Black women are underrepresented in yoga. When we look at yoga publications and settings, there is an undeniable gap that has been created. Diversity and inclusion is not a complicated problem; there are decisions that are intentionally made which exclude Black women from being represented. For example, if there is a yoga magazine and there are 12 magazines published per year, then for each month there should be someone on the cover of a different nationality or culture. However, if the cover of the magazine predominantly showcases white people or constantly excludes Black women and people of various complexions, body types and backgrounds, things become problematic. Yoga, in terms of diversity and inclusion, has been poorly represented by yoga studios and yoga publications. The dangers of this is that if Black women do not see themselves being represented in the practice, little Black girls will grow up to believe that something incredibly healing and transformational, like yoga, is not for them. The reality is that the lack of inclusion of Black women stems from capitalism.
Publications don’t represent Black women, because in a capitalistic society, their target audience is white people. This form of systemic oppression erases the healing of Black people, which then affects the entire Black community. When Black women are represented in white publications about yoga, it becomes a spectacle, almost as if the publication wants an award for finally seeing Black women. Black women are tired of being docile and underrepresented. Not only does systemic racism affect Black folks’ healing; it also creates frictions amongst Black women, who begin competing for visibility from corporations that do not really see or respect them.
Ironically, yoga is a practice created by people of color, so it is mind-boggling to see the lack of representation of people of color within yoga and meditation settings and platforms. This lack of representation perpetuates the narrative of colonization--colonizing something and then dismissing the original people from their own indigenous practice. It’s a dangerous game. There comes a point where Black women and people must stop asking for a seat at the table and must begin to create their own tables.
Today I woke up in Nicaragua. I woke up to the sounds of trees blowing in the wind and birds chirping. The journey here was memorable. We took a boat across the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of a small storm around 7 pm. My friend and I sat on the outside of the boat, but as soon as the boat pulled off, the water splashed all over us. So I went inside to cross the Atlantic during the storm. When we arrived across the Atlantic Ocean, we took a 40-minute drive through the deep forest of Ometepe Nicaragua. There were wild horses and cows on the streets and music playing by the local people. After that, we did a 20-minute hike up the mountains—Such an adventure.
The island that I'm staying on is surrounded by two Live Volcanos, a deep forest, and a beautiful town. I love Ometepe, Nicaragua — It's the 3rd time that I've traveled here in my life. I've been taking yoga and meditation classes here. The yoga classes focus on pranayama (breathing techniques) and moving meditations. We close our eyes and let our bodies flow in the middle of the forest. The food here is also perfect; everything is organic, and there's a permaculture farm where the food grows.
I also went on a motorcycle ride through the forest, the colors of the town are so vivid, and everyone greets you with a warm smile. It's mostly locals living here, which is something I appreciate when traveling because you get to really see the culture. When you're on a motorcycle, you ride up the mountain into the sun, next to the sea. It's just pretty and calming. There's something about Ometepe that always reminds you to stay grounded and reminds you to be grateful just for breathing every day. Some people say that Ometepe is another dimension because of the energy it exudes, and I can always feel it.
Right now, I'm writing this in the middle of a beautiful hut that I'm staying in — Surrounded by the forest. It's funny; I never thought that I would live a life where I lived in different countries and traveled around the world. Society teaches us to follow an agenda, but I believe we should follow our minds and hearts because there is where we find our purpose and our peace.