Ayana “YaYa” Joseph, is an international yoga teacher, entrepreneur and women’s rights advocate. Certified as an E-RYT, Ayana first stepped on to the mat in 2005 (the heart of brotherly love, Philadelphia, PA) – and never looked back! Blown away by the empowering results of Baptiste Yoga had on her body, mind and spirit, she quickly began her journey as a volunteer administrator, studio manager and assistant yoga teacher. Ayana has completed over 500 hours of continued studies and teacher trainings, influenced by many of the best in the industry, including master teacher and mentor Baron Baptiste. Her company, YaYa Power Yoga is an award winning recipient of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO) S.E.E.D grant and can be seen as a featured commercial for “Master Class” series on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). As an international wellness brand YaYa Power Yoga continues to inspire and empower others to practice excellence, authenticity and integrity both on and off the mat!
What do I do best?
I believe I’m best at following my instincts and taking risks, which have usually led to my wildest dreams coming to true. Whether it was hopping on a plane to a foreign country and landing a new job, or branding a mobile yoga business and being asked to do a commercial for OWN, I always just did what seemed possible and instinctive at the moment.
There’s a certain energy behind doing something that calls to you, and I feel really blessed to have allowed myself to follow my gut and brought dreams to life – often times saying “Huh, that was a cool idea - glad I did that!”
What makes me the best version of myself?
My commitment to personal integrity demands the best of me, and honestly, it’s a daily commitment. It demands I show up when I want quit, run and hide behind excuses. Teaching (yoga) helps me keep that integrity - the more I give it, the more it pulls the best out of me; developing a strength in character and honesty when its so easy to hide behind a mask of “having it all together.”
What are my aspirations?
To (Describe both your: a. PERSONAL and b. BUSINESS goals, ambitions or desires)
In both business and personal, I strive to create balance, intimate connection and support in all that I do. I previously led a very reactive lifestyle, settling for imbalanced lifestyle, unfulfilling career and superficial connections. Now, having done a lot of inner work (physically, emotionally, mentally) I understand and honor the importance of being (seen, heard and valued) and setting clear boundaries in order to sustain a healthy and balanced lifestyle overall.
My Biggest Success?
My greatest success to date was getting on a plane and moving to Hong Kong, China three years ago! The audacity I had to feel the fear and do it anyway totally changed my life, my practice and my teaching. From that experience I learned who I am and who I am not - experiencing the greatest opportunity to fail and fly all at the same time. It has challenged everything I thought I knew and forced me to put my biggest fears into action. So many wonderful moments came from that decision and I would do it all over again - pitfalls and high mountains!
My Most Challenging Moment?
Losing my mother to breast cancer five years ago was the most challenging moment in my life. My mother was a huge part of my life and losing her to a disease despite using every method and tool, both holistically and medically, has affected me to the core. She is/was my biggest fan and friend, so making a commitment to move forward teaching, building a brand and living a life full of compassion and integrity is still a challenge everyday.
I am learning to practice gratitude everyday from this moment. Her death as well as her life (including how she chose to live it), has become a relentless source of strength and power to create a new life and career I never thought possible without her in it.
Having a predominately Christian practice and spiritual background, I find biblical principles and scriptures speak most to my heart. I use each of these statements daily to affirm and encourage myself.
1.) I am a child of the most high God, in whom He is well pleased.
2.) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
3.) I will have and do all things that pertain to life and godliness, and I am well able to receive it.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Honestly, Oprah Winfrey is my favorite role model and personal mentor. I adopted her in my head and have been both inspired and challenged by her story to “live an authentic life”, taking both challenges and setbacks and using them intentionally to create the best life possible. I love her ability to create something from nothing, challenge the status quo, and still remain humbled by her own experiences.
On a personal level, my students and friends. As an only child, I cherish my relationships and have been fortunate to have the most generous, honest and authentic people in my life. They are constant reminders of true caring, support and love, which empowers me to be open, honest and vulnerable - even when I’m at my worst. For this, I am truly grateful to call many of them family and more than friends.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite place is Tulum Mexico. I’ve attended several teacher trainings and have vacationed there. I absolutely love the people, community and food. One of the greatest gifts and habits I brought back from there was coffee. I had always been a tea drinker and decided to try coffee instead – five years later it’s my go to comfort everyday. I feel such a connection with that place, and drinking coffee brings it back to me- white sandy beaches, clear ocean water and no shoes!
My Favorite Products/Objects?
I love beauty care products …body scrubs, creams and essential oils. My favorites are simple almost “from the kitchen” products like lemon juice, olive oil, lavender oil and Shea butter. I usually mix them together for different uses and for everything - from hair conditioner/moisturizer, to facial wash; make up remover, cleanser and skin softeners.
These (methods) and uses are not new, however they’re definitely tried and true forms of natural beauty care that I love.
My Current Passions?
Cooking is a new favorite passion for me. I feel it’s a great form of self- care and having returned from living three years in Asia without a proper kitchen (meaning no four-burner stove, oven, or freezer) I’ve started to reconnect with it. Cooking both old and new recipes has been somewhat of an adventure, and I have Blue Apron to thank for that.