By Crystal Duan
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In recent months, Twin Cities yoga instructors have partnered with One Yoga and the Minneapolis Urban League to launch brand-new classes especially for women of color.
The first time Minneapolis resident Nicole M. Smith attended a Twin Cities yoga class, she felt hyper-aware of how different she looked from her classmates. Sure, she has a slim athletic figure, the stereotypical yogi build. But she was the only black woman in the room, which made her feel self-conscious and excluded.
“There were times I felt a certain invisibility where people walked on my yoga mat,” she said. “I don’t feel like it’s intentional. But in a spiritual space, where you’re trying to connect with yourself, these kinds of triggering happenings can make one feel unsafe.”
The experience left Smith with misgivings about attending future yoga classes. But she kept looking and eventually found an appealing option, a restorative practice for women of color at One Yoga. The class “completely shifted my relationship with yoga,” she said.
In recent months, Twin Cities yoga instructors have partnered with One Yoga and the Minneapolis Urban League to launch brand-new classes especially for women of color. Instructor Serita Colette started working earlier this year with One Yoga, a nonprofit center in south Minneapolis, to launch a series of workshops for women and gender-queer people of color. And the Urban League worked with instructor Rebeka Ndosi for its first free class, held in conjunction with Women’s Wellness Month in May.
“We thought maybe 30 people would show up, max,” said Mallory Mitchell, the Urban League’s development manager. “And it blew up! There were 300 to 400 people interested on Facebook. And we ended up with 100 officially registered. It was incredible.”
The event was so popular, the Urban League scheduled a second yoga workshop in July, with future classes in the works. And Ndosi fielded so many inquiries that she decided to start hosting a series of yoga events for women of color. The venue will be the Roots Community Birth Center, a minority-owned midwifery in north Minneapolis, with the first class sometime in the fall.