Eleven-year-old Tabay Atkins is a sixth-grader who also just happens to be the youngest yoga instructor in the world. Hailing from San Clemente, California, he enjoys many things outside of yoga, like creating with Legos, for instance. He has his favorite school subjects; English, math, and social studies, and he is your typical pre-teen kid in many ways.
But Tabay has a very special something about him that is rare to find in a young man of his age. It’s best described by Tabay himself. “I care about people and a lot of people really like taking my classes,” Tabay said in an interview with ABC News. “I think I’m inspiring and a lot of people just like my story,” he said. Yes, at the ripe old age of 11, Atkins does indeed have “a story.”
Tabay’s story began when his mom, Sahel Anvarinejad, was recovering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and took a yoga teacher training program to assist in her recovery. The boy was six-years-old at the time. Anvarinejad, 37, explained: “By accident, I got into yoga after I ended chemotherapy treatments. He [Tabay] went to the training and he saw how it changed me.” Yoga was working very well for Anvarinejad and she reported that she felt lighter and had lost the heaviness that often accompanies a diagnosis like cancer.
Last spring, Anvarinejad gave her son a few choices after he completed fifth grade. The choices were to go on a European vacation or seize the opportunity and enroll in a two-hundred-hour yoga teacher training program himself. Tabay chose yoga. The course was offered by Shana Meyerson through the Los Angeles-based YOGAthletica.
“He chose training without hesitation,” Anvarinejad said. She was the owner of her own yoga studio and now, cancer-free. “He said, ‘Mom I want to do this too. I want to teach people so yoga can help them the way that yoga helped you’,” she said.
To make a decision like that with such selfless self-awareness as a child is quite incredible, so it’s easy to see how Tabay now happens to be an in-demand yoga instructor. He teaches classes three days per week.
“He took in all the information and regularly exhibited a deep and fundamental understanding of the material,” said trainer Meyerson about Tabay. “Even my toughest questions—that no one else could answer—were consistently and correctly answered by Tabay.”
The young boy was the youngest person ever to complete the two-hundred-hour YOG Athletica Teacher Training. The youngest to ever have completed that training before him was twenty-four. “The adults in the training, all women, treated him with a unique combination of materialism and peer respect,” Meyerson said. “Somehow he managed to immerse himself in this very grown-up world and never lose his childlike innocence and sense of wonder, and fun,” she said.
Tabay teaches classes at his mom’s yoga studio, often accompanied by his mom and dad. His dad happens to be the former NFL football player, Larry Atkins. Tabay spoke of his dad: “Before he started yoga with me he wasn’t flexible because he didn’t do yoga when he played football.” But Tabay says that Atkins is way more flexible and happier now.
This is a very special family who is touching people’s lives through yoga. For Tabay, it appears to be a calling, at least for now.
“People leave in tears because they’re that touched. There’s just a connection he has with everybody on every level, it’s just something else,” Anvarinejad said.
Source: Kid yoga teacher spreads the ohm. Namaste, by 60 Second Docs Facebook and 11-Year-Old Yoga Teacher Will Make You Cry! by Frank Elaridi on YouTube and 11-Year-Old Boy Gets Yoga Certification After Mom’s Cancer Battle by ABC News.