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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30 Day Health Reset Challenge: In the Interests of Getting Things Done

We all know that, if we’re going to be putting in the work that’s required to make things happen this year, we cannot neglect our bodies. They are the precious vehicles that help us to turn thoughts and ideas into action.

Yet, if you’re anything like I have been in the past, the first things that get compromised when I’m busy are:

  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Healthy eating

Probably in that order!

And it’s January. You more than likely overindulged in some festive eating (my excuse, throughout December, was – “it’s Christmas!”). And you more than likely didn’t move half as much as you usually do (it’s cold! I need to rest! Etc. …).

It’s almost 2 weeks into the month and the resolution fever has probably started to die down for most but, I want to let you in on a challenge that might just change the course of your year. It’s a challenge that I’m embarking on, along with my partner, his sisters and a few of my friends. And I would love for you to join us.

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Interview with Food Blogger Sanura Weathers

I virtually met Sanura Weathers around a year ago, thanks to the power of social media. We crossed paths through some common interest, most likely glorious food. I only recently discovered that Sanura and I are in the same profession when it comes to our day jobs – graphic design. It’s phenomenal that Sanura has managed to create and successfully maintain not one, but two juicy food blogs, on the side: My Life Runs on Food and Kwanzaa Culinarians. What’s more, she’s also prepared a lot of the wonderful meals that she shares on them!

My Life Runs on Food has earned Sanura accolades such as PBS’s Top Food Blogs of 2012 and a Black Weblog award for Best Food Blog. Her story goes to show that making time to nurture your passion pays! Even if you can’t devote your regular working hours to it, there is scope for it to develop into a satisfying side hustle that can change your world (and that of so many others!).

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Amazing Results from My Whole30 + Autoimmune Protocol Experiment

From February 20th to April 1st of this year, I did the best thing that I’ve ever done for my body and my health. I completely gave up grains, sugar, legumes, dairy, eggs, alcohol, seeds, nuts, seed-based spices, fruits and nightshade vegetables (i.e. potatoes, all kinds of peppers, eggplants and tomatoes).

So what the hell did I eat?

When sharing this list with people, many thought I’d gone completely mad and were wondering what I could eat. The truth is, there are a huge variety of vegetables and this adventure actually pushed me to discover and try out new things which, in my books, is one of the joys of living!

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9 Acts of Kindness

In consciously exploring how to be kinder to myself, I observe again and again, how forgetful I can be when it comes to remembering what’s in my best interest. To help evade such unkind amnesia and to encourage you to share your experiences and ideas (and because I love making lists), I’ve decided to keep a running list.

So here are my Acts of Kindness, #1 – #9 (in no particular order):

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Afri-love Picks: Culture, Activism and Social Debate Events at WOW 2013

Alice Walker Women of the World Festival 2013 London


The last batch of my top picks for this year's Women of the World Festival at London's Southbank Centre covers events to do with culture, activism and social issues and debates. I don't know about you but, between this list; the business, entrepreneurship and career development one I shared last week and; the music, poetry and spoken word events, it's going to be tough deciding what to actually attend! It's the kind of tough decision that's a joy to make. To those planning to attend the Festival, I hope you have a wonderful time and perhaps I'll bump into you. To everybody else, I look forward to reporting back.

 

Alice Walker
WHAT: A world exclusive premiere of ‘Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth’, a feature documentary film by Pratibha Parmar, about the life and art of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘The Color Purple’.
The 6:30pm screening will be followed by a conversation with Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar. The 9.30pm screening is introduced by Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar.
WHEN: Sunday, 6:30pm and 9:30pm

What's new in African Feminisms
WHAT: Looking at what is fresh in African feminist thought and action. African women are gaining force in music, writing and film, offering powerful and subversive views on gender, power and the future.
WHEN: Sunday, 1:30pm – 3:00pm

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My experience of elevation with the Africa Yoga Project

Africa-Yoga-Project-Kenya


Africa-Yoga-Project-Kenya-Wheel

Days after, I was still in pain from a community Africa Yoga Project class in Nairobi. I can’t thank my friend Aleya enough for introducing me to what has to be the most uplifting experience I’ve had this year.

2 hours allowed for a holistic session comprising of meditation, thankfulness, an intense physical practice and time afterward for newbies to introduce themselves and share how it was for them. There must have been at least 50 people in the room and the energy was electric. And so positive!

Despite the fact that there were so many of us, we didn’t lack for individual attention. There were several teaching assistants constantly roaming the room helping to support, adjust and push you past where your mind had decided it couldn’t go.

Yoga for all
Africa Yoga Project is bringing the amazing benefits of yoga to a diverse mix of people in Kenya. From their website:

“Yoga has empowered millions of people across the world by supporting physical, mental and emotional health, facilitating authentic personal expression, building supportive communities, and inspiring positive actionto contribute to others. We are dedicated to delivering all that yoga has to offer to the diverse communities of East Africa, while at the same time providing opportunities for members of the global yoga community to participate and contribute.”

These guys believe in accessibilty. Their outreach has included classes for the deaf, for women in prison and for other marginalised groups. You can take classes at a very reasonable price, 7 days a week, or visit the free community session on Saturdays. As the counter on their website announces, the project has trained 52 yoga teachers who are earning a living wage; it runs 250 free classes each week in the slums of Nairobi and; reaches 5,000 people every week!

Over to you
You must check out the Africa Yoga Project website – it’s inspiring stuff (don’t forget to ‘meet’ the teachers). If you’re fortunate enough to live in or visit Nairobi, I compel you to try out a class. Make me jealous – tell me how you found it.

Images via the Africa Yoga Project Facebook page, photography by Robin O’Neill Photography.

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Going Primal: Why and How (and What I’m Eating)

I’ve been going primal/paleo for a little over a year but in the past couple of months, I’ve become more and more determined to make a more committed transition. I’ve been discovering more and more blogs on the subject, reading more inspiring success stories and experiencing more positive results (and negative ones too when I slip off-course). You may have read a couple of my posts on the subject already – I thought it would be good to preface any future posts with a little more background.

 

Why

To be healthier (that was easy hey?). In terms of losing weight. In terms of getting stronger and fitter. In terms of strengthening my immune system and reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of other all-too-common diseases and ailments.

 

How

Primarily through changing my diet. There is so much more to this lifestyle including exercise (but not how you’ve been led to believe is ideal), sleep, upping your vitamin D and play but, diet is the cornerstone.

I have a sweet tooth. I love desserts. I also love bread! Both these food types are serious no-nos and I am working on weaning myself off these addictions (I do not use the word “addiction” lightly). By training my body to become a fat-burning rather than sugar-burning machine, I will achieve these goals.

Some people get discouraged because the cost of “clean food” seems too high. Here’s a great post from Paleo Lifestyle Magazine that helps to put things in perspective: “Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive So Stop Whining About It

My boyfriend and I have an account with Riverford Organic Farms – they deliver meat, veg, dairy (and occasionally wine) to our doorstep each week for what I think is quite a reasonable price. I just discovered Well Hung Meat and will be trying them out (they insist animals be grass-fed).

 

What I’m Eating


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My 21 Days without Grains and Sugar & 21 Reasons to Try it

The man and I recently undertook a challenge to go 21 days without eating grains or sugar (except in fruit form).

The initial couple of weeks were much easier than expected, perhaps because we’ve been trying to eat this way in general for a while. It did get tougher towards the end, particularly in the form of sugar cravings.

On the 20th day, due to poor preparation, we gave in. We had gone to an Olympics football match (2 games, 5 hours) and after a heavy breakfast, we thought we’d go the distance. Alas, the mid-match munchies got the best of us and, as you can imagine, suitable snacks were extremely elusive! Stodgy sausage roll it was (which, to my satisfaction, was unusually difficult to eat – could it be that I had succeeded in changing my taste for such?).

As you do, we decided to write off the entire day. Later on we had cake which was again, very hard to finish – it was sickly sweet to our taste buds.

As a forfeit for falling short of our 21 day goal, we added an additional 4.

Since the period ended, I’ve attended a baby shower, a wedding and been away on a pseudo-holiday (i.e. still working but in a very different environment: the Welsh countryside). These occasions have not been very conducive to a no-grains no-sugar diet. It’s also the week of my 30th birthday – another excuse to indulge! I do worry that I’m undoing any fat adaptation that I may have acheived and one of my gifts to myself will be to get back on track starting Monday.

I need to consider what is sustainable in the long-term. In The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris, he advocates having a “cheat day” – an entire day to go crazy with the indulgences. The man and I have tried this and felt terrible (physically so!). Instead, my goal will be to allow myself ONE “offensive” item each week.


21 reasons to try going without grains and sugar


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