Visit to Burkina Faso

by Pandit Priyadarshan

It was such a wonderful surprise to receive an invitation to share the wisdom of the Himalayan Sages in West Africa from my dear brother Idriss Ouedraogo. The scale of his work and all the efforts he puts in spreading the teachings of the Himalayan Tradition and in support and promotion Swami Veda’s mission in Burkina Faso is quite amazing, and I was very fortunate to witness it personally.

The programme he had organised was divided into three components. The largest group was formed by students of the Institute of Sport Sciences and Human Development (ISSDH), a government institution training future teachers in the field of sports and physical activities in order to send them throughout the country as guides and coaches for others. For the majority of the attendees, yoga was a completely new subject. Most of them had heard a variety of preconceived notions about yoga and really genuinely wanted to know more for themselves.

Their openness, their keen interest in yoga and their thirst to learn was really remarkable. The topic addressed with them during the three day workshop was: “How can hatha yoga contribute to the practice of sport”.

We really brought the focus on the body, breath, mind relationship and how, through their sport practice, they could bring forth the breath as a central component and, with this awareness, help enhance concentration and focus. Diaphragmatic breathing, breath refinements and the basic breathing practices in makarasana and shavasana were given prime attention. We also shared joints & glands exercises as well as basic classical asanas with them.

There were also workshops with new members and upcoming teachers of AHYM Burkina Faso, as well as with the veteran experienced teachers. The focus with both these groups was: “reinforcement of yoga teaching skills”. Having met some of the long-time teachers from Burkina in 2007 when they went to Rishikesh for TTP, it was wonderful to see many familiar faces again.

It was very enriching to share and exchange with these quite experienced and dedicated people, some of them being in the tradition, practicing and teaching for over twenty years. The exchanges and discussions we all had together on hatha yoga and meditation practice, on their teaching and on several aspects of spiritual pursuit were reflecting the depth and experience acquired through their long term practice.

The enthusiasm of the group of newcomers in the Tradition was also truly refreshing. The interest they showed in bringing together all the different elements involved in learning to guide others through yoga classes was fascinating. With their hard work and sincere dedication, they are refining their skills and will for sure become future leaders of the Himalayan Tradition on the African continent.

It was a rare opportunity to be able to share the teachings I was fortunate to receive from the Tradition in French, my mother tongue, while being so far away from home… but at the same time, having found a new home away from home. I am truly grateful to my brother Idriss for giving me this memorable opportunity.




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