Unicorns do Exist: A Black Woman in the Wellness Community – By Veundja Katuuo

Last year I attended a magical yoga festival in Stratton, VT and let me tell you it’s everything they say it is and more! I got to hang with old friends, make new friends, attend amazing classes, have inspiring conversations and experience a bit of spiritual awakening. Its otherworldly when the stars seem perfectly aligned with just the right amount of yoga, art, music, mindful conscious people, all  sprinkled in with body paint and glitter tattoos. All that was missing is the mystical creature to fly me into the depths of the unknown.

Come to find out that as a black woman in this magical land, I AM THE UNICORN or one of the few (counting on my fingers and toes) attending the festival. I can still remember each one specifically and stayed connected with a few. It was oddly comforting to see a brown face and give the understood “I see you out here, you’re not alone” look. Readers don’t worry, this isn’t a rant about how exclusive and seemingly racist the wellness industry actual is…this is about a black woman in the wellness community who reaps the benefits of a private practice, teaches classes to unique students, and speaks out for justice and equality.

I absolutely feel outside of myself in my day to day life, sometimes oblivious and completely aware simultaneously that I am a unicorn. The “token” example of black experience, alone, included, intriguing to some and ignored by most. This article is an affirmation of my truth. I’m stepping off my mat and shouting from the roof tops,” If you are a person of color, get off your ass and step into wellness!” The years I’ve spent on the mat have positively influenced my life off the mat. Regardless of how separate I feel from the yoga “scene”, once I drop into my breath and allow for healing I am reminded time and time again I have everything I need within me to complete this life.

I live passionately, behind the wheel affirming my truths while serving others in studios, conference and living rooms as well as on soccer fields. It is here in this space I am alive. I can’t feel the differences that separate me from others, I am completely open and free, “Can’t nobody hold me down, oh no I got to keep on moving.” By inviting moments of stillness I’ve fallen deeper in love with who I am and embracing who I’m becoming. I embrace my unicorn status and wear with the crown with pride because I no longer care if I’m the only person of color for miles.

It’s important to show up to the party and have conversations with people about who I am what I do. These interactions help fill the gaps of stories about who we may be. As minority yogis and wellness enthusiasts, we cannot subdue our divine right to being well. It’s up to us to show up consistently and open.

Buddha says that, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path: Buddhas only show the way.”

I practice yoga and teach in New York City , (Denver I’m coming for you).  I attend classes and sometimes I am the only one  – and it’s cool because I’m here to be well for me.  A sacred quiet moment to be in my own body: aware, alive and free, recognizing my fears, recognizing the steps I need to take on this path that will allow me to step off the mat a  bit more empowered, fearless and grounded. Believe me sometimes I leave tired, angry and sad  – it just depends on the day.

So regardless of whether or not you are the unicorn in a mystical land surrounded by those who don’t look like or sound like you, show up for yourself! Take a class and ask questions because it is your right. It is our divine right to join in the fun of being well for self so we could be well with others. How does it feel to be a black woman in the wellness community? It’s exciting, terrifying and rewarding and I’m honored to have a place in it.

~ Be free and #fueledbytheroar. Veundja