Living life on your own terms - 3 Qs for Vikki Koshoni


Hi love

We're all about fitness and the outdoors this month and as promised I have an interview with African dance instructor Vikki Koshoni

I'm not personally a vegan (all our products at Eat Live are vegan) or a home schooling mum but what I really love about Vikki's journey is that she lives life exactly on her own terms even when it is counter culture. I love the fact that when she followed her intuition to change her lifestyle her chronic health problems started to heal.

I've found myself and with so many people I've coached that the body really is a compass. Often when you are living a life that isn't in alignment with your essential self your body will start to suffer physically.

Taking ownership of my life and living a life true to me is my only real 'goal' in life and I like to be in community with people who are doing the same. Whether you're someone who's interested in veganism, healing, home schooling, or just living a life that feels more you, get comfy and enjoy this in depth interview with the brilliant Vikki Koshoni!

 

 

 

Q
What does physical movement and fitness mean to you and how did you get into African dancing?


A

Movement is integral to my life, in fact it's something the human brain is hard wired to do, we just don't move as much as we should. I realised this when I got very ill with Fibromyalgia, Chronic pain and Depression. 

I'd always loved dancing but was never really confident enough to dance in public without some kind of alcohol intoxication to dull my inhibitions. When I got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after the birth of my 3rd child, I was offered Anti-Depressants which I took for a few weeks but felt awful. I was told there was no cure for my condition and that my only option was to medicate myself and manage the pain. I took the challenge upon myself to find out as much as I could about what was happening to my body!

I found a whole world of information that just gave me more questions. I've been living as a walking question mark ever since and it feels amazing! I understand so much about how my body works and what it needs. This information is what lead me to veganism and a whole lifestyle change for myself and household. 

Our lifestyle change started in 2014. I started by getting rid of environmental toxins from our immediate environment, the things that go onto our skin - personal products and household cleaners. Then moved onto examining food and what we put into our bodies - foods, liquids, supplements etc. 

After we'd been vegan for a while my body started to feel hungry for movement! I started cycling, then took up Taekwondo, then found BeachBody and became a Coach. 

Then we were locked-down and George Floyd was killed in view of the whole world...

Around April of 2019 I found a community of Africans in diaspora. It was started by a man called Mikel Ameen who, after realising he couldn't get back to his home in Kenya due to lockdown restrictions, started a 21-day Self Love Challenge online. (It has since evolved into a worldwide community and is now called Waroho House which, translated from Swahili means House of the People). I figured I could afford £1 a day for 21 days and signed up. What transpired in this community has been a driving force of where I find myself now.

As a community we were encouraged to create a 'Love Service', which is something you give expecting nothing in return. So, I started an Instagram Live fitness hour, every weekday at 9am I'd go live and talk about functional fitness, and basically go through a free work out.

It was now 2020 and eventually I realised that I'd need to invest in some actual workout gear hahaha! I'd go live on Instagram in my onesie, random beach shorts, anything I felt like wearing really! Black Pound Day changed that, I realised there were black owned companies I could support and find something more suitable to wear for my functional fitness slot! I asked my community if they knew any businesses, I got tagged in an Instagram account called TYNA Active Wear. While scrolling through their frankly, stunning workout gear, I saw a picture of 3 ladies looking super fit and radiant, I followed the tag that TYNA had used and found Kukuwa® Fitness (a genius dance workout taking African traditional dances from across the continent, and transformed into a calorie burning, lean muscle building, super fun workout with amazing music... need I say more?). I dug deeper and found that not only do they do online workouts but that I could also train to qualify as a Kukuwa® instructor! No brainer, truly.

That same year I was qualified as 1 of only 2 certified Kukuwa® instructors in the UK. I launched online classes via Zoom in the 1st week of Jan 2020, 3 times a week. I felt like I'd won the lottery.

Now it's Dec 2021 and coming up to the 1-year Anniversary of my African Dance Fitness business. I'm also a TYNA Active Wear ambassador (I have more leggings than I've ever owned in my life which is hilarious to me, and I'm eagerly waiting for their new designs haha!).

Q
When and why did you decide to go vegan and how has your health changed since?

A

We were fully vegan as a family by the time my youngest child was 2 years old, so we've been on this journey for more than 6 years now. I'm stronger than I've ever felt, physically and mentally. Even my dog is vegan, and has had none of the ailments I've seen friends/family pets having, he is 8 years old and acts as if he was still a puppy, he's so active and alert. 

I can confidently say that 95% of my Fibromyalgia issues are gone, I still get the occasional twinge of pain, but nothing on the scale I was experiencing (I couldn't wear tight t-shirts as even that was enough to cause me pain, I couldn't lay down or sit without pain, the list was endless...)

Q
Going vegan isn't the only way you've moved away from the mainstream, you're also a home-schooling family! Why did you make this decision and how are you finding it?

A

I decided to home-school my eldest child around the same time our lifestyle changed 6 years ago, he was 11yrs old at the time and about to start secondary school. I'd been having doubts about the educational system for a couple of years, the curriculum just didn't cover what I saw as essential life skills, it was repetitive, it especially disappointed me when it came to Black History Month. When he encountered direct and blatant racism from a parent at secondary school it was the last straw (there had been other incidents at the school where I just sighed and chalked it up to 'things I can do nothing about'). It was the push I needed to find out that, actually, there was something I could do about this.

I found that the process of de-registering your child is straight forward in the UK, and took him out of school as soon as I could. We were visited by a lady from the council, she interviewed my son and left satisfied that we were providing him an education, he's now 17 and hasn't looked back since. We made up our own curriculum based on what he was actually interested in and motivated by. He's taught himself video editing and knows how to use all this complicated Adobe Software 'stuff' (I haven't the first clue haha), he's taught himself guitar (ukulele, electric and acoustic), he writes poetry, and got himself a job this year - he went out for a walk one day and came back employed. 

I decided after a few years that if I could home-school my eldest then my other 2 children should join us, they've been at home for over 2 years now. 

It's beautiful having our own schedule. I realise that not everyone has the option of doing what we do, I just saw the opportunity and went for it. I was already working from home, and everyday I'm grateful for the chance to live a life we create with our own rules. 

When lockdown happened, we were already established at home thank goodness, I've managed to help quite a few parents through this difficult time, I went through a home-school bootcamp back in the day - when everyone thought I was crazy - so passed on any help I could about taking on the task of home-schooling for those who had never planned to do so. 

I've been called crazy for not using chemicals in my home (scented laundry detergent, air-fresheners etc), I've been called crazy for going vegan (what no bacon?), I've been called crazy for home-schooling (huh?), people used to roll their eyes when I said I need to meditate... etc etc... 

Yet, I've found a whole world of people, like you Emma-Louise, who've seen that cataclysmic events can be very educational, if you're paying attention. 

I've found a way to flow through challenges, it mostly revolves around dance ha! It's my preferred mode of meditation and connection with my body. I'm a better parent because I've found something I love and can do every day. 

My classes will stay online as it's the best way to reach as many women as possible. Together we've created a safe space for our wombs and our beautiful bodies. I'm grateful for the chance to heal myself through dance and commune with like minds several times a week. Long may it continue. 

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My daughter Jessica and I have been dancing with Vikki on Saturday mornings since she started the classes. I can't recommend them highly enough. For me it is the perfect way to start the weekend - with movement, dance and really good music! 

The classes can be challenging depending on how intensely you do them, and as well as the dance they often involve planks and burpees but it all just feels like pure fun! If you need this in your life - movement, dance and toning that feels like joy (and who doesn't?!) you can do a free trial class with Vikki here and no, you don't have to turn your camera on!

Until next week x

Love Emma

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