Benefits of Yoga and Meditation in Communities of Color

Ways of dealing with depression and fear that can come from loneliness and anxiety may seem obvious — therapy, medication, meditation, and yoga — but wellness practices aren't always accessible. They may, at times, come with a negative stigma. Such is the case in communities of color. 

The National Council for Behavioral Health states that though 20% of Black Americans are more likely to report psychological distress than Whites, they are less likely to seek treatment and stick to it.

Jennifer Henderson, Mindset Coach

So many of us, especially POC, have been raised to think strength is holding it all in.

— Jennifer Henderson, Mindset Coach

She highly recommends speaking with a therapist. "I called mine, my professional friend. I loved talking to her, gaining a deeper perspective on topics, and it felt good knowing that I was taking care of me," she says.

The Effect of COVID-19

For many, the coronavirus pandemic has not just changed working conditions but also isolated them from human contact, which can negatively affect our psyches. In fact, in a paper published in the Journal of Trends in Cognitive Sciences, it was found that having strong intrapersonal relationships is critical for our survival.

Additionally, social isolation can impact how we reason, memory performances —precipitating the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s — as well as our ability to recover.

The effects of loneliness on our immune systems at this time can be a predictor of how well we battle viruses. And though our loneliness didn’t just begin with COVID-19, social distancing and quarantines have made it more commonplace, which can undoubtedly be a challenge, especially in communities of color.

Here are five people of color who are inspiring others to heal by focusing on their mental and physical health.

Jacqué Palmer, Intuitive Sound Practitioner

"I started meditating because I needed to find a way to relieve my high levels of stress and anxiety. It completely changed my life by forcing me to sit with and confront all the fear and trauma living within my body.

As a Black Latinx American woman, I've experienced trauma in many different ways and forms. I use that first-person experience to approach my clients in an empathetic way.

But there are still challenges as I often find myself code-switching in the words I use during meditations or the copy I use in my marketing not to alienate non-BIPOC people.

Jacqué Palmer

It's especially hurtful to see BIPOC healers' tone constantly policed with 'Positive Vibes Only' rhetoric from white healers.

— Jacqué Palmer

But I find peace and inspiration by sitting in silence and scanning my surroundings. There is a subtle beauty in how a tree stands firm by itself without the need for a company. And when all else fails, I dance in the bathroom as I get ready for the gym. Try it sometime!"

Jennifer Henderson, Mindset coach

My life completely changed when I decided to remove myself from unhealthy relationships, go back to college, and get to know me. I had to learn how to confidently step into the CEO role of my life and own it. And now, my ultimate goal is to help other women do the same. 

I believe as women, especially women of color, we are continually striving for perfection to prove our value, taking on new projects even when there's already enough on our plate and managing our tone not to appear too emotional.  

And while there's still a lot of work to be done, I am incredibly grateful that I am living during a time where Black women are being heard and supported more. My mission is to ensure that they go after their dreams; we know how to secure the generational wealth that we are building. 

Jennifer Henderson

I stay inspired by and value my quiet time. This is when I pray, meditate, practice visualization, or sit in silence.

— Jennifer Henderson

When I am still, I can hear more of what God is telling me. There's a saying that goes, 'our purpose doesn't knock, it whispers,' which is why it's so essential for us to get quiet."

Rach Junard, Yoga Instructor and Educator

"I don't subscribe to being called a woman as I am a nonbinary Black femme, but with that identity in mind — my practice is my own and no one else's. I listen to my intuition and practice rituals that keep me in line with my highest self. 

Though I can't speak for every Black person, I would say we're slowly getting to a point where we realize we all need wellness. Not mainstream wellness, but your path, whatever it looks like for you.  

Rach Junard

To navigate the rigors of stress, you can lean on your community, speak your affirmations aloud, and rest.

— Rach Junard

Ashlee Tuck, Yoga and Sound Therapist

“I use my platform to promote yoga and wellness," Tuck says. "I know that as a woman of color, there are different expectations, especially with behavior. There is an underlying expectation that we need to carry ourselves a certain way."

Ashlee Tuck

I want to be a role model for all young Black aspiring people out there, especially women.

— Ashlee Tuck

And though I have experienced an exceptional amount of racism in this field, I know that it is inevitable being a person of color in any work. But I am deeply passionate about what I do and the fire in my belly that keeps burning to do more. You, too, can do this!”

Sade McKenzie, Yoga Instructor

"Yoga has helped me realize that anything is possible with complete focus and use of the breath. It has helped me take more responsibility for my actions and how I choose to react to things. I deal with stress by turning to my practice, walking, hiking, or running, moving circulates energy throughout my body. I also write."

Sade McKenzie

Sometimes we can’t find the right words to say, and writing is a great way to clarify our thoughts.

— Sade McKenzie

"I find what I do inspiring because my platform allows me to reach other women of color. I am connected to a plethora of other black yoga teachers and initiatives. It’s beautiful seeing so many of us taking the time to heal, teach, and give back through a sacred form.

I think now more than ever, yoga and wellness are becoming top priorities within the black community. People want to find better ways to feel safe, healthy, and grounded.” 

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  1. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/July-2018/Challenging-Mental-Health-Stigma-in-the-Black-Comm

  2. https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/BH365/2019/07/08/stigma-regarding-mental-illness-among-people-of-color/

  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200609104253.htm