Challenging Stereotypes

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Meet local yoga enthusiast Leslie Davis
Photography by LaShonda Delivuk, Eye for Ebony

Lynchburg Living Editor Shelley Basinger: Leslie, you have become very well-known both locally and on social media for your passion for yoga. When did you first develop an interest for it?
Leslie Davis: In 2008, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation held a course at James River Yoga. I did it and I loved it. From there, I just kept taking classes and became a teacher five years later. Yoga just took me over. One of my teachers in North Carolina told me to go see Cyndi Lee in Lynchburg, at Yoga Goodness, and I met her and just fell in love.

SB: What set her style apart?
LD: She was a dancer and her movements felt natural to me. The Vinyasa (or flow). That’s what I practice the most now, Vinyasa. I love the flow in and out of poses, to make it feel like a dance move.

SB: One very common message you seem to have when posting on social media is about breaking the stereotypes about yoga.
LD: Yes! My goal is to put it out there that you don’t have to be a certain size to do yoga. “Yoga Barbie” is what that stereotypical person is called on Instagram. I think everybody gets stuck on what is culturally normal. Sort of, “This is what you should be doing,” instead of thinking outside the box and being your own person. I feel like nowadays people are still scared to be their own person. Do what you love!

SB: There have been some ups and downs in your career journey over the past couple of years.
LD: When Cyndi Lee, my mentor, stepped down from Yoga Goodness in March of 2019, I took over. I learned so much during that time and had so much fun. But unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, I made the difficult decision to close the doors to the studio in July. I miss all the faces of our community.

SB: But you really made your mark while teaching there with lots of unique classes.
LD: My Voluptuous Ladies classes were always very popular. I also started Trap Yoga. It’s more yoga and dance and is a fun way to get people in to the class who thought they would never do yoga. And I started my Black Queens class as a way to diversify. I also teach donation-based Black Lives Matter and prenatal yoga classes.

SB: Even though Yoga Goodness has closed, you are still remaining a fixture in the local yoga community.
LD: Absolutely. I will continue to teach classes via Zoom. This fall, I still plan on teaching Yoga in the Park. The class is every Saturday in the month of September at 8:30 a.m.

SB: Finally, what best piece of advice would you give to someone who hasn’t tried yoga due to any insecurities?
LD: Don’t let fear get in the way of you living your life to the fullest. If you apply the practices of yoga, it can change your life physically and mentally.


Connect with Leslie on Instagram: @yoga_by_leslie_davis

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