Tabay Atkins, deemed “Nike Athlete,” is here to reach a larger audience in what he is trained to do. His specialty being yoga, he set on this path when his mother, a yogi herself, was going through cancer. With a very positive mindset, she was able to walk after two months! This led him to get certified in Yoga For Cancer Patients and Survivors, as well as be named America’s youngest 500 hours certified yoga teacher. Woah! Such an amamazing individual, get to know the real Tabay Atkins.

Tell us more about being a “Nike Athlete.” What does it mean to you?

Being a Nike Athlete is about teaching what I am trained in to a larger audience; The Nike audience. My specialty is yoga, so I teach yoga, mindfulness, and meditation on the Nike platform. To me, being a Nike athlete means bringing what I have to offer and sharing it through Nike. Teaching people how to stay fit, stay healthy, and stay happy, all while having a great time!

What do you believe Nike was drawn to when they reached out to you? 

I have been on their radar for a while before they reached out to me. I think that they were drawn to my story, my mission, and my experience and knowledge of yoga and overall wellness.

You are America’s youngest 500 hours certified yoga teacher. Woah!!! What pushed you in this direction?

When I was getting certified in yoga, I was not trying to become the youngest. I just happened to be so young when I became a teacher. I was (and still am) on a mission to increase health and wellness. I knew what I wanted to do, so I decided to do it. I wasn’t interested in waiting until I was the “right age”, because age is just a number. I proved that you don’t need to grow up to start making a difference in the world.

When you found out you were the youngest in America, what was your reaction? 

I was surprised because I didn’t really think much about being the youngest. That was not my goal, but it did help get my message out there. I feel like the young people of the world are taking action to solve the problems that need addressing today.

Walk us through one of your favorite yoga routines. 

My favorite yoga routine starts off with me tuning in to my body through mindfulness meditation and/or some beginning preparations and warm-up flows. I then continue further into the practice by focusing on a physical theme. That would be anything that I want to work on that day. I end the practice with a favorite of many… Savasana.

Your mother was able to start walking after two months despite her debilitating cancer. What are the proponents of yoga that you believe helped with this? 

I am now certified in Yoga For Cancer Patients and Survivors, and I now know about how yoga (specifically Yoga for Cancer) combats the effects that come with cancer treatment. All of the yoga poses have benefits. Each pose targets a certain area of the body or system. Some of the poses that help with the recovery from cancer are, for example, ones that target the lymphatic system, or poses that keep the spine mobile and strong, etc. That is just the physical practice of yoga. Yoga is also a mental/emotional/spiritual practice. Cancer doesn’t just come with its physical difficulties, there is a lot of mental/emotional stuff that comes along with it, too. My mom has said that yoga gave her the tools to help deal with stressful situations. It didn’t take the stress away. It didn’t get rid of all the sad thoughts that come with cancer. All it does is teach you how to properly deal with these things, so when they do come (which they do), you now know how to get through it more mindfully.

When faced with challenges, how do you go about them? Can you share with us a specific challenge you had to face, how you overcame it and what you learned from it? 

A challenge that I experienced was transitioning from having a vegan diet to a whole-food, plant-based diet. In case you don’t know what that is, a whole-food, plant-based diet is just like a vegan diet except you don’t have any added oils, sugar, or processed foods.

I didn’t know how I would be able to have some of my favorite foods and desserts without having oils and sugars, which I thought was going to be a challenge. I overcame this challenge by having an open mind and giving it a go before making the assumption that I can’t do it. After going whole food, plant-based, I realized it was not a challenge at all. Sometimes our own limited ideas can be the only things stopping us from overcoming a challenge.

In general, when dealing with a challenge, the method I have found to be most effective is to address the challenge head-on, with an open mind and a positive attitude.

Top 3 mantras to being happy.

I am enough.

The universe has my back.

I will have an open mind and a grateful heart.

You also cook! What do you love most about it? 

What I love most about cooking is how it brings people together. Cooking is a social activity. Especially when cooking with people and for people. Food is the center of all cultures. By learning about the food, you learn about the culture.

I also love how food has the power to heal. After getting certified in plant-based nutrition, I learned how diet can prevent and even reverse most of our country’s top diseases.

The thing all humans have in common is food. We need to eat. I am grateful to be able to teach people how to make food that they love and food that can keep them healthy.

Do you believe you have found your purpose? Explain.

Yes, I was lucky enough to find my dharma at a young age. When I was seven, I saw the benefits of yoga heal my mom from the effects of chemotherapy and cancer. That is when I discovered my purpose. My purpose is to bring health and wellness to the world. To achieve my goal, I chose yoga (because I saw its benefits firsthand), veganism (because I feel it has such a close connection to yoga), plant-based nutrition (to compliment the vegan cooking), and Reiki. These are the methods I have chosen (so far) to use to bring wellbeing to the world.

Photographer Ben Cope
Stylist Anna Schilling
Interview Alexandra Bonnet