The article was written in 2010 but I had only previously read it in May 2012. Referring to an article in Clutch magazine Viera talked about how working class African Americans view yoga as not accessible to them due to culture and cash. The cost of yoga at $10-15 a class often made it prohibitive for many women who could benefit from the transformational health benefits of the practice. Within her article Viera offers a potential solution on how black women who practice yoga can spread the word about the benefits and work with teachers to make the practice more accessible. She suggests that:
“In matters of health, we as black women don’t have the time to be misinformed and believers of misconception. The many black women who practice yoga would do a great service by spreading the word to others within their social networks, families, and communities, while also urging instructors to make yoga more accessible. Yoga could be the practice that ultimately enhances your lifestyle for the better. And longer and healthier lives are something we all should be striving for.”
A tool to combat the challenges of a stressful environment
I agree yoga is definitely a tool to combat the challenges of modern day lifestyle. I have practiced on and off for the last 15 years but started to seriously incorporate yoga into my life in the last two years after meeting Pablo Imani who founded his own contemporary practice called Afrikan Yoga based on the ancient principles of the first known yoga Egyptian yoga.
As a city worker, I know too well the imbalance that can be created in your healthstyle so having yoga as part of my healthstyle has helped me to maintain a balanced outlook. It is a tool, I can pull out of my toolkit in any given situation to help me relieve stress from any part of my body that is in pain. Also finding a practice, i.e. Afrikan Yoga, that speaks to me as a woman of African- Caribbean descent has demystified the practice and enabled me to culturally connect to my practice in a way I haven’t before.
I agree that the pricing does make it appear expensive for some but I do think that culturally I have often seen an emphasis on spending money on material things to make you feel good on the outside rather investing on things that have longer term well-being effects. Nothing can be changed from outside in, everything has to change inside out. Yoga helped me to not just see but also experience this life principle in practice.
My understanding of the transformational effects of yoga created a passion to learn more and as a result I started to work with Pablo Imani – www.afrikanyoga.com to raise awareness of his practice and other African based yoga practices like Kemetic Yoga that exist.
The popularity of yoga is increasing among the black community globally. It was great to see Michelle Obama including a Yoga Gaen as part of the ‘Let’s Move’ activities at the White House Easter Egg Treasure Hunt in April 2012 and the article by Sariane Leigh also known as Anacostia Yogi called Sisters of the ‘Yogic’ Yam: bell hooks and the Yoga in Self-Recovery in October drew more attention to the practice by beautifully highlighting the therapeutic power that can be found through yoga. If you are on a journey of self development or healing I encourage you to read it by clicking here or watching the video below.
Yoga is a lifestyle not a scheduled class
It is a misconception that yoga is just about contorting your body. It is so much more. I do yoga at work, on the bus to work, during a gym workout, while brushing my teeth…it is in everything I do. I would love to see more yoga teachers from the black community sharing the healing benefits of African based yoga as a tool to combat the rise of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stress, self image and confidence challenges that affects our community.
Once you learn some of the postures, principles, philosophy and increase an awareness of your body then with no cost you can incorporate the practice into your life. We have a lot to be thankful for to pioneers like Muata Abhaya Ashby and Yirser Ra Hotep and others who have brought the African based practices into the public domain. There is definitely a movement growing which I find very exciting and look forward to see more creative expressions of this phenomenal practice
Have you ever tried Afrikan Yoga, Egyptian Yoga or Kemetic Yoga?
We would love to hear about how these practices have had a transformational effect on your wellbeing.