I took my first class in 2007, led by an elegantly strong, brilliant Black woman on the Southside of Chicago: a place that’s predominately Black, beautiful, proud, and full of love! Since this was my introduction to the practice, I assumed every studio was inclusive and diverse. Over the next decade, I learned that this was not the case.
When I started my yoga journey, I was still knee-deep in working through the intricacies of grieving my mother’s death— she died five years earlier, in 2002, when I was 19. Yoga saved my life. As the sweat rolled off my back, I disappeared, and my mind was no longer consumed by repetitive thoughts that did not serve me. The stretching, the pauses between breaths, and my body’s resilience brought me great comfort.
The more my heart cracked open, the more I learned I was not born to fit inside anyone else’s box. Grief is not linear, and I was learning that liberation was on its way. Svadhyaya (self-study) through yoga had become my refuge in the darkest of times, helping me navigate my emotional growth spurt. But the more I practiced, the more it became clear that yoga in the United States was not as diverse as I thought it should be for BIPOC. I knew I had found a calling and a soul-awakening.
For much of my life, my voice was hidden in the depths of fear, angst, grief, and abuse. I discovered my authentic voice during my first yoga teacher training, honed my ability to listen, and used both gifts to make me the teacher I am today.
From the start of my teaching in 2016, I have worked with people of all backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities. This felt natural, so I knew I had stepped into my purpose. For a girl who had lived in 22 different cities in six years, it felt good to be rooted and at home.
Black Soul Liberation is unconditional love of self. This practice is my reminder to be kind, love, and forgive quickly and often.
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