Angela Franklin is the cool laid back cousin we all attempt to emulate and wish we could hang around all the time. Everything about her exudes a relaxing warmth, beginning with her infectious full-faced smile, which easily triggers the face muscles to follow suit. In a life filled with constant movement and travel, Franklin’s easygoing presence has served her well into her current venture of Afro Yoga, where she spearheads a local movement geared towards uplifting women of color through collaborative workshops, classes and retreats.
In 2016, Franklin experienced what she called a “spiritual download,” after taking notice of the lack of racial diversity in many of the yoga settings she attended. It soon became evident the health and wellness landscape in Sacramento was overwhelmingly dominated by, and catered to, White consumers.
“It boggles my mind that to this day, wellness, which is supposed to be an inclusive space, mainstream wellness, is still centered on a thin White woman,” said Franklin.
The overall lack of inclusiveness prompted Franklin to launch a service aimed towards diminishing the barriers of isolation women of color grapple with when occupying space in certain yoga studios.
“I think that, just that experience of always being the only one is normalized,” said Franklin. “The moment that [it] shifts, and you’re in a room full of people that look like you, how the energy changes is just very, very noticeable.”
The energy Franklin referenced has a lot to do with the intentions she sets behind leading Afro Yoga. To Franklin, cultivating a sense of community and camaraderie in her sessions aids in bridging any divide participants may feel when they step into one of her workshops.
It’s a feeling not lost on Steenah Brennan, who assists with business and creative content for the brand. Breenan started attending Franklin’s sessions after moving to Sacramento, and was quickly put at ease upon witnessing the diversity of the attendants and the genuine support they gave.
“Coming from the East Coast sometimes, even the sisterhood between Black women is like a competition as opposed to an upliftment, and that’s what kind of differentiated Afro Yoga and Angie to me from things that I had previously done,” said Brennan. “It was just so beautiful.”
Beyond Franklin’s goal of empowering women of color lay her intention, geared towards cultivating a community designated to the betterment of all who seek to consciously raise their self-awareness. Whether she’s cultivating a weekend yoga retreat or promoting her line of botanical sprays and balms, Franklin is unabashed in her desire to design a sustainable and accessible health and wellness community network.
“There’s a love in the community and a support in the community that I just wouldn’t have imagined would be there,” said Franklin. “[It’s] not even tied to me or Afro Yoga specifically. It is just amazing to see people flourish and just take off.”
For Nicole Carter, who helps Franklin with community outreach for Afro Yoga, the experiences she’s had working alongside Franklin have been nothing short of positive and reassuring.
“Working with Angie and working within Afro Yoga has given me a safe place to be vulnerable,” said Carter. “It’s given me a place to express when I’m having a hard time, and it’s allowed me to experience what sisterhood feels like.”
Carter’s feelings align seamlessly with Franklin’s goal of creating health-based community, specifically designed for those who may have felt out of place in less-inclusive spaces.
While Franklin’s spaces are all-embracing of those who seek to be there, she holds tight to her current mission of creating an environment that, while inclusive, is centered on crafting a safe space for people of color to participate in health and wellness. Franklin understands intimately the importance of creating an outlet where all who enter feel welcome and uplifted.
“I hope that people can look at Afro Yoga and say, ‘Wow, this space really supports me. And wants me to flourish and wants me to bloom, and has a lot of love and support for me,’” said Franklin.
For Franklin, having attendants leave with a stronger, more unified sense of self and community, appears to be the ultimate payoff.
For more information on Afro Yoga’s workshops and retreats, visit AfroYoga.org.