One thing I love to do when I have free time is read health and wellness magazines. I don’t subscribe to or purchase magazines, instead I borrow them from my local library. This past summer, I checked out a stash of magazines and readied myself to just veg out on my sun porch and read about all of the latest in yoga and healthy living. As I thumbed through page by page, I quickly noticed a theme–I did not see any images of women who looked like me. I also realized quickly that the stories published were not my story–I could not easily relate to the authors who seemed to come from White, middle class backgrounds. What I had in common with the magazine authors was a desire to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle and to develop a deeper yoga practice. But, was this not a realistic goal for a Black woman like me? The lack of diverse representation in these magazines might make one think that Black women, or Latina women, or Asian women are not interested in healthy living. I know that I am not alone in this revelation. In her blog post, “Yoga and the Exclusion of People of Color,” Rochelle Robinson observed,
“when I initiated my own google image search, I found it difficult to spot yoga images (of women) that weren’t non-ethnic ( I don’t consider white an ethnicity). Image after image consisted of white women and men occupying yoga spaces. There were very few images of people of color, and when shown, they were singular images, as with the majority of images displayed, and even fewer images of yogis from India.” – See more at: Decolonizing Yoga.
So, that brings me to the purpose of this blog, ZenG. I am a Black woman who practices yoga, runs 5Ks, eats a vegan diet, and generally tries to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Recently turned 40, I want to look and feel good. Eating well and consciously is personal and political for me. I live by the adage that you only have one body so you better take care of it. I enjoy yoga and rely on it to get through the stressful periods of my life. I also recently completed a 200-hour yoga training program at Lotus Life Yoga and am now a certified yoga instructor. My goal is to bring yoga to more communities of color and to challenge the misrepresentation of people of color and yoga, healthy living, and healthy eating. Why ZenG? My girlfriends nicknamed me ZenG because of my blissfully zen yet “I don’t take no mess” attitude. I am living well with purpose and drive. And, through this blog, I want the world to know: Black women do practice yoga. Black women do run. Black women do eat and live healthy. As I said, while this is personal, it is deeply political. It is a revolution.
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Questions? Comments? Want to bring the ZenG to your event or organization? Email me!