When Jocelyn Gordon founded HoopYogini, she added a twist to the typical yoga class.
“[The mission is] creating and encouraging positive change in one’s life, whether that be a shift in their body like flexibility, strength, agility, or more calm and centeredness in their mind or spirit,” Jocelyn shares.
In the midst of racial justice protests against police brutality, and a global pandemic – both of which impact black and brown people disproportionately – Jocelyn believes that prioritizing mental health and wellness among people of color is more important than ever.
“Black women, we do so much, we’re so strong,” Jocelyn reflects. “We need to protect ourselves.” That protection, she says, should among other things, come in the form of a firm commitment to self-care.
In Jocelyn’s opinion, it’s imperative that the world radically shifts the narrative around yoga and wellness, which have been mainly white-centric, leaving people of color on the outskirts. “Somehow wellness has been about whiteness.”
And, there has always been a sizable amount of tokenism in these industries, she shares.
“Sure, I have benefited from that tokenism, but I believe that our presence is better than our absence. So, I always make it a point to offer recommendations and suggestions around programming and adding other women of color. Still today, there’s a lack of inclusivity in the industry.”
Here are some wellness practices Jocelyn encourages black men and women to use during these times…
Try a centering practice, which requires a period of pause where you sit still, close your eyes and focus on your breath. This practice can be done in 5-10 minute increments throughout the day.
Take a minute to stack your bones. This is a term used in yoga to become conscious of your body and mindfully realign yourself in the moment. As a mindfulness practice, this brings awareness to your senses and how you’re feeling emotionally and physically, and gives you an opportunity to release any stress and tension you're holding in your body and mind.
Practice the 3-part breath for anxiety, which brings the breath deep into the body. To do this, first observe your inhale and exhale. Then, sit quietly and breathe deeply into your abdomen, diaphragm and chest. Then release. This soothing exercise calms the nervous system and is a good remedy for the quick and shallow breathing that comes as a result of stress and anxiety.