"The beauty of the practice is that blissful feeling, post-flow that you receive regardless of where you're at, up to and including a federal detention facility."
- Akil Taffe
Akin Taffe's day job is Radio Director, RCA Records and he fills the rest of his time as a beginner, power flow, and vinyasa yoga instructor, and as a volunteer at a maximum federal detention facility in Baltimore. Akil also works for other various nonprofits targeting youth and underserved communities, and manages a staff of yogis that provide yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to Howard County, Maryland elementary students with a goal to expand in the future. Akil is leading a first-ever Yoga Warrior Workshop in conjunction with MuShin Combat School of Survival in Bethesda, Maryland taking place November 17, 2019.
Tell us about deciding to take teacher training/becoming a yoga teacher
I've aways been skinny with muscles. As I got older, I started to realize the importance of stretching. I popped in an Ali McGraw VHS and was blown away at how challenging it was as well as how amazingly strengthened I felt...from the inside out!
After incorporating yoga into to my workout regimen monthly, growing my practice via the P90X yoga dvd and going to free free Lululemon classes on Saturday mornings in Columbia, MD, I eventually stumbled into a Charm City Yoga Class in Severna Park, MD. Jessica Sunder was the teacher. I figured if I practiced with her at least once/week, I'd end up looking like Bruce Lee!
Me continuing the practice and appreciating the benefits, I figured I'd be a great ambassador to "share the practice with people that look like me." That led me to Kim Manfredi in May of 2013. I received my 200 hour certification in December of 2013 and started teaching my 6am Monday morning class in February of 2014 and I still do to this day.
What guided you to teaching yoga to people in prison?
Yoga is beneficial for everyone. It can especially useful for people who are incarcerated as the practice helps them to obtain emotional intelligence and provides tools to cope with stress and other ailments, physically, mentally and emotionally. During my experience, guys usually approached the practice bewildered. Some even signed up to break the monotony. By the end of the first session, they realized how physically challenging it was.
Why is the teaching of yoga important for inmates (asana and philosophy)?
After a few sessions, there was a clear distinction in those who caught the "yoga bug" from the others. some of the guys would ask about different postures to relieve pain and stiffness in certain areas of their body. One guy inquired about certain books or magazines he should suggest and another inmate told me that he took some of the guys through a sequence between them having sessions with me. The beauty of he practice is that blissful feeling, post-flow that you receive regardless of where you're at, up to and including a federal detention facility.
What is your greatest challenge with life balance? (work/kids/activism/volunteerism)?
My greatest challenge with life balance is just finding the time. It si incumbent upon me to manage my time better, but with all the things that I HAVE to do, coupled with what I NEED and WANT to do, it makes for a jam packed 24 hours!
What is your mantra?
I have various mantras for various things, but I guess my main two are:
Done is better than perfect.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR
SERVICE AND GENEROSITY, AKIL
STEPHANIE, SAVI AND MARTY