Yoga in the Black Community took place on April 13, 2021.
In the U.S., yoga has become increasingly popular in recent years. Although heavily westernized and white-washed, yoga’s origins not only trace back to India, but this sacred practice has African roots. For centuries, Black people have faced marginalization, discrimination, and social injustice in the U.S. The unjustified deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black lives have created a level of racial and social trauma that few other communities have experienced. Coupled with the physical, mental, financial, and social disparities that exist in the Black community, a collective healing is needed. Many people are drawn to a yoga mat as a means to address imbalance or heal trauma experienced in their lives. Although in the U.S., yoga has the reputation of attracting college-educated, white populations and can be exclusionary to BIPOC communities, yoga has become increasingly popular among Blacks with the growth of Afrocentric yoga (i.e., focusing on Black or African culture), establishment of Black yoga organizations (i.e., Black Yoga Teachers Alliance), and expansion of social media presence of Black yoga practitioners. In this panel discussion, Black researchers and yoga instructors will discuss yoga in the Black community: why is it important to help reclaim health, how can it be used to address trauma and healing in the Black community, and what has been the impact of COVID-19.
Recommended reading before watching video:
Daheia Barr-Anderson, PhD, MSPH, E-RYT-200, is an Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the behavioral aspects of physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and obesity prevention in youth and adults. One of her current studies examines the use of yoga to address cardiovascular risk factors in sedentary, African-American women. She is also a 200-hour certified yoga instructor.
Gail Parker, PhD, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, is an author, a psychologist, and yoga therapist educator. She is the author of Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma (2020) and is the current president of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance (BYTA) Board of Directors. Her broad expertise in behavioral health and wellness includes forty years as a practicing psychologist. Dr. Parker is a lifelong practitioner of yoga and is well known for her pioneering efforts to blend psychology, yoga, and meditation as effective self-care strategies that can enhance emotional balance, and contribute to the overall health and wellbeing of practitioners. She teaches yoga therapists, yoga teachers, and health care providers how to utilize Restorative Yoga to support stress reduction and recovery from ethnic and race-based traumatic stress
Jennifer Webb, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Science and the Health Psychology Ph.D. Program at UNC Charlotte. She received her undergraduate degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Harvard University. She went on to complete her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Southern California and postdoctoral fellowship training in clinical health psychology at Duke Integrative Medicine. Dr. Webb’s research program is informed by a non-dieting, weight-neutral philosophy on health promotion in culturally- and body-diverse groups with a particular emphasis on enhancing the integration, dissemination, and accessibility of evidence-based mind-body approaches (e.g., yoga, self-compassion, mindful and intuitive eating, mindful self-care, etc.) to strengthen embodied self-regulation, positive body image, and well-being among women during the developmental transitions of young adulthood, pregnancy, and the postpartum. She also currently serves as an Associate Editor for Body Image: An International Journal of Research, an Advisory Board member of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, a Community Partner with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, and as a Scientific Program Committee member of the Symposium on Yoga Research.
Ericka Jones, BA, E-YRT-200, is a Global Inclusion & Diversity leader. In her current role, she collaborates with key stakeholders to develop comprehensive strategies that will increase diversity, build and sustain inclusive behaviors. She is a registered 200 hour yoga teacher and lululemon ambassador. Bringing diversity, mindfulness and inclusion into spaces is her purpose and passion. It requires a looking at “self” in order to lead with inclusive behaviors that impact the whole. Her journey of bravery began the moment she experienced fear – fear of being labeled, stereotyped, excelling and failing. Through personal development and yoga, she began walking the road of courage to cultivate bravery. This began her journey of being a compassionate disrupter to ensure all people feel welcomed, valued and heard. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ericka’s vision of equity and unity manifested into the development of The Yoga Coalition, a diverse community of yoga studio owners, teachers, students and supports working together to create and sustain a more inclusive, equitable and diverse model for yoga spaces in our home communities.