Meet the New Co-Directors: Erika Davis wants to make yoga accessible for everyBODY

Over the remainder of September and into the first weeks of October each of our new Co-directors will be penning a blog post. We hope these posts will give you, our community, a bit more insight into these four individuals who have joined the leadership team of the SKY Community.

In my life I wear a lot of hats. I’m on the Board of a national Jewish diversity non-profit called the Jewish Multiracial Network. I’m a birth worker; birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. I write Jewish commentary on Torah for a website called My Jewish Learning and sometimes write about the intersections of race, sexual orientation and religion for various Jewish outlets and my long-neglected blog. In my home life I’m an amateur urban farmer with a plot of 6 raised beds, a healthy obsession with poppy flowers and a flock of 6 beautiful chickens. And, apparently, I’m the co-director of a yoga studio. If you would’ve told me a year ago today that this would be my life I would’ve called you a liar.

Yoga had always been something that I did to feel better, to connect to my body, to move. The desire to certify as a yoga instructor came from a place of wanting to have a deeper understanding of yoga and from a desire to make yoga spaces accessible for people of color and large-bodied people. Despite the trailblazing work of body-positive yoga instructors like Jessamyn Stanley and Dana Falsetti far too many black folks, queer folks and folks who live in “large” bodies feel anxiety walking into a yoga studio. I felt that anxiety when I signed up for 200-hour training last fall! Thankfully, there were 7 other black folks in my 200-hour yoga teacher training at 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle. Seeing those 7 other black faces in our opening circle, and every month for close to a year helped to solidify the fact that I, a size 14, lesbian black woman is what a yoga instructor looks like. But how could I be an instructor?

As woo-woo as it sounds I found the answer during our mandatory (and life-altering) day of silence during a 7-day yoga retreat that was part of my teacher training. In the silence that I was dreading since reading it on the syllabus I found my inner voice, a voice that I had been ignoring or too afraid to hear for quite some time. I left the retreat with a new-found dedication to live an authentic version of my life that allowed me to be my full self. Turns out that full self is a full-time birth worker and co-director of an amazing yoga community.

I was drawn to practice at SKY because of its non-profit model and mission of making yoga accessible for all incomes and abilities. Coming on as a member of the SKY Leadership team is a dream come true and the possibilities of making yoga truly accessible for all are endless. I want us to dream big as a community. I want us to think of ways that we can bring more folks to yoga. I want our individual members to come up with ways of living SKY's mission in day-to day life outside of the walls of the studio. And it is my personal goal to take this level of inclusivity and diversity farther by creating safe yoga spaces for LGBTQ people and People of Color.

This month we’re helping to push that mission through our Partners in Healing Drive. Partners in Healing brings affordable yoga to the Partner by providing unlimited yoga for $50/month and it brings affordable yoga for all by providing scholarships and free yoga to folks who need it. If you are currently a Partner in Healing I would personally ask that you re-commit to another year of membership and if you’re not a Partner in Healing and have the ability to make a one year commitment of $50/month to help us live our mission, please sign up here.

So that’s me. My name is Erika Davis and I’m one of the new co-directors at SKY.