Faith Hunter Proves that Black Girls Can Be Yogis Too

by Nneka M. Okona

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, I met with yogi Faith Hunter, the face behind the brand Spiritually Fly, at The Diner in the bustling neighborhood of Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C. She ordered green tea and I ordered black, with a side of milk. As she poured the steaming hot tea into her cup, I automatically felt at ease. It seems that Faith’s warm energy permeates past interpersonal interactions into her business, a brand she’s slowly been building and that resonates with many.

This is what she thinks contributed to her recent affiliation with Gaiam Yoga Rising Series, a digital collection of episodes, sold via iTunes, of yoga instructors offering instruction for 30 to 40 minutes at a time.

Faith is not new to practicing yoga or teaching it. She has been on her journey for nearly 20 years, propelled forward from tragedy—the death of her brother from AIDS in August of 1994.

“I started practicing [yoga] in the early 90s, and I started practicing because one of my brothers was diagnosed with HIV,” she said. “In the 90s, he was actually starting to die and emotionally I was a mess.”

A friend of hers recommended she try a combination of meditation and yoga to help her deal with the complex emotions she was struggling with: rage, melancholia, grief, confusion. Once she did, she immediately saw its power.

“It was really difficult but I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the first time I have taken a deep breath in years,’” she said.

The following year, the Grambling, Louisiana native with a background in nonprofit communications, uprooted her life to D.C. for a change of pace, hoping to make a splash in the mecca of nonprofit and advocacy. Yoga was still there, humming in the background. It was an on- and-off practice and not something that was the center and full focus of her life.

Nearly six years later, she felt she needed to make another change in her life. The monotony of working in the nonprofit realm was no longer fulfilling.

“I decided that I just wanted to make a shift,” she said. “I enjoyed my nonprofit work but I just felt like I needed to do something different.”

So she meditated on it, when a friend who is a yoga teacher suggested she think about becoming a yoga teacher herself. Using her savings, she took a leap forward in courage and in four months time, had her certification. 

In the years since, she’s done some nonprofit consulting on the side, but yoga instruction is currently her main focus. But just because she’s pursuing her passion, does not mean she isn’t working hard. Faith wears many hats: instructor, trainer, Spiritually Fly brand ambassador, and business owner. Since 2011, she’s been the owner of Embrace Yoga DC, a studio based in Adams Morgan of Washington, D.C.

“It’s really fascinating because I’ve been on this kind of yoga teaching journey for a really long time,” she said. “Not longer than everybody, but definitely longer than a lot. I think it’s been a lot of hard work. The things that have come to me, have not come overnight.”

She also recognizes her journey in an industry not heavily occupied by other women of color, especially Black women, has made her trajectory unique. Knowing this hasn’t stopped Faith from continuing to push forward. And she encourages others to do the same, despite whatever odds they face.

“No matter how we may feel about discrimination, it really does exist,” she said. “You just have to constantly push and do your best. And hopefully things will pay off. Trust that things will pay off.”

To learn more about Faith or the benefits of yoga, visit

Photo credits: Faith Hunter/Embrace Yoga DC

Nneka M. Okona is a writer based in Washington, DC. Visit her blog,, her website, or follow her tweets, @NisforNneka.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.