Interview with Leslie Salmon Jones: Afro Flow Yoga

image of woman dancing and man drumming in afro flow yoga
Nadia Colburn // May 24, 2022 // 1 Comments

Nadia Colburn: Welcome. I’m Nadia Colburn, and this is the Align Your Story Interview Series, where I talk to writers, changemakers, and activists about coming into more aligned stories, both individually and collectively.

Today, I am with Leslie Salmon Jones, who is a co-founder with her husband, Jeff Jones, of Afro Flow Yoga. This is an embodied practice integrating joyful dance movements of the African diaspora with meditative yoga and live music, promoting individual and collective healing in a compassionate, non-judgmental, inclusive, and safe environment. And since 2008, they've been committed to healing legacies of trauma worldwide.

They offer in-person and virtual classes, and work with people of all ages and abilities, but also have an especially deep commitment to the heritage, empowerment, education, feeling, spirituality, and wellness of the BIPOC communities, and offer Afro Flow Yoga at low cost or no cost to marginalized communities. You can learn more HERE; I encourage you to check it out.

So, Leslie, thank you for joining us today. I always like to ask the first question about childhood so we get a little bit of grounding. What in your childhood do you think prepared you for doing the work that you do today?

Leslie Salmon Jones: First of all, Nadia, thank you for inviting me to be here to speak to you and your audience. 

I grew up in Toronto, Ontario, in Canada, and I have three grandparents who were of Jamaican descent, and one grandparent who was Scottish, Irish, and Canadian: my grandmother—and she was the only grandparent I knew.

I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. I went to Hebrew school with my friends; I went to Black Heritage; I also attended our Anglican Church. And I have cousins who are blonde, blue-eyed, and from the darkest complexions to the lightest complexions—the whole range. I also have some cousins who were adopted into the family and are indigenous. My dear cousin, who I work very closely with now, Sheila, was adopted. She was part of the Sixties Scoop in Canada, I'll explain more about that. And another cousin who was from the Philippines. So I was in a multicultural, multi-racial family growing up, and around spiritual practices that were very different as well.

Nadia Colburn: And were you always someone who loved to dance and move? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: Yes. Fortunately, my aunt, my mother's sister, was a ballet teacher, and she had a ballet studio. So at the age of seven, I was introduced to ballet and I have been dancing ever since. Also, I had mentioned Black Heritage, which was a place that my parents co-founded with other Caribbean families to give us a place to learn about the African diaspora because there was little Black history in school. So there, I learned Afro-Caribbean dance, West-African dance. And so the two worlds met, the European and the African-Caribbean ancestry through dance.

Nadia Colburn: Beautiful. And it's so interesting how different cultures have really different ways of moving. I took ballet classes and was somewhat serious about ballet when I was growing up. And then I started to do modern dance, and it was a whole different way of moving my body. And I found a whole different way through taking some African dance classes . So do you think that dancing and those different traditions gave you a visceral sense of these different cultures that you were part of and interacting with and learning from? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: That's a really good question. As we know, there's intersectionality. It can really contrast all of the different paths and journeys and sensations in my body, having the oppressed and the oppressor, and not being able to articulate that at the time, but now I can. 

My body type was not the typical ballerina; thin, white body. And fortunately,  because it was my aunt, I didn't have that kind of pressure.

 It wasn't until later when I went to Alvin Ailey and the Joffrey Ballet, that I really was aware of my body type and of being muscular and strong. I was also an athlete— a runner and sprinter. 

But for a while, I actually quit dance because of my body type and my insecurities around that and feeling like I couldn’t fit into this art form, this expression.

But in African dance and Afro-Caribbean dance, there was freedom to dance, there was such joy. And it wasn't about body type, it was about community; everyone's welcome.

So that was a whole different orientation, and I think I had to do a lot of healing because of my dance, because of the insecurities and the body shaming that I had because of dance. At the same time, dance was a way to free myself.

Nadia Colburn: I think that's actually true for many people working in many different art forms. I work a lot with writers, and there's such a hierarchical tradition of writers that often we can feel like, "Wait, where does my voice fit in? I haven't seen a voice like that before." And then to realize my voice is my voice. I can speak in my voice.

In many forms, we need to break out of the classical education, while still benefiting in some ways from the teachings. So to navigate those different schools of teaching and thought while also having access to our own body and voice and self is a journey, I think, for many of us in different genres.

Leslie Salmon Jones: Yes, definitely. And then also the other layer is that there weren’t a lot of black images when I was growing up, so it wasn't until I saw Alvin Ailey when I was 13, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, look at these beautiful black bodies like flying across the stage with such power and grace." And so it wasn't until sometimes you see yourself, particularly as a young person, that, "Oh wow, that could be me, actually, up there on the stage." 

And then the other layer was growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood area and there were a few, but enough racists to call me the n-word or something like that, which made me contract. This contraction happens and then you think, "Oh, my hair's not straight or this and that," so that was the other layer also, when you don't see yourself reflected in society. 

Nadia Colburn: I want to come back to that, the importance of community, of forging new communities, of creating a different vision of what community can be. But first I want to ask you, where did yoga come into this whole mix? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: When I went to train at Alvin Ailey, I had quit dance for quite some time, and then I went through an identity crisis. When I was around college age, I was just trying to figure it out as many of us are, but I did go through actually a spiritual crisis awakening, which is a whole other story. But basically, I lost my light. I couldn't quite find my light, and so I went down. 

I felt like I was going down a very slippery slope very quickly. And it was really the best thing that happened to me because I had to fight for my life. So I felt like spiritually I was holding on to my life by my fingernails. 

I consulted with my aunt, Sevela Conception, a clairvoyant and astrologist who she helped me create a positive mantra so I could refind myself by going through a series of cleansing rituals and to get clarity. And I started listening to my heart.

Dance was the thing that brought me joy. So I was like, "I'm going to go back into dance," so I did, and I went to Alvin Ailey. This was in '91, and at Alvin Ailey, yoga was a requirement. So that intersection has always been there throughout my healing journey. 

If some of you don't know Alvin Ailey, I definitely recommend you to look him up. He was an African-American choreographer who was so amazing and really had an impact on American culture, Black culture, and culture, period, all over the world. But he was also a yogi. He knew the power of yoga in healing. 

Nadia Colburn: I didn't know that about him. That's very cool. I was so lucky I got to see Alvin Ailey this winter in New York. It’s so good. Anyone who hasn't seen their dances, if you have to start one place, start with the dance Revelations. 

My understanding of the word "yoga" is that it means connection, that yoking together of the inner and outer. Can you tell us a little bit about how, in Afro Flow Yoga, you're bringing together the traditions of yoga and African dance? Can you tell us a bit about what you’re doing there? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: Sure. Well, I always like to start at the root. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the symbol of the Sankofa in West Africa. It's shown in two ways. One is a bird, and it's reaching back to its tail,  going back to deep history. And the other way it's shown is as a heart going inward, so it's returning back to the heart.

Jeff and I, my husband and I, we've been married for 25 years, and this will be our 26th year. After three of our parents passed away, we had been married for about 10 years, and within that 10-year span, three of our parents passed away. Now, Jeff is African-American, the fourth generation here in Boston. In fact, I'm sitting in the house that's been in his family for 108 years.

Nadia Colburn: Oh, cool.

Leslie Salmon Jones: And in fact, the bass, all these instruments are Jeff's; his father used to play with Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., the bass back there. And so history is really important to us, Because he’s African-American, the US kept inventory. So all of the people who had been enslaved were considering inventory. And so they were able to trace it back to an eight-year-old enslaved African girl who came in through Bloomington, North Carolina. And his family tree is huge, and it's really amazing how they've been able to maintain the roots. 

Me, on the other hand, our European ancestry can be  traced back to Scotland. Dundee, Scotland, and Ireland. We have a book this thick, it connects all the names and it's well-preserved. The Jamaican side was more of the oral tradition, so we lost a lot of things that way. 

Anyway, Jeff and I went to West Africa in 2007. We went to Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin to actually return, like the Sankofa. We went into the slave dungeons, which I highly recommend people do because it's an important history. And there, we learned: Number One, we were answering the prayers of our ancestors to return back to the land where they were taken. And Number Two, we learned about the methodologies of slavery and what it took—how people had PhDs to learn how to dehumanize people to be able to enslave very strong, powerful people.

I'm a very empathetic person, so standing in the female slave dungeons, really  shifted me in many ways. So I actually ended up doing a lot of deep healing in my room for two years after that, and also traveling and doing work with shaman healers; a shaman healer from Zimbabwe named Mandaza, a healer from Burkina Faso, who just passed away, Patrice Malidoma Somé. He passed in December. He's now an ancestor. And another one of my spiritual mentors, her name is Maud, and she's from Haiti.

So I traveled with them. I went, I did ritual, Jeff did ritual, and that ritual was really to learn to connect to our ancestors. And so we did rituals for our ancestors and they're constantly guiding us, we're constantly tapping in. So that is howAfro Flow Yoga was birthed.

It came through a vision, meditation, and prayer, and it was actually in manifestation in September of 2008 when I was invited to teach in Sedona at the Raw Spirit Festival. The ancestors, God's spirit, whatever you want to call it, gave me the guideline. This is what it's going to be. And then Jeff was like, "We need live music." So that’s the beginning of Afro Flow Yoga, through our own healing.

Nadia Colburn: That's really beautiful. And I want to comment on it; for many people, in the beginning, the path of healing can feel like it's taking us out of the world, that it's taking us inward. But if you follow that path, your story is such a beautiful example of what grows as a result of trusting that path of healing, that it doesn't disconnect you from the world, it connects you more. It creates community. There's creative energy within that healing, even if at first it doesn't feel like it.

Leslie Salmon Jones: That's right. It brings us closer to ourselves, closer to our essence, closer to the gifts, the fruits that we bear.

Nadia Colburn: And closer, in your story, to those ancestors, those healers that you're talking about. It gets out of the individual self into a larger collective that you're listening to. It's a matter of listening. So, I always tell my students, it's about listening, tapping into that listening, which it sounds like your story is all about.

Leslie Salmon Jones: That's right. We think about our ancestors. We think about their liberation. We think about how they made sacrifices for our liberation, and so we want to continue that work for the liberation of future generations.

Nadia Colburn: That's beautiful. Yes. I talk a lot about deep listening, and you just talked about listening. When the ancestors are communicating to you, do you experience it as listening? Do you hear it through your body? Where is that coming through? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: That's a great question. Sometimes it can come through a whisper, like it just comes into my head very clearly, like Afro Flow Yoga. I actually heard it. And sometimes, as Afro Flow Yoga was being formed, initially, I would teach it like a regular yoga class in the grid system, like people were in line. And then it was like, "No, that doesn't work. Got to do it in a circle." So sometimes it even comes through the embodied practice. It just comes in the moment, it's like: "Everyone, get in a circle." 

When Jeff and I are in the flow, we don't talk about what we're going to do. We prepare ourselves to get out of the way to allow the stream of consciousness to come through. And we're listening, constantly listening. And when people come to the circle, we prepare them to also get out of the way, so that whatever comes through can really come through. And that's where the real healing is. 

Nadia Colburn: And in that flow right there in your name.

Leslie Salmon Jones: Yes.

Nadia Colburn: So in your story, you're standing in these dungeons where slaves were children, women. And it sounds like you had a real physical response to that, it brought up a lot of pain. So, often when people think about going back and doing this healing, there's so much pain, there's so much intergenerational pain for African-Americans and for most people really... I don't think there's anyone whose family hasn't experienced a lot of pain. What allowed you— or what do you recommend to people— to hold that pain and not feel like they're being submerged by it? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: So, one thing I want to say is that we say enslaved as opposed to slaves.

Nadia Colburn: Yes, apologies.

Leslie Salmon Jones: No, that's okay. That's okay. And that is a distinction that I had to teach myself as well.

Nadia Colburn: It's an old history of speaking; language is embedded in us. That's the language I spoke as a little girl and I haven't quite caught up. So, thank you for that education. 

Leslie Salmon Jones: And I often say, "I've been colonized. You've been colonized." And we have colonized conditioning, and within that is a language that is of the colonizer. So, I'm working on myself to change the language and be aware of the language

Nadia Colburn: I think this exchange is so important, it's about language, too. Language really matters, and it can be a friendly exchange to say, "Hey, remember?" 

Leslie Salmon Jones: Yes reminding each other. So, if that happens to me, I'm inviting you to remind me. 

So, back to the question of pain and being in the body and being historical, something that we might inherit. So, I think that it's so helpful to have the practices, the tools of pranayama, of the breath, of being able to sit and be mindful of the thoughts that come up, be mindful of the words that we speak. And also coming into a compassionate place for ourselves. That was a real tough nut to crack for my own healing journey. 

I had to look at the limitations of harmful thoughts in my mind. I had to really take them piece by piece. "How am I limiting myself? What am I saying that it's harmful? Can I actually change those mantras? Can I change those thoughts?" 

The emotional piece is like looking at where those are. Is that something that I inherited from someone else? Is that part of my own? What about the stories that I created? Are those stories or perceptions? So can I reframe them? And then the physical— actually having  pain in the back, the pain in the neck. And listening and again, going in with compassion and love.

I can maybe do it for other people, but can I actually do it for myself? Can I actually hold that space for myself and say, "It's okay, Leslie, it's okay. Nothing's perfect." And I think one of the moments that I realized when Jeff and I started dating actually, and I remember we were locking eyes and I was just having one of those moments when I was thinking "I'm not good enough. I'm not smart enough. I'm not that, that, that, all the things." And I was saying it out loud, looking in his eyes. And he said, "Don't you ever talk about yourself like that again." He had my back when I didn't have my back. And there was something about that, that witnessing, but doing it in a way that helped me really stop that behavior.

Nadia Colburn: Yes, we're often most harsh with ourselves. And then having that permission not to be in pain, which sometimes needs a lot of unraveling, because our ancestors were in pain. But to reframe that story to say, as you did, "I'm going back for my ancestors. I'm healing for my ancestors and for future generations. They've carried me so that I could be here so that I can do this work of healing." Because I think so many people have natural survivor's guilt. So it’s important to actively understand that it's okay to change the story because we get stuck in the old story. 

Leslie Salmon Jones: Absolutely, and that's why mindfulness practices are so helpful. Breathwork, yoga practices, all of those things are so helpful, having the tools. Because no one is exempt from the pain, no one is exempt from the trauma. I feel really grateful that I developed those tools from a young age to be able to put them to the test. My brother passed away last summer, and it was very sudden, we had no idea. And Jeff and I, when we heard the news, we were actually meditating back to back, and there was something about that moment of how we received that information that really helped me through the grieving process. I was sitting in stillness when I heard. 

Nadia Colburn: Yeah, me too, those practices have totally changed my life, and I feel so lucky, as I think you do too, to be able to share them with other people, to make that be part of what changes the story. 

What about people who have a different background, who aren't part of the African diaspora—is there a way for them to access your teachings? And what do you recommend for people who feel, also, there can be a lot of pain not only in having enslaved people as ancestors but also having people on the other side, whether you have slaveholders in your family or just being part of the society, what do you recommend that people do to hold that kind of pain as well? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: So, I have that all in my body. I have the enslaved. I have the European side who enslaved my African ancestors. So there was one point where I was like, "How do I heal all these parts that are in me." So it’s about sitting with it and first being aware of the stories, aware of the history and aware of all of it, and then noticing what comes up. We work with a friend, Katrina Brown. She discovered that her family was the largest slave trader in America. And so we've done racial healing work with her over the last decade. And basically, her work deals with the guilt, the shame, the fear, and all of the things that come up. And so, when I think of  American history, this is all of our histories. It's not just Black History. 

We didn't create it, but we have inherited it and we have to actually live with it. So knowing the history, feeling the sensations that come up, bringing awareness to them and then reconciling, being able to release, and being able to really be with it, like you said, going into the pain. The pain is a signal. It's like, "Oh, something is not quite right here." Our tendency is to go out of there and get away from it, because it's too painful. But when we do that, it becomes louder and louder and louder, and it can manifest in all kinds of ways in the body and in our lives.

So when we do go into it and with our friends, the breath, mindfulness, all those tools, then we can actually dissipate it and relieve ourselves of it. And when we do that, we're actually healing legacies of trauma. We're recreating a new story, a new pattern, and then for generations to come, we don't have to pass it along.

Nadia Colburn: We have inherited so many different things. It's part of our individual history, it's part of our collective history around race, around gender, around pretty much everything. 

So, I also want to ask you just a little bit about the concern some people have about cultural appropriation. I think it's maybe related to the kind of intersectionality that we've been talking about a little bit. But how do you respond to questions about working with different cultures respectfully and also celebrating that we can learn from these different cultures?

Leslie Salmon Jones: I think about that a lot, actually. There are so many things happening in the world–I’ve been thinking about Ukraine. 

And I keep going to black and white and using the enslavement process and journey as an example. 

People are asked to choose a race, are you Black, are you white? And there's a whole history to that, a social construct designed for economic gain. And then you pit different people against each other. And then we’re asked to check a box: what are you? Are you white are you black?" Let me look at my skin, "Oh, it looks white. I'm white." But that may not necessarily be the truth. Like my first cousins, they're not. So, it creates this illusion of separation, number one. And then you have a culture. So technically, I'm not Black by race. By color, I'm brown. By culture, I identify with Black culture. So there's a differentiation between race and culture. And with Black culture, comes all of the things, the things, the good, bad, ugly, and wonderful with the culture.

What happens is that with cultural appropriation, it's like, "Ooh, I like that fruit, that fruit is sweet. I'm just gonna pick from that tree, just the fruit, and I'm gonna eat the fruit, and then I'm gonna sell the fruit." Right? From the tree. But I'm not going into the root, I'm just going for the fruit. So, going for the fruit without the root is what I believe is cultural appropriation.

Nadia Colburn: We are all connected to those roots and it's all complicated because it's going down into the soil. 

And yet, we're also so lucky. I just feel so lucky to be living now when we do have these teachings. I wouldn't have had access to mindfulness and breathwork... Well, I guess Emerson did, but I wasn't Emerson. So who knows where my family was living anyway, in Eastern Europe in a Ghetto. But it's this funny time we live in when we have so many teachings, but we have to remember not to forget our roots. And I think that's true for us individually too, that our healing takes us back to our roots, that we can't just say, "That's not comfortable, I want to move away from it." 

Leslie Salmon Jones: That's right. And part of the dehumanization process was to cut the tree from its roots. That's how you dehumanize people. You cut them from their root, from their spiritual practices, from their families, from their homes, from all of that, and that's when people will snap. So knowing that and really learning about that throughout our ancestral journey has been beautiful.  

We found that yoga has been in Africa for thousands of years in hieroglyphics in Egypt. And to find out that meditation and the Tree of Life and all of these things have already been there, all these practices have already been there, they just have not been carried forth.

The divinity and the culture in the east, in India and Africa, shared so much wealth and so much wisdom. And a lot of that is not spoken about because they don't want people to... When I say "they" I'd say the people who have power, economic power, didn't want people getting together, because then it would mean the potential of losing that economic power.

Nadia Colburn: Right. That brings us back to the community that you talked about in the beginning, about re-framing the story so that the story isn't just the individual story, but it's connecting with the roots. And I love also that the roots are a metaphor that takes us into the earth. We are connected to the earth, we're all connected.

Leslie Salmon Jones: That's right.

Nadia Colburn: And we find community and find that we have that strength. And so we're tapping into our individual bodies, but holding something bigger and finding our way forward into a future, we want to imagine.

Leslie Salmon Jones: Exactly, it's all part of the tree of life, we're all part of it. And then when the fruit falls, it goes back down at the roots and we come back up. It's that beautiful cycle.

Nadia Colburn: That’s very beautiful. Is there anything else you want to add or share before we go to the final three questions I like to ask?

Leslie Salmon Jones: Because we're talking about the roots, I always love to bring in my parents and Jeff's parents because they're always with us and they're a huge part of the story. I pay homage to our parents. 

My mom’s Beverly Salmon, and she fuels me daily. She's my inspiration. She was a nurse and she's mixed race, yet she could pass for white. And my mother chose not to, which was so courageous. She was such a courageous woman. And she really stood as a woman of color. And she became a nurse and then she went became a politician, human rights activist, and woman's rights activist. She's just done a lot of great work in Canada, so I pay homage to her.

And my dad also, who was born in Toronto and orphaned at ages three and five. He became a doctor, and he was a musician, and he became Canada's first black surgeon trained through the university and also Chief of Surgery. And it was a pioneer in gastric bypass for the morbidly obese. So my parents really planted seeds–my mom being an agent of change and my dad showing me how important our well-being and healing are.  

And then my husband Jeff, who is an amazing engineer and musician, I pay homage to him every day because he's just an amazing soul. And his father, who was a musician and an activist, and his mother, who was a soprano, infused in him his gifts.

We actually found out pretty recently over the last few years that our families have been connected. We met on a plane in '94. And they've been connected through the Civil Rights Movement. Jeff's cousin was Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X's wife. And my mom's first cousin was one of Betty Shabazz's best friends. So we just found that out a few years ago. So we're continuing the work that just speaks to threads and the flow. I'm sure, Nadia, you and I can talk for like another two hours and find out we have some kind of connection. Right? 

Nadia Colburn: Yes! And I love that that actually helps answer the first question I asked of how you came to do what you do today. It's going back to the roots. Here we are. And for some people, there's struggle with our parents, as in my case, but that also makes me who I am. And I can see, as you said, that everything has been a blessing in its own way, that we've learned lessons and we carry some of the pain and we let go of some of the pain and the gifts and the journey. And I was so lucky to get to meet your mom.

Leslie Salmon Jones: Oh, yes, that's right.

Nadia Colburn: I could tell in the little bit of time I got to spend with her she's really an amazing woman. 

So the final questions I always like to ask in the spirit of sharing appreciations and inspiring others are, First: What's something that you've been enjoying recently? It could be a piece of music, it could be a dance that you've gone to, a book? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: Oh, goodness. There are so many things, but my husband and I have been going out to listen to some jazz. I love appreciating local musicians. With the pandemic, it's been so hard to hear good live music.

Nadia Colburn: Are there places in Boston you like? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: Yes, so we were at Scullers Jazz Club, which is right around the corner from our house, just two days ago. And because we have Berklee College of Music, there were so many students who came out. And because they are graduating, some are graduating now, but they spent most of their time in the pandemic where they couldn't go out, they were so grateful for everything.

Nadia Colburn: Thank you for sharing that. And my second question: is there a practice that you do—I know you do many practices—but something that you can maybe share with people who are listening, a regular centering or grounding or lifting, uplifting practice on the simpler side? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: The thing that I do, and I've done this for years, but now it's just automatic like brushing my teeth, is the simplest practice of gratitude. When I wake up in the morning, I'll do my gratitudes. I heard that Buddhist monks do their practices before they even get out of bed, and they focus on death. But in the way that they're grateful for their breath, for being alive today. And so I've been incorporating that and just before I do anything, I’m just grateful for my breath. And then I go through. Grateful for Jeff, grateful for this. I go through the list and it expands and it always makes me feel so good. By the time I get out of bed, I am on the right side of the track. I just feel so grateful. Even in the times, even when my brother passed, even when times and things are so so challenging, there are still glimpses of gratitude. And I find that particularly when things are so hard, that is what I hold on to and that keeps it real.

Nadia Colburn: Yeah, it's great to remind one another of these practices. Thank you for sharing that. And then my third and final question is, is there an activity that you engage in sometimes aside from your work, which is clearly very engaged in the larger world, but that takes you out of your local spheres and in some ways is working towards a larger structural change? Not on an individual basis, but in some other arena? 

Leslie Salmon Jones: Yeah, well, this is probably very connected, but if I'm on the board of the yoga alliance, that's still kind of...

Nadia Colburn: No, that's good. Because it's the whole big organization and a place to shift cultural norms... Please talk about it, that's great.

Leslie Salmon Jones: So it's my fourth year of being on the board of the Yoga Alliance, which is the largest yoga registry in the world. When people get certified, many people, not all, go through the Yoga Alliance. The reason I was invited to join the board is that Jeff and I are often the only presenters of color, sometimes some of the few, but really often the only, and that's problematic. And so I'm very vocal about that and I do not shy away from that. And so, I had been working with other retreat centers and organizations or corporations that we go into.

And I'm not doing it from a place of anger, but I'm doing it from a place of We can do better, let's do better. There are so many people who are coming from underserved communities, and there's nothing wrong with the people. It's just the systems that need the healing. So how do we open the door? When I joined the Yoga Alliance, they had a new mission and vision to be more inclusive and diverse, and equitable. So that's the work right now I'm doing. And I know that work is going to have a huge impact. Because the yoga industry, which is no longer a community, it's a billion-dollar industry, has an impact on communities all over the world. So I'm very committed to shifting that.

Nadia Colburn: Thank you for doing that work. And it's a good reminder that there are so many different ways people can do activism work, starting from our roots, what we are already engaged in and what we love. So thank you for sharing that. Thank you so much for sharing your time. It's such a pleasure talking to you. And I hope everyone checks out the amazing work that Afro Flow Yoga is doing.

Leslie Salmon Jones: Thank you, Nadia. And it's been a pleasure speaking with you and your amazing community.

  • I enjoyed listening to the interview. It actually put an approval stamp on my thoughts that people from any backgrounds, roots and culture can and should be able to understand each other. Be curious about each other’s roots and culture. And accept each other with kindness and love.
    Skin color and language are basically a geographical fact which has been misused as a differentiating classification through centuries.
    Thanks again for introducing such wonderful personalities to your students.
    So grateful.

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