Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts, celebrity yoga teacher and Peloton instructor, is on a mission to make yoga and meditation accessible to everybody. 

Roberts was initially drawn to yoga because she wanted to feel more connected to her body after moving through life transitions during early adulthood. She knew that yoga meant union, and she was intrigued by that. She also knew people whom she personally admired who practiced yoga, and they seemed really present and grounded. She wanted that for herself. 

Many of us think of yoga as just exercise, and Roberts felt the same way initially. “I first thought that yoga was simply a workout.  It was a couple of years later when I lost my best friend in my early 20s that I called on the practice of yoga and meditation to support me while I healed. It truly supported me in navigating my feelings, and the trauma I had never experienced before.” 

Following this experience, Roberts decided to pursue her yoga teaching certification. She wanted to be part of making the community more diverse and  promote a sense of belonging for everyone, while sharing yoga with more people as both a source of physical movement but also as a healing modality. Speaking of this, Roberts states, “Anytime we practice connecting our body, our mind, the actions that will eventually impact our decisions, and the world around us, we are making space to heal personal and collective wounds that may have existed before we even arrived in our communities. On a physical level, I am an advocate that once we become aware of the parts of us that are in need of healing, we can truly take the steps to repair the harm that may have occurred.”

Image: courtesy of Peloton

While Roberts has been part of the Peloton family within their yoga modality for two years, she has created a unique style of yoga blending contemporary hip-hop, electronic and R&B with asana for nearly two decades. An expert in slow-flow and restorative yoga, Roberts prides herself in creating classes that leave her students with a strong sense of belonging and accomplishment. “The way I approach yoga is truly unique because I think about how nervous I felt when I attended my first yoga class in a studio. I also questioned if I belonged because I didn't see other reflections of myself when it came to my race, body type, and even culture.” She holds this at the front of her mind and heart when she plans classes as well as incorporating music that people don’t typically associate with the practice of yoga. 

Roberts earned her Ph.D. in Education Studies from Emory University, with a focus on ethnography, the study of culture, and she applies this knowledge in her approach to yoga, ensuring that people from all backgrounds and all bodies feel welcome and celebrated in her classes. Her approach has truly become celebrated. She has now taught hundreds of thousands of people and garnered celebrity clientele such as Janelle Monae, Janet Mock, Shonda Rhimes and Jennifer Garner.

For those that may be apprehensive about trying yoga for the first time or worried they may not be good at it, Roberts’ advice is simple: take your time and practice with kind and patience. “Yoga didn't and still hasn't happened overnight for me. It is truly a journey. I want people to know that anytime we engage in a practice that teaches us how to be present with ourselves, that we are worthy and belong. You do not have to be a certain body type, age, race, or culture to practice yoga. Yoga is an opportunity to increase our capacity to be present with and cultivate love within ourselves and eventually extend that presence and love to other living beings around us. Yoga is a practice and not a destination. Yoga can meet us exactly where we are.”

On June 21st, in honor of International Day of Yoga, she is leading a Times Square Yoga class at 5:30PM EST. Over the past twenty years this single event has grown to welcome thousands of yogis taking multiple classes throughout the day and filling one of the busiest intersections in the world with peace and calm.