SJ Gillespie: Buffalo, New York, USA

I love side stretching, coffee, chocolate, rhyming, drag queens, dinosaurs, and feeling honored to be a 21st century Taurus earthling. With a Master’s in Public Health, I hold experience in biological, social, psychological and race-related research, behavioral health programming, trauma-informed care, and conducting youth and community education workshops.

In January 2018, I was certified by Yogis in Service (YIS) for trauma-informed yoga teaching, and I use the YIS evidenced-based “12 Principles of Growth” to structure my yoga classes. Being a trauma-informed yoga teacher means that I am mindful that everyone in the class comes to their mat with different lived experiences and different levels of abilities and willingness to move their bodies. My goal is to bring continuous access of yoga, self-care, and resilience workshops to my community.

As a lightworker, I am sensitive to the chronic traumas that my people face, and have worked to support the elimination of stressors my community endures in this highly racialized society. I love working with all types of people of different ages, abilities and identities, because I love all my people and wish we all felt secure in knowing we belong here!

I appreciate yoga as a mechanism of connection between me and my community. I feel grateful to pass along coping skills to youth as young as age six, such as engaging their responses to the intersection of earth and the spirit realm, teaching them about their third eye (three eyes!), or bringing awareness to the fact that their pets at home stretch each and every time they finish resting throughout the day. Likewise, my favorite part about yin yoga with older adults is hearing how a session has helped them rest into sleep faster (whoops, perhaps during savasana!) and feeling more relaxed than they had felt in some time.

Yoga for me means embodying peace in life through an exchange of energy with my body, the earth, and the stars. Since practicing yoga, I have felt myself mature into a greater sense of calmness and equanimity when it comes to situations that used to stress me out and take me out of alignment. My practice has been rewarding on the mat, as much as it has positively impacted how I navigate life off of the mat. Yoga means I can rest in the knowing that I have the power to manifest my visions in life, thrive over challenges, and accessibly empower others to do the same. I believe yoga is the basis of self-care, providing a galactic foundation for holistic health and wellness.

Image of blacl yoga mat strap with colorful zig zag design, holding a gray yoga mat, in front of a brick wall

In addition to being a yoga teacher, I am also the creator of an affordable, ethnic-centered, self-care shop: black GEM space. The primary self-care tool featured is our GEM Strap, an Afro-textile yoga mat carrying strap that I carefully curate and handcraft. This accessory is meant to encourage more Black people throughout the diaspora to practice yoga, by showcasing traditional West African prints like kente, to red/green/black revolutionary fabrics, to silver-threaded lunar galactic textiles. GEM Straps can also be used as a yoga strap for asana stretching assists. The strap includes a carabiner for “light and enlightened travel”, so that just you, your mat, and a clipped on wallet, keys, and water bottle may move freely about the galaxy!

The black GEM space shop also features an aromatic yoga mat spray, Sphinx Spray, which is a clary sage and lavender essential oil natural disinfectant. We also offer a Black Sugar Scrub, to mindfully exfoliate surface toxins for use before or after you roughage up and clear away internal toxins through your yoga practice.

The black GEM space Shop is secured through Wix via Ecwid and we accept all major cards and PayPal. In gratitude for visiting my profile, please accept this promotional code for 20% off orders of $50 or more: BYMagic

As my business’s slogan goes: The Galaxy is Black.

We are from the Earth, We are from the Galaxy!


Yoga Styles and Wellness Specialties:

  • Yin Yoga
  • Chair Yoga
  • Trauma-Informed Yoga
  • Social Justice Mindfulness
  • Sound Healing
  • Mandala Meditation
  • Mindful Eating
  • Visualization Activities for Goal Setting and Manifestation
  • Positive Racial Identity Mantras

Certification Schools and Registries:

  • 200HR: Yogis in Service, Catherine Cook-Cottone, 2017
  • Yoga Alliance: RYT-200

Teaching Availability:

  • Private In-Person Sessions
  • Private Virtual Sessions

Contact Information: