“We have globalized everything, it’s time we globalized wisdom.” – Deoline
Yoga is a 5 000 year old physical mind and body practice. Most present day practices share some variation of yoga poses (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation. The practice of Yoga has found its way to the heart of Africa. Not only has it helped with the physical and mental wellbeing of the African people, it has educated, empowered and expanded the employability of youth in 15 African countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mali, Namibia, Botswana, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ghana and Somalia. Various organizations and individuals are spreading peace and love in the continent by helping marginalized youths earn a stable income as yoga instructors.
We got in touch with one such amazing woman who is spreading the art of Yoga in Zimbabwe…
Tell us something about yourself…
My name is Deoline and I am the youngest child of four. I was born in Zimbabwe. I did my tertiary education at Manchester University and came back with a BA (HONS) degree in Law and Finance. I am a part time Instructor for The Art of living’s Happiness Program and Sri Sri Yoga Level One.
What is yoga to you?
Yoga is a natural way of living healthily and happily.
How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?
I did my first course known as the Happiness Program with the Art of Living Foundation in 2008 and have been practicing Yoga since 2009. The reason I wanted to do the program was because I had read a lot about Yoga before which awakened an interest in me. I also believed it would help me through some issues I had at the time.
What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
The biggest impact Yoga has had on my life would be how I’m living now, which is I am more aware. Before, I went through life like a robot, now I feel more alive. I have more energy especially after I practice the techniques I learnt on The Happiness Program taught by The Art of Living Foundation, and the energy lasts throughout the day. Over the years, I have discovered that when my energy is high I feel more positive, happier, more enthusiastic and I can tackle whatever problems come my way, as opposed to when my energy levels are low. My mind tends to be more negative and stressed. Small misunderstandings can throw me off balance and take my smile away.
Before The Happiness Program my mind would get stuck with the negative, say if someone gave me ten compliments and one insult/criticism, I would brood for hours over that one negative comment and completely forget about all the positive comments. Now I find that I can easily let go of the negative; it’s like going back to that childlike nature we were born with.
This shift in the mind has been the biggest transformation for me. Prior to Yoga, my life was 80% misery and 20% joy and happiness, now I see that its 80% joy and happiness and 20% challenges which are there to give me depth and make me a better human being.
Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga instructor?
After completing the Happiness Program, I did a lot of other programs offered by the Art of Living Foundation. I got to discover myself and became more confident and secure with who I was and eventually I decided to do the Teacher Training Program. Initially I looked at it as the next level in my path to self-discovery but after after completing the program, I realised a lot of people around me were unhappy and stressed and were unable to get out of whatever struggles they were going through. I decided I would take some time out of my normal work and family life and conduct courses and share the knowledge I had learnt over the years.
I think to be a good instructor in any teaching capacity is to always remember that you are the oldest student in the class.
What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective?
So in The Sri Sri Yoga Program we teach what is known as Hatha Yoga, it is a combination of gentle and vigorous series of postures (or asanas) taught for the well-being of the body, while an equal emphasis is placed on techniques for nurturing the mind. Through the practices taught in the workshop, participants are known to lose weight and be cured of chronic diseases such as insomnia, asthma, diabetes, hypertension and migraine. The Yogic positions in Sri Sri Yoga have been designed to give the practitioner a balanced, healthy and calm mind. The founder of the Art of Living and whom I consider to be my teacher on this path of Yoga is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – a globally revered spiritual and humanitarian leader. He has spearheaded an unprecedented worldwide movement for a stress-free, violence-free society. Through a myriad of programs and teachings, a network of organizations including the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values, and a rapidly growing presence across 155 countries, Sri Sri has reached an estimated 370 million people. He has developed unique, impactful programs that empower, equip and transform individuals to tackle challenges at global, national, community and individual levels.
What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
I wouldn’t say this is a struggle but rather a challenge. When we study objects we call it science but when we study ourselves that is Yoga. Growing up we learn a lot about things, if you want to be doctor or a mathematician someone can teach you, if you want to drive a car you go to a driving school but if you want to learn how to handle your own mind, how to deal with negative emotions – no one had ever taught me that. So after I had learnt, sharing this knowledge with my fellow brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe has been a bit of a challenge. Simply because it’s new and people tend to be sceptical about things that they do not know. The fact that electricity was brought to the modern age by an American does not stop us from enjoying its benefits here in Africa and that our phones and televisions are made in China and we sometimes enjoy eating Chinese food does not make us Chinese. Similarly, it would be a shame if we did not practice Yoga and benefit from this science about the body and mind just because it originated from India. We have globalized everything else, it’s time we globalized wisdom.
What is the hardest lesson you’ve ever had to learn?
When my father passed away, the biggest realization for me was that just as life begins one day it’s going to end and I decided I wanted to live a life without regret and that meant living today as if I will die tomorrow. That way, I don’t delay doing the things I really want to do and that brings fulfillment to my life.
What advice do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Be happy, God is in control.
Is there a particular woman in your life that’s inspired you?
Mother Theresa, I think she is very inspiring to a lot of people, she lived a life in service to her fellow human beings and became such a beloved figure throughout the world.
What helps you get back on your yoga mat when you are feeling demotivated?
I remember the benefits that Yoga gives.
What would you say to someone who thinks yoga is not for them?
Do you want to be Happy? Do you want to be healthy? If you say yes to either of those questions then Yoga is for you. But if you choose not to do it for whatever reason then that’s a different issue and that’s also okay. When we were young and our mothers told us to brush our teeth, we would make excuses etc… now that we are older no one forces us to brush our teeth because we know the importance of dental hygiene. Yoga (meditation) is mental hygiene. How do we clean the mind and keep it fresh and free from stress? I have found that I can do this very effectively by practicing Yoga.
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