Willystone Kalaghe quit his corporate job as a data analyst in 2017 and became a full-time yogi. The 30-year-old who is now studying software engineering shares his fitness story with BDLife.
What drew you to yoga?
In 2015, I realised I had mobility issues, poor posture, and many injuries from my previous line of sports and work. I got on the Internet and started researching ways I could self-remedy. A friend who was doing yoga inspired me to start slow. I got better with time.
Did you look up to someone when starting your journey?
Yes! And I still look up to him. Flo Niedhammer is a yoga teacher and a Jiu Jitsu practitioner. Jiu Jitsu is a Japanese system of unarmed combat and physical training. His backstory about poor mobility, injuries, and bad posture is like mine and his journey has inspired me.
What is so rewarding about yoga?
Yoga gives you clarity of the mind, body and soul.
In other forms of physical activity, if someone jogs, he or she can log extra miles. If someone lifts weights, she can increase resistance or repetitions. How can someone progress in yoga?
While yoga looks simple, it is a full-body workout. We use the breath with the movements to control how the muscles respond to the stress and the stretch. For instance, power yoga and Ashtanga yoga utilise the breath to lock and relax certain muscles depending on the pose and the intensity being used. The more one practices the more one advances.
What is the greatest challenge you have overcome because of yoga?
Dealing with the stress and near depression in the corporate world. Additionally, the shoulders, back, knees and hip pains are now a thing of the past because of yoga.
The breathing exercises help ease asthma and the stretches and twists relieve the body of tension, brought about by awkward sitting postures.
Yoga also improves blood flow and improves the mind-muscle connection by helping the nervous system be aware of its work and use.
Do you teach yoga?
Yes, I teach power yoga.
How did you get into it?
One of my clients had a company that required trainers and instructors in Nairobi. They asked if I could teach, and I agreed to it. Now I teach at Muthaiga Country Club on Mondays, Enashipai Resort and Spa in Naivasha on Saturdays and Savannah Fitness Exchange at State House Crescent Vienna Court on Thursdays.
What advice do you have for people who have never tried yoga?
Find a class and start immediately. The journey always starts with deciding to show up. Next, find a good teacher who will take you through all the basics and advance you step by step.
Why do you think some may feel intimidated by yoga?
Seeing an advanced yogi doing their thing might scare anyone at first because one tends to compare their inflexibility and seeing how far they have to go to achieve that.
How can they overcome this?
Have a growth mindset perspective, getting on the mat and just going with the flow. A journey of 1,000 miles does begin with one step.
What tips can you offer for avoiding injuries?
Stick to the basics, make the pose conform to your body, and let it adapt slowly.
Any diet and lifestyle advice?
Have three meals in a day with healthy snacks in between. Watch portions of servings and always drink plenty of water throughout the day. A good detox once in a while goes a long way in keeping one’s immune system and digestive tract in check.
Treat your body with respect and it will be good to you.
Do you do any other fitness activities?
Yes, I do. I do traditional Shotokan karate, boxing, CrossFit and strength training in my free time.