check out this interview that aired on 102.3 in LA 🎙radio station owned by Stevie Wonder) with Satya , creator of WOCHR where she discussed her journey out of the united states, yoga as a healing tool for black women + people, the myth called reverse racism, holistic healing, wellness + the importance of unlearning. 🌿
if you love self-care or blackness you’ll enjoy this!
Forward the video to 6:40 which is where the interview begins go here
Congratulations to Women of Color Healing Retreats Alumni Tiffany D. Jackson for being nominated for an NAACP Award for her book Allegedly!! Shine on siStar!
to be frank, in any form of oppression black women and people exist as the socially constructed "animal."
this is why thousands of people - unfortunately black folx included - find it acceptable to treat us as items of consumption or mules that provide a means to an end. oftentimes we are expected to labor emotionally, physically, and intellectually for the benefit of another without receiving any form of compensation.
though the severity of this depends on your appearance, class, ability, and sexuality, we are treated as inherently inferior; distinctly… different.
in other words, an animal.
animals are thought to be the opposite of human - another social invention. in the eyes of the oppressor, those imposed differences justifies said abuse. whether we're speaking in terms of racism, sexism, or cissexism, that same power dynamic exists within every system of domination.
let's backtrack for a second.
during the chattel enslavement of African people, our ancestors did an incredible job of turning literal scraps into meals. the sheer creativity it took to transform the waste from the (barbaric) slave masters into cuisine is astonishing.
fast forward to 2017 and those same meals have grown to be a cultural tradition; soul food.
i grew up in the midwest of Ameriakkka, where no family gathering was complete without greens, deep fried chicken, ribs, macaroni and cheese, ham, sometimes duck, and whatever else the elders felt like cooking. get-togethers where a time to rejoice and escape the trauma of existing while black in this country. the preparation of food was just as much of an outlet as eating it.
here's the problem, excess consumption of foods like meat, dairy, and eggs wreak havoc on the body mind and spirit. especially for those of us dealing with an unhealthy amount of stress due to our intersecting oppressions. i don't know about you, but neither me or the other women/femmes in my family were given space to decompress, recharge, and rebuild ourselves once broken down from the pressures of the world. contrarily, most of the elderly femmes in my family were expected to manage the housework, parenting, cooking, and their baby ass husbands in addition to working full-time jobs. shit, they had to sit quietly while their husbands used them figuratively (and sometimes not) as punching bags to process the trauma of racism. they themselves were granted absolutely no time to breathe.
this, to me, sounds a whole lot like the denial of someone's personhood. not to mention the perfect environment for disease to flourish.
in case you were wondering, this is where veganism comes into play.
transitioning into a whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds will improve one's health. in fact, many people who transition from a traditional American diet - where meat, dairy, and eggs are the main components - to a vegan lifestyle describe experiencing immediate mental clarity. when i first became a vegan, i couldn't believe how my diet affected my thought process and overall mood. i'm a person who struggles with chronic depression and while veganism did not "cure" me of this, it most definitely alleviated certain symptoms such as extreme sluggishness. now when i'm experiencing a depressive low, i at least have the energy to cook for myself. this may seem small to neurotypical folx, but for people like me? it's huge. *btw, i am not suggesting the effects veganism has had on my depression is universal. this is simply my experience.*
you may be thinking to yourself, "this is nice and all, but veganism is white people shit; it ain't for us."
let's unpack why veganism is thought to be a "white" thing. whether you've been told bluntly or shown indirectly, people with access to money and wealth are typically white. with the unearned advantages white folx have acquired from the enslavement of our people, linked with the continued racialized law enforcement - from the school-to-prison pipeline to the war on drugs - things that are thought to be expensive aren't seen as accessible to us. especially when you tack on the additional obstacles from being both black and woman/person in this country. it's...a lot.
learning to navigate a system that literally separates you from health with the design of food deserts can be daunting. according to this article, "food deserts are defined as neighborhoods that are considered high-poverty, where at least a third of the resident live a mile or greater from the nearest grocery store.” the article goes on to say, "people who live in these food deserts are more likely to have diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, along with other health conditions.”
yeah, that's not a coincidence.
this is why as soon as you get to the hood, grocery stores are replaced with mcdonald's, kfc, burger king, pizza hut, and a plethora of other fast food chains. restricted access to health is one of the most obvious forms of systematic racism.
so, why should you consider veganism? in short, to combat this racist tradition of weaponizing illness to keep us in a state of lethargy.
plus, in regards to our bodies being commodified, enslaved, and itemized (think the prison industrial complex), we have a hell of a lot in common with the mistreatment of nonhuman animals. i'm not suggesting that the responsibility of disrupting this system that justifies the mass exploitation that is factory farming falls solely on our shoulders, but i am imploring you to see the similarities between our abuse and theirs. not that commonality is a requirement to condemn oppression, but i think it is a starting point.
let's say you're now contemplating the transition to a vegan lifestyle, where do you start?
first, yay you! for most people, that's a huge step that shows a massive shift in mindset, so that deserves some recognition. second, before you even think about food, get clear on your reasons.
once you are clear on your why, make it a point to gradually eliminate meat, dairy, and eggs from your diet. if you can go vegan cold turkey, big ups to you! but don't feel bad if you need to transition little by little. start by simply adding more fruits, veggies, beans, and grains to your plate. periodically increase the size of each, until eventually you crowd out everything else.
ultimately, people of all colors, shapes, and sizes go vegan for a multitude of reasons. for me, it was the progression of my politics as an intersectional feminist. i needed my diet to match the mindset that every living person - human and non - deserves a life without domination. your reasons may be completely different from mine, and that's fine! veganism doesn't have to be a cult where everyone thinks and acts exactly the same. do whatever works best for you and remember to challenge yourself daily.
also, don't judge others who aren't vegan; all of us got our start somewhere.
hopefully, yours is here.
We had an amazing time at our June 2017 Black Women Yoga Retreat. From chanting to the sound of the rain, to meditating in a space full of black yoginis and women, surrounded by the jungle. We honored our mind, body and spirit and basked in the sun among black siStarhood. Give thanks for the practice.
All photography and video for the June 2017 Black Women Yoga Retreat by Passion Ward @passionward. Special thanks and much love.
Our Black Women Yoga Retreat is the very first international yoga retreat dedicated to black women who practice yoga and for those who are interested in the practice. In the western and non traditional eastern world, most yoga classes are led by caucasian people and classes are often focused mostly on the physical , but yoga is a spiritual and physical practice created by people of color. Here at Black Women Yoga Retreats , we respect, practice and honor all aspects of yoga while loving ourselves and each other!
Do we believe that yoga originated in Africa?
Our ancestors are waiting for us to heal the scars that dim our blackness. They are waiting for us to understand the importance of who we are. There we must meditate. When we heal our selves we heal future generations and our ancestors. We do this when we practice yoga and meditation.
So many black women and people are curious about yoga but question the practice because it is believed that you must be flexible to do yoga or wonder what level they would be in.
Yoga does not require any sort of flexibility; it is a practice that will bring you flexibility.
Yoga allows us to realign our body, heal our nervous system, heal anxiety and depression and It teaches us to breathe through things we may not be able to know how to deal with on a daily basis. It gives black women a non western way of healing themselves.
Here at Black Women Yoga Retreats, WOCHR our hand selected and amazing teachers provide modifications to suit all students, some classes may be more strenuous than others but there are no levels in traditional yoga, all are always welcome to the practice as yoga is about accepting exactly where you are in the journey on and off the mat.
Yoga is an important self care tool for black women, it teaches us that everything we need is inside of ourselves. It allows us to tune into ourselves and away from all of the toxins and stereotypes we deal with on a daily basis, it teaches us how to navigate the world peacefully. This practice teaches us to connect our minds, bodys and spirits on and off the mat. It allows us to connect with our ancestors by detoxifying the mind, body and spirit.
The practice of asana (postures) , pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation, cleanses and purifies the body and mind, as well as strengthening their capacity to maintain a pure state of being.
Yoga is not a competition, it is not a sport,
Today we see Hatha Yoga being practiced in all forms of yoga whether in power yoga or vinyasa flows, Hatha Yoga is one of the most ancient intelligent practices. "Hatha Yoga was created because People tried to sit quietly and they couldn’t. They encountered pain and stiffness, bile, gas etc and thought “What is the reason for these things, and how can we get rid of them?” They realized it was due to toxins from eating the wrong foods, at the wrong times, in the wrong qualities. These people pondered “What is good food that won’t leave toxins?” “What should the limit be?” “What is the proper time to eat?” They formed the yogic diet free of meat, fish, eggs, dairy, stimulants and excessive use of spices. The next was what to do with toxins already in the body. They concluded that these could be gotten rid of by squeezing the body in all different directions. For example, they found the way to cleanse the liver, spleen, and intestines was by doing the forward bend pose Pascimottanasana, which is bending forward and crushing the stomach a bit. If this wasn’t enough, they developed Yoga Mudra in order to crush it more. If toxins were still present they came up with Mayurasana , the peacock pose. If this still wasn’t good enough they created Uddiyana bandha, the stomach lift, and nauli, the stomach churning.
"The ancestors did not gain their knowledge from books; instead they observed nature and felt its pulse, they felt the vibration of the earth and stars, the rhythm of day and night. They did not view themselves as separate from their environment but as functional parts of a whole. By returning to the ways of the ancestors , we can learn to live in harmony with ourselves and our environment. "
Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful peaceful countries in the entire world. It owns 5 percent of the worlds bio diversity, its an eco based country, it has no military and even in the winter the sun is shining and the weather is warm.
Black Women Yoga Retreat is also a space for black women to relax, and connect with themselves and their sistars, most people come as strangers and leave as friends, in between this there’s never ending laughter, tears, joy, and love for ourselves and community.
When we decide to practice self care, we are also deciding to dismantle the shackles of the system that binds us and teaches us that our well-being isn’t important. Although society would have you to believe different, the potential of a black woman’s life is beyond infinite.
We carry the Earth in our wombs.
From chanting in the beautiful jungle of Costa Rica , to meditating in a room filled with black yoginis and women on their yoga journeys, this is a safe space for community and cooperative healing, whether you have been practicing for years or if this is your very first day, we welcome and honor you.
Photography for the June 2017 Black Women Yoga Retreat
Courtesy of Passion Ward | @passionward
We had such a beautiful time at our March 2017 Women of Color Healing Retreat.
Black Sistarhood is vital and comes natural at Women of Color Healing Retreats.
As it is important for Women of Color to practice self-care and self-love daily, our retreat is designed to teach practical and spiritual skills that can apply to your everyday life. From our decolonizing yoga classes to our women's workshops, everything that you learn at WCHR can be implemented into your everyday life. Whether it be the classroom or the boardroom, we strive to provide you with a piece of the jungle’s magic so that you may have it with you anywhere you go.
Women of Color Healing Retreats was built as a community for all black women, whether its the black girl that felt she could never relate to other black women, or the pan-africanist that only thrives in black spaces, our retreat aims to bridge the gap that have been built to divide black women with the goal of bringing us together in direct fellowship.
From daily de-colonized yoga and meditation classes. to surf or swim lessons. to snorkeling & surf lessons where the majestic jungle meets the sea, to beautiful group time on the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica.
WCHR also engages our guests in the adventure side of life. We provide the opportunity to go hiking and exploring.
Our ultimate goal is to open the mind and heart, so WCHR provides workshops on colorism, self-love/self-care, healing circles and much more...
Each day of the retreat centers on navigating through the 7 chakras.
Our teachings will move you from the root to the crown by focusing on yoga, meditation, and journaling to open and nourish each of the body's sacred centers. If you are not familiar with the importance of the chakras, then this is the perfect opportunity for you to learn.
Our daily vegan meals assist in helping the body detoxify!
At Women of Color Healing Retreats we let the spirit of our ancestors flourish while loving each other through community building and loving nature.
We can't wait to have you experience the beauty of Costa Rica!
I am a firm believer that the way women of color are treated within society is a reflection of the way we treat our precious home, the earth. This observation makes it important that we formulate a clear image on how women are treated within society then compare to the treatment of Mother Earth.The very ideology of women being viewed as just bodies, therefore, being exploited in countless of ways, entirely reflects how Mother Earth is viewed and treated as replaceable. Mother Earth is too seen as "just another body” or object that can be mined, drained, polluted, and exploited.
Like our Great Mother, Women of color are exploited, abused and oppressed. We receive the low and unfair wages and as we experience habitual sexual exploitation via media representation, sex trafficking, rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence. Although black women are mothers, healers, nurturers in all societies, we are treated in the similar way that society tends to treats the Earth. The Earth, like women and their bodies, is traded, tormented and killed off for food, reproductive purposes, and sport; we tear apart and destroy the land through deforestation for animal agriculture, and quite ironically, it is the leading cause of species extinction, oceanic dead zones, water pollution, habitat destruction, and overall climate change/global warming. Habitat and land destruction exploits the homes of indigenous peoples across the globe, further misusing their resources. We deplete and over extract resources that took billions of years to form (Oil) and use that to kill off the planet even more; and we do not share vital resources that are necessary for LIFE and we waste them and tax them to where it is nearly impossible for the majority of beings on this planet to [rightfully] have (i.e. Healthy, nutritious food and clean water).
Given the clarity on how women and Mother Earth are exploited in similar ways, how can we practice more compassion and take care of both people who inhabit this planet and the planet itself? how can we practice more ways of being compassionate and of taking care of not just the people who inhabit this planet but the planet itself?
Both Women and Mother Earth give life, give birth to creation. Both women and Earth provide space, home, and shelter. Within the womb of a woman and across the terrestrial landscape of Mother Earth, both women and Earth provide nurturance and support for growth. For a woman bares and raises a child and Mother Earth's soil provides nutrients for everyone on earth to eat. Both women and Mother Earth are resilient, strong, and both experience unbelieveable exploitation, and yet, are still living on and going strong.
The earth offers beautiful diversity. As such, black women are born of Earth's riches, representing varying shades of color as Mother Earth is bountiful in color. Earth have protective layers as black women have melanin that is the very color of Earth, absorbing the light and warmth of the Sun, while it illuminates our skin, and Mother Earth has layers within her atmosphere that helps keep our planet warm and with varying weather pattern both black women and Mother Earth are ancient vessels, rooted and connected to divine structure and wisdom; and both women and Earth have innate and natural cycles, for women bleed out of the womb in alignment with the cycle of the moon as Mother Earth experiences changes in seasons. The more we are able to recognize that women and Mother Earth are inseparable, the more we can start behaving in ways that honor and respect the relationships we have with women and Mother Earth.
Furthermore, we must discipline our own egos into realizing that Mother Earth does not need us as we need her. We must accept that we need and depend on Her, for She provides us, freely all that we could EVER need to survive and thrive. Lastly, start being conscious about the decisions you make and contemplate if those decisions are either helping to perpetuate the ecological genocide of modern life. Ask yourself if your decisions are bettering and empowering your community? If not, listed below are some suggestions that we, as women of color, could begin practicing within our lives to encourage healing for ourselves, our sisters, and Mother Earth.
Let us engage in more self-loving and self-care practices. Self-care must be recognized as actions that tends to our NEEDS first and foremost, for as women, we often times feel we must put everyone else's needs/wants over our own:
Ever thought about volunteering at an urban farm? Maybe caring for the animals of tropical rain forests? How about gardening and food sustainability?
Travel! As women of color, this is vital. A change in environment and scenery, away from the constant exploitation of our bodies and our peoples, provides solace and rejuvenation for our souls.
Try engaging in more health-conscious practices, like plant based life styles or veganism. It may not be for everyone, however, becoming more health conscious -- that is, maintaining awareness about what it is we are allowing into our systems and the personal and even global effects of our wellness practices, generates more self-love and love for other beings and the environment. Whether or not one decides to practice veganism, becoming more health conscious activates higher consciousness of self: Veganism are not only better health wise, but are culturally connected to the ways in which our ancestors lived. There is a stigma attaches to these practices that they are solely for white folk, but vegetarianism and veganism is tied within OUR roots, as women of color, providing nurturance for our vessels.
Even further, veganism pushes against anti-racism and activates the process of decolonization and eco-sustainability. Try engaging in more literature produced by people and women of color that shows the connections between these practices and overall self and eco-sustainability (i.e. "Sistah Vegan" by A. Breeze Harper; " Sacred Woman: A guide to Healing the Feminine Mind, Body and Spirit" by Queen Afua; "The Inspired Vegan" by Bryant Terry; etc.)
Mother Earth is exactly that -- a mother, to all of us, for she nurtures our beings and protects the power in our melanin. Therefore, we are her daughters, which makes us sistahs of the soil, and it is in our nature, our duty, to protect and honor ourselves, one another and our gracious Mother Earth.
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