Hadji Jones Interview – aka “Black Yogi”
In January I was able to peg down The Black Yogi for an interview, which was quite refreshing as you just can’t help but smile when talking to him. He has almost a childlike excitement when discussing his plans. I wanted to interview Hadji Jones aka The Black Yogi as part of a series of Yoga teachers who are doing things differently in the field. I was interested in not just Hadji the Yoga teacher, but more specifically the side projects that he’s involved in. He has his hands on several branches of the Yoga community and after reflecting on a comment made one day in a Philadelphia class I wanted to learn more about it. He stated when he first became a Yoga teacher he thought it was to do just that, to teach Yoga. He had no idea that the journey would lead him to so many other aspects and opportunities. Let’s find out a little bit more about a day in the life of The Black Yogi. ~ Carri Uranga
CU – What inspired you to teach Yoga?
HJ – I had been going to classes at the gym and realized I just liked it. Then one day I saw my teacher on the street on the way to work and she was just glowing. I thought ‘I want to have that same feeling on my way to work’ At the time I was studying to be a paralegal and was a legal aid. While I enjoyed what I was doing I certainly wasn’t glowing on my way to work. I started asking myself the bigger questions: What makes me happy? What do I really want out of this life? And thus my journey began. I did my Yoga Teacher Training at Dhyana Yoga and my life began to change.
Eventually he would like to do more Yoga teacher trainings and suggests a well- rounded avenue of study would be to actually do three teacher training programs all very different from one another: One with your home studio with teachers that you know and love, another with a company that is well known internationally and eventually in depth long-term study with a specific mentor.
CU – You are involved in so many other aspects of the Yoga industry, not just teaching classes. What all have you got going on?
HJ – One of the things I’m doing right now is helping Yoga Journal promote the NY Yoga Conference. I am responsible for reaching South Jersey and the Philadelphia suburbs.
CU – How did that come about?
HJ – Yama – the Yoga talent agency contacted me.
Not a surprise considering he’s been featured in online TV shows including “Rock Your Yoga” w/ Sadie Nardini on the Veria Living Network and “Yoga Sutra Now” with Jai Sugrim as well as “Hip Hop Asana”. He’s also been featured in a music video.
CU – Is there anything you haven’t done?
HJ – This year’s focus will be a major move to New York or LA in order to network and get more involved with media, fashion, journalism and magazines. I’m currently working on getting a manager and would like to get more into photo shoots, fitness modeling and eventually host my own online show! I write for the popular Yoga blogs like Elephant Journal and YOGANONYMOUS, but I would like to have articles in magazines too. I’m a big social media proponent. Due to social media, change has come about quickly in the industry overall and it’s the people who are doing something different that really stand out. Yoga teachers are continually graduating from schools all over the world some of them may not be engaging in social media. If they aren’t – they should be. They need to understand how to network themselves. We are on the cutting edge here. Start the conversation!
CU – You have interviewed many popular Yoga teachers. What got you into that?
HJ – I’m really interested in Diversity in Yoga. There’s not a lot of it. I was curious to ask some of the big names in Yoga what diversity meant to them. I’ve interviewed Leslie Kaminoff, Cindi Lee, Dana Flynn and Rodney Yee to name a few. Many people have a stereotype that Yoga is for rich white people. How did this stereotype even come about anyway? Just because you’re white doesn’t mean you’re rich and not all black people are poor. The majority of students I see in Yoga classes don’t necessarily seem wealthy. It’s an interesting topic I like to explore. I look forward to being on the cover of Yoga Journal one day!
CU – Is that one of your goals?
HJ – Oh yes. I have a lot of them! I’d like to open a studio in Atlanta, Georgia. I’d like to start a scholarship program for a fellow black Yogi preferably from an inner city to attend a Yoga teacher training of their choice. I’d like to teach at some of the Yoga conferences and festivals like the Caribbean Yoga Conference and Wanderlust.
CU – You’re pretty open about your goals while some people tend to harbor their goals like secrets.
HJ – I learned to ask for what I wanted or needed a long time ago. The only way you’re going to find out is to ask. If they say no I say OK then what can I do to make this happen? You have to speak what you want into existence. If you trap your dreams you’ll live in a nightmare.
CU– Perfectly stated! That should be the theme of this interview!
CU – What are three things you like people to know about you?
HJ – I used to be a Legal Admin (not a gymnast as many have asked). From the time I was 11-17 years old I experienced physical and mental abuse and I used to play classical violin. That’s like a meditation in itself.
CU – What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
HJ – Sharon Gannon from Jivamukti said, “If you want it bad enough it will happen.”
A friend of mine reminded me “All action isn’t necessarily progress. Action has to have meaning.” I continually remind myself to Bring it back home. Bring it back to the big picture. Enrich your story.
I believe that’s exactly what Hadji Jones will continue to do – Enrich his story by pursuing his dreams and becoming the legacy known as The Black Yogi.
Hadji Jones is a Yoga Instructor from Philadelphia and an Ambassador for Manduka and Lululemon. He explores topics of diversity in Yoga, is a recent vegan, loves to teach, travel and meet new people. He hopes to embark on a California tour soon to visit the offices of Manduka, Yogitoes, and Yoga Journal to plan his cover photo shoot! www.theblackyogi.com