Yoga in Color
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ace, a Los Angeles based yoga teacher, and talking to her about her journey in her personal practice and becoming a yoga teacher and it reminded me of the importance of finding acceptance in who you are and where you are at any given moment. Yoga at its heart is a practice of accepting who you are in this moment and allowing that to guide your practice. However, for many of us, that acceptance is much harder than the moves we actually try in class.
Ace told me the story of mala beads that been given to her because of the difficulty she had been having finding her voice as a yoga teacher. The beads were symbol of the throat chakra that seemed to be locked as she struggled to guide her students in class when she first started and how helpful it was to have a physical reminder of empowerment. But, then the beads broke. So she fixed. And then, they broke again and again. And eventually, she realized that she didn’t need them anymore. She was holding on to something that was no longer serving her. This is something I think we can all relate to. I mean, how often do we hang on to things we no longer need because of the comfort we perceive they give us? And perceive or perception is the important word because it is how we view the world, not necessarily how the world actually is.
Born in Baltimore and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, Ace’s story oscillates between finding her identity in all-black and then all-white communities as a young Black girl. With that came the challenges of perceiving herself as being “black-enough” but also trying being accepted in white social groups. “I never had a foundation of where I came from, or who I am. Yoga helped me do that.”
Ace started yoga later in life at a YMCA in the southside of Chicago and then finding hot yoga in the gold coast, which was predominately white. “There wasn’t a lot of me in the gold coast classes.” A struggle that many people of color experience when trying out yoga studios. Where are all the people who look like me, my body type, my background, my music?
Yoga started in India and yet outside of the gurus on the wall, we often don’t see many people of color in the room. In the teacher training she did, there were only 3 people of color. In classes I have taken, I have been the only person of color in the room. Months can go by where I don’t have a teacher who is a person of color. Ace is not the image of what immediately comes to many peoples’ minds when they think of what a yoga teacher looks like but has drawn a huge following from a demographic looking for diversity in yoga studios and the experience they can have in a class.
Her story needs to be told so that other people can see themselves in it. There is room for teachers of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds in the yoga community. It is inspiring to see someone who you can relate to in a leadership role, it helps someone say, “Oh maybe I can do it too.”
She left me with this message to share “Erase whatever lines society drew for you and draw them back your way and what comes will be divinely given.”
So, start erasing and creating the images you want to see around you!
Follow Ace on instagram: AceYogaLA
Or check out her website at AceYogaLA.com