For those who’re a Black particular person, you’ve got most definitely encountered that uncomfortable feeling whenever you understand you are the one one who seems to be such as you in a room. Gina Onayiga bought method too used to this sense each time she went to a yoga class. Whereas attempting to stability her hectic life as a mom of two, she turned to bounce and yoga as a type of stress reduction and train. Nevertheless, she typically felt remoted in an area that was meant to convey her peace. Having had sufficient, she determined to hunt out areas of wellness particularly for Black ladies. When she got here throughout Afro Flow Yoga, every thing fell into place.
What Is Afro Flow Yoga?
Based in 2007, Afro Flow Yoga blends yoga and meditation with dance actions from throughout the African Diaspora. The thought is to assist individuals connect with their roots, in addition to to the earth, in an inclusive and numerous surroundings, freed from any judgement. Afro Flow Yoga was born after founders Leslie Salmon Jones and Jeff W. Jones, who had been married for 10 years on the time, traveled by West Africa on a journey of therapeutic and to attach with their ancestry and heritage. For the couple, Afro Flow Yoga was a type of self-expression and a method of mixing the issues they cared about most.
Picture Supply: Afro Flow Yoga / Omega
So, Is Afro Flow Yoga Simply Dancing and Stretching?
Leslie educated on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for a few years earlier than deciding to bridge her ardour for dance together with her love for yoga. However the choice to create Afro Flow Yoga went deeper than merely merging her favourite issues. “My mom being a civil rights activist taught me the ability of being a change agent and the way essential it’s to create change in our communities by self-care and care of others,” Leslie advised CelebrityPie.
Leslie acknowledged that well being and wellness areas weren’t at all times numerous or inclusive of individuals of various socioeconomic backgrounds. She labored as a wellness coach and private coach in New York Metropolis, and in addition volunteered in underserved neighborhoods like Harlem and elements of Brooklyn, and the well being disparities she witnessed in these two worlds weighed closely on her. Leslie sought to make Afro Flow Yoga a spot the place individuals may really feel empowered no matter their background.
“We have been in lots of white areas and there was at all times a disconnect,” Leslie stated. By way of her analysis, she found that yoga had been round in Africa for lots of of years; one in every of her first yoga academics was from the Ivory Coast in Africa. “To discover a Black yogi is so uncommon and it should not be,” she advised CelebrityPie. Black individuals and different communities of colour undergo from generational and ancestral traumas introduced on by oppression. For each Leslie and Jeff, beginning Afro Flow Yoga was a reclaiming and creation of an area of therapeutic for communities of colour.
Picture Supply: Afro Flow Yoga / Chris Dittuno
“For a few of us, once we hear dwell drumming, it connects to a deeper a part of ourselves,” stated Onayiga, who after falling in love with Afro Flow Yoga, determined to get licensed and develop into an teacher. Although Onayiga could also be in a category doing yoga, she feels and hears her homeland of Haiti, and it brings her a deeper sense of calm. “Everybody exhibits as much as exercise lessons for train, however generally there is a deeper cause for every particular person,” she advised CelebrityPie. In that method, Afro Flow Yoga is uniquely helpful to the psychological well being of individuals of colour and particularly Black individuals.
That is significantly essential proper now, because the nation is reckoning with an extended historical past of police brutality and racial injustice. Black individuals are being compelled to confront centuries of grief and trauma, and the shortage of assets and protected areas to cope with this stuff could cause them to take an excellent better toll, mentally and emotionally. Now greater than ever, Black communities want areas which might be by Black individuals, for Black individuals, as a reminder of their collective power.
“Our individuals weren’t enslaved as a result of they have been weak, they have been enslaved as a result of they have been robust. That’s one thing Black individuals have to be reminded of and Afro Flow Yoga does that,” Leslie stated. “We as Black individuals have not inherited lots of materials issues, however we have inherited a non secular muscle that may’t be colonized.”
How Do I Know If Afro Flow Yoga Is For Me?
Afro Flow Yoga is for everybody who appears like they do not belong in mainstream wellness areas. There aren’t totally different ranges of issue, so you do not have to fret about being inexperienced. Regardless that there is a dance part, a background in dance is just not required. And don’t fret — if you cannot even preserve a beat, that is nonetheless the place for you. Whereas Afro Flow Yoga serves as a protected area of therapeutic for Black individuals, it is not unique to the Black neighborhood. “Afro Flow Yoga is for everybody. We invite individuals to come back on the mat as they’re. It is for all ranges, sizes, ages, colours. It is actually about neighborhood,” Leslie defined.
Picture Supply: Afro Flow Yoga / Eric RounTree
What Can I Anticipate From an Afro Flow Yoga Class?
Once I went into my first Afro Flow Yoga class, I walked into an ambient room with smiling faces and the rhythmic sound of African drums. The category was taught by Onayiga. She begins her lessons in Westchester, NY, by welcoming everybody into an area of non-judgement of self and others. As a substitute of standing in rows, lessons are normally arrange in a circle. This helps create an environment of neighborhood and assist. The primary couple of minutes begin off with conventional elements of yoga, together with stretching and meditation. I assumed I used to be in for the standard yoga class, when Onayiga prompted everybody to face up and begin fluidly dancing to the beat of the drum.
The addition of African dance actions units Afro Flow Yoga other than different yoga lessons. “Dance and music is part of the Black neighborhood, it is what we do. It is part of our survival,” Leslie stated. Courses are normally 90 minutes, however as you get misplaced within the music, it at all times appears like time goes by shortly.
It’s best to costume as you usually would for another exercise class, as a result of you’ll positively break a sweat. The dance part makes Afro Flow Yoga extra bodily rigorous than different types of yoga which might be primarily targeted on stretching and respiration. Nevertheless, there’s by no means any stress to do something you may’t do in a category. Instructors cater to the wants of whoever is within the class, permitting you to get exercise whereas having the liberty to do it at your individual tempo. “You do not really feel the stress to carry out athletically,” Onayiga advised CelebrityPie.
Picture Supply: Afro Flow Yoga / Chris Dittuno
The place Can I Discover an Afro Flow Yoga Class?
Afro Flow Yoga has made its method throughout the globe to nations like Costa Rica and Bali. Right here within the states there are licensed instructors in Manhattan and Westchester, NY; Washington, DC; and Cambridge, MA. There are additionally digital lessons obtainable on the Afro Flow Yoga website on account of COVID-19. Whereas many yoga lessons could be out of attain, financially, it is essential to the founders that Afro Flow Yoga be as accessible as attainable, particularly for communities of colour. Due to this, on-line lessons are free, and the group accepts donations and “love choices” in lieu of obligatory charges.
How Can I Take Afro Flow Yoga Off the Mat?
Most individuals wish to take the sensation of calm and the bodily advantages of a yoga class and incorporate it into their on a regular basis lives. That is simple to do with Afro Flow Yoga, and it is all about your mindset. “It is actually all a few connection of thoughts, physique, and spirit,” Onayiga stated. The affirmations which might be stated in lessons like, “Immediately I am releasing . . . ,” can simply be integrated into your each day routine to attain the identical peace and stability you’re feeling whereas taking a category. Even simply placing on drumming music and dancing round the home helps to alleviate pressure and is a good way to get in a enjoyable exercise.