Move In Beyond: Celebrating International Yoga Day with Mel Douglas

Move In Beyond: Celebrating International Yoga Day with Mel Douglas

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Every year we anticipate June 21, which not only marks the summer solstice, but International Yoga Day as well. This moment helps shine a spotlight on how impactful the practice can be for both our bodies and our minds.

To celebrate the day, we reached out to our friend Mel Douglas, founder of The Black Women’s Yoga Collective, which aims to create more representation within the wellness industry. Mel spoke with us from her homebase in LA about everything from why she started the collective to how she appreciates the present moment.

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Hi Mel! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hi! Well, I’m a yoga instructor and founder of The Black Women’s Yoga Collective, an organization that increases accessibility to wellness for all, but namely Black and Brown communities. We provide free and affordable programming, especially in neighborhoods that might not have wellness offerings. We also host virtual classes and workshops for those who aren’t able to attend in person. The intention is really collaborative community-building so we work with other organizations that focus on access too.

Yes, we fully support that! Why did you form your collective in the first place?

I’ve been practicing yoga for six years and teaching for five. I had the experience of finding yoga in an environment where there were a lot of people of color, but then I realized that wasn’t always the case for everyone. This inspired me to start the collective because I knew that if I was looking for that sense of community, other people must be searching too.

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Spacedye Slim Racerback Cropped Tank



This is why yoga can be so powerful! You refer to yourself as a well-being advocate, could you explain the meaning behind that?

My intention is to advocate for the idea that everyone deserves to be well and deserves access to tools that can help them on their wellness journey. This looks different for everyone, so the collective actually has programming outside of yoga. We do meditative flower arranging classes and journaling workshops. I want people to understand that their individual paths are unique and the resources they use to feel good can come from many different places!

You’re originally from New York. What brought you out to LA?

Years ago I was working at a tech company and knew I wanted to move out of New York, so I seized an opportunity to relocate. That’s when I feel like yoga found me. I tried a power yoga class and got my butt kicked. There was a pivotal moment when I was about to give up but my teacher encouraged me not to. That really shifted something in me– it helped me connect to yoga and make it a part of my life.

What’s your favorite piece of BY to #MoveInBeyond?

Definitely the Slim Racerback Cropped Tank. I literally have 10 of them in bunch of colors. It’s comfortable and it’s cute, the perfect combo of a bra and a tank top. I love teaching in it!

Do you have any advice for the BY community?

Try to tap into what you need in this moment right now, not what you needed yesterday or will need tomorrow. When you understand what you need in the present, it gives you access to moving forward in a better way.

Where can we find you IRL or online?

You can follow the collective on Instagram @blackwomensyogaco as well as my personal account @meldouglasyoga. In real life, I teach classes every Saturday at Empowered Yoga Studio in Culver City. Come see me!

Photography by Joanne Pio