revolution begins within.
issue no. 1
woke. editor-in-chief Ekaette Ekong
creative design Heather Williams
layout editing Fiona Oâ€™Neil
Rosie Acosta Tracee Stanley Torry Pendergrass Nicole Taylor Maya Talisa Ellie Lanphier Jessica Hooper
letter from the
I love yoga. I have loved it since I first got my mat 17 years ago, and I love it still. If you walk into a yoga class, you may only see one person of color, and very rarely will your teacher be a black woman. It can be such a rarity at times that people take a double take. Like, “Where did she come from?” Or my new favorite, “You’re the teacher?” Sometimes folks are so taken aback, that, well, read for yourself: http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/ithappened-to-me-there-are-no-black-people-in-my-yoga-classes-and-im-uncomfortable-with-it We have been here the whole time. I, too, am a yogi. As a yogi and teacher, I have long been bombarded by the silence and absence of conversations about and by people of color who are spiritual practitioners and guides. Yoga has a diversity problem. Yes, I said it. As more and more people are coming to yoga for its benefits, both mental and physical, Yoga and spiritual practices are often still perceived and presented as a practice for some, not all. So many of us are sleepwalking (yes, me too!). We take what is given to us, even if we are worthy of more. We don’t know that spiritual freedom and power is possible, as we don’t see it or hear about it. In POC communities, we only hear about our “not enough-ness”, and the world’s dialogue about who we are. It is time to reclaim our bodies, to hear and trust our inner wisdom and create deep long-lasting change in the world. It’s time for a change. It’s time for a broader conversation. It’s time for everyone to feel and know that there is a place for them within practice, within society, within themselves. It’s time to wake up. Welcome to woke. Each month we will feature conversations with a diverse group of teachers, practitioners and people, who like all of us, are trying to figure it out and be a force for good in our communities. We will share their stories, what inspires them, and explore new ways to practice and empower each other. You’ll read about yoga, philosophy, current events, wellness, new perspectives, and the ways in which we are connected, even if we don’t always agree or look the same. We are a strong and loving community that has a powerful voice. It’s time to use it. Welcome and thank you for joining us on this journey, -E.
contributors Tracee Stanley
has been studying Yoga and Tantra since 1995. Her introduction to yoga was through the practice of Kundalini Yoga where she was fortunate enough to practice with Yogi Bhajan in Los Angeles. She was soon introduced to the practice of Hatha yoga and became passionate about sharing how yoga had changed her life. Tracee began sharing her understanding of the ancient technology of Tantra when Yogarupa Rod Stryker initiated her into the lineage of Sri Vidya in 2001. The focus of Traceeâ€™s teaching is empowerment, sankalpa (intention), self-mastery and healing. As a ParaYogaÂŽ Level I Certified Teacher and a Certified Four Desires Trainer she utilizes the unique practices of the tradition to guide students towards the door of awakening to their true nature. She is on the faculty of Esalen Institute, is the founder of Sankalpa Shakti Yoga School and a co-owner of Pranamaya, a yoga media company. She leads trainings, presents at workshops, festivals and retreats internationally.
has been practicing yoga and meditation since 2004. She completed her teacher training at YogaWorks in Los Angeles and is 500hr RYT certified. Since 2012, her training has focused on the importance of mind-body integration through Somatic Psychology, Neuroscience, and meditation. She is a skillful meditation guide and a huge advocate of self-healing as a Holistic Health Coach (INHC), She writes articles on the importance of holistic nutrition, yoga and meditation. Currently she studies ParaYoga with her teacher Rod Stryker, which blends the ancient teachings of Tantra, Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda and the Yoga Sutras.
is a yoga teacher, martial artist, writer and avid runner who loves getting creative in the kitchen. Originally from Santa Cruz, CA, she now lives with her puppy Luna in Santa Monica where she inspires people to sweat every day by making movement and healthy living fun and accessible.
teaches and practices Ayurveda, yoga and meditation in Philadelphia, PA. She is a NAMA certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor, a yoga and meditation teacher specializing in gentle, mindful practice and a Conscious Living Coach, certified by the Hendricks Institute. She has published an adult children’s book called Who is the You?, and has authored articles for MindBodyGreen and Yoga International. Her life’s work is to embody and create sacred space for transformation, thriving and love.
is an internationally published photographer specializing in live music, lifestyle and portrait photography. He resides in the City Of Angeles. His work has appeared in publications such as Rolling Stone, Mantra Magazine, Premier Guitar, Metal Hammer Hungary, DDRUM, Modern Drummer, iDrum, DRUM!, Classic Rock, LA Weekly, and SoundSpike.com
discovered yoga after ten years of rigorous dance training. She immediately connected with the practice and in 2015, she completed her 200 hour teacher training with Chrissy Carter at YogaWorks in New York City. She has since taught yoga to the Coast Guard community and currently works as the retail merchandiser at YogaWorks. Originally from New York, Fiona now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their beagle. She brings her creativity and passion for design and yoga to the production and layout of WOKE. magazine.
table of contents 7 // If Blood Pressure is Political 9 // The Yoga of Gratitude 13 // Food for Mindfulness & Meditation 15 // Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes 17 // Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Leeks 19 // Dear Kaepernick: Do You Care About Me? 21 // Yogi Reactions to the 2016 Presidential Election 25 // I Too
WOKE. Table of Contents
27 // Meditation is for Rich People
WOKE. Table of Contents
Image: Tracy Rodriguez Photography
If Blood Pressure by NICOLE TAYLOR
“At our core, each of us is complete and whole, no matter what circumstances we are born into or what the outside world tells us about ourselves.”
n a world where people of color face systemic racism in healthcare, at work and even while walking or driving down the street—circumstances that cause the body and mind to respond as if constantly under siege—self-care is an individual act of political resistance. Right now, it is just as important as the other components of social change. How so? Because part of rising up is seeing ourselves as whole and making that manifest by acts of caring deeply for ourselves. Here’s an example of why this is important: In cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar’s opinion piece for the New York Times, “When Blood Pressure is Political,” he explores hypertension, which disproportionately affects black people, especially in poor neighborhoods, through the lens of allostasis. He writes, “In the allostatic formulation nothing is ‘broken.’ The body is responding in the way it should to the chronic fight-orflight circumstances in which it finds itself…Today it is clear that chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and heart failure are inextricably linked to the state of our neighborhoods, jobs and families. We must use this information in the fight against rising income inequality, high imprisonment rates and other social problems. Allostasis reminds us that to treat our ills we also have to repair our social fabric.”
In this context, self-care becomes a revolutionary act. The disruption of systemic racism by activists, movements, and allies is at the vanguard of social change at the macro level, and each of us can do our part by including acts of self-care in our daily lives, which disrupts patterns of self-neglect at the micro level. When I hear the words “Black Lives Matter,” I am reminded to inquire within to see if I’m treating myself as if I matter. Do I experience the love that I need flowing within me, and if not, what action do I need to take to open back up to flow of love, which is always there? Part of rising up is accessing the fierce aspect of love. Decades ago Poet/Activist Audre Lorde wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” At our core, each of us is complete and whole, no matter what circumstances we are born into or what the outside world tells us about ourselves. Yet it would be naive to pretend that constantly seeing images of unarmed black men being killed does not have a psychological impact. It would be untrue to say that having read the mountains of evidence that the color of your skin impacts the quality of healthcare you receive is not worrisome when your family member goes to the hospital. So how do you deal? How do you calm your nervous system, create clarity in your mind, and keep your heart available for connection? The answer is multi-layered of course, but one aspect of it is self-care. Self-care reminds us that we are love. Self-care reminds us of our true nature, which is whole and holy. Self-care puts us in touch with the divinity in our hearts, with that which is unfazed, untouched, unhurt no matter what circumstances we exist in now, in the past, or in the future. We can transmute our anger and sadness into actions that remind us of our connection to spirit
As a yoga/meditation teacher and Ayurvedic Health Counselor, I have found that these four self-care methods provide major benefits when applied daily.
• Move your body. From a yogic perspective,
each thought we think or emotion we feel leaves a corresponding energetic imprint on the body. When we move our bodies with attention to the breath, we are releasing the patterning that occurs mentally while also having an impact on stress. Yoga is especially helpful in this regard as is dancing, or walking outdoors with a friend. Whichever form of movement you choose, please pick one that you can fit into your daily routine.
• Meditate daily. Meditation has a healing
impact on the brain, and helps us to digest our experiences. If you’d like some support in meditating, finding a local group can be helpful, as is downloading an app or a guided meditation. If you’d like to try it on your own, here is a brief practice that is suitable for beginners—Set a timer so you won’t be distracted by clock watching. Get seated comfortably with the head, neck, and trunk of the body over the hips. Begin to breathe so that as you inhale, your belly fills with breath, and as you exhale your belly empties. As your attention moves toward your breath, allow your mind to follow the flow of your breath. As you begin to listen to the sound of your breath, you will hear in your mind the sound that naturally emerges. That sound is So Hum. While you inhale, listen to the sound “soooooo,” and as you exhale, listen to the sound “hummmm.” Focus on that sound and let your mind, breath, and the sound of So Hum move as one. When you become distracted by thoughts (which is totally normal), just notice, and bring your awareness back to So Hum.
is one of the best things you can do for an overly taxed nervous system. As tempting as it is to stay plugged in by watching the news or constantly scrolling through articles on your phone, this bombardment of images keeps the mind and nervous system on high alert. A great way to move toward balance is to place a limit on your sensory intake. Perhaps you start by reducing phone time by an hour daily, observing the difference in your stress level. Another tool is to power down devices by 9 PM. In the space formerly filled by screen time, perhaps you connect more deeply with family members or you add in more self-care, such as reading uplifting material.
Selfmassage is one of the most incredible acts of selfkindness and love. When you make time for this practice, you turn on your ability to relax into that part of you that is pure being, beauty, and bliss. Warm some oil (coconut if you tend to run hot, sesame if you tend to run cold). Use a dry brush or dry washcloth from the top of your body down to your toes. Rub warm oil into your hands. Begin by massaging the oil into your scalp using the palms of your hands. Gently massage your head and face. Massage the back of your neck, and when you get to your throat, massage in an upward movement. Massage your upper and lower body toward the direction of your heart, with long strokes on the muscles and circular movements on the joints. Rest for a few moments, drinking in the silence and enjoying the positive attention you’ve just given yourself.
hen the external world is sending negative signals, self-care is how you bathe each and every one of your cells in love. When you see images that make you feel like you don’t have the right to exist, selfcare is a dip in the pool of the love of being. Each time we do these practices, we avail ourselves to the direct experience that we are consciousness incarnate. We remain present and yet loosen our attachment to how the outside world sees us. We remember that we are spiritual beings enjoying a glorious human experience and self-care is the way we actualize that knowledge into action.
• Power down. Reducing sensory intake
The Yoga of Gratitude written by Tracee Stanley images by Torry Pendergrass The practice of yoga is so much more than the physical asana’s that we so often see depicted in images on social media and in magazines. There is a hidden essence that is so subtle it cannot be seen. Each pose has an energetic effect and the wise sequencing of postures can bring us to closer to a desired state of being. When we practice with a “bhav” or “intentional attitude” we enter a space of deep practice that can transform our relationship to ourselves and our understanding of yoga. A transformative yoga practice is cumulative in its effects. It requires that we take stock of ourselves, get real with where we have come from, who we are now and the gap that exists between our current reality and how we would like to show up in the world. It causes us to be more aware of the gap between how we would like things to be and how they actually are. It is how we respond to being in that gap -between wanting something and getting it - that can define us. And Yoga helps us to bridge that gap. This is yoga beyond the poses. Cultivating gratitude is a gateway to waking up to an empowered life and filling that gap with suhka or “good space”. Aristotle said, “Nature abhors a vacuum”. If a void exists, the universe will seek to fill it. So lets be mindful about the bhav that we create, the thoughts we think and what we choose to pour into the gap. This practice is sequenced to help you connect with gratitude and the fact that your life is a gift. When you see life as a gift from a higher power you become inspired to use this precious gift to be an agent of change.
Take the challenge to commit to this practice for 30 days. Take your time and complete the exercises in the downloadable Gratitude journal. Practice the Gratitude Meditation everyday without missing a day. Journal as you go along and see what unfolds.
Share your pictures and Tag us at #WOKE30 and @wearewoke so we can join in your journey. Remember that life often serves us up the gift of waking up through pain and challenge. Let’s have gratitude for it all and use it all to activate and be the best we can be. For the MP3, please go to www.wearewoke.com
Savasana Just watch yourself breathe. Not shaping the breath in any way. Just feel your body lying on the earth and fully supported. As you breathe in feel the earth rising up to hold your body and as you exhale feel yourself letting go into that hold. As you breathe in feel that your body receives sustenance, nourishment and vitality from the earth. As you exhale you release any physical or mental toxins to be composted back into the earth. Feel gratitude for all the earth provides. 10 breaths.
Dwi Pada Pitham/Dynamic Bridge As you inhale raise the pelvis and reach the arms over head. Remember all that you are grateful for and your infinite capacity for love. As you exhale lower the pelvis and Chant AUM on the way down and see the sound of AUM reaching all of the people you love and filling them with peace. 6 times. Pause and feel the vibration of AUM.
Hip Circles From a tabletop position begin to make hip circles starting in whatever direction feels right today. Imagine that you are freeing up stuck energy and creating space in the body, especially the spine. Enjoy and experience awe in how the body moves and supports you. Observe any injury or restricted movement you may have. Take pleasure in doing what you can.
Dynamic Adho Mukho Svanasana/ Down Dog From a table top position inhale. Allow the chin and tail to lift. As you exhale draw the navel in and draw the hips to the sky moving into downward facing dog. 5 times. Linking the breath to movement. Remind yourself to inhale 4 counts and exhale 4 counts.
Balasana -Childs Pose Variation With the knees wide apart and the big toes touching come to childâ€™s pose. Bring your awareness to the back of your heart. See breath moving into the back of the heart space and releasing through the front. Allow any heaviness in the heart to release back into the earth with gratitude. 5 breaths
Breath Awareness- Sama Vritti- ( Equal Breathing) Begin to breath in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 4 â€“ let this breath ratio be the foundation of your practice as you move through each asana. Establish this breath for 2 minutes.
Dynamic Bhujangasana/Cobra Lie on your belly on the floor with your hands by your lower ribcage, forehead on the ground preparing for cobra pose. As you inhale come up to baby cobra. Exhale down as you turn your head to the right. Do this four times, each time come up a little higher. Alternate the direction of your head on the way down. On the last one hold cobra for 3 breaths. Feel your heart space expanding. Soft and gentle, let go of effort. Come up to cobra one last time and chant Aum once while holding cobra. Feel and see clear space at the heart.
Setu Bandhasana /Bridge Come into bridge pose. Make sure that your heels are close enough that your fingers can brush across the back of the heels. Draw your pelvis to the sky. Place a block under the sacrum. Feel your breath expanding the chest on the inhale, exhale and draw the navel towards the spine. See a light at the center of the chest, the spiritual heart center. See the light become brighter and more expansive with each breath in. Remember that there is part of you that is eternal, one that is not affected by circumstances. 5 breaths.
Gratitude Crescent Pose Steady yourself in crescent pose. Feel free to modify by bringing the knee to the earth. Bring the arms to cactus. As you inhale open the arms expanding the chest. As you exhale bring the hands to the heart and bow your toward your heart. As you inhale remember all of the ancestors, and people who have helped you. As you exhale chant AUM as you bring the hands to the heart. 3 times each side.
Supta Baddha Konasana Lie down on your back , soles of the feet together. Place one hand on your heart and another on your belly. Allow waves of gratitude flow through you. See and feel the light at the heart. As you inhale feel and see it expanding. As you exhale see it contracting. Eventually you see and feel this light filling the body and moving beyond the physical confines of the body. Feel yourself cocooned and held in this light. Offer Gratitude for every moment that has led you up to this very moment. 2 minutes.
Lying Twist With awareness at the navel let the knees fall to the right. 5 breathsinhaling 4 exhaling for 8 and then switch to the left side. Allow the arms to fall wherever is comfortable and look in whatever direction feel good on your neck. Use a block, blanket or book under the knees of they don’t reach the floor.
Savasana Rest on the cloud of gratitude. Once again allowing the earth to hold you. Count your breaths backwards from 27 to zero – each time releasing a little more. By the time you get to Zero – feel that the body and the mind are completely free and relaxed. If you lose your count start at 10 again.
Suhkasana Come sitting up to a cross-legged position with your eyes closed and your hands at your heart. Feel all of this good space you have created in your body and energetic field. 3 minutes Feel into the heart space and ask your self the question: How can I be of service in the world today? Listen and act on the first thing you hear!
Food for Mindfulness and Meditation by ROSIE ACOSTA
WOKE. Food & Nutrition
et’s face it, your brain functions differently on a doughnut than it does on broccoli. Since the beginning of time, spiritual practices have always been prescribed with specific dietary needs. Prayer, yoga, meditation and all other practices have been shown to have the best results when abiding by specific guidelines. From Shamans in the Amazon to the Vinaya code of the Buddhist order, it was said that all the great sages of all traditions knew that what you eat directly affects your mind and the your spiritual practice. However, for a typical westerner, these dietary requisites don’t always fit our everyday life. Sure you can take your kitchari in a to-go container for lunch and be as happy as a little clam, but how long will that last? In order to create a calm, steady and mindful meditation practice, we should add foods that make us less mentally active. Think about foods that create stress, or foods that you eat while in stressmode- typically it involves some type of carbohydrate, or sugar…sometimes it’s
In Yogic traditions, foods are categorized by the tendencies that exist in the universe, or more specifically known as the “Gunas”: Tamas: Heavy foods that cause lethargy or laziness in the mind and body, lack of energy and sleepiness. Foods that are over-processed, meats, alcohol, tobacco… pretty much the unhealthiest foods you can find. Rajas: All of the stimulating foods; Foods that create hyperactive minds and can cause anxiety or agitation. Think heavy spices, coffee and too much sugar. Sattva: This is the luminous balance between the two others that cultivates peace of mind, stillness and tranquility. Ultimately this is where we can find the space for a still, calm and sustainable meditation practice. Think about foods that are moderately spiced, that are fresh, seasonal, clean, preservativefree and easy to digest. Generally, meditators around the globe veer towards a more vegetarian diet. We think about what his Holiness, the Dalai Lama eats to be able to meditate for hours on end, but this does not mean any
â€œBy trusting the inner
workings of our internal mechanism we are able to restore balance and find harmony within our own system.â€? After practicing meditation for several years, I found that the food I consumed during the days I felt great were more easy to digest, and more nutrient dense. The days where sitting seemed like a losing battle, I realized that I should have laid off the treats the day before. A simple, holistic and clean diet benefits us with more than just a sustainable meditation or mindful practice, it provides overall better health and a sense of well-being, and enables the body to work like a well-oiled machine. It is the perfect container to be used in order to create more mindfulness and more balance. By trusting the inner workings of our internal mechanism we are able to restore balance and find harmony within our own system. Food is a direct corridor to our brain, and by creating more mindfulness around what we put into our bodies we begin to create something tangible that allows us the ability to transform and change our lives. Creating a sustainable meditation practice influences our entire lives, and allows us to make effective decisions, release stress and be more present with our current lives.
WOKE. Food & Nutrition
In order to maintain sufficient levels of energy throughout the day, at least two meals should include a whole grain, which provides the brain with a sufficient amount of energy and a complex carbohydrate to allow the gradual breakdown of the sugars in the body. This allows the body to maintain a consistent level of energy throughout the day and avoid the midday crash or need for caffeine. Perhaps we tend to reach for the white rice, bread, pasta or refined grain because itâ€™s more filling, however this causes our energy levels to skyrocket then plummet, resulting in lethargy or fatigue. Most people agree that when they have heavier foods they have a more challenging time concentrating during meditation. The same applies to overeating and eating large amounts of protein like red meat, overprocessed foods and legumes. Obviously, we cannot control the constant fluctuation of thought, but we can avoid stimulants like coffee and black tea, sugar and foods with too many chemicals. These have a direct effect on our thought process and by keeping it simple we can support a calm our mind and achieve a deeper state of meditation. The food we eat is not the only commodity that informs our meditation practice (our practice is also affected by the disposition of our current state, mood and overall current life situation), but eating the right types of food will aid this process and make it a whole lot easier.
WOKE. Food & Nutrition
Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes Icing Optional* Recipe type: Dessert Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Total time: 30 minutes
Image: Vegan Chow Down
Yes my friends, it’s time to liberate those pumpkins in your oven. I’ve adapted this recipe to make it Gluten-Free + Dairy Free.
Ingredients 11⁄4 c fresh cooked pumpkin 1 c sugar 1⁄4 c oil 1⁄4 c coconut milk 1 tsp vanilla 11⁄4 c flour 1⁄2 tsp baking powder 1⁄2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon 1⁄2 tsp nutmeg 1⁄4 tsp cloves 1⁄4 tsp salt 1 c powdered sugar 1 tsp cinnamon 21⁄2 tbsp vegan margarine, melted 1 tbsp non-dairy milk 1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a muffin pan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, oil, coconut milk, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and spices. Pour into muffin pan and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat together powdered sugar, cinnamon, melted margarine, non-dairy milk, and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle cupcakes with icing and refrigerate to set.
WOKE. Food & Nutrition
Add dry ingredients to wet; mix until just moistened.
Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Leeks
WOKE. Food & Nutrition
by ROSIE ACOSTA
Image: Fine Cooking
For the Vegetables 1 pound small red potatoes, halved 3 leeks, green parts discarded, halved lengthwise, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the Chicken 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, plus 4 whole sprigs 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary, plus 2 whole sprigs 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, from 1 lemon, reserving ½ the lemon 2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 (4-pound) chicken, innards removed if included 1 whole head garlic, cut in half through the equator ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
Instructions Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a shallow braising pan or a large ovenproof skillet, toss together the potatoes, leeks, olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped thyme, rosemary, lemonzest, salt, and olive oil.
Place the dressed bird on top of the vegetables and place the pan in the oven. Roast for 55 to 60 minutes, adding the chicken broth to the bottom of the pan for the last 15 minutes of cooking. An instant-read thermometer should read 155°F in the thickest part of the thigh. Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving with the vegetables and pan sauce.
WOKE. Food & Nutrition
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Gently slide your fingers under the skin along the breast, being careful not to tear the skin, and rub 1/3 of the seasoning mixture under the skin. Rub the remaining seasoning all over the outside and inside of the bird. Stuff the cavity with the herb sprigs, lemon half, and garlic. Tie the legs together, crossing the ankles, using butcher’s twine.
Dear Kaepernick: Do You Care About Me? by Maya Talisa
WOKE. Dear Kaepernick
Gerry Melendez for ESPN
Colin Kaepernick did not vote in this last 2016 election. This hit me in the gut. I have admired the 49ers’ quarterback since September, when he began kneeling during “The Star Spangled Banner” as a stand against oppression and racial inequality. His action was placed in the spotlight with recent shootings of Black men by police officers. He would continue to take a knee until there was significant change towards racial equality and social justice. Since then, Kaepernick has been vocal about his choice to not participate in the political process. He believes that voting would have resulted in his support of the system of oppression which is what he is speaking against, and that people will not be able to vote their way out of their oppression. He has said that it “did not matter” who won the election because neither candidate was good and both were in a “who is less racist” competition.
My response to this, is simple disappointment. I am disappointed because despite Kaepernick showing his support against prejudice and inequality, at the end of the day, he does not care enough. His passivity is reflective of his privilege. The privilege he has being a rich, male, athlete. This privilege is what gave him the platform to stand up for marginalized communities, and it is this same privilege that allows him to not to not care at the same time. The privilege to be so shortsighted in his understanding of voting and placing the highest importance of that act in choosing the President. Voting is so much more. Voting is one way we can show up as a collective unit to support our community. There are local and state measures that provide funding to schools in need. There are choices for US Senate which can shift the direction of policy. There is the opportunity to place people in power who will represent the communities of color he cares so much about. So, Colin, do you care? I gave you a standing ovation for showing strength in your peaceful protest. But you better understand that kneeling for a few months did not result in any significant change within the social justice movement. Do you care about me? A young woman of color who is now faced with the fear that the small group in power will take ownership of my body. Do you care about the environment? Do you care about freedom? The freedom of all people to be able to walk to work or school without being frisked or pulled over for no reason. Do you care that we now live under a regime that has full and open support of the KKK? Though your vote may not have made a difference in the outcome of the election, it could have made a difference in the overall movement.
WOKE. Dear Kaepernick
You had the opportunity to send a message to young people who admire you, that their voice does matter. You established the “Know Your Rights” youth camp to arm and empower children with the knowledge to protect their rights. Was their right to vote and actively participate in their political system part of that program? The rights you covered in that camp were inspired by the 10-point plan created by the Black Panther group. Those points utilize the U.S. Constitution and the government in their demands. How can you request that the Constitution be honored with such apathy towards the political system? It was an opportunity for you to transform your peaceful protest into action. all- if we are lucky and if we make the active choice to take those steps. I know the system is broken and I agree with you. I also agree that we will not be able to vote our way out of oppression. Just like the Civil Rights Movement was not able to protest their way out of segregation, but it played an important role. Protests in combination with constitutional amendments and legislation like Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, is what paved the way to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is what culminated in enhancing the equality that we experience as citizens. Broken or not, it was a combination of action within the social, political and legal systems that caused change. The thing is, if everyone chose not to participate within our broken systems, we would be in even more chaos than we are now. Maybe I just need to accept that change is not going to come from people like you. People with the privilege to care a little, but not enough to take physical steps towards real change. I still have hope that you will grow with me in learning and understanding the best actions we can take moving forward. You see, I am also trying to figure out what to do. If we are lucky, as two humans who come from marginalized communities, we will be able to come together. United, we may be able to incite a powerful movement towards building a cohesive and collective nation that lives upon a foundation of equality, and justice for
WOKE. Yogi Reactions
Yogi Reactions to the 2016 Presidential Election
Nicole Taylor, Yoga Teacher, Philadelphia, PA The choice America made to elect Donald Trump felt like an entire country was saying, “ You don’t matter, and neither do your brothers and sisters who are immigrant, LGBTQ, or Muslim”. I let myself feel the pain of that Othering. Fully. I didn’t jump to love and light because my father and my years of meditation practice taught me that the only way out is through. I turned toward rather than away from my feelings of sadness, fear, anger and betrayal. A packed room of people came to yoga the next day, and I said, “I don’t have words for what just happened. What is ours to do is to feel our feelings about it, to let the movement and breath help the emotion to flow through us, and to build our inner fire so that the light of courage and the glow of our innate wholeness fills us up”. After Savasana we turned toward one another, and we held hands, and we breathed together. In that moment we were in the lap of the Divine, as we always are, regardless of circumstances, yet the grace in the room was palpable. Love is active and we can love the world while rising up against hate speech and actions. To me, this is a time to brighten our lights, a time to turn toward what is rather than use spiritual words to bypass it, a time to listen, and a time to have the courage to stay present in the paradox of a Donald Trump presidency and the reality seen by our greatest Seers: that life is a gift from the Divine and We are each a part of the Divine.
Ellie Lanphier, Yogi, San Francisco, CA I’ve been telling myself to breathe and be brave. Yoga makes me strong, I want to use that strength. I know that I am always going to have to fight for what I believe in. I have a really powerful way to soothe my soul, while staying impassioned, while staying brave. Breathe, and do it. Breathe, and keep doing it.
Maya Talisa, Yoga Teacher, Los Angeles, CA
WOKE. Yogi Reactions
As a daughter of Mexican immigrants this election struck me deeply, and shifted how I relate to my community and the nation as a whole. I am in pain. I am not in pain because Trump won the election. I am in pain because hate and fear won the election. Old deep historical wounds have been ripped open in our nation. We are once again reminded why we can never feel safe, wondering how we are perceived by the person next to us. Those who hate have now been given permission to bring their hate to the surface. This is evident in the countless acts of violence that have escalated since November 8. Many in the yoga community appear to find solace in spreading the message of living in love and light. A mindset encouraging people to live in ignorant bliss of the nightmare that is the current reality for many of us. Yes, live in kindness. Yes, live with love. Yes, live without hate. Yes, go to your yoga mat to find healing and peace, but also be ANGRY about the current state of our country. The Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Suffrage was not won from a place of passive hope and love. These movements were fueled by anger and passion in the face of formidable challenges and hatred. The results of this election slapped me in the face with my naiveté. I did not do enough, and that will not happen again. I’m going to get my butt off my yoga mat, go out, and DO something! I’m not going to just cry and write or meditate on it. It is not enough. I will actively protest to protect the hard-fought rights of all individuals and the environment. I will commit to causes worth protecting by donating my time and resources. You may choose not to join me in these efforts and that is ok. However, telling me to breathe, let go, and focus on shining light is not going to quench my thirst for justice and unity. It also sends the message that my pain does not matter. It does matter. We matter. This fight to find our collective voice as a country of equality matters. So how do we do this? A question for all of us to meditate on.
WOKE. Yogi Reactions
Rosie Acosta, Yoga Teacher, Los Angeles, CA This election left me in complete and utter shock. When the country makes a choice to dismiss a candidate’s criticism, his disregard and lack of empathy and compassion is huge cause of concern. I didn’t know how to feel, or what to say, I felt the gamut of emotions… there was a small part of me that wanted to bury my head in the sand and pretend like the world I live in hadn’t just radically shifted. I had zero interest in feeling compassion or patience in the days following the results.. BUT, I knew that part of my duty as woman, as a yogi, as a teacher and as a first generation Mexican-American was to have the courage to remain engaged. I refuse to become apathetic in a forum that thrives on
Jessica Hooper, Yoga Teacher, Los Angeles, CA I’ll start by saying this outcome is not the least bit surprising, its actually quite refreshing. America is have a big mirror held up to its face to see what its become. The outrage and despair I’ve seen on social media is not at all different from the rage and disbelief I’ve seen only from Black friends (and a small number of non Black allies) every time an unarmed person of color was murdered by police and walked away on paid leave. The threats of moving out of the US, the expressions fear from simply occupying a human body in this country are all to familiar to me. The only difference now is I see people who were silent in the face of these attacks joining in on the despair, to that I can only shake my head and wonder “where y’all been”? I am excited that America now has no choice but to confront its issues around the treatment of women and people of color, dealing with this is the only way to make this country great (the word “again” was omitted on purpose).
Tracee Stanley, Yoga Teacher, Los Angeles, CA I see a lot of suffering because people they are not as “awake” or “evolved” as they thought they were. This election has uncovered a shadow in America that many have known has always been there. But perhaps what has been most disturbing for some people who consider themselves conscious or spiritual is that it also revealed a shadow within themselves that they didn’t realize existed. When we realize that we have been sleepwalking through life in someway in can be painful. Let’s use that pain as an activator for change: first within ourselves and then for those around us.
WOKE. Yogi Reactions
I Too by Langston Hughes I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, “Eat in the kitchen,” Then. Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am
WOKE. I Too
And be ashamed— I, too, am America.
Langston Hughes, “I, Too” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Source: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Books, 2004)
WOKE. I Too
Meditation is for Rich People by Rosie Acosta
editation is for rich people”, said
a loud Spanish voice over the phone, my sweet father. “Huh”? My Spanish/English translation has been a bit off the last few years. Maybe I misunderstood.
My father had just finished telling me how
much stress he’s been having. He has two slipped discs in his spine, and the pain makes it difficult for him to pretty much do anything. He’s not been sleeping; he explains yet again the financial woes of being a single man living with a roommate, and a career as a struggling artist. This is the sweetest man I know; he’s a wise little sage in his own right, and an overall major stress case.
I grew up in East Los Angeles in a little suburb
just outside the city limits, Rosemead. Growing up in a largely Hispanic neighborhood where most of our childhood revolved around going to school, weekend beach trips to Santa Monica, and the regular neighborhood domestic dispute. Hearing sirens at night was basically as normal as Mexican soap operas
on our television. In the early 90’s, just after the L.A. riots, racial tensions were high and there seemed to be a consistent sense of unease everywhere. I learned to meditate when I was 6 years old. It was the first time I heard a gunshot. I ran to the door thinking my friends were having a firework party outside. I can still feel my grandmother’s’ arm quickly grabbing me just as I reached the front door, I can still feel my
grandmother’s’ arm quickly grabbing me just as I reached the front door, quickly yanking me to the ground telling me to cover my head. I remember being a little confused, but not afraid. I closed my eyes and just listened to the sound of my breath, and just stared at my belly…“it goes up…and it goes down” and on it went for what felt like hours, until we got up and just carried on with our day. I was more intrigued by the anomaly of how my belly was moving on its own, and how my body was breathing than what had actually just happened.
As I grew older, and our neighborhood
became overrun by drugs and gang violence, I began to realize that perhaps the anxiousness I felt when walking to and from school wasn’t normal. The fact that I had a hard time sleeping and concentrating was beginning to affect my life. I remember my teacher being so concerned about the dark circles around my eyes they called my parents in for questioning. Both of my parents worked to make ends meet, my grandmother was left as a caretaker for my older sister and I. It was extremely difficult for them to identify what the issue was.
Anxiety and stress management wasn’t on
anyone’s list of qualifications or on their of to-dos.
Neither of my parents ever did anything to deal with the stress of having to raise two girls in one of the most expensive cities in the world, in a neighborhood where their best friends son had just been killed during a drive by shooting. I’m sure that telling my mom to go take a yoga class
“Spiritual pursuits, feeling good in your body, and wanting to be healthy should be something that everyone can do if they so choose, no matter what their socioeconomic background is. If there is a desire for change, to alleviate stress or just to find peace, meditation is absolutely 100% free.”
to get “centered” would have been more of an insult than an invitation to release some stress from a hard day’s work.
So I’m not at all surprised when my
father responds to me in this way when I suggest he should meditate. For him these are leisure activities that only people with time and money can indulge in. Trying to remove the stigma around yoga and meditation being hobbies for rich people isn’t an easy feat. I can see the challenge when the cost of a class is the weekly budget for groceries. I can see why it’s not too motivating to get your body-mind and spirit on. Changing this perception is just as hard as removing the stigma around organic food and elitism.
Mediation is about paying attention; it’s
about being in the present moment, it’s listening, even if it’s painful, even when you don’t want to face the chaos all around you. We are all on the same journey; it’s really about making a choice. You can choose to take just a little bit of time, for yourself, to sit, to be quiet, and to experience home in your body and in your heart.
I told my dad, if he had time to worry, he
had time to meditate.
Thanks to the Internet, there are so many
free online meditation courses out there all you have to do is search. The most important thing is to be open
to the possibility that perhaps we have the key to restoring ourselves back to balance, and this has nothing to do with our pre-dispositions. There is an entire world within us that has cost us absolutely nothing; the innate wisdom we
caused us loss or heartache, but it is ours just the same.
Most of what we need is already within us.
The ability to take just a few minutes a day to sit and observe the fluctuation of thoughts, to listen to the rhythm of our breath can be enough to release us from whatever pre-conceived ideals we have, and to lift whatever obstacles are standing in the way of living our most happy and healthy life. *previously published in Mantra Magazine
experiences. Perhaps our own experiences have
have developed over time has come from our