Black Women’s Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace
Examines how Black women elders have managed stress, emphasizing how self-care practices have been present since at least the mid-nineteenth century, with roots in African traditions.
How have Black women elders managed stress? In Black Women’s Yoga History, Stephanie Y. Evans uses primary sources to answer that question and to show how meditation and yoga from eras of enslavement, segregation, and migration to the Civil Rights, Black Power, and New Age movements have been in existence all along. Life writings by Harriet Jacobs, Sadie and Bessie Delany, Eartha Kitt, Rosa Parks, Jan Willis, and Tina Turner are only a few examples of personal case studies that are included here, illustrating how these women managed traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. In more than fifty yoga memoirs, Black women discuss practices of reflection, exercise, movement, stretching, visualization, and chanting for self-care. By unveiling the depth of a struggle for wellness, memoirs offer lessons for those who also struggle to heal from personal, cultural, and structural violence. This intellectual history expands conceptions of yoga and defines inner peace as mental health, healing, and wellness that is both compassionate and political.
About the Author
Stephanie Y. Evans is a Professor of Black Women’s Studies, Director of the Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of African American Studies and in the Center for the Study of Stress, Trauma, and Resilience at Georgia State University. Her books include Black Women and Social Justice Education: Legacies and Lessons (coedited with Andrea D. Domingue and Tania D. Mitchell); Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability (coedited with Kanika Bell and Nsenga K. Burton); and African Americans and Community Engagement in Higher Education: Community Service, Service-Learning, and Community-Based Research (coedited with Colette M. Taylor, Michelle R. Dunlap, and DeMond S. Miller), all also published by SUNY Press.