The Journey of Launching Freedom At The Mat Online
Quarantine was thrust upon us all. At the beginning of the COVID-19 onset pandemic, I was extremely busy with work, and exercise (even created a routine that included 3x weekly bike rides, and 3–4x weekly yoga (to offset the snacks)).
Then the dust settled.
I was stuck — with me. As a single woman, I had the privilege of looking at me, inside and outside daily. And with time, I began to see this as an opportunity, and accepted the invitation to grow.
Like many creatives, I shifted energy into creation mode. We were able to create in a space where there was no limit on time or creativity. So, although I was still teaching at NYU and managing marketing for Omerge Alliances’ clients, I began to lean into my yoga practice more and more as an escape.
The mat has always been a destination for my personal refuge. And I needed it now more than ever. It also seemed that the world needed a refuge from the chaos as much as I. People needed grounding, a place of calm and something to lean into. My vision was for classes to offer women which integrated mindfulness activities, meditation, journaling, yoga asana and affirmations. I’d been testing the model with success with Freedom At The Mat in-person classes in NYC through my partner Dream Center Harlem. But now, with a global hiatus of live classes, there was a larger opportunity at stake with virtual and online classes to reach more women and provide stress and anxiety-relieving benefits through the combining of various wellness modalities. I even had the support of Anew Network which had offered to distribute FATM’s video content.
But in order for me to be able to really get in front of Freedom At The Mat and drive its benefits to support more women, I had to get over me and perceived perceptions of me as not good enough to be an influential voice in wellness. This is where the hardest work had to occur.
I had to face the fact that I did not look like the typical yogi. I stood as a solid size 12 black woman (10 on a very special day, but not a single digit girl). I didn’t see myself reflected much in the Wellness community. Would I be accepted? Would my new business baby Freedom At The Mat be accepted because I didn’t look the part? I lived the lifestyle in every way. Yet, I’d struggled with my weight since age 11.
Perhaps the quarantine and the beckoning to come forth was an invitation to do the work to free myself — finally.
Teaching virtually for all the world to see ME — holy smokes — are you kidding? And then, the prospect of presenting myself to the world via video content on YouTube and Anew Network (anewnetwork.com) — umm, no? Teaching locally at nonprofits and workplaces in Harlem, Memphis, New Orleans and other places that welcomed me was one thing. But, this was requiring gargantuan courage & fortitude, which I, by myself, did not possess.
But, I did it. I use I cautiously. Because it was indeed an inner divine force which guided me every step of the way while creating and executing. With the support of a special, loving breed of friends & family, I shot videos. I did voice overs. I picked out wardrobe. I did my hair. I called brands for candles, wardrobe and fragrance product placements. I transformed a living space into a studio. I practiced over and over. I researched poses I needed to better understand how to articulate since there were no live trainings happening due to pandemic. And, pushed through vendor issues which threatened the series’ launch.
And now, today, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, we launch Freedom At The Mat Online on Anew Network and YouTube for the whole world to see. It is indeed daunting. There are times in life in which you have to level up. This was one.
I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and nervousness. But, can’t help but to walk forward in the freedom and light of how it feels to live on purpose and walk in the confidence of God. As the saying goes, sometimes indeed you have to do it scared.
I hope you and your loved ones are safe & healthy given the pandemic’s spread, and wish you all the courage to push past yourself to offer the world something it needs which you are supremely capable of offering.
Sincerest gratitude to my tribe who helped me behind the scenes, especially Sherita, Chalaundra, Anise, Jepthahlin, Rebecca, Ephrat & Lynne, and partners Renee of i.e. spa indulgences, Jamie of The Oil Bar & Amanda of Blooming Tees, who supported this effort sight unseen. And much love to the legions of others who helped with this launch, Aaron, Letena & Sheila, and my steady yoga students Lise, Jacqui, Karlease and Caridad whose love, support and feedback blessed me greatly with the validation needed to truly step out on faith and do this. #indebted
#Namaste #Seeyouatthemat (virtual or pre-recorded!)