Chelsea Jackson Roberts, Ph.D., is a yoga and meditation instructor for Peloton, as well as the founder of Yoga, Literature, & Art Camp designed for teen girls.

As the first African American global ambassador for Lululemon, Roberts encourages a healthier lifestyle through yoga.

Roberts discussed how yoga positively impacts mental health.

How did you get started on this health journey of teaching people the importance of wellness?

I always share that I’m a student first. I was a yoga student when I was graduating from college. I graduated from Spelman College. I started my yoga journey, in my early adulthood, and then I became a school teacher. I continued to do graduate work and when I was a school teacher, I was also studying to be a yoga teacher. By day, I was a school teacher for third-graders at an elementary school, and by night, I was going to class on the weekends. I decided to integrate some of the things that I learned in my yoga classes, such as breathing techniques, ways of connecting with yourself, and even allowing stress to confront it, but then also figure out ways to let it move through and out. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in educational studies at Emory University, and fast-forward to around 2020, which was a very tumultuous time for us all, specifically March 2020. My husband and I moved to New York because I had this opportunity to teach at Peloton and I knew that it was important for me to use that opportunity because I [would] be able to cast such a wide net. Especially during the time when people were in their homes; they needed spaces to reduce the stress that we were all going through globally.

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month; how does yoga help a person’s mental well-being?

By definition, yoga means to unite, to join, and to yoke. I always like to start with that as the foundation. Anytime we have the space and the opportunity to allow ourselves to unplug, I’m talking about unplugging from technology, and the demands of work, even if it’s just five minutes, those moments and opportunities are an opportunity for our nervous system to reset. Yoga, meditation, and other activities are great ways for us to reduce our stress levels, and support our mental health. I think that yoga and meditation are both unique because it centers the breath. We can use the breath as an actual tangible tool to support our body when we want to bring the heart rate down and bring our nervous system back into regulation, and that’s what drew me to the practice.

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