We recently connected with Bri Hamlet and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Bri thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. How did you get your first job in the field that you practice in today?
I sorely underestimated how challenging it would be to get my first teaching job! After completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2018, I applied to several local studios. My only goal at the time was to get into a studio space and grow there. Although yoga studios are all over San Diego, most are not looking for novice teachers. My inexperience was coupled with the fact that I don’t have the stereotypical ‘yoga teacher’ look. I’m Black, Queer, and curvy. Locally, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me in the industry.
One day, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I found YogaGreenBook. It was the first online Black-owned yoga studio. I responded to their call for new teachers. I expressed that what I lacked in experience I made up for in fresh knowledge. The owner took a chance on me and invited me to record videos of me breaking down specific poses. Being a new teacher on such a public platform really helped me gain visibility and confidence. I am so grateful that I didn’t let rejection slow me down – there’s more than one way to accomplish a goal!
Bri, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I started practicing yoga in 2014. I was a junior in college and had just experienced a traumatic event that left me emotionally and physically depleted. I didn’t feel at home in my body and was searching for something that might rekindle that connection. I decided movement might help, so I bought a fitness class pass. Yoga classes were included, so I figured I’d give the practice a try.
The class that changed my life was at a boxing gym. The class was led by a trauma survivor. I can’t even recall what she said, but it encouraged such a cathartic, emotional release for me. That class cracked me open in the best way possible. Four years after that class, I decided to sign up for my first yoga training, and shortly thereafter JustBriFree Yoga & Wellness came to fruition.
JustBriFree Yoga & Wellness is led by me, Bri Hamlet. I am a Certified Health Educator and a Registered Yoga Instructor with over 500 hours of training experience. provides yoga classes with the intent to encourage self-inquiry and body-awareness. While I serve everyone, most clientele are black and indigenous people of color, as well as LGBTQIA+ persons. As a Black and Queer woman, I know that learning from a person who shares their marginalized identities enhances their overall experiences. It was very important to represent my community and bring yoga to my community. That is what led me to create my signature offering, Soul Flow Sunday. Soul Flow is beginner-friendly Vinyasa yoga set to R&B. Playing familiar, well-loved music has been a beautiful way to get people to their mats. Most of my students are new to yoga – it’s such a gift to be someone’s first teacher.
I also offer multidisciplinary, holistic health workshops that cover everything from the Dimensions of Wellness to meditation. I am proud of the variety of services I’ve been able to provide over the years. Whether it’s a pop-up Hip-Hop yoga class, a speaking engagement, a group meditation, or a wellness workshop, I love that I am able to merge all my areas of expertise under one cohesive brand.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
When I got certified in 2018, accessible yoga wasn’t widely popularized. I learned from a very alignment-driven teacher, so I got caught up on teaching deep refining cues for each pose, as well as not using props while I taught, even if I offered them. Students would disregard my suggestions, instead taking unsafe and unnecessary routes to imitate exactly what I was doing. I later learned how exclusive and ableist the cues I was using were. With time, and through my advanced teacher training experience, I have replaced those cues with inclusive, affirming language. I’ve healed my own relationship to props and use them routinely while practicing and teaching. All bodies are yoga bodies, all versions of a pose are perfect, and all of us can benefit from using props.
Are there any books, videos or other content that you feel have meaningfully impacted your thinking?
The Side Hustle Pro podcast by Nicaila Matthews Okome sparked my interest in entrepreneurship. Nicaila interviews black women entrepreneurs who turned their passion projects into profitable businesses. Her guests constantly drop gems – I take notes while I’m listening! There is also a local resource, the San Diego and Imperial Women’s Business Center. I have been a client for over three years. Their advisors are brilliant women who want to see every client shine! They have helped me negotiate, scale, stay on task, and prioritize self-care.
- Website: www.justbrifree.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/justbrifree
- Facebook: www.facebok.com/justbrifree
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bria-hamlet/
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/justbrifree
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCifv8Ljf8EDZEAXMH86eymQ