Hi, I’m Luecretia Mason, Lue, for short. I’m originally from Washington, D.C. I was once a manager at a bookstore, then became a teacher of the babies, and now I’m a librarian assistant--educating the youth through helping them fall in love with books (I finally merged my two favorite things!). I’m 99.9% vegan (cupcakes are my weakness). I love hot yoga, running, wrapping crystals, watercolor painting, reading, writing, twerking in my living room, and ramen. Currently, I am reading The Hidden Life of Trees to figure out how to become more tree-like.
Preferred Yoga Style
Bikram Yoga and Vinyasa
Random fact/favorite movie or book or word, food, etc.
Favorite Books- Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
Favorite Movie- Interstellar
Favorite Food- Ramen, Pho, and cupcakes
Favorite Words: esoteric, eunoia, and petrichor
Yogini On the Mat
What made you start practicing yoga? What brought you to it?
I was 14 and had no idea that I was suffering from depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Mental health was definitely not a topic that was brought up with my mom and three older brothers. At that time in my life, I was “coping” with my trauma with a lot of tears, anger outbursts, and cutting. Due to a stream of unfortunate events, I was in the middle of taking a hiatus from 9th grade. To keep myself motivated and stimulated, I created a schedule for myself: read, write, do math, study Japanese, and some physical activity.
First thing in the morning was Dennis Austin workouts on the PBS channel. Later in the morning, Wei Lana Yoga would come on. At first, I was mesmerized by the effortless ebb and flow of her body contorting into different postures and enchanted by her smooth, songbird voice. I was so enthralled. There was something, so calm, so easy, and so free about her. I was so exhausted from the crying, frustration, anger, and the constant stream of negative thoughts. I wondered if I could obtain that kind of peace and stillness. One day, I decided to join Wei Lana in my living room. I had no mat, just the scratchy, dull, tan carpet that covered our apartment floor. It was the best decision I made for myself at that time. I felt like I had finally found a productive outlet in dealing with my whirlwind of overflowing emotions. It wasn’t an instant cure for my depression and PTSD, but over the years I began to create space for myself in which I could finally begin loving myself.
What anchors your practice? Do you set an intention for yourself before you practice?
My practice is my medicine, my anti-depressant and that is what grounds me. For someone who suffers from PTSD, there can be many triggers. Most triggers I am aware of, and others creep up unexpectedly. Knowing that, I proactively practice yoga. I also use crystals to help elevate my meditation. Depending on the kind of healing I need I’ll listen to music or practice in silence.
Tell me about your practice? Any aspects you'd like to share
I have been practicing on and off since I was 14. Because my practice began in my living room, I developed a strong home practice, never really going to classes. I only just bought my first mat two years ago (I had grown so accustomed to dull, scratchy carpets that it never crossed my mind to purchase a mat- only after suffering from multiple rug burns did I realize it was a necessity.) I would practice in the mornings and evenings. For a very long time, I thought that there was only one kind of yoga- Vinyasa. Just this past year, I was introduced to Bikram Yoga by a good friend of mine (all friends that recommend yoga are good friends, btw). I tried an intro week and went six days in a row. I was addicted. Now I practice Bikram Yoga 5 days a week and just finished up my 30-day challenge in August (woo hoo!).
How yoga impacts your life? Both On and Off the Mat
What challenges have you faced while practicing Yoga?
Some challenges I face while practicing yoga are finding the time and quieting my mind enough to begin meditating. It’s not impossible, and it gets done, but it can be stressful when I know I am in need of it, yet I have work or other committed engagements. Physically though, my arms and shoulders are probably my weakest and tightest muscle groups, so any pose that puts them to work is my struggle.
—— most changing aspect of your journey?
Over the past 4 years, I have gradually changed my eating habits from very unhealthy foods to pescatarian, and now vegan. I didn’t plan it at all. It was just a progression. As I started to take care and love my body through doing yoga, I began craving more natural and plant-based foods.
How your practice impacts other’s lives?
If you are my closest friend, you have definitely practiced yoga with me in my living room or have done hot yoga with me in a studio. If you are even an acquaintance of mine, and if you haven’t already, you will definitely try a yoga class. I preach yoga, all day, every day. My partner does yoga with me, and my closest friends do, too. It definitely has helped to foster a very productive, understanding, and positive circle.
What are some things yoga has taught you about yourself/others?
Yoga has taught me to love myself, my asymmetry, my flaws. It has taught me to be patient with myself, not just in practicing on the mat, but also as I journey in the outside world. It helps me to breathe and self-reflect, deepening my understanding of myself and the ways of the Universe.
How does Yoga make you feel?
—— while practicing, after, and generally
Yoga takes me to a place in my mind that doesn’t have a million and one thoughts and worries flooding it. Through my mind and body connection, I also feel connected to the Universe. I feel the god inside of me gently smiling.
A quote or phrase resonates with you and your practice
I am abundant.
Advice you have for new yogis/long time practitioners ( can be two different pieces of advice)
Be patience, always. Know that your body and mind are different every day. Stay connected in the present moment and do your best for that day. There have been days where I can excel in a pose and the very next it’s a struggle. So just breathe and feel in the now.
How can someone alleviate hesitation to yoga?
Yoga is for everyone and every body. I think the main doubt that people have about yoga is that they may not be flexible enough to do it. Yoga doesn’t care about how flexible you are. There are tons of modifications for that. Yoga is a journey. It’s about getting to know yourself, exploring and expanding your mind, body and your spirit.
How does yoga influence your specific mental health? Overall wellness?
As I’ve mentioned, yoga has helped tremendously in my mental health and overall wellness. I am now 6 years free from self-injuring and my PSTD episodes are are few and far in between. I no longer hit a place of despair when I’m sad or angry. My eating habits and level of fitness have changed drastically. I am vegan now, and along with yoga, I run 3 times a week. I have so much appreciation for my practice.
What benefits have you found in yoga?
The benefits I’ve found are the flexibility (on the mat and navigating life in general), lower stress levels, positive influence on mental health and self-awareness.
Favorite/ most challenging pose
Oh, there are so many challenging poses lol. But top on my list is locust pose (shalabhasana), and any arm balancing poses. My favorite poses are standing bow Pulling pose/dancer Pose (natarajasana), camel pose (ustrasana), and wheel pose (urdhva dhanurasana). Pretty much all heart openers :)
Black Yogi Stigmas
In mainstream media, I feel like people might think that yoga is just for super fit and bendy white people, but I’ve noticed in the past few years that social media platforms like Instagram are helping to break that stereotype. I follow hundreds of Black yogis and yoginis which gives me so much inspiration to keep doing what I’m doing. Representation is so important. We have yoginis like Jessamyn Stanley who encourage us to embrace our bodies; regardless of size, yoga is for every body. Also, there’s a stereotype that yoga is just for women, but once again, that stereotype is being completely shattered as more and more black men yogis show us their beautiful strength and poise on the mat.
Yoga & Black Mental health & Wellness
Mental health and wellness is unfortunately not a common discussion in the black community. I experienced it first hand growing up. Although, I do believe today that more and more people are talking about it. I’m always coming across articles and blogs that shed light on black mental health and wellness. The yogis and yoginis on Instagram are so courageous in sharing not only their yoga journey but their journey of self-realization and discovery. More teens and adults are coming out and sharing their trauma, and it is so inspiring. I truly believe that yoga is a low stress and easy way to overcome trauma
I have always been super conscious about my weight. Growing up, I was always the tallest and “biggest” kid in my class. I wrote down my weight constantly in my journal, so focused on a number. When I was a teenager and growing into my bod, it as the most awkward time in my life. I remember not wanting to go bra shopping, crying in the middle of a JC Penney while my mom picked out a bra for me. I remember sucking in my belly and tucking in my ass as I still wore baggy jeans and my brothers’ humongous DDTP and CityLife t-shirts to cover my body. Even as an adult, I felt like I always used my fitness and health as ways to control as I was still focused on a number. The scale was my worst enemy.
Most recently, after doing my 30-day Bikram Yoga Challenge in August was the first time I didn’t care about what number I was. I didn’t have a scale to weigh myself, and I became more focused on my breath and how I was feeling on the inside. I looked at my belly, back rolls, thick thighs, boobs spilling out of my sports bra, my hairy pits, and sweat every day in the mirror in that hot room. It forced me to accept myself. At one point, I stopped looking at myself as something that needed fixing here and there. I had finally came to peace with all of me.
How do you feel about the representation of Black Yogis?
As I’ve mentioned, I’m extremely excited to see more and more black yogis and yoginis representing on all levels of social media. It is so crucial to have representation. To have someone that looks like you. It’s encouraging and truly inspiring.
How does/has your hair affect your practice
I honestly feel like I battle with my hair. It’s a constant struggle and test that teaches me just to let it go. I’m currently in the process of loc'ing my hair. I started as free forming, and now it’s a bit of free-form and semi-free form. Because of all the sweat from hot yoga, I’m constantly washing my locs (which takes a whole day) and trying to figure out how I can go to work looking somewhat “presentable.” Then, I have to remember why I started my locs in the first place: it was to be free and liberated and not to give a ______ about these absurd standards that we (women of color) place on ourselves to assimilate. Some days are better than others. Sometimes I want to chop my hair all off, and on others, my locs bring me so much joy. It’s a journey, and I am still learning :)
Tell a story/experience about something that’s happened good, bad, awkward, etc. while you have been practicing yoga
I have definitely removed some wind in the middle of doing Bikram yoga and burped loudly. I’m half embarrassed but also the yoga is very detoxing, so it’s completely natural, right?
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker
A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland
“Confidently Lost” by Sabrina Claudio
“El alma y el Cuerpo” by Bomba Estereo
“Shaolin Monk Motherfunk” by Hiatus Kaiyote
“Freedom is Free,” “Run,” “Magma” by Chicano Batman
“Brujas,” “Mine,” “Excellent,” “Flava” by Princess Nokia (pretty much the whole 1992 album--go listen to it NOW)
“Female Energy,” “Spiral,” “Sounds” by Willow Smith