Meet the District’s youngest yoga instructor

Yoga District Teacher Training © Eleanor Kaufman 2013. Ivan Nolia is a 9-year-old D.C. native and a certified yoga instructor.
Scorpion Pose Nolia demonstrates his favorite yoga pose -- Scorpion. Just about two months ago, Nolia completed his 200-hour teacher certification over the course of 11 days.
Teacher Training Nolia says the first day of teacher training was very scary, but by the third day, he was loving it. "At lunch time, I was always laughing and (the other students) thought it was funny," he says.
Side Plank Pose Nolia practices the side plank pose during the 11-day teacher training. Nolia has been a certified teacher now for almost two months and is teaching yoga to his swim team.
Ivan at teacher training In the standing big toe pose, Nolia practices with his fellow students at Yoga District's intensive 200-hour certification program. Nine-year-old Nolia is the youngest person to graduate from Yoga District's teacher training.
Ivan Nolia Rising D.C. fourth grader Ivan Nolia isn't your typical 9-year-old. He is an exceptionally talented yogi and is putting his skills to good use as a certified yoga instructor.
Wheel Pose (transition to Bird Pose) Nolia demonstrates the Wheel Pose outside East Potomac Pool in Southwest D.C. He has been practicing yoga for about a year and a half and is already at a level that many yogis will never reach, according to his teacher Mike Graglia.
Bird Pose Nolia shows off his incredible flexibility in Bird Pose. He manages to practice yoga two-to-three times a week, in addition to attending swim practice and kung fu.
One Leg Pose of the Sage Koundinya II Yoga is not all about being able to bend like a rubber band. Nolia says he was flexible from the start but had to practice at some of the more difficult poses that require strength and balance.
Full Pigeon Pose One of Nolia's yoga teachers, Aqeel Yaseen, says Nolia is able to challenge himself without becoming frustrated when he can't hold a pose. "His flexibility and strength continue to improve rapidly, but he still has some things he needs to work on, like balancing and concentrating mentally," Yaseen says.
Bound Wheel Pose Nolia describes his 11-day teacher training experience quite simply. "Most people were 22 and up … I'm the only 9-year-old there … the first day it was very scary, the second day I got used to it, and third day -- it was awesome," he says.
Headstand Variation Nolia says inversions can be the most difficult of yoga poses, but he appears to do a headstand with no trouble at all.
Pose of the Sage Galava Nolia proves in the pose of the Sage Galava that strength, flexibility, balance and concentration must all work together in order to hold in that position.
One Leg Pigeon Pose Variation The rising fourth grader at Washington International School in Georgetown also speaks Spanish fluently and is learning Chinese. Nolia says he wants to be a doctor and an astronaut when he grows up so he can help people if they get injured while exploring space.
Peacock Pose Nolia doesn't seem to need any yoga blocks to help him achieve the peacock pose. His strength and balance do all the talking here.
Ivan teaching his swim team Nolia's swim coach, Robert Green, wanted to give him the leadership opportunity after Nolia and his mother told him about Nolia's recent certification. Green says the kids are really enjoying Nolia's yoga warm-up before practice.
Half Forward Fold Nolia says he had to learn to speak loud and clear for his peers to understand his instruction during the yoga class. What is it like for him to teach yoga to kids and young adults much older than he is? "I feel excited," Nolia says. "Yeah, I feel really excited."
Downward Facing Dog Pose The DC Wave swim team warms up with Nolia's yoga class at East Potomac Pool in Southwest D.C.
Ivan teaching his swim team "Ivan is one of a kind, definitely," Coach Robert Green says. "He's extremely mature for his age. It was a blessing to have Ivan [start teaching yoga] around this time … the kids are dragging, and the heat is getting to them. The yoga is teaching them to breathe and be patient."
Ivan teaching his swim team Nolia says his first class with his swim team was great, but he was surprised that some of the teenagers struggled with certain poses. "This teenager was trying to a pose called bridge pose and he couldn't go all the way up, so he was totally flat instead of being rounded," he says. "So that was something that surprised me. I thought teenagers were also very flexible."
Ivan teaching his swim team Nolia helps out his fellow swim teammate with a pose. After completing his 200-hour certification just a couple of months ago, Nolia is knowledgeable about everything from the history of yoga to the correct form for each pose.
Downward Facing Dog Pose Yoga is clearly not just for adults who want to become more in tune with their minds and bodies. Children on Nolia's swim team stretch in the downward facing dog pose before jumping in the water for practice.
Crow Pose Nolia's teammates watch in awe as he shows them the crow pose. Many asked how he does it, and he insists it takes lots of practice. Just like any great yoga instructor, he tells them to just do what they can and not worry about perfecting a difficult pose.
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Natalie Tomlin, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON – It was a typical Thursday evening when D.C. yoga instructor Mike Graglia greeted his Flow Yoga 4 class at the 14th Street Yoga District studio. As he walked to the front of the room, one student caught his eye.

Among the crowd of adults waiting for class to begin was 9-year-old D.C. native Ivan Nolia.

“I walked in and saw this kid, and I was like, ‘That’s not going to work,'”Graglia says. “Then someone stopped me and said,

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