Black Yoginis

Black Yoginis

I first took a yoga class when I was in university, around 15 years ago, and I’ve been in love ever since.

In the many different classes that I’ve taken over the years, I am often the only black person, let alone black woman, in the room. Fair enough I live in England but, London is a diverse and multi-cultural place.

I have come across several people, with complexions similar to mine, who have misconceptions about yoga that prevent them from trying it. Some feel that it’s in conflict with their religious beliefs and some feel that it’s something that only ‘privileged people’ do. I think it’s a shame for barriers such as these to prevent the discovery of the amazing benefits of yoga – physical, emotional and yes, spiritual too.

I’m always excited to discover black female yogis who are breaking the mould (and hopefully some of those barriers). Here are 3 women I’ve come across, via beloved Instagram (which, over the past year, has really encouraged me to concentrate on truly creating the life that I desire). They have inspired me to get serious about something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: develop a consistent, regular practice.

They are, from top: Yoga Racheal (@yogaracheal) is a yoga instructor who describes herself as a ‘lover – encourager – giver – believer’; Wasia Wasia (@wasiawasia) is an artist, musician and yogi; Koya Webb (@koyawebb) is an international holistic health coach and yoga instructor; Racheal and Koya are run Acroyoga workshops together, in Los Angeles, CA (There’s one tonight!).

 

Resources + inspiration

For those of you interested in practising yoga, here are some other useful resources and inspirational people:

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Inspired: Prints by Jamilla Okubo

I love the colour, pattern and personality in these prints from Jamilla Okubo’s series, ‘We The People of the Diaspora – Black Culture Exploration’. African-American/Kenyan native Jamilla is an Integrated Fashion Design student and a self-declared painter, textile artist, designer and graphic artist.

Regarding her prints, her site reads:

“The prints, fun as they may be, acknowledge a deeper struggle which is rooted in black culture. She acknowledges the history, but similar to an upbeat song about heartbreak decides to shine a different light on the situation by claiming the story back for herself.”

Jamilla Okubo Art Print finalp2_905

 

I’m really impressed by Jamilla’s entrepreneurialism. Her prints are on sale online and she’s already received some great press mentions and interviews for her work. In my own experience, the hustling I did before graduation (including spending most of my holidays interning) definitely made a difference when I entered the so-called real world.

Find out more about Jamilla and her diverse work.

Images via Jamilla Okubo’s website

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Buy African: Monochrome Home

Buy-African-Furniture-Home-Decor-Black-White-Monochrome-Home

 

As much as I love colour in design, black and white can be really interesting too – especially when texture and pattern come into play. Here, some furniture and home decor pieces, in black and white.

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How to: Create a Great Web Presence + Other Top WOW Festival Picks

WOW-Women-of-the-World-Festival-Southbank

It's that time again – the annual Southbank Centre Women of the World Festival takes place this week, in London.

A couple of years ago, I presented on Digital Tapestries and, taking that theme to another level, this year I will be running a workshop entitled 'How to: Create a Great Web Presence'.

Most of us want to spend most of our time honing our craft – doing what we love most. However, for most of us to continue doing this, somebody's got to buy.

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Inspired: Afro Supa Hero – An Upcoming Exhibition at London’s V&A Museum of Childhood

Afro Supa Hero posters

Award-winning Creative Director, Jon Daniel, has curated what is set to be an exciting adventure – the Afro Supa Hero exhibition, running from 14 September 2013 – 9 February 2014, at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London. The exhibition will give us an insight into Jon's own experience, as a boy of African Caribbean heritage, growing up in 1960s and 1970s Britain. Jon's collection of action figures, games, comics and other paraphernalia, starring pop culture heroes and heroines of the African diaspora, represent some of the positive black role models he (and many of us, around the world) grew up with. 

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African Inspiration on Pinterest: Celebrating Blackness in Fashion Photography

Photography-Black-Beauty-1

I've come across some incredibly beautiful fashion photography where, the model's blackness is emphasised for dramatic effect. Some people feel that the exaggeration is offensive, some people view it as celebratory. If we were to put histories aside for just a few minutes, and purely regard these as pieces of fine aesthetic craftmanship …

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Massimadi Festival, Brussels: LGBT Films from Africa and its Diaspora

Massimadi-LGBT-Film-Festival-Africa-Diaspora-Brussels

Today marks the start of the very first Massimadi festival – showcasing LGBT films from Africa and its diaspora. Taking place in Brussels from the 9th – 11th of May, in the run up to Belgian Pride, the event programme includes meetings and music to complement the films.

The word 'Massimadi' is derived from Creole words 'massissi' and 'madivinez' – derogatory words for 'gay' and 'lesbian' that have been appropriated by the black LGBT community in a defiant affirmation of their identity. The festival will address issues of identity, gender, racism and sexual orientation.

Find out more on the Massimadi website (offering English, French and Dutch translation) and the Massimadi Facebook page

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The RCA Black show begins: Uncomfortable colour thing? Opportunity to inspire?

RCA-black

Today marks the launch of RCA Black, an exhibition celebrating art and design by African and African Caribbean Royal College of Art (RCA) graduates. Brought to you in collaboration with the African and African Caribbean Design Diaspora (AACDD), the exhibition will include work by 23 artists working in several disciplines including fine art, photography, product design, jewellery and more.

The show's co-curator and RCA graduate herself, Ekua McMorris, addresses the question that will be on many people's minds – what is black art? "Black art can be anything." she says in this Hannah Pool/Guardian article. "It can be a landscape without any reference to colour or culture." A friend of mine – artist, RCA grad, tutor and RCA Black exhibitor – Catherine Anyango shares some of her views on the topic in the same article, that's worth some reflection.

On one hand, can the colour of your skin determine the kind of work you produce? On the other hand, can your work be totally removed from your experience and how the colour of your skin shapes that experience? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Debates aside, it is momentous that the highly influential (and predominantly white) RCA is putting together this showcase of  exemplary work that spans 60 years. Perhaps it will help to inspire at least one young person of colour into following their heart and taking a path so little travelled by members of our communities. 

The show runs until the 6th of september. More details here.

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