This 11-year-old is the youngest certified bhakti yoga instructor in the United States

Most eleven-year-olds don’t have much interest in yoga, let alone becoming a certified yoga instructor. But that is not the case for Meka Leach, of Palos Park, Illinois. Leach became the world’s youngest certified Bhakti yoga teacher at the age of 10. There are other young certified vinyasa yoga instructors like Tabay Atkins who became an instructor at age 11 and Jaysea DeVoe who started teaching at age 12, but Bhatki yoga is a little different.

Courtesy of Shannon Leach

Bhatki is “spiritual yoga for loving yourself,” says Leach. It is a more spiritual form of yoga, focusing more on the breath and the mantra part of the practice instead of the athletic-focused styles of yoga that are more focused on intense poses and flow.

The funny thing is that Leach didn’t grow up in a yoga family. In fact, yoga was just a way to support another of her passions, fencing, which she started at the age of four. Her trainers noticed that she was starting to get very strong and muscular a few years later and suggested that she do yoga to improve her flexibility.

“I tried my first yoga class and loved it so much,” says Leach, who was eight at the time. “I told my parents I wanted to be a yoga teacher, but they told me I was too young.”

Last year, at the age of 10, they gave in to allow her to get her yoga certification and her 200-hour yoga certification, which lasted for nine months. While Leach worked on her certification, she was also training for the National Fencing Championship. That summer, she won the national fencing championship in July, becoming one of the first girls from Illinois to win the title. In October, she became the youngest Bhatki yoga teacher in the country.

For Leach, yoga is more than physical poses, it has become her way of life. “It’s not about being perfect,” she says. “It’s about the breath and how you feel.”

But beyond yoga, Leach’s mission is to change her generation. She has helped her family to be more waste conscious and truly hopes that she can be an inspiration for children her age to express their feelings more. She has developed a mission statement that guides her practices and brings awareness of her conscious yoga practices to the world.

“My mission is to change as many generations as possible, one person at a time. Learning to return to our deep lost roots. Learning to love who we really are. That our flaws are what make us beautiful. our words, think before we speak. And start making changes to take care of beautiful Mother Earth. “

Currently, she teaches children yoga classes where she not only guides students through a yoga practice, but also helps them express their feelings through crafts, journals, talking circles and notebooks. exercises that they can take home for open communication with their families.

“We have received letters from parents who say that some of his students feel so much more comfortable with who they are,” says Shannon Leach, Meka’s mother.

The 11-year-old is also trying to give back to her community by raising funds for nonprofits around Chicago. His latest project? Teach a special workshop to fellow fencers and other young athletes, with all profits going Artists Going Beyond Limits and Expectations (ABLE), an organization that provides theater and film arts classes and performance opportunities for adolescents with Down syndrome and other developmental differences.

Leach is home-schooled, which gives her additional flexibility in her schedule. She has little screen time, although she has a social media presence for her yoga and mindfulness—Mindfulness with Meka– that his parents keep a close watch and only allow him to use when they are present. Besides yoga, Leach also obtained certification in Reiki and Sound Healing, and also started doing sound travel meditations for adults. For now, she says she will continue to teach, fencing and being just a kid, and will see where this journey may take her.

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