Upon return to Kosovo, I realized, there were no yoga studios in the country. I searched for instructors in every corner of the capital city Prishtina. I couldn’t find any. I heard about a yoga instructor who had taught for a while, but then left the country. I searched the internet and asked friends online, but they didn’t know any. They would tell me that most instructors had been foreigners, who came to work with international organizations, following the 1999 war in Kosovo with Serbia. It seemed as there wasn’t a solid place where someone could go to practice yoga. Even more, yoga was a concept familiar to the more affluent and educated strata of the Kosovar-Albanian community, yet to the rest of the population it was a foreign notion, with many also resisting its practice due to its unfamiliarity.
At the time, I was in my sophomore year at the University of Dayton, and getting ready to go home for summer break. I decided that I would buy a yoga mat before coming to Prishtina and bring it along with me to continue my practice. Yoga had already become a complimentary piece to my daily life in the states, the rigorous studies at the University of Dayton, the long working hours, the numerous extracurricular activities, the late nights out with friends, and a remedy to my longing for my family.
At home, it helped me readjust to an environment much different than the one used to in the U.S…
The stress of living in a country devastated by war a little more than a decade ago, with an estimated 10,000 war victims, around 20,000 raped women, unemployment rate of 45% among the general population, and little opportunity for advancement, have all been overwhelming for the Kosovar society. These people are now posed with the challenge of building a self-sustainable new country. The limited freedom of movement, due to not being recognized by all the 193 United Nation member states (recognized by only 109, as of 7 July 2014), together with the visa and economic restrictions, further cause frustration and demoralization, especially among the young majority, dimming the hope they have that “it will get better”…
Soon enough, considering this inherited collective trauma, my friends and relatives home started insisting that I should start a yoga activity in Prishtina, as they believed there is great need for a change of mentality and an alternative healing method for the people living in Kosovo. For the people who will be the building blocks of the future of the new country, the practice of yoga, may most likely be a gracious addition to their life.
With much enthusiasm, I decided to start the N’yoga initiative, using my knowledge accumulated at the University of Dayton in Entrepreneurship and Marketing, to introducing as many fellow Kosovars to yoga. With the help of elementary school friends, we designed a friendly logo for the envisioned N’Yoga initiative (Translates in English as: “in yoga” or “at yoga” or “within yoga”). We began our marketing activity on all the main social media platforms in the country (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, and Instagram) on October 2012 (six months after completing my undergraduate studies). On January 2013, N’yoga had its first yoga class. A notification was sent to all our friends and followers on social media about the time of our session. And, 20 people showed up on the first day!
It has been a year and a half since that heart-warming first session with N’Yoga. Within this time frame, our organic social media marketing has opened our doors to other mediums. Our social media marketing has attracted the attention of the main national television (RTK, Kohavision, & KlanKosova), Most respected women’s show (Anima on KTV) radio stations (RadioKosova & RTV21) leading daily newspapers (Kohaditore, Tribuna), news & wellness portals (Kosovalive360, MindBodyGreen & ElephantJournal) and our project of Promoting Kosovo Through Yoga has been presented at the first TedxWomenPrishtina organization, held December 2013.
Each month, aside from our regular classes, we have held an awareness raising or philanthropic activity, such as With Kosova's Philanthropists n'Yoga, Sunny-day Sun Salutation for Down Syndrome Kosova, Yoga for Voting (to stimulate voting by instructing free yoga; this was done for both local and national elections), Mindfulness in Business (Stimulate meditation and conscious business in our society), and Yoga for students (Introducing yoga for local universities). Our greatest achievement has been the slow but natural integration of yoga, as an acceptable part, in our culture.
The internet has been essential in our work. We have been able to reach out to people through pictures taken with smart phones and cameras, computers, tablets, attracted the attention of televisions and radios, and reached even those in the rural areas and out of our capacity - as of now. To ensure the continuation and integration of the healing force of yoga, our next step is to build a yoga center...
If you would like to see our work, impact and activities you may go to our:
Website: www.nyoga.net, Facebook Page: N'Yoga Linkedin: N'Yoga, Ne Yoga and N'Yoga Schedule Twitter: @nyogastudio Instagram: nyoga
The article was written for the third phase of the Women Weave the Web: Digital EmpowermentWWW: Women Weave the Web