In 2015 an old friend of mine convinced me to take a Hot Yoga class.
At the time, I considered myself a pretty fit individual. I had grown up in Trinidad running track, did cheerleading in high school and college and even picked up weight training when I moved to NYC.
So I walked into this 60 minute Hot Yoga class ego flaring… how hard can stretching be?
Safe to say I was humbled.
Though the physicality (and heat) of that class left me a little shaken up, I couldn’t explain the hold I knew yoga already had on me.
I dived in, mat first, into every and any style of yoga I came across. Unfortunately for me, my wallet didn’t exactly favor the price of all these yoga classes.
At the time, I was fresh out of college, up to my neck in student loans and on the verge of moving out from living with family to start paying rent in good old New York City.
I remember mentally preparing myself for what I’d say as I solemnly made my way over to my neighborhood yoga studio to cancel my membership. Oddly enough, as I was walking in, the owner of the studio walked in at the same time.
Talk about Divine timing.
The Work-Study Concept
I told the studio owner what I was on my way to do and she just smiled at me and said one phrase, that is now music to my ears… ‘Work-Study’.
She had offered me a free membership to her studio! Well, not entirely, but I was essentially an intern getting free yoga classes. I’d come in early to check in students at the front desk, clean the yoga rooms, organize the props, and in exchange get to take any yoga class that I wanted.
After that, you can say I got a little carried away with the concept of being a Work-Study. I found myself applying to Work-Study positions in every yoga studio all over New York City!
I was consuming even more yoga than before! Little did I know, I was also consuming information on how to run a yoga business.
I don’t know if there was one specific moment where I wanted to become a yoga instructor. However, there was one moment where the thought did cross my mind.
A fellow member of one of the many yoga studios I was interning at asked what my teaching schedule was. She’d seen me practice, liked the way I flowed and wanted to take my class.
Since I was always at the studio, naturally she assumed I was an instructor.
“Oh I couldn’t teach yoga!” I laughed off her comment.
Fast forward to 2017, I had signed up for a 200 Hour R-YTT (with my work-study discount, of course).
Creating a New Space in Yoga
It was then that I was introduced to another layer of my soon to be mission with yoga. As much as I loved the studio and the instructors around me, I could not help but notice I was the only black person in my yoga classes.
In a Teacher Training of 20 students, I was the only person that looked like me.
Though I could relate in some ways to my fellow trainees, I caught myself wishing that other members of my culture were experiencing this with me.
Why wasn’t my community showing up in these spaces?
- Was it the price?
- Was it the commute?
- Was it not as accessible to minority populated areas?
- Did they have an experience that made them feel unwelcomed?
- Did they stay away because they noticed a pattern of not seeing people that looked like them in these types of Wellness settings?
Enter: The Aum Abode
On the day I graduated and became a certified instructor, I vowed to myself that to create a space where people would be able to afford, have access to, feel welcomed in and personally resonate with their yoga instructor.
Hence, the virtual yoga studio, The Aum Abode was curated.
The Aum Abode is the hub for the beginner yoga student, the advanced practitioner, the entrepreneur, and most importantly the black community.
Offering services like weekly live-stream yoga, discounts for the black entrepreneur, wellness blogs, an Om with Aum membership that includes exclusive tutorial videos and guided meditations and of course plenty of Work-Study Ambassador opportunities for the yogi on a budget!
Creating The Aum Abode has been a way for me to continuously expand my practice, share my love of yoga and provide a diverse wellness space for my community.
At The Aum Abode they feel at home with their yoga practice because after all, there’s no place like Aum.