Teacher Spotlight: Ai Kubo

Yoga teacher and cover model, Ai Kuba, answers a handful of questions from our members.

What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

I had recently moved to the US from Japan in 1998 as a student when I first started yoga. I was under a major stress, trying to go through science classes at UC Berkeley with limited English knowledge and no family or close friends nearby. I developed severe insomnia that could not have been solved by anything including medications. I decided to try yoga after a long period of struggle, which ended up helping me tremendously. Since then, I became a dedicated practitioner and eventually decided to teach so that I can help others struggling with stress.

How has your teaching evolved over the years?

I think my teaching is still evolving, and hope it will continue to do so throughout my teaching career. I am definitely more confident and have more of 'my own style/voice' compared to when I first started to teach 13 years ago. It probably took nearly 10 years of teaching before I had a clear mission and vision in mind and was confident enough to transmit the message clearly to the students.

How do you maintain your health and vital energy?

Moderation is the key for health. Although my life is more than full (with a full time job, yoga teaching and being a mom of two children), I try not to be a perfectionist which helps manage stress. I try to practice yoga (asana and meditation) daily even though it is sometimes just 5 minutes. I try to grow my own vegetables and eat sustainably sourced food, but without being too neurotic about sticking to certain strict diet (i.e. vegan, etc). We enjoy life fully and I believe it is key for health and happiness.

How do you continue your education?

I like taking intensives and teachers workshops with my favorite senior teachers. This year, I am doing a mentorship program with Noah Maze so that I can continue to refine my teaching skills, deepen understanding of philosophy and anatomy.

As a full time yoga teacher, where do you get most of your income?

I am actually not a full time yoga teacher. My mission has been to combine my science background (I am an epidemiologist) and knowledge in yoga and mindfulness to conduct research so I can demonstrate the effect of yoga on health. I got a PhD degree just so that I can do this. Currently, I am conducting a study to pilot test whether mindfulness meditation offered using mobile app can help reduce the stress and anxiety and improve quality of life among cancer patients and their caregivers. I work as a researcher full time and teach yoga on the side because I love teaching public classes and leading retreats. I am also a wellness coach so also offer wellness programs such as cleanse workshops.

Teacher Spotlights are created by TeachersPlus featuring questions from our members to successful teachers in the community. If you have questions you want to ask teachers, email teachersplus@yogajournal.com with your thoughts.