7 Famous Black Women Who Did Yoga

This Yoga History Book Chronicles Black Women’s Journey to Inner Peace

Subscribe to Outside+ now to get unique access to all of our content, including sequences, instructor tips, video lessons, and much more. The photo of Rosa Parks was the spark that ignited the fire. She appears in none of the “Black history” photographs we’ve seen, wearing a clean coat and prim cap, looking more like a church deaconess (which she was) than a revolutionary (which she was) (which she also was). No, this photograph depicted her in a black leotard, kneeling on a Mexican blanket, as opposed to the other.

Black Women’s Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace by Stephanie Y.

Evans’ book, which was just published in paperback, analyzes the many ways in which Black women have utilized yoga to find serenity and balance in a society that has not always been fair or easy.

The techniques of inner peace that elder Black women have undertaken to try to bring their lives into balance are the focus of my research.

During her time as director of theInstitute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University, Evans combed through archives, contemporary literature, and historical documents in search of references to yoga and mindful practices—and discovered some unexpected yoga devotees in the process.

Rosa Parks would answer the door in yoga pants

Rosa Parks opened more about her yoga practice to members of her neighborhood. The image is courtesy of the Library of Congress. “Parks has been a yoga practitioner for more than 30 years, and she also teaches yoga in her community. In her journal, Evans writes, “she chronicles her own mother accompanying her and her brother in regular “stretching exercises.” Yoga became a serious pursuit for Parks in 1965, by which time she was already in her forties. While she was practicing, many prominent African-Americans were embracing the yogic lifestyle, which she found inspiring.

Members of Parks’ younger relatives recall her joining them to yoga courses, and they claim she developed a home yoga practice as well.

Records reveal that she demonstrated yoga at events in Detroit, where she resided, and that she included yoga into the programs she planned for the youth development institute that was named in her honor, according to the records.

According to her younger cousins, “the exercises assist to clear her mind, and the stretches help keep her body supple.” “She has always valued inner tranquility and clarity over anything else.” See also: Rosa Parks and Yoga: The True Story of Two Women

Angela Davis did headstands in a prison cell

Angela Davis used the healing potential of yoga as a means of self-care and resistance against oppression. Photo courtesy of Alain Nogues/Sygma/Getty Images ) In 1970, Angela Davis, a scholar and Black Panther member, was unjustly accused of assisting another Black militant in an escape attempt, which she denied. She was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and was finally convicted, condemned, and imprisoned for 16 months before being found not guilty of the charges against her. Yoga and mindfulness were important in getting her through the hardship.

Asana practice was something she continued to do to cope with the physical and mental stress of prison—as well as to keep some control over her situation.

She was able to heal herself, assert her own identity, and reject (at least in part) the ability of her jailers to dehumanize her via the use of meditation and yoga, according to Evans.

Film star Pam Grier practiced yoga on set

In the 1970s, Pam Grier set aside a place in her trailer where she could practice between filming scenes. Image courtesy of the Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. Pam Grier was known as the “Queen of Blaxploitation” in the 1970s and appeared in over 50 films. She was cast as a seductive, gun-toting badass in almost all of them, from Francis Ford Coppola’sFoxy Brownin 1973 to Quentin Tarantino’sJackie Brownin 1997, and she had a massive afro and an even greater attitude. In her actual life, Grier battled hard to overcome the wounds of sexual abuse and assault, as well as the diagnosis of cervical cancer, which she received later in life.

‘I started doing yoga to learn how to calm my mind and become more present,’ she explained.

“The idea was to be able to sense—in other words, to feel and hear—any medical abnormalities that could be present in the body or mind,” explains the author.

News anchor Robin Roberts used “Motown yoga” for healing

In the wake of her successful struggle with a rare cancer, Robin Roberts, the host of Good Morning America, has placed her confidence in yoga. Photograph courtesy of Raymond Hall/Getty Images Robin Roberts, the host of Good Morning America, was presented with a situation few could handle: two cancer diagnoses in as many months, first breast cancer and then a bone marrow condition. Having been an athlete and a former sportscaster for ESPN, she didn’t argue when her doctors informed her that it was critical for her to be active while recovering from surgery and therapy.

While in the hospital, Roberts worked out with Christine, her physical therapist, who played Roberts’ favorite Motown music to keep her spirits up while she was recovering.

‘I quickly learned from Christine that yoga is about so much more than just flexibility.’ It is, without a doubt, a wonderful and quiet activity.

Breathing, being, and feeling are all important. It was just what I needed, both physically and mentally, to practice yoga with Christine,” she stated. See also: Yoga Improves the Well-Being of Cancer Survivors

An opera diva taught Pavarotti yoga

According to Evans, “yoga and meditation are mentioned in multiple places throughout Jessye Norman’s book, and she considers meditation and yoga to be a vital component of her cultural identity, spiritual core, and professional growth.” Norman incorporated yogic breathing methods in her voice practice, as well as asana and meditation, and she was a member of the Yoga Alliance. As Norman explained, “it took a lot of effort since it is not simple to sit and clear one’s thoughts, center oneself, concentrate on one’s breathing and one’s posture, as well as one’s selected “ohm” chants,” he needed a lot of practice.

“I can attest to the fact that it has brought me much joy.” Not Norman, but another opera singer, the soprano Shirley Verrett, was the one responsible for teaching yoga to the legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti in the 1970s.

When Pavarotti inquired as to what she was doing, she not only explained but also demonstrated.

In addition, see: Discover the Power of Your Voice in Your Throat Chakra.

Yoga kept “Catwoman” Eartha Kitt purring

Eartha Kitt used stretching and movement meditation to keep her body in shape for her acting jobs. Photograph courtesy of Harry Benson/Getty Images Eartha Kitt is perhaps best known as the ferocious feline supervillain from the late 1960s Batman episodes. (Or from her hushed rendition of the song “Santa Baby,” which is played endlessly during the Christmas season). Also a yogi, the jet-setting actor/singer was well-known for his travels. In one well-known photograph, she is dressed in an orange bikini and seated in a perfect Peacock stance on a rock.

Consequently, I endeavor to make the body love the mind, as well as the mind love the body, in order to maintain a healthy spirit as a result.

Some of the chapters of her fourth and last memoir, a health guide written when she was over 75 years old, are titled, among other things, Breathe, Stretch, Bend, and Balance.

Furthermore, she provided guidance that appeared to be taken directly from the sutras: “Don’t you feel better after taking a deep breath and stretching before going for a stroll at a difficult moment?

Yoga helped rapper Queen Latifah find her breath

Yoga assisted Queen Latifah in regaining her breath and her bearings. Allen Berekovsky/Wireimage/Getty Images courtesy of the author. Because it is necessary to have complete control over one’s breath in order to spew lyrics like Queen Latifah, pranayama techniques make perfect sense for a rapper to benefit from as well. Dana Owens, better known by her stage as Queen Latifah, is a New Jersey-born hip-hop musician, singer, and actor who may not match the stereotype of your standard yogi (if there is such a thing), yet yoga was a route to recovery and wellness for her.

As she said in her biography, “I’m no yogi or guru, but I’ve learned through the years that we often run away from the pain, and when we do that, when we cover the suffering, our emotional troubles tend to pile up like a lot of dirty laundry.” As she explains, “When you’re holding particular positions, that pain becomes a gauge of where you are in terms of both physicality and emotion, and the more you do it, the further you may travel.”

Why it’s important to see Black women doing yoga

The History of Black Women’s Yoga, Among the topics Evans covers are Tina Turner’s chanting, Rita Marley’s meditation, and Oprah Winfrey’s advocacy of all things wellness—as well as the experiences of a number of lesser-known yoga practitioners and health-care activists. She believes that their efforts, whether they were referred to as yoga or not, are essential instances of health role modeling. The author Alice Walker is one of the most outspoken advocates for the benefits of yoga. In her words, “The practice of yoga is a sacred activity, and the teaching of it to our people is a very noble vocation.” Yoga is a means for the prize-winning poet to connect with her body and appreciate her sisters, according to her.

I focus on my breathing and silently express gratitude to the Creator for enabling it to flow into and out of my body.

Beautiful, unusual, common, fragile, strong, exotic, and plain are all adjectives that describe this work.

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Meet 7 Black women yoga teachers who love bringing yoga to all people

A Brief History of Black Women’s Yoga Among the topics Evans covers are Tina Turner’s chanting, Rita Marley’s meditation, and Oprah Winfrey’s advocacy of all things wellness—as well as the experiences of a number of lesser-known yoga practitioners and healthcare activists. She believes that their efforts, whether they termed it yoga or not, are essential instances of health role modeling. Among the most outspoken proponents of yoga’s transformative effect is author Alice Walker. Her words: “The practice of yoga is a sacred effort, and the teaching of it to our people is a very lofty vocation.” In order to connect with her body and appreciate her sisters, the prize-winning poet practices yoga.

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I focus on my breath and silently express gratitude to the Creator for allowing it to flow into and out of my body in this way.

Beautiful, unusual, common, delicate, strong, exotic, and plain are all adjectives that describe this work of fiction.

In addition to unlimited access to exclusive articles, sequences, meditations, and live experiences—including thousands of healthy recipes and meal plans fromClean Eating andVegetarian Times—you’ll also get access to content from more than 35 other brands, including Women’s Running, Backpacker, and Better Nutrition.

1. Mama Sanovia Muhammad

Mama Sanovia Muhammad is putting in her practice time outside in the elements. The photo is courtesy of” data-medium-file=” data-large-file,” loading=”lazy,” width=”1612″ height=”1240,” src,” alt=”Mama Sanovia Muhammad, an example of Black women yoga teachers.” title=”Meet 7 Black women yoga teachers who are passionate about teaching yoga to people of all backgrounds 2″ data-lazy-srcset=”1612w,800w,160w,768w,1536w,816w,560w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 1612px) 100vw, 1612px” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 1612px) 100vw, 1612px” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 1612px) 100v data-lazy-src=” srcset=” 1612w,800w,160w,768w,1536w,816w,560w”> data-lazy-src=” srcset=” 1612w,800w,160w,768w,1536w,816w,560w”> Mama Sanovia Muhammad is putting in her practice time outside in the elements.

  1. Image courtesy of Mama Sanovia is a woman who lives in the city of Sanovia, in the province of Sanovia.
  2. She is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and moved to New York at the age of 16 before returning 20 years later.
  3. She also published a book, A Journey to Forgiveness, on how yoga helped her cope with the painful tragedy of losing her mother to domestic violence.
  4. But it’s not only about posture; it’s also about the internal journey that includes breathing, meditation, prayer, posture, and prayer.
  5. She may be found on the internet or in a book.

2. La-Shonda Spencer, the Yogi Doula

Demonstrating how something is done. Photograph courtesy of Shonda Faye, the Yogi Doula ” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” width=”1590″ height=”2048″ src=” alt=”Shonda Faye, one of several Black women yoga teachers in Birmingham” src=” alt=”Shonda Faye, one of several Black women yoga teachers in Birmingham” “Meet 7 Black women yoga teachers who are passionate about bringing yoga to all people 3″ title=”Meet 7 Black women yoga teachers who are passionate about bringing yoga to all people” data-lazy-srcset=”1590w,621w,124w,768w,1193w,488w,560w” data-lazy-sizes=”1590w,621w,124w,768w,1193w,488w,560w” data-lazy-sizes=”1590w,621w,124w,768w,1193w,488w,560w” (max-width: 1590px) 100vw, 1590px” data-lazy-src=” srcset=” 1590w,621w,124w,768w,1193w,488w,560w” data-lazy-src=” srcset=” 1590w,621w,124w,768w,1193w,488w,560w”> Demonstrating how something is done.

  • Photograph courtesy of Shonda Faye, the Yogi DoulaLa- Shonda Spencer, also known as Shonda Faye, began practicing yoga as a result of hamstring tightness.
  • When she found her way to Birmingham Yoga, she was the only Black, plus-sized student there, but she quickly became absorbed in the practice and became a regular.
  • It makes no difference what your physical size is.
  • I also want to inform people that, even if you are a Christian, you can engage in yoga practice.” With a strong commitment to making yoga accessible to people of all shapes and sizes, Spencer instructs students in a variety of styles, including restorative yoga.

Where to look for her: Website|Facebook|Abundance Yogaon 280, Saturdays at noon, Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m. Website|Facebook|Abundance Yoga (this class is also on Zoom)

3. Gloria Buie

Shelby County Arts Center is one of her favorite venues to teach, and she looks forward to it every year. Photo courtesy of Gloria Buie ” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” width=”1536″ height=”2048″ src=” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” alt=”Glorie Buie, one of numerous Black women yoga teachers in Birmingham” alt=”Glorie Buie, one of several Black women yoga teachers in Birmingham” title=”Meet 7 Black women yoga teachers who are passionate about teaching yoga to people of all backgrounds 4″ data-lazy-srcset=”1536w,600w,120w,768w,1152w,471w,560w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 1536px) 100vw, 1536px” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 1536px) 100vw, 1536px” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 1536px) 100v data-lazy-src=” srcset=” 1536w,600w,120w,768w,1152w,471w,560w”> Teaching at the Shelby County Arts Center, which is one of her favorite places to be.

  • Photo courtesy of Gloria Buie Gloria Buie was drawn to yoga because she was looking for anything that would help her relax and unwind.
  • She went to class on a regular basis and felt terrific after each session.
  • “It was the most amazing five months of my life,” Buie said.
  • “I’m on a mission to bring yoga into my community, with my people, and especially with my ladies.
  • Making time for oneself, whether via breathing or physical postures, is something that the Black community can benefit from as well.
  • Craig Smith Community Center in Sylacauga, Alabama, are among the locations for in-person lessons.

4. Adi Devta Kaur, THEBLKYOGI

Adi Devta Kaur is a Black woman yoga instructor who strives to make the teachings of yoga accessible to everyone. Photo courtesy of Adi Devta Kaur ” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” width=”1600″ height=”1200″ src=” alt=”Adi Devta Kaur, yoga instructor” width=”1600″ height=”1200″ src=” alt=”Adi Devta Kaur, yoga teacher” “Meet 7 Black women yoga teachers who are passionate about providing yoga to all people,” the headline reads. The data-lazy-srcset attribute is set to ” 1600w, 800w, 160 watts, 768 watts, 1536 watts, 500 watts, 837 watts, 560 watts” Data lazy sizes are defined as follows: data lazy sizes=” (max-width: 1600px) “100vw, 1600px” is the resolution.

Photo courtesy of Adi Devta Kaur Adi Devta Kaur traveled to Rishikesh, India, (also known as the “yoga capital of the world”) in February 2020 for a one-month 300-hour kundalini yoga teacher training program.

As part of her cultural immersion throughout her stay, she studied Hindi, meditated, and prepared chapatis and raita, among other things.

“As a Black woman yoga instructor, my message is that it is not the teacher who is important, but rather the teachings themselves.

We have arrived. The fact that we were here and that we are here in large numbers to support one another.” You may discover her on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

5. Kim Richardson

Kim Richardson performing yoga in the place where most of us do our yoga these days: at home. Photo courtesy of Kim Richardson ” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” width=”1218″ height=”1080″ src=” data-medium-file=” data-large-file=” loading=”lazy” width=”1218″ height=”1080″ src=” kim richardson, one of numerous Black women yoga teachers” alt=”Kim Richardson, one of several Black women yoga teachers” title=”Meet 7 Black women yoga teachers that are passionate about teaching yoga to people of all backgrounds 6″ The lazy-srcset is 1218w, 800w, 160w, 768w, 708w, 560w.

  1. The lazy-sizes are 100vw, 1218px (max-width: 1218px) and 1218px (max-height: 1218px).
  2. Photo courtesy of Kim Richardson Kim Richardson and I first talked in 2019 for this feature on women’s wellbeing in Birmingham, which was published in the Birmingham News.
  3. She began by practicing yoga at the YMCA, then moved on to DVDs at home in her pursuit of better work/life balance and stress reduction.
  4. The year 2018 saw the completion of her personal yoga teacher training.
  5. “I’d really like to see yoga become more widely available.” Message For me, it is really vital to discover ways of bringing everything that yoga has to offer to groups that have traditionally had little access.” Where to look for her: Yoga on Facebook, yes, you are correct.

6. Olori’fa Jacqueline J. Cockrell

Jacqueline J. Cockrell, Olori’fa Jacqueline J. Cockrell Mama Sanovia introduced Olori’fa Jacqueline J. Cockrell to yoga at Kelly Ingram Park in May 2007, and she has been practicing ever since. She never looked back once she began to practice a few months ago. “I adored how yoga made me feel, physically, spiritually, cognitively, and emotionally, and I became addicted to it,” she said. “It’s like a drug to me now.” For a Black woman, it is entirely OK to require healing, and it is also acceptable to experience feelings.

It might be anything from dancing in the street to wearing edgy clothing to producing meals.

Whatever your method of healing is, allow it to be your method of healing. “Not everyone will recover in the same way,” says the doctor. Cockrell is a yoga instructor who specializes in womb yoga, restorative yoga, and reiki, among other therapeutic methods. Facebook is where you can find her.

7. Bridgette Rene

Yoga can help you see things from a new viewpoint. Photo courtesy of Ma’at Yoga’s Facebook page Bridgette Rene, originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, has always been interested in health and fitness. She became a believer in yoga after taking her first lesson in 2014. She signed up for yoga teacher training only two or three weeks after that, and she has been completely enamored with the practice ever since. “Ma’at is the Egyptian goddess of balance, truth, and reciprocity, and she is the recipient of this message.

Where to look for her: Website|Instagram|Facebook

Bonus: Restorative yoga for Black women at Abundance Yoga

Yoga for Abundance. Photo courtesy of the Abundance Yoga Facebook page.

  • Specifically, Dr. Gail Palmer’s Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma was used to guide us through the process of healing. Where: Abundance Yoga, including lessons offered by Black women teachers in various places (to be determined). When: the third Saturday of the month, on average. Class size is limited to a maximum of eight students. Cost:free
  • Become a member

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Studies have shown that Black people are disproportionately affected by anxiety, stress, melancholy, heart disease, and other maladies when compared to other ethnic groups; however, the figures are disturbingly high when it comes to the health of Black women. African-American women do not have adequate space to correctly exercise self-care in a way that is both safe and meaningful for them because of the numerous external and internal societal stressors—racism, sexism, and socio-economic concerns.

  1. In addition to traditional yoga studios, there are hip-hop yoga studios and platforms that cater specifically to women of color.
  2. However, this is not a new phenomena; there is a reason why Black women have been progressively attracted to yoga since the practice first gained popularity in the 1970s.
  3. However, Black women’s dependence on the practice as a therapeutic technique dates back decades, according to the Yoga Journal.
  4. Articles that may interest you Black pioneer in Kundalini Yoga, Krishna Kaur, who is featured in this piece, said that practicing yoga helped Black Americans rediscover peace and recover a sound mind after decades of misery they had endured.
  5. Awakening black people to the reality of their own power is essential.
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It takes place at the level of the intellect.” When asked about her Hatha yoga practice, Angela Davis, one of the most well-known people featured in the Ebony story, said, “I have never utilized yoga as a method of preparing myself for a more successful battle.” Davis was arrested in 1970 and later released after practicing Hatha yoga.

  1. The ability to appeal to people and organize them to accomplish the types of activities that are critical to our freedom is something I possess.
  2. Because of her newfound awareness of how tyranny can harm not just the mind but also the body, she comes to the conclusion that embracing spiritual practices as a means of pushing back against unjust institutions has the potential to bring about revolution.
  3. After being held in solitary confinement for several weeks, she began to practice yoga in order to maintain her mental health.
  4. interviewed her in 2018 about how the experience had affected her: “You know, later on, I started to take yoga in jail,” she said.
  5. To be honest, there weren’t even any yoga mats available back then.
  6. However, while I was there, I began to build a yoga practice.
  7. “I learnt about the importance of self-care,” says the author.

Rosa Parks, Civil Rights activist and outspoken champion for mental health, on the other hand, believed in the need of incorporating holistic health practices into one’s everyday routine.

Her aunt’s passion for and practice of yoga, as well as her ambition to bring yoga into Black communities are recounted in the book by Sheila McCauley Keys: “She’ll be wearing yoga pants when she answers the door.

Whether in a studio under the direction of an instructor or in the sunlight of her living room, she finds refuge on the ground level of her home.

For Rosa Parks, allowing oneself to be enlightened and spiritually evolving was essential to living a longer and more fulfilling life.

What our Black women elders recognized about self-care is that it is not a solo endeavor; rather, it is a collaborative effort that can only be properly completed with the help of the community.

Black women have long felt the aggressive forces of the world arrayed against them, and they have sought refuge and fellowship amongst one another throughout history.

The reasons why prominent Black women authors like Toni Morrison and Toni Cade Bambara support one other with child care so that they can have time to work and be artistically free are discussed in detail in the book.

Yoga studios have sprung up all over the country in the last few of years, and more than 36.7 million individuals are currently practicing yoga in the United States.

While yoga practitioners in the United States continue to be overwhelmingly white, according to a 2015 National Statistics Report, the percentage of Black yogishas has increased from three percent to more than five percent since 2012, representing an increase in the number of Black men and women taking up space in a practice that has long struggled with diversity.

Octavia Raheem, a Black yoga instructor located in Atlanta, is just one of a growing number of Black yogis throughout the country who are dedicated to encouraging diversity and creating safe spaces for people of color who want to practice yoga.

The desire to set an example for her three-year-old son and to help other Black women to access the freedom they have inside them was one of the many reasons she decided to create her own studio.

Retreats, mentorship, and leadership training are all part of my job in honor of all of my people who have been denied the pleasures of their own labor.” The studio, which opened its doors in 2016, welcomes all customers and strives to ensure that their business—including practitioners and teachers—reflects the variety seen in the greater Atlanta area.

  • This experience has reinforced my belief that when Black women and marginalized people have access to leadership and ownership in yoga and wellness spaces, the culture is transformed in profound ways.
  • It might be difficult for Black yogis to have their experiences with racism and sexism in the business.
  • “I was the only African-American lady there.” That was something none of the other teachers did.
  • There are several obstacles to overcome before even considering opening a studio, but investing in the studios and retreats of Black yogis who are doing the work is the most effective approach to reverse and diversify the yoga business.
  • Whenever we go back in history and see Black women like as Rosa Parks and Angela Davis who were and are doing the job, we may be easily encouraged to follow in their footsteps and push ourselves to our limits.

This is one example of how social anxiety may manifest itself differently among Black women. In addition, learn how self-care has become a commodity in the current wellness industry.

10 Black Yoga and Meditation Teachers Who Are Changing the World

Beginning with the recognition of ten Black yoga and meditation instructors who are making a difference in their communities and beyond, and who are inspiring other teachers with their voices and their work, we start off Black History Month. There are many more people who deserve to be recognized, and we have compiled a list of suggestions from Kripalu teachers and speakers of color to help you get started. Maya Breuer (Maya Breuer): Maya Breuer, E-RYT 500, is an Emerita Trustee of Kripalu, a Kripalu-trained yoga teacher, and the creator of theYoga Retreat for Women of ColorTM, which she has brought to Kripalu every year since 1998.

  1. In the words of Maya Battles’ former student and current codirector of the Yoga Retreat, Kiesha Battles, “Maya provides the authentic black girl yoga magic.” Maya is the Vice President of Cross-Cultural Advancement for the Yoga Alliance and the originator of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance.
  2. She put it like way: “Yoga is a practice that welcomes people of various backgrounds.
  3. Ms.
  4. She is also the regional coordinator for 3HO Africa, which is bringing Kundalini Yoga to African countries.
  5. Despite this, many of them have grown up in an atmosphere that does not encourage such aspirations.
  6. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  7. He was ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh and has been teaching for over 30 years.
  8. The spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh has joined Larry on peacemaking missions in countries such as China, France, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as around the United States.
  9. To put it another way, he says: “The Theyogacharyatradition has hints and insights that can assist us in transforming the seeds of racism and confusion, as well as hatred and greed, that lay at the root of our collective awareness and consciousness.
  10. In order to be present with compassion and awareness for one another in the present moment, we must rethink ourselves, our institutions, our communities, and our capacity for being present in the present moment.” The Reverend Dr.
  11. He has been dubbed “the most intriguing African-American Buddhist” by Library Journal and “one of our wisest voices on social evolution” by author Krista Tippett.

“Love and justice are not mutually exclusive,” she says. There can be no outside change until there is a change within. “Without collaborative action, no change will be effective.”

Your Liberation Is On the Line

According to Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, “The construct of white supremacy is a disease in and of itself. And we must make a commitment to becoming the remedy.” Michelle Cassandra-Johnson is a writer and actress. Yoga instructor and licensed clinical social worker, Michelle has more than 20 years of experience facilitating Dismantling Racism Trainings for large corporations and small nonprofit organizations, as well as for individuals and community groups, including the ACLU of Western Washington, Google, The Center for Equity and Inclusion, Lululemon, and many others.

  1. It defines power and privilege and includes breath work, asana, meditation, and relationship work.
  2. We must not lose sight of the fact that the world is not set up to allow everyone to live in freedom.” Afro Flow Yoga® was developed by Leslie Salmon Jones and her husband, musician Jeff W.
  3. As a professional dancer, holistic personal trainer, wellness coach, and yoga instructor, Leslie is also a member of the Yoga Alliance’s board of directors, where she is striving to increase diversity in the yoga community.
  4. When the memory of our ancestors and history begins to awaken in the DNA and cells of our bodies, it grants us agency and liberation in our lives.”

Shifting the Yoga Paradigm: A Q A on Music, Movement, and Healing with Leslie Salmon Jones

This month, in honor of Black History Month, we invited Leslie to share a piece of her own background and how it has impacted the birth and evolution of Afro-Flow Yoga, which mixes yoga with African dance and customs. Caroline Shola Arewa (Courtesy of Caroline Shola Arewa): Shola has been a pioneer in the disciplines of spiritual and health counseling for more than 30 years, and she educates and mentors wellness practitioners all over the globe, including the United States. The path of waking and healing began in India, where she went on a journey of awakening and healing that eventually lead her to become a yoga instructor as well as a humanistic psychotherapist, after overcoming the trauma of her upbringing.

  • She put it like way: “We have greater potential than ever before to tap into a tremendous pool of spiritual wisdom, and we must seize this opportunity.
  • It can assist us in building deeper compassion and love for all individuals as well as for all living things on the planet.
  • He has spent more than 40 years practicing and teaching, and his YogaSkills School has taught and certified over a thousand Kemetic Yoga instructors from all over the world.
  • As a social worker and therapist, Yirser has taught his Internal Self-Regulation system, which incorporates deep breathing, focusing exercises, and movement to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, to children, schoolteachers, and social workers.
  • To put it another way, he says: “My interest in yoga has always been primarily motivated by the need for personal emancipation.
  • Yoga, and specifically Kemetic Yoga, is a means of recovering our sense of self, in my opinion.
  • She is a yoga therapist, Kripalu-trained yoga instructor, and meditation facilitator.
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She participates in worldwide debates concerning the spiritual dimensions of climate change as a member of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, where she shares her wisdom and experiences with others.

A single individual may have a significant effect on the lives of many others.

Yoga assisted me in discovering mine, and it may assist you in discovering yours.” Gaylon Ferguson (Gaylon Ferguson): Gaylon Ferguson, PhD, is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition who has been leading meditation retreats for 33 years.

He is a core faculty member of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, where he teaches courses in religious studies as well as interdisciplinary studies and research.

To put it another way, he says: “Put your faith in your own inherent goodness, as well as in the inherent kindness of your communities and families.

At addition to the unique problems of our generation, the twenty-first century, we are living in a period of enormous ferment and openness, both worldwide and locally.

As a result, the fundamental beauty of life, or the inherent goodness of our specific period, is rising up and inviting us to come outside, interact, and completely live.”

Amplify Voices of the Global Majority

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Book traces long history of Black women doing yoga

The artist Stephanie Y. Evans describes her work as “exploring self-care narratives to assist reduce the burden on Black women who are coping with stress in solitude.” (Photo courtesy of Getty Images) ) Historically, Black women have embraced yoga to exercise self-care, as documented in a new book. With all of the uncertainty, fear, and stress surrounding the pandemic, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself. Self-care may be a powerful tool for Black women, who bear a disproportionate share of the load in society.

According to Georgia State University professor Stephanie Y.

In 1973, Rosa Parks was photographed doing yoga.

Jessamyn Stanley on Challenging the Whiteness of Wellness

Jessamyn Stanley is a yoga instructor. (Image courtesy of Zoe Litaker.) Wellness is a thriving business: WellnessTM, like fashionable labels or exotic automobiles, has a market, as seen by the Peloton ad that has been roundly criticized this winter and the entirety of Goop: A skinny, white, wealthy woman in her thirties who seeks social validation through culturally acceptable indicators of money and health is the company’s ideal customer.

  • Geographical variables simply serve to shrink the scope of an already-restricted target audience even further.
  • Wellness as a brand is about acquisition, prestige, and performance, as seen by the fast development of Goop and the continuing twisting of radical self-care terminology for profit.
  • The reality is that my existence is that of a Black woman, namely a huge Black woman, who lives in the South, and according to the entertainment business, I do not exist.
  • Despite this, we are not alone.
  • Black women of all shapes and sizes are unrolling their yoga mats, taking a cleansing breath in, and expelling a calm, centeredfuck that crap all throughout the southern United States.
  • Stress reduction, blood pressure reduction, and pain relief are just a few of the health advantages of acupuncture.

When asked to identify barriers that prevented them from exploring yoga and mindfulness in a 2017 study conducted by Loyola University, African American women came up with the following: access to convenient classes, the existence of such classes and opportunities within the African American community, among other things.

Through her radically inclusive yoga practice, she is helping to redefine the narrative around Black bodies, fat bodies, and bodies of all kinds.

“The whole point,” she explains to Bitch, “is to establish a connection with your divinity.” I am a heavenly being.

If you’re thinking that setting up shop in North Carolina for a full-figured queer Black woman who promotes the advantages of yoga and mindfulness seems strange, you’re not alone.

“I don’t really feel connected to the yoga community here,” Stanley adds. “I don’t really feel connected to the yoga community here.” “wealth-centered and highly white,” says the author.

The surge in Black women taking to wellness is a response to the ever present racial tension and strain of being a Black woman in predominantly isolating and othering white spaces.

The magazines that strive to explore the advantages of yoga and mindfulness, such as the LA Yoga Journal andYogamagazine, serve as gatekeepers for those interested in learning more about them. Nadine Olu says in a 2019 post for Women of Color Healing Retreats that “publications do not reflect Black women since, in a capitalist system, their intended audience is made up primarily of white males.” As a result of this sort of systematic oppression, Black people’s healing is erased, and the whole Black community is harmed.” It is not just the physical locations themselves that are limited; it is also the tales and narratives that surround someone practices mindfulness that are exclusive.

According to Olu, “When Black women are portrayed in white yoga magazines, it becomes a show, almost as if the journal wanted an award for finally featuring Black women.” “Black women are fed up with being meek and underrepresented,” says the author.

With all of the controversy surrounding plus-size workout gear on the plus-size Nike mannequin, Little Mix’s Leigh Anne-Pinnockbody positive swimsuit campaign, Rihanna’s Savage X Fentyinclusive lingerie line, and Lizzo’s assed-out twerk and Instagram photos, the conversation about body positivity, wellness, and Blackness has been exploding this winter.

  • Stanley, who also posts nude photos on her social media account, makes comments about who is permitted to be free, healthy, and in a position of self-acceptance.
  • We gain ground in May.
  • Ownership, sensuality, mental and physical wellbeing are all intertwined notions that are purposefully positioned as being outside the realm of our current understanding of reality.
  • It’s disheartening that a process that started with people of color has been perverted into a system where people of color serve as gatekeepers.
  • In a world where we only perceive one type of person, such as someone who is ‘well’ or ‘healthy,’ anyone who does not fit into that category isn’t allowed to feel that way.
  • Everyone’s definition of wellness is different.
  • Downward dog is already a vulnerable position without having to worry about everyone in the room criticizing you.
  • “Yoga is a lonely discipline,” says the author.
  • Because of the intensity of the studio culture, it has a detrimental effect.” “If you are of the mindset that you must locate a community outside of your house, then you are underestimating the strength that exists inside you,” she says.
  • Some of us, on the other hand, experience isolation, othering, and exclusion.

“Yoga reveals.” When so many women of color seek answers, validation, and agency in venues where there is a preponderance of white males, that revelation is essential to healing; when so many women of color feel singled out and the “only” in predominantly white environments, the need for community is ever present.

From 2014 to 2019, more than 20 Black yoga practitioners urged Black women not just to get athletic, but also to achieve inner peace and serenity through their practice of yoga.

In Stanley’s words, “the need for camaraderie is suggestive of how deep the sorrow of exclusion runs, and how urgently a health revolution is required.” In response to the increasing number of Black women and femmes who are interested in wellness practices, more diversified collections of wellness and contemplative programs are appearing in Southern cities, creating rivalry with more exclusive studios.

In areas such as North Carolina, the number of Black yoga studios has nearly doubled in recent years, yet there is still a demand for more than simply courses and meditation.

That way of life is out of reach for people of color and other underprivileged groups of people.

“It’s vital to be reminded that we have access to something greater than ourselves, something greater than what the media portrays,” she adds.

Efforts to develop inclusive places that emphasize on Black healing are being led by sites such as Black Girl In Om, founded in 2014 by Lauren Ash.

We all have the ability to take charge of our own recovery, and Stanley believes that the internet is an excellent location to begin this process.

We must retreat into practice if we are to achieve our goals.

Editor’s note: This item has been modified to reflect the fact that Stanley’s studio is a virtual reality experience.

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