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Embody Yoga helping women of color find wellness offerings in Milwaukee

Joanna Brooks is the Founder of Embody Yoga and has a mission of her own.
Posted at 5:45 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 18:45:20-04

MILWAUKEE — Joanna Brooks, founder of Embody Yoga, created an inclusive space with a mission to serve specifically women of color and others with her wellness offerings.

"I actually started yoga when I was in middle school because my siblings had to be at school before me, so I would get up every morning and do yoga with this lady on TV, so that's how I started," said Brooks.

After college, she tried a few things, but finally realized she wanted to become a yoga instructor.

"So I decided to pursue it, and here we are," Brooks said. "Fast forward, here we are."

Yoga's roots go back thousands of years in India and Africa, specifically Egypt, but some communities of color still don't believe yoga is for them.

"We get a lot of messages from the media right, they tell us who belongs, where in the case of yoga, who yoga is for, and I think that for a long time we've been receiving messages that yoga isn't for people of color, and so I thought it was time to change that in our city specifically," said Brooks.

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Joanna says yoga not only improves flexibility, it builds strength, prevents back pain and reduces stress. The U.S. military, the National Institutes of Health and other large organizations are listening to —and incorporating—scientific validation of yoga's value in health care.

"Given the fact that so many of us live stressful lives, we encounter stressors everyday. I think it's important to have the tools that you need within yourself to manage as you go through the day." said Brooks.

A group of her clients gathered for a warm-up in preparation for what's called "HOT YOGA" (emphasis on the HOT!)

"So we heat our studios to 93 degrees, minimally 35 percent humidity and we do a traditional 60 minute long practice," says Brooks.

Jamila Cearney, who is a dancer and martial arts artist, has been an Embody Yoga Client for at least 7 years.

"Just being able to self-regulate my emotions, just to be able to woo-sah, and the increased physical, emotional, mental and spiritual fexablility that yoga offers keeps me coming back every week," said Cearney.

Catherine Siudzinski has been motivated by Embody Yoga to focus on deaf yoga and full body representation.

"Often times when I would go to a yoga class, I wouldn't see any teachers that look like me and there wouldn't be teachers offering modifications. You know, extra, different ways to move comfortably with my body and still get the benefit of the practice," said Siudzinski.

Somebody who's thinking about getting into yoga, maybe giving it a try.

"Just come in, come for yourself, do what you can and be consistent and you'll begin to reap the benefits," said Brooks.

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