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The Kaivalya Yoga Method Blog is back and I could not be any more excited about it! In this season, I’m thrilled to feature resources and topics that speak to the world that we’re living in today, as well as amazing folks within our community that we should be celebrating and getting to know!

I’m interviewing myself as my formal intro to you all following the Facebook live conversation that I had with Alanna K (it’s linked here in the post). Welcome, and thank you for reading!

 

Eric, before we get into the blog, tell us more about you and who you are.

Hey y’all! I’m Eric Mosley, a yoga teacher, formal educator, consultant, Black queer man, and the founder of Black Mat Yoga. I’m originally from Cedar Hill, Texas, a small suburb south of Dallas. I attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and it was one of the best life decisions that I’ve made. Morehouse is a historically Black College in the heart of Atlanta and it was there that I leaned into the greatness of Black (read American) history and the present and future Black excellence. As a drama and English major, I had dreams to be a Broadway star, but a teaching internship changed the trajectory of my life.

Fast forward a few years, I found myself teaching 5th grade reading at an all-boys charter school in Brooklyn, NY. I taught at that school for a few years, received my masters of teaching, and then transitioned to leadership, building school culture by creating behavior management systems and protocols that centered social-emotional learning and restorative practices over the punitive systems that have historically oppressed students of color. In this capacity, two things became very very clear to me: 1) my identity(ies) are personal and political–and my life’s work will always involve serving people of color and 2) mindfulness is not only healing, but it can also be a tool to find common ground where differences create divisiveness, deescalate tense situations, and teach us about ourselves and others. After some really tough years in schools, I found myself in a place where my role no longer aligned with my beliefs, and I needed to find alignment again. So I founded Black Mat Yoga.

 

Can you tell us more about Black Mat?

Yes! While my personal yoga practice started as an outlet for me to relax and decompress, it quickly became an essential part of my life. It became less of an outlet or way to escape, and more of a way to learn about who I am, and really, who I choose to be. Along with these realizations, I was also forced to confront my “otherness” in so many wellness spaces. It’s no secret that yoga and wellness as we know it here in the Western world is a white practice. If you google “yoga” or “yoga teacher” the results will be overwhelmingly young thin white women who are flexible, smiling, and wearing leggings with matching sports bras. In no way is this an attack of women that fit this description, but it is a critique of the people who are included and excluded from the practice. I cannot count the number of microaggressions I’ve experienced in these spaces.

These experiences changed my asana practice. I felt like I needed to prove myself, to make it clear that I belonged. Always taking the extra challenge, I always held the pose and felt like I needed to be “advanced” or “intermediate” in performance to one-up the person who asked me if “this was [my] first time practicing yoga?” I became aware of the baggage that I was carrying during my own yoga teacher training and realized that I was not alone. My passion for serving people of color translated from the classroom to the studio, and that’s why I wanted to start Black Mat. I believe that everyone deserves to access home within themselves. My hope is for folks to know that I see you as you are, and appreciate you for being here in spite of what you may be going through. That you can be yourself in this space. That the traumas and tragedies that we are collectively experiencing (whether we name them or not) are also welcome on your mat if you do not have the ability or privilege to leave them at the door. I see you.

I currently offer online classes using zoom, and I also consult with yoga studios, businesses, and brands to use mindfulness practices as the driver to build and shape positive group culture and facilitate difficult conversations around antiracism and living into our values.

 

How did you join TKYM family? 

I hosted a panel discussion with a partner and friend Libby Nichalou who is the founder of Setu Community, an open yoga community supporting positive relationships across identities. This discussion was to celebrate Pride and the different intersections that we hold. I moderated a discussion with Jase Cannon, who serves as the Director of Creative Development here at TKYM. We had an instant connection, and she generously introduced me to Alanna, and the rest is history!

 

What else do you do here, and what can we expect from the Blog?

Language and creating intentional safe spaces are so important to me and to the team at TKYM. It’s one thing to say that you have a safe and inclusive space, it’s another to audit yourself to really analyze why you think that. It’s also a whole different thing to know that no matter how well-meaning we are, we all have biases that will inevitably cause harm to some and also create opportunities be better. Some of what I’ll be doing is looking for more ways to increase visibility for all of the communities that are and are not represented here through positive language, engaging dialogue. I’ll continue to help push initiatives like the Phoenix Rising Project, the scholarship that awards a 50% discount for the 200 hour online yoga teacher training for underrepresented populations.

With the blog, I plan to provide monthly antiracist resources that really challenge and educate us to be better. I also plan to interview our mentors, current students, and alumni from the yoga teacher training, upward facing business academy, and alchemy of the chakras, and alchemical astrology certification program to tell their stories about how they’ve joined the community of modern mystics, and how this gold standard online learning community has helped them on their journey of spiritual leadership. I also plan to solicit original submissions from you all to share your stories and perspectives. Overall, you can expect to be entertained, educated, and connected to this community and the wellness community at large.

Thank you again for being a part of this community and for reading this post! Leave a comment to tell me your thoughts and feel free to send more ideas about what you want to read next! If you’re looking to get in contact with me directly, email eric@alannak.com. If you have ideas about the blog, want to be featured, or have original work email blog@alannak.com.

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