Yoga-Triggered: Pasasana

I am a member of a Facebook group dedicated to black women who practice yoga. A community space in which we get to share our collectively unique thoughts, opinions and experiences of our demographic living in a society that primarily markets this South Asian practice to thin white women. And while our cultural experiences are similar, it’s is a mixed bag of personalities.

Obvious from the posts and comments, we do not agree on everything and, naturally, are on different spiritual paths and/or parts of our paths. A woman shared a photo from Yoga Journal that depicted Pasasana which is translated as Noose Pose. Anyone familiar with Black American history knows that the sheer sight of a noose or sound of the term can be quite triggering. Heavily affiliated with the terrorist practice of lynching, nooses tend to be perceived as quite negative by the Black community, even in a neutral context. I am no different.

When I initially came across the pose, I felt triggered. I immediately asked myself, “What the hell is this?!” My feels jumped suddenly into anxiety mode as the images in my brain teleported me to the days of my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ youth and my mind flooded with the countless images of “picnics” black people strung up on trees amidst a crowd of smiling white folks. But then, my yogi skills kicked it. I stilled myself long enough to breath and gander at the posed question: “Did ya’ll know there is a yoga pose called noose pose? What is your immediate reaction when hearing that? How would you feel if a teacher used that word to describe this pose in a class? I’ve attached a photo of the pose for reference.” And just like the group itself, the answers were mixed.

A few responses were, “Should definitely update the name. It is insensitive.”, “Folks just make up poses and put asana at the end …pass.”, and “I completely agree that using the name is not mindful of trauma informed teaching.”. Others were more like, “…No, it’s never triggered me as I’ve always been taught the Sanskrit names …”, and “I personally wouldn’t care. To me thats like being offended at the word cotton.” This was my response:

“As yoga is a practice that reveals ourselves to us, I think triggers like this (while not [likely] the original intent for the pose) are meant to guide us into diving into those traumas so we can heal and learn to experience things as they actually are in the context they come.

I’d be mindful of the audience and my approach but I wouln’t let my trauma of black history stop me from teaching it ever. I see a way it can be done significantly and purposefully. So long as I could tell the instructor was on a similar page, I could respect it being taught in a class I was taking.”

To elaborate, I would likely implement my personally understanding of these negative feelings into a very specific type of class geared towards this trauma in the Black community. Even in my own practice, I can imagine the nooses that hung our ancestors from trees like strange fruit; swinging and burning in the wind. Then I imagine myself as that noose but hugging them lovingly and holding up their spiritual bodies. Not burning, but the memory of them being carried in my being in strength and courage. Understanding that they are forever with me in my work as a yogi – internally and externally.

I truly believe in the stance that I posed wholeheartedly. I’m sure that my view will not be accepted by everyone but it is my truth and I’d like to hope that anyone attracted to a class of mine will be receptive or at least neutral. It is, also, my hope that all yoga teachers – while practicing mindfulness and sensitivity – will not shy away from challenging their students and themselves to address their pains as much as they support their peace. In fact, I see these focuses as going hand-in-hand.

Brown Skin, Conscious Mind

I believe we are all a part of one collective consciousness; a Source spirit from which we all derive. Our human circumstances play out in a way that addresses something we need to learn and overcome to further ascend. Without a human experience, we do not know suffering and therefore cannot grow as spiritual beings. On my path towards ascension, I began to realize just how unimportant race is in the overall grand scheme.

We are essentially all the same. Not even in traditional church is there talk of a colored section in heaven nor hell. This revelation was quite liberating when I first came to it, then I began to struggle again with a lingering thought. As a person of color, how can I live in this truth while also standing in the truth of my human heritage?

Even in my awareness of race being only an illusion developed by human ego, it often pulls at me like a tether that will not allow me to reach the next step towards ascension. It is not so simple to push aside when faced with the everyday obstacles and debates around racial prejudice.  However, I also realize how it has strengthened me and connected to me a rich culture of beings that excel in perseverance. So what can one do with all of this?

As for me, I live each day at a time. I follow my heart and I learn what there is to know. I  act wisely and protect my energy from unnecessary and destructive banter as best I can. I meditate on my the Inner Most and remind myself that I am an amazing being. I just consider my blackness as a boss level in this life game that I am certain I will conquer.

Three Ways Your Online Presence Indicates You’re Not Ready for a Relationship

If you spend a good amount of time on social media you will more than likely come across a significant number of posts romantic in nature. Maybe some of your online friends are yearning for relationships or expressing their feelings about a bitter break-up or negative thoughts about the opposite sex (or whoever they’re in to). Often these people will go into great detail about their romantic status or current opinions about love be it good or bad. They may even attack a dating pool they find at fault for why relationships fail. In truth, I’ve always found these posts cringe-worthy and not just because of the intimate oversharing. The unconscious subtext of these posts tend to tell a great deal about the maturity level of the author which appears unsuitable for the committed relationship they so desperately seem to desire. Here’s why:

1. Lack of discretion.

No relationship is perfect under the best circumstances. When private matters are publicised there is an added stress factor that many relationships do not survive, as we’ve seen time again with celebrities. While we all are free to choose how to manage our lives in any aspect, whenever we present divisive details to outsiders, we open the door for interjection and interference. These outside opinions influence us and may even trigger thoughts and feelings that don’t allow us to properly heal and forgive the mistakes of our lovers or even ourselves. These types of posts may also be misrepresenting us to potential partners. You may be shooting yourself in the foot by revealing so much before someone really gets to know you. These outbursts can be a turn-off or a set up for the exact opposite of what you want.

2. Lack of mindfulness.

The Law of Attraction tells us that if we do not make room for what we want it is less likely to come to us. The same goes for romance. Although no two relationships are the same, all romantic partnerships require a certain level of discipline to function well. If your online presence is primarily composed of your weekly club hopping ventures and drug money stash, you may not attract that wholesome partner seeking loyalty and companionship. On the flip side, if you’re the type to emphasize your loneliness, you will likely attract someone who will prey on victim behavior and take advantage of you.

3. Not taking accountability.

The most common posts I run into are often the type that points fingers. Whenever we experience more than one disappointment of a similar sort, we tend to want to blame those who disappointed us and not ourselves. Indeed, others may have some responsibility in whatever may have gone wrong; however, it is wise to take responsibility for the parts we play in the experience of others and our own. We must keep in mind that we chose our lovers, we chose what we put up with and how long we put up with it. From this, we can grow and bring what we’ve learned to our next relationships.

In a nutshell, whatever messages you are putting out into the Universe, you are receiving a response for it. The same rules apply for the internet and romantic attractions. If it seems you’re not attracting what you claim to desire, chances are it’s time for some introspection and a revamping of how you present yourself. You might be surprised at how much of your happenstances are a reflection of you. Namaste!

Girl Gone “Spiritual”

I come from a traditional Black Baptist background. Practically growing up in the church, I’ve done a lot to serve it. From dancing and singing to ushering and speaking, I was very involved and proud of it. Through 5th grade, I had only attended private Christian schools. When I began attending public school, I was the girl respectfully inviting all of her friends to church events and services.  It was all I had known and what I believed was the only way to go until about halfway through college, although the exposure to new thought frames really began in high school.

The public school system in Sacramento, California is highly diverse and I found myself floating amongst and fitting into various circles. Consequently, I was exposed to many frames of thinking which was initially a culture shock but still intriguing. From my peers, I was introduced to Numerology and the details several other religions. I still considered myself a devout Christian but I had started to develop questions. I was particularly thrown back when the First Lady of my church gave a brief Astrology lesson to a group of us girls on a trip as I was taught such things were Satanic. When I questioned it, she insisted that was not so. Needless to say, this prompted further questions.

In college, although predominantly Black environment, I was even further exposed to a plethora of belief systems and ideas. I could feel myself changing with each piece of new knowledge I’d obtain. A close friend of mine, Theo, was greatly responsible for this expansion. He would passionately fill me in on what he had leisurely studied about ancient traditions from all over the world. We would watch films and listen to music while deciphering the emotions and thought processes behind its creation. Ironically, we were both also a part of the campus church choir. We would discuss the differences between our Baptist and Catholic backgrounds and critique sermons. There were several others in my circle with different beliefs about God and the world and some who did not believe in God at all. It was a remarkably enlightening experience to have close friendships with such a smorgasbord of people. Such was the case with my instructors; no two seemed to have the same views on religion despite most coming from the same Catholic background. I took note of these things which slowly shifted my approach to spirituality but outside of adding meditation to my practices, my religious ideas were fundamentally the same until I met my fiance.

DaMarko is gnostic and extremely argumentative. He hit me with tough and triggering questions that really made me think outside of my emotions. I stayed grounded in what I knew initially but our debates encouraged me to study further. Truthfully, he reminded me a lot of my closest uncle (and probably the only relative) who did the same. Consequently, I developed my intellectual understanding of faith and religion. They both inspired me to consider the history of my heritage which also played a big part in how my initial faith came to be.  They also encouraged me to look inside of myself for answers. All of these experiences prepared me for what I eventually received that completely change my views.

Theo, having remained my good friend and go-to for ethereal conversation, sent me a link to a video that changed my life. It was episode 12 of the Spirit Science series on YouTube. Presented in the fashion of a cartoon, it was seemingly childish at first but the more I listened the more engulfed I became. It touched on everything from ancient practices of spirituality and religion to the mayhem of modern day society and the philosophical theories that connect them. It helped me connect the dots in my own experiences and granted me a different understanding of everything I had been taught. I still rewatch it from time to time to catch the information I might not have before and I always pick up on something new.

In a nutshell, my spiritual journey has seen many phases. I believe the Universe set me up to be exactly where I am today. I no longer consider myself a Christian but I have an appreciation for what Christianity brought to my life. I also embrace other forms of religion and spirituality. Religion taught me discipline, spirituality taught me openness and connection. Now, life and human nature take on more evolved meanings for me and I want to share what I’ve learned with the world. Wherever you are in your journey, be there and embrace it. Learn what the Universe is attempting to teach you and you just might be surprised at where you end up. Namaste!