The Yoga Scene in Japan
Today we are interviewing Nami, a yoga teacher from Japan.
Nami was born in Kobe City and began to study yoga at the age of 17.
She is a Yoga Alliance 500 RYT and has taken classes with our friends at Rainbow Kids Yoga. She has experience with maternity & postpartum yoga, she's also a mindfulness-based teacher who studied at Oxford's cognitive therapy center in Tokyo.
Meddy Teddy: Nami, what made you want to become a yoga teacher?
Nami: Originally I wanted to learn about my Indian roots. At the age of 17 I started my practice but mainly as an exercise. I pursued my career in finance but couldn’t picture myself in 5 years and 10 years time. I casually thought to myself, “I’ll be a yoga instructor. Being an Indian mix, there must be something only I can provide!” People around me thought I was crazy, leaving a ‘prestigious’ job/lifestyle and adventuring off to something completely new. What they didn’t know was, it wasn’t new to me at all. It was definitely in my blood. As I practiced different styles of yoga and took my teacher training course, I realized everyone practicing yoga around me were already flexible, fit, and somewhat mindful. How about the rest of the world?? When I started teaching, I didn’t want to exclude anyone. I wanted to teach the grandmas and grandpas, the moms and dads, the runners and athletes, the not-so-flexible people, the not-so-mindful people, and everyone else. There was no need to categorize people, so I just called my class “Hatha Yoga.” Here I am right now teaching everyone of all ages and levels, of course, including kids!!
Meddy Teddy: Who was a great mentor/teacher for you?
Nami: My teacher in India, we called him Krishna, is someone I still look up to. Not only does he know everything about yoga, but also he is a very humble and down to earth person. Because he understands his own self inside out, he can guide others through their yogic journey.
Meddy Teddy: What kind of yoga styles do you practice personally?
Nami: I practice Hatha Yoga on a regular basis, and looking into deepening my practice in Jivamukti Yoga in the near future.
Meddy Teddy: How did your mentor in yoga influence your teaching style?
Nami: Everyone knows that practice makes perfect. I practice yoga by myself regularly. I share my finding to my students, just like my mentor shared his findings.
Meddy Teddy: Where do you see the future of yoga heading in Japan?
Nami: I really don’t know (laugh), but I can say that I try to work my way through and reach out to people who have never practiced or even heard of yoga. It is ok if their first contact to yoga is as a physical exercise. People will slowly notice the breath work, the meditation, and hopefully the lifestyle. Community centers, elder people’s homes, schools, and corporates are starting to introduce yoga into their community and this is increasing the awareness in Japan.
Meddy Teddy: Do you teach in the USA as well?
Nami: I do not teach in the USA at the moment. If the time comes, I may teach. That being said, I love Japan and will continue to teach here for as long as I can.
Meddy Teddy: I know you have trained with Rainbow Kids Yoga, do you also teach kids yoga in Japan?
Nami: Yes! The kids’ growth is phenomenal. At the moment, I teach 3-6 year olds. The kids definitely enjoy all the animal poses more than anything, but I see their concentration and awareness has improved over the years through meditation and breath work we have been practicing.
Meddy Teddy: Is the kid's yoga scene growing in Japan as well?
Nami: I believe it is. Very, very slowly, but it is growing. Schools are incorporating yoga into their curriculum or as an after-school activity.
Meddy Teddy: What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher?
Nami: I see a change in my students, and most always in an optimistic direction. They tend to be happy. I am very fortunate to be able to teach and be surrounded by people with positive energy.
Meddy Teddy: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Nami: I want to keep challenging myself to learn different styles of yoga and to deepen my practice. From a kids’ yoga perspective, I would love to teach different age groups. When I was a student in high school, I was the only one practicing yoga. I saw change in the way I managed with stressful situations such as exams, mile-runs, and relationships with friends. Students of all ages experience stress at different levels, and probably more than adults can imagine. If yoga can alleviate even a small part of that pressure, it will change the way students view and interact with their school activities and peers. Hopefully, I can be involved in that change.
You can find her website here. Check out her studio if you are ever in Japan. Tell her I sent you :)
I thought this was a great post Meddy. Looking forward to more from you.
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