By Modo Yoga Vancouver
In the Modo community, celebrating Black History Month is more than just a trendy Instagram post. Equally, the themes of inclusiveness and acknowledgment that get talked about in-depth during this time of year are foundational to what we aspire to create within ourselves and our community throughout the remaining 11 months of the year. Whether it’s committing to create more inclusive spaces for Black yogis, to celebrating #blackexcellence in yoga, to acknowledging the deep connections between Black history and yoga as a transformative process for body, mind, and community, this month gives us the opportunity to reflect and reassess our role in this ongoing conversation.
One way to uproot and address anti-Blackness in our yoga practice and yoga community spaces is to acknowledge the interconnectedness of spiritual growth and structural change. The liberation of our minds and bodies from stress is tied to the liberation struggles of communities facing social injustice and oppression. While this might seem to be a natural connection to you, the original and revolutionary contributions of Black-Feminists to our conceptions of care, community, and self-love often gets erased in conversations surrounding health and wellness in the modern world. We would like to take this opportunity to give presence to a few of these exceptional thinkers, and highlight the contributions that they made to our modern conceptions of self-love, as well as offer some considerations for you to ponder moving forward in 2022:
“Self-care is a way of maintaining both wellness and balance in the energetic economy of social and economic intercourse. Activists and caretakers who do not attend to self-care are vulnerable to burnout, and burnout, in turn, can breed alienation from both issues and communities… Self-care and care of others needs to be balanced.” – Layli Maparyan
“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.”- Janelle Monáe
“Everything that happens to us teaches us if we are open to it.”- Alice Walker
One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others. There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-forty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or to that. Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am. It is silly, isn’t it, that I would dream of someone else offering to me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself. This was a moment when the maxim “You can never love anybody if you are unable to love yourself” made clear sense. And I add, “Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself.” ― bell hooks
“Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give to yourself…The light of love is always in us, no matter how cold the flame is. It is always present, waiting for the spark to ignite, waiting for the heart to awaken.” – bell hooks
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ― Audre Lorde
‘The golden rule suggests that we should treat other people the way that we want to be treated. That might seem simple enough, but it assumes that we are the standard for other people’s experiences and we’re not. We want to treat people the way they want to be treated, which means we have to ask. We also have to be prepared to ask with the willingness to give.” – Kim Katrin Milan
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” -Angela Davis
“You have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman
“Challenging power structures from the inside, working the cracks within the system, however, requires learning to speak multiple languages of power convincingly.” – Patricia Hill Collins
Some questions we invite you to consider this month as you reflect on these thoughts, as well as your role as an individual in this ongoing, complex cultural conversation:
In our consumption of narratives on self-care, how can we continue to present and give gratitude to the Black-Feminists from whom we’ve inherited these gifts and not erase the political struggles from which these insights have been birthed?
How is our practice of spiritual liberation and transformation through yoga tied to the liberation of all and the transformation of society?
How can we be better allies to support Black, racialized, and Indigenous yogis as our neighbours on the yoga mat? How can we be more cognizant of how we hold and take up space in a yoga studio?
There’s no conclusion that is appropriate for the conversations around Black History Month, or for the amazing women quoted here. More importantly, there is no conclusion needed: this conversation is never-ending, always expanding, and ready for you to hear.
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