Meet The Woman Who Brought Yoga to Kenya [Q&A]

Paige Elenson is the co-founder and executive director of the Africa Yoga Project, which uses yoga practice as a vehicle to heal, teach and empower Kenyans.

Aug 13, 2015

Paige Elenson is seen jumping (far right) with AYP trained Kenyan yoga instructors who came to California to teach

Kenya is blossoming with yogis - thanks to the nonprofit the Africa Yoga Project, which uses yoga as a vehicle to empower youth, educate on HIV/AIDS and provide young Kenyans with a livelihood as yoga instructors. This transformative initiative has spread the wellness benefits of yoga to rural villages, prisons, deaf schools and special needs centers for the past eight years. In this week's 10 Good Questions, co-founder and executive director Paige Elenson talks about the empowering, connecting and uplifting power of yoga. 

1. What is your organization’s mission?  

Africa Yoga Project educates, empowers, elevates and employs youth from Africa using the transformational practice of yoga. Our vision is to create opportunities for youth to step into their greatness, become self-sustaining and leaders in their communities.

2. What makes you guys different from the rest?

One of our core values is “being for each other,” what makes the team is that we are for and about each other. The aim is to leave everyone in their own greatness! At the end of the day, my team will always win or lose together.

Kids in one of AYP's outreach programs where they teach yoga for free in warrior one pose.

3. Offices or open work space? 

Open work space.  Colorful, African inspired, simply warm and welcoming.

4. What three words describe your organization? 

Sweat, Stretch, Shine! 

5. What inspires you? 

Being of Service. Africa Yoga Project provides numerous opportunities to be part of the change movement. The program is all about creating leaders; recently we had our teachers organize and lead Kenya’s first International Yoga Day that had over 5,700 participants.

A Seva Safari participant enjoying the culture of the Amboseli people where AYP also teaches free yoga classes.

6. What is the best part about your job? 

Educating, empowering and enabling employment.

We have 98 teachers training in our program currently, seeing each one of them grow and face their fears and challenges to become powerful yoga teachers, makes it all worth it.

Africa Yoga Project empowers over 250,000 Kenyans a year through the power of yoga. Our 98 AYP teachers see no boundaries of sharing this practice. They teach in prisons, schools, special need centers, HIV/AIDS support groups, deaf schools and rural villages.

7. Does your team eat lunch together?

Sometimes; Saturday in particular, we serve a legendary free meal after community class which is a great space to mingle and catch up on the week’s happenings.

8. Facebook or Twitter?

Both! Facebook and Twitter.

 

This photo is a representation AYP's value Being For Each Other. 

9. What do you want Goodnet users to know about your organization? 

We are all about creating positive change through yoga, on and off the mat. We welcome them to partner with us in being of service and growing themselves as well as Africa Yoga Project beneficiaries.

10. How can people get involved?

Opportunities to plug in are plenty; I would encourage you to visit our website to learn more.
You can register for our annual 200 hour yoga teacher training by applying on-line.
As a mentor, the Mentor Program is a 12-month commitment. The monthly contribution of $125 pays for the salary of an AYP teacher. Mentors and AYP Teachers engage in monthly Skype conversations and email exchanges. In order to facilitate learning and sharing, a new theme is presented each month, based on the year of the mentee.
One can also volunteer by being part of the Seva Safari team, which is an opportunity for an adventure, service, yoga practice, and building community. We have trips planned year-round.

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