Nike Yoga Ambassador: Leah Kim
Ever wonder what it takes to fully live your dream? Or be a yoga teacher? Or better yet, be the face of Nike yoga?
This week, we had the chance to chat with Leah Kim, Nike’s Global Yoga Ambassador, who recently published a book called From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven about her journey from office cubicle to yoga teacher.
Tell us a little bit about where you’ve been and how you found yoga.
I’ve been based in London over the past couple years, after having lived in Hong Kong for three years. I’m originally from California, where I found yoga in Santa Monica. I had dabbled in yoga classes here and there from when I was a teenager, but it was when I first took my teacher Ally Hamilton’s class at Santa Monica Power Yoga that I became a serious practitioner.
Something lit up and woke up within my heart and soul during that first class with her, and I was instantaneously hooked. I think it was a combination of Ally’s extremely likeable personality and her grounded and sensible yoga speak, as well as the sheer challenge of the practice itself that pulled me in. I found it astounding how difficult it was to touch my toes and to try to stay remotely still for a few seconds. At the same time, it felt like I was being effortlessly and magnetically pulled to my mat. A calling, as they say.
Nike Global Yoga Ambassador. That’s 4 big power-packed words in a row! Tell us, what does that really mean?
It is indeed! Technically, I am signed with Nike as one of their Elite Athletes. Nike considers an athlete to be anyone who is dedicated to their movement practice, be it a competitive sport, dance, or yoga. They foster relationships with athletes that they feel represent the best in their field, and that fit the Nike brand.
As Nike’s Global Yoga Ambassador, I represent yoga for Nike on a global basis as a Master Trainer and Spokesperson. This means I serve as the face of Nike yoga, whether for a media event, or to create yoga content for the Nike Training Center app, or of course to teach people yoga!
We have a lot of athletes that come into our studio, what are your favorite poses for runners?
A simple forward fold is great for getting into your hamstrings as well as releasing your spine. Instead of trying to jam your legs straight, try a soft bend in your knees, and separate your feet about hips width apart. Hold opposite elbows. Completely release the weight of your head, neck, shoulders, and the rest of your torso. Keep both feet firmly grounded, but sway forward and back a bit. Switch the crossing of your arms. Connect to the sensations and emphasize a full exhale.
What’s your favorite post-yoga snack?
These days I’m really liking fat free Greek yogurt. Depending on how I’m feeling I’ll add oat bran, flax seeds, chia seeds, manuka honey, and/or berries.
What is the most rewarding part about being a teacher?
Happy and peaceful faces at the end of class. Watching people feel better and get stronger, more open, and more confident. When a student excitedly shares with me that they found their balance in a pose like Crow Pose. It’s not about the pose itself, but what it represents: the diligence, practice, and fearlessness it takes to get there.
Where do you turn to for inspiration?
I love watching the world go by. I love talking with all different kinds of people about all different kinds of life things. I love listening to talks by anyone who is passionate about life and what they stand for.
What’s playing on your yoga playlist right?
Alexi Murdoch, Massive Attack, Krishna Das
What is the thing that challenges you the most?
It’s a challenge for me to take it easy on myself. I am a perfectionist by nature, so I can unconsciously set crazy, basically impossible expectations for myself. It’s important to have big dreams and aspirations, but I think it’s equally important to just be proud of who you are and grateful for what you already have. So I practice nurturing a kind inner voice, both on and off the mat.
What’s next for Leah?
I’ve just published my first book! It’s called From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven, and it’s an anecdotal guide to becoming a yoga teacher. It’s available as an e-book through Hyperink.
I’m always happy to hear from peeps so feel free to get in touch!
www.facebook.com/leah.beyoga or Twitter: @leahkimyoga