Join Kelsey, one of our amazing students at Yoga District, as she reflects on Black History, self-care, and what it means to be part of a yoga community.
Tell us about your background. Where are you from? How do you like to spend your time?
I grew up on the beautiful island of Bermuda, which is a diverse and vibrant country. The food, music, and community feature a unique blend of cultures. I was always fascinated by the diversity around me. After high school, I attended the University of Virginia, where I studied Psychology and Music. I later moved to Washington, DC to pursue my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Despite countless hours with my head buried in books, I always managed to make time for self-care. I love learning new instruments, cooking, painting, traveling, and doing anything that involves being in or around water and nature. During my time living in Miami, Florida, I became passionate about physical fitness and its relationship to mental health and wellness. I decided to pursue my yoga teacher training in SOHO, New York, and upon returning to DC, I began incorporating yoga into my work as a psychologist.
In addition to teaching weekly yoga classes, I work as a contractor for the Department of Defense and Georgetown University. I am also the Director of Behavioral Health at FiveMedicine, a Black-owned telehealth company that seeks to make health care accessible to all (1).
What’s the best part of being a yogi?
Where do I begin!? Yoga has added so much joy to my life. I absolutely love seeing smiles on my student’s faces after sharing time together on our mats. For me, yoga is so much about community and connection. While a personal practice is important, for me, the joy of yoga really comes from that sense of unity and togetherness that is created.
How can other yoga students and teachers be more inclusive toward BIPOC in yoga studios?
Some of my greatest experiences in yoga classes began with the instructor coming over to my mat and greeting me by my name. When someone welcomes you by name, you instantly feel included and respected as a member of the community. It is such a simple gesture, but it can make a lasting impression on people of color in yoga studios.
What do you think about when you hear “Black History Month?”
When I hear “Black History Month” I immediately feel a sense of strength and pride. I think of Black- owned businesses, jazz music, and the generations of enslaved people who overcame unimaginable adversity. Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of Black people throughout history. While Black History Month is meant to honor and celebrate one particular culture, I think it is also an opportunity for everyone to learn, share, and experience the true essence of Black Excellence.
What would you say to your teenage self?
I feel like I spent a lot of my teens and 20s worrying. Worrying about getting good grades in high school. After I got good grades, I began worrying about getting into college and grad school. After completing grad school, I worried about finding a career. After finding a career, I worried about finding a partner. Now, even after achieving all those beautiful things, sometimes I still catch myself literally LOOKING for more things to worry about!
So, to my teenage self (and my current self): “ALL IS WELL”
The Yoga District 200 and 500 hour teacher training certification programs, registered by the Yoga Alliance are unique in their emphasis on diversity of teaching styles studied, personal attention, and trauma sensitive yoga. It's no coincidence that Yoga District is regularly voted the leading studio in the nation's capital, and that most of its classes are taught by graduates of its training program. As a full time yoga school, small group trainings are led up to eight times a year by a dedicated faculty including Jasmine Chehrazi, contributor to the Harvard Karma Yoga Project teacher training, teacher training faculty at George Washington University, Yoga Alliance Standards Committee Advisory Board Member, Yoga Activist Founder, and Yoga Service Council Advisory Board Member. So take your practice and community involvement to the next level by joining a training. There's a reason why our graduates call the training "transformative."
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