Antoinette Webb started her Instagram account @journey2antoinette in 2015, with the aim of documenting her personal yoga journey and being accountable through her posts. Six years later she has over 27k followers and is a professional yoga model for Athleta. But most of all, yoga has helped her develop her own brand of radical self-love which has encouraged countless others to start their own yoga journey.
1. How did you first come across yoga?
I started practicing yoga at twelve years old with my Mum, although I didn’t know we were doing yoga then. My Mum has holistic values and we used to dance, listen to music and yoga was just one of those things we did together which made me feel good.
I rediscovered yoga in 2015, a year after my daughter was born. I had always been active and it got to the point where my body didn’t feel like my body anymore. I didn’t want to do anything too vigorous, so I started to look online to find something that fitted my needs. I wanted to connect stretching with mindful thought and become one with my body and comfortable in my own skin. Yoga did all those things.
2. Who inspired you online?
At the beginning of my yoga journey the only yoga teachers my Mum and I could find were older, white women, there was nobody who looked like me. No black women, and no curvy women either.
Then when I started yoga again in 2015 I found that black people do yoga, then I found women with curves – that weren’t aiming to get slimmer or down-talking themselves.
The first inspirational teacher I found online was @yogineo, Candice Neo, who inspired me to get off my butt and start practicing. Then I found Dana Falsetti – @practicewithdana who had curves and whose practice is amazing. Then finally I found Jessamyn Stanley @mynameisjessamyn who looks similar to me and is so honest about her journey, which meant I had no excuses left.
3. Your message of radical self-love is so important – how do you practice it?
The important thing is to meet myself where I’m at – mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s just me on the mat, feeling whatever it is I’m feeling that day. It’s about trusting my body, trusting my mind, showing up, and then being authentic with myself.
4. What yoga pose has taught you the most about yourself?
I can’t choose one! I’ll choose three – or four. The first is Wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) because initially, I didn’t trust my arms or myself to hold the pose, so to achieve it I had to build inner strength.
The second pose is definitely Headstand (Sirsasana.) Again I’d ask myself, ‘Can I trust my body to hold the weight of itself upside down?’ There was the fear of falling AND failing. In order to get over that, I had to accept that falling was inevitable, but could I then get back up?
Tied in third place are Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana 3) and Crow pose (Bakasana). These poses made me address my perfectionism because I wanted them to look perfect and balanced and not wobbily. They look so simple, but they’re so hard.
In order to balance in these poses, I had to use my entire body, not just my flexibility or dynamic movement. I also used pillows when I first started doing Bakasana to stop me from face-planting on the floor. I would use whatever props helped to make the pose accessible to me that day.
5. What are your favourite yoga props?
It’s between the wall and the strap. I am a short-armed person so I need the extra length the strap gives me to reach in some poses. The strap makes so many more poses accessible – I can see and feel the difference and not struggle in the pose.
The wall is always there for support. It catches you and it’s very versatile and always available – you don’t have to buy a wall! [See Antoinette’s lovely sequence for Yoga Journal in which she showcases her love of props]
6. You talk about being a perfectionist – how does yoga help you with this?
I come from a family of hard workers who are all ‘Go! Go! Go!’ I see that energy in myself and especially from watching my older sister. For example, she had a car accident because she was rushing to hand in a school paper, and even after the accident she was still stressed about handing it in! My grandma had the same frantic energy, she was always rushing around. So when I first started yoga I wanted to do ALL the yoga poses.
I had to work on not being upset with myself. I had to work on not wanting to change my body and make her smaller. I needed to respect her and find out where she is. Yoga slowed me down – I had to listen and pay attention and feel into it, without forcing it.
7. What’s it like going from an unknown into an Instagram influencer with over 27k followers?
This is actually my third page as my original page got deleted. It all started as a way of being able to work on my health and do awesome things for my body, but also to be accountable. I’ve never been a person to show personal things and I’ve had body image issues. I decided that I wanted to reach other people like me – it was a way of me saying to the yoga community out there, ‘If I can do it – you can do it!’
It’s about really showing up and showing the reality of life – the bloopers, the messy house, everything. I wanted to show that I don’t know what I’m doing, but that we can learn together.
Now I have over 27k followers it can take up a lot of time! There are lots of ‘yes’ moments, but also lots of opinions. I’ve always felt if I can inspire one person to practice yoga then that’s awesome.
8. Are you going to become a yoga teacher?
Yes, I am. I’m studying online with Carson Calhoun @carsonclaycalhoun. It’s interesting how he teaches, as most of the teachers I connected to already follow him online. I’m technically already in the first stages of Yoga Teacher Training, I’m doing it online, that’s the beauty of Zoom. By the end of this year or the beginning of 2022, I should be a Certified Yoga Instructor.
9. What’s it like being a professional yoga model?
My fiancé convinced me to put ‘Yoga Model’ in my bio to accept that that’s what I am! In 2019 I was minding my little old business when I got an email from Athleta, and my first thought was that it was a joke. My fiancé made me check it out and said, ‘Girl, it’s real!’ so I got in touch and they told me they loved what I do and asked if I would model for them.
It was a real WOW moment for me. The first shoot I did was with Dana Falsetti, I was so excited to tell them how much they meant to me.
There was no pressure, they just wanted me to ‘be me’ and practice my yoga, so that’s what I did. Yoga has built my confidence up from the foundations, and in those pictures, it shows.
10. What advice would you have for people out there who are wanting to be true anti-racist allies?
The most important thing is to start with yourself. Understand that you can NEVER walk in our shoes, but we are yelling from the rooftops about our experience, so all you have to do is listen. The PTSD is ingrained in our DNA, our hurt is being ignored. It never ends for us, we are still hurting, yet we have to navigate the everyday as if we’re fine. Amplify the voices of others. Don’t do it for show, or for one month, but be active.
Start by challenging the views of the people close to you – really delve into those deeply rooted places. What are you doing locally? Have you had the hard conversations with your Grandma? Excuses are made for the older generation, we say, ‘Oh that’s because things were different then’. But we’re not there anymore, we’re here, now, so let the old go.