Balance October 2017 - 43

make her uncomfortable? 'Not really but it would be
nice to see other people of colour as well.'
For others, it's less subtle. 'I feel alienated when
teachers make comments about my hair, my body type,
and other physical characteristics,' Stacie Graham, a life
coach agrees. 'Or when other students stare at me.'
Instructors also report feeling alienated. 'I avoided
teaching in any studios for the last five years because
I find [them] white-centric,' Josetta Malcolm tells me.
So are these incidences a one-off? Or are these
experiences reflective of the wellness movement in the
UK at present? After all, one leading women's health
publication is yet to feature a non-Caucasian woman on
its cover in 2017 (and only managed two in 2016). The
publishing world isn't exempt either - a cursory glance
at Yellow Kite Books, which specialises in health and
wellness, features very few non-white authors. And
of the most recognisable wellness tomes out there,
none are written by PoC.
Even on Instagram, which has long championed
diversity, I'm yet to see any difference. Search #yogagirl
(4,083,874 posts and counting) and Caucasian women
in various (and enviable) contortions fill the screen.
That's not to say that PoC are entirely absent from the
movement. It's just that they're yet to be given identical
opportunities to hit the mainstream.
It's challenging enough to inhabit spaces where black
and brown bodies aren't entirely accepted or welcomed.
But a closer look at various healthy eateries and fitness
studios across the capital reveals a more sinister reality:
more often than not, communities of colour are prevented
from accessing them in the first place. Classes at one
central London fitness studio are £20 a pop, while
supper clubs and a five-day juice cleanse can charge up
to £60 and £375 a head, respectively.
When Black and Asian workers are significantly
more likely than their Caucasian counterparts to be in
insecure jobs or on zero hour contracts, while Muslim
women are three times as likely to be out of work,
according to the Women and Equalities Commission,
their absence from health settings paints a bleak picture:
it's out of their reach.

REVOLUTION IN THE MAKING
It's optimistic, however, that PoC are increasingly setting
up their own spaces to combat what they perceive as
their invisibility in the mainstream. OYA Retreats, the
UK's first yoga retreat for WoC, is one example. Stacie,
a certified hatha yoga instructor, says: 'Yoga has had
such a profoundly positive impact on my way of living,
it was important to me to create an environment where
an underrepresented population of practitioners would
have similar opportunities.'
In a summer that's seen a white nationalist protest
in Charlottesville end in deadly violence to most of the
residents perishing in the Grenfell Tower tragedy from
BME backgrounds, OYA offers a safe space for WoC to
reconnect. 'We're all too painfully aware of the violence
and hurt our communities are dealing with right now,'
Josetta, an attendee, agrees. 'We need more healing

46

OYA Retreats
delivers
a holistic
movement and
mindfulness
practice to
black women
and women
of colour.

spaces for ourselves to share, vent and celebrate.'
OYA's since branched out into urban retreats in London,
largely in part as she's conscious that it's not entirely
financially accessible to all WoC.
While I expected OYA Retreats to be a one-off, a
domino effect seems to have taken hold since last
summer. More spaces accommodating PoC than ever
before have launched, from yoga for Muslim women to
Yogahood, a vinyasa flow yoga class that aims to tackle
the practice's inclusivity problem. It's also regularly
frequented by 20-something black males.
Yogahood has been so well-received, founder Sanchia
Legister tells me, largely in part because 'people want to
see others they can identify with'.
She's since co-founded Gyal Flex, a class that fuses
hip-hop with meditation. 'There is room for more than
what's on offer now,' Sanchia says.
Frankly it's frustrating it's taken that long when PoC
have increasingly built spaces for their communities
Stateside. The most notable is Black Girl in Om, a leading
wellness platform for WoC that's branched out into
podcasts, events and retreats. Meanwhile, Black Vegans
Rock celebrates the achievements of its namesake. It's
heartening that instead of once pining for a similar
revolution to hit UK shores, I'm seeing us stake our claim.
Sanchia and Stacie might have made some muchneeded strides, but we don't have to wait for others to
make the change they want to see. Each of us have the
power to play a part - however small - in making health
accessible to not just PoC but other minority groups too,
whether it's ensuring the venue caters to those who aren't
able-bodied, to encouraging instructors to hold classes
in ethnically diverse postcodes. We all deserve to benefit
from the movement, be it a single mother on a council
estate to a Chelsea-based stockbroker.
And there's never been a more pressing time either
for PoC to reap the benefits of the movement. Months
on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy on 14 June, at least
20 survivors and witnesses have, sadly, attempted to
take their lives.
Here's hoping that over the next few years, PoC won't
have to keep launching separate spaces and that the
mainstream might just be ready to accept us. B

BA LA N CE October 2017

IMAGES: STOCKSY

TRUE COLOURS



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance October 2017

Balance October 2017 - 1
Balance October 2017 - 2
Balance October 2017 - 3
Balance October 2017 - 4
Balance October 2017 - 5
Balance October 2017 - 6
Balance October 2017 - 7
Balance October 2017 - 8
Balance October 2017 - 9
Balance October 2017 - 10
Balance October 2017 - 11
Balance October 2017 - 12
Balance October 2017 - 13
Balance October 2017 - 14
Balance October 2017 - 15
Balance October 2017 - 16
Balance October 2017 - 17
Balance October 2017 - 18
Balance October 2017 - 19
Balance October 2017 - 20
Balance October 2017 - 21
Balance October 2017 - 22
Balance October 2017 - 23
Balance October 2017 - 24
Balance October 2017 - 25
Balance October 2017 - 26
Balance October 2017 - 27
Balance October 2017 - 28
Balance October 2017 - 29
Balance October 2017 - 29
Balance October 2017 - 30
Balance October 2017 - 31
Balance October 2017 - 32
Balance October 2017 - 33
Balance October 2017 - 35
Balance October 2017 - 34
Balance October 2017 - 37
Balance October 2017 - 35
Balance October 2017 - 36
Balance October 2017 - 37
Balance October 2017 - 38
Balance October 2017 - 39
Balance October 2017 - 40
Balance October 2017 - 41
Balance October 2017 - 42
Balance October 2017 - 43
Balance October 2017 - 44
Balance October 2017 - 45
Balance October 2017 - 46
Balance October 2017 - 47
Balance October 2017 - 48
Balance October 2017 - 49
Balance October 2017 - 50
Balance October 2017 - 51
Balance October 2017 - 52
Balance October 2017 - 53
Balance October 2017 - 54
Balance October 2017 - 55
Balance October 2017 - 56
Balance October 2017 - 57
Balance October 2017 - 58
Balance October 2017 - 59
Balance October 2017 - 60
Balance October 2017 - 61
Balance October 2017 - 62
Balance October 2017 - 63
Balance October 2017 - 64
Balance October 2017 - 65
Balance October 2017 - 66
Balance October 2017 - 67
Balance October 2017 - 68
Balance October 2017 - 69
Balance October 2017 - 70
Balance October 2017 - 71
Balance October 2017 - 72
Balance October 2017 - 73
Balance October 2017 - 74
Balance October 2017 - 75
Balance October 2017 - 76
Balance October 2017 - 77
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BALANCE_OCTOBER_2019
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/balanceseptember2019
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/balancejuly2019
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/Balance_June_2019
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/balancemay2019
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/balance_april_2019
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceMarch19
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceFebruary19
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJanuary2019
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceDecember2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceNovember2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceOctober2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceSeptember2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceAugust2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJuly2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJune2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceMay2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceApril2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceMarchIssue2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceFebruary18
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJanIssue2018
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/balancedecember2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/balancenovember2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceOctober2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceSeptIssue2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJulyIssue2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJuneIssue2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceMayIssue2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceAprilIssue2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceMarchIssue17
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceFebruaryIssue2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJanuaryIssue2017
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceDecember2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceNovember2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceOctober2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceSeptember2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJuly2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceJune2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceMay2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceLaunchEditionApril2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/Balance2016
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/BalanceNov
http://europe.nxtbook.com/emp/Balance/Balance
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com