Michael Ruth (he/his), a global explorer, teacher, and BIPOC Focused Yoga Studio Owner, shares how his decision to leave the U.S. opened up new pathways of self-discovery and personal healing. As a result, he is compelled to make yoga and other healing practices accessible and affordable for all, especially those who look like him.
When did you know you wanted to explore beyond the U.S. and ultimately leave?
I've always pretty much known that I wanted to leave. I was in the Navy for ten years and had the chance to travel and see all that the world had to offer. I had an opportunity to experience and see firsthand how Blackness was treated around the world, and it was in stark contrast to the way Blackness was viewed in America.
Like many military veterans, once you experience a bit of life outside of America, you quickly feel the difference. That feeling always stuck with me. In my heart, in my mind, in my soul. I knew that one day I wanted that again. I deserved it!
The turning point for me came with the inauguration of Trump and his administration. Like so many Black Americans, I was tired. I was tired of living in a perpetual state of fear, depression, anger, and insanity. I couldn't breathe, and I knew it was time.
What led you to this career path?
My journey has led me on a path of personal growth, freedom, liberation, and healing. Using the tools and resources I have, I want to help others achieve the same within their own lives. As a ten-year Navy veteran with a career in the surgical field, specializing in orthopedics and a neuro spine surgical first assistant, I became interested in helping others heal through a mind and body connection.
Now, I am a yoga studio owner, teacher, and mentor. My yoga practice specializes in Ancient African and Egyptian methods of yoga that benefit physical health as well as holistic, mental, and spiritual health. I also wanted to create a safe, culturally welcoming space for Black men to reap the benefits of yoga where Black men’s bodies and minds are a priority and not an afterthought. These principles continue to guide me today. Shift your mind, transform your life. -Ankh Udja Seneb-𓋹𓍑𓋴 (Life Prosperity Health)
Looking back on your career, can you name a significant achievement that helped you “shift your mind, transform your life”?
Beginning my healing process is my most outstanding achievement thus far. Looking back, I realize Black Americans don't fully comprehend or understand what America has done to us until we leave. As a Black man, leaving the U.S. made me realize how much I was conditioned to walk with my head down. Even after I immigrated, I often could not articulate what I've been through or try to explain it to someone.
Black Americans had to normalize the trauma for so long to survive it. My conscious and unconscious wounds from living in the U.S. finally started to heal when I found safety off of the Plantation that is America.
How has travel impacted your life?
Travel opened my mind to a world of WORTH; A world that values Black people's contribution to the arts, medicine, diplomacy, and more. Travel built a sense of accomplishment within me that so many young Black Men in America aren't allowed to cultivate. Travel reminded me that we are more than just sports and music and that our collective genius is valued globally. Travel forced me to get out of my comfort zone. That's where the real growth and transformation occur. There is no better opportunity to find out who youreally are and what you really want from this life than travel.
What advice do you have for other Black Americans pursuing travel or wanting to make a Blaxit?
Just do it!! Don't wait. In America, we don't have the luxury of time. When I lived in the U.S., every week, it seemed I heard about Black people dying simply for being Black with little to no changes on how to live, let alone thrive in a dominant culture that did not celebrate beautiful Black existence. I was tired of waiting around until I became just another hashtag or statistic. I had to stop waiting on someone to validate my decision to survive. Be your own person and see the world.
What Blaxit resources do you turn to for inspiration?
Some of my favorite travel resources have been the numerous Blaxit and Black travel Facebook groups. I also follow a few IG resources, such as @BlaxitGlobal, @BlaxitTribe, and @BlaxitInternational.
The best thing that you can do is research as much as possible. Once you start asking others about their journey and Blaxit experience, you will begin to feel confident about pursuing it too. The journey never stops.
If you could, what advice would you give to your younger self?
One piece of advice that I would give my younger self is not to base your existence on the desires of others. Our lives belong to much more than just us. They belong to everyone that came before us and everyone that will come after us. We are already ancestors, and it is time that we start acting accordingly.
Michael has two decades of experience with emotional and physical healing and transformation. He is the Co-founder & Teacher of Sun People Yoga, a POC owned yoga studio grounded in decolonizing yoga offering a $25 monthly unlimited virtual membership. Michael helps Black Men to RESTORE and RECLAIM their Legacy through Health, Well-being & Consciousness.