The Yogi Next Door: Meet DuShaun

In Ready For Yoga, there is a recurring feature where I interview real people that have benefited from the practice of yoga. They share their struggles and their triumphs with the practice. It’s these stories that bring the practice closer to reality.

The feedback on these stories has been so positive that I’ve been inspired to continue interviewing every day yogis. In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to a woman that I recently met through a mutual friend (thank you, Meegan!). Her name is DuShaun and she’s bursting on to the yoga scene. Make space, Chicago! Here comes DuShaun.

DuShaun first started practicing yoga after her first child was born, eleven years ago. She was a member of a gym where yoga was offered and she had a feeling that she would really like it. She is a big believer in following your heart and your dreams and she just knew that the combination of spirituality and movement with yoga would feel right to her. So she tried it. And sure enough, she loved it.

That first class she took was a gentle, beginner class. Since then, she has tried all different kinds and finds that she gravitates towards Vinyasa classes, where the poses are linked together in a dance-like form. The experience of Vinyasa becomes quite meditative because of the concentration required and the inherent connection between mind and body.

DuShaun loves how she feels after practicing yoga. Her body is calm and her breath is very steady. This feeling of peace is what motivates her to practice as much as she can. Today, with a family and a full time job, she will attend class in person sometimes, but tends to practice at home on her own.

Her interest in yoga has become so strong that she decided to complete a kids yoga teacher training program with Mission Propelle and started teaching with After School Matters, a non-profit in Chicago. DuShaun feels strongly that children, especially children of color, don’t often have a chance to focus on calm and learning the skills needed to center themselves in difficult situations. Though she already works full time in higher education, DuShaun is focused on providing opportunities for kids in Chicago to practice yoga as much as possible.

DuShaun is also part of a private Facebook Group called Black Girl Yoga (@WeAreBGY) that serves to provide visibility for Black girls around the world practicing yoga. She finds that the community has been really helpful for her and others to connect, learn and grow.

Her advice for new students? “Just do it.,” she says, “Get out of your head. Go to a class, go to a beginner class. Talk to the teacher. Just remember that the practice is your own. Go inside of yourself. Take your time, don’t look around the room and see how your pose looks compared to other people’s practice.” She further encourages new students to wear whatever feels comfortable and not to worry about what they might see in fancy Instagram posts marketing yoga gear. “Back when people first started practicing,” she says, “they didn’t have any Manduka mats or high performance stretch pants–so it’s not required!”

Interested to connect with DuShaun? Follow her on Instagram @Sagegawd or connect with her on Facebook as “DuShaun N. Pollard”.