Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2017 issue.
What brought you to your yoga practice, and then led you to starting Im’Unique?
As I remember it, I was deeply interested in discovering the human potential. I was raised in an environment that at times was violent, plagued with drugs and dreams were swallowed by the streets. I’ve always felt there was another way to live but culture and systematic injustices seemed to have a hold on the community I was in.
In high school, I remember thinking about the meaning of life quite frequently and what I could be doing to make a meaningful shift. Nothing in the curriculum seemed to satisfy my thirst for mental dilation and as the years passed, the philosophies of martial arts, Bruce Lee and nature seemed to fill that void. In pursuit of finding a Bruce Lee training tape, I was introduced to yoga for the first time in Blockbuster. It was a Patricia Walden VHS, and at the time I had no Idea what yoga had to offer. I purchased the video, took it home and an hour into the practice, I found myself challenged and very interested in the uncharted possibilities.
From many experiences throughout the years, I noticed yoga seemed to be marketed to a more affluent audience and lacked inclusiveness and diversity. After inviting people from all walks of life, physical abilities and backgrounds to my session, I witnessed a noticeable difference. I’ve come to realize it wasn’t just yoga that lacked diversity, it was again a systematic culture that influenced behavior. At that point, I was inspired to go far beyond the asana practice and work towards creating a culture of health, connectedness and that idea, amongst other things gave birth to Im’Unique.
How do you create a space that feels safe and uplifting for people to practice in, wherever you are?
I once heard that “love is the understating of connectedness.” I believe that starts with a great level of social acceptance; allowing people to come as they are, encourage participants to celebrate their cultural differences and remind them we are all interconnected. I believe people feel a certain degree of comfort knowing they are acknowledged, accepted and respected. Normalizing a space that welcomes individuals from all backgrounds is a universal interest to those interested in living in a harmonious environment. If yoga means union, to yoke, to join by definition, the assembly of the community is also a part of the practice. And I would add, when a person’s practice is not governed by the four walls of a studio, only then can it become a lifestyle and the lifestyle is the true essence of the practice, and in that vein, one can feel safe and uplifted no matter where they are.
Where do you feel the most inspired?
In my mind because that’s where all things begin.
Name three Coloradoans who you feel are influencers and why?
1 Lakshmi Nair: Because she has masterfully created Satya Yoga Collective and a space for underrepresented people to practice and thrive in one of the most beautiful ways. The measurement of leadership are those who invest in influencing others to lead and that is exactly what she continues to humbly do. A gentle and soft voice with a tremendous impact.
2 Phillip Galaviz: He is the visionary of Sound Off Experience. He has not only changed how yoga is experienced through Sound Off, but educates participants about the power of sound. He has influenced us to think about new possibilities and does it with so much passion.
3 DJ Cavem Moetavation: He is a DJ, a yogi, an mc and an O.G. (organic gardener). He has started a movement here locally and also across the country. He has influenced the youth to think about the music they listen to, the way they treat their bodies and the food they eat. He produces experiences that produce life and has influenced thousands of people to make necessary shifts to improve the health. He is a gift and a treasure to the community.
Photos by Jesse James Hoffman and James Beverly.