Jameelah Lewis

This featured yogi, Jameelah Lewis, exudes an energy that turns any room into a joyous celebration filled, with uncontrollable laughing and smiles all around! She is possibly one of the most hilarious women I've meet! She is more than a yogi, but a mother, entrepreneur, PhD Candidate, wine connoisseur just to name a few.  This unlimited woman is the owner of Fruit of the Vine, a wine tasting and educational experience! Jameelah practices yoga as a way to cultivate time and space for herself! It was a treat to reach out to Jameelah to  learn more about her,her thoughts on yoga, and her practice. 

Yogini on the MAt

Preferred Yoga Style: Bikram

City: Upper Marlboro

Favorite Book: Conversations with God Book

Favorite Food: ANYTHING Asian

What made you start practicing yoga? 

I started practicing Bikram in 2008 after I had my second son because I wanted to lose weight but wanted to do something different. I wanted to practice yoga but I wanted to find a style that was more about the exercise and did not have to chant. I wanted my practice and my Jesus to have clear lines of separation. LOL

What anchors your practice? 

I realize what kind of person I am when I don’t practice and I also realize how my body feels when I don’t practice so what anchors my practice is me. 

How does yoga impact your life?

Yoga makes me a better mom, a better friend, a better person. I am able to release the stress of the day in the hot room and able to see past all the mess to stay focused on what matters. I also meditate twice a day. I have been for 4 years now and the combination of yoga and meditation is AMAZEBALLS!

How does your practice impact other’s lives?

When I am being a spaz my kids always ask “mom did you meditate today? Did you go to yoga? What time is yoga?” lol Seriously!

What are some things yoga has taught you about yourself/others?

OMG!! This is the question that will have my typing forever!! However, I will try to keep it simple. It has taught me how judgmental I am of myself and others. It has taught me how unforgiving I am to myself and others and it has taught me how unloving I am to myself and others. Knowing these things are critical to living the best life. My practice always tells on my heart condition and how my soul is feeling. It has taught me about my emotions

The advice you have for new yogis/long time practitioners:

Don’t judge your practice. Every day will be different because every day we are different. Even when you think your practice sucked be grateful because perhaps your soul was working some things out on the mat.

How does yoga influence your mental health? Overall wellness?

I am a proponent of therapy!! If you need it, GET IT, but also do yoga. LOL Exercise is good for mental and physical health. When I miss just one day of yoga my mind thinks different, my thoughts are not centered, etc. Exercise matters. I used to run a lot and that was good as well, but 90mins in the hot room is better than running 10 miles because it is only you. No competition with your last run time. Not competition with the pavement or elements. It is just you and your mat.

How has your hair affected your practice as a black woman?

Initially, my hair was very dry and then I did some reading and learned that leave in conditioner was the key and I also had my stylist make some essential oil mix for me and my hair.

What are a few of the benefits of yoga?

Good mental health, physical well-being, better posture,  and a smile on your face.

How can someone alleviate hesitation to yoga?

Just try it. If it is not for you at least you can say you tried. If you don’t try you will never know and life is too short not to know things. Gather as much knowledge as you can get in this lifetime.

Favorite/ most challenging  pose

It really depends on the day. It used to be standing head to knee and I would blame it on my knees then I learned I was not holding my stomach with Bengal tiger strength. Then it was triangle and tree pose. Then I learned that these poses are hip openers and I the hips are the dumping ground of emotions, so when I am stressed on thinking on all that crap I need to release I hold it in my hip and I can’t open them. Same with my shoulders. Learning yoga has really put me in touch with the energy of my body and how when my energy is not in line neither will my practice be. So when I am falling out and having a hard time in a pose I stop and think what is emotionally knocking my energy off and how can I release it.

Clothes Recommendations :

SHORTS! Lol, I get hot so I am about the shorts. I have cellulite and I like to see it being squeezed out when I do eagle. 

Headband for sweat and hair products!!! Leave-in conditioner before and after you sweat! Keeps our hair hydrated and protected.

"The reason why savassanah is my favorite is because it calms my ferret. With my busy life as a wife, mother, friend" PhD student, it is very difficult for me to find stillness in this posture. And it challenges me to leave all my junk outside, and not bring it to the mat." 

"The reason why savassanah is my favorite is because it calms my ferret. With my busy life as a wife, mother, friend" PhD student, it is very difficult for me to find stillness in this posture. And it challenges me to leave all my junk outside, and not bring it to the mat." 

Discuss: Yoga & Black Mental Health & Wellness

Mental health in the black community has always been taboo. We have used the church as a form of therapy and still need to real therapy. That being said, a combo of yoga and therapy could do the black community some good. The hard part is we tend not to make time for ourselves. We have been slaves so we know how to work and how to take care of others but have never had the luxury of taking care of ourselves. We have to break the cycle.

How do you feel about the representation of Black Yogis?

Living in the DMV area I feel great about it, but I heard a funny story from one of our fellow yogis who is from Wisconsin. She went back home and said the only people that practice there are white women. Not even men! LOL, she said she could not wait to get back to Bikram's Yoga College of India in Alexandria (BYA) to see diversity.

We have it all at BYA. The only thing missing from our community is an alien from another planet and I bet we have one of those but they are still in hiding!

Tell a story/experience about something that's happened good, bad, awkward, etc while you have been practicing yoga

We have a lady who farts in our class every class and my teenage son and a few others always laugh. It is funny and she does not even care. She farts and burps like whatever. When she is not there the joke is no one will fart. Here is the kicker the farts never stink! 

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