The International Yoga Day will be celebrated on June 21st, 2018. It will be the fourth time that the day is officially celebrated in Uganda. Even though the practice of yoga has just come to Uganda recently, it is already becoming more and more popular.
Bobby’s hands and feet are touching the ground. His body is forming a pyramid shape, with his hips as the highest point. He is practicing the so-called Downward Facing Dog, the most widely recognized pose in yoga.
Bobby Yiga is a yoga teacher. Once a week he teaches a community yoga class at the National Theatre in Kampala. Yiga explains that a common many people in Uganda mistake yoga for a religion or cult. He says that yoga is actually an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. His classes are visited by both Muslim and Christian students.
The origins of yoga can be traced back to over 2,000 years ago. The High Commissioner of India in Kampala, Ravi Shankar, explains that yoga has a lot of scientifically proven health benefits and that several lifestyle diseases can be prevented by performing yoga.
During a yoga class, students usually practice a set of physical exercises that are designed to open the many channels of the body so that energy can flow freely. Yoga practice can also involve meditation. Ravi Shankar explains what differentiates yoga from other forms of exercise, like aerobics or weightlifting.
More than 30,000 people of Indian heritage are currently living in Uganda. The High Commissioner says that yoga probably came to Uganda through them. It is quite likely that they started the first yoga sessions in Uganda. But how much do Kampala’s residents actually know about yoga?
Some of the benefits of yoga include; increased flexibility and a better body alignment. Yoga also has mental benefits – it is said to reduce stress, improve body awareness and self-confidence and lead to a better sleep. Josephine Nakafeero from Kampala started practicing yoga a month ago. She says that yoga helped her overcome a difficult phase in her life.
In Uganda, yoga has become increasingly popular in the last years. In addition to gyms that offer yoga classes, private yoga studios have opened up. However, practicing yoga from a studio can be expensive. But there are alternative options: the advantage of yoga is that it can be practiced anywhere, whether it’s from home or outside in a park. The only equipment that is needed is a yoga mat.
The High Commissioner of India stresses that yoga does not require a certain level of fitness or flexibility. It can be practiced by children and adults as well as by elderly people.