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Kenyan Yoga instructor on African Voices

Kenyan yoga instructor James Njuguna, will for the next four days be on international limelight  beamed by CNN’s African Voices (channel 401), starting this Saturday 4 June at 17:30 EAT.

This week, African Voices reports from Kenya, Mauritius and Egypt, meeting people who have pursed their passions into their working lives.

In Nairobi, African Voices meets James Njuguna, a yoga instructor who has used exercise to help him turn his life around and escape the city’s slums.

Njuguna explains what yoga means to him, “Yoga to me is a practice that empowers, educates you and awakens your power of listening, the power of connection, the power of your body and mind.”

However, the programme learns that yoga is not simply an activity to Njuguna, but was the pathway to help him escape drugs at high school.

Njuguna reveals the extent of the problem, “When I was into high school I did not concentrate more onto my education because I found myself joining other groups… I was hanging out with the wrong crowds and in fact all my friends were criminals and they were thieves. I didn't know how my day was looking but when you are into drugs you feel the day is shorter. You never know when the day ends.”

It was a chance encounter Njuguna had with a friend travelling to a yoga class that eventually led him to take up the activity himself.

Njuguna says, "I used to see my friend each and every Thursday carrying a yoga mat, and I was more curious…Then I joined that yoga class, even though I didn't have the proper yoga pants. I just had what I had.”

The class Njuguna joined was run by the Africa Yoga Project, a non-profit which uses yoga to empower and educate. Founded in 2007, today the group has more than 300 community classes a week in 80 locations.

However, Njuguna still reflects on his period at high school, which has resulted in him trying to give back to the community through yoga classes.

He has now progressed to the role of a yoga instructor.

As African Voices joins Njuguna in the slums of Nairobi, he explains why he feels giving back to his community is so important. “It reminds me about many memories and the place I used to live and the place that I have lost a lot of my friends…When I'm a teacher, I want to deliver and to leave these people in their own greatness because before the class I do have some inquiry with them, just to check in, a quick check up to see how they're doing but I know they're here for a big purpose so me as a teacher I should be up to something more bigger, like to inspire.”

For Njuguna, yoga has not only provided a new way of life, but has also given him an opportunity to support a family.

Reflecting on the impact of yoga in his life, Njuguna says, “To me yoga is not a religion. It's how you trust, how you believe because it have transformed my life and it have made me take full control of my life. I take yoga the way it is to me. It's not a religion, it's a practice.”

Remember to tune in to this episode of African Voices on Saturday 4 June at 17:30 EAT on CNN (401) and if you miss it, you can still catch it in the following times:

  • Sunday 5 June at 01:30 EAT and 20:30 EAT
  • Monday 6 June at 12:30 EAT
  • Tuesday 7 June at 06:30 EAT