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Black Lives Matter: Restorative Centering Practice

We at Yoga Humans stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement and vehemently oppose the systemic racism and police brutality in America.

The five yamas in the yogic tree describe the ethical practice of yoga. These bedrock principles include: Ahimsa (non violence) and Asteya (non stealing).

What Black Americans are facing in this country is a direct violation of these two principles. What we’ve seen in our country over the past few weeks, months, years, decades and centuries has been violence against humans for no other reason than the color of their skin and the theft of human life and breath.

There is a lot of continued work to be done to advocate, educate and reform the systems in our country that have long been the cause of racial inequity and race-based police brutality. This is personal work, community work, global work. It is up to each of us to play our part.

The yoga community is not free from the conversation. For years, the yoga community has been criticized for being “white washed” and pegged as a community that has become elitist and unwelcoming.

This, too, goes against what the yoga practice should really be about.

In Quartz Magazine, Nicole Cardoza, yogi and executive director of Yoga Foster, writes about being a black woman in the wellness industry. After her experience with a controversial cover shoot with Yoga Journal, Cardoza writes, “as a Black female practitioner and entrepreneur in the field, I’ve realized that this space, like many others, is not designed for me.

Cardoza states that although the wellness industry has attempted to showcase diversity in its imagery, the actions are mostly performative. Instead, she encourages those in the wellness industry and yoga community to take real action to support and invest in organizations and communities that provide yoga resources to communities who have typically been excluded from the conversation. It’s far past time.

Cardoza says, “[Change] takes all of us—especially the white, able-bodied practitioners the industry has favored so far. We need to make inclusivity a part of our collective practice. We need to enter each space with a keen awareness of who isn’t in the room, ask the questions that uncover why they’re not, and elevate your expectations for a good workout to include the opportunity for more people to have the same experience.”

Yoga Humans has been “live” for about one month. As a brand, we are brand new. But that gives us an amazing opportunity to build our website and community in a way that is inclusive and welcoming. Yoga Humans is for humans. That means ALL humans.

Here are our commitments:

  • Offering free resources for at home yoga practice accessible to all. If you have a 6X3 foot clear piece of floor, then you can do yoga. No fancy mat, no expensive yoga clothes needed. Start where you are.

  • Donation-based yoga classes supporting the Equal Justice Initiative for the entire month of June. You can sign up for those classes here.

  • Conscious consumerism when it comes to the brands we buy from, support and promote, with a commitment to support black-owned businesses.

  • Personal dedication to educating ourselves and doing the work.

  • Continuing the conversation by inviting all humans to join our community. Anyone can sign up to be a member of our website for free. We promote dialogue on this platform from all voices. What are the issues in the yoga industry? What are the solutions? What are your best ideas? What are we doing well? What are we missing? Please join us in this dialogue.

We believe that yoga has the ability to heal and strengthen any human. Though the road ahead is a long one, we encourage each of you to take care of yourselves. Below, we offer a simple centering exercise to cultivate resilience, to de-stress and to heal.

It’s just a small thing, but each person who is standing up for what is right needs to take good care of themselves at the individual level, so they can continue to have the important conversations and spark change at the global level.

Restorative Centering Practice

Start in a seated position.

Root your sitz bones down to the ground, and extend your spine tall.

Place one hand on your heart and place your other hand on your belly, right above your navel.

Start with a cleansing breath – taking a deep, full breath in through the nose, filling up the lungs and then take an audible exhale out through your mouth.

Begin to practice deep belly breathing.

Take your next inhale through your nose and expand the diaphragm. You’ll notice the hand on your belly will lift with your stomach, and then with your exhale your hand will lower.

Take three rounds of breath like this.

After your third round, you will deepen your breath.

On your next inhale, you will breathe deeply into your belly and up into your ribs. You’ll notice with your inhale that your belly will lift and now your low ribs will lift.

On your exhale, your low ribs will pull together and your belly will lower.

Take three rounds of breath like this.

Finally, you will take your deepest breath yet.

On your inhale, start by breathing into your belly, then up into your low ribs, and all the way up into your sternum. You will notice your belly lifting, your low ribs lifting and your chest expanding.

Breathe here, taking your fullest, slowest breaths for as long as you’d like to.

As you breathe, you might consider calling to mind an intention for yourself for the days or weeks ahead.

This intention should be personal to you, but we’d encourage you to consider how you can show up with strength in these conversations, how you might show up with empathy for your fellow human beings, and the small ways in which you can take care of yourself.

Finally, allow the deep breathing to return back to a more natural breath.

Sit in this space and notice how your body is feeling. Perhaps the muscles have softened. Then notice how your mind is feeling. Perhaps your mind feels quieter. Can you take one moment of gratitude here? Feeling thankful for this breath, when breath is something that has been stripped away from countless others.

Take one final cleansing breath. Take a big inhale in through your nose, followed by a deep exhale out of your mouth.

As you are ready, begin to bring slight movement to your fingers and toes.

Perhaps bring your hands to anjali mudra (hands at heart center). Drop your chin down to your fingertips to finish your practice.



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