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Changing the Face of Yoga

Changing the Face of Yoga

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class (or even if you haven’t), you probably have a specific idea of what a typical yogi looks like. Donesia Dudley is on a mission to change this perception. She is a vivacious African American woman over 200 pounds. Not the stereotypical yoga instructor.

Like so many of us, Dudley has watched the scale go down down down… and then up again. In 2012, she lost a remarkable 100 lbs., only to gain it back again. Five years later, on a mission to be healthier when she turned 30, she lost 70 lbs. over 6 months. She gained half back.

Finally Dudley realized she’d never be happy from losing weight. She would have to find happiness first. And she did. Ultimately learning self-love and acceptance through her calling as a yoga instructor—and going further to document her journey on social media.

“Everyone has obstacles and sometimes we fall. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable… We’re all just striving to be better humans.”

Encouraged by this historically-exciting time to be a woman, Dudley realized she could make a positive impact by helping to bring the yoga culture to her own community--a deep-rooted, primarily African American suburb in Los Angeles. She teaches and practices at a non-profit studio called The Tree South LA - a group “led by the people, for the people.’’ Since 2013, The Tree South LA has been offering donation-only yoga, affordable mindfulness classes, health education, seminars, and valuable trainings that weren’t always accessible to the Inglewood community. It’s a multicultural safe haven for locals to gather, learn, thrive - and ultimately lead healthier lives.

“I want to look back and say I was part of changing the status quo... I want [people] to see that if someone who looks like me can do inversion poses or scuba dive, so can they.”

Today Dudley is still losing weight steadily—utilizing all the mental health benefits yoga offers her.

“Your body is not the enemy. You have to always love it and yourself, regardless of your weight.”

For more information about The Tree South LA, please go to