Maasai yogi, Jacob Parit training school children yoga during a physical exercise lesson. Photo Courtesy

Jacob Parit ole Noomek was working at a cultural village in
Amboseli National Park when he interacted with an American yoga enthusiast, an
interaction that completely changed his life.

Following the interaction, Parit got an opportunity to go to
Mombasa for a training on yoga before he went to the United States of America
for further training under the Africa Yoga Project in the year 2009.

Parit, 50, who is the first Maasai moran to practice yoga,
took a liking for yoga because it brings people together as a family and he
believes that if people keep practicing it, it could change the world.

yogi, Jacob Parit during a yoga training session in Amboseli national park.
Photo Courtesy.

“People say yoga is for the affluent in the community, but
that is not true. Yoga is for everyone. Every morning when you get out of bed,
your body is asking for yoga and when you stretch, you are practicing yoga
without your knowledge. Yoga has physical and mental health benefits to people
of all ages and that is why we should all practice it,” says Parit.

Parit however experienced challenges while trying to
introduce yoga to the Maa community as most of the members viewed it as magic
and time wasting.

“For a long time, the Maasai disregarded yoga and viewed it
as magic but they have since slowly adopted it after getting the physical and
mental benefits from the various yoga sessions,” Narrates Parit

The yogi says that it is now common for members of the
community to assemble in the morning and evening waiting for his instructions
whenever he is at home. He also engages several students in different schools
during the physical education lessons.

yogi, Jacob Parit during a yoga training session in Amboseli national park.
Photo Courtesy.

Parit also uses his interaction with several tourists who visit
Amboseli to source for funds for building schools and scholarships for children
from the Amboseli community.

From training yoga, Parit has been able to cater for his
family’s needs though he also keeps livestock as is tradition within his Maasai

“During tourist visits to Amboseli, many tour companies seek
my services for their clients. This has enabled me to further cater for my
family needs,” Says Parit

In partnership with My Chosen Vessels NGO, Parit also trains
Maasai women in Amboseli who suffer from extreme backaches due to carrying
water and firewood for long distances.

Yoga, a practice that connects the body, breath and mind
using physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation to improve overall
health was introduced in Kenya in the 1970s.

Some of the benefits of yoga include; cardio and circulatory
health, improved respiration, energy and vitality, increased flexibility,
increased muscle strength and tone, stress relief among others.


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