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You Good Sis? Collective aimed at promoting wellness

Group holds monthly events for black women

Karen Morales
You Good Sis? Collective aimed at promoting wellness
Rachael Junard & Jaylee Oberg, co-founders of You Good, Sis? PHOTO: TORY CORLESS

Having experienced firsthand what it’s like to be the only or one of few people of color in a yoga class, Jaylee Oberg and Rachael Junard created You Good, Sis?, a collective for black and brown women looking for a mental, physical and spiritual check-in through wellness events in Greater Boston.

As yoga instructors themselves, Junard and Oberg have not always felt connected to wellness and fitness spaces predominantly filled by white people, who often would be sporting $100 yoga pants and $60 yoga mats.

“The wellness industry in general is not accessible, and those kinds of spaces aren’t meant for people of color,” says Junard. “We’re trying to break those norms and let people know you can wear whatever comfortable clothes you have, you can even use a towel if you don’t have a mat, and you don’t have to be a size two.”

Oberg was born and raised in Massachusetts and Junard grew up in Tennessee before moving to Boston in 2016. The two co-founders first met in June 2017 at a Jessamyn Stanley book signing event. Stanley is a black yoga teacher, author and body positivity advocate.

The two exchanged numbers and met up to talk about what it would mean to create an inclusive wellness initiative especially for black and brown women in Boston. Their first community event launched in Oct. 2017.

“‘You Good, Sis?’ comes from a colloquial term in the black community that can hold so many different meanings depending on the situation,” says Junard. “But we were really focused on the three tenets of our mission: physical, mental and spiritual.”

She continues, “When we ask, ‘You Good, Sis?’ we’re checking in with each of those things with ourselves and each other.”

“Our use of ‘sis’ might be seen as focusing on cisgendered women, but that’s not our intention,” says Junard. “We try to have a bigger reach than just straight, cisgendered black people.”

The first Oct. 2017 event was at 4 Corners Yoga + Wellness in Dorchester, a studio that opened in the area around the same time.

Junard says the first event was a workshop centered around self-care with an hour of yoga flow and a second hour of making essential blends and discussing what it means for women of color to incorporate self-care into their lives.

“We wanted to focus on this because as women of color, self-care isn’t really something that is taught to us,” says Junard.

Since then, the collective has been organizing monthly events featuring yoga, acupuncture, tarot reading and meditation in partnership with local organizations such as EMPath, Fenway Health, Black Student Union at Emmanuel College and Niche Boston. 4 Corners Yoga + Wellness has remained a regular partner for You Good, Sis?

“We wanted to take a year and see if this is something people are actually interested in,” says Junard. “And it really has been. We’re getting enough of a turnout and support that we’re looking at possibilities to expand and have more programming.”

And it seems as though the collective’s message is really striking a chord for women of color, as they are predominantly the ones showing up to events. “Some of our events we intentionally state are for women of color, and we ask people be aware of that, but we’ve never turned anyone away,” says Junard. “We’ve never had more white women show up than women of color.”

A wider audience

You Good, Sis? is intended for a New England area audience, although in addition to a core group of followers and supporters of around 300 in and outside the Boston area, they also have accumulated a widespread and growing online community. “We try, with our Instagram at least, to post educational wellness content to connect with a larger audience,” says Junard.

Also addressing the financially inaccessible aspects of typical wellness programs, Junard and Oberg price their event tickets between $15 to $30. “It’s mainly to cover the basics like the space we’re renting, paying people that we bring in to lead a workshop, and the rest goes towards building more events,” says Junard.  “We don’t really make a lot of money out of this because we both have full-time jobs and other things we do outside of this.”

Junard says she works for a fundraising platform for Democrats, progressive groups and nonprofits and Oberg works in HR for a tech company. Both women also continue to teach yoga on the side.

The community feedback drives the duo to continue dedicating their time to create meaningful monthly events and online content. “We’ve heard from people that something like this was definitely needed, which makes us feel good about the work we do,” says Junard.

According to Junard, You Good, Sis? will be launching a Kickstarter campaign this month to help raise $4,000 to fund more programming, bring in high-profile speakers and register as an LLC.

“Yoga and wellness truly is for everybody,” says Junard. “We want to normalize women of color occupying those spaces and let people know that it can be accessible to them.”

On the web

Learn more about You Good, Sis? at:

www.jayleetheyogi.com/you-good-sis

www.instagram.com/yougoodsis

health, wellness
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