In 2016, Ali Duncan made history as the first Black yoga studio owner in Denver, Colorado. Eight years later, business is still booming.

The former policewoman is known for being a groundbreaker as she became the first female officer at Fort Collins Police Services in northern Denver, according to KDVR. During her time on the police force, she also enjoyed the peace and tranquility that came with practicing yoga. After being the only Black woman in the yoga studios she visited for some time, she realized that there wasn’t a yoga community that consisted of Black and brown women. Instead of complaining about the lack of diversity in the classes, she took a leap of faith and decided to become a yoga teacher.

“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 in an interview with KDVR.

To create an inclusive space for not only Duncan’s community but other minorities and yoga lovers, she utilized a summer off from the police force to learn more about the meditation practice. During her break, she flew across the world and spent two months training to become a certified yoga instructor.

“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,” she said.

Shortly after returning to the U.S., she realized her passion for yoga exceeded her love for being a law enforcement officer, so she left the Fort Collins Police Services to become a full-time yoga teacher and opened the first Black-owned yoga studio in Denver, Urban Sanctuary, in 2016.

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

Seven years after founding her studio, Duncan expanded to a physical location in Denver’s historically Black community, Five Points. Her wellness center has grown into a diverse community, and she’s happy to be making a positive impact on the lives of others.

“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,” she said.

Seeing the number of Black members in her yoga community rise throughout the years is a goal she’s proud to have accomplished.

“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.

“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,” Duncan later added.


Members can look forward to the space getting a makeover in 2025 since the business owner disclosed she recently won a grant.