Day Dreamer – Leah Kim, Nike Athlete

Leah Kim is a Day Dreamer. As Nike’s Global Yoga Ambassador, she travels the world teaching her students the benefits of her craft. Leah’s path to yoga and her current awesome gig didn’t come without her share of struggles and inner battles. But when she started following her dreams, success and joy followed her back. And now she’s living proof that once you start living life on purpose, dreams do come true.

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I’ve known Leah for many years since our college days together at UCLA. She’s a great friend who has evolved from a passionate partier to a yoga guru to a devoted mother. She’s been an inspiration for me to live my dreams, as I’m sure she will be for you.

Get ready to be inspired with Leah Kim, Nike Athlete. Here we go!…

You took a big 180 in your life and changed your career direction from corporate work to full-time yoga. What was the turning point in making your decision to start living your dreams? What was your motivation for making the decision to change?

I was unhappy in my corporate life from the very beginning. The unhappiness only continued building, and I felt like I was dragging my feet through life. I was only in my early 20s, so my future was looking very, very bleak and boring. It made me miserable to have this outlook. I cried a lot. The upside was that I did more and more yoga, as it was one of the only times I felt happy, so I craved and needed my time in the studio. When you practice yoga with the intention to understand yourself better, you see things more clearly, and it becomes harder to make decisions that don’t feel right. The final turning point in my leaving my job – which I did via a two-lined resignation letter without giving any notice – was when my boss implied that I had lied about being sick. I decided in that moment that I did not need to be in that kind of environment. I turned my back on the finance industry, having no idea what would be next, but knowing it had to be better than what I was experiencing.

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Over your career as a yoga instructor and ambassador for Nike, what have you learned about what it takes to actually live your dreams?

Hard work, humility, and honesty. Obviously you have to be skilled at what you’re doing, so you need to study, train, practice, and do whatever else is important for your particular work or goals. But lots of people will do that too. Beyond that, I think WHO you are makes a huge difference as to how far you will go. Don’t underestimate the simple attributes of being easy to work with, being kind, grateful, and patient, and being real. Everyone can sense these qualities and will gravitate towards them.

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What is your definition of success? What do you do every day to ensure you’re on the path to your success?

Success to me isn’t an end point. It’s a pathway that continues extending and expanding and changing. For me, it involves working with new people in new environments, doing my thing differently, which makes me feel like I am growing as a person and as a professional. I feel successful when I feel like my time and expertise are valued, and when I am working towards future opportunities. One of the main things I do to ensure I’m on the path to success is staying connected – to people and to my communities. It’s always about relationships.

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Congratulations on becoming a new mother! Have your dreams changed now that you are raising a child? If so, how have they changed?

Thank you! My little one has just turned 13 months – I can’t believe it. A year ago everyone told me it would fly by, but in the dark throes of newborn days, I did not believe I would ever make it through, haha. I wouldn’t say my dreams have changed. I still want to do my best to share my understanding of yoga to as many people as possible. The way I spend my time is different, because now there is a new person in my life that takes priority. I feel less pressure to be “busy” working all the time (although keeping a little human alive is never-ending work!). And my understanding of the body is very different – not just for women who have given birth, but for anyone who has had sort of injury, trauma, or physical hardship. I realize I’ve been so lucky with my health up until I had to give birth via emergency cesarian. I took a lot for granted. I never will again, and this realization impacts my work as a teacher.

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What advice would you have for others who are stuck in a job they don’t like and are looking to change their careers to do something that they really love?

You are never stuck. It is always your choice to stay or to make changes. Of course it was easier for me in my responsibility-free early 20s than it would be for me now, in my mid 30s with a mortgage and a family. But it’s never impossible. If it’s a bit later in life and you have more responsibilities to consider, you need to have more planning and make more sacrifices, but you can – and must! – make changes. Get organized about what it takes to get to a place to do what you love, talk to people who are already doing it, take an honest look at how you currently spend your time and cut out the stuff, and perhaps people, that don’t support you, and make at least a loose game plan. And get going now, even if it’s a small change to start it all off.

About Leah Kim

NTC_Sp2011_LK_030Leah Kim is a Nike Athlete, and most notably, Nike’s Global Yoga Ambassador. Originally from California and of Korean descent, she studied Economics at UCLA, only to realize her life would be much better spent on the mat than in a cubicle. She trained with internationally recognized teachers Erich Schiffmann, Bryan Kest, and Ally Hamilton, and started teaching in the modern-day yoga mecca of Santa Monica. She is now based in London with her British husband. When in town, you can find her cooking fresh and healthy eats, strolling markets, and people-watching, usually with her new little one in tow.

Leah travels regularly to appear in shoots, product launches, TV and digital media, as well as to lead yoga trainings and events. The last couple years have taken her throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, where she has collaborated with the likes of Vogue, Colette, Vita Coco, and REN Skincare while representing yoga for Nike. She designs yoga programs for Nike Training Club, launched the Studio Wrap around the world, and is featured in Just Do It campaigns.

Leah teaches yoga as a way to stay vibrant, strong, and centered. She believes in living a life well-rounded, well-nourished inside and out, and authentic.

Find Leah Kim on social media through her Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

About Day Dreamers

Day Dreamers are living their dreams each and every day. They aren’t daydreaming about a better life; they’re living their best lives today. And because they’re living their dreams, they are truly happy, content, and passionate about what they’re doing.

I’ll be interviewing people of different backgrounds with different experiences with the common thread that everyone is living their dreams, right now, with every fabric of their beings. You’ll learn about their stories and journeys to become a true Day Dreamer and how they continue to live life on purpose. And you’ll be inspired to take your life back into your own hands and start being a Day Dreamer yourself.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.

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  • val cacho

    Love this story. So inspirational! Thanks for sharing!