Today we’d like to introduce you to Elicica Morris (she/her).
Hi Elicica, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I’m a CODA (child of Deaf adults) and grew up in a predominantly white, suburban town outside of Boston, Mass. Deaf culture is an integral part of who I am, and American Sign Language is my first language.
When I started practicing Asana (yogic movement) many years ago, I noticed that I was often the only black person in many yoga spaces. I even recall asking myself, “Is this for me?” Despite the lack of representation, I continued to show up to my mat and practice in these spaces.
I decided to get my yoga teaching certifications to facilitate the exploration of yoga, and shortly after, I started teaching Asana to deaf and hard-of-hearing children and teachers. I realized then that many yoga spaces are either inaccessible (in every definition of the word), lack diversity, or a combination of both.
As such, Uniqual Collective was born out of direct experiences of inequity, and a desire for individual and collective healing and liberation. Folx belonging to marginalized communities are entitled to exploring healing modalities such as art, yoga, pranayama, meditation, therapy, and the like. I believe my dharma, or purpose, is to co-create spaces in which we can all thrive in our individual uniqueness.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The challenge begins with the Western yoga industry at large. Yoga in the Western world has been appropriated into a capital-centric fitness practice, which is almost entirely the opposite of its origination. Asana (movement) is only one of eight limbs of yoga, and even the idea of flowing through postures (vinyasa) is one of many schools of yogic movement. Therefore, what the West understands as yogic practice is in fact, a dramatically reduced version of what it is.
On top of that, yoga has been consistently marketed to a specific demographic. The most prominent written authority in yoga, Yoga Journal, has come under criticism in recent years for only displaying images of white, able-bodied, skinny women, which inevitably translates to the makeup of students in the studios. This does not create a space for those who don’t identify with that demographic to be physically or spiritually vulnerable, or even generate interest in the practice. In many of my conversations with BIPOC people like myself, their sentiment on yoga is that it isn’t for them, when yoga is an empowering physical and spiritual practice for all people. In fact, communities that are marginalized stand to gain the most from the practice, because they tend to experience overwhelmingly more external, societal stressors.
Yoga is a magnificent portal to one’s self. With that said, it is paramount that folx have brave spaces to explore and nourish the connection between mind, body, and soul. And not to mention, liberation for themselves.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
For me, what led me to first explore yoga was when I recognized I had experienced significant childhood trauma. I took a 60 minute vinyasa flow that ended with tears streaming down my face as I rested at the close of class. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and peace in a way I had never before. This is what led me to dive deeper into yoga as a way of life. I received 500 total hours of yoga teacher certification and continued my education with Trauma-Informed trainings.
As well as being a wellness practitioner, I am always a student. I co-facilitate workshops, Asana, pranayama, and meditation, collaborate, and co-create healing spaces with others. I specialize in facilitating and co-creating spaces for deaf and hard-of-hearing folx, as well as wellness programming for deaf folx.
I’m known for my bubbly and compassionate energy as well as my love for Dominican food. I am most proud of my commitment to embracing my truth as unapologetically, wholeheartedly, and compassionately as I can. And, continuing to share the joy and compassion I have in my heart with others.
What were you like growing up?
As a CODA, I was relied upon to interpret for my parents in many different environments. While infrastructure did exist for deaf people to interact with the hearing world, it was seldom enough, and very different from what is available today. As a result, I was often taken out of class to support my parents as early as elementary school, and felt like I had to grow up faster than my peers. But because of that experience, I maintain a playful spirit and child-like wonder to this day. It was rare that you’d see me without a smile on my face because I loved to laugh (and still do) and crack jokes even though no one laughed at them.
I was very active – I swam, participated in sports, and rollerbladed for miles on end. Moving my body in any way was (and still is) my lifeline and afforded me a headspace that I continue to nourish and explore.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.uni-qualcollective.com
- Instagram: uniqualcollective
Sanaa Krourou Juliana Redden Kavi @kavipictures