I recently created an affordable community wellness space in my hometown designed specifically for people of color, "Yoga & Chill". The event is run by Main Street Yoga and sponsored by ISU's Omega Phi Beta Sorority Inc and National Association of Colored Women's Club. We meet monthly for a candlelight yoga flow, self-reflection, and themed meditation set to chill tracks from Black and Latinx artists. It's a safe space birthed to meet the cultural needs of black and brown folks who are typically underrepresented in the mainstream wellness world. We come to relax, connect to ourselves, and connect to our community in away that resonates with our unique experiences and insights as people of color.
In honor of Black History Month, I centered February's Yoga & Chill event around ideas of "roots" and "legacies". I believe that remembering our history is a critical part of our self-healing and continued survival, so I wanted to share the meditations from this month's event.
Set a timer for five-ten minutes. Lie down on your back with the soles of your feet planted firmly on the ground so that your knees bend towards the ceiling. Give yourself a moment to arrive here in your space, turning your attention inwards to your own mind, body, soul, and breath. Allow your breath to flow in and out of your nostrils, inflating your stomach completely with each inhale and emptying your stomach of all air on each exhale.
Become aware of your points of contact: those places where your body meets the ground. With each exhale, imagine roots growing from your points of contact, extending down into the earth. On each exhale, send your roots further beneath you. As you visualize these roots, I want you to see their ends connecting you to the people that came before you. Find your ancestors, and name them. Maybe you see Maya Angelou or Audre Lord or Frida Kahlo or your own grandmother. On your exhales, ground yourself here, connected to your people.
With each inhale begin to pull up, through your roots, the inspiration, strength, and love of your people. Exhale to connect yourself to your ancestors, inhale to soak up their love, strength, and energy. Exhale to feel their spirit, inhale to fill yourself with that spirit.
Now, allow yourself to sprout. Grow stems, flowers, branches. Exhale to connect your roots to your ancestors, and inhale to extend their strength, guidance and love through your trunk and into your branches. Picture future generations of people of color at the ends of these branches and allow the fruit of your life to be the strengthening of your grandchildren. Exhale to feel your ancestors, inhale to harness their energy, and send it forward to your offspring.
Continue this visualization and breath work until time runs out. Gently bring the life back into your body, wiggling through your toes and fingers and inviting small circles into your wrists and ankles. Carry this exercise with you through the remainder of your practice. Remind yourself of your roots often, and let them empower you and send you forth.
Once again feel those roots connecting you to your ancestors. Express gratitude. How will you honor them with your life? How will you carry on their legacy? What kind of world do you want to build for future black and brown boys and girls? Where will you begin, today?
Read the following affirmations or have them spoken to you. Choose one, or the part of one, that sticks out to you, that seems to resonate in some special way with where you are at today. When you finish reading or hearing the affirmations, lay on your back, close your eyes, and continue to meditate on the affirmation you chose. Sit with it, soak it in. Set a timer for five to ten minutes, and silently repeat your affirmation to yourself. Come back to it if your mind wanders. Allow yourself to feel your affirmation in your heart, coursing through your veins, settling down into your bones, mixing together with your soul.
"This Woman-- Has fought a thousand battles, and is still standing. Has cried a thousand tears, and is still smiling. Has been broken, betrayed, abandoned, rejected... but she still walks proud, laughs loud, lives without fear, loves without doubt. This Woman is beautiful, this Woman is humble. This Woman is You." ~MMiles
Woman of color are art; a perfect expression of pain, struggle, strength, and beauty...
Said to be made out of brown sugar, cocoa, honey, and gold. And the strength of ten thousand moons...
You are magic. Don't ever apologize for the fire in you.
There is history, strength and power to the color of your skin.
on the sacrifices
of a million women before me
what can i do
to make this mountain taller
so the women after me
can see farther"
legacy -- rupi kaur
I encourage you to take these reflections with you through Black History Month and beyond. Let them strengthen, empower, and encourage you.
Learn more about Yoga & Chill here.