Africa Yoga Project (AYP), a community based centre, has inspired a wide range of people regardless of their backgrounds, lifestyles and statuses. With their free Saturday classes accumulating nearly 300 people, Lysa sat down with Studio Manager, Kennedy Omondi, to learn more about the well-being centre.
What is AYP all about?
In a nutshell, AYP is an organization that takes on the unsettled areas and teaches them yoga and to spread yoga to their communities. So, we offer wellness services. Our studio is at Diamond Plaza, 4th floor. We used to have pop up classes, but those are now ran by alumni teachers.
When you say Alumni teachers, does this mean that AYP is also an entrepreneurship based program that teaches people to be yoga teachers?
Yes, we teach yoga and we are currently switching on to something called academy bringing it into a wellness institute so it’s not only yoga, but teachers are taught other things that will bring the whole concept of wellness together like anatomy, how to eat healthy…things like that.
How did the AYP project start, is there a story behind how it was founded?
I don’t think I’m the best person to give you a story but AYP was founded by Paige Elenson. She was on a tour in Kenya with her family when she saw Kenyan acrobats doing handstands. She went back home and came back to Kenya and founded it. That’s how the whole thing started.
Is it primarily based in Kenya only or are you looking to spread out?
We’re in different African countries. We have students in Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and I think we’ve also trained guys from West Africa.
How often do you have classes?
We have classes every day.
There are so many different styles, what style do you focus on?
Our style mainly is Baptist Power Yoga. Anyone can fit into any class, like its all levels. If you’re a beginner or more advanced, you can come to class. So at shine centre, we offer classes for beginners, prenatal classes for pregnant women and we have a silent class taught by a deaf teacher.
We also offer acroyoga because most of our teachers have gone through acro-training.
Some of us have no idea what Acroyoga is?
Acroyoga is yoga and acrobatic moves. So you’ll be lying down and you’ll carry someone up.
What type of yoga do you prefer?
Myself? I’m trained in different styles of yoga. I teach Ashtanga, that was my first training. I also teach Power yoga, Kundalini and Acroyoga. Nowadays, I don’t teach acro or kundalini that much. I focus on power and ashtanga.
What other activities do you do outside the centre?
We have outreach classes that are ran by our teachers. These happen every week and can reach up to 6,000 people around Nairobi. In addition, we also attend events, health events.
AYP offers classes every day from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. based on donations, tell us more about these classes?
AYP is a community centre, I think that’s the best way to call. We’ve kept our Saturday community classes for FREE to make yoga accessible to anyone. This year, we started the 1:00 p.m. class as a class by donation because we’ve noticed that people want to practice yoga but some don’t have access to yoga. Students can also come for classes. The donations that are given to any class go towards maintaining the centre such as cleaning the mats (sprays and oils) and keeping the place clean.
What do trainers here do for fun?
That’s more of a personal question but I am a photographer. I also do lighting events and attend shows and exhibitions. Those are some of the things that I do.
How do you monitor the success of the yoga classes?
You can’t really measure if someone is changed or not but you can measure the progress of where someone is. For example; if someone started out as a beginner and is now in an advanced class that is something we can see as being a success.
What is the future for AYP?
The future? That’s a big one. The thing to look forward to is having actual centres. We have teachers in different countries but having centres in different African countries would be great.
The FREE class on Saturday is from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It’s best to arrive at 9:30 a.m. because the place gets really packed. Try it out, you’ll love it.
Check out AYP’s website here.