founder story

Hey there. My name is Abiola Akanni, I’m a Nigerian-American yoga educator and founder of iya.

The practice of yoga found me over 12 years ago, during a time where I was struggling with suppressed trauma, and had little education around my hyper sensitivity and neuro dynamic nature. I struggled with affirming myself and fitting in with both Black and white folks. As a result, I grew up hypercritical, many times abusing substances to numb feelings of isolation.

Not only did yoga, combined with my faith, nurture me through these beliefs but it also provided an approachable science to discharge the trauma I held in my subconscious. From there, the philosophy offered tools to support the new beliefs taking shape in my life and body. 

I’m thankful to have grown as a yoga educator over the years, and the opportunities I’ve had to create and teach on major yoga platforms like Alo Moves. However, during these times the yoga that was reinforced in popular culture was always fitness based. It focused solely on asana and what the poses looked like in athletic bodies, as opposed to what it feels like in different bodies, offering a reactive instead of reflective approach. As a result, I found myself performing when practicing in these spaces in order to fit in.

This inspired me to create iya. A platform offering non performative yoga that goes beyond asana and encourages the study of the self through other aspects of the practice. At iya, I’m continuously learning how to stop trying and start being, with embodiment practices that support non-performative living rooted in my true nature.