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Wellness And Spiritual Coach Koya Webb On Taking Up Space As A Black Woman In Yoga

There are some misconceptions about yoga and people who practice it, such as it's only for people who are flexible, thin, and/ or considered elite. However, none of those things are true, and Koya Webb is the perfect example. Koya is an international holistic health and wellness coach and yoga instructor who represents much of what yoga can do for others by allowing it to manifest in herself. The former track athlete began practicing yoga after a sports injury that affected her not only physically but mentally. As she was trying to push through the pain with yoga, she was facing another obstacle: isolation. There weren't many others who looked like her in her classes, so she felt alone.



She reflects on that tough moment in an exclusive interview with xoNecole. "When I started, it wasn't that many of us in there, and it was painful, to be honest. I couldn't touch my toes. No one looked like me. I was mentally hurt. I felt like I was gonna get my scholarship taken away. I felt hopeless," she tells us. I felt like I didn't belong there. This is not for me, and I could barely breathe, and I just wanted to cry."

However, her yoga instructor was very encouraging and helped her through her practice. "And the teacher came to me and she was just like, just breathe with me. And she just took this deep inhale, exhale, and I felt the Holy Spirit like in my body— that I identify as spirit which is full body chills. And that's how I knew I was in the right place."

"And the teacher came to me and she was just like, just breathe with me. And she just took this deep inhale, exhale, and I felt the Holy Spirit like in my body— that I identify as spirit which is full body chills. And that's how I knew I was in the right place."

She continues, "So, even throughout the pain and throughout the stiffness in my body, and even though I felt like I didn't fit in, I didn't belong. I just did it anyway, and I cried through the pain. I breathed through the pain, and after a year, I completely healed my body, strengthen my mind, and I came back to win the conference championship in the heptathlon and was ranked 13th in the nation."

But like many of us have done, Koya fell back into old habits, such as not taking care of herself and stopping yoga altogether, which resulted in another injury. This time, however, when she returned to yoga, she stuck with it and got certified as a yoga teacher. From there, she created her own online certification to encourage more Black people to teach holistic health and yoga. As a Black woman in the wellness space, Koya was in the minority and had to do some soul-searching to effectively make a change.

"It was really hard because I experienced a lot of microaggressions that I had just normalized. And I had to normalize it just to be safe, and I didn't realize I was doing it at that time. I really realized a lot during the pandemic. When I started reading like Caste, and I started going deeper into my own journey of, like, life and what does it mean to be a Black woman? You know, and what does it mean to be a leader? You know, because I would just say yes to people who would reached out to me," she says.

"I got very far in my career and then I realized it's time for me to reach out to people that are afraid to reach out. Until I start focusing on other Black women and reaching out and saying, 'Hey, let's do this.' You know, and I think that was a really pivotal point because I feel like a lot of times because we've experienced so much trauma, we're just afraid. We've been hurt so much. We're just afraid and not just the the people that don't look like us but even each other."

It was really hard because I experienced a lot of microaggressions that I had just normalized. And I had to normalize it just to be safe, and I didn't realize I was doing it at that time. I really realized a lot during the pandemic. When I started reading like Caste, and I started going deeper into my own journey of like, life and what does it mean to be a Black woman? You know, and what does it mean to be a leader?

Through her many efforts, Koya has become well known throughout the wellness community with her yoga classes, coaching, podcast, The Lifestyle Design podcast, and events like the Mind, Body + Sol Retreat. She also has a new book coming out focusing on lifestyle design, which she describes as intentionally incorporating wellness in every aspect of your life. Koya also uses her social media to motivate others to live a life of joy, love, and wellness. While she promotes positivity through her work, she also wants others to know that they, too, can start on their holistic journey by adding these simple yoga principles.

"I feel like just waking up and breathing, just mindful breath. You know, of course we're breathing all the time, but like, deep inhale, deep exhale like 10 deep inhalations and exhalations when they wake up and then just some gentle stretches in bed," she says.

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