International Day of Yoga 2021: Yoga reaches Mali – African nation in Sahara Desert

The practise of Yoga is growing in Mali as more and more people are getting exposed to its benefits. (Image Courtesy: Embassy of India, Mali)

There is something unique about Mali, a vast country in West Africa, where the common people show tremendous love for various aspects of Indian culture, including music and dance. One can sense the warmth for India while talking to Malian people. The 7th International Day of Yoga is being celebrated across the world on 21 June 2021.

“In Mali, several Yoga events have been held by Yoga enthusiasts across the country in cities like Segou, Kita, Timbuktu, Koulikoro, Sikasso, apart from various places in Capital Bamako, in the lead up to the International Day of Yoga,” India’s ambassador to Mali, Anjani Kumar tells Financial Express Online.

In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a customary large gathering for practising Yoga collectively to mark the occasion has been avoided and multiple smaller events have been held instead.

“However, to celebrate the IDY, the Embassy of India in Bamako held a restricted Yoga session at the Chancery on June 19, 2021 which was telecast live for the benefit of Yoga enthusiasts in Mali, Mauritania and across the world. The Yoga session was led by Malian Yoga Maestro Oumar Coulibaly,” the Indian envoy says.

Curiosity about Yoga in Mali

Sharing more about the awareness of Yoga in Mali, Ambassador Kumar says, “

The practise of Yoga is growing in Mali as more and more people are getting exposed to its benefits. Yoga Maestro Oumar Coulibaly, a Malian himself, has been practising Yoga since 2015. It was curiosity which brought him closer to Yoga and connected him to another Yoga teacher in Mali, Ms Sabine Kone of Switzerland, who has been living and teaching Yoga in Mali for several years.”

The practise of Yoga is growing in Mali as more and more people are getting exposed to its benefits. (Image Courtesy: Embassy of India, Mali)

“Subsequently, Coulibaly was offered a scholarship by the Embassy of India to undertake the “Yoga Instructors’ Course” at S-VYASA Yoga University in Bengaluru in 2016 which he found to be very helpful.”

Sharing his experience of Yoga, Ambassador Kumar says, “Although I have been exposed to Yoga since childhood, it is only after coming to Mali in 2020 that I started practicing Yoga on a sustained basis. It has now become a part of my everyday routine and I feel more relaxed, calm and focused by practicing Yoga every morning. I can happily say that I got inspired to practice Yoga after coming in contact with Oumar Coulibaly, the Malian Yoga Teacher.”

Views of Oumar Coulibaly

Oumar Coulibaly tells Financial Express Online, that Yoga has helped to know himself deeply and strengthen his intuitions and awareness. He says that Yoga respects that we all are individuals and anyone can practise it and gain from it. By practising Yoga, he feels happy and more in control of his emotions under different situations. It helps in discovering some of his hidden qualities and potentialities. Yoga has made him more focused, more energetic and happier as well.

According to Coulibaly, “Yoga contributes to overall wellness by taking care of stress, diabetes, back pain, constipation, depression, obesity, psychological problems, fear, anxiety, shyness, etc.”

yoga day male

He shares that he was very shy and never thought there would be a solution to overcome it. However, after practising Yoga and becoming a Yoga teacher, he feels at ease wherever he is and, more importantly, he is able to connect with himself during Yoga and meditation sessions which also helps in his spiritual growth.

“Yoga inculcates positive energies which help in improving one’s performance and contributes to overall wellness. The benefits of Yoga can be reaped by people of any faith or religion as it is a secular practise,” he adds.

On the occasion of the 7th International Day of Yoga, Coulibaly has invited the people of Mali and the world to join Yoga and discover its benefits by themselves. He says that Yoga can help humanity in solving many of the problems.

Views of Ms Khadija Koita

She is another budding Yoga and wellness teacher in Mali who has been practicing Yoga since 2014. She shares that she came to Yoga searching for solutions to some of the problems she had been facing related to sadness, depression and loss of zest for life. She read an article on the internet about positive thinking and energy which could be achieved also through the practice of Yoga. This was the initial attraction towards Yoga and she started watching various Yoga videos available on YouTube.

Khadija says that practicing Yoga helped in improving her health and developing a positive approach towards life. She regained the zest for life and decided to do a training course to be a Yoga Instructor. She feels so inspired now that she is in the process of opening a Wellness Center in Mali to help other people.

Khadija says that the practice of Yoga has made her understand that it is very important to focus on one’s breathing (Pranayam or the Yogic practice of focusing on breath) because it helps in relaxing the body and calming the mind. She says that Yoga helps in feeling good mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Khadija stresses that Yoga can be beneficial for everyone, young and old alike. She says that her mother has been able to overcome the pain in her sciatic nerve by practicing Yoga. Yoga has allowed her to be calm, peaceful and more relaxed and also manage her stress and anxiety in a better way.

Khadija credits Yoga’s global popularity to its benefits. She says that those who practise Yoga in a sustained manner have become aware of the numerous benefits of Yoga for a holistic and healthy lifestyle. She says that Yoga has nothing to do with religion. It is a practice that benefits the body and mind. Apart from the physical benefits of sustained practice of Yoga, the positive impact that Yoga has on the mind and consciousness is of great value in contributing to a healthy and peaceful society. It is well documented that sustained practice of Yoga helps in addressing or reducing the impact of various chronic problems and ailments free of cost. Khadija encourages people who are new to Yoga to integrate it into their daily routine to reap its benefits and lead happier and healthier lives.

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