If you ask us, yoga has the power to positively affect everyone. But when it comes to grand scale, to mass poverty and disease-ridden communities, what difference can yoga make? This is what a team of documentary filmmakers and yogis are asking for this new project ‘Township Yogi.’ Can people use yoga to help the townships of South Africa where the effects of crime, poverty, sexual violence, unemployment and HIV/AIDS run high? They’re going to try.
South African screenwriter/producer Elle Matthews is also a yoga practitioner and decided to do her own research on the benefits and effects of yoga on health, especially diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, in small townships like KwaZulu Natal and Inanda. Sadly, a staggeringly high level of Aids, in fact the highest in the world, is found in South Africa, and almost 40% of the HIV/AIDS population live in townships in KwaZulu Natal.
It’s not the miracle cure, but in her studies, Elle found how the practice of yoga can help boost immune system function, reduce stress, improve muscle tone and maybe even slow the progression of the disease. And so Elle and her team are setting up yoga studios and classes in the heart of Inanda, training yoga teachers from within the community. They’re hoping the documentary will raise awareness and eventually raise some funds to support sustaining the project and growing it into other townships in South Africa.
They are asking for your help. Here’s their indiegogo campaign video.
More info on the ‘Township Yogi’ documentary:
The documentary focuses n the setup of grassroots yoga studios in Inanda – where most people have never heard of yoga – and looks at how yoga can be used as a practice of transformation for HIV sufferers and those loving in poor township areas.
‘Township Yogi’ follows five township youths whose lives are transformed through the power of yoga, and explores what repercussions and effects this has in the poverty-stricken, HIV and crime-ridden communities in which they live.
We thank you for your interest in our project. We truly believe yoga has the power to change the lives of individual people in the townships, and to affect their entire communities in a positive way.
Visit their indiegogo campaign page here.
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It never ceases to amaze me the seemingly unending list of benefits that yoga can provide. It is matched only by my wonder at the places where people will seek and discover them. I think the day is not far off when we will see how yoga can touch each of our lives. Elle Matthews, you and your team have my utmost respect and admiration.
For starters. KwaZuluNatal is not a township, it is an entire *province,* look at a MAP of South Africa. Durban is its largest city, with the largest port on the continent of Africa, on the Indian Ocean; Pietermaritzburg is another city in the province. The picture you have reproduced (and what is going on in that film?!) is of a guy sitting in front of an informal settlement, also known as a shackdwellers’ squatters’ camp, which house millions of poor people (blacks) throughout SA and are not the same as townships. Townships were created by forced removals under the apartheid regime. You got so much wrong in this intro. article it’s really shocking. Research much? I have been a practicing yogi and teacher (500hr) for 30 years. Ignorance and idiocy in the yoga community abound, and it’s especially egregious when yoga hits politics/economics/justice, and thinks good intentions are enough. Wrongo. Do your research, get stuff right, it matters. Of course it’s important to offer yoga to people living with HIV/AIDS, and there are many sophisticated activists in SA doing that among other things. You owe it to them, and all of yoga, to not let your avidya negate your sankalpa. Cultivating the MIND is a responsibility of yogis: manomaya kosha.
Townships were not only created by forced removals, in some cases they pre-dated them. But the forced migrations and removals under white supremacist colonial rule created more townships. Which are established towns and cities unto themselves, to wit, Soweto, Sophiatown, Khayelitsa, Langa, many more. Again: research.