I remember working at a yoga studio years ago and the owner asking me what my dream was. I told her, it was to reach a more diverse community of people. I wanted to get more African Americans into yoga studios. Her response was complete support. We needed a more diverse community of yogis. So she told me, " I have some contacts in the inner city. Maybe you could go into the inner city schools and teach some yoga?" My response- I don't really teach kid yoga. Also not all black people live in the inner city. There are Black people that live right in the community we exist. Many are highly educated. Many have the means to purchase class passes. Why when we speak about Black people does your mind go straight to the inner city?
I don't post this to shame this person or to pretend that there are not people of all races who can't afford yoga. This person was trying her best to be helpful. I post this so we can start getting real. Real about our assumptions of each other. When we get real... we learn... we learn together. This includes me too! Even if it's an uncomfortable conversation, it's real.
After hearing black students today tell me about their experience of being in a black body in yoga spaces, the objectification, the tokenism, and the obvious feeling of being the only person of color in the room, I related to every word.
I am used to being the only person of color in a yoga space and it can be exhausting at times. YES, I said it…. so I understand why people of color would be put off going to yoga studios. This doesn’t have to be. My hope is to help change the yoga scene in CLE to speak to not only the white community, but ALL communities. We are a diverse city. We should all feel welcome and comfortable to use tools and techniques to feel better TOGETHER. We all (Black, White, Female, Male, Gay or Straight) just need to be willing to get real about our assumptions and celebrate each other.