|Kira getting her yoga on|
By Kira Sparkles
While reading this article about Chewing Gum actress Michaela Coel and her yoga practice, it cited that only two percent of Black Americans do yoga. TWO percent! That’s a tragic number! Why shouldn’t we be out here doing yoga? We’re killing everything in the game and this is just another thing that should be on a very long list. Also, we need to challenge this idea of what a yogi looks like.
Yoga was born as a practice in India, but through commercialization and whitewashing, it’s become synonymous with upper-class white women in yoga pants chanting Om. I get where that feels daunting and isolating. I know when I go to yoga classes, there are so few people of color in these spaces.
But why is yoga so important to our lives?
With the meditative side of yoga, it allows the clutter of the mind to clear and lets you breathe a little easier. However, when it comes to the physical side of yoga, the benefits are numerous including, but definitely not limited to: increased flexibility, improved posture, increased muscle strength and tone and weight loss. It can improve your circulation which in turn can even improve your sex life.
Do I have your attention now?
In my experience, I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression in the past while still facing bouts to this day, but yoga has helped me immensely. I’m not saying it’s a cure-all, but staying mindful has made me more aware of my thought patterns and myself. It’s made me aware of the thoughts that lead me to a sneaky hate spiral. It’s made me aware to be kinder to myself, even in a not so kind world, and don’t we deserve that at the end of the day?
With social media trickling into a lot of aspects of our lives, it’s easy to get sucked in. It can play on all our insecurities and fears. In spite of this, coming back to yoga gives me a feeling of stability and consistency. Yoga shows me just how strong I am in the face of opposition. It shows my compassion for myself to show up, even on days when it’s extremely difficult. Through this practice, I feel strong and grounded in spite of everything that tries to work against me.
Even if it’s the world. Even if it’s myself.
Of course, I live in myself every day so I thought I would ask some of my friends what their experiences with yoga were and how the practice improved their lives.
My best friend Brittany looked really thoughtful and said, “Of course it feels obvious to say you get into shape, but… not to sound like a hippie but it’s made me more aware of myself. I would say the meditative side ties into a sort of spiritual side for me. I think that’s important no matter who you are.”
Alice, another friend of mine has made it a ritual with her husband, “We look forward to our Sunday Yoga date followed by lunch!” She even encourages friends to come with her to share the practice.
When I asked if they were worried about any pushback, Brittany shrugged and said, “I think when it comes to anything that’s white-dominated you’re going to get that pushback, but you have to do it for yourself.”
While Alice’s biggest opponent was herself, “I was more of a cardio person and I had those same feelings about my body not being able to do Yoga poses. Now I’m so proud of how far my body can mold into any yoga pose.”
So if all of this sounds inspiring to you, I’m sure you’re wondering where to start.
I initially went to my local gym since they offered yoga classes at a price that was far better than going to a studio. Plus, it usually has people new to yoga and the instructors don’t do anything too advanced.
If you’re a person that’s on the go and can’t quite make the class times at the gym, I recommend a home practice. I’m a huge fan of Yoga With Adriene since she has videos that work at all levels. Put it on your big screen, invite over a few friends and have fun with it!
Will you give it a try?