The practice of yoga has grown tremendously in the United States in the past few years. Studies show that there has been an 87 percent increase in yoga product spending in the last five years. Today, the whole yoga industry has grown into a sizable $87 billion market in the U.S. alone, and that number will continue to grow in the coming years.
However, one issue that seems to stand out in yoga circles is the apparent lack of representation of yogis from minority groups, most notably from African American populations. In response, a group of African American yogis is responding by creating Black Yoga Magazine. This publication seeks to build awareness of yoga amongst Black communities and to increase the representation of blacks and people of color in the industry.
The project came to life through the efforts and vision of yoga instructor Ashley Adams, owner of Yoga Blue Fitness in Tarpon Springs, Florida. “After going to my local bookstore and looking through 10 different publications about yoga and topics related to yoga and not finding a single brown person, I was left frustrated and knew something had to be done,” shares the passionate yogi on the magazine’s website.
Ashley also narrates the instances where people in the yoga world marginalized her for the color of her skin. The lack of representation and presence of racial discrimination have fueled Ashley’s initiative to start the publication that features Black yogis and their studios and practices to help build up the case for Black representation in yoga.
While the practice itself is ancient and timeless, yoga’s popularity has only seen the exponential curve quite recently. The far majority still do not know of yoga as a practice, and the art is only seeing the beginning of its laggard rise. Still, there is much to be improved across yoga circles. Ashley and the team behind Black Yoga Magazine hope that the dissolution of racial profiling will be one of those many developments.
Most of the world will be utterly aware by now of the recent rise of Black Lives Matter movements, even in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Active citizens have taken to the streets and public places to march against police brutality and racial profiling that has caused physical, emotional, and mental harm to African Americans all over the country. The most significant catalyst by far was the broadcasting of the reckless actions of individual police officers that lead to the death of George Floyd.
Ashley hopes that with Black Yoga Magazine, she can contribute to the campaign to end racial discrimination on all fronts. For the yogi, she aims to start in her backyard- the yoga industry. Black Yoga Magazine released its first issue back in September 2019 and has published seven catalogs since then. The publication features Black yoga practitioners from all over the country and shares the inspiring stories of prominent Black yoga instructors, including Jotholyn Mason, Valencia Folks, Danny Fluker Jr, and many others. The magazine also features a directory of yoga instructor businesses in the United States that are run by African American yogis.
Ashley hopes that in her little way and through Black Yoga Magazine, she can fight to end racism against Black Americans and work towards a future where people will never question the presence of Black yogis.