The Yoga Men of Color project was something me and my good friend Jirod Greene had been discussing for a few months. And then on October 1, 2014 we decided to kick it off with a daily asana challenge on Instagram. Since then we’ve had a lot of fun developing it but I wanted to break down what the plans are for the project and why we were motivated to get it rolling.
What is the significance of Yoga Men of Color?
There is a common misconception that Yoga is primarily a middle-class skinny white woman’s practice here in the U.S. This misconception undoubtedly is strengthen by the fact that most of the leading magazines and marketing behind this booming movement portray mostly this section of the population. But as a member of the Yoga community I also know that the outlets to take advantage of quality Yoga classes are limited to certain sectors of our society. When classes cost $25+ dollars, monthly memberships are $200+, Yoga gear is some of the most expensive items you can purchase and to get certified as a Yoga instructor you are looking at a minimum of $2000, its no wonder that the sectors in our society that are the most underdeveloped are also the sectors that Yoga Journal and other marketers are not reaching out to.
This inaccessibility makes it hard for individuals to take advantage of the practice not only because of the lack of Yoga studios in the hood but because of the lack of visual examples of different type of folks practicing Yoga.
There has been a active movement developing within the Yoga community to show that Yoga is made for everyone. There has been a lot of work done on Instagram, a social media outlet that is based on sharing images, to raise consciousness around yoga practices of People of Color, people of all shapes, sizes and skill levels. One of the most under represented groups though is still Yoga Men of Color.
Culturally Yoga has not historically been seen as a practice for men of color but we wanted to change that perspective through this project. With all these artificial barriers that have been developed around Yoga in our community, not only are our brothers not taking advantage of this vital physical practiced but also Machismo ideas of what is a suppose to be acceptable practice for men are reinforced. Ideas of what should be acceptable gender practices or homophobic slurs attached to machismo should be battled at every corner.
So not only is the Yoga Men of Color Project, a project to decolonize Yoga but it in turn is fighting against prejudices around race, gender, sexual orientation, body image issues and much more. This project is a call to action to all the fellas out there who already practice Yoga, have been wanting to create a practice or those who never even thought it was an option for them. We are definitely a minority in the Yoga community, but none the less the impact of this concerted effort will be significant.
What is next for the project?
At this point the project can go in many different directions and we really want to leave some freedom in the hands of our community to dictate where they want to see things go. But some stuff we already have planned is launching our blog in the coming weeks. This blog will act as a forum for members of our community to contribute different written pieces to be published on a central channel. We also will be setting up a national directory for all Yoga Men of Color teaching classes around the country or even those who aren’t yet teachers but want to start up local Yoga circles in their neighborhoods. And we also plan to get videos of different Yoga flows from members around the country.
So be on the look out for this new blog and if you want to be a member of the community start engaging with the October Instagram Challenge, its never too late to jump in and post as many pictures as you can before the month finishes. And thanks to all of you who have already contributed your practice, knowledge and experiences with this awesome community.