I am so excited to share this week’s Yogi in the Community Afya Ibomu! This is the first time I have ever featured both a husband/wife duo on Chelsea Loves Yoga! You may remember my audio interview with Afya’s husband Sticman of dead prez a couple of years ago, so it was just perfect to illustrate how a family who does yoga together, grows together! Please enjoy this conversation with Afya who talks about her yoga journey, her community work, and tips for how to transition into more mindful and healthy lifestyles!
Name: Afya Ibomu
Location: Currently lives in ATL. Born and raised in St.Paul, MN
What led you to the practice of yoga? I honestly fronted on yoga for many years thinking it was just a fad that would come and go like many others. My husband started going to Bikram and said he thought I’d really like yoga because it’s a mix of strength and flexibility and that I would catch on pretty easy. Thinking about being in a room of 105 degrees did not turn me on and I said NO THANKS! I’ll stick to swimming and weights. In the beginning of 2013 we joined LA Fitness and I took my first yoga class. After that I was hooked! I began to study the history of yoga and found out it’s been around for thousands of years and has been scientifically proved to benefit people with depression, high blood pressure, stress and anxiety. I studied martial arts for many years and yoga to me was very similar just less demanding on the body. In martial arts there are many levels represented by belts. Yoga also has many levels and that’s one thing I love about it. There are always new asanas to learn and I can do yoga for the rest of my life! Then the summer of 2013 we did the Ultimate Yogi Challenge, which is a DVD program of 108 days of yoga for 1 hour a day. That challenge took my practice to another level and inspired me to get my yoga teacher certification, which I plan to get in 2014.
You seem to be very busy these days! How do you balance being a wife, mother, and entrepreneur while dedicating so much time to sharing information regarding health and wellness throughout multiple communities? Hmmm great question! I am busy pretty much from the time I wake up until I pass out. I have a to do list and go down it checking off what I’ve accomplished. I have to add family to my list because I’m a borderline workaholic and it’s easy for me to get caught up in work and forget everything else. I’ve also learned to give myself small breaks throughout the day so I don’t burn myself out. But honestly some things just don’t get done and I’ve had to come to peace with that and just strive for balance as much as possible.
As far as sharing health and wellness info, since I share my lifestyle; what I’m doing, eating, researching or just passionate about, it’s pretty easy. I post all types of recipes, health info and tips through my site www.nattral.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. The internet is a great way to spread and share info! I also teach nutrition classes, and do cooking demos around the world.
I’ve read about work you’ve done, specifically with a group of teen girls in a workshop focused on nutrition. Can you talk with us more about that experience? What were some of the activities? I seem to have a special kinship with teen girls, maybe cause I’m still 15 at heart LOL! But seriously, I’ve mentored teen girls for many years because I always wished I had female mentors when I was a growing to put me up on things that I might not want to talk to my parents about. I understand what they are going through on many levels beyond nutrition and I don’t judge but ALWAYS give them 100% truth, as I know it.
So my workshops with teens (boys and girls) focus on self esteem, body awareness and confidence. I focus on what it means to be healthy in additions to the foods we eat, including healthy food choices and snacks that can be prepared by youth. We always prepare one or two snacks or a meal depending on the space and time available.
Some of our readers are new to yoga, or have recently transitioned into healthier lifestyle practices. If you could offer some tips or suggestions what would you recommend? How do you encourage people to not give up?
For yoga it’s good to find a teacher that you vibe with. I’ve gone to some classes where I’m bored and I don’t think they push me enough and other classes where they just go overboard with asanas but don’t make sure you are doing them correctly. So whatever stage you are at find a class/teacher that fits you. There are also different types of yoga; bikram, hot, yin, hatha, etc… be open to trying different styles before you say yoga is not for you!
I discuss transitioning to a healthier lifestyle in my book, The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy and have many tips on where to shop, what foods to buy and also healthy dining out choices. In general find 1 food or unhealthy habit every couple weeks that you know is not good for you and stop doing it. It could be eating candy, fast food or even saying negative things to yourself. Take one thing at a time and know that it won’t be easy but it is possible to change.
One thing I would advise against is if you begin to change, don’t judge or stress your loved one’s out if they aren’t where you are at. I’ve seen that happen a lot but the best way to help others change is to be an example not a judge!
Do you have any new projects going on that you’d like to share? We have a Nattral Drink Water program going on through our site. We promote the health benefits of drinking water as well as help people in Africa get access to clean water. Through donations and purchases of our drink water products we were able to get a water pump installed at an orphanage in Namitete Malawi! This year our focus is getting a rainwater collector installed so we can ultimately get a garden to improve the nutrition of the children.
I’m also working on a new cookbook that will be out Spring 2014.
It will be a vegan cookbook focusing on allergy friendly cooking so there are a lot of gluten free, nut free and soy free recipes.
Stay connected with Afya by visiting www.nattral.com