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Meet the Fort Collins yogi who created Denver’s first Black-owned yoga studio

DENVER (KDVR) — Ali Duncan was the first Black female officer hired in Fort Collins, but that’s not the only time she has made history.

She’s also the owner and teacher of one of Denver’s only Black yoga studios.

When she couldn’t find the community she was seeking, she created her own. It’s called the Urban Sanctuary. Several times a week, Duncan can be found turning her space into a yoga oasis.

“Offering those experiences of opening the eyes of the marginalized community. This is healing and I have access to it,” she said.

Her wellness center sits on Welton Street in Denver’s historically Black Five Points neighborhood. Duncan opened the center in 2016 after noticing a lack of diversity at other yoga studios.

“Not a lot of places where I saw a lot of Black and brown bodies on the mat. So, I stopped asking why, why aren’t there these spaces, and then I created Urban Sanctuary,” she said.

Duncan grew up on a farm in Fort Collins and was the first Black female police officer with Fort Collins Police Services for a decade.

“I got the summer off; my husband was watching the kids, and I flew to India. I was there for two months and I got certified in yoga,” said Duncan.

Yogis practicing in a studio
Urban Sanctuary, a Black-owned yoga studio in Denver

Six months after she got back, she quit and found her true calling.

“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,” Duncan said.

Seven years after starting her studio, she purchased her building and is excited to see her dream become a reality.

“It took me a while to build it up to get the Black community in, so we offer free classes to the BIPOC community. Three times a week we have full circles classes, and they are maxed out every night and I love it,” she said.

Duncan says it’s the feeling after walking through her doors that will make yogis feel like the Urban Sanctuary is their space.

“I wanted a safe space for Black and brown people to come and do yoga because I love yoga. … If I could have everyone experience this movement, this breath,” said Duncan.

Duncan says she just received a grant for the historical building to get a facelift. Construction begins next year.

To find out more about classes offered or memberships, visit her website.

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