Mandala Yoga Ashram gets a Branch in Africa

I’m Tony, recently given the name Narada by Swami Nishchalananda. The guy at the back in the green t-shirt in the pic above. Before I came to live in the ashram, I’d made contact with the delightful people who work at Tikondane Lodge, near Katete in Eastern Province, and founded a charity to raise funds for special school education for Ketty, a young deaf girl. This is a part of the world where people have very little indeed. But they have big hearts, and it’s a sharing culture. They’re my kind of people.

Destinies…..

I am here at the ashram to go further in Yoga. But a large part of my path is to be aware of my sisters and brothers who have nothing. They are a huge proportion of the world population. I did not go out to East Zambia to ‘help’. I was drawn there.

I merely followed my heart. If you put yourself in the way of people in poverty, you have to learn their ways, their culture, their problems. Slowly you may have the chance to learn about a life where joys are simple and love goes deep.

You may get a chance to do something useful, but better if you can break free of first world cultural conditioning. And the friendships you can make are profound and loving. And so it is that my destiny is shaped by magic.

Some of the Tiko Lodge crew, and Ketty

Suddenly, Yoga is the thing this year…….

These guys got used to seeing me do asana early in the morning before the heat hits, or sitting in meditation under the tree of the Blue Lizard, when the rains permitted. I’d been teaching some meditation techniques to three of my close friends, but this year they wanted to get into Hatha Yoga, and when people saw us they wanted to join in and …. it went crazy. The director of the Lodge / NGO gave us the use of the ‘Great Hall’ which had been built with sponsor money and was used for local meetings and storing Soya beans, Maize, mealie meal, etc. Suddenly we were doing two classes a week with attendance between 5 and 25 each session.

The freedom to be had in working with friends in a place like this can’t be described. Sometimes people who have very little find a joy in life that eludes cultures built on material wealth. Not that life is always easy here; it can be very tough. When the rains fail there is hunger and hardship. That’s when we can help in a very practical way……. 

Narada

Our classes started on the bare concrete floor. Then we found enough reed mats to take the strain off our knees a bit. My problem was …. everyone was so keen, what would they do when I left? Swamiji left it up to my discretion…. I trained the three friends who had done meditation with me  (Alice… Ketty’s mother, also Ennie and Jason…see the video below) and they quickly overtook me in ability. Funny because I’m still on the teacher training course myself, although I used to teach at university, about 250 years ago! So they are doing a grand job. Concepts of teaching have changed so much now I’m studying again; Hatha Yoga has become so inclusive, whatever your age or shape.

So my vision for the future? We will create an environment where people can go out there, teachers and students, and support this growing Yoga Community. My friends love visitors; you will get such a welcome, and you can experience the joy of working alongside them.

Please watch this video. And anyone who wants can help us with supporting the effort to get Yoga mats, blocks, trousers for the ladies……   enjoy………….

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