Yoga In Kosovo (Gorgeous Slideshow)

As one of only two native yoga instructors at Yoga in Kosovo, one of my passions is promoting my country positively abroad. I hope to shed light on the dim image that we as a country and people have received due to our unfortunate historical circumstances.

Given the recent history of war with Serbia, poor economic circumstances, high unemployment, and social and psychological traumas inherited from years in conflict, disciplines such as yoga may fit naturally in Kosovo's society. After obtaining my yoga certification, I decided to start teaching and have been doing so for the last several months.

The idea for taking the following pictures around Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, came about from this very desire: to use yoga to promote the good and the beautiful of my country, Kosovo.

Newborn Monument (Prishtina, Kosovo)

To mark the independence of Kosova on the 17th of February 2008, the NewBorn monument was created. The monument's original color was yellow. Thousands of citizens signed their names on the monument to show that they were there when Kosova declared its independence. This year, to honor the fifth anniversary of independence, the designer called on the government to repaint the monument with the flags of all the countries that had recognized Kosova as an independent country to date. While the government apparently disregarded the idea, the civil society, led by the creator of the monument, united and voluntarily made it happen. 

(Wheel Pose, as a symbol of unity among the people.)

Photo by Norik Uka

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Kosova Art Gallery

Exhibits of young and old artists give life to this wood-and-stone building. It's a common hub to meet new people and discuss art over wine and crackers, while enjoying the stylishly dressed attendees.

(Ustrasana advanced – Camel Pose – Keep our souls and hearts open and use our creativity to change and better our reality.)

Photo by Rina Hapciu

The National Library

In the center of the University of Prishtina campus is the National Library. It's home to thousands of books that have endured centuries of active effort by oppressors to do away with the Albanian language. The language was taught fervently in homes when it was banned in schools; books in Albanian were read and written behind closed doors and abroad. Today, we can freely go to school in our native language and speak our language on the streets.

(Ring Pose, to remind us that even though our language is alive, we have to actively fructify it.)

Photo by Rina Hapciu

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Former Hotel Union

One of the last remaining Austro-Hungarian architectural pieces, the former Hotel Union, once under consideration for demolition, now beautifies the center of Prishtina. Several years ago, when plans were in progress for the destruction of the Hotel Union, civil society protested peacefully with the help of the media in front of the building, expressing their desire to protect one of the few remaining landmarks of the town. 

It is located in the middle of the newest segment of the Mother Teresa Square, dedicated and named after the deceased president Ibrahim Rugova, who fought nonviolently for our independence. It is surrounded by colorful flowers, with a water fountain just in front of it, and with the Parliament and the government buildings on its sides.

(Uttkatasana Pose, to reflect its literal meaning to our government that “power is not about domination or control over someone else, so much as it is about aligning with the life energy within and around you, to the benefit of all of us.”)

Photo by Norik Uka

Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu Monument

Our national Albanian hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu, proudly stands in the Ibrahim Rugova square. He is a symbol of our perseverance and fight for emancipation while under the Ottoman Empire for five centuries. It faces Hotel Union and the National Theater. 

(Kneeled warrior, to honor the resistance.) 

Photo by Norik Uka

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Mother Teresa Square

In the early hours you'll encounter elderly meeting and have their morning discussion of current developments, recalling the past and contemplating the future, on the sidewalks and benches along the Mother Theresa Square. In the afternoon, young Kosovans (the country has the youngest population in Europe, with the majority of the population under 25 years old) rush to find a spot to sit and hang out with friends also along the same square or adjacent streets packed with cafes. 

In the evening, the Mother Teresa Square is a gathering for all — children, young people, adults, and elderly alike — strolling peacefully up and down the granite-paved street, cherishing their time with their loved ones and friends.

(Vasisthasan pose, to remind us that, even though we walk freely, we need to work together to stand on our own hands and feet.)

Photo by Norik Uka

Mother Teresa Statue

The most renowned Albanian in the world, Mother Teresa, stands peacefully in the center of Prishtina, reflecting peace and kindness. Her presence reminds us that we still have much work to do in improving our country, our living conditions, and our education, through positive change.

(Balance Pose, to symbolize that we need patience and work to become fully sustainable as a country.)

Photo by Norik Uka

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National Museum

These stairs take you to our beginnings, show you who are ancestors were, how far back they go in these lands, how they lived and what they did. Here you can also learn about our latest resistance, thirteen years ago, and the war. From time to time, you can also attend art or fashion exhibitions, and view the recent developments in our modern culture.

(Vasisthasana Modification, to reflect our continual development as a culture, while always being grounded by our roots.)

Photo by Norik Uka

Doors to the Ethnological Museum

These doors lead you inside our traditional lives, show you how we cooked food, how we ate, the rooms we slept in, rooms where decisions for the household were made, our crafts... It gives you a peak of our colorful garments and delicately handmade silver jewelry. If you come at the right time, you might also get to eat our traditional “flija.”

(Virabhadrasana on left foot, to celebrate our ethnicity)

Photo by Rina Hapciu

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Jashar Pasha Mosque

Kosova is a secular state. The majority of the people, though, are Muslim, so mosques dating from the Ottoman times are present all around the city.

(Ardha Chandrasana — Half Moon Pose — to symbolize the crescent Islam moon.)

Photo by Rina Hapciu

Mother Teresa Cathedral

Religious tolerance is what illuminates our country. All religions have peacefully lived in these territories for centuries and continue to do so. Here is the Mother Teresa Cathedral, situated in the very heart of the city, still under construction.

(Lotus Pose – to symbolize the Christian prayer.)

Photo by Rina Hapciu

Sahat Kulla — Clock Tower

The Sahat Kulla gracefully decorates the sky in the old part of Prishtina. It dates from the 19th century, and is close to the Sami Frasheri Gymnasium, facing the just renovated Turkish Hamam and the Emperor’s Mosque, which is also being renovated.

(Purvottanasana right, to symbolize the clock hands and to emphasize that now is the time to  bring positive changes to our country.)

Photo by Rina Hapciu

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