Children’s Yoga for South African Orphans and Caregivers

How long had the vision of teaching yoga in South Africa been floating around in the background of my mind and heart?  At least a few years, and after finally experiencing the energy of this land and its people in the spring of 2005, I knew the pull I felt to be there was beyond this lifetime.  It was as if a part of me came home to something very different from the childhood and ancestry I’ve known, yet so familiar to my heart and soul.

I teach Kundalini yoga and have for decades, even have written books about it.  I love yoga and I love teaching.  It is what I was meant to do.  And if my soul belongs to yoga teaching, my heart belongs to teaching children yoga.  I’ve developed a training program called the Radiant Child Yoga Program in which adults who want to share yoga with children can learn to in a deep, fun and easy way.  This is what I wanted to bring to South Africa—to do my part to free the deep spring of joy and beauty in the suffering African children. 

But what I found was something even more than I bargained for.  Those children–and the beautiful childlike adults that I met–had a nobility, innocence and uplifted spirit to face every situation.  Upon seeing this magnificence, humble and simple as it was, my spirit jumped up to match the display of energy around me.  Just as a child throws the covers off the bed and jumps awake—smiling, laughing even and skipping around the room–so did my soul, my spirit, my self.  This is the effect that the precious South African experience had on me.

There was the other side of things, of course, the heartbreak and deep grief at all the sickness and poverty, which made the sight of these innocents all the more poignant. A scene comes to mind, one of all skinny arms and legs pumping muscle, swinging higher and higher on the rusty old playground in one of the squatter’s camps, singing African songs in Zulu or Xhosa, fearlessly and sweetly. They may have HIV, but they are not HIV, is what they seemed to say.