First Person

First Person: Leah Gallegos brings yoga to East LA

First Person: People's Yoga brings yoga to East LA

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Leah Gallegos is the co-founder of People's Yoga, which is dedicated to bringing yoga to East LA. Step into a rejuvenation class led by Gallegos.

Leah Rose Gallegos, along with Lauren Quan-Madrid, co-founded People's Yoga in 2012. After two years of offering classes at community centers across East Los Angeles, they opened their own studio on June 8 on Pomona Boulevard. The goal is "to bring quality yoga to the greater Eastside, where there is limited access to yoga," says Gallegos.

"At first we got a lot of resistance to yoga" from people in East L.A., she says. "A lot of people were under the impression that yoga wasn’t for them." Gallegos describes the "typical" yoga practitioner as "privileged, Caucasion background, single female...If you go into a space and people don’t look like you and talk like you, I think that can create some intimidation factors."

Gallegos says she and Quan-Madrid "worked really hard at debunking a lot of those myths, by making sure everyone felt comfortable...So we don’t necessarily use Sanksrit, we just make it real to the everyday person. So you’ll find a young Chicana sitting right next to maybe a 70-year-old Japanese woman," and "maybe [they] don’t even speak the same language or understand the same language, but [they] are sharing that same space and creating a community together."

Gallegos' hopes that Eastsiders who begin practicing yoga will develop "their own health and healing, [and] that that will then extend to the greater community."

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