As a sort of personal social experiment I decided to venture into the word of yoga. Why do I call it a world? Well, because I believe it to be some sort of subculture etched into today’s society. After reading Namaste: Yoga in the Black Community, I felt the need to see if I would truly be ostracized by the yoga community just because I’m Black or if it’s a welcoming environment that we just seem to shy away from. I have to admit that my doubt on the matter was immense. There’s no way all of the people at Yoga To The People, a studio that’s made for “everyone,” could make me feel out of place, right?
Let me start off detailing this experience by saying that my nerves had begun to dance before I even reached the studio. I’m a pretty flexible young woman whose body can tolerate a lot, but when overwhelming heat and I collide, things tend to go awry. So… anxiously and nervously, I bumble around the locker room preparing for my 90-minute stint in a 104-degree room in which I’ll be trapped, unable to exit until the class was over. It was obvious that I had totally psyched myself out at this point thinking of the dramatic possibility that I would probably die in this room. But hey, anything for the story, right?
Quietly we began. Focusing on breathing, being still and relaxing. Those are the only three things you’re supposed to focus on. You will your body into the various positions to release bad energy and tension that your body endures over the days–even years–and it feels incredible to just be for awhile. It was all fun and intriguing, until dizziness set in and I felt faint, but don’t worry. I sat down, collected myself and recovered with grace. I was able to push my sweaty and ultra hot self all the way through the class and making to the final resting position. Namaste.
Overall, the experience was empowering, and I didn’t feel ostracized or discriminated against at all. I may be oblivious (I doubt it), but any barriers that are supposed to be there weren’t. That could be true for yoga teachers, but yoga attendees shouldn’t find themselves in an awkward situation. I just don’t believe blacks utilize the fitness resource as much as they should. I can’t speak for others, but I received a lot of love. The community was supportive in my moment of exhaustion and the instructor (who was Caucasian) cheered me on. In the long run, the heat didn’t do as much damage as it did good. Suprisingly, after reflecting upon the entirety of the experience, I would definitely go back. Leaving from such an intensely challenging workout, I felt like I knew myself better. Cliché, I know. But after something so zen-like, everything was all good.
The only thing I was worried about was my hair! –Niki McGloster