A Different Kind of Medicine: Louisha Barnette & Peach Cobbler Yoga
Louisha Barnette is a certified health coach, registered yoga teacher, speaker, author, and mom. She is the founder of Peach Cobbler Yoga, where her yoga teaching and health coaching focus on healthy lifestyle choices, self-love, and spreading kindness to others. She just began her latest virtual program, Slim and Tone. We caught up with her recently at the CGH office.
Mailande: Can you tell us more about what you do as a health coach with Peach Cobbler Yoga?
Louisha: Peach Cobbler Yoga represents a lifestyle of health, happiness, and freedom. What I do is teach other people to let go of things that no longer serve them, like limiting thoughts, unhealthy bodies, or unfulfilling careers. I teach them to reach their full potential, create their ideal body, and really go for what they truly desire. My tagline is Make Life Delicious; the three areas we focus on are honoring your health, being your best, and manifesting your dreams.
Mailande: How did you discover that this work was your calling?
Louisha: When I was a kid, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor – specifically a brain surgeon. I wanted to help people. At that time, I had no real idea what a brain surgeon was, but I held onto that dream. It really motivated me. I started doing research at 15, and finished three degrees in five years once I went to college.
Then life happened, and I got married and had children, and medicine school didn’t seem as practical. I wanted to start a physician’s assistant program, and you need to have 1,000 hours of patient care. I got a job as a surgical assistant on liposuction cases; I physically removed fat from over people’s bodies. That was my “aha!” moment about the medical system – that I was taking part in a system that emphasized drugs and plastic surgery. I wanted to learn how to replace those kinds of procedures with lifestyle changes. I wanted to help people reconnect with their bodies, minds, and spirits.
In order to do that, I wanted to interact with someone on a consistent basis, rather than having 15 minutes to maybe prescribe a pill or refer someone to a specialist. And with that in mind, I knew that I wasn’t yet where I wanted to be. That was crushing, because I had worked for my entire life toward this goal, and now it was no longer the right path!
My family told me to do it anyway, because I could. But I knew I’d be miserable, and I didn’t want to make that sacrifice. I started looking into related fields, and I ended up going back to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and becoming a certified health coach. I loved that training. It changed my life. Later on, I became a certified yoga teacher. I graduated from yoga training, I knew two things for sure: first, that I wanted to take yoga into communities of color, and that I wanted to blend yoga and health coaching. I called my business Peach Cobbler Yoga because I wanted to choose a name that was inviting and comfortable. I wanted it to be a place where you can address your eating habits, your lifestyle, and your career options in one place. And I wanted it to be specifically welcoming to communities of color.
Mailande: What are some of the issues that you see in terms of diversity in the yoga community? How can you as an instructor, or me as a person who does yoga, or anyone, think about ways to make it more inclusive?
Louisha: I can only speak for my experience, but I’m usually the only person of color when I take yoga classes. When I got my certification, I knew that it was really important for me to take yoga into my community. It’s easier to just teach where yoga is already accepted and practiced, because you make more money and your classes are always full. But I felt as though it would be an injustice to know how powerful this practice is, and not it take to people that haven’t experienced it and can benefit from it. I do think there has to be more education and awareness.
Mailande: In what ways do you actually bring yoga into communities of color?
Louisha: Part of it came through the visuals in my book. I think that, a lot of time, people of color feel as though yoga isn’t for them because they’ve never seen anyone who looks like them doing it. I took a ton of pictures of me in different yoga poses; the idea was to create more images that people could relate to. Not only am a person of color, I wear my natural hair, and I am shapely. With the pictures, I’m saying, “You can be all of these things and still practice yoga.”
On that note, another thing I can relate to that a lot of people go through is the aftermath of having children: being 40 pounds heavier and not feeling at home in your body. In the yoga pictures I took, I exposed my midsection, and I have stretch marks, just like most moms. It was a way for me to show that you can reclaim your identity and sexiness and body after having children, even though you’re different than you were before.
After that, it came from being a person of color actually teaching yoga. Then, I found a dance studio that is African-American owned, and that helps. Being in a space where other people look like you is important. On top of that, I wanted to create classes that were convenient and affordable as much as I could – and, to offset a lower price, I’m creating virtual programs – my latest is called Slim and Tone – so that people can engage with me in a different way and still practice in the comfort of their own home if they’d rather start there. So this is all a starting place, but there’s definitely more to do.
Yoga is really important because it is the ultimate self-transformation process. A lot of women, in particular, are taught to hold on to beliefs like “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty enough.” With yoga, the physical practice and the philosophies are all about letting go.
It’s funny, because lot of people go to yoga for the first time just because it’s a different way to exercise. But once you go, you feel an intangible thing that makes you think, There is something different here. It’s not just a workout. It’s not like running or cycling. That’s what keeps you coming back: something really happens from the inside out that changes your consciousness. That’s what really motivated me to know that this was my path. What I truly want is to help others live the life that they truly desire – thinking through eating habits, physical health, lifestyle, and career all at once. Those things are so interconnected, and creating the space to help people realize that is truly my passion.