In the wake of an Instagram live session, it came to my attention, more directly perhaps than I already knew, that many still think that TrillYoga and myself represent sex appeal and little else. It reminded me greatly of the Huffington Post click bait article that was put out over two years ago now that I tried to get removed the moment it was posted. The fault did not lie in the author, as many deem being sexy as a compliment. However, it's not one I much care for when your credentials, abilities, and intelligence are continually called into question because so many deemed you "sexy." I suppose it's alright until I see the things I've had to deal with on the backend of being judged and positioned as such. Maybe I was also naive coming from an open minded space that the body is beautiful, as I discuss here, and here.
With the article having gone so awry, I recall the initial interview being me trying to reframe every question about "sexy." Below is the original set of my answers before they were put in an article that was not only a misrepresentation of me but titled in an offensive manner. 'Om' is considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddism, yet this author deemed it appropriate to make it into a pun about having sex. More so, even if you find me "sexy" there is no reason or place to associate that with having sex and the very thinking involved in people who deem women in certain attire (usually sexy,) as "asking for it" or only good for sex-related activities.
I cried when the article came out, yet could not remove it. They allowed me some edits to links (namely a link that cited 'yoga poses that are good for sex.')
So here, are my original thoughts and feelings.
Q&A // AUGUST 2015
How long have you been practicing yoga? Why?
— I started yoga when I was 15 out of curiosity and seeking something to help my anxiety and depression. As a teen in Mississippi, I had some books and would practice in my room until I found a local gym that had classes. I then dedicated myself to going three times a week.
What is Trill Yoga?
— Trill Yoga started as a hashtag for how I practice yoga, which is however I like. Trill Yoga doesn’t follow the rules, it makes them. Trill (the hybrid of true and real) when referring to the practice of yoga means that it is open to all looking to reap the physical, mental and spiritual benefits yoga in a real and raw way.
I want yoga to be accessible to all who need it, free from regular yoga stereotypes, of which there are many. In my opinion, yoga and its benefits are universal for anyone who wants to feel good and can be a profound and healing experience. So then it’s ok to be any body shape, to wear what you like, to listen to what you like; and realize you don’t need a fancy studio….you don’t even really need a mat. You can do yoga wherever, hence me doing yoga in less than traditional spaces, on the streets, in sneakers. #TrillYoga
How is Trill Yoga different from traditional yoga?
— Trill Yoga is sort of however you choose to practice yoga…and within that is the space for a multitude of yogic disciplines if someone so chooses, however, my work is more rooted in the physical and practical, less esoteric and spiritual. Those aspects can come but I find some are intimated by those very aspects so I broke it down to a combination of my yoga background and my personal training background, with breathing and movement patterns that just make you feel good. Trill yoga is yoga for the people. Free of stigmas and misconceptions. I believe yoga can make you better at what you’d like to do, be it make you a better athlete, a better runner, a better weight lifter, or just a better person at your job and with your daily activities.
Your Instagram feed is distinctively "sexy" and there are several other women who have taken to social media to share their "sexy" yoga practices. What do you think is behind this trend?
— If being comfortable in my own skin, and what my body is capable of is sexy….then so be it, but I don’t associate the word “sexy” with anything I do. If someone brings that to my images, it’s on them as I don’t sexualize myself.
There are a lot of opinions on women and their bodies and yoga (or fitness) in the social media sphere lately, and the irony is we want to teach self-acceptance and healthy body images, yet sexualize women’s bodies. The same goes for media telling women they should be sexy, and then vilifying it or shaming them if they are.
Some of what you see on social media is a celebration of that body acceptance, and for others, it’s still a cry for attention, like the butt-selfies trend I saw. Everyone will always have different levels of what they deem appropriate for themselves and their image, as well as what they judge and how they judge it.
Much like the recent “I look like an engineer” that took over social media, the same case could be made for me. I recall seeing the female in the picture criticized for having a “sexy smirk” instead of a smile….which sounds like things I hear. It’s just a reminder to me that stereotypes exist, and that's part of why Trill Yoga is so important to me. To break down the notion that yoga can’t be strong, modern, hip, and, hell, even sexy if the person wants.
In addition, the images are also celebratory of curvier bodies that aren't as associated with traditional yoga. Do you think these images and #TrillYoga are introducing yoga to women (and men) that might have not thought they could do yoga?
— Absolutely. Every day I see pictures and get tweets and emails about how seeing me has inspired someone to try yoga. I love hearing these success stories because I know yoga saved me or at least taught me things that helped me to feel better inside and out.
It’s also not just about showing a non-traditional body doing yoga, and it might not even be about the yoga. It’s also about the lifestyle around it I bring…if my musical taste, style, or overall vibe can get someone interested in this lifestyle and give yoga a shot, I’m happy.
On the flip side, do you think all of this new, "sexy" attention is distracting from the values of traditional yoga?
— The values of traditional yoga will exist no matter what body is doing it…the problem exists when people bring their own issues of sexuality or judgment into it. Yoga is a union, it offers us access back to ourselves and our truth if we want to take our practice there. It will continue to be that.
At the same time, I think the wrong things are being glorified by social media, “a look at me by any means necessary” mentality that is crippling how we feel about ourselves. Hopefully, I can represent something that is real and genuine and show that it’s ok to be shaped this way, it’s ok to read books and be healthy, and that it’s ok to carry on doing yoga despite judgment.
Are there people you following on social media for yoga or #TrillYoga inspiration? If so, who?
— I find my inspiration from creative people, musicians, artists, stylists, fellow tastemakers; that’s who I follow. I also inspired by architecture, books and smart speakers, and anything that shows the vulnerable, fragile, and beautiful nature of the human experience.
Anytime I see someone using #trillyoga and getting out there, trying yoga, doing yoga, making it their own… that always inspires me.
What's in the future for Trill Yoga?
— A takeover! Every(body) doing yoga in some way, and it becomes more acceptable for everyone to do…everywhere! But really, a tour that will have classes, goodies, and other fun things for a full experience that is yoga, but done our way. Also, an active web component where people can get information, share #trillyoga and purchase classes and guides from me, as well as purchase yoga products such as special larger mats, they might need to get started with their yoga practice.
Also, you only teach private lessons, right? How can people be a part of the #TrillYoga movement if they can't actually take classes from you?
— Everyone can be a part of Trill Yoga, that’s how I intend for it to be! All it takes is a willingness to try, and then do yoga as you see fit in a way thats the most authentic for you. As a teacher, I’m just a guide for students, who are all on separate journeys.
I do take on private clients, and I’m also available for events and workshops all over. Travel is a big component on my work, as Trill Yoga can be anywhere, big city to small town to rural to urban and beyond. I can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org or on any of my social media outlets, namely, Instagram @cbquality, and Twitter @cbqualitylife .