8 Wiggidy Whack Myths about yoga and Black people…
1. Black people don’t do yoga.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. We practice yoga in cities, states and countries all across the globe. From the south side of Chicago to Compton, LA to the maasai tribe in Kenya. We have been practicing yoga for centuries with many of the yoga poses having roots in Ancient Egypt.
2. All Black Women are angry
We’re not. And we’re not all happy, all sad, all depressed, all sexy, all frumpy, all degreed, all mothers, all workers, all anything. The beauty of us as women of African descent is that we have an array of emotions that we can display on any given day in any given way. Oftentimes those emotions are misconstrued into what society wants to portray. And if the notion of an angry black woman is more palatable to the masses than a peaceful, joyous, full of life sista, then that’s what they’ll display. But sister you have a right to feel all of your emotions be they angry, happy or whatever.
3. Yoga is for skinny, white women
Pick up any yoga magazine in the US and you will see peaceful looking women in advanced poses donning tight athletic clothing. 9 out of 10 times the women will be white and thin. While the majority of yoga practioners in the U.S. fall into this sub group, our Caucasian sisters are not the only ones who practice yoga.
As women of color with abundant bodies and darker complexions, we may feel out of place or sometimes even downright uncomfortable practicing in a yoga studio where the majority of the yogis don’t resemble you. And it’s easy to become even more disillusioned when you enter yoga clothing stores and see that the largest size they have is a 10.
But let me tell you here, black women practice yoga ALL OVER the world. Yoga is for any body type, ethnic background and culture. And if you need a visual representation of people of color that practice yoga, check out some of my favorite black yogis here or attend a live class. #BlackYogisUnite
4. You have to be rich to practice yoga
While Mama Oprah makes it known that she practices yoga, you don’t have to have her bank account to be a yogi yourself. All you need is the willingness and open heart to practice, hell you don’t even need a yoga mat. A towel, or the grass or another non slip surface will do. And if you don’t have an affordable studio in your town you can practice in the comfort of your home totally free with the videos here.
5. I’m not flexible, I can’t do yoga
That’s kinda like saying, “I’m not as fast as Flo Jo, so I won’t get on the treadmill.” Silly right? If you feel you aren’t flexible enough to practice yoga then all you have to do is….yup, practice yoga. In order to open your body up to get into any of the poses no matter how basic or advanced they may be, you have to practice, practice and then practice some more.
6. Black women don’t get along
The media would have you thinking that Black women are all catty, sassy and cantekorous. I can attest to beautiful displays of sisterhood I see on the regular. We support our sisters by providing an ear while going through difficult times, sending encouraging texts before an important meeting, watching over each others kids while sick or in need, doing each others hair before a big event and I could go on, but you get my drift.
7. I’m Christian/Muslim/Rasta so I can’t practice yoga
Yoga is not a religion. Let me tell you again sis, yoga is not a religion. The basic meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is yuj, a sanskrit word meaning “to join or unite”.
Yoga brings body, mind and spirit together in a beautiful union bound together through breath. It is a spiritual practice that can compliment your own faith or religious beliefs. There are no gods to worship or prayers you must do and you can do a complete practice without chanting one word of sanskrit. Or your whole practice can be in sanskrit. It’s up to you. As I encourage my students, always do what feels right in your heart.
8. I’m not Conscious/Afrocentric/Hippie/Natural enough to be a yogi
Who cares? You don’t have to only eat raw, vegan foods, wear organic cotton or rock an afro to be a yogi. If you do all of that, fine. If you don’t, fine. There’s no set box you have to fit into to practice yoga. You can rock a relaxer, wear leather leggings, eat 10 oz steaks and still practice yoga.
And now that you know how whack these myths are, come on and join a group of beautiful women in a yoga class.