Mays Yoga Offers Unique Experience From Bali's Yoga Culture

Photo provided by Dakota Mays

Photo provided by Dakota Mays

Grace Dearing

Over the years, the practice of yoga as a form of exercise has increased in popularity across the United States. From boutique yoga studios to high-end yogi athletic wear, the yoga trend continues to grow nationwide and Athens, Ohio is no exception. 

Dakota Mays, a yoga instructor from Nelsonville, Ohio, teaches a variety of yoga classes throughout the area, including a power vinyasa flow at Bodhi Tree Guesthouse & Studio every Sunday at noon. 

“It’s not advanced,” Mays reassures apprehensive new yogis. “As long as you’ve had either personal practice at home or if you’ve been to classes outside of home, you’re good to come.”

Mays, founder of Mays Yoga, began his personal yoga practice three years ago. As a wrestler, he was attracted to the physical side of yoga such as handstands and other inversions. Mays used yoga as physical therapy for the back pain that wrestling induced but soon fell in love with the spiritual and mindfulness side of the practice as well.

Once Mays became passionate about both his physical and spiritual journey, his yoga practiced deepened and he traveled to Bali to complete his yoga teacher training. 

“I thought about doing it local, but I really wanted to travel and be in a yoga culture,” Mays says. “Over here in the west, people are still confused [about what yoga is]. A lot of people think it’s purely physical, but it started as  a meditation practice, it’s a mindful practice originally. So, going somewhere like Bali or Thailand was in my mind because those are yoga cultures.”

Now, Mays says training in a yoga culture rather than in the United States has been beneficial to his teaching style. 

“I’m very on the spiritual side of things, but I still keep it modern and physical,” he says. 

Mays’ training took place over 24 days for 12 hours a day. In Bali, he not only learned the elements of being a yoga instructor, but also took classes like physiology, anatomy and philosophy. Students were also taught the social media and marketing tactics of a successful yoga practice. The training program began each day with an hour-long meditation led by one of the local monks.

“It was just really cool learning from someone who is very deep in his meditation practice,” Mays says. “I’m not a meditation teacher, but yoga is a meditation practice so it helps to know how to meditate, the science of meditation … So, I’m really glad I learned that so I can teach it to other people.”

As a yoga instructor, Mays says his favorite thing about teaching is watching his students grow in their own personal practice and seeing the positive effects yoga has on them. Whether it be alleviating stress or anxiety or making progress with their inversions, Mays is grateful to play even a small role in their yoga journey. 

“Knowing this little practice of yoga can help people and I’m sharing it with people, it hits me in the heart for sure,” he says. 

Mays Yoga as a brand is more than just yoga; it’s about living a holistic lifestyle in all aspects of life. In addition to being a certified yoga instructor, Mays also co-wrote a vegan recipe e-book, multiple vegan lifestyle books and hosts his own podcast. He also travels to schools in in the area to teach wrestling teams the importance of yoga as physical therapy and different breathing techniques to relieve stress.

Above all, Mays is passionate about yoga as a beneficial lifestyle for everyone, not just one particular type of person.

“There’s no such thing as not being flexible or strong enough to do [something],” he says. “You start where your journey starts and yoga will take you from there. You’re never not in a position where you can’t do yoga. Yoga is for everyone.”

For more information about Mays or Mays Yoga, connect through Instagram or by booking classes.