One of the biggest challenges Rina Jakubowicz has faced came in the way of yoga poses. After an especially grueling session, the Cuban-Argentinean fondly remembers immersing herself in yogi philosophy and becoming hooked by the new world she discovered. “I dove in after I started and pretty soon I was working at it three hours a day for six months straight,” she told NBC News.
Over the past eleven years, Jakubowicz — who has made a name for herself as a bilingual yoga teacher, reiki practitioner, motivational speaker, author, and television host — has presented across the globe in places like Kripalu Center, the Omega Institute and in countries like Mexico, Chile, and Puerto Rico.
But perhaps her biggest challenge yet can be found in her latest project: the launch of the first Spanish-language yoga teacher trainings ever offered in the United States. The two-part program (comprised of 200 hours) will be held at Kripalu Center and delivered entirely in Spanish.
For many Hispanics, it’s almost unheard of to visit a bilingual yoga class while also feeling a sense of community. A fact that wasn’t lost on Jakubowicz. And it was this opportunity to create a more inclusive space that inspired her work. “In the Hispanic community there really aren’t a lot of people who do yoga or become teachers — unless they’re upper class — so for me it hits close to home,” she explained.
More importantly, she was excited by the thought of reaching more people who might otherwise not learn about yoga’s benefits. “If I can reach enough Hispanic or Spanish-speaking people that can catch the yoga bug then they can go back to their communities to let them — especially the kids — know that yoga is there for them,” she said. “From there it will cause a ripple effect.”
Breaking Down Barriers
By designing her trainings in español, Jakubowicz has a bigger socio-political vision in mind: eradicating the stereotypes against nuestra comunidad and eliminating the barriers to greater access. “Hispanics have been portrayed badly by many people and it is especially important for the Hispanic community to become more conscious and to rise up and show that we’re not what they say we are.”
But she’s also aware of the internal conditioning that can often interfere with seeking yoga. “As Latinas, we can sometimes become too focused on external appearance,” she explained in an interview with Glamour. “Instead, we should be tapping into our inner beauty.”
It’s a lesson the international yogi has worked tirelessly to teach, and one we would all do well to adopt.