Yoga matts, each with a patterned pillow, were laid out in rows, which made the room look like a wildly colourful game of tic tac toe. My stomach bumped up against my ribs as I settled my nerves. I’m used to doing yoga at home in private, but I was there to see the world premier of the documentary Yogadishu, the extraordinary story of Ilwad Elman’s work in Somalia.
Thanks to the Africa Yoga Project before the film there was yoga. My friend Emmanuel Jal, an encyclopedia of stories, a former child soldier, now a peace activist, artist & entrepreneur led us in his trademark ‘Y.A.Y.A.’ We alternated some easy Yoga poses with some hip swaying, heart enlarging African dance moves & then repeated (hence Y.A.Y.A.).
Ilwad, a Canadian/Somali peace activist, had set out to address some of the raging conflict in Somalia by teaching yoga to youth & thereby using yoga to help trauma survivors. Yogadishu was her story – with achingly beautiful sweeping vistas of startling white beaches, whose waves tickled the toes of kids doing yoga. You can see a short clip here.
Jal spoke eloquently afterwards, as usual with his deceptively quiet voice telling powerful stories. He told us that “battles are fought in the mind & won in your heart. Your issues live in your tissues. … Who owns your mind? Anxiety? Fear? Worry?”
Can you relate?
What battles are fought in your mind? What wins your heart?
What wins our hearts are stories.
Stories are our secret weapon. Marsha Shandur, storytelling great, goes so far as to say they help defeat evil.
Did you know that video will make up 79% of global traffic by 2020 (Cisco)? That’s a whole lotta video, which is why I’m delighted to combine storytelling & video by having Nathaniel Cy, professional videographer, come & share his tips & tricks tomorrow.
Please join us …
… for my monthly learning & development roundtable where professional videographer Nathaniel Cy will give an interactive workshop on How to tell your story through video for people who don’t know where to start. It’s free & easy. Simply join at the link about at 10am EAT (if you’re not in East Africa, click here to convert to your time zone). And if that time doesn’t work for you, no worries you can always watch the video later as we’ll record it.
Now back to our story …
As I heard the strains of ‘We Want Peace’ reaching me at the UN here in Nairobi, I was dismayed. I was busy meeting with someone, but that was my favourite Emmanuel Jal song he was performing live. The sun had set for the day, after a long day of meetings.
I said in a rush that I couldn’t possibly meet now because we couldn’t miss the song & we had to dance. I grabbed their hand & together we ran down the stairs to the dance floor.
I don’t remember the facts of the conference that had been happening but I do remember hope bubbling up as people from all over the world danced together & listened to Jal, who’d triumphed over all attempts to make him into a mindless, heartless killing machine & who sang about peace. Because don’t we all want that.
See what I mean below– it’s not possible to sit still. Get up & dance (or at least wiggle on your chair).
That’s the power of story. Please join us tomorrow to find out more.
P.S. And stay tuned for a whole new look for my newsletter very soon. My new website, with all it’s ways to get engaged, is almost ready. I’m so looking forward to sharing it with you.
Annnnnnnd take action
- Join us tomorrow for: How to tell your story through video for people who don’t know where to start
- Check out Ilwad’s work in Somalia; see the program overview, & more info on how yoga can be used to empower trauma survivors
- Turn up the volume & get inspired by one of many of Jal’s videos