Peloton yoga instructor Chelsea Jackson Roberts recently explained how yoga has been an intricate part of her life’s journey. From school teacher to the first Black Peloton yoga instructor, her practice remains at the center of it all.
In a recent interview with Bustle, Chelsea Jackson Roberts describes her 20 years of practicing yoga. She also elaborates on how it has gotten her to where she is today.
She admits that she originally began practicing yoga specifically as a workout. Later on, however, she realized its healing powers firsthand after losing a close friend. Yoga helped support her healing process during a period of deep loss.
From there, Jackson Roberts became truly in tune with the healing powers of yoga for both mental and physical health. In fact, she became so passionate about these benefits that she focused her entire career on making yoga more mainstream.
Yoga in the classroom
Chelsea was originally a third grade teacher at an Atlanta school where many students lived below the poverty line. The children were often facing tough living situations daily. Jackson Roberts used yoga movements and breathing exercises in the classroom to help center the children. She noticed that the children were behaving better toward one another. Furthermore, they were happier coming back to her classroom each day.
That’s when Jackson Roberts realized she might be onto something truly life-changing. She left the classroom to pursue a five-year Ph.D. program. She is now the first Black Peloton yoga instructor, sharing her discipline with others worldwide daily.
Chelsea Jackson Roberts, yoga, and Peloton
As a woman of color in Yoga, Jackson Roberts revealed to Bustle the challenges she herself has faced:
Challenges exist for me to this day, and to be at Peloton right now, on a platform that has such an expansive reach, is important for rewriting the narrative of who yoga is for. In the past, I’ve had experiences where I have shown up at a [yoga] festival or conference as the teacher and I was mistaken as the person to clean the room, or the assistant.
That comes from the systemic ways of marginalizing who counts as the wise and knowledgable teacher.It was important to shift that narrative for young women to walk into spaces and see me or to see me on the cover of a magazine, to remind them that they too are worthy to be in these spaces as wise and knowledgeable teachers.
Jackson Roberts also offered great insight into the current state of diversity and inclusion in the yoga space today:
Yoga is no different than society as a whole. It’s a microcosm for what we see, and when we don’t see ourselves represented in these spaces, it’s not going to just magically happen. Access plays a huge part, representation plays a huge part, access to education and teacher trainings plays a huge part. And then [with] yoga studios and yoga platforms, you have to look and see who’s being invited to be in these spaces and who is missing. That’s going to give us a lot of information on what can be done to start and expand who yoga is for.
Using Peloton to promote good
Chelsea Jackson Roberts hopes to use her audience on Peloton to help bring societal change. Specifically, our feelings and actions toward one another.
By definition, yoga means to join, to unite, to yoke. I love yoga postures and what our bodies can do, but I want to see yoga become more of a normalized philosophy that people can govern their actions by. And that means non-violence, that means being grounded in truth, that means being grounded in connection. When we have those components, I feel like we will see a more connected and compassionate society.