You may have wondered what all the hype is about brothers getting into a baktasana; Michael Strahan was on Good Morning America recently “embracing his inner yogi” with the Black Male Yoga Initiative an organization charged with spreading the life-giving benefits of this practice. So I’m loving how people are listening and sharing for the betterment of Black male life.
I’m clearly NOT a Black man but I love them. One doesn’t have to be of the community to serve in my opinion. When I have the chance to hold space for this very special community it warms my heart.
There are many reasons Black men do not recognize their connection to the practice. Some may not have a studio that makes the class accessible, while others may not have the time, then there are those who are overwhelmed with the many options of classes/lineages.
So here are 10 groups of Black men that could use the practice in an intentional way.
- Athletes: It doesn’t matter if you are a pro, senior, or high school all-star, yoga is for you. Joint stabilization, range of motion and body awareness benefit all bodies and abilities. Finding a practice that supports balance and body wisdom can protect athletic bodies from injuries both physical and mental. A loss can be difficult to recover from and healing can be a struggle. Yoga is a soothing balm and can be healing, restorative and very useful for the stresses of performing at all levels.
- Those with mental illness: My ex-husband has used breath work, meditation and it made a significant difference in his emotional well-being. His bi-polar diagnosis came with medication, with the impacts of those meds our lives changed. I was pleased he found a practice to meet his needs. Learning how to breathe and learning how to be aware is just a part of a lifestyle of self-care.
- Male romantic partners: I teach a couples class and the power dynamics in Black relationships can be confusing. Partner classes help partners practice being together. Then there are tantric yoga classes that focus more so on intimacy. While I’m attempting to keep it light there are also men who struggle with intimacy because of sexual trauma. Finding experiences that allow for men to explore their deepest triggers around togetherness. I’ve seen transformations in how Black men see the difference between themselves and their partners.
- Victims of domestic violence, police brutality, veterans: Trauma has no gender. For those that have been hurt by the egos of others, this practice can bring a resounding peace for managing the realities of life. A hurt body carries memories and can impact relationships, intimacy, and mental well being.
- Offenders: As a yogi, I realize this practice has a lot of restorative justice aspects to it. I am a survivor of domestic violence and I wish there were spaces my violator was accepted during his moments of trying to find remedies for his toxic habits. There was absolutely no one interested in helping my husband so I could help myself heal. It is true that hurt people hurt people but I truly believe the capacity of yogis to teach principles of ahimsa can support the movement of controlling thoughts, violent ways and egotistical existences.
- Entrepreneurs, musicians, and creatives: Balance in Black is real. Wanting to profit from our heart’s desire is fair. But the highs and lows of investing in ourselves can be a distraction from our true purpose or a joyous and blissful ride into our true life’s purpose. The physical demands of creating are no different than the imbalances inherited by athletic bodies. The mental weariness creates tensions in the management of money, time and yes professional networks.
- Social justice workers, advocates, activists: You can be down for the cause without the cause dragging you down. The creator didn’t give us a passion for equity to harass our hearts into disharmony. Yoga and meditation can help Black men balance fighting and fighting through caring for personal body, mind, and soul.
- Different able-bodied, seniors, injured men: Maybe there was an accident or quite possibly imbalances in the body evolved from age, medication or genetics. Yoga is for everybody and finding a place to practice to support your physical needs can be life-changing.
- LGBTQ: Black bodies within this community are constantly dealing with both physical, emotional and mental challenges. The occurrences of depression, of being physically violated and disenfranchised across multiple aspects of life is heartbreaking. As a Black queer woman, I know all too well and affirm a solid practice can help one accept their physical body and manage the messages of the mind.
- Fathers: Family yoga and meditation can reset the foundation of the Black family and home. A father that has the capacity to hold his place as a part of the family unit can unlock the potential within each family member. Practicing with your partner, siblings, children can deepen compassion, unlock closeness and bring more joy into the house.
Chances are you fall within multiple groups and that is fine. Besides….there are more lol. I keep saying yoga is for everybody. This list was created out of love and out of my years of teaching Black men, loving Black men and raising one.
Have fun finding yourself through your practice.