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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Atlanta Yogis Speak Out


You have a lot of skill navigating discomfort and darkness on the mat. You practice yoga, so you know coming into alignment, when you’ve been out of it for a long time, is uncomfortable.⁠

I used to have a teacher who’d say the practice begins when you want the asana to end. For you, the deep discomfort may have just started, and you already want it to stop. This is your practice now. Let us support one another, yes. Discharge discomfort, no.⁠

Let what’s churning within you lead you to examine and study yourself.⁠

This advanced yoga we are being called to beyond our mat will likely put you at odds with your old narrative and environments that have gone unquestioned and unchallenged too long.⁠

Don’t ask yoga to make your disquiet “vibrate away” or lull anyone to the faux light. Ask it to make us real. Ask it to reveal to you just how fierce love really is.⁠ Ask it to grant you courage to examine how you’ve been the beneficiary of the very privilege that allows those who vow to protect and serve to kill innocent people with impunity.⁠

Can you love an ugly truth more than a beautiful lie?

The level of light you need to bring forth right now won’t emerge without long intense labor in your own shadow.⁠

You will contract. You will expand. You will cry. You will shake. You will sweat. Who you thought you were will disappear. The world you knew will continue to fall apart in this labor.⁠

The only remedy is to fully engage. Examine everything you have been told.⁠

Dear yogi, be uncomfortable. Do not go back to sleep.⁠

America—the land of dreams, liberty and justice for ALL has not existed, not yet.⁠

I am ready, are you? To birth who we are destined to be.⁠

✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧

Octavia Raheem is co-owner of Sacred Chill {West} and has taught over 7,500 hours of yoga in studio, corporate, and private settings. She specializes in restorative, yin and power yoga, and yoga for kids+teens.



Calling all black and brown yoga teachers and therapists to join me in stepping to the forefront and confronting the challenges that contaminants have brought to our communities. Our cities are again inflamed with the fallout from systemic racism in the midst of our still fanning the flames of COVID-19, a deadly inflammatory virus disproportionately killing our loved ones. Let these fumes fuel you with feelings and a renewed commitment to fight! Let them fuel you to reanalyze what ahimsa, peace, can mean for the moment, and give thought to how it can be actualized in the context of current events.

I’m calling on those who are ready to activate their yoga teacher training and education to educate our communities. I’m calling on yoga teachers and therapists of color to show up and shout out all that we have learned and convey to our communities the efficacious role that yoga can play in creating inner and outer peace and contributing to human flourishing.

Just as it “takes a village to raise a child,” it also takes a village to raise consciousness in our communities. It is our villages that are the most vulnerable in the midst of the pandemic and racial unrest sweeping our country. It is our villages that lack the survival strategies needed to fight against these unhealthy elements and inhumane behavior. It is our villages that are in need of new knowledge, rooted in ancient wisdom and prevention practices. New knowledge that can only be delivered by untapped conscientious resources, such as yourself.

I now enthrone you as village kings and queens—those who are wise and willing to lead in times most needed. Your commitment to healing and connecting to your highest consciousness, and aligning with the lineage of Shiva, Hatshepsut, Shango, and Queen Sheba are needed now more than ever. By using yogic philosophies, principles and practices, you can empower our people with greater confidence needed to repel the visible as well as the invisible pollutants that are poisoning our communities.

I want you to come packing—packing with your knowledge and clear understanding regarding breath, meditation, and mindful movement that can result in harmony and helpful solutions. Additionally, I hope you come with the embodied wisdom of your ancestors running through your ancient veins as to how to best manage the battles against the enemies among us.

I’m summoning all yoga warriors to bring your most powerful teaching weapons against mass destruction, to bring balance to the onslaught of problems our people are experiencing—with more to be expected. Yes, I want all yogis of color to “come to the front,” as the elders say, by being an integral part of our communities’ response to these atrocities. I am summoning yoga teachers and therapists of color to use your teachings against the chokehold that is squeezing the life out of our communities, one breath at a time. And for those whose seva, service to society, is also aligned with the struggle and the survival of these communities: don’t be far behind.

✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧

Naima Lewis Ph.D., E-RYT, C-IAYT is a kinesiotherapist, health educator and consultant/director with HYer DYnamic Health Discoveries, Inc.

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