Marta Kiszkis raises her right ankle to her hip and begins to kick back until she has positioned her body into a careful and delicately balanced bow pose. As she does so, she answers my questions without waiver. “It’s all in the kick,” she explains. “You kick back as you stretch forward and that strikes the balance. Anyone can do this.”

The yoga teacher, 30, has just left a daytime office job to pursue teaching and practicing yoga full time. Having recently completed her teacher training in Palo Alto, California, she’s excited about this shift in career. “I’ve been working as an executive assistant for 6 years now–I was tired of office jobs, and it was definitely time for a change.”

Kiszkis’s path to yoga and 1099 work was a journey through many countries, studios, and apartments. Originally from Poland, in the last 10 years, Kiszkis and her husband have lived in Warsaw, London, and finally landed in the Bay Area in 2014. “The only criteria for apartment finding after a while,” Marta remarks, “was that wherever we lived had to be walking distance from a yoga studio. It kept us grounded–and me especially, through jobs, pregnancy, and moving. There had to be one consistent factor, and for whatever reason, this stuck.”

So when her most recent startup happened to be located next to a yoga studio that was offering a teacher training program in off-work hours, it made sense to Kiszkis to register immediately. “I was at the place in my life where I was ready to take the next step. My last company had just been acquired. I was starting at this new place. My son was about to start preschool. It was just time to move forward in my yoga practice.”

Teacher training changed Marta’s life. “There is so much you can do as a teacher–for yourself, for others, for your surroundings.” She continues to explain, “A lot of people come into training with the hope of improving their lives and the lives of their clients. Some of my classmates were social workers, psychologists, doctors–all professions where knowing the fundamentals of yoga could be enormously impactful to their clients. It really shifts your perspective on the human body and spirit.”

When asked about her own experiences as a teacher, Marta recalls a particularly impactful moment. “One day, an older lady came to a class I was teaching and had difficulty with the postures. I showed her how to adjust her body so that she could do it, but could still feel the benefits of the asanas. She was so grateful and excited about the practice. It really taught me what these classes mean to people. Honestly, it was a reflection of how much yoga meant to me as well, and being able to spread that kind of joy was life changing.”

But yoga, Marta explains, means different things to different people, and it’s each individual’s choice to define the practice to themselves. “There’s this crew of elderly people who come to my class on the weekends. And they’re definitely in class for the social practice–they talk before and after the classes, comment on the poses, and so on. It’s a social routine for them. They need it for the community rather than the physical practice, and that’s perfectly valid as well.”  

When asked about her goals now that she has the time to focus whole-heartedly on her practice, Marta responds that she wants to continue teaching and practicing, with the intention of eventually opening her own studio. She jokingly tosses out a handful of quirky ideas for the theme of her studio– “Goat yoga! Or anger yoga. Or, goat anger yoga?”– but eventually settles on one certainty: “I just want to keep doing this.”