Certified yoga instructor, Nya Alemayhu. (Photo by James Jackson)

As D.C. becomes saturated with athletic-focused yoga instructors, Nya Alemayhu instead values the practice of holistic teaching. “I think a lot of the yoga instructors in Washington don’t realize that teaching yoga is a social responsibility,” Alemayhu told the AFRO. “People come to you for a specific reason–it’s your responsibility to create a holistic experience where people can connect with their mind and with their body.”

In 2004, the native-Ethiopian began practicing yoga as an undergraduate student at Simmons College in Boston. As a former athlete, it seemed like a natural transition. She soon learned that yoga is more than a physical workout. The more she practiced, the more she shifted her thoughts, habits, and outlook on life. Yoga became a stress reliever from her studies and the world around her.

In 2011, she moved to the District to work at a high-end retailer. In her professional life, seven years of practicing yoga came in handy. “Working under deadlines, sales goals, and other people’s expectations of you was just really stressful and for me, the only way I could deal with that was practicing yoga,” she recalls.

At the Studio DC Yoga Center, she enrolled in a 200-hour, five month-long teacher training program. There she learned yoga’s ancient roots and philosophies. After receiving certification, she began teaching yoga three days a week at Budda B Yoga and, in 2014, finally took a leap of faith to teach full-time.

As an instructor, she strives to break down barriers for students to gain the most beneficial aspects of practice. “I think what intimidates people about yoga is seeing all these people in these crazy yoga postures that seem untainable, but yoga itself has absolutely nothing to do with what you can do with your body, that’s just a side effect of the practice,” she says. “It’s important to me that people are breathing, connecting with their mind, and allowing themselves to be in the present moment – every single detail matters to me.”

Yoga, she said, is an outlet that should not be limited to certain types of people. “If I had all the time in the world, I would volunteer my time to every single community and make sure that people are getting the benefit of a yoga practice.” Alemayhu said.

In the future, Alemayhu hopes to open her own studio. For now, she can be found at several yoga studios across the city, as well as workplaces, where she is hired to enhance employee attitudes and performance in corporations across the city. For more information, visit