By Edward Henderson
When I first started taking yoga classes, I was often the only Black person in the studio. And while the practice of yoga is a very personal one encouraging introspection and focus on breathing, I couldn’t help but imagine what a class would be like with more people who looked like me. Thankfully, there are young, innovative and Black yoga instructors like Teal Grenney creating space for this type of experience in San Diego.
Teal is currently offering one on one sessions, weekly pop up classes at local studios, and is also constructing a unique 2 hour experience where students learn the history of yoga poses and participate in a 90 minute class to a popular hip-hop or R&B album.
“When I learned about yoga, I learned the history first so each posture has a story to go along with it,” said Teal. “I want to modernize it and make it really relatable to Black culture.”
Teal’s personal yoga journey began when she was in a stressful position in her life and looking for an outlet to escape a toxic situation.
“My home environment wasn’t nurturing for me. I ended up going morning, noon and night. Spending all of my time there. I was meeting women who were having a positive effect on me. I’m changing my physicality, making me stronger, more flexible, and more confident. I could see the results of how I was thinking about myself mentally.”
Teal’s instructors began to take notice of her dedication to the craft and offered her spots in their certification classes regularly. However, she decided to go in a different direction with her training and began saving money to receive her teaching credential overseas in Thailand instead.
“I wasn’t going to have a culturally void experience when I got knowledge and where the stories come from. I was having a cultural experience while learning yoga.”
Teal raised money for the trip from crowd funding and hosting yoga classes in local parks. Upon arriving in Thailand, she was entranced by the sights, scents and sounds of a different country so far away from everything she was familiar with. Any homesickness was cured from diving into her training and Teal returned home with a renewed focus and dedication towards the craft. Equipped with the knowledge and proper protections to begin teaching in a professional capacity, Teal believes she can stand out as a young, Black instructor.
“I’m relatable, I’m the teacher that’s at the level of some of these beginners so I feel like you’re going to come to my class and not feel intimidated. I’m not trying to be some acrobat, I’m trying to show you if you take 90 minutes of the day taking time for your breath and being in your body, and then I promise you will step back out into the world feeling better.”
Visit Teal’s website, tealideal.com, for more information on class schedules, locations and prices.
“Man woman or child, everyone deserves 90 minutes a day for themselves. If you choose to do it with me on your mat, even better.”