Kui Wanyoike’s earliest encounter with yoga was eight years ago. She was just settling into a hectic career in public relations when she met a monk in Nairobi. He was youthful, had a lot of vitality and a peace of mind. He was unlike anyone she had met. She desired to be like him so she enrolled for yoga classes.
She took yoga for eight weeks and just as she was growing to love it, her yoga teacher passed on. Devastated, Kui shelved her yoga dream and immersed herself in her work. Public relations turned out to be an exciting career for this communications graduate with a degree from Washington State University. Her job allowed her to meet all sorts of people and to travel the world. In seven years, she had risen the ranks to hold a top executive job in a leading regional public relations firm. “Life was good. I made a lot of money but still it wasn’t enough. I wanted more out of life,” she says.
To deal with the frustration and the stress that came with a high-flying job, Kui took up running. It was working and she began feeling peaceful and strong. Then she got a knee injury which forced her to stop.
In a bid to find another form of physical exercise she began talking to friends. The yoga topic came up and her interest in it was piqued a second time. “I believe in that saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears because as soon as I began thinking about yoga again, I found a teacher. I began taking classes again, first once a week then three times a week,” she recalls.
The benefits this time were instant. That first night, she slept like a baby. Soon enough, her digestion improved, she felt peaceful and her skin looked brighter. She upped her classes to once every day. The more yoga she did, the more she noticed her interest in her job waning.
“One Saturday in early 2014 while practising yoga at home, I had my epiphany. It just came to me very clearly that I wanted to be a yoga teacher. That that was where I would find my happiness.”
If she was going to be a teacher, she wanted to be an authentic one. So she went online to look for where she could learn this. The internet took her right to the source of yoga – India.
Following this dream, she knew, was going to have some financial implications so she and her son moved back home with her parents so that she could save some money. She used the money she put aside to book the 40-day class, buy her flight tickets and buy herself some health insurance.
“When I was sure, I talked to my boss at work who was surprised but supportive. Then I began to serve my two months’ notice.” She says.
In Rishikesh, the city of yoga in India, she found her life’s purpose. At the end of her course, she got a certificate and came back home. “This was just the beginning. When I got back, I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t have much savings left but I had my life’s purpose. Having left my career behind, this sense of purpose was all I had so I knew I had to make it work,” she says.
In December 2015 she rented a studio in Karen and began doing extensive advertising of her services. In January, she opened her doors. No student came that day. No student came for the next 30 days. Still she kept going to the studio until finally, her first student enrolled. This student came back the next day and brought a friend.
Today, Kui teaches yoga at her studio to different groups of people six days a week. As her skills improved, the number of her students grew. She now teaches private classes and also students in schools. Her oldest student is in her 60s and her youngest, her son, is 13.
She appreciates the fact that Kenyans are increasingly taking to yoga but she still has to deal with certain misconceptions like people thinking that yoga is for women or that one needs to be super flexible to do yoga. “All that a yoga student needs is willingness,” she says.
She dreams of building her own studio where she can welcome different teachers to teach their own types of yoga. For now though, she is content teaching yoga to as many Kenyans as she can.
“Of course the money I am getting now is much less than I was making in PR but I am much more fulfilled,” she says.
Kui’s words of wisdom
- You begin your journey to fulfilment by finding your purpose. Find that one thing that you would do for free.
- Once you find this thing, become a master in it. Do your research and go to school if you need to.
- Be fearless. If you are then the universe will align everything in your favour.