It is hard to believe that Chelsea Loves Yoga blog is almost three years old! When I began the blog it was because I saw a need for images that reflected a more diverse array of people. This week’s Yogi in the Community is a contributor to that message and movement through her website Yoga of Color. Take a moment to read what inspires Gerrae to share the diverse beauty that exists across Yoga Communities.
Name: Gerrae Simons Miller – Owner of Mellow Massage Therapy Center and Founder of Yoga of Color
Location: Philadelphia, PA
What led you to the practice of yoga? Yoga has always called to me. Even before I knew what the feeling meant. I began to learn more about the practice right around the time that I fell in love with massage therapy and alternative wellness. I was working as a receptionist for a massage therapy center while still in college at the time. I took a few yoga classes after learning more about the practice from some of my coworkers. The smile that was left on my face at the end of each class was involuntary. It was because of this smile and feeling of bliss that I knew I needed to learn more.
I’ve always been a person that has trouble stopping — stopping work, stopping chatter, stopping accumulation and consumption, stopping the movement of the mind — for many of us this list goes on. Through yoga I am able to stop. I am discovering my complete and extended connection with every being on this planet. The notion that we can heal ourselves and our neighbors through something as simple as the breath is very far from what many of us have been taught to believe. This continues to astound me!
How long have you been practicing yoga? I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about 15 years.
Whenever I stray, finding myself too busy to practice, I’m always drawn back. I began practicing seriously about 6 years ago after opening a business and feeling the pressure of the nonstop exhilaration that is business ownership. After practicing with an instructor privately for a while, I knew that I wanted to learn more and proceeded to complete my 200 hr Inner Fire (Hatha) Yoga Teacher Training with Shiva Das, Ed Zadlo, and David Newman at Yoga on Main in Philadelphia, PA. It was an amazing experience and I always recommend it to everyone that wants to learn more… even if your goals don’t involve teaching.
What led you to begin the Yoga of Color Instagram page? Yoga of Color brings together the peace and healing power of breath, asana, mind, and consciousness of one people on one magnificent earth. With so many negative depictions of People of Color in our media and in our MINDS, Yoga of Color works to let the world know that People of Color are more than that which the media portrays. Yoga of Color was born from the simple idea that ALL people enjoy this amazing practice. We are yogis and yoginis moving toward our recognition of oneness. Moving toward each other. Moving toward our TRUE authentic selves.
A recent blog post by Jen Caron of xojane entitled: “It happened to me: There are no Black People in my yoga classes and I’m suddenly feeling uncomfortable with it” about the author’s egocentric awareness of “a young, fairly heavy black” yoga classmate has left the yoga world and more painfully the Yoga of Color community in a bit of a questioning state. Race, ethnicity, gender – any of the number of things that separate us from each other, are real aspects of our lives. We deal with them on a daily basis and they should not be ignored. Yoga is more than equality though. Equality assumes that there are two or more people, beings, or spaces that are to be treated the same. Yoga teaches that there is only ONE. One Person. One Being. One Space. Yoga of Color strives to share this message. Yoga is about shedding the ego and seeing others as you see yourself – without separation.
What has been the most inspiring part of your yoga journey? I am inspired by the Yoga of Color community. Some folks believe that Black people, Heavyset people, Transgender people — Fill in the blank with whomever you like — don’t practice yoga. Yoga of Color is here to proclaim in the loudest voice possible to anyone that will listen that these notions are lies. Take a look at the Instagram hash tag. It is absolutely beautiful. I fall in love with it every single day. We are Of Color. And we are as beautiful as the yogis that we see in magazines or with tens of thousands of YouTube subscribers and Instagram followers. We really truly are. There is no need for patronization. We should all be proud of who we are. We are just as capable as our counterparts – open to the asana and the breath and willing to practice and work toward the unity that yoga provides. We are one and we are light – simple, beautiful, and brilliant!
You can keep up with Gerrae and follow her Yoga of Color Movement by visiting the following links:
IG / Tumblr / Twitter: @Yogaofcolor