Category Archives: Yoga

Amina Daniels x Yoga in Detroit

Detroit is the blackest city in America. And in this black city exists a black-ass yoga studio where you can be your black-ass self. Amina Daniels, the owner and founder, works hard to keep it that way. Live Cycle Delight, located in Detroit’s gentrifying West Village neighborhood, has two spaces: one where the yoga classes take place and the other, a two-floor structure, where she and other instructors teach TRX (total resistance exercises, a specialized form of suspension training that utilizes equipment developed by former U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick), kettlebell and indoor cycling courses.

Back in November, I decided to do a “Rise and Ride” cycling class, kettlebell, and hot yoga class all in one day. Yeah, I know, I’m crazy but Amina appreciated my drive nonetheless.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and took an Uber to my 6:15 a.m. “rise and ride” class, where strapping the biking shoes on to the petals proved to be the toughest part of the hourlong session. Another student helped me set my feet on the petals as if she were teaching a 5-year-old how to ride a bike down the street. Most of the students in the class are regulars and they exchanged greetings as trap music—cuss words, “nigga” and all—blared over the sound system. I liked that. Roughly half of the students were white, but the space didn’t accommodate their sensitivities at the expense of us.

It was 6:15 a.m., and Amina was all business. She said hello when she walked briskly into the room, checked in with everyone and let us know it was time to get started. “Suge” played and Amina took us through a circuit of hills, inclines and sprints. She gave some of us nicknames. Mine was “Brooklyn,” even though I grew up in Detroit.

“Come on Brooklyn!” she yelled as I pushed through the hill portion of the circuit.

As hard as the cycling was, I felt a sense of belonging, as if the gentrifying neighborhood where I was taking this class had something for me. For black people. If you wanna keep it one hundred, the facility is top-notch and you really don’t see too many places like it outside of the white suburbs or in downtown Detroit, which is becoming more hostile to black Detroiters—who make up some 80 percent of the city’s population—by the day.

Illustration for article titled A Short Story of How a Black Yogi Made It Possible for Black Detroit to Namaste
Photo: Courtesy of Amina Daniels

After the Rise and Ride class, I walked outside in the common area and found several tables with black business owners selling their skincare products. At the front desk, students talked about politics and race. Again, half of the students were white, but the space centered blackness.

I asked Amina how she came up with the idea of combining cycling, TRX, kettlebells and yoga in once space. She said she’d always wanted to create a fitness space in Detroit that was as good as anything in the suburbs, but much of it had to do with not feeling comfortable in predominantly white fitness spaces.

“I always wanted to be a community-centered boutique fitness studio,” she told me. “I spent years driving to places in suburban areas where people didn’t want me to be there and I paid top dollar. People would have an attitude if they needed to move your mat. You can speak to people that wouldn’t speak back to you. I also worked in some of the suburban studios where I took classes and people acted like they didn’t care if you were there or not. We all know what it’s like to be not included. I mean, if you don’t look a certain way, and that’s why fitness should be accessible to all. It shouldn’t be something that is exclusive, and we all should be able to have access to a place that’s nice.”

By the way, Live Cycle Delight is ridiculously affordable. You can pay $999 for a full year and take unlimited classes. (there are other affordable payment options, of course.) By any measure, that’s a great deal. I pay $139.99 per month just for yoga classes at my Brooklyn studio.

Many of the students, whose ages range from early 20s to 60s, attended black schools. Amina, also a Detroit native, finished Clark Atlanta University in January of 2008. She didn’t run track in college, but she did compete in the 100 and 200 meters in AAU and USATF. After graduation, she moved to New York City, where she lived for six years, managing flagship retail stores and launching a podcast network.

Illustration for article titled A Short Story of How a Black Yogi Made It Possible for Black Detroit to Namaste
Photo: Courtesy of Amina Daniels

She grew tired of the retail market, though. Opportunities eluded her. People she brought into the company were promoted over her. As the only senior-level manager of color who was black, she felt isolated and wanted a change. Her friends back home told her that there were programs in the city for entrepreneurs like her.

So, in August 2013, she packed her rental car and drove to Detroit with a friend.

“I just said that I was going to open up a fitness studio in Detroit with my meager 401(k), and I was going to make it happen,” she told me.

She started working at LA Fitness in nearby Royal Oak to get a better understanding of the fitness landscape. Then, a setback happened. Two months after moving back home, Amina was struck by a car while biking through Detroit’s Midtown, having gotten used to biking in New York City instead of taking the train. She spent the next two and a half years in and out of physical therapy, including three surgeries on her ankle.

“I’ve had my Achilles repaired,” she said. “I’ve had hardware put in, I’ve had hardware removed. I have a non-working patella, and I still need another ankle surgery. However, I don’t really have time for that. So I do a lot of yoga and acupuncture. And so while I was in and out of physical therapy, I was working. I got another job being a store manager of the Motown Museum, although that’s not what I wanted to do. But then when I needed to have another surgery, I wasn’t able to work.”

Read the full article at TheRoot

Pyramid Meditation & How Pyramids Effect Prana

Sadhguru shares  some pyramid myths while also explaining the science behind the pyramid structure and how it affects prana.

Yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru is a spiritual master with a difference. An arresting blend of profundity and pragmatism, his life and work serves as a reminder that yoga is a contemporary science, vitally relevant to our times.

Subscribe to Sadhguru YouTube Channel Here:…

Official Sadhguru Website

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Free Online Guided Yoga & Meditation by Sadhguru

Origins of India

“…The darkest man is here the most highly esteemed and considered better than the others who are not so dark. Let me add that in very truth these people portray and depict their gods and their idols black and their devils white as snow. For they say that God and all the saints are black and the devils are all white. That is why they portray them as I have described.” – Marco Polo,after visiting the Pandyan Kingdom in 1288

More than a thousand years before the foundations of Greece and Rome, proud and industrious Black men and women known as the Dravidian erected a powerful civilization in the Indus Valley. From those origins, African Kings in India drove the region’s commerce, culture, and belief systems.

4 African Kings Who Ruled India That Have Been Erased From History

Dr. Clyde Winters, author of Afrocentrism: Myth or Science? writes:

“Ethiopians have had very intimate relations with Indians. In fact, in antiquity the Ethiopians ruled much of India. These Ethiopians were called the Naga. It was the Naga who created Sanskrit. A reading of ancient Dravidian literature which dates back to 500 BC, gives us considerable information on the Naga. In Indian tradition the Naga won central India from the Villavar (bowmen) and Minavar (fishermen).”

He goes on to say “The Naga were great seamen who ruled much of India, Sri Lanka and Burma. To the Aryans they described as half man and snake. The Tamil knew them as warlike people who used the bow and noose. The earliest mention of the Naga, appear in the Ramayana , they are also mentioned in the Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata we discover that the Naga had the capital city in the Dekkan, and other cities spread between the Jumna and Ganges as early as 1300 BC. The Dravidian classic, the Chilappathikaram made it clear that the first great kingdom of India was Naganadu. 

The Naga probably came from Kush-Punt/Ethiopia since the Puntites were the greatest sailors of the ancient world, and in the Kemetic inscriptions there is mention of the Puntite ports of Outculit, Hamesu and Tekaru, which corresponds to Adulis, Hamasen and Tigre.”

Even the legends of India revere the Black race that laid the foundation of their civilization, and the holiest books of India also affirm that enlightenment came from Ethiopia ((The first God of India was a dreadlocked black man called Shiva.)

Read the full article at Panalliance

Mantra Practice 102

Mantra Yoga: Mantra practice is a central aspect of traditional Yoga. Following are 13 practical tips on how to use a mantra or sacred word. These suggestions are general in nature and should apply to most any use of mantra.

13 Tips on Mantra in Yoga Meditation, Vedanta, and Tantra
(More YouTube videos by Swami J)


Opposites can both be useful: Mantra japa (repeating or remembering mantra) can seem a bit complex when we ask what one should or should not do, or what is right versus wrong to do. Actually, two seemingly opposite practices can both be useful, with one simply being subtler than the other, or having a greater tendency to lead attention inward. One method may be a starting place that naturally evolves into the other. 

Two ends of a spectrum: All of the descriptions below contrast one pole of a spectrum with the other (external-internal or gross-subtle). In this way, the practices can easily be compared, while seeing the relative value of one versus the other. One form of practice might be useful at one stage, and the other more useful later on. 

Contents of this web page:  
Parrot-like repetition and repetition with feeling 
Chanting mantra aloud or internally 
With willpower or repeating itself 

Repeating fast or at its own speed 
Counting mantras or not counting 
With mala or counting beads, or without 

Mantra as word, feeling, awareness, or silence 
As a name of God 

Whether or not to allow mantra to lead to silence 
Speaking/reciting or listening/remembering 
Pushing away thoughts or allowing them to flow 

Japa as reciting or listening 
Ajapa japa as automatic reciting or awareness 

See also these web pages:
Japa and Ajapa-Japa with mantra 
Mantra, brain, and word 
Soham mantra 
OM mantra 
OM and 7 methods of practice 
Gayatri mantra 
Mahamrityunjaya mantra 

Universal seed mantras: The foundational, primary sounds are called seed or bija vibrations in Sanskrit. Such universal sounds can also be called basal, prime, primordial, essential or basic sound vibrations, as well as other descriptive names. 

• Om is such a sound, especially when focusing on the Mmmmm… sound vibration, which is somewhat like mentally remembering the sound of a buzzing bee. Both inhalation and exhalation might be done smoothly and slowly, while remembering that Mmmm… sound mentally. Om Mantra can be used as a seed vibration alone, or along with deeper meanings.

• Soham is a universal mantra vibration, with Sooo… being remembered with inhalation and Hummm… being remembered with exhalation.

• Ahhh… can be remembered with inhalation and Ummmm… remembered with exhalation.

• Many other such sound vibrations can also be used, whether or not coordinated with breath. For example, any of the single-syllable vowel sounds can be used, with or without an Mmmm… sound at the end.

It is the practice itself that will convince one of the viability of such universal sound vibrations as means of relieving the autonomic nervous system, while calming and focusing the mind. Mantra practice like this will prepare the mind for deeper meditation beyond the syllables of the mantras.

Longer mantras: There are many longer mantras in many languages. Some are like positive affirmations and some are for specific, desired benefits. Some are related to religions, and some are not. The principles of using mantra that are listed below are universal, applying to all of the many types of mantras.

Compact prayer: Some mantras can be described is as short, compact prayers. One can easily think of examples where a particular sentence or phrase from a longer prayer or writing forms a compact prayer or mantra. Once again, the principles below are universal, applying to any of these types of mantra.



parrot-like repetition

repetition with feeling

Repetition with feeling 

One can recite a mantra solely as a mental process, somewhat like training a parrot in rote repetition. While this may help train the mind to be one-pointed, it is not nearly as beneficial as reciting the mantra with feeling. Recitation along with feeling is a deeper process that brings greater benefits. 

In either case, it is important to note that the use of mantra merely to repress emotions is not the intent. With emotional challenges, mantra can have a stabilizing effect while a person deals with those challenges in other healthy ways as well. 




chanting mantra aloud

chanting mantra internally

Chanting internally 

Chanting mantra aloud can be a very enjoyable and useful process, whether alone or done with a group of people. 

After some time that process turns inward, and the chanting is done in the inner silence. 




repeating mantra with conscious willpower

allowing mantra to arise and repeat itself 

Repeating itself 

One might initially use willpower to remember the mantra. This training the mind has a centering or balancing effect. (However, it is not a good idea to use mantra to repress, avoid, or escape from other thoughts and emotions.) 

Another approach is to sit silently, with attention inward, and allow the mantra to arise and repeat itself. It might take some patience, but this is a subtler practice. 

Notice that repeating with willpower is a form of expression, while allowing mantra to arise and repeat itself requires attention. (Expression and attention relate to the indriyas.)

The process of attention is more internal than the process of expression. Also, attention leads to concentration; in turn, concentration leads to meditation; and then, meditation leads to samadhi.  




intentionally repeating mantra fast

allowing mantra to come at its own speed

At its own speed 

Some practitioners and teachers of mantra recitation intentionally see how fast they can recite the mantra. This can definitely create a groove in the mind for remembering the mantra. 

A more advanced or internal practice is to allow the mantra to come at it’s own speed. Over time, the mantra will naturally shift in speed, sometimes moving very fast, faster than the mind might normally be able to recite. At other times, it will naturally move very slowly. 




counting mantras

not counting mantras

Counting or not counting 

Counting practices can help to focus the mind and create deep impressions that have a stabilizing effect. 

A practice where a specific number of mantras is done over an extended period of time (called a purascharna) can be a very beneficial practice in clearing or purifying the mind. For example, one might do 125,000 repetitions over a few months. A larger and longer practice is called a maha-purascharna.

Yet, when counting mantras, awareness might tend to stay more on the surface level due to the external aspect of the counting. 

When the counting is set aside, the mantra can more purely shift to a deeper form of meditation, where attention is naturally drawn to the mantra as a single object of focus.  

Both practices, counting and not counting, are useful and have their place in sadhana (spiritual practices).




with mala or counting beads

without mala or counting beads

With or without mala 

In the beginning of using mantra, it can be beneficial to use mala or counting beads when remembering mantra (mala usually has 108 beads). By getting the physical body involved through the motion of the fingers, it can be much easier for the mind to stay focused. 

However, setting aside the mala, disengaging the use of the motion of the body (the karmendriyas) allows the attention to more purely go inward, past body and sensory awareness, following the mantra as it leads you inward. 

Both types of practice, with or without mala, are useful and have their place in sadhana (spiritual practices).




as word and meaning 

as a feeling

as a constant awareness 

as soundless sound / silence 

Four levels 

Mantra will naturally move inward through stages, if allowed. It is important to remember this, so as to not unintentionally keep meditation shallow when it is trying to move into deeper peace. 

For example, the word shanti means peace or tranquility. The feeling that gradually emerges is more internal and peaceful than is the repetition of the syllables alone. When the syllables drift away, one might then meditate on the feeling of peace itself, which is more subtle. Initially, this feeling might fade quickly, and be resurrected by again remembering the syllables of the mantra. 

Gradually, that feeling has fewer breaks or distractions, and becomes a somewhat constant, pervasive awareness. 

This eventually leads inward to a deep awareness that is the root of the sound. It somewhat defies description, but as a root of the sound, it is like a soundless sound of the mantra that is resting in silence.   





external repetition of the name or mantra 

internal remembering of the name or mantra

silent longing for what is behind the name 

Mantra as a name of God

Some practitioners use as their mantra a name of God from within their religion, or as given by a teacher. 

At first the mantra or name might be used externally through repetition, chanting, or in song. 

Or, the name or mantra might be recited or remembered internally. 

Then, the name or mantra itself might drift away, as the grosser sound is replaced by a deeper longing or communion for what is behind the name or mantra. 




not allowing mantra to “lead” you to silence

allowing mantra to “lead” you to silence

Mantra will lead 

Sometimes the mantra is naturally trying to lead attention into silence, and the practitioner thinks that mantra is being forgotten. There may be extra effort to then continue to recite, or internally speak the mantra. 

Deeper than this is to allow the mantra to naturally lead attention to its deeper, subtler aspect that rests in the silence. 

This leading process can be tricky in practice, as one might just be falling asleep. It requires a bit of practice and attention to notice the difference between drifting off into sleep and going into a deeper, quieter, more clear state of mantra meditation. 

This leading quality is one of the most important aspects of mantra practice. 




internally “speaking” or “reciting” the mantra

internally “listening to” or “remembering” the mantra

Speaking vs. listening 

A good way to understand this dimension is to think of songs you may have heard. Once those sounds are in your mind, they automatically arise, without any effort. 

Initially one may internally speak or recite the mantra. 

Later, the practice is more like listening to or remembering the mantra, than actively speaking. 

One may or may not literally hear an inner sound. It is the mental stance of listening or remembering that is being practiced here. It is somewhat like remembering a person whom you love. The name of the person may come and go in your mind field, but the memory of the person is not dependent on the presence of the name. 

(To further understand the significance of the difference between speaking and hearing, see the paper on the indriyas.) 




pushing away thoughts with mantra

allowing thoughts to flow through the mind before remembering mantra

Dealing with thoughts 

Mantra can unwisely be used to repress ones thinking process. Mantra should not be used to avoid life and dealing with mental and emotional issues. At meditation time, one can easily get into an inner fight between the mantra and the stream of thoughts. This is not the best thing to do. 

Better than fighting, is to allow a period of time for inner reflection or internal dialogue to explore and deal with those thoughts and emotions. Then, it is much easier to remember the mantra as it naturally arises in the stream of the mind.  




approach that “japa” means reciting mantra

approach that “japa” means listening to mantra

Japa and listening

Some translate the Sanskrit word Japa as reciting or repeating, while others translate Japa as listening or remembering. One is an active process of expressing, while the other is a passive process of paying attention. 

These are two different approaches to the use of mantra (mantra japa). The process of actively reciting or repeating is more externally focused, while the process of listening or paying attention is more internally focused. 

The active process is easier to practice in the beginning, while the attention process is more internal and advanced.




approach that “ajapa japa” means automatic repetition of mantra

approach that “ajapa japa” means constant awareness of mantra

Ajapa japa 

For the approach whereby mantra japa means actively repeating (noted above), this process might become automatic over time (like spontaneously singing a song you have heard many times). This automatic repetition is one form of the term ajapa japa.  

For the approach whereby mantra japa means listening or paying attention, that awareness might gradually become a constant awareness of the underlying feeling associated with the mantra. This is another, subtler form of the term ajapa japa. 

Where mantra japa means repetition, then putting a- in front of it means without repetition. Hence, ajapa japa is repetition without repetition (it is automatic). 

Where mantra japa means listening or remembering, then ajapa japa means constant remembering without the effort of reciting to cause that awareness.   



From: The Art of Joyful Living
Swami Rama

My way of using the mantra is different from yours, because I do not want to fool around with the process. I sit down, and I observe my whole being listening to the mantra. I do not remember the mantra or repeat the mantra mentally, because then the mind repeats many things.

Instead I make my whole being an ear to hear the mantra, and the mantra is coming from everywhere. This will not happen to you immediately in meditation, but when you have attained or accomplished something, then this will happen to you. Then, even if you do not want to do your mantra, it is not possible to avoid it. Even if you decide that you do not want to remember the mantra, it will not be possible.

Finally, even the mantra does not exist; only the purpose for which you repeat the mantra is there; you are There. The mantra might still be there, but it exists as an experience that overwhelms your whole being, and is not separate from you.

Source –



Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara

The Bodhicaryāvatāra or Bodhisattvacharyāvatāra, is a Mahāyāna Buddhist text written c. 700 AD in Sanskrit verse by Shantideva (Śāntideva), a Buddhist monk at Nālandā Monastic University in India. Translation is by Stephen Batchelor, 1979. Chapters:

Ch.1, The Benefits of the mind of awakening (Bodhicittānuśaṃsaḥ) Ch.2 Disclosure of evil (Pāpadeśanā): 9:31
Ch.3 Full acceptance of bodhicitta (Bodhicittaparigraho): 24:50
Ch.4 Conscientiousness (Bodhicittāpramādo): 31:10
Ch.5 Guarding Alertness (Saṃprajanyarakṣaṇaḥ): 45:03
Ch.6 Patience (Kṣāntipāramitā): 1:15:14
Ch.7 Enthusiasm (Vīryapāramitā): 1:52:54
Ch.8 Meditation (Dhyānapāramitā): 2:15:50
Ch.9 Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā): 3:13:08
Ch.9 verse 30: 3:28:16
Ch.9 verse 52: 3:43:50
Ch.9 verse 73: 4:00:08
Ch.9 verse 98: 4:15:17
Ch.9 verse 116: 4:28:56
Ch.9 verse 137: 4:43:35

Recorded in San Francisco, CA, USA. Narrated by Judith Skinner during retreat. Audio editing by Kate Harper.

20 Black Yoga Teachers with Online Classes in 2020

There are a growing number of black yoga teachers with online classes. Even though yoga is for all, representation matters. It is affirming to practice with teachers that represent your image. Anything that can maximize black healing and health is needed in today’s world.

Bias and systemic racism contribute to trauma, mental illnesses, diseases, and death disproportionately impact African-Americans. According to the CDC, African-Americans are more likely to die early from all causes and are 20% more likely to suffer psychological distress than white counterparts. 

Accessible, location-independent tools can maximize black health and empower a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. Join these black yoga teachers with online classes to maximize your health regardless of your location. 

Take their online classes at

(Listed by number of classes available online)

Starbird (Raleigh, NC)

[Black Yoga Teacher] Starbird

Starbird discovered yoga while in the midst of recovering from alcohol addiction. She is endlessly inspired by the natural flow of the universe, as well as helping others connect with themselves. Her classes are a mix of spirituality, strength building, and keepin it real.

She also uses her Instagram to inspire others through asana, and it has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, MindBodyGreen, and The Huffington Post. She is eternally grateful for the peace and clarity she has found through yoga, and looks forward to sharing her passion with as many awesome people as possible.

Online classes:

  • Black Girl Magic Yoga
  • How to Pigeon Pose
  • Introduction to Yoga
  • Introduction to Inversions: A 3-Part Series
  • And, over a dozen others!

Follow Starbird on Instagram: @lotus_the_flower_so_bomb

Hortencia Campbell (Houston, TX)

[Black Yoga Teacher] Hortencia Campbell

After witnessing her mother use self-awareness practices and an alkaline, plant-based diet to cure herself of a rare form of cancer and type 2 diabetes, the trajectory of Hortencia “Tenci” Campbell’s life changed forever.

That day planted a seed in her of devotion to holistic wellness that inspires others to create their own well-being, define their own destiny, live for freedom, and feel free to BE… any and everything they choose. 

Tenci is a Certified Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) Yoga Teacher, a holistic healer, a performing artist, and above all, a Freedom Seeker. Tenci and her husband, Maurice “Sol Xprsn” Clark, have created, Ufulu Child, a home for Freedom Seekers worldwide rooted in handcrafted arts and wellness experiences.

Online classes:

  • Introduction to Kemetic Yoga
  • A Deeper Look at Kemetic Yoga
  • Kemetic Yoga: Morning Rejuvenation & Self-Discovery
  • And, over 5 other Kemetic Yoga classes!

Follow Tenci: @ufuluchild

Tiana Hill (Scottsdale, AZ)

[Black Yoga Teacher] Tiana Hill

Tiana Hill is a 200-hour certified yoga instructor. Tiana started practicing yoga over a decade ago. Though, seven years ago her practice became a way of life as she was looking to deepen her understanding and grow on a personal level. Yoga keeps her balanced and emotionally at peace, most times! It is a practice!

In her classes, Tiana fuses her Ashtanga background with vinyasa, creating a powerful flow with longer holds.

Tiana is a mother to two beautiful souls, a vegan for the animals, and a native Phoenician, where she enjoys vegetable gardening, and raising her menagerie that includes 2 dogs and 7 chickens!

Online classes:

  • Yoga for Self-Care
  • Yoga for Strength & Flexibility
  • Quick & Easy Green Juice Recipe
  • And, many more

Follow Tiana: @tianahilllivewellbewell

Jessica Young (Cambridge, MA)

[Black Yoga Teacher] Jessica Young

Jessica Young started practicing yoga in college to help her deal with the stresses of student life and to cope with debilitating depression. Since 2006, she’s developed a practice that has sustained her on life’s journey. In 2010, she began studying at Tejas Yoga in Chicago, where she completed her 200-hour teacher training. Jessica is devoted to crafting yoga experiences that create a safe, balanced and engaging experience for every level of practitioner. She has found yoga to be a tool for connection, integration and a deep connection to the self and the Divine.

Online Classes:

  • Yoga Nidra
  • 10-Minute Guided Meditation for Calmness and Centeredness
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • Sun Salutations Tutorial
  • Bedtime Yoga
  • And, more!

Follow Jessica: @jessmyoung

To read the full article and see the full list go to YogaGreenBook