Botswana 2016 – First Gleanings

About the World Spine Care Yoga Project

World Spine Care is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving lives in underserved communities through offering sustainable, integrated, and evidence-based spine care. They have established chiropractic clinics in Shoshong and Mahalapye, Botswana, the Dominican Republic and Ghana (and soon in India and China) that are staffed by volunteers as well as local clinicians. In these clinics, high-quality care is delivered free of charge to patients with spinal conditions and musculoskeletal pain.

Last year I was invited to be part of the World Spine Care Yoga Project. The intention of this project is to introduce hatha yoga as a tool for pain management and self-care to patients of the World Spine Care clinics. To fulfill this intention, extraordinary teacher and human being Erin Moon and I created a hatha yoga teacher training program for local residents to learn how to teach hatha yoga classes that include simplified postures, breathing and mindfulness exercises.

Last month we offered our first 10-day teacher training in Botswana with great success. Lots more about that to come.

Even though these practices were completely new to our trainees, we were welcomed with such openness, willingness to learn and appreciation for what we were imparting. Our trainees have already begun offering hatha yoga classes to patients of the World Spine Care clinics. 22 people attended the first class in Shoshong last week!

Certainly, co-creating and launching the World Spine Care Yoga Project has taken me out of the yoga box I had been in for many years.

Looking back, I realize I struggled with a way to be in the yoga world that would represent 100% of who I am, which is not someone very interested in self-promotion. Like many teachers and yogis I know, I’ve never been very motivated to draw students toward me for the sake of me. What I am very motivated by is service to something larger than my career, bigger than myself.

In fact, I am committed to teaching a practice that is fundamentally NOT about me, not about any of us as individuals and yet encompasses and embraces all of us.  What I have always stood for is the strength and importance of what I had to offer, which was all about something larger than me.

With this project, I have the feeling that I have a place to bring all of myself as a yoga teacher and stand in. This feels rewarding, like I have landed. The opportunity to apply the totality of my skills, knowledge and experience a completely different setting, one focused on pain relief in the most immediate sense has afforded me a sense of freedom from my habitual ways of thinking about and teaching yoga. Spring fever aside, I have renewed enthusiasm, energy, creativity, possibility and Shakti for my work since returning. This tells me I am on the right track.

Beginning next week I’ll be posting about the Botswana training on the World Spine Care blog.