In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
"Drink as you pour" is Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts' favorite yoga mantra. Yoga is her drink of peace. After quenching her thirst, she pours the practice into others, hoping they find the same solace.
Chelsea's a certified yoga instructor. Her Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art just completed its 5th summer program where she taught a small group Atlanta's teenage girls positive self-care through yoga and creative arts. Chelsea is a BOSS. She has a doctorate degree focused on the impact of yoga with Brown and Black young women. "Yoga as it is practiced today, places a lot of emphasis on the body and it is important to expand the definition for what yoga is today," she explained.
Chelsea uses her Ph. D to lead and serve a community where Black owned yoga studios and practitioners are scarce. As founder of Red Clay Yoga, her faculty and staff offer trainings on yoga, community, and engagement within marginalized neighborhoods.
"My favorite response from students has to be, 'I feel at peace.' This reaction keeps me encouraged that the yoga is working."
Chelsea is currently taking her passion for guiding others through a flow of body movements, breath, and meditation across the pond as a Global Yoga Ambassador for Lululemon. We recently had a chat with Chelsea on how she finds balance while teaching others how use their body and breath to relax, relate, and release.
You're a former third grade teacher. Why did you combine education with yoga in your doctorate studies?
Anyone who knows a public school teacher knows that the profession is rewarding and extremely demanding. As a result, I knew I needed to adopt a routine that would support my wellness, so I started practicing yoga and eventually became certified while teaching school. I started to notice how the breathing exercises and moving my body supported me when I would leave school.
As a result, I wondered what would happen if I introduced the breathing exercises to my students. I taught elementary school for 8 years and decided to apply to Emory University where I earned my PhD in Educational Studies.
Is access to yoga growing in marginalized communities?
I do find that social media platforms are changing the ways in which we see who practices yoga, understand who yoga is for, and pushes back on the limited beliefs of what an ideal yoga body should be.
With this, online platforms have also offered access to practicing yoga if you don't have a yoga studio in your neighborhood, or the money to purchase monthly class cards.
How does a peaceful day for you begin?
A peaceful day looks like waking up with the sun and finding at least 5-10 minutes of deliberate conscious breathing. I don't always have time to get up and go to a studio. When I do make it to a class, I treat myself to Sacred Chill West in Atlanta. When I don't, my daily ritual looks like waking up, treating myself to a juice or smoothie, and maybe taking a walk.
How do you find balance with:
I find balance by taking time to do the things that bring me joy. My balance comes from sitting on my Granny's porch in Dayton, Ohio with my phone on silent. Being present for my partner to watch a movie without thinking about my to-do list.
Eating good (vegan) food and treating myself to a massage helps me maintain balance. My food absolutely impacts the ways in which I show up in the world for myself, my partner, family and my community. I love the practice of yoga because usually, when I am practicing yoga consistently, I am more mindful about all that I am putting into my body. As a result, I have more energy and more space to do my work in the world.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I stay on course each time I look at the words the girls of YLA Camp produce each summer. I stay on course when I think about all that my ancestors had to endure in order for me to be here today. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, distractions always come up for me and in the moment I use [my] breath and sometimes meditation to refocus and recenter my vision and my goals.
Do you detox?
Yes! I practice a 10-day Ayurvedic detox seasonally. I still train with my teacher Jaya Devi in Atlanta, GA and she leads our home yoga community in 10 days of yoga in addition to a kidney, liver, and colon cleanse at the change of each season. It is amazing! Ayurveda is the ancient Indian practice that is the sister science to yoga that places emphasis on our organs, the systems of the body, and more specifically what foods are in alignment with our unique bodies.
What does a peaceful end of the day look like for you?
Depending on the time zone I am in, my bedtime can vary. I usually try and turn off technology at least an hour before I go to sleep to unwind. I also love a cup of chamomile tea and a shower or bath. I was just on the road this last week and I make it a habit to practice abhyanga, which is a self-massage, before a warm Epsom salt and lavender bath the night I return from a trip.
And honestly, what does success mean to you?
Success looks like accomplishing something I have been honest with myself I want. It is the experience of clearly stating to myself through written form, or I may speak the goal, and it can even been stated with silent intention. For me, success is a continuous process that may shift and evolve as I grow.
"I am constantly checking in and making sure that the thing I've accomplished and experienced is in alignment with my values, actions, and it brings me joy."
Be sure to follow @chelsealovesyoga for ideas on how to find your inner yogi. Check out her inspiring community with youth at chelsealovesyoga.com. Also be sure to check out some of the other amazing ladies we've featured in our Finding Balance series by clicking here.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Featured image via Chelsea Loves Yoga/Instagram