Health & Fitness Tourism: Yoga in Africa
While the yoga, health, and wellness industry has fully bloomed in the United States and Europe, it is still a budding business on the African continent. The appeal of the exotic landscapes, foreign languages, foods, and cultures along with the serenity of undeveloped natural expanses draw thousands of visitors each year to emerging luxury retreats and bootcamps. Alternative adventure seekers and professionals alike are taking a break from their day-to-day lives at adventure & corporate wellness retreats to find themselves immersed in an environment which feels both brand new and naturally familiar. We’ve listed some highlights below to help you determine which yoga experience in Africa is best for you.
Yoga in Morocco: Villa Retreats, Luxury Hotels and Riads for Any Budget
Morocco leads the way with its vibrant colors, rich history, and diverse natural scenery. The country’s major cities, Casablanca and Marrakech, offer a variety of opportunities to practice, attend events, and connect with others on the journey of body, mind, and soul. On any given weekend, you can find a plethora of escapes available from the deserts of the Sahara to the Riads of Marrakech and the beaches of Essaouira, Taghazout, and Agadir, even including surf and yoga retreats!
While the yoga community is still limited to travelers and tourists in Morocco, the practice is slowly making its way into the culture as people begin to hear of and express interest in exploring the benefits of yoga. With that said, Morocco is an Islamic country with some laws and customs, especially for women, that are vastly different from those in the US and Europe, so change in Morocco is slow and easy.
Check out our classes and retreats at OmYoga Marrakech and OmYoga Retreat Villa Casablanca for a look into what awaits you in Morocco.
Yoga in South Africa & Tanzania
South Africa and Tanzania follow suit, with wilderness retreats, wellness workshops, group tours, sound healing and detox programs. These countries offer more liberal political and religious landscapes which have allowed the practice to spread quickly to locals and visitors to the region. The home of safari adventures and mountain escapes is quickly becoming the perfect place to find an adventure yoga program on new and refreshing terrain.
Yoga for the People of Africa
The mix of climates and histories creates a rich and colorful canvas upon on which travelers can become inspired to create, play and re-connect. Although Africa offers much in the realm of tourism, it is no surprise with the history of colonialism, strong religious roots, and the current political climate that the reaches of yoga, health, and wellness have just begun to take shape on the continent. This makes the bonding experiences in local yoga communities that much stronger. It’s an exciting time for yoga in Africa!
As access to yoga is still primarily available to those of elite status in Africa (a drop-in class costs around 25 Euros in many places), non-profits and community centers have begun to offer more holistic programs in hopes of spreading these practices to the masses. The most well-known to date is the African Yoga Project, which led the first yoga teacher training in Kenya and now employs local youth to teach full-time in their communities. This social enterprise offers free classes to over 3,000 students per week, simultaneously building schools and funding education, critical operations, and environmental endeavors. Non-profits all over Africa are looking to the African Yoga Project’s success story as inspiration to bring yoga to everyone.
African Yoga: Kemetic Yoga
With the arrival of the westernized system of yoga to the continent, there has also been the resurgence of the ancient healing practice of Kemetic Yoga. The practice, with its name deriving from the word Kemet, or Egypt, is inspired by the geometric postures seen in the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt. It claims these movements are the earliest manifestations of yoga, and is being practiced widely in the United States, especially popular with African American communities looking to reconnect with their African roots and explore the origins of this healing system.
The African American community and other communities of color are reclaiming these practices and branding them to suit their culture, history, and background with styles such a Afro Flow, Afro American Yoga, and Yoga for People of Color with one of the founders of the American practice of Kemetic Yoga. In addition, groups such as Black-Owned Yoga Studios, the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, Yoga for People of Color for Healing and Empowerment, and Decolonizing Yoga are popping up all over the internet and communities around the world, highlighting the need for inclusivity, diversity, and ease of access in the yoga, health and wellness field.
Africa: The New Yoga Destination
Africa is quickly becoming the most sought-after location for yoga and wellness holidays, with offerings that include traditional practice combined with the unique offerings of these cultures and places – yoga & belly dance, yoga & traditional Moroccan cooking, yoga & safari, yoga in the desert, your options for holidays in Africa are endless! Visitors will find no limit to the opportunities to explore and connect with their creativity in this land that inspires, captivates, and activates the senses. Next stop: Africa!
Lauren Marie Rose Nelson