Honestly, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet and practice with many black men yogis. Of course, they exist, but there is a noticeable lack of on the mat, which poses a few questions: Is it a masculinity thing? Are black men aware of yoga and its benefits, but are unwilling, or are they unaware, and possibly willing? Is it something deeper? Or is it a lack of accessibility & awareness?
Despite the wonderings of where black men yogis are or aren’t. I had the opportunity to interview and practice with Lorenzo Dorsey. Getting a glimpse into his life as a DC area Yoga Instructor, Hip Hop connoisseur, and hot room practitioner. During, the interview I learned about his strong meditation practice, that began before his physical practice as well as discover that his favorite rapper is Nas. Lorenzo enjoys practicing and teaching hot yoga, not to be confused or specified to just Bikram yoga, but yoga practiced in a 100 plus degree room. However, he teaches a variety of classes, but I took one of his hot room classes and it was beyond a memorable experience.
The class takes place with no lights, but you have a battery-powered candle for light and a place to focus your eyes. One of my favorite aspects of the class was the music selection a chill hip hop and trap vibe that calmed and motivated me to push through. Oh, back to the heat of the class, I was sweating so much there was a puddle at the top of my mat, and I just hoped no one would walk by and slip! I thought I would be ok in the class because I practice Bikram, so yoga in heat and a lot of sweat doesn’t make me sweat. Yet, I wasn’t prepared for all the additional asanas and flow sequence in the heat, I'm use to a slower paced practice where we rest between asanas. His class was like Bikram plus topped with a vibe. Overall, an experience that got me out my comfort zone and reinforced my love of yoga.
Yogi on the Mat
Yoga Style: Ashtanga
Age: 26 ( I think)
Ice Cube - Today was a Good Day
What made you start practicing?
I was diagnosed with vertigo- a sensation of feeling off balance., yoga was the only thing that completely cured it.
What anchors your practice?
Chanting the Opening Ashtanga Mantra
Tell me about your practice:
Two types of practice self-practice and group practice. Self-practice is two hours silent, focused on breath and movement; group practice- usually contains music for an hour.
How has yoga impacted your life?
I've become more patient with myself and others, generally happier.
What are some things yoga has taught you about yourself and others?
The way my practice has impacted others I that since I've become a Yoga teacher, I instruct friends and family. They have someone they know in the yoga community, so they can come to me when they are ready to try the practice out. Additionally, I've seen a lot of people who lack confidence in the self or body empower themselves thru the practice of yoga.
How does yoga make you feel? While practicing, after, and generally
During practice, I try to silence my thoughts using my connections of my breath, my feelings awareness is directed to my body connection. Afterward, yoga makes me feel light in energy, emotionally, the world appears less dense and society more tolerable.
Quote or phrase that resonates with your practice
"Do your practice, and all is coming "
The advice you have for new yogis/long time practitioners
New time practitioners: "Practice daily, find a community."
Long time practitioners: "Become an instructor share your knowledge and practice with others."
How can someone alleviate hesitation to yoga?
Try a free class by yourself or with a friend
How does yoga influence your specific mental health? Overall wellness?
The way yoga influences my mental health is that detoxes any heavier emotions I carry, the practice itself is therapy and gives me a time to connect physically, mentally, emotionally to whatever I'm experiencing. "Body not stiff, mind is stiff."
Discuss: Black Yogi Stigmas
As a black person, the stigma is I must have a good income to have time to take yoga classes which aren't true. Yoga in the western world is promoted as a luxurious practice for stay-at-home moms who can easily afford a 150 dollar membership fees easily When in reality it's a sacrifice I chose to make.
As a male black yogi, in the past people assumed that I am gay because straight black men don't do yoga. Yoga has a stigma of a passive feminine practice which truly isn't the case. But as a result of more awareness that stereotype is quickly fading.
How do you feel about the representation of black yogis?
I don't believe the representation of colored yogis isn't promoted, which is ironic cause the practice originated in India and Africa. You don't associate people of color with yoga. But being a black male, I hope that will start to disappear.
How does your hair affect your practice?
My hair is an annoying aspect of my practice. I have thick locs, if I wrap my hair up to a bun, I'm not able to do postures in my head, it's heavy and gets in my face on my sweaty mat. I have to wash my hair more frequently due to my practice.
Utthita parsvakonasa or side angle pose. It's a posture that I am most meditative in. I have enough strength, balance, and flexibility to meditate and zone out for any length of time.
Most Challenging posture:
I am currently working on handstands. It hasn't quite clicked yet, what it takes to be able to stay up, but day by day it is coming.
This is silly. I do a lot of hot yoga where you are completely drenched in sweat. Being postures compress against the organs you are frequently releasing gas. Sometimes I'll fart during class, and because I'm drenched .I'll get paranoid I shit myself. That's never been the case, but it's a fear of those wet farts.
I buy a hip hop cd every Friday
Keep in Touch!
Follow Lorenzo on Instagram @immoortaljiyogi to see when he is teaching next, see some of his amazing recipes, and which Hip Hop CD he picks up each Friday!