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Taking part in the great yoga festival in Lamu

Monday September 9 2019

Lamu waterfront. The Island holds an annual

Lamu waterfront. The Island holds an annual Yoga Festival which is a great event for enthusiasts to meet, meditate and bond. FILE PHOTO | RUPI MANGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP.  

By WENDY WATTA

Before attending my first ever yoga festival, I had been living in Lamu for about a month. Most of that time had been spent in the remote Kiwayu Island where I spent my days snorkelling, deep-sea fishing, running, doing sunrise yoga on the beach and living on a consistent diet of fish, salad and fresh fruit.

I was at optimum physical fitness, but by the time I was leaving this glorious slice of paradise, I wanted to do nothing more than spend several days drinking cocktails before reluctantly heading back to Nairobi.

It was while I was awaiting the second dawa that I was invited to classes by some of the participants and teachers who had been tucking into dinner at a nearby table.

While I am no stranger to yoga which I mostly practice for its physical benefits (a Christian friend is never shy to point out that that I'm likely to be praying to the Hindu gods and we always disagree on that) that I found myself drawn to their conversation around meditation.

"People just don't listen to their bodies until they feel really sick and need to go see a doctor," said one girl.

BEACH YOGA

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"Meditation is the foundation of everything we do and today's class finally helped me to switch off my mind, stay present and listen to my inner self".

Admittedly, this sounds like just the kind of spiritual mumbo jumbo that yogis always say, but I had travelled to Lamu — the most remote and idyllic place I could think of — on my own journey to find overall wellness, happiness, and some balance.

The idea that meditation could help me achieve this desire was too seductive to turn down—just not on this specific night as I still had an entire cocktail menu to work through.

My very first session was a 6:00 am power yoga class by the beach.

While I had gotten used to practicing alone in the past month, I enjoyed being surrounded by people dedicated to the practice and their enthusiasm was infectious.

As we flowed from a downward-facing dog into a lunge culminating into warrior one, it was like there was collective energy flowing from the sun to the sea and through each one of us.

If you have been struggling to stay disciplined in your practice, consider attending a yoga festival as this can help you shift your mindset, feed off the energy of others and get out of your bad habits.

2020 YOGA FESTIVAL

Most of all, be sure that you will leave with not only physical and mental benefits but also lifelong friends.

You will sweat, laugh, cry, dance and possibly even explore the island together, and if you're single then this can be a great place to possibly meet a significant other.

We all took different dhows to experience the magical sunset sail which was great for relaxation and bonding.

There was also a communal Swahili dinner where everyone sat cross-legged on the floor, dined communally from a metallic Sinia and afterward danced and sang along to drummers and Swahili songs.

The next festival will be on March 2020, so you can start saving up and planning for it now.

If you do however go to Lamu for yoga when it's not festival season, a good place to start is Banana House & Wellness Center, or Fatuma's Tower.

There are also really good teachers that can come to wherever you'll be staying on the island. Just ask around for Awham or Kelly...the community is small enough that everyone knows everyone.

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