Sometimes life gets thrown off course, no matter how hard we try to keep it on a steady track – but with every blunder usually comes a blessing in disguise. For athlete turned holistic health coach, Koya Webb, that blessing was an injury that threatened to end her career as a track and field star, but also lead her to yoga and a new passionate life-path inspired by it.
We’re chatting with Koya in our series, Yoga Matters, about how she’s triumphed and taught others to do the same…
What drew me to yoga:
A track and field injury. My doctor told me the sharp pain I felt in my back was a stress fracture, and that my season was over. I went into a depression thinking my career was over too. Our school’s counselor suggested trying yoga to help manage my pain and depression – I didn’t even know what yoga was! I really struggled, but my instructor told me to keep breathing and keep trying. Eventually, the poses started to feel easier, I started to feel stronger, and a year later I was able to return to running and even lead my team to our first championship title.
Knowing that I’m helping people. I love teaching people how to practice self-love and love of others though yoga, and why it’s so important to connect with your inner self. What inspires me even more are the letters and online feedback I get every day about how I’ve changed someone’s life by introducing them to the incredible mind-body benefits of yoga.
When I'm not on the mat, I’m...
Doing too much, which makes me miss the mat! I’m a certified life coach, health coach, personal trainer and I regularly speak to children in schools around L.A. I spend plenty of time in the gym (it’s very therapeutic for me). I’m a track and field girl, so I also love just hitting the pavement and running.
It changes so much, but right now it’s dancer! I can do it anywhere and I don’t even need a mat. It took me a while to be able to do this pose, but now I can so it serves as a reminder to have faith in life. We don’t begin knowing how to do anything in life – it’s a journey and a process and we need to be patient, just like in yoga.
I wish that more people realized that yoga…
Is not just about pretty poses. Many people don’t know – until they experience it – that yoga can be deeply and profoundly healing. It can relieve stress, detoxify, and strengthen us physically and spiritually.
How I started Teaching:
After recovering from my injury, I would do yoga a few times a week to stay limber, but eventually that dwindled down to just random classes here and there. I became a personal trainer when I moved to California and was really tight and sore all the time – I knew I had to get back into yoga. I got my certification because I would be forced to practice every day. I quickly fell in love with practicing and teaching and never stopped…
Biggest lesson yoga has taught me...
To take life one breath at a time. Breath helps me feel whole and complete, and helps me stay grounded during hard times. Every time I’m stressed (even in traffic), I take a deep breath and remember that whatever happens I can keep breathing and everything will be okay. Sometimes life is great, sometimes it’s chaos, but if you can just make it to that first deep breath you can have peace.
Biggest lesson I hope to teach through yoga is...
That yoga is not just one lesson: yoga is unity, and I think teaching people the importance of unity – with our own mind-body connection, with others, with our planet – is the biggest lesson. It starts with self-love, but so much more comes after. I teach because I want everyone to experience the sense of unity, healing, spirituality and freedom I personally found through yoga.
Most rewarding yoga-related experience:
Healing myself, both physically and emotionally. The depression I experienced after my injury was traumatic; I felt completely worthless. I remember when I was struggling in my first few yoga classes, my teacher came over and we took a deep breath together. I don’t think I had taken a full breath since the fracture, and it honestly changed everything. She told me to keep breathing, don’t focus on the pose, just keep breathing. That lesson got me through a very hard time and I have yoga to thank for it.
5 things on my Bucket List, personal or professional:
To publish my book (after talking about it for years, it’s finally time and I’m really excited!); I want to have a “Get Loved Up” health and fitness tour; I want to get married and have kids; I want to go to the maldives, which is something I put on my list a long time ago; I want to speak to children in schools all around the world about health, wellness, self-worth and self-love.
Project or cause I am most passionate about:
I’m passionate about speaking to kids about health and wellness (something I’ve been doing since I was in high school). Kids are our future; they’re so impressionable and often don’t get a clear message about essential health topics. I think it’s important to give them guidance and teach them the value of self-worth and self-love early on.
Advice I would give my 16 year-old self:
I would tell myself I can do any and everything I want to do – if I believe in it and am willing to work hard at it. I’d tell myself to never give up.
Live life one breath at a time.