Walking into a yoga class can be a pretty intimidating experience for your average exerciser. The practice is everything you’re told to bring to a regular fitness class or weight room — intensity, focus, and good form — and yet, even though it’s as popular as it’s ever been, yoga is still seen as an otherworldly, alternative workout for the affluent and trendy.

Usually the quiet mix of fervent novices and gregarious instructors with limber, lean muscles (male instructors are called a yogis and women are yoginis) gives me the appearance of an ideal space for me to build my body in a communal environment, even if the class is held within the sterile walls of a commercial gym. For me, unfortunately, yoga classes still make me feel uncomfortable mainly because I’m usually the largest person in the class, but all the more disconcerting, I’m usually the only black male in any particular class I attend.

So while perusing the internet for a class to attend in Atlanta with an instructor who is black, hoping this would help mitigate my apprehension, luckily, I find a talented yogini named Chelsea Jackson, who has a blog, Chelsea Loves Yoga, which is an online community that highlights yoga practitioners of color. I read a couple of Chelsea’s entries, and a few interviews, and I was hooked.

Practicing and instructing at Kashi Atlanta, which is nestled inside of Atlanta’s quaint Candler Park neighborhood, I learned that, in order to help her continue on her path, Chelsea sometimes finds herself reflecting on her inspiring journey from a dewy, overweight Spelman College undergrad to a confident, veracious Emory University Educational Studies PhD student — no one’s journey is ever over.

Her story is one that led me to her Sunday morning “Beginner’s Yoga” class. The melodic drums of contemporary R&B classics and traditional, relaxing yoga music helped push me to a place where I had never gone before, opening what I believed was my third eye, a chakra that many feel leads some to a higher consciousness. Although there was no other black men in the class at that time, Chelsea’s class was as diverse as I had ever witnessed, and I felt comfortable and left feeling recharged and happy.

Once you go to her website and read her story, you’ll quickly understand why her work online and in communities of color is paramount to the growth and expansion of yoga and healthier lifestyles in said communities. She is a true FITSPIRATION!

Not to long ago, Chelsea carved out a little time in her busy schedule to talk with Frugivore and expanded upon topics ranging from her website and her weight loss journey to her love for yoga and its troubling lack or perceived lack of diversity. Here are some of the highlights from her interview. Enjoy!

around the web

29 Comments

  1. very nice article. I’m happy to see women of color working to liberate their minds, bodies, and souls. God Bless

  2. The Birth of Cool

    Yoga in the black community is long overdue and it’s exiting to read about a black woman taking the lead. I live in San Diego and we have a vibrant community of black yogiand it’s not a stretch to see blacks leading a class but not as a majority in a yoga class. Yoga has so much more to do to permeate the black mainstream. Kudos to you Chelsea

  3. Very inspiring

  4. Thank you so much Frugivore !!! I am loving how the community here is growing and connecting with multiple pockets of conscious communities. Special thanks to those of you who took the time to read the article. Would love for you to join the Chelsea Loves Yoga Community! You can find us on Facebook: Chelsea Loves Yoga, the blog: http://www.chelsealovesyoga.com and I am also on twitter @chelseajaya. One Love!

  5. I think it’s very helpful to have a supportive community, whether it’s a spiritual community or a bootcamp. So as long as you have a community of support and people who can also hold you accountable with a lot of compassion — and I stress that more than anything — because I know there were times during my journey that I’m on that I can often be a little bit harder on myself.

    ———————————————————————–

    Such a powerful quote. I’ve been on a weight loss journey for the last 3 years and I couldn’t lose the weight I knew I could because I didn’t have anyone holding me accountable. I went about it by myself. I was scared to workout in front of people so I’d wait too late or wake up early but that led me to never stay true to me. It wasn’t until I joined a wonderful group of women who had similar goals that I started and WANTED to lose the weight. Thanks for what you do Chelsea

    • @Tannis: Thank you for sharing your story! There is so much power in telling OUR stories, we have no idea sometimes how much it inspires others. I am so happy you have found a community to support you and your goals! Please keep us posted via the FB Chelsea Loves Yoga page if you can. Peace and Love!

    • @Tannis: I agree. Support is key. A level of compassion that can’t be duplicated.

  6. Nice post.

  7. Congratulations SiStar Chesea!

    Truly a Beautiful story!

    We must continue to tell our ‘Her’story and live our lives as authentically as possible. I am from Los Angeles and my Aunt taught me Hatha Yoga at Santa Monica Beach when I was six years old (I just wanted to play with the other kids…:-), she planted a seed that would take root years later as I now teach Kemetic Yoga to a knowledge ‘thirsty’ audience and it enlightens my Soul…!

    Continue to Live Life Vibrantly!

    In Light,

    Nina

  8. Right On! Chelsea. As an old collegiate runner I fell in love with yoga last yr. Its been totally transformational. I wanna see more women of color exploring yoga for mental and physical health. Onward and upward Chelsea :)

  9. I love Chelsea’s site. It is so motivating. i practiced yoga about 6 years ago seriously, and i moved across the country. i would love to find a yogi (especially one of color) that i can develop my practice with. Chelsea’s site led me to so many other sites that have inspired me!! Thank you SIStar for your motivation and inspiration!

  10. Wow! What a beautiful interview. Honest

  11. It makes her more beautiful?

  12. Thank you for this! Loved the article! I just started yoga two weeks ago in a New to Yoga class. I am really enjoying it and plan to continue after the introductory session. This will be my new journey!

  13. I live for positive stories like hers. @frugivoremag thanks

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