This week our Yogi in the Community, Sara Clark, has shared her radiance and love for yoga across communities and gracefully represents the beautiful diversity of yoga. It was during my first Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park, Colorado that I recently saw Sara as I was flipping through a YJ Magazine. I was speaking on a panel about power, privilege, and issues surrounding diversity across yoga communities, and seeing Sara’s image reminded me of why I was there. For me, seeing images reflective of aspects of myself encourage and remind me that I belong too. Although it has been a slow and steady practice, it is refreshing to see images and voices like Sara represent the fullness of our yoga communities. It was a pleasure to catch up with Sara and talk with her about yoga, healing trauma, and the ways in which social media help diversify yoga.
Name: Sara Clark
Location: New York City
Hometown: Northern Maryland
Can you talk about the work you do across yoga communities?
I teach vinyasa flow classes throughout Manhattan at high-end health clubs as well as in corporate offices and private homes. My work as a teacher has always been to create a safe space for students to commune. Classes are an internal exploration utilizing the breath and asana as a guide. There is an emphasis on mindfulness, compassion and intention so the yoga practice can evolve both on and off of the mat. The flow is a creative dance with an emphasis on alignment. Whether you are seasoned or a novice yogi, all levels are welcomed.
I am a 500-hour certified yoga teacher and recently completed a certification to become an Ayurveda nutritionist/lifestyle consultant. This ties into the practice of compassion and mindfulness towards one self; understanding one’s unique constitution and the laws of nature to create a beautiful, balanced union of health and well-being.
I follow you on social media and I love the ways in which you share practices of self love. Have you always practiced this, or was there a moment, period of time, or experience that shaped your awareness?
One of my teachers once said, “In the beginning you do yoga because it feels good. But after awhile, yoga begins to do you.”
There once was a time when I was completely disconnected from myself. A trauma in college was the tipping point and I fell into a state of disordered eating that sent me to the hospital. I realized I had two choices: fight like hell to remember my worth and live a rich life or spend the rest of my time on earth in deep suffering and disconnect. I chose to heal and live fully.
Self-love has come from diving deep into my practice and allowing yoga to take complete control. I have been practicing for over 13 years and the affect of yoga “doing me” has been gradual yet steady. The physical practice has created a sacred space for me to commune with my body and celebrate it’s capabilities. The breath has been a guide into my internal world creating space for my mind to slow down and anxiety to cease. Meditation has been a blessing that allows me to understand what I need internally to survive in the external world. My path thus far has originated out of love and the desire to evolve. I quit my corporate job, I teach yoga full-time and I have travelled the world. This would not have happened if I had chosen to suffer.
This practice is a constant reminder that I am limitless; that we as a race and a universe are powerful, strong, beautiful, talented and unique. This life is meant to be enjoyed but we must first wake up to the fact that suffering is a choice and that love will set us free. So yes, self-love is my passion and reminding others of this is my goal: Be patient, allow self-acceptance to be a daily practice. Be aware of how you are treating yourself and what your internal dialogue sounds like. When you look in the mirror say one kind thing to yourself, even if it’s a kind “hello.” Begin again and again until you re-wire your thinking brain. Thoughts are energy and energy creates. So be aware of what you are creating. You are worth being happy; you are much more than your physical body. You are love at it’s core.
I remember flipping through a Yoga Journal a couple of months ago and screaming when I saw you! I have also recently watched your soothing online meditation segments on SHAPE! I remember when I began practicing yoga in the early 2000s, I did not see my reflection (race/ethnicity/body shape) as much in the magazines and recruitment flyers for yoga teacher trainings as much as I am seeing a slow evolution in the images we see now.Can you talk about the importance (if any) of seeing a diverse range of people/bodies practicing yoga? Is this something that matters to you?
Can you talk about the importance (if any) of seeing a diverse range of people/bodies practicing yoga? I could talk for hours about diversity in the world of yoga. It definitely pulls at my heartstrings. The beauty of the physical and spiritual yoga practice is that it can be done without spending any money. You don’t even need a yoga mat. The Western world however has turned yoga into a socio-economic privilege. And when you don’t see yourself represented within this world, it can feel very unwelcoming. Thanks to Instagram I have been exposed to a yoga community that showcases all shapes and shades doing yoga all over the world! It has brought me great comfort knowing that I am one of millions of brown yogis diving into the practice.
It has been such an honor to work with New York Health & Racquet Club and Shape Magazine along with being in Yoga Journal for Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. I take pride in representing a demographic that you don’t usually find in yoga ads. May all who see me be reminded that yoga is for all.
Want to practice with or contact Sara?
Follow her on Instagram here
Connect with her on Facebook here