Why Should Black People Inquire about Yoga?

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One reason why I believe black people should inquire about yoga is that it makes you healthy. Yes, physically, but more so mentally and emotionally strong. No yoga isn’t a guaranteed fixed to anything, but it helps you gain perspective, self-awareness, and skills that help you navigate life off the mat. “Yoga is the work to remove the modifications of the mind” Embarking on a yoga journey provides the opportunities to learn and gain discipline, focus, consistency, accountability, and other attributes that add to one’s quality of life.    

“Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one’s actions.” - The late B. K. S. Iyengar  

However, the main reason why black people should inquire about yoga is that yoga heals. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population."

The black community suffers from reinforced prejudices and discrimination, repercussions from slavery, and generational suffering and burdens, but not ways to heal or cope with the suffering. What happens with all that suffering? The same thing that happens when a dream is deferred --- internal conflict and not being able to experience the world outside that pain or trauma. Today it is common knowledge that the black community suffers from untreated, unnoticed, or uncared for mental disorders that inhibit people from moving and feeling d freely. Just as if you got an injury and don’t care for it properly and let it heal the result is limited or no movement, and the key to life is movement both body and mind.

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It’s crucial for black people to learn how to heal, despite only have been taught how to survive so that individuals and the overall black community can grow and change. We must heal from the micro and macro aggressions, the internal and external conflict, family, relationships [situationships], the list goes on. A yoga practice accepts you where you are and meets you where you are as you put the effort in to create changes in your life, that will ultimately allow you to see yourself and the people around clearly.  One’s practice is an active relationship with the self to the self-requiring love, compassion, and patience in the face of fear, doubt, and pain.

The significant texts of yoga provide teachings, insight or ideas that would motivate anyone to at least try or read about yoga. My favorite text is Patanjali's Yoga Sutra’s because every time I pick it up, what I’m reading is extremely relevant to my life and helps me see or think in a different way.

I highly recommend reading the Yoga Sutras if you have been curious about yoga. By starting a practice, you begin to embody lessons of yoga as well as reap the many benefits.  A few poignant lessons and benefits are:

  •  Yoga Sutra 1.2: “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is yoga.”

Ultimately, meaning “If you can control the rising of the mind into ripples, you will experience yoga.”

  •  Improves flexibility, balance, and muscle strength
  • Yoga Sutra 1.8 “Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.” Often when there is false understanding that creates unnecessary thoughts and ideas that can create terror or tension in the mind.
  • Protects your spine! Also, Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
  •  Yoga Sutras 1.12; “The mental modifications are restrained by practice and non-attachment.”This sutra and the following sutras discuss the qualities of one’s practice and how to practice non-attachment or the method of letting go
  •  Increases blood flow and boosts immune system functionality
  •  Yoga Sutra 1.33: “In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.”
  •  Make you happier, more focused, and relaxes your system
  •  Yoga Sutra 2.29-45 The Yama and The Niyama, specifically the teaching of Ahimsa:   

“ It means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things… it simply means that we must always behave with consideration and attention to others. Ahimsa also means acting in kindness towards ourselves”
T. K. V. Desikachar
  •  Increases and encourages self-esteem, inner strength, and self-care

I’m not saying that these are the only reasons why Black people should inquire about yoga, but offering some perspective to why people in the black community should venture to their own seat on the mat.