Indiana yoga instructor closing studio, teaching in Kenya
Emma Ea Ambrose
(Lafayette) Journal and Courier
Saturday, November 12, 2016
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Within the next year, Marcia Schaller will be closing her West Lafayette yoga studio and heading to Nairobi, Kenya to teach yoga with the Africa Yoga Project.
The instructor opened M Power Yoga Studio four years ago. Recently, Schaller said, forces conspired to tell her it was time to move on to her next journey.
Schaller said she's been aware of the Africa Yoga Project for years and was always interested in the nonprofit group.
The organization, founded in 2007, teaches yoga to marginalized populations in Kenya, providing a skill they can utilize to earn money as well as an education about wellness.
Schaller will be based in Nairobi at the Africa Yoga Project's Shine Center. The center serves more than 6,000 people in the community, providing not only access to yoga practices but also food and water.
"The idea is to teach them yoga so they can teach the middle and upper classes in Nairobi," Schaller said. "They now have an outlet and hope."
Yoga is a natural activity for community and personal empowerment, Schaller said, because of the mindfulness and togetherness it promotes.
"No matter what economic status you are, no matter what color, yoga brings people together," she said.
To take part in the project, Schaller must raise $4,000 before she leaves in June for a week in Kenya. None of this money goes towards her travel expenses, which she will pay herself. This is a donation to the Shine Center, so it can continue to offer classes, resources, food and water to participants.
Schaller said $500 provides a year worth of clean drinking water to the Shine Center, $20 sponsors a yoga class for marginalized young people and $2,500 covers the training for one student to become an instructor.
The smallest donation, Schaller said, can have a major impact in Nairobi.
"We take so much for granted here," Schaller said. "We spend five bucks without even thinking."
Schaller said she won't be opening another studio when she returns from her trip. Instead she wants to refocus her energies as an instructor and bring yoga to more marginalized communities in the United States.
"It's not just in Africa, we have needs as well in this country," Schaller said.
Teaching yoga at schools for the blind and to inmates are both activities that interest Schaller, and she's noticed momentum for such programs throughout the country.
First, however, Schaller is focusing on raising the remaining money for her trip and squaring away all practical concerns like vaccinations, accommodations in Nairobi and her packing list.
The most important things Schaller will be bringing, however, won't fit in a suitcase.
"I'm going to bring my compassion, my passion for yoga and my empathy towards others," she said.