In 2017, that was when I found out my love for yoga! Working for a youth development non- profit organization comes with many rewarding moments for both me and my students. I love those moments and working for my students and their futures! However, as many would know the job isn’t easy all the time working with teens. Yoga was my outlet to release stress and bring peace to mind and body. Each week, I would attend the weekly community yoga classes at Kusanya Cafe led by I Grow. I loved the way my mind was able to only focus on what I was doing on the mat. My mind became free of all the wondering thoughts and stresses. I was able to bring something into my life, that challenged me but I also brought me joy!
Since then, yoga became apart of my life whether it be a home practice, community classes at Kusanya Cafe, or just simply enjoying a class with my friends. Growing up on the Southside of Chicago, yoga was never a thing or hobby that I heard of in my communities. As I grew older, I associated it with an elite status or a hobby that I only saw white women did. I never even thought of yoga being apart of my life the way it is now. Once I started to attended more and more yoga classes I saw that there isn’t a definition of someone who does yoga. Yoga is for everyone and anyone. That is one thing I always tell my friends and family and will also tell my yoga students in my classes.
In 2018, I was offered an opportunity of a lifetime when Erin from I Grow asked if I knew of their scholarship program for the 200 HR Yoga Teacher Training at Zen Yoga Garage. She said I should apply. I have never heard of ZYG before and didn’t really know what the experience would be like. I was definitely scared at first because I had thoughts of “What would their reactions be of me? Will I be the only the woman of color? Do I even know a lot about yoga to even be a teacher?” All these thoughts ran through my mind as I thought about the decision over a couple weeks. As I went back and fourth of my decision, I realized that my mom always told me to take on opportunities as they come because they may be the only one. So I took the offer and applied….the result? I got the scholarship! With it being late Fall when the decision came through, March was right around the corner!
The 1st day of my training was here. Those first 4 hours on a Thursday night were the beginning of this new journey in my life. After the night ended, I had many thoughts that ran through my mind. One of the being, what was the next few months going to be like? Of the 22 women of the training, only 5 were women of color. Many of them had years on top of years of yoga practice or similar sports such as dance. Many of them have waited for this opportunity of teacher training for such a long time! So much knowledge ran through the room about yoga and the history of it. All I had was what I knew from my 2 years of practice.
I couldn’t offer much to discussions however, I knew one thing.
I had a strong dedication to take in as much knowledge, advice, feedback, and more to be able to grow into a yoga teacher that I hoped to be! I had a strong desire to bring the art of yoga back to communities that I grew up in. I knew and saw the multiple benefits that yoga brings into the life. I knew I wanted to share my love of yoga with others in a way I haven’t done before….to be able to teach! I wanted to teach it to my teen students, to my family, my friends, to communities that have never heard of it or done it, to those that like myself who thought it wasn’t for them, to those that were scared to try because of who they are, or to those that simply want to begin their own journey of yoga!
My experience at Zen Yoga Garage, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else. The 3 months of training were of course challenging in ways but there were far more moments of happiness! I had came to the realization that I brought more knowledge and character than I had originally thought. I was excited to what I could bring to the yoga community of Chicago! Zen gave that space to be where I am and who I am as a teacher. The friendships formed, the love given, the passions for teaching, and growth as both a student and teacher were more than everything I couldn’t have imagined! To all the ZYG teachers and mentors, lovely women who I experienced this training with, wonderful team at I Grow, and all the support from my friends and family… Thank You! I am ready to begin this new exciting journey of my life as a yoga teacher. Better yet as a Black Yoga Teacher #blackyogis #zenyogagarage #chicago