As a part of our Black Leaders Day celebration, we are sharing the stories of our Black instructors and supporting the causes that matter most to them.
Today we have the opportunity to celebrate Hope Elliott. She’s a yoga teacher, travel advisor, and wellbeing guide with extensive experience in care-giving and mental health education. She seeks to help individuals deepen their relationship with themselves and strengthen self-awareness.
Read more about Hope below and visit her Moxie studio to join her for a class.
Q&A with Hope Elliott
- Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a fitness instructor. How did you get started? Is there an achievement you’re particularly proud of?
I started becoming a yoga teacher because I was a student of yoga. I depression, anxiety, and I also have a panic disorder. The therapist I was working with at the time wanted to introduce me to something that could help me empower myself and track my mental health. Something that could help me to just focus on pausing, slowing down, really focusing on what’s important – I’m breathing and I’m alive.
I started with a vinyasa yoga practice and it was really shocking to me how my mind just completely quieted during a yoga class and just how linking my breath and my movement created so much focus that I couldn’t worry about anything else. After a few years of loving yoga and seeing how it completely transformed, not only my mental health but also my identity, I realized that instead of becoming a therapist yoga teaching was a little more authentic for me. It gave me a way to hold space for other people doing their own self-discovery work and their own healing; whatever that meant for them rather than taking responsibility for other people’s mental and emotional well-being.
My greatest achievement is fully stepping into myself. Moxie has given me the space to be my authentic teaching self in a way that I haven’t experienced. I’ve avoided stepping into my Black self for so many different reasons but with this Black revolution going on I think my greatest achievement is getting to a place where I can say, “I’m Black. I’m a woman. I’m here. And I want to be heard.”
- What is your coaching philosophy or mantra?
I am a student first and also do no harm. It’s so easy in the yoga community to boost one’s ego in a lot of different ways and it causes harm. I’m a student even when I’m teaching and I am not trying to be bigger or better I am just here to share the practice that has helped me so much.
- What does leadership mean to you?
Constantly doing the work to be your most authentic self and sharing that with others.
- How important is it for you to be a wellness leader in the black community?
It’s crucial. I think I have repressed so much of what it means to exist as a Black woman in this world, especially in a wellness space where it doesn’t always feel safe and welcoming.
There’s a collective and there’s also an individual and I think we get lumped into being the same person, thanks to stereotyping. It can make us feel like we’re less than or not seen or not heard. I feel like being a leader in myself and showing up as I am leads way for other people who may feel like they’re not part of a collective when they are, to just say this is who I am and it doesn’t make me any more or any less.
- We’re excited to get to know the charity you are supporting! Who are they and why are they special to you?
The Okra Project. The Okra Project feeds culturally specific foods, and provides resources, to Black Trans People who are experiencing food insecurity. Their background is essentially paying homage to the Black women who braided seeds into their hair as they were being enslaved to bring it to the places in which they were displaced. It’s a part of this really rich history that’s not talked about.
- Is there someone in the Black community or a figure in history who inspires you and whom you wish more folks knew about? We’d love to hear about them!
Jessamyn Stanley. She’s a yoga teacher, body positivity advocate, and writer. She’s authentically herself – she shows up with her hair twisted, prepped for her twist out. She shows up fully and unapologetically in her body. It is this constant reminder that we are sold this one image of what a healthy yoga body looks like and she tears it all down. She’s a pioneer.