Yoga Va Cuba History

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Since 1998, Mary Paffard and a group of teachers interested in Latino Yoga have been visiting the island annually to support yoga, to be inspired by Cuba and to bring our communities together.

Cuba US Yoga Exchange (CUYE) was our original organisation that sponsored annual teachers intensives which brought colleagues Patti Hirota-Cohen, Rodney Yee, Rama Jyoti Vernon, Chris Hoskins, Baxter Bell, Jason Crandell and others to work with the main teachers in Habana who had been trained by Eduardo Pimentel, president of ACY - Cuban Yoga Association. Eduardo and his wife Elsa were invited to the US on 2 occasions to conferences and to meet other teachers.  

Latino Yoga Research Institute of California and the Americas (LYRI-CA) was founded in 2004 as restrictions were placed on inviting Cubans here and it was felt our work should focus more on research and cultivating a pilot Latino teacher training program Yoga Va! which was taught by Cuban and US teachers in Holguin and Habana.  

We have continued to support the graduates and teacher trainers in this group with annual intensives which included an insight meditation retreat (probably the first) at the faculty of Medicine in Holguin led by Christina Feldman from the UK.  During this era, with help from the Dana foundation, we created a yoga program at Yoga Mendocino in Ukiah called Mama y Yo for Latina women and their young children.  

In this era we also supported Edgar Ortiz and the foundation of his Costa Rican yoga school and brought Edgar to Cuba to share his research and work in the Yoga Va! training.

Mary created a one year Yoga Va! course for Mexican students, which was taught in Sayulita from 2008-2010.

YOGA COOPERATIVA is now — as of June 2015 — taking over from LYRI-CA as we move into a transitional time. Please see our list of current and immediate projects on the Projects page (LINK).

Many things have changed in Cuba prior to this time;  the Indian embassy sponsored a Yoga Conference and invited Mary and Zubin Shroff to attend in 2013, teaching with Indian and Cuban teachers. Meditation conferences are happening twice annually all over the country.

Many different flavours of yoga are arising. Ayurveda has the potential to become fully embraced in the alternative health modalities practiced here with help from the Indian Embassy, Argentinian doctors, and organisations like Yoga Va Cuba. Cyd Bernstein has led 2 short courses on Ayurveda, and we see this as a welcome support for the development of yoga on the island, and an important part of our two-year transition plan to help Cuban Yogis have more of an international voice, and to help us all benefit from cooperative yoga.