Cliché as it might seem, if someone would have asked Zainab when she graduated from college what she would be doing now, she wouldn’t have believed it. Then she’d convinced herself she’d be a successful editor with the life of one of the characters out of Sex and the City. Well, she did move to “The City” after graduation, but after years working in media from book publishing to public relations, she figured out maintaining a work-life balance was way more important than cocktails and schmoozing. She found herself sneaking out of work early to get to her favorite yoga class. For her, yoga was becoming more than just a passing fancy, but actually made her feel happier. So she took the plunge: quit her job, moved out of the city and began teaching yoga (after completing her training, of course). Years later, she’s in a calmer environment in New York’s Finger Lakes region (a.k.a. wine country), living, loving, learning, sharing and being in the best way she can. She spends much of her time teaching, honing her wine palette and knowledge in her work with a boutique winery, and she just started her column Pose Therapy for DoYouYoga.com. Zainab freely admits that she’s still growing and doesn’t speak in absolutes any longer whether it’s about yoga poses or life. One of her mini mantras: There are always multiple pathways to enjoy!
Name: Zainab Zakari
Occupation: Yoga Instructor/Guide, Writer, Friend, Student of Life
Location: New York’s Finger Lakes
Favorite yoga style: Vinyasa Flow
Favorite yoga pose: So many! Anything that makes me feel strong and beautiful!
Yoga is: Grace. Compassion. Freedom. Love. Inspiration. Life.
What Do You Love Most About Yoga?
That it encourages people to tap into their inner power and rediscover the true and wonderful person within!
How Has Yoga Changed Your Life, Personality and Physique?
Because of yoga, I’m much kinder to myself and others. I catch myself when I fall off the compassion wagon and recommit to my intention to lead a true and caring life. Physically, I wouldn’t say I’m more flexible, but rather I’m conscious of my movements more and can move intelligently as a result; poses that I wasn’t able to do before, I figured out how to master with practice. I’m leaner now than when I worked a 9-6+ office job and spent my exercise time on the treadmill or in cardio intensive classes/activities.
What Everyday Thing Did You Get Better At Because Of Yoga?
Giving real hugs. Balancing in a subway train car without needing the pole. Closing my eyes and trusting my body. Using my feet/monkey toes to pick up pens/keys/shoes/clothes off the floor (not all at the same time).
How Do You Keep Your Yoga Practice Interesting and Challenging?
Discussions, workshops, teacher trainings and books give my mind stuff to chew on constantly. Classes with other teachers, online and in-person, offer me much loved excuses to explore other pathways. My own personal, spontaneous practice with my favorite songs playing gives me another excuse to listen to my body and go with my flow! And finally observing and being a part of the living flow around me, from the forests and lakes around me, the moments in the winery, grocery stores, restaurants, or sidewalks to my time with people I care most about, and people who are future friends… it’s all yoga!
What Book, Website or Person Inspires You?
Hard to narrow this down, as I’m continually inspired by the examples of life around me. For books/websites, I am inspired by clear, honest, fair and smart writing wherever I find it, be it in an email, a column or a book. For people, my family and friends (you know who you are ;), my yoga mentors and the future friends who genuinely smile the first time our eyes meet.
What Do You Listen To While You Do Yoga?
Depends on the mood, but it can be a mix of silence, ambient/lounge music, new age, world, pop/alternative, R&B/soul, or jazz and blues. As long as it has a balanced rhythm and doesn’t compete with my breath for attention, I’m enjoying it!
What’s The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?
Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Is There Anything Else You’d Like To Share With Our Readers?
Smiling changes everything. As do hugs. =)