Black Yoga Nomad - Making My Black Exit
About a year ago I was in my Yoga Teacher Training class (wow it’s been a year already) and we were flowing right along in our training when suddenly the world stopped, and we transitioned from in studio learning to virtual learning (good old Zoom). It was a rough transition in more ways than one, for all of us on the planet. I remember the brief melt down I had about going outside, and catching COVID (I know I wasn’t the only one). It was so fresh back then, who knew if it was even safe to leave the house for essentials, let alone go somewhere or take a trip.
And now, almost exactly one year to the day, I am writing this blog post from Costa Rica. Costa Rica y’all!! (I’ll get to how I ended up here in a moment)
2020 was memorable to say the least. Some of my highlights; a lot of personal and spiritual growth, business pivots and growth, the shedding of toxic relationships and of those that no longer served my highest good, the building of better boundaries, learning to love myself and the real meaning of self care.
And then, there were eye opening moments like being a Black in America. It was towards the end of my Yoga Teacher Training class, coincidently, that George Floyd was murdered. And right in the midst of my own awakening, the world finally awakened to the racial injustices that Black Americans have been suffering from for hundreds of years. This was not new information, but because everyone was stuck in quarantine, finally people had time to sit and watch the reality of what’s been happening for what feels like eternity.
I went right into my role of being, “Everyone’s Black Friend”, sharing resources and holding space for non-Blacks to process what was happening to my own people. And then... something finally snapped inside of me. This was not my cross to bear. Why have I taken on this responsibility? I don’t want it anymore, be gone.
It was then I decided it was time to leave Arizona, it’s not diverse friendly (to put it mildly), but I was still in school and I wouldn’t be done until the end of the year. So in order to feel like I was making some progress, I researched my next move. I belong to a couple FB groups for Black Yogis and Teachers and I put out a survey to see where everyone was. And two places caught my attention; Baltimore and Costa Rica.
So, yup, in January 2021, I went to Baltimore. I even connected with a yoga studio there. And listen when I tell you, Baltimore is FULL of Black people. I felt right at home, too at home in fact. There was an inner voice that whispered, that I would become complacent and comfortable. And anyone who knows anything about personal growth, knows that is not where growth happens. So after a couple of months of braving the cold in Bmore, I decided I needed a bit of challenge in life, something to take me to the next level, an adventure… if you will.
So here I am in Costa Rica, I’ve only been here for a few days and it has been an adventure already. The weather, the people, the food, the music, the atmosphere; I love all of it. I’m spending a few weeks in the city, San Jose, at an Airbnb that has a yoga studio… What?! And then I am headed to the beach y’all. There’s a wonderful place I connected with, where I will still be able to conduct my business virtually, and I’ll live in community with other yogis and perform my act of service, teaching yoga and helping write some yoga blogs, social media content etc. We call it Seva in Sanskrit; an act of service, an expression of compassion for others and a desire to lift people up.
Lastly, I’ll be using my time here in CR, to see if I find a place to call home, permanently. A one way ticket, and my life into two pieces of luggage, equals one happy Black yoga nomad.
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. What about the Black people Mel? Here’s the thing, I’m tired of being Black in America. Being Black in other countries is a whole other ball game. I don’t worry about being harassed by the cops because of the color of my skin, in fact being in a country with other people of color makes me feel more at peace. Bonus, I speak Spanish, so I fit right in. Also, I‘ve done some serious research and there is a whole community of Black Expats and Black Yogis in Costa Rica that I cannot wait to connect with.
I’m grateful I got to grow up in Los Angeles, a melting pot for discovering other colors and cultures. It was the foundation of my zest for life and people from other backgrounds. I went through my Boyz To Men, BackStreet Boys, Bollywood and Banda music phases. I speak Spanish fluently, a little Arabic and even understand some Tagalog. I’ll choose curry over cornbread, and couscous over cauliflower, any day. I love all things diverse and ethnic.
So it should be of no surprise that my passport has a few stamps in it. Mexico (lots of times), Domican Republic, Costa Rica (this ain’t my first rodeo), Spain, Philippines, Japan, France, Italy, and Algeria, to name a few. And I’ve seen 30 great states of America, and feel like I’m just getting started. This world has no limit, and I am out to prove it. So, of course it makes sense that I am making my Blaxit (Black Exit), and leaving America.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I’ve always grieved coming back to the U.S. whenever I had the grand opportunity to leave it. Mostly I’ve always returned because that is where the work was. Well not this time. Not after 2020, the year of la Pandemia. The year that proved that you could work from home as long as you had access to the internet, well… the world wide web is literally everywhere. Hell, I even lived in a refugee camp, in the middle of Africa, in a third world country and still had access to the internet. And now that I have my own business, I can do what I do from anywhere, on a cup of coffee.
I’m gladly leaving behind, the constant code switching, tokenism, racism, oppression, and social unrest, it’s exhausting. And to be honest, the only culture shock I've ever experienced has been in America, in the small rural towns, where I am .0001 of the percent of colored people they have in town. But when I’m overseas, I don’t get that. I don’t worry about being harassed and profiled.
And to be completely honest, I thought I’d feel differently after this election. Our Madam Vice President is making herstory, shattering ceilings, and we are standing up, speaking out, and living our best Black life, and yet, I’m still ready for something new and different. For how long? I have no idea.
You know, I love how the Universe sets me up for grand adventures and experiences. I just so happened to leave during a New Moon, my own Moon cycle, and daylight savings. All lining up perfectly for me to shed the old and make way for the new. I stopped giving God a laugh and making plans long ago, so the only “plan” I have is to find my home abroad somewhere, first stop Costa Rica, and then we'll see. But if Costa Rica ends up my final destination, I would not be sad.
On that note, I’m also going to Bali in September 2021. Come with, if you feel led. I'm hosting a Yoga Retreat for WOC in one of the most spiritual places on the planet. So if you’re still reading, thank you, and if you want to keep up with my adventures, I’ll be posting here and there on social media so follow me, or you can sign up to receive my newsletter or if you want to join me in September in Bali, even better, shoot me a DM.
In the meantime, I hope and pray you are living your best [insert your own label] life. Please keep me lifted in prayer, as I will you. Peace, love and blessings!