As part of our celebration of Black History Month, we’re featuring interviews from students at Yoga District identifying as Black People of Color. Meet Mariah, who explains ‘My journey with yoga has been a decade long love affair of leaning into movement and coming home to my own body.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR YOGA JOURNEY?
My journey with yoga has been a decade long love affair of leaning into movement and coming home to my own body.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
I am a queer non binary disabled black woman so I have a ton of isms in the world that stress me out .. yoga is a place I find peace/ refuge and can center myself in a mindful practice. I find it a creative place I can be embody my flow.
WHAT DOES BEING A BLACK YOGI / YOGA PRACTITIONER MEAN TO YOU?
Being a black yoga means that I am taking up space in places that were previously not as inviting. I like seeing other black yogis and inspiring others that look like me this practice is for them too! When I first started doing yoga … I had an impression it was a space mostly for privileged white girls … through time I have found teachers and an embracing community and it expands the more we can see ourselves in this community.
WHY DID YOU COME TO YOGA DISTRICT?
I found district yoga which I moved to Bloomingdale over the summer last year and was closer to the studio so I decided to walk over and take a peak inside. I like the hybrid class options and that when weather permits some classes are held in the park.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART ABOUT BEING A YOGI?
The best part about being a yogi is spending time with my inner child and aligning my mind body and sprint.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU HEAR “BLACK HISTORY MONTH?”
To me black history month is a chance to celebrate the black diaspora past present and future and all of the greatness that encompasses. Though in my life every month is black history and I always make it a point to celebrate the culture.
IS THERE A SPECIFIC BLACK PERSON FROM HISTORY WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Every black person especially those in my bloodline inspire me because of all the adversity they have faced and still do today but refuse to give up. I particularly am drawn to other art partitioners like maya angelou or audre lorde.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOGA AND OTHER FORMS OF HOLISTIC WELLNESS RELATE TO YOUR EFFORTS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE?
As an artivist and public health professional grounding is extremely important in all the social justice work that I do. Prior to a spoken word performance , presentation or yoga flow I focus on breath and meditation to channel the energy I want to bring to the moment. My great grandmother used to say “ some people do some people never do some people over do … how do you do? I feel yoga helps us to do everything with intention.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THAT YOGA STUDENTS AND STUDIOS DO TO CREATE A MORE INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR PEOPLE IDENTIFYING AS BLACK PEOPLE OF COLOR?
Due to economic disparities and lack of exposure sometimes poc specifically black folks do not have the same level of access to modalities like yoga. I believe it is important to have sliding scale options for poc to participate in classes and in some cases offer free workshops as mutual aid to marginalized groups who desire to heal and May not have access capital to do so. I also encourage white yogis to de center themselves and create more space for poc to lead and sponsor more folks being trained/ participating in the practice as a form or compensatory redress ( reparations )