Before moving to Tanzania, in true Olivia I-love-to-plan-fashion, I scoured the internet repetitively looking for studios and teachers in Dar. I wanted to plot out how long it would take me to get there from my house, even though I didn’t know where I would be living. I wanted to know which classes I could go to after work and which days, even though I didn’t know what my work schedule would be. I’ve always believed I take some solace in planning and scheming and knowing, although my time living in Tanzania has challenged that long held belief. A thought for a different time though…
I have found some really great opportunities for yoga, many of which my internet search did not produce.
The first is in my home. The extra bedroom has been converted to a yoga space. When I couldn’t drag out the old broken ac unit on the floor I decided to cover it with a kanga, place some candles and my yoga books on top, and make it into something beautiful. Our time in Tanzania has been the most I have ever consistently practiced on my own, at home. After cultivating such a regular yoga practice at CorePower in Portland, I feared that yoga would fade from such a central and meaningful place in my life. Alas, it has not. It is not easy to show up regularly to practice by myself in my yoga room, but every time I do I am grateful to move my body and still my mind.
The second is our rooftop. It is a beautiful space to practice. It often is too hot or to mosquito filled or too windy but being able to stare across buildings towards the Indian Ocean as the sun sets keeps bringing me back to try.
Third is Jason, my new yoga buddy. He became my most consistent class attendee when I led our fellow GHSP volunteers in yoga during our first few months in Tanzania while we all lived together. It was the most he had ever done yoga, and hey, he liked it! So for our anniversary I bought him a travel yoga mat that neatly straps on the outside of our backpacks, so the yoga studio goes with us anywhere.
And I have found some great yoga spaces in Dar as well! I have become a regular attendee of Satya’s Saturday morning class at Dar Fitness, visited another of his classes at the Golden Tulip and recently attended a class at Mukti Studio. Satya is an excellent teacher, teaching a power vinyasa style similar to what I first learned at a Baron Baptiste studio in Boston when my love of yoga was born over six years ago. Satya also happens to be part of Ananda Marga, the same organization I volunteered with in Ghana in 2007. Small world.
I even tried out formally teaching for awhile at Unleashed Dance Academy, a dance studio that opened this year and is run by a passionate young Tanzanian woman with a vision to use the arts for social justice. The studio has a vibrant dance community but so far the interest in yoga hasn’t blossomed, so yoga at that studio is on hold for now.
Generally speaking, humidity is not for me. However my favorite way to do yoga is to be really hot and sweaty. Seriously. I even prefer to not turn on the fans, not have a breeze and to just sweat it out. So in this way, yoga and Tanzania are a good pairing for me. When I taught the other volunteers, I named the yoga class Naturally Hot Yoga. Because indeed it is.