Yoga Instructor Transforms Passion Into a Lifestyle

By Williesha Banister  | Division of Academic and Student Affairs

Shaily Shah ‘22

Originating from India, yoga is a practice used to enhance health and well-being by uniting your body, mind and soul. Chemical engineering major, Shaily Shah ‘22, has developed a passion for yoga. Through every pose and breathing exercise, she aims to share the practice of yoga with others.

Beyond Physical

In her early stages of walking, Shaily Shah was already doing tree poses and breathing exercises. Rushing down to her basement, to join her parents’ yoga classes, was a part of her daily routine. By becoming in tune with her body and taking time to come together, Shah understood the impact of yoga at a young age.

“Most people think of stretching and poses when they think of yoga. While this is true, the meaning of yoga is the union between your mind and body,” said Shah. “Yoga is understanding how your mind and body connect in ways that you don’t get to think about.”

Because of this understanding, at the age of 14, Shaily wanted to give the same mind-body experience to others. After she developed the idea of volunteering at her local Hindu temple, teaching youth classes, she created and led an eight-week schedule. From that moment, Shaily realized that her love of yoga turned into a passion–for teaching the practice.

Having found this passion, Shah decided to become a certified yoga instructor. After joining Yoga Alliance, a professional organization for yoga instructors, she began her journey toward her certification. She learned rigorous course material, taught 200 hours and passed a cumulative final exam. Her parents were a great support by taking her to every class and helping and encouraging her throughout the entire process.  Although the classes and tests were difficult at times, the reward was worth it. At 15-years-old, Shaily became one of the youngest in the nation to complete the certification.

In the years leading up to college, Shah continued to teach. Once she joined the Wolfpack, she knew she wanted to continue teaching on a larger platform. After discovering a group fitness instructor opportunity at Wellness and Recreation, she applied immediately. Once offered an interview, Shah’s main goal was to prove that her passion for yoga and experience made her the perfect person for the job. After walking in with a big smile and sharing her plans to use the role to reach other students through yoga, she got the job.

“Teaching was the best way for me to share my love for yoga with others. By becoming a certified group fitness instructor, I transitioned into a leadership role. It also serves as a bridge that brings me and other students together,” said Shah.

Shaily Shah ‘22

Desire to Give Back

Shah has always wanted to give youth the opportunity to experience yoga like she has. She wanted to bring yoga to children who needed an outlet from their everyday struggles. Therefore, she began speaking at local public schools and events for at-risk children. 

“Some of the students still send me messages with pictures of them mastering new poses. It excites me to know that they practice on their own and want to keep yoga in their lives. Knowing that I made an impact on their lives has motivated me to continue working with refugee and at-risk children more in the fall,” said Shah.

Bringing yoga to students made Shah feel like she was making a difference. Every time she enters a room filled with curious minds, she uses her time with them to the best of her ability. She ensures that students leave knowing more about yoga than when they walked in. Using her breath and body, she represents the positive impacts that yoga can have on one’s life. As students continue to update her on their progress with yoga, she sees the difference she made in their lives. 

Be the Inspiration

Shah has faced challenges maintaining her studies and a strong yoga routine. She finds it helpful to take a few deep breaths before a test, which happens to be yoga in its finest form. While trying to be innovative and discover ways to encourage others to try yoga, she continues to educate and welcomes everyone to her classes at Wellness and Recreation. From finding her love for yoga in her basement to becoming a certified group fitness instructor, Shah is proving that every passion can become a reality. 

“I plan to always keep yoga as a part of my life no matter what. After college, I plan to work in chemical engineering while also owning my own yoga studio. With my great support system and encouragement from my family, I know that I can do anything. I will not stop until my goals are accomplished,” said Shah.

This article was originally published by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.