Creating a Space for Myself and Others Who Look Like Me in Yoga

Over the years I have been to many different yoga studios and feeling unwelcome is beyond disheartening. The barriers made me uncomfortable: diverse bodies were not seen, inclusiveness wasn’t present and I couldn’t find variety in body sizes and ages. I began to question myself – “Do I belong?” 

I was often the only African American participant in class, an older woman, and a curvy girl, but I had just as much reason to be there and fortitude as everyone else.

I needed to shift my perspective and change the narrative of what I was experiencing to overcome this feeling. I found showing up authentically and creating a space for myself on the mat had a positive impact on my wellbeing not only mentally but physically. 

It has taken me a long time to build a community, be seen, and be present in this space. After all of that, I could not be prouder to have chosen the path of teaching. It was beyond challenging to take the leap to become a yoga instructor, knowing that I’d lead classes where students didn’t expect to see me as an instructor. But I knew that it would be worth it to carve out space for people like me to feel like they belonged.

Teaching has led to the reward of sharing, showing up, being authentic, cultivating connections and showing that this experience of authenticity is fruitful in many ways. My journey has helped me to help others I connect with to overcome the feeling that they don’t belong, and to dispel the feeling that belonging is attributed to size, accessibility, shape, or race. 

My advice after creating my own path and finding space where I belong is go where you feel welcome, and experience a great, authentic vibe. There is a place for you whether you decide to become an instructor or participant. Yoga is for every-BODY, it is a space where individuals can cultivate a connection with their inner self, a place for healing, a place to breathe and a place of inner peace.

As I look towards the future, I feel good about the brands that are getting it right when it comes to accepting all bodies and showing that fitness is accessible for ALL. The brands that I truly admire support inclusivity and diversity in the fitness space: Black Girls Run, REI, Fleet Feet Sports and Terry Bicycles. Other organizations getting it right include Follain Beauty, Kari Gran Skincare, and Handful.

Find me on the mat in the DMV area at One Life Fitness Germantown, Clarksburg Yoga and Wellness, and MoxieDMV. Follow me on my yoga journey at @deanietheyogini.

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About Adina Crawford

Adina Crawford is a certified Yoga Teacher who specializes in teaching Meditation and Mindfulness.She is also a certified Aqua Bootcamp Instructor and RRCA Certified Run Coach. She is a mentor, motivator, advocate, and community influencer. Her calling to teach yoga has been about diversity and community, understanding that each person is unique and at a different level and growth. Diversity is the community together. She is a contributor for Fleet Feet Sports. Her specialty in yoga is Vinyasa, Sculpt, and Restorative. She has collaborated and taught at various companies such as Lululemon, Athleta, Oiselle, and many other local and community events. Currently, she is an Ambassador for Trek Bicycles, Black Girls Run, Terry Bikes, Honeystinger and Nuun, Emcee for Girls on the Run DC and REI Co-op Partner. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Black Girls Run Foundation. In 2016 she completed her first Marathon in Chicago and the Boston virtual Marathon in Boston in October 2021, since then has completed numerous half-marathons, triathlons, and cycling events. Her goal is to bring more diversity and awareness to the mat and spread the love of all the benefits of yoga coupled with other activities is beneficial. YOGA IS FOR EVERYBODY

3 thoughts on “Creating a Space for Myself and Others Who Look Like Me in Yoga

  1. Thank you for this inspiring article. I pray you keep encouraging people to take care of their health.

  2. Beautiful article. Her sentiments are mine, as I’ve experienced the same feelings while entering the foray of Pilates. Great to know she’s showing up and showing out. She’s the magic we all knew existed, but hadn’t yet seen. Go Girl

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