For yoga instructor Kay Woods, yoga presents an opportunity for representation and connection within his community. He works to spread the message that yoga is for everyone and that it offers a unique and healing experience.
Kay shares, “I feel like I’ve helped inspire a group of people that have been like, ‘Hey, I can do this too.’” He continues, “Yeah, Black people do yoga too. Men do yoga too. Social workers do yoga too. And it’s so needed. And it’s something that I enjoy sharing.”
Meet Kay: yoga teacher
(Kay walks through downtown, finds a spot, unrolls his yoga mat, and starts stretching)
Kay Woods: Obviously, you feel, when you walk into some of these spaces and you don’t see a lot of people that look like you, that can be a thing. When I first started going to yoga classes, being a new student, I initially was putting my yoga mat in the back. But over time, as I went through this self exploration and got into yoga a little bit more, it turned into a thing for me where I would go into classes early so I had my mat right up front.
I take pride in taking my mat to the front of the classroom, and allowing the energy from my practice to just resonate throughout the room and throughout my space on my mat.
(Kay holds a handstand yoga pose)
I’m not the typical yogi that you would see, that’s more popularized, but I took pride to it just being a person of color walking to some of these spaces and being like, “Yeah, I’m going to put my mat right in the front.” I deserve to be up here.
Going to yoga studios, it’s pretty expensive. I mean, I’ll just plainly put it. And so when I started to get deeper into yoga on my own and doing it on my own, I wanted to create an experience. And that started off as me going out into community and just finding cool places to do yoga. I’ll be driving around. I’m like, “Hey, that looks like a good spot. Hey, that looks like a good spot.”
(Kay drives around looking for yoga spots)
Trying to run my brain through what’s over here.
This is all part of the journey. When I’m out, I’m always having to walk around and see like, where’s the best spot to set up? Where can I get the best view?
(Kay does yoga in a sunny, outdoor spot)
(Kay leads a community class in an outdoor setting)
Awesome. Quick introduction. I’m Kay, yoga teacher, and I’m a social worker in the community. Through the practice of yoga, that’s where the healing that needs to take place and all the trauma that is going on — so that’s what this is about.
(Kay leads the class through yoga poses)
Together…Flip the palms, exhale, long breath out.
Know that the energy and love that you’re sharing with yourself, you’re sharing with the people around you, you’re sharing with this community by showing up today. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
(Kay, back in the city)
Fortunate enough, I feel like I’ve helped inspire a group of people that have been like, “Hey, I can do this too.” Again, yoga’s for everybody. So I like being able to be in front of a classroom, or to do a post on social media where it’s like, “Yep, Black people do yoga too. Men do yoga too. Social workers do yoga too.” And it’s so needed. And it’s something that I enjoy sharing.