Depending on how in-tune you are with current events, you may or may not be surprised to find out that Black-owned yoga studios are hard to find. Not only that, but it can also be hard to find Black yoga instructors, or yogis. Have you ever noticed a lack of diversity at the classes offered by your local gym? That lack of diversity is a system-wide problem.
Does the Yoga Community Exclude Women of Color?
A sad reality is that many women of color feel out of place in yoga studios, and in the yoga community at large. Black women, in particular, report experiencing disheartening conversations and treatment at yoga studios and by their peers. There is often a sense of “othering” like they don’t belong in the group.
Social media hasn’t helped this trend. In fact, it has contributed to the deceiving ideal of what a yoga practice really is. The truth is that yoga is not about expensive leggings or having a certain brand of water. It is also not exclusive to fit, affluent White women. This is what is normalized in the media and on social media, but that is far from the reality of what yoga is and what the yoga community should be.
Yoga is a practice that was designed – more than 2,500 years ago – to promote health, wellness, and spirituality. It is not a practice designed to be driven by race or culture. Instead, yoga is a practice that should be available to everyone.
Not only does the yoga community seem to exclude women of color, but there is also a deficit in representing “plus size” women, women with disabilities, and men. Imagine how many people open social media with the idea of starting a yoga practice, but they never see someone who looks like them represented? That is what we are facing in our current yoga community.
How Do We Change the Scene?
The only way to change the scene is for those in the yoga community to embrace acceptance and inclusivity. Black-owned yoga studios are, more often than not, focused on inclusivity and diversity in their programs. Many yoga studios welcome people of all races, sizes, ages, sexual orientation, gender identity, or fitness level.
Black-owned yoga studios are known for giving instructors and attendees a deep sense of acceptance and validation. Studio owners encourage clients to be who they are in their yoga journey. To embrace their reality and find belonging.
What can you do to support a diverse and inclusive environment in your yoga community? Here are some ideas:
- Intentionally support brands that are inclusive or that advocate for diversity.
- Research Black-owned yoga studios in your area.
- Support yogis who are opening their hearts and services to a wide range of people.
- If your local gym seems to be lacking in diversity, consider talking to the manager about diversity.
- Have uncomfortable conversations with those in your community about diversity and social justice.
By working together, we can create a yoga community that envelops every part of society. A community that is rich in health, wellness, peace, and love for all of our fellow yogis.