Book traces long history of Black women doing yoga

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A new book highlights how Black women have historically used yoga to practice self-care.

The pandemic has emphasized the importance of taking care of yourself amid anxiety, uncertainty, and stress. For Black women, who often face a disproportionate burden in society, self-care can also be a tool to counter the effects of systemic racism and trauma.

Black Women’s Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace (SUNY Press, 2021), by Georgia State University professor Stephanie Y. Evans, includes the personal self-care stories of dozens of Black women, including Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, and Tina Turner.

person in black kneels on striped mat
Rosa Parks practicing yoga in 1973. (Credit: Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Visual Materials from the Rosa Parks Papers, [LC-DIG-ppmsca-58369])

“The pandemic emphasized, more than any other prior time, that self-care can sometimes be effective community care,” says Evans, who leads the university’s Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Here, Evans discusses why self-care is so important for Black women and how yoga has fortified Black women for centuries: