Jo Gumbley

Africa Yoga Project Blog on THoY website

AYP Jo

Africa Yoga Project (“AYP”) has educated and employs over 75 yoga teachers in Kenya. These 75 teachers empower over 5,000 people per week via the practice of yoga. AYP teachers are leaders in their communities and create their own free classes and programs, connecting with people in the slums, prisons, refugee camps, schools, social halls and orphanages. Teachers within AYP also run women’s health programs, seva safaris’ and many other positively uplifting community events.

AYP was founded by Paige Elenson in 2006 following a family safari and a chance encounter with some Kenyan acrobats and a shared experience of handstands in the middle of a wildlife reserve! Months later, back in the US, Paige was contacted by email inviting her to return to Kenya to teach yoga to this same group of acrobats. And so Paige went, and started teaching yoga in the slums, to people who lacked basics like food and shelter but came in droves to take her yoga classes. Their enthusiasm for the practice and financial lack of resources sparked the idea for Africa Yoga Project.

I first met Paige at my first training with Baron Baptiste, in 2008 in Tulum, Mexico. Following one of our long intense practices, Paige shared with the whole group her story about founding AYP and the development of the organization since conception. I was not alone in being profoundly impacted by Paige’s real life explanation of how a meeting of inner intention with joyful action had led to the development of an organization that was able to train professional yoga teachers, and provide them with a means of income, as well as tools to go and share peace and non-violence in a country often experiencing violence. The teachers are also mentored to become leaders in their community.

AYP Jo Gumbley

I feel so passionately about the work of AYP that I have regularly had to move out of my comfort zone to manifest my intention to get involved. I began at first by sending financial donations online to AYP. This developed into attending fund-raising yoga classes hosted by other Baptiste-trained teachers. This was how I first met Jason Pooley, teaching at one of his early fund-raising classes in Wandsworth. I continue to do this but also have stepped up to host my own fund-raising classes in my local area of Guildford, as well as around London.

One of the most rewarding ways in which I have contributed to AYP to date has been via the Mentor Program. I became a mentor for a beautiful and intelligent 20 year old young woman called Winnie in January 2013. We have spoken every month via Skype video for over 18 months. I have been supported in empowering Winnie by a framework of monthly content documents, which very much follow the Baptiste framework of self-enquiry and stepping into something bigger. We have become close, and even though she has recently stepped away from AYP to concentrate more closely on her studies, I will continue to remain in touch. I am about to begin a new relationship with my new Mentee Billy, who has been a part of the Mentor program for some years already. Another opportunity awaits. I feel proud to be a part of the Mentor program, and would like to proudly share with you the words I received from Winnie in November 2013 when I hosted a fund-raising class at The House of Yoga. I asked her to write a few words about her experiences with AYP so I could share these with the participants in the class:

“AYP stands for MISSION IN ACTION, CREATION OF POSSIBILITY and A WORLD WIDE COMMUNITY OF LEADERS. AYP has created a platform for more than 100 young Kenyans to be leaders in their communities, to have a sense of worth and to have an income. Personally AYP gave me the tools I needed to transform my life, realize my being as a person and become a leader. AYP has given me the faith that I can dare to see the world as it could possibly be and go ahead to create that change I want. Donating to AYP is in itself being part of the change, giving a worthwhile present and future to Kenyan youths and impacting the world at large.”

AYP continues to grow with the kind support of leaders and teachers all over the world that see the power that Yoga can bring to their own lives and who want to share this with others. Such is my desire to contribute more (and to continue stepping out of my comfort zone!) that I have committed to raising at least $4,000 USD by 1st April 2015. All of this money will go to AYP, to support current and future projects. Some of you may recall that Jason assisted the AYP Teacher training in April 2014 and had a life-changing experience. My intention is to be an assistant on the next Africa Yoga Project teacher training in April 2015. I wrote this in my goals back in December 2012, and am excited about making this happen. I commit to sharing all of my learning with students when I return. With the continued support of people around the world AYP can continue its powerful work, to date this includes funding two schools, a community centre, critical medical operations, school fees and environmental clean up programs. As well as hundreds of free classes each week, and many paid classes that provide an income for AYP teachers. Using the transformative power of yoga to initiate positive change from within AYP empowers communities and changes lives. This philosophy inspires my teaching here in the UK, where I have experienced the power of community developing here at The House of Yoga, and have seen lives change as a result of a commitment to yoga practice.

I am delighted to announce that The House of Yoga has chosen Africa Yoga Project as its chosen charity for its Community Classes from September 2014, and I encourage you all to support these classes which are taught by passionate and enthusiastic newer teachers. Classes will run on Sundays at 12.30pm.

If you would like to contribute towards AYP now you can do this using by clicking here .

Thank you for reading, I’m truly grateful. Please come and talk to me if you’d like to get more involved.

You can read more about my experiences with AYP on my webpage. Or click here to find out more about Africa Yoga Project.