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Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

2021 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Amy Perez

At the upcoming AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event on Aug. 27, Amy Perez will be one of the 40 honorees.

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The second annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will serve to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region.

At the event, taking place on August 27, 2021, Amy Perez will be one of the 40 honorees. She is the founder of Philly Jawns Love Yoga.

Biography

Amy Perez’s journey to starting Philly Jawns Love Yoga started after a friend invited her to attend a yoga class at the studio she frequented. At that point, the young professional had tried everything to relieve the stress she was feeling around not having a purpose and experienced a revelation.

Perez’s next step after the class was to attend a seven-month training alongside the studio owner. 

After that, she set out on her own to show her community the power of yoga and started Philly Jawns Love Yoga.

To this day, the operation offers free yoga classes led by Perez to members of the North Philadelphia community, hoping they have the same revelation she did when she first encountered the practice.

Here are Amy Perez's responses: 

1. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career?

Different bodies, communities, ethnicities and abilities are not always represented in the yoga community. As a practitioner and leader, I have experienced spaces where I did not feel welcomed, accepted or included. The lack of representation of different communities, people ethnicities and abilities deters a lot of people from practicing yoga. Yoga more than ever in our world is needed. As a community, city, country and world, mental health, stress and chronic health problems are at its most high. Now more than ever we all deserve holistic practices to better strengthen our bodies, hearts, emotions, spirits and communities. Diversity is a conversation that needs to not just be spoken about within the yoga community but truly needs to be into action. Diversity includes not just race, but also all genders, sexual orientations, abilities, and ethnicities.

2. What steps can be taken to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?

I believe that there are ways to improve diversity, inclusion, equity and inclusion in the yoga community. Most yoga classes are led in studios where it is more than often expensive and inaccessible to low income communities. Philly Jawns Love Yoga classes are not led inside studios nor is there a fee or membership. All classes are free, donations welcomed and open to all in spaces such as parks, community centers, schools and non profit organizations.

It is important to recognize the needs of ALL people. Every human, every community, is different and the invitation to practice yoga should be opened to everyone. It is vital for yoga leaders to know and understand who they serve and why. It is important to know the needs of the communities and teach from a space of authenticity, compassion and understanding.

Something I believe the yoga community/industry truly needs to shift is promoting and marketing. There is a stigma that yoga is for skinny, rich white women. Yoga is about awareness, inclusivity and accessibility. We need to see images that include different ethnicities, communities and abilities.

It is important that these and many other factors are put into the forefront of the yoga industry to strengthen and support all.

3. What does being a leader mean to you?

Leadership is integrity, responsibility, encouragement, empathy, understanding, awareness and being in listening. As a community leader, yoga teacher, educator and founder, having empathy, the ability to inspire, and getting people to be and work together is so important to me. As a leader, it is important to embody honesty and authenticity. When I lead yoga practitioners in the practice of yoga and mindfulness, I serve from the place of love, understanding and awareness. Leadership is awareness of every individual’s needs, backgrounds and meeting everyone where they are. Leadership to me is inclusivity, diversity and being in the listening of the community’s

desires, needs and journeys. Leadership is supporting individuals as they are on their own personal journeys of transformation. Leadership to me is humility and love.

4. Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I see myself creating yoga and wellness programs that expand outside of Philadelphia and New York. These programs would be fully funded and shared with communities at no cost. I see these programs in hospitals, organizations, and schools around the states. I see myself leading conferences around the states that would support people in the yoga industry with diversity and inclusion training. In five years I also see myself opening a community center centered around yoga and wellness in North Philadelphia.

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