A Lack of Color in Wellness Spaces

I’m sitting on my yoga mat, legs crossed, waiting for the instructor to start. I have been to this class a million times, yet despite the sense of familiarity I feel with the instructor and the class regulars, I have always felt a hint of discomfort within this space. I look around the room and I am the only black woman present in the class. While I have become used to being the only woman of color in here, I still cannot shake the fact this phenomena is unfortunately present within the wellness community as a whole.

I have always been into fitness and the movement of the body. When I embarked on my journey into self love and care, I began exploring yoga and meditation. I loved the physical connection between the mind, body, and soul, and how the practice strengthens the relationship you hold within yourself. Yoga is a practice of mind stability and strength, and I find this to be the most empowering aspect within the practice. I follow a plethora of black yogis and self care educators on Instagram; I never realized how marginalized the black community within wellness spaces is outside of social media.

I have tried many times to get my friends to come to the classes with me, but each time, I get the same type of response.

“I didn’t know that was something we do…”

While the response may seem simple minded, it ultimately makes sense.  Because of the lack of representation of black yoga instructors and yogis in these spaces, you can’t fault black women for having this perspective. If you don’t see some sort of resemblance of yourself in a space, you most likely won’t be inclined to indulge in the opportunity.

There is a countless amount of reasons as to why black women make-up only a small percentage of faces within the wellness, and yoga community. From the lack of access, representation, and feelings of alienation, I can admit that the space can be a little intimidating even for myself. When I first started, I would look around the room and see the “picture- perfect” image of what I believed yoga to be.  Slender, flexible, white women whose bodies bended so effortlessly, and who always looked like they knew what they were doing. After I began to practice regularly, however,  I saw the amount of progress I was making, and began to feel more comfortable within the space. I have even become friends with some of the class regulars, and have even attended workshops for yoga enthusiasts.

I know my transition into the community could have been a whole lot easier, however, if I saw more faces that looked like me within these spaces. There can be so much beauty in planting yourself in spaces where different body shapes, skin tones, and skill levels are present, all while deepening the relationship you hold within yourself. If there was more diversity within the wellness community, I believe building relationships within could be even more powerful.  Even though yoga is a personal practice, there is so much strength in being surrounded by others journeying within themselves as well.

There is so much magic in self care. There is so much power in self love. The energy within a yoga room, with the strength of a diverse, unified community inside, I promise can change lives.