Yogi instructor shares his personal journey of representation and why it matters being the descendant of a slave holder.


By Joel Waldinger | September 13, 2022

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Yoga is the ancient practice of moving your body to improve breathing and to relax your mind, while becoming fit and flexible. Keith Borden has more than 20-years of experience. Trained as a classical musician and interfaith minister Keith takes those callings to his classroom. At the same time, Keith sees yoga as a place of shelter and representation. “This is a space where you can feel safe. It’s a space where you can feel seen. It’s important that people have teachers who are not like them. And I think it gives me the permission and the daily reminder to be who I am, no matter what the situation to be, as authentic as I can.

Being authentic also means being open, honest and accepting of his family, his entire family. “My great grandfather was a white man. And he had been a slave owner. I think it’s important for all of us to know where we came from.” Keith’s great grandfather’s photo still hangs among other family portraits. “We don’t get to pick and choose necessarily what part of our family history we acknowledge who we consider to be an ancestor. And who’s not an ancestor. They’re all our ancestors.”

Keith draws on his family roots and breathes in that history to just keep going. “And that’s the message that I take from my ancestors that you keep going so that the one to follow you, can also keep going.” Drawing on those experiences also allows Keith to inspire and be inspired from all directions as a yoga teacher, inter-faith minister, musician, husband and father.

And through it all Keith has also grown, stretching far beyond the title of Yogi. “I try to be a little bit of light in a world that has a lot of darkness and I try to be better each day than I was the day before. I just try to be me. I can’t be anything more than that.”

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “big island” on Manson Lake to be a perfect ending to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods. 
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2022-09-12T15:01:06-05:00

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