One of my friends and fellow yoga teachers Jamal Hutchinson started an Instagram awareness challenge called "30 Days of Justice for Black Men" in response to the police violence against black communities with the recent killing of the Stephon Clark. I joined in on the challenge to help spread awareness to blackness, especially in respects to the practice of yoga and mindfulness. Through the practice of yoga, I have found deeper strength and foundation in my blackness and my sense of self-love. I hope that sharing these posts with you will offer you ideas to consider how our physical asana practice represents itself off of our mat and into our daily lives. I hope that, regardless of your race, this can provide you with an opportunity to practice compassion and empathy for your fellow humans, and perhaps move you to some sort of action for the good of the community.
Day 1: What does it mean to be black man in America?
Yoga Pose: Mountain Pose (tadasana)
As I stood here in tadasana, it made sense to start this "challenge" in this posture. Here in this shape, I can establish a solid, supportive foundation to facilitate the conversation of what it means to be a black man in this country. My truth is that I don't actually know what it means to be a black man in this country. I know what it means to be black, that's for sure, but my intersection is black and female. I know what I have seen, and what I have learned, and what I have discussed, but for me, I want this to be a learning opportunity to take in the black male experience through the peaceful and uniting platform of yoga. I want to understand, as I didn't grow up with my father in my life, and I know I missed out on learning the lessons my father could have taught me but wasn't able to, and I know my brothers did, too. I am here to witness and learn.
Day 2: What are your short term, mid range, long term vision & goals?
Yoga Pose: Child's pose (balasana)
My short term goals are finish my Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor training, enjoy a month of traveling Europe and visiting my brother (he lives in Germany), get my yoga classes at the homeless shelter started this month (hopefully, just waiting for the OK from the admin staff), continue to mentor yoga teachers-in-training, new yoga teachers and dedicated students, and continue to grow my abilities and knowledge as a yoga teacher
My mid-range goals are to start offering weekend and week-long yoga/ meditation/ Ayurveda intensive and retreats, provide more yoga programs to the homeless, join a band again, continue being a mentor teacher, and start writing articles again, but for a yoga/Wellness/ alternative medicine/ holistic healing publication (web or print)
My long-term goals & vision are starting a family (2 kids, maybe 3, but then I'm getting sterilized after that!), establish a yoga studio & holistic wellness center, establish a yoga teacher training program, continue to lead weekend & week-long yoga intensive & retreats, have a private home studio, be able to sustain and nourish myself & my family's mind, body & spirit.
Child's pose reminds me to stay humble. It reminds me to be grounded. It reminds me to be gentle with myself & rest so when I have to be strong, I can be my best. It reminds me that we are all children in image of the Divine
Day 3: What are a few things you can do to make your health a priority? Yoga Pose: Chair Pose (utkatasana)
I need to be better about establishing regular nightly bedtime. My sleep schedule gets wacky more often than I'd like to admit. I've worked hard over the years to cultivate a pretty healthy and mindful lifestyle, and I am always exploring ways to improve.
My hope is that more black people, men & women, will start establishing self-care routines and wellness practices, and teach these routines and practices to their children by example and by participation. Too many of us don't make time for our wellbeing, and it leaves us depleted, distressed and eventually diseased. These are the lessons we teach our children, to not care for ourselves as we grow into adulthood. Go see your doctor & OBGYN. Get bodywork done when you can. Make your health a priority and lead by example. Be a role model for the young eyes watching you, and for your community.
chair pose is also known as "awkward pose," and this asana reminds me that shit can get weird, but with solid foundation for support, a sense of inner balance, and a willingness to go a little deeper to push myself beyond what I thought I can do, I can make it through the most awkward of situations.