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Welcome back to the Indigo108 takeover of BeREAL! This week, Liz talks to Tonie Warner, a Brooklyn-based yoga teacher, about wellness for Black women.
Tonie found empowerment and refuge in Yoga in over 15 years of practice and teaching. She believes that Yoga is a liberation practice, dependent on the liberation of BIPOC. She did not see this tenet being upheld in dominant studio culture, and with the desire to extend her practice in alignment with her beliefs, she founded Yuja Soul, a dedicated space offering Yoga for Black Women. Tonie also serves as one of the Practice Coalition’s Principals uplifting trauma-informed Yoga, and also devotes her offerings to The Connective, a cooperative, teacher-owned platform challenging the standards of the wellness industry.
Her classes are known for their physical rigor and open brave space for self-inquiry at the intersection of Yoga philosophy and social justice.
Tonie begins the episode by introducing her spiritual self. She is a Kapha/Pita dosha, as well as a libra sun. She is an immigrant from Dominica and works in Brooklyn as a career yoga teacher and career guide. Her goal is to offer people the bravery that she herself was never offered. She came to her work and her purpose while searching for mothering energy. She found a community through yoga, but also found that she was one of the only Black women in the wellness field.
Tonie talks about how she lets her work “unravel her.” When Liz asks her what conditions make unraveling yourself possible, Tonie says that showing up as her full self means having her blackness and womanhood seen. However, she also highlights the importance that she should not be expected to announce Black excellence and instead she should be able to just be. Her practice allows this by offering silence in the yoga space for all the Black women who attend. She wants women to make sure their labels are authentically theirs and not placed upon them by others.
Lastly, Tonie discusses a bit more about how her actual practice came to be. She traces her history back to working at a fitness clothing start-up that was not a great work environment. She found herself struggling and realized that if she was going to struggle she should at least do what she loves. So, she began teaching yoga. She wanted a space just to practice wellness for Black women and because there were none previously, she created it herself. To close off the episode, Liz leads listeners and Tonie through a meditation practice as always.
Thank you so much for tuning into BeREAL. Be sure to check out a new episode next week. In the meantime, make sure to catch last week’s episode with Diana.
Find out more about Tonie through the links below:
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