my yogic path: a few notes
As a student of African-American history, I constantly confronted the violence towards my cultural identity. Still, I could find no useful purpose for my education. The rigor required an over-extension of my capabilities to that point. My spirit was spent. As I chose my classes that summer, the midpoint of my undergraduate career, I took the classes that told me about who I was (and a little french). If only I could spend my time knowing myself deeper, I would feel deliberate about my use of time. I was searching for myself deeply and deeply interested in what I was finding. I also explored my mind and came to understand myself stuck in a structure. I confronted the violence towards distant relatives, towards poor folks whom I grew alongside; I was deeply agitated. I was more passionate to know. I went deeper into myself and spent more time alone reading, trying to reconcile all the information.
In my solitude and depression, I questioned giving up my opportunity to earn an Ivy League degree. But, I knew what my life would be like if I did not complete my undergraduate degree and the deep regret I would feel.
But from my solitude and depression, I found meditation.
Both practices of yoga and meditation which helped me successfully achieve my goal and have been helping me achieve my goals since that time. I came to understand myself as someone who was curious about the world and passionate about the questions it raised in me. Through yoga, like most, I found meditation. As someone who plans to use my mind as my primary source of income, meditation was a welcome practice for clearing my mental fog and helping me order my thinking.
Yoga became a way for me to work with my body. As far as athletics, I once enjoyed a year as captain of my prep school softball team. Barely an athlete though, I largely received the position out of seniority. Yoga was the first time I could figure out how I moved, why some areas really hurt sometimes, and how to finally do something about it. The splits like my gymnast roommate were a plus. The truth was, I felt empowered. Not too soon after, a cute football player who’m I’d had a crush on joined my class after my roommate stopped coming. The affirmations were endless.
In my first formal yoga class, my instructor was a dancer who’d worked with the award-winning dance company, Pilobolus. Marie often showed appreciation for my hard work and dedication to the practice of yoga. And it was from her attitude toward me that I learned how to care for myself in the same way. Though Marie’s deliberate example, I have learned many lessons from practicing the art of flexibility. Yoga has a new way of doing that had not been exposed to growing up in a working class family of West African immigrants. Yoga was the first time I understood mind-body trauma. I learned that being flexible requires a strong patience and self-control in order to act with discipline. I also learned that when working with our physical flexibility, our joints like our identities are the areas where we are the most delicate, but also the anchor points for every single one of our movements as we bend to express our unique experiences walking, dancing, and being everyday. With this practice, I could figure out how I moved, why some areas of my body really hurt sometimes, and how to finally do something about it. I felt empowered.
I aim to bring yoga to my community. For the past three years I have been considering becoming certified to teach yoga. But I truly began to consider it my path to share with my community when I assisted another librarian at my neighborhood library in her free yoga classes, the first time out library has offered anything like this. Unfortunately she was only able to offer the classes for one season but they made a huge impact on our patrons who are mainly working poor are often looked over for cost-prohibitive wellness programs and healthy lifestyles. For months after they asked for the classes. It really demonstrated a need for yoga for all.
This was the catalyst for my decision to join the RYT-200 and begin my teaching journey.
First time I heard of AYC was in December of 201, I was recommended to me by black dude with dreads from Knoxville, TN, who had been my Uber driver in Nashville. He only spoke praises about your program and the instructors. It was so memorable that I kept an eye on that program in particular. Then dates for the May 2017 immersion are in line with my 27th birthday, so I believed it is the right time.
But, I was hard-headed and hesitant to my intuition so I was truly convinced after meeting Jessamyn Stanley, at a book signing for her debut Every Body Yoga. I learned during her talk that she was a 2015 graduate of your program. We talked for sometime about the impact Asheville Yoga Center and its instructors, Kimberly Puryear and Stephanie Keach, made on my inner journey. Her experience during the RYT-200 program gave her the confidence to share her yogic journey with the world and shift the conversation to yoga for all. So, after quitting my job, not renewing my lease and letting of a six-year relationship, I dove right into my practice and myself.
As a yogi, became a believer in the doctrine of flexibility as a Way, after trying to be forceful with myself over the years. Flexibility as a practice of the body and the mind requires a patience in order to move just so, to move just slowly enough to be care-ful. Working with our physical flexibility, our joints are the area where we are delicate but the anchor points we bend to express our unique movements. So, I have learned that to move deliberately we must setting clear intentions daily, often hourly.
After 8 years of practice, I am still benefiting from both practices and sharing healthy lifestyles with my community. Most recently, I hope to bring this practice to my public service. Already, I have worked on wellness and healthy living for underserved communities by focusing on mindfulness practices, active habits and eating whole foods. Serving as a “Seed Librarian” for the Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange, I encouraged patrons in my community to grow their own food from free seeds donated by local farms. My current goal is to use my CYT-230 certification to teach to share free classes in library settings which encourage holistic contemplation and body-knowledge for scholars.
May we always keep in the light and be of the highest use to our communities.