When I first became a yoga instructor, my main focus was to teach as many yoga classes as possible.
While that will continue to be a goal of mine, as time went on my perception of my job began to change.
The more teacher training workshops I took, I began to see a pattern with the attendance amongst the trainees.
I was always one of two or the only person of color in these workshops.
Granted it could have just been the studios I was choosing or the time of day I was attending these sessions but even for a city as diverse as New York, it was alarming that the black community was infrequent in these spaces.
A New Yoga Mission Begins, Virtually
My mission with teaching yoga slowly transitioned into me wanting to create a space where people that looked like me, saw yoga as something that was meant for them too.
Given the past two years and counting of a global pandemic, mainstream media has become intrigued with the idea of Self-Care more than ever.
With the Wellness and Fitness community expanding in the online realm, more people have access to a world of tools to better their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Social media in particular has become a hub for wellness coaches, therapists and fitness instructors to offer their services online.
Though there has been a recent surplus of diversity in the faces of wellness that we see on our trending pages, we all have to do our best to continue to maintain and amplify this message.
Now that everyone has more accessibility virtually, we as yoga instructors (regardless of your background) have a responsibility to encourage inclusivity in our classes.
I’ve drummed up some simple, helpful tips below to steer us as a collective, towards reaching this goal.
Though most of the points may mention the black community, everything listed below can be applied to all other communities that have not been fully represented in the media pushed idea of what yoga is.
Encouraging & Uplifting a More Diverse Yoga & Wellness Community
Here are some ways we can all help encourage and uplift more diversity in the yoga and overall wellness community.
Have you expanded who you take yoga classes from?
If you have, continue to register for their classes and bring a friend to tag along! If you have not, try switching up who you practice with.
I’m sure we can all agree that there is a special feeling that you get when a fellow instructor takes our class and loves the sequence! Let’s strengthen the bond within the Instructor sphere.
We can all learn something from each other.
Expand Your Services
As yoga instructors, we have the power to change lives every time we step in front of a class.
Use this gift of yours, to offer a free weekly/ monthly yoga class, to your local YMCA or community center.
Hand out flyers or offer discounts to schools in neighborhoods where you notice there are few or no yoga studios. If doing this is not a possibility with your schedule, offer a free or donation based virtual class instead!
Most of the time, people don’t try new things not because they don’t want to but because they don’t have access or the funds to participate. Doing this will only add layers to your level of experience as a well-rounded yoga teacher.
If you’ve ever taken a yoga class by a yoga instructor who is a person of color, show your support!
Ask how you can leave a review.
Look them up on Google, Yelp or visit their website and leave some positive words of satisfaction.
Your one comment will help elevate their platform to be seen and attract new customers.
Have a big social media following? Give a shout out to, do an IG Live or Reels collaboration with this yoga instructor.
The more they are seen, the more it will encourage members of their community to take their class.
Diversify your team
As a yoga studio owner it is important to be conscious of the inner world of the workspace you are creating.
Especially since we are promoting the wellbeing of the human experience. Your employees are one of the major building blocks for the foundation of your business.
Aim to be as inclusive as possible when hiring. If you diversify your team, you diversify the level of creativity of your team, increase the comfortability and productivity of your team and most importantly you’ll be creating a more welcoming environment for your audience.
Be Mindful With Your Message
Is there a pattern in your marketing imagery when you promote your products/services? Let’s steer away from the content portraying that yoga is meant for thin, young, white bodies or your everyday contortionist clothed in the latest expensive activewear.
If people see the diversity of the outside world within the umbrella of your business you are more likely to attract a bigger audience from different backgrounds and expand your clientele. In the long run, providing an opportunity for more people to experience the blessing that is yoga.
It’s a win, win for everyone!