Shakti Women's Empowerment Yoga Teacher Training In Uganda, Africa!
Cover Photo By Peter Hogel
By SF Yoga
The Shakti Women's Empowerment 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is happening in Uganda, Africa this November. This is a holistic, integrated approach to vinyasa yoga. The first half of this training will be held in Jinja, Uganda at the Bohemian Resort and the second half will be held in Queen Elizabeth National Park at The River Lodge. This training will teach the fundamental philosophies and practices of yoga, women's empowerment and leadership as well as being of service to others with a local seva project.
We met up with Leyla Ahmet, founder of Yoga Uganda to find out about this incredible and unique yoga teacher training. We also had the opportunity to speak with Deidre Norman, who will be teaching a portion of the training.
Why is seva important to you?
Leyla: In ancient India seva was believed to “help one’s spiritual growth and at the same time contribute to the improvement of a community.” Seva is an expression of compassion for others and a genuine desire to uplift those around you.
Seva allows me to reach out to others and link arms, it allows me to identify my unique gifts and offer them to others. It can be paying someone’s parking meter that has expired, doing an elderly persons shopping, listening to a friends story, picking up trash, massaging someone’s shoulders, or walking a dog. When I am in service I am gifted twice. First for the rewarding feeling of doing something beautiful for someone else and then seeing their happiness! And the best part is that nobody needs to know what I have done. For me, the practice of seva becomes a path to self-realization.
What are the two most important things in your yoga practice and why?
Leyla: Enthusiasm and self inquiry. My enthusiasm for yoga helps me stay committed to self development and my daily practice. Whether I roll out my mat for a 90 minute asana practice or place myself on a cushion for a 20 minute meditation, investing in myself and my mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well being are my priority. It was not always like this for me. Being a caregiver and a therapist, my needs often were low on my list of priorities. I now realize I have more to give to others when my cup is overflowing with love for myself.
Self inquiry, tuning in to my own needs and being able to respond to them is very important to me. When I need courage I might choose a self practice that involves arm balances, when I am tired, I choose a yin practice. When I am looking for inspiration, I head to a studio and join a class. Being able to honor and identify my needs is very important to me. That might also show up as an extra long savasana.
Deidre: Ahimsa and meditation. These are also the two most challenging things for me, and why they are so important. I have always been extremely hard on myself and judgemental. And the practice of ahimsa starts with yourself. This is a daily practice for me on and off the mat. Meditation is equally as important for me. I remember a teacher saying to me. "if you are not meditating every day, you should not be teaching yoga." It really struck me as I was really good at doing the physical practice of yoga, but the meditation part was so very challenging. I soon began a regular meditation practice after hearing this and my whole life changed. Meditation has transformed my life in ways I never thought imaginable.
What do you love most about teaching yoga?
Leyla: Yoga opens us up to love, inspiration, our own glorious light, our potential and boundless opportunities. As a teacher, I am given the opportunity to witness that light shine from within as students move, breath and connect with themselves and with each other. I love leading others on this journey of transformation. I love the transformations that happen on the mat and I love how that can impact life off the mat too.
Deidre: I believe that yoga has saved my life or what I really should say is that yoga allowed me to live a life that was not filled with disease, injury, unhealthy addictions, etc. The thing I love most about teaching yoga is that it allows me to share this beautiful way of life with others. I also love that it keeps me deeply connected to a community where living a conscious, mindful life is of the utmost importance.
What does women’s empowerment mean to you?
Leyla: To me women’s empowerment refers to an environment where there is no gender bias and women have equal rights in community, society and workplaces. I am passionate about helping women identify their unique talents, skills and resources and to ensure they have the courage to believe in themselves and their dreams.
Women are strong, smart and courageous. They are also gentle, diplomatic and sensitive. Our world has been dominated by big egos and testosterone. The old model of walking over each other to get to the top is ugly, it means only a few benefit and this has not worked. Empowering women has the potential to change the world for the better. Women uplift, empower, inspire, motivate and educate each other. I am excited to be part of that.
Deidre: For me, being empowered is about being authentic. It is about following ones truth and living from a place where we know we are all equal. I used think I was a strong, tough woman and what I realized, was that I was not empowered. I was living in fear of not being enough, less than. To be empowered is so much different. It is about stepping into our truth and even though we may face fears, we still are able to shine our light into the world. I believe it is also about following our passions and not allowing the societal pressures and social norms of our culture to guide us, but we do what we know is intuitively correct for us and the world.
If you could have a super power? What would it be?
Leyla: I’d love to be Lord Shiva, the destroyer, the most powerful god of the Hindu pantheon. Cool as a cucumber, funky, fun, unpredictable and extremely popular with the young and the old alike. Lord Shiva deals with the cosmos, meditates most of the time, likes to mind his own business, has an insane mix of anger and calm and is someone whose stories resonate with everyone. Lord Shiva can obliterate ignorance, annihilate evil, and grant wisdom. I‘d love to have these super powers!
What differentiates your yoga teacher training from other yoga teacher trainings?
The Shakti women's empowerment yoga teacher training truly offers students the opportunity for transformation. The YTT is about supporting, empowering and uplifting women. And the location is phenomenal ~ the spiritual heart of Africa. The River Nile is like the Ganges and has been the source of life to many for centuries. The first half will be based on the side of the river in a secluded guesthouse, there will be opportunities for stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and rafting. The second half of the training will be in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The river lodge has exceptional bird life on its doorstep and the call of lions, hyenas and baboons are regularly heard. Being immersed in nature allows us to connect deeply to the idea that we are one. It also enhances our awareness and allows for easier self inquiry and meditation. We will also be throwing in one safari while we are in the training!
One of the most magical things we will be doing is offering four Ugandan women the training for free to honor our deep felt belief that yoga really can transform lives. A small portion of the YTT fee will be put into a fund to train these Ugandan women. This training will allow you the opportunity to give back right from the beginning and you will meet and train with the women you are helping. The Ugandan women will be supported prior to the training and post training. We will also offer them ongoing support and assistance in spreading yoga into their wider communities.
You can learn more about this incredible Yoga Teacher Training in Uganda this fall HERE.
Leyla Ahmet: For Leyla yoga is a daily practice of surrendering to the power of now and honoring one’s truth. Her teaching style consists of fun, funky flowing asanas that inspire curiosity about the body and invite an internal feeling of awakening. She likes to weave pranayama and yoga philosophy into the practice and she gets excited when a student transcends their own boundaries.
Leyla believes in the value of conscious movement that cultivates strength, flexibility and awareness. Her students can expect to be lead through an intelligent sequence of postures, with hands on adjustments and helpful alignment ques designed to build deeper communication between the body and mind. Leyla is a shiatsu practitioner and reiki level II. Her love for the subtle body as well as physical body can be identified in the way she teaches. She supports the health of the physical body, whilst producing a positive influence on ones inner landscape. To learn more about Leyla visit: www.yogauganda.com.
Deidre Norman: She has been teaching yoga since 2010. She encourages her students to flow from the heart space. Her devotional, dynamic classes combine physical postures, breath work, kriyas, meditation, mantras, energy work and chanting to help students tap into their truth and higher nature. Her creative teaching style is inspired by her experience in Vinyasa yoga, Bhakti yoga, Kundalini yoga and from her degree in Energy Medicine.
Deidre first started practicing yoga in 2000 after she sustained a knee injury from hiking and skiing. She quickly realized that yoga was much more than a physical practice, and she took her first 200 hour yoga teacher training at Yoga Tree SF in 2009. Yoga has since became a path of truth for her, a way to heal old traumas and become more conscious in her life. In 2014 she completed her second 200 hour training with Kia Miller in India (Radiant Body Yoga - a combination of Kundalini and Ashtanga). She has completed an additional 200 hours of training in Bhakti yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Deidre has taught yoga in Jackson Hole, San Francisco and Uganda. To learn more you can visit www.deidrenorman.com.