time.
  • The accommodations are exquisite, and the restaurant and bar area surrounding the pool is very stunning.
  • The book is available for purchase at the hotel, or it may be downloaded on a Kindle.

They are expanding the amount of rooms on the next property by a factor of two. It is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. This is an excellent location! The staff is fantastic!” NsparSeattle, Washington, United States PreviousNext

Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven! Heaven Boutique Hotel is located on the same property as The Retreat, Fusion Restaurant, and Heaven Restaurant. Heaven Rwanda is more than just a collection of restaurants and two boutique hotels; we are also a social company dedicated to helping others.

The Retreat

You’ve arrived in Heaven! Heaven Boutique Hotel is located on the same property as The Retreat, Fusion Restaurant, and Heaven Restaurant. In addition to two boutique hotels and two restaurants, Heaven Rwanda is a social enterprise.

The city’s leading luxury oasis

This 5 Star luxury boutique hotel, which has 20 rooms, is Kigali’s first entirely eco-friendly solar-powered resort. It features locally crafted sustainable teak wood furniture, expansive custom-built rooms with peaked ceilings, front and rear private patios, outdoor rain showers, and private salt water plunge pools, among other amenities.

Savour the finest flavors of Rwanda

Be spoiled for choice with out-of-this-world eating experiences at our award-winning Heaven Restaurant and fine dining restaurant Fusion, which both have stunning views of the city of Kigali as their backdrop. In addition to massagespa treatments and meditation, yoga, nature walks, fresh organic meals, and private fitness classes can all be incorporated into your daily program while you are staying with us at The Retreat. We want you to feel comfortable and relaxed from the moment you arrive until the moment you depart.

a playground for the senses

Heaven Rwanda, with its advantageous position in the centre of the city, two restaurants, and a plethora of services, provides an unlimited supply of things to do. This is the ideal excuse to go on your African journey or to sample our delectable culinary offerings. Our Social Networking Site Heaven is assisting Rwanda in the development of its most valuable resource: its people. Sourcing in an ethical manner Affirming the efforts of hundreds of farmers, vendors, artists, and technologists. excellence in customer service Since 2008, we have been making investments in the next generation of hospitality executives.

  • The entire crew was friendly and helpful, which helped to make the first day of quarantine a pleasant experience.
  • A welcome find after a 16-hour travel, the gym was a welcome respite.
  • Allison and Josh have made Rwanda not just their home, but also a destination for people from around the world!
  • Argentina’s Ushuaia is a popular tourist destination.
  • The staff at Heaven is really kind, and their generosity made our recent stay extremely delightful, despite the fact that we were traveling at a particularly odd season.

Service that is exceptional, lovely gardens, a fantastic gym, and one of the greatest breakfasts in all of Kigali are all provided.” Taylor, Oregon, United States “This is a great boutique hotel and restaurant that is located in the midst of the city yet has the impression of a woodland hideaway.

  1. All of the rooms are spotless, cozy, and well decorated.
  2. On request, they may arrange for a driver as well as trips.
  3. Heaven Restaurant and Hotel comes highly recommended by me.” DmindryAltadena, California, United States “I cannot sing the restaurant’s praises highly enough.
  4. It all starts with the incredible cocktails created by the equally amazing Gisele and ends with delectable foreign cuisine that melts on your mouth; in fact, the only regret I have is that I didn’t try more other places after being addicted to the excellent food at Heaven restaurant.
  5. Emanuel was a wonderful waitress who went above and beyond to ensure that all of your culinary needs were met and that you had a pleasant stay.” Dirk WAtlantic Beach, United States of America “We only stayed for one night and came late; we wished we had remained for a longer period of time.
  6. The accommodations are exquisite, and the restaurant and bar area surrounding the pool is very stunning.
  7. The book is available for purchase at the hotel, or it may be downloaded on a Kindle.

They are expanding the amount of rooms on the next property by a factor of two. It is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. This is an excellent location! The staff is fantastic!” NsparSeattle, Washington, United States PreviousNext

Welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven! Heaven Boutique Hotel is located on the same property as The Retreat, Fusion Restaurant, and Heaven Restaurant. Heaven Rwanda is more than just a collection of restaurants and two boutique hotels; we are also a social company dedicated to helping others.

Rwanda: Yoga Journey to a Place of Hope

There is a cause for everything that happens. It was no coincidence that the bus that was scheduled to transport my group of 25 students to Machu Picchu was several hours late to arrive when I was leading a Yoga and service retreat to Peru during Christmas and New Year’s a year ago. The potentially annoying wait turned out to be a stroke of good fortune, as it opened the door to a discussion that would transform my life – and inspire me to help impact the lives of others – in unexpected ways.

Frank Andolino, a retreat attendee and the founder of Kageno Worldwide, was among those waiting for the bus to Machu Picchu on that particular day.

As a result, Frank encouraged me to accompany him on a trip to Rwanda, where we would teach yoga in a rural community where the non-profit organization had been operating for many years.

The opportunity to join a research trip to Banda Village in Rwanda came to me without blinking an eyelid.

While in Banda Village, as in so many other Rwandan communities, I would quickly learn that the people’s boundless beauty and radiance are heavily shadowed by a variety of issues including HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty, lack of educational opportunities, a scarcity of safe water, rapidly deteriorating ecosystems, and last but certainly not least, ethnic genocide.

  1. Warm eagerness and astonishment permeated my whole being as I felt held and supported by the revelatory power of Consciousness that had guided me to this unexpected trip, which in truth I realized I had been preparing for for the better part of my life.
  2. Throughout the years, my devotion to service, which is the ultimate form of yoga, has kept a flame blazing within me, and in those final minutes before departing New York, that flame was burning brighter than ever!
  3. In the surrounding mass graves of genocide victims, I prayed for hours, and that night, weary and emotionally touched, severe nightmares kept me up till the wee hours of the morning.
  4. In terms of what I could potentially give, I felt completely befuddled, conflicted, and baffled, and I had absolutely no clue what I was going to do next.
  5. In Rwanda, I learned that the country’s history is an astonishing epic of hope and healing, a record that illustrates the remarkable self-transformation of a broken and shell-shocked country into a thriving society that is safe, affluent, and full of energy.
  6. Rwanda and its 8.5 million people are a testament to this extraordinary strength, beauty, bravery, energy, and determination.
  7. Sadness and bewilderment gave way to gentleness and spaciousness as my emotions changed course.
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I gained a greater understanding of my greatest dharma, which is to serve this planet unconditionally with commitment, love, and light.

It may have looked unusual to provide yoga to a town that was suffering from so many complicated and deeply ingrained challenges – the HIV/AIDS pandemic, shocking poverty, a lack of a health system, and worse – at the time.

In contrast, I had anticipated that the practice’s therapeutic potential may provide individuals with a therapeutic tool for overcoming the debilitating and disempowering consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder, which would in turn enable them to become more empowered themselves.

After a few of days of getting to know one another, it was finally time for the first yoga class of the semester.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and went to my heart’s home place, completely trusting that anything I was about to attempt to deliver would be greeted with open arms.

The process of distilling the meaning of yoga into something that could be translated, understood, and meaningful went more smoothly than I had anticipated.

Everyone who took part expressed happiness and delight in their participation.

People of all ages, men, women, and children, and sometimes women with toddlers strapped to their backs in an artistic manner, were all encouraging one another and striving to do their best.

With each participant, I learned something new about the strength and tenacity of hope and community.

Every second of the voyage filled me with appreciation for the instructors who have motivated me to actualize my deepest desires, and I will be eternally thankful for the opportunity to learn from the people of Banda village as well as from the people of the world.

These teachings included what it meant to personify real hope and gratitude, among many other things.

Because one common spirit pulses through all of us, every grin served as a reminder to constantly notice the underlying unity and cherish the diversity of people around me.

Aside from that, I was reminded that Africa and her people will always be great, confusing, and inexplicable, and that we shouldn’t expect anything less of ourselves.

As a result, I returned to Africa for a third time this year, this time five months after my first visit.

With open arms and hearts, the inhabitants of Banda welcomed us into their community.

Our community, time, conversation, meditation, friendship, cultural exchange, and perspective more than made up for the fact that we didn’t have the “things” that ordinarily make us feel at home.

We participated in yoga lessons with members of the community, which gathered over two hundred participants by the end of the week.

A successful retreat was had by everyone, and the people of Banda provided us with more knowledge than we could have expected.

Because the road of love never ends, each journey leaves me feeling tremendously motivated to incorporate yoga and service into all part of my life.

The Make the Holidays Sacred Yoga and Service Retreat to Peru for the New Year 2011-2012 will be the next forthcoming excursion!

Who in your town, your city, or even within your own family might benefit from your compassion and support – who could benefit from some of the strength and heart you have to offer?

Is there any pain that you would like to see alleviated? What are you going to do when you walk off your yoga mat and into the real world today, tomorrow, and every day from here on out? Do you require some inspiration? Take a look at and kageno.org.

The Practice: My Yoga Journey From Self-Healing To Empowering Survivors Of Genocide

Jordan Ashley contributed to this article. To a room full of strangers – a hundred women who had watched the killing of their husbands, children, brothers, and friends during the 1994 Rwandan genocide – I instruct them to “Place a hand to your heart and a hand to your stomach.” Long, brightly colored skirts and lithe fingers form a circle around me, and a female interpreter is translating into Kinyarwanda while I demonstrate in the center of the circle.

It is my final day in this lovely nation, and I am apprehensive about leading a group of women survivors through a series of exercises, breathing methods, and meditation techniques.

Rwanda has transformed and made significant advances toward being a progressive country.

While I will never understand what it is like to be a survivor of genocide, I have firsthand knowledge of what it is like to be a survivor of domestic violence.

That stain, no matter how much I’ve tried to cover it up and let it fade into the background of my memory, is something that can’t be removed with bleach.

At the height of my violent relationship, I decided to enroll in a yoga teacher training program.

When I was really exhausted and tired, I found myself crying or crying myself to sleep several times throughout the hard training without really knowing why.

It’s a narrative that has been told and, regrettably, will continue to be recounted over and over again in the future.

We all do what we have to in order to survive.

Abuse is similar to a crock-pot in that it simmers slowly over time, causing loss of identity, self-worth, and a lack of internal compass.

When you completely lose your essence, it might take months or even years for you to recover.

It does not take place immediately, though.

I’d been given every chance to be successful on this world up to that point.

My sense of self, on the other hand, had not been cultivated, as it had been for so many other women.

As a result, I stepped onto my yoga mat.

This form, these positions, and the concept of being able to link your breath to your body, to your mind, and to your soul were just what I needed.

It’s possible that my body will be mine again.

That small voice that would beg not to be hit seemed to be a thing of the far past.

And it was through witnessing folks sob in forward folds or exclaim with delight when they discovered they could accomplish an inversion or arm balancing that I was reminded of how resilient the human condition is.

There are individuals, women, and children all around the world who have not been blessed with the same good fortune in the lottery of life as those who have experienced the benefits of yoga.

As a result, an idea began to grow in my mind: if I could empower myself via these ancient teachings, what is to say that commercialized yoga, as we currently know it, could not be converted into a tool for social activism?

It has the ability to take us out of our internal conversation, that gnawing inside of us over what wasn’t, what should, or could have been, and let us realize that we are not alone in our pain.

Throughout my yoga journey, I have visited orphanages in Nicaragua, girls’ dorms in Morocco, and primary schools in Cambodia, among other places.

And today, as I sit here and gaze into the eyes of these women in a little community on the outskirts of Kigali, I am overwhelmed with appreciation for the opportunity to be in their company.

Before our session is through, they teach me a particular movement that they have created.

Then they do a circular embrace motion and take a step back, hugging themselves.

We all laugh and move in unison as a group.

“Yoga may be anything you want it to be.

Going to church, cuddling a newborn, and sharing laughing with your friends are all examples of what yoga may be for you.

That is what authentic yoga is.” As I prepare to go, they embrace me tightly, giving me deep, lengthy hugs that emanate from the most authentic places within these powerful, loving women themselves.

“I had no idea I was capable of such movement.

About the AuthorWhile enjoying New York City’s fast-paced and driven yoga culture, Jordan Ashley identified a need for service-based yoga; a need for experiences that provide perspective on one’s own self via acts of selfless service.

Jordan founded Souljourn Yoga, a non-profit organization committed to raising finances and awareness for girls education in impoverished countries via worldwide yoga retreats, drawing on her journalism, travel, and yoga teaching expertise.

A major purpose of the group is to employ social activism to advocate for the practitioner who wants more than just “down dog,” as well as to raise awareness of the need for equitable education across the world.

Is it your dream to join Jordan on a trip that will feed your spirit and make an effect on the world? Listed below is a schedule of planned 2019 Souljourn Yoga retreats, including their forthcoming trip to Rwanda.

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