Embodied Yoga Helps Women of Color Find Health Products

MILWAUKEE — Embody Yoga founder Joanna Brooks created an inclusive space with a mission to offer her wellness products exclusively to women of color and others.

“I actually started doing yoga in middle school because my siblings had to go to school before me, so I was doing yoga with this lady on TV every morning, so that’s how I started,” Brooks said .

After college, she tried a few things, but eventually realized she wanted to be a yoga instructor.

“So I decided to pursue it, and here we are,” Brooks said. “Fast forward, here we are.”

Yoga’s roots go back thousands of years in India and Africa, especially Egypt, but some communities of color still don’t believe yoga is for them.

“We get a lot of information from the media who tell us who belongs, and in the case of yoga, who yoga is for, and I think for a long time, we’ve been getting messages that yoga isn’t for people of color, so I Think it’s time to change that specifically in our city,” Brooks said.

embodied yoga

Joanna says yoga not only improves flexibility, it also builds strength, prevents back pain and reduces stress. The U.S. military, the National Institutes of Health and other large organizations are listening to and incorporating scientific validation of yoga’s value in healthcare.

“Given the stressful lives many of us lead, we encounter stressors every day. I think it’s important to have the tools you need yourself to manage your day,” says Brooks.

A group of her clients gather to warm up for what is called “HOT YOGA” (emphasis on HOT!)

“So we heat our studio to 93 degrees, a minimum of 35 percent humidity, and we do our traditional 60-minute long practice sessions,” Brooks said.

Jamila Cearney is a dancer and martial artist who has been a client of Embody Yoga for at least 7 years.

“Just being able to self-regulate my emotions, just to be able to woo, and the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual flexibility that yoga provides keeps me coming back every week,” Cearney said.

Inspired by Embody Yoga, Catherine Siudzinski focuses on yoga for the deaf and full body performance.

“A lot of times when I go to a yoga class, I don’t see any teacher who looks like me and doesn’t offer modifications. You know, there are different ways to move my body comfortably and still practice benefits,” Siudzinski said.

People who are thinking about getting into yoga, maybe give it a try.

“Just come in, come for yourself, do what you can and be consistent, and you’ll start reaping the benefits,” Brooks said.

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