Sara Clark: on Moving Conversation to Action
Words by Marissa Hatten
Sara Clark came to yoga when searching for ways to heal. Her journey started when she was only seventeen. “My sister introduced me to yoga and I fell in love. As an athlete, it was a completely different experience of moving my body. From there, I practiced in my college dorm room. Coming to NYC, I practiced with Yoga to The People – and I practiced often.”
Sara immediately immersed herself into the world of yoga and wellness. What started out as a path to healing became her profession in her early twenties when she decided to take the leap and leave her corporate job to pursue yoga full time. “I didn’t have a desire to teach yoga but I knew the training and practice would open me up. However, once I actually started teaching, I fell in love with it. Now I teach full time everywhere around the world, online, to all ages and all colors.”
Sara’s dedication to her practice and teaching has paid off: she writes for Yoga Journal and other magazines and has appeared on the cover of both Yoga Journal and Prevention magazine.
Although Sara has experienced success with her professional and personal yoga journey it was not without challenges. As a black woman, her identity has impacted both her practice and her approach to how she teaches. “Being a woman of color has affected my teaching because of the mistreatment I have experienced in this country. Having been ignored and looked over so many times growing up – compassion and the right to be seen and be heard is big in my teaching.” She says. “I believe in encouraging students to feel their feelings instead of shoving them down and making them become a disease.”
Like many other people of color, Sara is also conscious of what it means to be a person carrying her various identities in the spaces she navigates. “It’s radical because I am sure I am a lot of people’s first black teacher of any kind.” She says, reflecting on the power dynamics that often exist not just in the wellness space, but the world at large. “Sometimes I feel like I am not doing enough work but I realize I am because I am showing up in these very white spaces and changing the face of what a yoga teacher looks like.” To Sara, changing the expectations of who can be/who is a teacher on and off the mat is one way in which she is making change in the yoga community.
Sara is not the only one creating change in wellness spaces. In the past year, diversity and inclusion has been a recurring theme of conversation for practitioners of all kinds in the wellness community. With all of the discussion going on, I asked Sara about her perspective on how these conversations are impacting the wellness world. Sara expressed hope for the future but also posed some important questions. “Sure different wellness spaces want to bring people of color in, but are you ready for us? How are you treating us in these spaces? What does inclusion really mean?” She asked. Although this conversation is happening in the wellness world, Sara believes it is much bigger than this space. “I think it’s going to take deeper work to really include people on a yogic level. I don’t think it’s happened yet. I think the environment of our country is incredibly divided and it will take time to have everyone feeling safe in the same space together. “
So if the issue of diversity and inclusion have been posed, and we haven’t been able to include people on a yogic level, then what are the next steps? Sara thinks what comes next needs to start with representation. “I really think any type of wellness company needs to look at their staff. Who are they hiring? They need to question their diversity. There needs to be more voices in this. Just by hiring more people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with differences of ability can make a shift.” She says. “From there, the question is – what can I do to support more diversity in my yoga space?”
Marissa Hatten is a writer, yogi and communications professional living in NYC. She is passionate about sharing compelling stories and fostering human connection with words.