Carolyne O.

I teach yoga at a cancer support center in Nairobi, Kenya. Coming to Kripalu for the Yoga for Cancer Teacher Training was a dream come true.

It took me a long time to try yoga, because I had the wrong idea about what it was. My friends kept telling me about it, and finally I decided to experience it for myself. I went to class without a change of clothes—I thought we were just going to sit and meditate the whole time. Instead, we started moving right away. After class, I was so sweaty I had to call someone to come bring me clean clothes, and I was so tired that I fell asleep on the bus ride home and missed my stop. But I loved it. I knew this was what I wanted to feel like in my body. So I kept going back, and eventually I signed up for teacher training with the Africa Yoga Project.

For the last five years, I’ve been teaching yoga for kids and teens in the slums of Nairobi, and also teaching prenatal yoga. Two years ago, I started teaching at Faraja Center, a cancer support center for people in treatment and cancer survivors in recovery. I had no idea how to teach people dealing with cancer, so I basically taught a prenatal class. I helped them relax and gave them space to cry, hug, talk. The ones who come back every week tell me the breathing helps them, and that they are able to move more easily because of yoga. Seeing them after class, compared to how they were when they came into the room, melts my heart. Yoga is giving them a moment to forget about the chemo and the expense of treatment, and just laugh and play.

But my lack of training to teach this population has been a challenge, so coming to Kripalu for the Yoga for Cancer Teacher Training with Tari Prinster was a dream come true. The Africa Yoga Project helped me fundraise for the travel costs, and Kripalu gave me a partial scholarship to attend. The training was even more awesome and inspiring than I thought it would be. I’m going to change so much about how I teach my classes at Faraja—the methodology, the sequencing, the length of the class. Tari taught us how important it is to ask about what type and stage of cancer each student is dealing with, and how to address that.

Yoga has changed how I see life. I’ve learned not to judge so quickly. And I love the way my body looks and feels. More and more people in Nairobi are doing yoga now, not just expatriates but also locals. Their doctors are telling them to go to class, because yoga is good for them. It’s good for all of us, because we are all looking for healing.

—Carolyne O., yoga teacher, Nairobi, Kenya