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Changemaker Feature: TéQuan Johnson

by Kim Nguyen |

TéQuan Johnson is a queer, non-binary, Black yoga teacher. They are also a photographer and the founder of Inner YoKE— an inclusive new wellness platform. Understanding the importance of representation, TéQuan, through Inner YoKE, provides everything from online classes and multimedia content to clothing and wellness products. Their mission is to show that yoga is accessible to everyone of all ages, races, genders and bodies. And that through creative expression and movement, their students can form a deeper connection to their mind, body, and spirit. To get to know TéQuan more, continue reading.


What led you to start Inner YoKE?

Yoga has been a huge part of my journey to self-discovery. It has helped me to connect with my mind and body in a way that I never thought possible. As a photographer, I have been able to use my tools to share my yoga journey with others and I hope that by sharing my story, I can inspire others to start their own journey of self-discovery through yoga.

     

    What is your vision at Inner YoKE?

    Yoga is more than just a physical practice. It's a lifestyle that can lead to better health and wellbeing. At YoKE, we want to offer everything you need to live a yoga lifestyle. From online classes and multimedia content to clothing and wellness products, we are working to have everything you need to get started on your yoga journey.

    One day we would like to offer teacher training and retreats for those who want to deepen their practice or become a yoga teacher. Whether you're just starting out or you're a seasoned yogi, we will have something for everyone.

      What are you doing at Inner YoKE to make wellness / yoga / creative practices more accessible?

      We firmly believe that these practices can truly improve people's lives, and we want to make them as accessible as possible.

      That's why we're offering a variety of free online yoga classes starting in October. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced yogi, we have a class for you. Plus, there's no need to leave the comfort of your own home - all you need is a mat and some space to move.


        Where do movement practices and creative expression like photography intersect in your opinion?

        Movement practices and creative expression like photography intersect in a really beautiful way. They both allow us to explore and express our inner world, and can be used as tools for self-discovery and healing.

        When we combine these two modalities, we can create something truly special. Movement can help us to access parts of ourselves that we may not be able to reach through photography alone, and vice versa. The results can be transformative.

        If you're interested in exploring this intersection further, there are a few things you can do. First, try using photography as a tool for exploring your own body and movement. Second, experiment with different ways of moving your body while taking photographs. And finally, don't be afraid to get creative! There are no rules here, so let your imagination run wild.

        Who knows what you'll discover about yourself – and the world around you – when you start playing at the intersection of movement and photography.

          What has been your own aha moment with yoga and photography?

          My aha moment with yoga came when I realized that it wasn't just about the physical practice. Yoga is about connecting with your breath and your body, and using those connections to calm the mind. For me, photography is also about connecting with my subject matter and finding a way to capture the essence of what I see. When I combine yoga and photography, I'm able to connect with my subjects in a very different way than if I were just taking photos. I can find the peace and stillness within myself that allows me to really see what's in front of me. And that's when the magic happens.

            Any diversity and inclusion mission statements or activities that you can share?

            As a queer, non binary, Black yoga teacher, I understand the importance of inclusion and diversity in wellness spaces.

            No matter your age, race, gender, or body type, yoga is for everyone. Diversity is important and representation matters. When we see people like us represented in yoga, it can help us feel more included and motivated to practice. Everyone deserves to feel welcome in the yoga community!

            If you’re ever in Miami, come check out ‘The Queer Yoga Club’ at Miami Life Center. We host a yoga class/group discussion on the last Saturday of every month. This event is meant to encourage inclusivity in the yoga space and bring together a beautiful community of yogis from all backgrounds at our studio! This is a donation based event.

              In your opinion, why are creative expression and movement both important for mental health?

              Creative expression and movement are important for mental health because they help us to connect with our bodies and emotions. When we express ourselves creatively, we can tap into our feelings and thoughts in a non-verbal way. This can be very therapeutic and help us to understand ourselves better. Similarly, movement helps us to connect with our physical selves and release any built-up tension or stress. It can also be a form of self-care and an opportunity to reconnect with our bodies. Both yoga and wellness emphasize the importance of connecting with our whole selves – mind, body and spirit. Hence, YoKE.  They offer us ways to explore our emotions and find stillness and peace within ourselves. By practicing yoga or spending time on other forms of self-care, we can learn to control our thoughts and reactions, and become more mindful of our mental and physical health. 

                What shifts have you seen over the past few years around movement & wellness practice in the world?

                There has been a shift in recent years towards yoga and wellness practices. More people are interested in yoga for its health benefits and its ability to help them relax and de-stress. There has also been a move away from traditional forms of exercise, such as running and lifting weights, towards more holistic approaches that focus on the mind-body connection. This shift is likely due to the increasing awareness of the importance of physical and mental health, and the need for balance in our lives.


                  Whatever your creative outlet, we hope you’re inspired to bring a little more creativity into your practice. Follow TéQuan on Instagram @nrmlyoga and Inner YoKE @inneryoke to see how they’re building connections through yoga.