Growing up in Brighton, where the lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender (LGBT) communities are big, Josetta Malcolm thought, that starting an LGBT Yoga class was a natural thing to do.
She wanted to create a place, where lesbian gay bisexual and transgender people would be at ease with their bodies and soul, and find calmness. Just using changing rooms can be a barrier to joining a mainstream class for trans people, (there are cases of people being asked to leave changing rooms/gendered toilets and questioned about their gender), so she is teaching in a trans sexual health clinic and gender neutral settings where this is not an issue.
“Day-to-day negative experiences or micro-aggressions can weigh heavy on people from the LGBT community,“ she said, adding that Yoga is a great way to relax and calm down.
PACE, a UK-based LGBT mental health charity, where Josetta worked as a Senior Manager, recently published a report that the suicide rates within young gay or transsexual people are considerably higher than within straight/non trans people of the same age – so she wants to offer support.
Coming from a social and mental health background she strives to reduce isolation and increase physical and mental wellbeing in these communities, to “put them back into the world“.
Everyone – of any age, body shape or background – comes to visit her LGBT and trans Yoga classes.
“I have a problem with the stereotypes that only people from African or Asian communities are being rejected by their families when coming out – many of my white gay friends had very similar experiences,“ said Josetta Malcolm.
After years of practice and teaching in Brighton, Berlin, and now London she has managed to make a living out of her passion even though she generally avoids teaching in mainstream fitness studios.
“Yoga is not only for toned and skinny bodies in fancy fitness studios“
She teaches NHS classes on mental health wards, at LGBT festivals, Black and Asian settings, in community centres and is working with a Women’s Health Project, where she will teach Yoga in female prisons and with former prisoners. Such classes are often free to the students or offered at reduced rates, thanks to a few well-paying private clients or NHS funding.
“Yoga should be affordable for everyone and it shouldn’t be a luxury, because if so, people have forgotten or don’t realise what Yoga is about,“ she said.
Its roots are in Asia and Africa, but in the Western World, Josetta found, it became very mainstream, mainly for white, toned and skinny bodies.
“I love working with any kind of body shape and very often you’d be surprised about the flexibility of a 70-year old or stronger-built person,“ she said.
For now she is very happy and wants to continue the path she’s on. Being a freelance teacher is not always easy, but she wants to make Yoga truly accessible for everyone, especially people who would usually feel in “normal“ lessons alien or out of place.
by Amelie Heuls
I am a Franco-Austrian, aspiring journalist, who is about to finish an International Master program in London. I am very interested in politics and human rights and am naturally very curious about life and the world I live in. I enjoy getting to know new people, who have a story to tell, an interesting point to raise or who make me think differently and push my thoughts