Credit: Contributed

Tabay Atkins is the youngest certified yoga teacher in America and he’s been practicing yoga since he was just 6 years old. When he was just 10, he asked to get his certification to become a yoga instructor. Now at 11, he teaches three classes a week at Care4Yoga studio in San Clemente, Calif.

Tabay was inspired by his mother, Sahel Anvarinejad, who was recovering from stage 3 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and started practicing yoga as a part of her recovery. While still in active recovery, she became certified as a yoga instructor.

In 2012, she opened Care4Yoga, a yoga studio, just one year after she became yoga certified and took her then 6-year-old to some of her certification classes, including training to teach yoga to children with autism, cancer patients and other students who might have special needs.

“My son is the most incredible, sweet, loving, generous, amazing, sincere, honest and passionate boy in the world,” said Anvarinejad. “And I’m not just saying that because he is my son. He is really the most special human being.  He is not your typical 11-year-old boy. He was only 6 years old when I had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer. When I became cancer free and was in such bad physical and emotional shape from the effects of cancer and chemo, I got into yoga and it changed my world.”

She continued, “He saw how much yoga helped in the healing process, and he immediately said that he wanted to become a yoga teacher so that he could help heal people with the practice of yoga the way he saw it help heal me. That is not typical of a 7-year-old kid. And he wasn’t saying that is what he wanted to do when he grew up. He wanted to do that as soon as he could. He is good with his peers, with little kids, and super kind and respectful to adults, too.  He has such a beautiful soul. Anyone that gets to be around him is so lucky. He is the first person to offer help to someone if they need it. And he always shares, and is soon loving and amazing to me.  He is my snuggle boy. He has the biggest heart in the world! And I am beyond lucky and grateful to be his mom.”

Here is what Tabay Atkins of Care4Yoga had to say about being the youngest certified yoga instructor in America.

AmNews: Do you remember the exact age you were when the yoga bug bit you? When you knew, this was going to be part of your life?

Atkins: I was 7 years old when I knew I wanted to become a yoga teacher. I saw how much it helped in the healing process of my mom’s recovery from cancer and chemo. I wanted to help heal people through the practice of yoga, the way I saw it help my mom heal.

My goal wasn’t to be ‘the youngest certified yoga teacher in America.’ My goal was to help spread yoga and teach yoga to as many people as possible because I saw the benefits firsthand. There is no competition or judgment in yoga. If a kid has a passion and dream and it is positive, I think they should work hard to achieve it and never give up. I want to plant this yoga seed the way my mom has done with me, to everyone I possibly can, all over the world, young and old, so that they can plant the yoga seed into others and then everyone will experience all the benefits of yoga.

I have a YouTube channel, Tabay Atkins Yoga, where I post videos of my classes, different poses, and other fun stuff!

AmNews: Describe your mother?

Atkins: The English dictionary doesn’t provide a word to describe how amazing my mom is.  She is the best mom ever!  She always makes sure I am happy, healthy, protected and safe. She is the best cook and always teaches me how to make new dishes. She is the most outstanding mom ever. She is so nice to me and to everyone else. My mom is my best friend and biggest supporter. And boy does she have quite a shoe collection!