INDIANAPOLIS — As first-generation immigrants, the owners of Indianapolis-based yoga studio, The Hot Room, recognized the lack of diversity in the local yoga community.
Representation matters to Hye Jin and Ashish Kalgaonkar, and they decided to take a step in enhancing the inclusivity and accessibility of the practice for people of color (POC).
The Hot Room yoga studio created a full-tuition scholarship — 'The Hot Room Leadership Institute Scholarship for People of Color' — open to any self-identified POC, to train with their institute and become a yoga instructor at the studio.
Along with scholarship announcement, also came the name of the first recipient, Marquese Martin-Hayes.
The Butler University alum initially went to The Hot Room to recover from injuries accrued after years of playing football.
"Yoga has forced me to see how much I don't know about the concepts and virtues I was taught growing up," Martin-Hayes said.
Martin-Hayes was looking for a place to stay active and stretch — but what he found was so much more.
"I thought I knew patience, I thought I knew perseverance, I thought I knew focus," Martin-Hayes said. "Yoga is the only thing out there that has slowed me down enough to actually put these concepts into practice."
"We are so proud of Quese and excited for this opportunity for him," Ashish said.
The scholarship for the teacher training equates to around a $4,000 value, according to Erin Polley, The Hot Room's community engagement manager.
Hot Room will be offering this scholarship for every training they do through their Hot Room Leadership Institute, which occurs around two to three times a year.
The institute is a school for dedicated practitioners who want to train with the intent of teaching yoga practices at The Hot Room. The Kalgaonkar's said students would have a chance to deepen their understanding of yoga for their personal yoga practice, as well.
The Kalgaonkar's hope is that each recipient has a holistic experience.
"Individuals will be able to lead a class and also will be able to develop and hone skills to be leaders in the community," Ashish said.
The next leadership training will begin in April. Applications for the POC scholarship will be accepted until March 3.