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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

A Journey to Yoga and Beyond

Aug 31, 2015 04:43PM

A Spotlight on Local Yoga Teacher, Nya Alemayhu

by Robin Fillmore
Local yoga teacher, Nya Alemayhu, draws you in with her story as much as her connection to her students. The former student athlete, dancer and gymnast discovered yoga in 2004 while studying in Boston. From that point on, her life has become a living testament to the beauty that can unfold when one takes the time to look inward and share outward.

This journey has been a long one. Nya was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but in 1995, as part of a refugee resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), her family was resettled to Portland, Maine where she attended middle and high school. She then moved to Boston to attend university. Nya young people continued in Ghana the following year and offered her a time of travel throughout Europe and in Asia—sightseeing as well soul-searching.

Nya eventually moved to Washington, D.C. and continued her exploration of mind and soul and finding her own truth. “Washington, D.C. has been a place of creation, growth and healing. It has unearthed the best part of me and offered me a mirror to clearly see myself and my vulnerabilities.  That constant challenge keeps me here,” she notes.

It was here in the District that she turned her interest in yoga into a way of life. In 2012, she received her 200-hours of vinyasa (breath-linked with movement) training through The Studio DC in 2012. Inspired by the energy of the teachers, she knew that she “wanted whatever it was that they were having.” As her study and practice of yoga deepened, she began to explore the teachings by the Bhagavad Gita, Sutras of Patanjali and Eckhart Tolle. “What was initially meant to be a training to deepen my own practice evolved into an overwhelming desire to share this with others.”

She credits the D.C. yoga community—her teachers, students and colleagues—as a constant source of love and inspiration. “I am grateful for them every day. I believe I have found more meaning here than anywhere else in my life. And so the desire to live here and grow here continues to guide my path.”

In January, as a doorway to experiencing the part of yoga that can be nurturing and relaxing, she completed a training to teach restorative yoga. It is important for Nya to put people at ease, particularly in this area where the stress level is very high. Her growth will continue next spring, when she will undergo a training to learn how to better teach Ashtanga Yoga, which is her personal practice. This method of yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures.

Throughout this journey, her greatest inspiration comes from her mother, Fetlework Alemayhu Zegye. In Ethiopia, her mother lived through the revolution of Haile Selassie as well as the 1984 famine, as Nya notes, “without losing an ounce of her grace, humility and strength.”

She inspires Nya to dig deeper, go farther and express her individuality. Of her mother, Nya notes, “She has paved the way for my becoming. Her sacrifices have afforded me the privilege to explore the world far and wide and in a way that she could not. But I feel that she is able to share in my adventures and experience them vicariously, if not at my side. I will be thanking her for many lifetimes.

To learn more about Nya Alemayhu and her classes, visit


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