What Yoga Is & Is Not

There is much misinformation and many misconceptions about what Yoga is. To many Black folks, Yoga is just another kind of exercise or some style of gymnastics. It seems to be exclusive to “skinny” people and requires you to be able to twist your body into pretzel shapes while standing on your head. To some, Yoga is associated with “demons” and is thought to be an unholy, devilish practice. And to others still, Yoga is just a “weird hippie thing” that mostly White people do.

But none of that is true.

Although it is popular in gyms and studios, Yoga goes far beyond physical wellness and includes mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness as well. A Sanskrit word meaning “union,” Yoga is meant to be a way to raise your consciousness and bring you into deeper connection with your higher Self. It is indeed a sacred practice and spiritual discipline, but one that is open to people of any faith, from Hindus and Buddhists to Christians and Muslims. And while appearing to be the domain of modern mainstream White culture, Yoga was actually developed by people of color thousands of years ago.

Spiritualized in Africa and systematized in India, Yoga is a holistic system designed to bring balance to body, mind, heart, and spirit energy through heightened Self awareness. It is most commonly depicted in Western colonized cultures as practices of intense physical movement and contortionist poses. But there are many different forms of Yoga—all with the same goal of blissful union—and most of them do not center body movement at all.

Yoga is more than a one hour practice done on a mat. It is more than headstands, designer accessories, or sweating in a hot room doing countless downward dogs. Yoga is a divine way of life, one lived by many different people of many different cultural and spiritual backgrounds around the world. Yoga is about exploring the depths of who we are; it is a path to personal transformation through improved inner and outer wellness. A yogi can be anyone and everyone, no matter their religion, ethnicity, gender, body type, or anything else.

Yoga is for everybody, which means that whoever you are, Yoga is for you too. 🙏🏿

Namasté and Uhuru Asé

Eternity Philops
Founder & Organizer