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Tabay Atkins was only 10 years old when he got his first 200-hour vinyasa teaching certification. Now, the 14-year-old yoga teacher reflects on what brought him to the mat—plus his journey to veganism and conscious living.
The 108-second interview
YOGA JOURNAL: Who’s your biggest inspiration right now and why?
Tabay Atkins: My biggest inspiration is my mom. I think about her courage every day and how strong and determined she was while battling cancer—which helps me to be brave, too. Seeing how much yoga helped her heal inspired me to become a yoga teacher so I could help other people who were going through similar experiences.
YJ: What’s your go-to mantra?
TA: Think good thoughts; speak kind words; feel love, be love, and give love.
This mantra reminds me that my thoughts are powerful. By thinking good thoughts, I emit positive energy into the universe and that makes me feel happy and peaceful.
YJ: When did you decide to go vegan?
TA: It was after watching the documentary What the Health. At first, I did it for my personal health, but after some research and time, I realized how important it is to help the environment, the planet, and the animals.
YJ: What’s your favorite recipe to make right now?
TA: My mom and grandma, who are Persian, made a Persian rice dish called lubia polo—rice with green beans, tomato sauce, and ground meat—when I was little, and I loved the flavor. My favorite part of the dish is tahdig, crispy rice. In Persian, lubia means bean and polo means rice. I was really happy when my mom taught me how to make it vegan, which I think tastes even better!
YJ: What’s currently helping you to change and grow?
TA: Learning something new every day—whether from my schoolwork, my yoga practice, veganism, or from people I meet. Since I started practicing yoga, I’ve learned the importance of a balanced, healthy, mindful life. It’s important to stay grounded, be humble, slow down, enjoy, and appreciate! I feel like it was my yoga practice, and learning about the philosophies of yoga, that led me to become vegan. I think they go hand in hand.
“I hope to inspire young women and girls worldwide to do yoga, be active, and enjoy life. My mantra is: Be yourself, and that’s when everything else will follow.”
“I always say, ‘There is no age limit for changing the world.’ Becoming a yoga teacher at 12 years old has helped me prove that point and inspire others to chase their dreams and make a difference in their communities.”
“I wanted others to find confidence and happiness just as I did, and that’s when I decided to become a 13-year-old yoga teacher. To this day, it was the best decision I have ever made…to put others before myself and spread love and joy to those around me.”