Experiencing a 26 and 2 class taught by a Black woman felt like being a part of history,
What made the practice so unique was seeing someone who looked like me, lead a class other than vinyasa or yin. She was rare. She was precise and technical. And historically, it was challenging to find someone of color, at a studio, lead such a practice. But at Yoga Tree Baltimore, it was different. I felt seen and saw my likeness in a class that I would normally shrink myself in by positioning my mat in the back corner of a studio. She and I casually greeted each other like everyone else before class. I came early to place my mat at the front of the room, silently affirming her while setting my intentions for my practice.
The instructor and I never spoke of her impact on my practice, but it was life changing.
It was that experience that reignited my dedication to the practice and I entertained ideas of becoming more. I sought after more experiences like this and researched Black women who had studios in the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area.
But life happened and I put my consistent practice on hold while a few years passed by. Determined to reset and reconnect to my breath, I joined a local gym in Baltimore for additional wellness goals and a similar Yoga Tree Baltimore experience. There I met my 200 Yoga Teacher Training instructor, a Palestinian woman, Abir of Abir Yoga Academy, who presented an alternate class experience with middle eastern rap and Wu-Tang Klan classics.
Last year, I attended her first yoga teacher training as an entrepreneur, and it felt good to support a woman of color and small business. I helped her make history and her training introduced me to an industry where I thought I could only follow and occasionally be seen. The journey continues as I grow as an instructor and in my individual practice, it is so rewarding.
Photo 1: Shani at Baltimore Inner Harbor
Photo 2: Shani & Kamaria post yoga class, 2017, Yoga Tree Baltimore in Hampden
Photo 3: Shani in front of Egyptian Goddess Ma'at