Kenyan yoga instructor James Njuguna, has been on international limelight beamed by ‘CNN’s ‘African Voices’, a programme of CNN International for the last couple of days,and his week has been lesson to many individuals who are unable or desire to change their passion into their working lives.
Njuguna, a yoga instructor has used exercise to help him turn his life around and escape the city’s slums.
“Yoga to me is a practice that empowers, educates you and awakens your power of listening, the power of connection, the power of your body and mind.” He explains to ‘African Voices’ what yoga means to him
However, the programme learns that yoga is not simply an activity to Njuguna, but was the pathway to help him escape drugs at high school.
“When I was into high school I did not concentrate more onto my education because I found myself joining other groups… I was hanging out with the wrong crowds and in fact all my friends were criminals and they were thieves. I didn’t know how my day was looking but when you are into drugs you feel the day is shorter. You never know when the day ends.” Njuguna reveals the extent of the problem to ‘African Voices’
It was a chance to encounter Njuguna had with a friend travelling to a yoga class that eventually led him to take up the activity himself.
Africa Yoga Project
He tells ‘African Voices’: I used to see my friend each and every Thursday carrying a yoga mat, and I was more curious…Then I joined that yoga class, even though I didn’t have the proper yoga pants. I just had what I had.”
The class Njuguna joined was run by the Africa Yoga Project, a non-profit project which uses yoga to empower and educate.
Founded in 2007, today the group has more than 300 community classes a week in 80 locations. However, Njuguna still reflects on his period at high school, which has resulted in him trying to give back to the community through yoga classes.
He has now progressed to the role of a yoga instructor.
“It reminds me about many memories and the place I used to live and the place that I have lost a lot of my friends…When I’m a teacher, I want to deliver and to leave these people in their own greatness because before the class I do have some inquiry with them, just to check in, a quick check up to see how they’re doing but I know they’re here for a big purpose so me as a teacher I should be up to something more bigger, like to inspire.” Explains Njuguna while in the slums on Why He feels giving back to the community is important.
For him, yoga has not only provided a new way of life, but has also given him an opportunity to support a family. Reflecting on the impact of yoga in his life, Njuguna tells ‘African Voices’
“To me yoga is not a religion. It’s how you trust, how you believe because it have transformed my life and it have made me take full control of my life. I take yoga the way it is to me. It’s not a religion, it’s a practice.”