Yoga for People of Color Empowers a Community
Health and Wellness Lifestyle

Yoga for People of Color Empowers a Community

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Midway through the session, beyond classic postures, breathing, and chanting, Marshall asked participants to stand, rejoin the circle, and participate in a freestyle dance to the tunes of Mariah Carey’s hit song, “Shake It Off.” A further sense of camaraderie was demonstrated when Marshall asked students to help each other form the “wheel pose,” a back bending position, with the help of yoga straps.

The class ended with students returning to the circle, seated. Each person shared with the group the one word that comes to their mind in that moment. Marshall, while encouraging conversation amongst the group, then shared a few pieces of fruit and delectable dark chocolates.

Marshall also teaches multiple styles of dance and music to New York City public school children. In 2002, she received her yoga teaching certification from Laughing Lotus Yoga Center and has done a study with Cathy Calderon, Jonathan FitzGordon, Alison West, and Kevin and Erin Maile O’Keefe in Circus Yoga.

Calia Marshall, founder of Brown Sugar: Yoga for Folks of Color
Calia Marshall, founder of Brown Sugar: Yoga for Folks of Color in Brooklyn, New York (Source:

Surprisingly, the concept of yoga classes targeted specifically at people of color is not new. Across the country, there are quite a few black-owned yoga studios and practicing professional yogis, who provide such classes. For instance, Maya Breuer offers a yoga retreat for women of color. Leslie Salmon Jones, founder of Afro Flow Yoga, offers a creative fusion of yoga, the dances of the African Diaspora, and live music. Black Girl in Om, an online publication that promotes holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color, also suggests similar resources.