It may be 2019, but we are still working hard to break down negative stereotypes and build up body positivity. One of those places? Yoga—a practice that is meant to feel accepting and inclusive—is shockingly enough still thought to be reserved for those with specific body types (read: slim, thin, athletic). We chatted with Chelsea Jackson Roberts, an Atlanta-based yogi and Lululemon global ambassador, on how she stays zen and why she’s working hard to bust stereotypes in the yoga world.
What makes you feel strong and powerful?
Studying an intention, goal, or vision and seeing myself committed to it, no matter how scary it is. Once I reach that goal or am in the process of working toward something, that makes me feel really strong.
Can you define what self-care means to you?
I am often serving people in communities and even my partner in many ways, so self-care is carving out time for myself. Ultimately, it is a consistent practice or commitment to myself, and it makes me feel good whenever I am engaged in it.
What is your favorite yoga pose and why?
Dancer’s Pose. It was one of the first poses I did when I started yoga. And it was something that if I had seen a picture of someone else doing it, I wouldn’t have thought it was something that my body would be able to do. But I did it, and the pose has stuck with me.
You’ve talked about combating the stereotype of what a yogi traditionally looks like—can you explain a bit more about that?
I feel like I am pushing back against this narrative that yoga is only for a certain body type or that there are only certain people who are worthy of this practice because they are athletic or have the resources to spend on expensive yoga clothes. So I feel like every time I show up, that is me pushing back on the stereotype of who yoga is for. Every time I teach, it shifts that image. I am glad that in the past five years with teachers like Jessamyn Stanley and Anna Guest-Jelley and myself, we are starting to see a shift in who a yogi is.
How has yoga changed you?
I am kinder to myself, more patient, and not as critical. The tools I have and continue learning from yoga are the ones that are helping me sustain that compassion—and that affects and impacts how I treat others.
Do you have a mantra?
I recently attended Tracee Stanley’s Yoga Nidra immersion, and we had to create our perfect Sankofa, which is basically a mantra that you would use in your practice. Mine is “I am grounded and capable of making decisions, even when I am questioning.” When I hear myself say this, it strengthens my ability to believe that I can make a good decision.
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