Ali Duncan following her calling has resulted in residents of her community also finding their own peace.
Previously, Ali Duncan became the first Black female officer in Fort Collins, CO, according to FOX-32 in Denver, CO. However, during one summer, she traveled to India and ended up getting certified in yoga. After more than a decade in Fort Collins Police Services, Duncan pivoted to becoming a yoga teacher just six months after returning from India.
“Not a lot of places where I saw a lot of Black and brown bodies on the mat,” Duncan recalled to the outlet. “So, I stopped asking why, why aren’t there these spaces, and then I created Urban Sanctuary.”
She added, “The most powerful question is why, when you take that why out and just do it, it’s just trust, like this is the journey you want to be on.”
Located in Five Points, the first predominantly Black neighborhood in Denver, Duncan provides a space for Black and brown people to move their bodies, breathe, and heal.
“Offering those experiences that just open the eyes of the marginalized community where they’re just like, ‘Okay this is healing and I have access to it,’” she said.
Just as there was a void of Black-owned yoga studios, there was initially a low number of Black yogis at Urban Sanctuary. To increase access and interest, Duncan began to provide her classes for free.
“It took me a while to build it up to get the Black community in, so we offer free classes to the BIPOC community,” Duncan explained. “Three times a week we have full circles classes, and they are maxed out every night and I love it.”
Seven years after opening Urban Sanctuary, Duncan bought the building, according to the outlet. The studio’s website states that she wishes to honor the building’s unique history as well. Dating back to the 1890s, it once housed the Douglass Undertaking Company, operated by Lewis and Frederick Jr. Douglass, sons of abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
To preserve the building’s legacy, Duncan has been awarded a grant that will be used for the studio’s renovation, which is set to begin in 2025.