What do you try to convey to your students in your classes?
My goal is to inspire and show that we yoga teachers and practitioners come in many shapes, color, creeds. Yoga in order to become more inclusive needs to become culturally sensitive, compassionately inclusive, and humble and corporately responsible.
What do you like about teaching the DC community and, more specifically, the POC + Supporter classes at Yoga District?
As a yoga teacher of color, race is one of those issues that is very prevalent and no one talks about it. I try to take race, color, religion, and beliefs out of something I love so much. However that just might be impossible. I teach about 7 classes a week, and in every class there are usually no black faces. As a yoga instructor of color leading an all white class can provide some challenges depending on the area. I’ve had students tell me that they didn’t know minorities practice yoga let alone teach. I’ve had instances where some white clients don’t necessarily like the idea of someone who is black telling them what to do. These experiences allowed me to grow as an instructor and it led me to wonder why there isn’t enough diversity in yoga.
I have a few hypotheses about the lack of diversity. One guess is that yoga is usually quite expensive (as much as $20+ per class in DC/MD). Also, yoga is heavily marketed towards white women, but not towards other consumer groups (when was the last time you saw a yoga-themed ad on BET?), so it might be that Americans of various minority groups may not be drawn to yoga because they are, in essence, not being invited to it by the media.
What would your advice be to someone who thinks yoga isn’t for them or that they aren’t “flexible enough” for it?
Pay attention to the breath and enjoy the journey. Go with no expectations, stay with an open mind and leave with gratitude for the opportunity.
Where do your sentiments lie on the “yoga as spiritual practice” versus “yoga as body shaper” spectrum?
To me yoga is simply to become more authentic – to expand into possibility and break down the boundaries that enclose me within what is known and what is safe. My practice allows me to evolve into not only who I feel I am meant to be as an individual, but who I feel I am meant to be as part of the human collective. As I work through my practice daily, I am uniquely reminded of how connected we all are.
What is your favorite style of class to teach and to practice, and why?
Throughout my childhood I was always drawn to holistic lifestyle but didn’t truly understand how beautiful it was. It wasn’t until after I was diagnosed with spina bifida, tethered cord syndrome, and scoliosis that I decided to make conscious holistic changes. After the discovery I went to physical therapy frequently, only to have the pain come back shortly after her sessions. I was told that I may always the back pains and will have to visit a physical therapist for the rest of her life as well as be forced to wear an uncomfortable back brace for years to come. I experienced yoga years before and loved how I felt, relaxed and recharged but after the discovery of scoliosis I understood its power. I began practicing yoga every day and found that the back and neck spasms completely went away. I would say that the authentic purpose of my yoga is simply to become more authentic – to expand into possibility and break down the boundaries that enclose me within what is known and what is safe. My practice allows me to evolve into not only who I feel I am meant to be as an individual, but who I feel I am meant to be as part of the human collective. As I work through my practice daily, I am uniquely reminded of how connected we all are.