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Sankofa Yoga and Wellness Center's founders and owners are Tamisha J. Ponder and Marcus Ponder.

Dr. Tamisha J. Ponder found yoga at a time when her years as a community organizer had taken a toll on her well-being. After years of visiting neurologists, massage therapists, and chiropractors to ease migraines and tension headaches, stress and anxiety had gotten the best of her. It was time to make a conscious change. After short stints of practicing on and off, in 2011 she was recommended to practice yoga consistently, and it completely transformed her life. 


She immediately fell in love with yoga’s ability to relieve stress, promote mental clarity, and empower her body. The practice not only grounded her, but also complimented her marathon training and weight training routines. She enrolled in yoga teacher training and began to learn that yoga was about far more than asana, the physical practice; rather, yoga was about the eight limbed path. It was then that she realized that she wanted to help spread yogic good on and off the mat. Her practice is grounded in the eight limbed path of Raja Yoga, focusing on its spiritual, physical, and mental restraints.

Holding degrees in history, sociology, journalism and women's and gender studies, Tamisha completed her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture researching Black women's activism and its emotional and physiologcal impliciations. Working over a decade in higher education as an equity director and professor, Tamisha trained educators around the country to be culturally responsive and worked to promote social justice, equity and inclusion in educational systems, non-profit sectors, and in the yoga community. 


She has received additional trainings from the Mindfulness in Education Network (MiEN), as she also worked to bring mindfulness into schools and culturally sensitive environments. Tamisha is a peer-reviewer of Race and Yoga, the first peer-reviewed journal in the emerging field of critical yoga studies, and was also featured on Roland Martin's NewsOne Now discussing the benefits of yoga in urban communities. 

While scholarship and service is important to Tamisha, it is her personal and spiritual practices that allow her to continue to show up for herself and others. When she began to explore yoga's ethical practices and understood her self-care as a radical act, life began to look different, feel different. She has been influenced by many spiritual traditions, cultural practices, and indigenous healing modalities, and as a student of the universe, as she learns, she teaches.

Tamisha believes there is something powerful when you’re able to share your authentic self with others, so by blending together her passions for both yoga and community, she and her husband, Marcus, opened Sankofa Yoga and Wellness Center in July 2019. Seeking to create more spaces to foster community, relationships, healing and wellness, Laurel, the city in which she was raised, was selected as its home. In November 2020 they opened, Sankofa Health Center an urgent and primary care medical center and 2023, transitioned it to an integrative health center providing culturally responsive mental health services.

When she is not on the mat, you can find Tamisha and her husband, Marcus, traveling the world, running competitive races, watching low budget movies, and loving up on their baby girl, Camille and their rescue dog, Chance. To learn more about Tamisha, visit here.

Marcus Ponder was taught the importance of service at a young age, watching the selfless acts of his grandmother, a volunteer health care aide, advisory neighborhood commissioner, community activist, and founder of the Children of Mine Youth Center. She initially set out to transform a neighborhood and later an entire community. 

It was those experiences that inspired him to create organizations solely focused on solving needs within communities of color, specifically in health and wellness. As someone who witnessed firsthand the negative impact of the lack of quality and accessible care, Marcus felt a call to action in changing that narrative. With that, he co-founded Sankofa Yoga & Wellness Center and founded Sankofa Health Center, located in Laurel, MD. Prior to opening Sankofa Health, Marcus spent a decade in corporate finance and operations at top organizations leading large-scale transformation initiatives in financial services, technology, and higher education. He holds an MBA and bachelor’s in finance and is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. 

Welcome to Sankofa Yoga and Wellness Center!

Tamisha J. Ponder

Tamisha J. Ponder

Marcus and Tamisha Ponder

Marcus Ponder

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