Black History Month Series: Inclusion Matters by Chelsea Gardner

Updated: Feb 3

As we approach Black History Month, we are thrilled to curate spaces for Black wellness on the mat as well as to amplify the voices of Black yogis during our four-part virtual series. This series was cultivated and constructed for beginner yogis as well as veteran practitioners.


While asana is an essential part of the series, we’ll be prioritizing the art of conversation. As we near a year of living in the pandemic and adjusting to this new normal, it’s critical that we engage in dialogue. There are many benefits of connecting with others, especially during a time where we can feel isolated. We should not only be listening and learning, but we should also be using our voices to speak up for others, speak out against injustices, and actively engage to enact change. This series aims to illuminate that this work extends beyond the mat. It’s an educational and informative series as well as an intimate one. Many of these conversations require us to tap into empathy, especially as we hope to answer questions about the experiences of others.


One of the questions we’ll be engaging in throughout the series is how we can elevate diversity and inclusion in yoga. What does that look like for you? Does that mean venturing out and exploring new class styles or teachers? Does that mean holding spaces that elevate Black yogis, such as this one? How can we make room for everyone on the mat to be their most authentic self? Yoga is not a monolithic experience. It’s never been a one-size-fits all model. Every experience on the mat can look different each time you enter the space – even virtually. That’s the beauty of the practice.


If you decide to join us this month, we welcome you to bring thoughtful ideas to our sessions and open your mind to ways that we can revolutionize yoga to be a space that is welcoming to everyone and free of the -isms, i.e., racism, colorism, ableism, etc. During my training this summer, I had the unique opportunity to be a part of a concerted effort to support Black wellness. We made space for difficult conversations during the racial reckoning this summer as well as challenged ourselves to think of the complexities of how we show up on and off the mat. This experience transformed me and my yoga practice. It sparked a fire in me to give back to my community by sharing what I’ve learned, which includes creating more spaces for melanin on the mat. It’s precisely why this series is so important to me.


When you start to faithfully practice yoga and dedicate yourself to many of the principles of the practice, you realize that your values, your intentions, and your affirmations must align in every area of your life. Given this, we are truly embracing the intersection of asana and conversation this month; while acknowledging that, separately, these can potentially be uncomfortable when asked to try tough poses or engage in more complex conversations. I encourage you to think of both as opportunities. The beauty in yoga is that we often stretch and open ourselves to lean into discomfort to grow. So, let’s grow together this month to intentionally make yoga a more inviting space, especially for underrepresented groups. Inclusion matters.


Looking forward to seeing you on the mat this month!


Chelsea Gardner



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