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Yoga studio creates scholarship for people of color in the Indianapolis community

Yoga studio promotes community diversity

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Hot Room in Indianapolis is using hot yoga as a vehicle to drive diversity and inclusion home in the Indianapolis community.

“Really the meaning of this place is to create a community where anyone no matter your ability, age, shape, size or color feels very welcomed,” said co-owner and instructor Hye Jin.

As the owners and first-generation immigrants, Hye Jin and her husband Ashish Kalgaonkar recognized the lack of inclusivity and accessibility for people of color in the yoga community and took steps toward a tangible outcome. In order to continue to foster a diverse environment and with the acknowledgment that representation matters, they created The Hot Room Leadership Institute Scholarship for People of Color.

This scholarship will be available for each training hosted by The Hot Room Leadership Institute, a school for dedicated practitioners to be trained to teach the modalities offered at The Hot Room, gain a deeper understanding of their personal yoga practice and cultivate the skills they believe are necessary to be a leader in the community.

“Every leadership program that we have we will honor a free tuition to someone who self identifies as a person of color,” Jin said. “We want to make sure our teaching staff and our leaders are diverse and representative of our community, and this scholarship is a really important effort towards that goal.”

Marquese Martin-Hayes, a Butler University alum and former football player, became the first recipient of the scholarship. Martin-Hayes became hooked on hot yoga in the studio a little over two years ago after getting banged up from nagging aches and pains from his playing days.

“It’s an amazing opportunity and one that I couldn’t pass up,” Marquese Martin-Hayes said. “The fact that I get to have a play in the influence on the community here and especially with my friends that look like me, I can’t wait to take the torch and do my best with it.”

Martin-Hayes said he is proud to have the responsibility that comes with this new role of leadership.

“Putting myself on a platform that allows other people to just see more of a representation of people of color so that they can have a yoga practice and they can meditate,” Martin-Hayes said. “That’s equally important for them just as they might see from some Hollywood star.”

Jin says she looks forward to helping spread their message throughout the community one studio at a time with people like Marquise leading the way.

“You don’t have to be able to touch your toes,” Jin said. “Anyone can have a yoga practice, and you’ll see that here within our community.”

You can click here to learn more about The Hot Room Yoga Studio and the People or Color scholarship.