“Don’t practice yoga to get better at yoga. Practice yoga to get better at living.
African Holistic Health encompasses the body, mind, spirit connection. Dis-ease (disease) in one area will always manifest as dis-ease (disease) in another area. The body speaks the mind, and often a healing of the mind and spirit will create a healing in the physical body. Another fundamental concept of African Holistic Health is an understanding that the body has the miraculous ability to heal itself, if given the right conditions.
While we tend to focus on eating right and drinking water as a way to promote physical healing within our bodies, we must not forget to address the mental and spiritual components of our health. This will also create an environment where the body can heal itself. In addition to intermittent fasting and plant-based dieting, our ancient African ancestors also left us with yet another self-healing tool; Yoga.
Although Yoga is touted as having originated in India about 5,000 years ago, further research reveals that Yoga originated in Egypt and is called Kemetic Yoga. Kemetic Yoga focused on creating an environment where the body could heal and restore itself through physical movement and focused breathing techniques. These gentle, deliberate and focused movements created an environment where the mind and spirit would be at ease and then the physical body would follow.
I had the opportunity to attend my first Yoga class not too long ago. I was a little nervous because my exercises of choice are running and lifting weights. I knew Yoga would be different than anything I’ve ever experienced, but I wanted to be fully open to this experience. I walked into the studio and immediately felt a sense of peace and calm. I struggled with some of the movements, but after the class I literally felt like a weight had been lifted. For that hour, I went within. I didn’t have to think about the laundry list of things I had to do. I didn’t have to worry about the daily microaggressions that I experience as an African American. The transgenerational trauma that is embedded in my DNA didn’t feel as heavy. As Lena Horne said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way that you carry it”. My Yoga experience allowed me to carry my load differently. When the class ended and everyone said “Namaste”, I silently offered thanks to Mama Africa for yet another self-healing tool.
We have the power to create an environment where the body, mind and spirit can heal. All we have to do is look to our homeland for the practices that will manifest physical, mental and spiritual health and wellbeing.