Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate City Yoga: DC's Best Black-Owned Yoga Studios

Once upon a time I'd enter a posh yoga space only to discover that I was the only black woman. While finding my zen, I also found a disconnect from the fellow yogis across the mat.
One upon a time in yoga isolation
Lately, I've stumbled onto a black-owned yoga studio community that offers up the diversity and friendliness that I've been looking for. The Chocolate City Yoga scene is starting to heat up with a new crop of wellness businesses. I picked out my top yoga studios from Northwest DC to Alexandria, VA. These owners offer the much needed support and variety missing in the DC wellness circuit.

1. MamaSita's The Sitea Spice Boutique 
owner Dr. Sunyatta Amen
Takoma Park, NW DC

MamaSita's is one of the most established wellness spaces for Black women in Washington D.C. Dr. Sunyatta Amen caters to an expanding market of women who long to fire up their dormant hips. The Takoma Park studio sits adjacent to Dr. Amen's latest venture, the Sitea Spice Boutique Tea Shop. Drop in on a Cardio Belly Dance class with Mama Gigi,  try a Funk Yoga class or go straight to the source, Dr. Sunyatta Amen, for her powerful reggae belly dance class or purchase her belly dance cd.

2. Embrace, owner Faith Hunter
Adams Morgan, NW DC
Faith Hunter, maintaining balancing 
Faith Hunter is more than just a yoga teacher, she is savvy businesswoman with an international presence  connecting yogis from across the globe. Her new studio, Embrace, is a one room laboratory designed to push students to reach their greatest potential. Embrace offers 300-hour intensives, Sanksrit yoga workshops and celebrity yoga instructors, all while building a welcoming yoga community.

3. Spiritual Essence Yoga, owner Dana Smith
Upper Marlboro, MD
Dana Smith captures her Spiritual Essence
This little yoga gem tucked away in the secluded Upper Marlboro suburb may be a hike for those bound by the DC metro. But Spiritual Essence Yoga is worth the trek if only to commune with Dana Smith and her team of specialized instructors. I popped into a free community class and learned from the team of experts about the benefits of a restorative yoga practice. Dana Smith's studio is warm, cozy and a great environment for building a one-on-one relationship with your yoga instructor.

4. PIES Fitness Yoga, owner Marsha Banks Harold
Alexandria, VA 
The ever-loving and ever-moving Marsha Banks Harold
"It was my calling to open a yoga studio", says PIES Fitness Yoga owner, Marsha Banks Harold as she registers a 15th student into the Kemetic Yoga 200 hour Teacher Training. Marsha, lovingly known as "Mama PIES", recently renovated the colorful space in Alexandria, Virginia after she couldn't fit any more students into her old studio. PIES offers yoga, zumba, belly dancing and a unique "yoga melt" class. In addition to running the busy studio, Marsha balances a high powered 9-5 work schedule and raises her four children with the support of her husband. Marsha's yoga calling came after she lost 80lbs and a friend encouraged her to complete a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. Since then, Marsha's been hooked on yoga and now teaches over 5 classes per week.

5. Jordin's Paradise, owner Rania Jaziri
Shaw/Convention Center, NW DC
Jordin's Paradise, Studio Owner Rania Jaziri
Rania Jaziri's 7 year international fitness background reflects her passion to bridge the connection between professional dancing and stepping up your sexy. Jordin's Paradise offers steamy sessions such as Stripper Bootcamp and Pole-yoga-lates. The sultry-themed studio attracts alternative clientele seeking more sensuality in their fitness regimen. Rania Jaziri is outspoken, friendly and challenges any stereotype of the Middle Eastern business women.

Noticeably absent from the list is a yoga studio East of the Anacostia River. My vision is to open a space that blends social health justice with the revolutionary and meditative spirit of yoga.  Black women are finally realizing that our health is our wealth. It is time to start investing in ourselves and cash in!

Anacostia Yogi Studio for 2013

Resources for Small Minority & Women Owned Businesses
U.S. Small Business Administration Minority Owned Businesses
Washington Area Community Investment Fund
DC Small Business Development Center
Tips on Owning a Yoga Studio
Nielsen Market Research Report on Black Economic Spending Habits


Temple Wellness Ministries said...

Greeting Sariane!!! My name is Jerod Hudley. I just read your article in the Express paper today. I had to look you up! I would love to attend one of your classes. If possible could you email me more info about you class at Hillcrest Hgts. days and times:
thank you in advance and be blessed!

Anacostia Yogi said...

Thanks Jerod! We are actually in Hillcrest DC which is off of Pennsylvania Avenue SE.

Would love to you on the mat!
Anacostia Yogi

Angela Glymph said...

Hey Sariane! Its me Angela! I am so happy that you have this blog. I am coming to your class soon! Thanks for keeping us healthy and peaceful in Southeast.

Angela Glymph said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anacostia Yogi said...

Hey Angela! Great seeing you in class! Looking good lady and hope to see you more in the summer!

Anacostia Yogi