Hi, I’m Kelsey, you can call me Kels. I am from Canada, and have been here in Accra for almost eight months. I came here as an Innovator to contribute to a project called EQWIP HUBs which is addressing unemployment in Ghana. This is my first time in the continent, and it has been a transformative journey so far.
I am pretty adventurous, and spontaneous, maybe even impulsive. I make most of my decisions based on how I feel. I sometimes even say things out loud just to “try it on” (like an outfit) and decide whether or not it suits me. Which is basically how I found myself here in Accra. I had just graduated from university and I wasn’t really sure what was next for me. When I came across this opportunity I applied, got accepted, “tried it on” and thought, yep, this seems like the right move for me.
After a few months in Ghana, I was a bit deprived of a social life. Sure, I went out, and I met people at bars, but I was searching for connection. That’s when I googled, yoga in Accra. It took one Glow Flow class to get me hooked. I had practiced yoga before, but not ever as seriously as I have been here with the Bliss Yoga family.
It’s interesting how my experience at Bliss has almost been a reintroduction to yoga, as something totally different than my relationship with it before. I always practiced yoga as a stress reliever – I think that’s popular in the student world. This time, I was looking for community, connection, meditation, which Bliss has abundantly offered me.
After a couple of months, I decided that I wanted to commit to the Yoga Teachers Training. I want to understand the foundation and history of this practice, learn about the different styles of yoga, and integrate it into my life, beyond the studio. I started at the end of January, with my dear friends Sophia and Pien, the five month Yoga Teacher Training. And in one word it was Magical.
I am someone that feeds off of energy, I love hearing people’s stories, and if it is the right audience I enjoy sharing my stories too. This was the perfect audience, such gentleness in the room as people shared details of their individual journeys.
Atsu lead us through an introduction to Ashtanga style yoga for 90 minutes. Ashtanga is really enjoyable for me because of the similar elements in gymnastics. I was gymnast for most of my life, and I found as I was lead through many of the postures my body was very familiar with the movements. That being said, having been involved in such an intense sport for so long, I sort of lack that voice in my head that says, hey maybe that’s enough for today. I think that will be a goal of mine throughout this training, to get in the habit of listening to my body, and show myself love and compassion.
Being in the room with Astu and the girls, looking out to the beautiful view, the sun, nature, the city, it was easy to get lost in the practice. I felt so focused on the movements and so energized. I found I was able to settle into my practice so freely in that environment.
The group also participated in the Acro Yoga workshop, this was lead by Sarah and Thomas, and there were a so many yogis that showed up ready to learn and invite a partner into their yoga practice. I partnered with my friend Sophia, and though we were already close, this workshop was a new connection for us.
Right from the beginning we were told to go back to back with our partner and do a breathing exercise. I sat cross legged, my back against hers, and closed my eyes. Inhale. Exhale. After a few breaths I felt myself memorized by her breath more than my own. It made me feel connected, and calm. When we debriefed the activity, Thomas mentioned that noticing someone else’s breath over your own may mean that their presence was more prominent, or it could be a sign of compassion. I thought that was beautiful. The notion that compassion can be present even during something so very subtle. I did feel like it was a compassionate moment – I wanted to make sure she was feeling comfortable, and that she was okay.
The workshop started intimately with what are called Lunar Poses, which was more deep stretching with your partner. We then transitioned into the Solar Poses, which as a gymnast was my favourite portion of the workshop. Solar Poses required more intense energy, Thomas called them empowering poses. In this portion we supported our partners in poses that lifted them off the ground. There was this fun and dynamic energy in the room, while we all teamed up and helped each other fly. Of course we were all making sure that the camera captured us, while we were propped up by our partners!
I can already tell that this five month experience will deepen my practice, and that yoga will overflow into all aspects of my life. There is so much more to yoga than the postures we do in class. Did you know yoga means “union”? How beautiful is that? I look forward to continuing the journey and seeing what style of yoga I gravitate to.
Now, I am focusing on my reading, journaling, and research on sutras, until we meet again at the end of the month.