In Musings, Self Care on
July 6, 2016

{Guest Post} Bending. But Never Breaking: The New Yogi

African American Yogis

Hey Y’all!
This week I kick of my 4 Week Self-Care series with a Guest Post! The next 4 Wednesdays, I’ll be focusing on different ways we can intentionally take care of ourselves. I know the hustle and bustle of life can cause us to neglect ourselves, but I’m hoping this series will inspire you to create your own self-care rituals.

Oh! And Mama’s Got This is now on facebook! It’s new and a little bare, so go ease on me. Make sure you like the page, because at the end of this series I will be hosting a giveaway! Like the page HERE. Without Further Ado!

The New Yogi
Joanna Brooks

I am ashamed to admit it. Sometimes, when I think of yoga, I see a skinny white woman in white, overpriced leggings standing in tree pose. This is terrible! I am, afterall, a black yogi. I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga for a few years now! Yet and still, this is the image that sometimes pops into my mind when I think of my beloved practice. Sometimes. Every once in a while, she looks different. She is brown. Her body is curvy. She looks like…me.

What’s happening here? I’ve found more women of color who do yoga. I didn’t find them in mass media. I didn’t even see them in yoga classes. I found them on Instagram and Facebook, attached to hashtags like, #blackgirlsdoyoga. A new world has been opened to me. There are other women out there, just like me, who are in love with yoga and practicing religiously.

But they were not always there (ok, some of them were but not all of them). What changed (other than seeing more women of color doing it)? Why are so many women of color hopping onto yoga mats?

The Top 4 reasons Why Women of Color are Practicing Yoga
(and why you should be too)

  1. It improves strength and muscle tone- yoga challenges you in a way that the elliptical or Zumba will not. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just stretching. It’s stretching, strengthening, breathing and sweating. The results? Muscle definition and lost inches.
  2. It brings peace of mind- women of color are finding that yoga helps them relieve stress and manage the challenges of the day with a sense of calm and peace. Those things that used to bother your soul just don’t seem to have as much power over you when you practice yoga. Yoga teaches us to let things go.
  3. It helps you make a spiritual connection-it was long believed that if one practiced yoga, one was subscribing to the Hindu and/or Buddhist faith. As people are learning more about yoga, they are learning that this is not true. But the practice, though not inherently religious, does allow for a spiritual connection-if the practitioner desires it. As a result, many women of color liken their time on the mat to a spiritual experience. It’s pretty strong stuff.
  4. Community-Women of color are finding and connecting to other women who do yoga and forming strong friendships (both on and offline). These relationships serve as a source of support, inspiration and motivation- both on and off the mat.

Yoga is good. Yoga works. Yoga heals. Women of color are seeing the short and long-term benefits of a consistent yoga practice and falling deeper in love with the practice each time they step on the mat. And, each time they step on the mat, they are helping change the narrative about yoga. They are sending the message that yoga is for us too. And they are changing our idea of what a yogi looks like- brown, curvy and all.

If you are interested in learning more about yoga and what the practice can do for you, please visit to get started. You can also check out this gentle yoga video I put together.

About the Author

the new yogi

Joanna is a working professional, a registered yoga teacher and a dedicated yogi based in Milwaukee, WI. She is the owner of Embody YOGA, a business dedicated to sharing the practice of yoga with people of color. Interested in practicing with Joanna? Subscribe to her YouTube channel HERE.


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