Three years ago during a great personal depression, I began practicing yoga, emphasis on the practice. If at that time I was told I would eventually train to be a yoga teacher, it would have been met with a lot of laughter. Despite my growing love for yoga as a way to relax my body & mind, there was no inkling in my mind I would develop a passion, or be good enough to train others.
As I said I was in a deep depression, which kept a constant cloud of doubt & insecurity following my every step (remember Pig Pen from Charlie Brown? Imagine him, but my cloud was a tumbleweed of negative emotions). My practice began in my bedroom, with Reddit & YouTube as my first teachers. Anxiety is another close friend of mine, and trying things out in my own safe space free of judgement helps quell some of my beginner’s anxiety, so for the internet, I will forever be grateful. (And if there is anything you would like to learn & you have beginner’s jitters I urge you to visit those goldmines as well). Once I was confident I could at least downward dog like I knew what I was doing I made the jump to the studio with other patrons.
I. Hated. It. There was very rarely another POC (person of color), and even rarer was I not the only black woman. I started using the internet not just to find new flows & meditation practices, but to also find yoga practitioners that reflect *me*. If not in body, then at the very least spirit.
When I was gifted with the opportunity to complete my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training through I Grow, ecstatic was a mediocre adjective for my joy. I Grow has created a safe space within the Englewood community where despite any racial differences barriers to resources & support don’t exist. Every yoga teacher or personnel has shown me kindness & love, reflecting brightness which my soul recognized in kind. The chance to help spread their message of unity was an offer I could not refuse.
My Yoga Teacher Training began the same weekend of my 30th birthday, a fitting mark to the beginning of a new journey. Slightly out of practice & out of shape I walked into my class just as it began and I realized that three years later nothing had changed — I was still the only black woman, and one of 4 POC. Now while these statistics might sound discouraging they are exactly the reason why this was an opportunity I have to follow through. Just as I yearn to walk into a class filled with black & brown & white faces, there are others who feel the same. Diversity within the wellness field exists on a small scale, but visibility is lacking. During our beginning flow a little blonde girl jumped up & down at the window, gleefully watching our class move & flow through our asanas. I peeped her a few times, and imagined a little brown girl with curly hair in her place. Knowing that she would see me, shaky but persistent, focused & intent, would let her know there is space for her too.