Hello, and thank you for joining me for my very first Dakar Yoga class. You may not know that I am quite the yogini (just Googled it to be sure I’m using the word correctly), but after accumulating a whopping five classes with Jenneke and Mina under my belt, I felt the time had come for me to take the next step and start teaching my own class.

So grab a straw mat and a bottle of Kirene, put on a comfy pair of tie-dyed chaya pants and join us for some Dakar Yoga…

First we’re going to start with some breathing exercises, so come on down to your mat. With your sit bones firming grounded, stretch your legs out in front of you, feet flexed. You can cross your feet if you’d like, just get comfortable… as if you were going to be sitting here for all three rounds of ataya. Now close your eyes, take a deep inhale in through your nose and exhale out through your teeth. One more time, in through your nose and out through your teeth, hissing as loudly and sharply as you can as if to get a taxi driver’s attention. Two more times…

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Still in a seated position, lift your arms high above your head. Slowly reach back, touching both hands to the base of your neck. This position is called the Moussor Tie and will activate all the muscles used for tying on a big headscarf. Start slowly moving and wiggling your fingers, like you’re working stiff wax print fabric into a knot. Gently move your hands up to your forehead and then back down to the base of your neck, doing the tugging and wiggling movements as you go. Close your eyes and visualize your moussor getting taller, wider, bolder and stronger.

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Gently release and come back to a comfortable seated position. Ladies, this position especially important for you. Because you’re probably doing it wrong. While it may be second nature for you to sit with your legs criss-crossed applesauce or in front of you hugging your knees – fight it. Instead, sit with your knees bent and ankles over to the right side with your back straight and left arm tucked away idly your lap.

This graceful pose called Togal Fii will allow you to reach for rice in the large common bowl without taking up too much space. Lean forward gently and extend your right hand (we will NOT be repeating this on the other side). Open your hand, palm facing the ground. Twist your wrist to the left as you make a scooping and squeezing motion to form an imaginary ball of rice in your hand. It’s important to squeeze gently, not forcing the rice but inviting it… Move your hand up to your mouth and then gently back down to your lap.

We’re going to do this one a few more times, then a few more because the hostess will insist we hardly ate and must eat more.

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Slowly come to standing at the back of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart, back straight, shoulders back. Lift your hands to your shoulders, keeping your elbows in line with your sides. Tightly clench your fists and lean your head back with eyes closed. This position is called the Seriously Senelec Another Power Cut?. From this flexed position with muscles (and frustration) active, slowly drop your head, your hands and your shoulders as far down as you can… coming to a Sad Surrender.

While we’re here standing, let’s add in a new pose that will strengthen our core. Keeping your feet planted, knees soft and upper body flowing, gently sway from right to left, left to right… This Chill Me movement is one that is often done standing in front of an oscillating fan in hot season so as not to miss a single whoosh of cooler air.

Now we’re going to do a variation not his pose. Reach your arms out to either side as far as you can. Step your feet out just beyond shoulder width. Make fists and bring your right arm over to your left hip. Now bring your left arm over your right, making an X in front of your body. This is called the Takkukay, the ties at the waist of a wrap skirt.

From this same standing position, bend slowly at the waist, letting your hands fall towards the ground about shoulder-width apart. This is more than just a hamstring stretch though. Pull your stomach in towards your spine, activating your core, then lift slowly and work your feet back to the edge of the mat as if you are dragging an Empty Gas Bottle out of the way.

For our last pose in this class, roll your mat up and place it out of the way. Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Gently roll back, one vertebra at a time, until your are flat on the ground. Now spread your arms out, getting as much skin as possible in contact with the cool tile floor beneath you.

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There’s no name for this pose, but you’ll appreciate it in hot season when trying to cool off.

There are some great (legit) yoga classes in Dakar for around 5000 CFA/session. 

Jarama Yoga is a free bilingual event offered on the last Sunday of each month by certified yoga teacher Rugi Kane at the Place du Souvenir. It is also open to beginners and to families. Just bring your mat and water. (Stay tuned… she hopes to offer Aqua Yoga soon too!)

Prism Yoga is Mina Fuhr’s studio in Mermoz. You can find details for her Intermediate/Advanced Vinyasa Yoga (L3), Beginner Hatha Yoga (L1) and Basic Vinyasa Yoga (L2) on her page. You can also join her at Chez Fatou in Almadies for a lovely seaside class on Saturdays at 10am.

Desiree Zwanck offers a 90-minute Ashtanga-based Vinyasa Flow and meditation in the garden on Wednesdays at 7pm in Almadies. She is certified Yoga Alliance +200. Contact her via Facebook for details.

You can find more classes and teachers all around Dakar on the Dakarium: Yoga Community Facebook group.