Melissa Ludwig Diversity in Yoga Scholarship

Funded by
Melissa Ludwig
Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
Apr 6, 2021
Winners Announced
Apr 30, 2021
Education Level

Yoga, which is believed to have originated in pre-Vedic traditions in India in 3000 BCE, has crossed borders, regions, and cultures to connect people to their minds, bodies and souls.

In the 1880s, Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Hindu monk, gave the first lectures on yoga in the United States. Twenty five years later, Shri Yogendra, an Indian yoga guru, is widely credited with expanding the use of Yoga Asanas in the United States.

For the general public, the eruption of yoga started in the 1960s with teachers of Indian descent and was quickly appropriated and embraced by white individuals.

Yoga is a physically embodied meditation - to integrate the mind and body together. In addition to the cultural and spiritual aspects of yoga, there are many physical benefits, including stress reduction, flexibility, and injury prevention. 

Despite the benefits of yoga, many yoga spaces and communities in the United States don't reflect the diversity of the country. In the US, about one in every 15 people practice yoga, but four-fifths of them are white. The lack of diversity in yoga is perpetuated by media, advertising entities, and yoga clothing brands that portray yoga practitioners as white, thin, and upper-class. In addition, the cost of becoming a yoga instructor and attending classes is prohibitive for many individuals.

Changing the yogi community to reflect the racial makeup of the United States starts with eliminating barriers and increasing representation.

The Melissa Ludwig Diversity in Yoga Scholarship will support a person of color on their journey to become a yoga teacher. The scholarship will go toward yoga instructor teacher training classes required to become a registered yoga teacher.

To apply, applicants will be asked to write about their love of yoga and how they plan to use their teachings to continue to set forth change and growth in world.

Diversity and Inclusion
Selection Criteria:
Essay, BIPOC, Yoga
Essay Topic

How did you discover your love for yoga? How do you plan to use your teachings to promote positive change and growth in the world?

250–500 words

Winning Application

Lauren Gause
Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA
I discovered a love of yoga after attending a retreat at the Sri Venkateswara Lotus Temple in Fairfax, VA. To experience group yoga, while watching the sunrise showed me how beautiful the world could be. At the time I was in my early stages of yoga and I knew that I wanted to further my relationship with yoga but could never afford it. Something else that interested me was how I was only one of three African-Americans in the group. Typically, yoga is underrepresented the in black community and I would love to change that. Yoga has many physical, mental and emotional benefits that I would love to teach and pass along to further diversify. While there is a rise of black owned yoga studios, they are usually in major cities such as New York City and Los Angeles. I would want to reach those who aren't apart of those populous cities and don't have the opportunity to be apart of these groups. I plan to use my teaching to help the lower income communities. I want to reach the people who have a desire to learn of yoga and to reap the benefits but were unable to because of cost or location. I believe that everyone should have the chance to instill a positive change in their life regardless of their personal situation. Healthy living and maintaining a connection with your physical body should be giving to all. With this scholarship, I would be able to pay for my RYT 200 training certification and begin to further my mission to provide healthy alternative methods to those that need it most.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 6, 2021. Winners will be announced on Apr 30, 2021.

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