Makell Valentine

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Makeel,born and raised in the DMV. He graduated from the Illustrious North Carolina A&T with a Bachelor's in Sports Science. "Fitness has been apart of my life for a while because I played sports, but when it came to working out, I didn't like it. My drive for fitness began in college when I wanted to look different, now my motivation for fitness is not about my appearance, but also my abilities. However, with yoga, it's a different kind of love.

Yogi On the Mat

Age: I am 25,

Random fact: I usually almost always have a Chiquita banana sticker on my chest. 

What made you start practicing yoga? What brought you to it?

I got into yoga because one day I college I hurt my back squatting and I was out for two months or so, so the only thing I could do was some upper body exercises and stretch. So I took those two months, to do precisely that, to get better and I was ok with the stretching, but I was so eager to get back to lifting, but  I had an epiphany. It wasn't until January 2014 when I decided to start yoga. It was tough to start. I thought I was flexible, ha!

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I remember trying to do my first bridge and trying to capture it on my phone. I swear on everything I was giving it my all. When I got back to my phone to see the picture, it was barely a bridge. I knew then I was in for it, but somehow that determined me to get better. So I took every day to practice yoga. Whether it was a class from a yoga app, or watching YouTube videos to practice a new pose, I was willing to give it all. Now I love it. I am so glad yoga is part of my life, it is truly something that I couldn't do without.

Tell me about your practice?

When it comes to my practice, I go off what I feel yoga is to me. I'm sorry to say; I do not practice any "types" of yoga. My drive for yoga comes from the ability of it. I consider yoga to have four aspects to it: Flexibility, Core Strength, Balance, And Concentration. Those four things are my anchor to how I practice. I usually start by stretching my whole body, from head to toe. Then from there, I practice balance, core strength, and concentration all in one, and that's where things get fun. Handstands, headstands, single balance, balancing on objects and so much more things I try in my practice that if you see me, you probably are like "this dude is crazy," and you're right. I'm not scared to fall, try things, and push myself to the limit. It's a rush I get. 

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How does yoga impact your life? Both On and Off the mat

Yoga impacts me because it teaches me patience. I am not the most patient person. I'm always in a rush, on the go, forgetting things, moving too fast, and want things done quick. When I started yoga and "THOUGHT" I was getting good I started trying the more advanced things and boy I thought it looked easy. I would watch the video and see the lady or man do the pose so easily, and I'm thinking to myself "That's easy I got it." I'd try it and barely could do it. I would practice it every day and still couldn't do it, and it was because I jumped the bullet. I tried to forget the basics. I had to go back to the basics.

 
 

"Yoga will humble you like crazy."- Makeel 

 

That is one thing I have learned to do, to be patient and slow down. I'm nowhere near how I  want to be, but I'm learning. When I'm practicing some challenges I face are focusing. I can quickly get distracted and do something else. Music truly helps me focus on the task at hand and mutes the real world.  

How does your practice impact the lives of those around you?

By doing yoga, people have honestly seen me grow in my craft. I get asked to help people out from time to time, and I love it because they know that I could do it so, "hell why not me." It brings people together. I challenge people to try it. Who knows what you can do?
 Yoga is for everybody. Your size, height, weight, doesn't matter. I've seen all kinds of people do yoga;it's a craft any, and everyone can learn. 

How does Yoga make you feel?

Yoga makes me feel like a kid. I'm not sure why but I feel like a child when I do yoga. It's like a game to me. I don't want to take it to serious because I'm not a serious person. Unless I'm trying to figure out how to do a pose, then I get crazy, and I'll take that seriously. But most time I'm just playing around like a kid. 

A quote or phrase resonates with you and your practice

My quote for yoga: "Stop being a bitch." Not a typical quote but then again I'm not a typical yogi. I use that phrase every time I feel like I can't accomplish a yoga workout, pose, or some daredevil stunt I know I can do. If I try a pose or inversion for the first time, I make sure I fall, so I know how to fall, and the fear of falling is out my systems. That is one way to get the fear of hesitation out your system. 

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The advice you have for new and long-time practitioners

For everybody who's interested in starting yoga, my advice for you focus on having fun. Yoga is a craft that can be self-taught with the right mindset and dedication. When I started all I did was download a yoga app, and start taking one of the many 30 min classes they have on it. From there I was able to kind of mimic the basic stretches and poses for myself, then through my spin on how I feel yoga is. 


Discuss

Back Yoga Practitioners

First of all, shoutout to all the Black Yogis out there doing the yoga thing. It's beautiful to see black people take on (return to) this craft and make it into something of our own. Secondly, shoutout to all the Black Male Yogis! Shoutout to y'all that constantly do yoga in the gym when every other male is looking at you like you're weird. Yoga isn't just for women, nor is it a feminine type of fitness. It is so fun to find different black yogis and black male yogis. To see all of us talk about our journey, helping each other better our craft, and bond, and man that black beauty! I urge all the black yogis to keep doing yoga, grab a friend and show them how fun it is. Shoot I know somewhere they got people doing "Trap Yoga." Y'all know y'all like trap music. 


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Favorite/ most challenging pose
My favorite pose is scorpion and backbends. It's something about doing backbends that is so relaxing. My most challenging pose is still handstands. I can do handstands, but my control is crap. That's my biggest challenge. 

Recommendations

Some things I recommend when doing yoga, the fewer clothes, the better, just saying. I don't like a lot of clothing on; it gets in the way. Having a strap, blocks, a mat (I make a yoga bed), and a good mindset will help your practice go smooth. One thing I genuinely recommend is YouTube and typing in what you want to practice to see how it's done. There are so many people out there that have done videos to show you how to do all the poses you could do. 

 

Reach out to Makeel follow him on instagram! @imakeelyouu

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