Black History Month Post 1: Yogis Alice & John Coltrane

BLACK WOMEN’S YOGA HISTORY: MEMOIRS OF INNER PEACE answers one question: How have Black women elders managed stress? Memoirs by women over age seventy punctuate African American history and emphasize how popular self-care practices have been present since at least the mid-nineteenth century, with roots in African traditions. Primary sources refer to meditation and yoga from eras of enslavement, segregation, and migration to the Civil Rights, Black Power, and New Age movements. For example, life writing by Harriet Jacobs, Sadie and Bessie Delany, Eartha Kitt, Rosa Parks, Jan Willis, and Tina Turner illustrate everyday case studies of managing traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. To date, Black women have written over fifty yoga memoirs that include practices of reflection, exercise, movement, stretching, visualization, and chanting for self-care.

This intellectual history expands conceptions of yoga and defines inner peace as mental health, healing, and wellness that is both compassionate and political. Professor Stephanie Evans posits “historical wellness” to inform contemporary discourse about self-care and contribute to discussions of stress management in the fields of race, gender, and psychology. Self-study and historical case studies amplify Black women’s voices. Elder portraits examined are not models of mental health because they are static images; to the contrary, by unveiling the depth of a struggle for wellness, memoirs offer lessons for those who also struggle to heal from personal, cultural, and structural violence. This research supports Black women’s studies professors, mental health counselors, social justice educators, and survivors of sexual violence who seek to prevent abuse by raising awareness, especially in the #MeToo era. With a Foreword by Jana Long, founder of Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, this study is also of interest to holistic health professionals, yoga practitioners, and mindfulness instructors who teach inner peace around the world to improve the quality of life.

BLACK WOMEN’S YOGA HISTORY explores self-care narratives to help relieve the pressure of Black women dealing with stress in isolation. By studying elder memoirs, we learn how historical factors contribute to health disparities, we learn how to manage stress more effectively, and we learn to better care and advocate for ourselves. Black women are the primary audience for this book, but the information is universally relevant, especially to those in mental health professions. This book expands mental health research at a time when stress management is at the center of global importance due to public health, economic, and political collapse on an international scale.

Pick up a copy on Amazon.

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