When Artis Smith, a Virginia-based yoga instructor, went to see Black Panther at the cinema, he came away feeling something he hadn’t felt before at the end of a movie—pride.
That feeling didn’t go away, so he decided to combine his fandom for Black Pantherwith his work as a yoga instructor. He created Wakanda yoga.
Smith, who identifies as mixed race, says he has always struggled with his identity for much of his life because of the way people of colour are represented by the media. “Because of the way the media portrayed black people and Africa made me ashamed to be black,” says Smith.
For Smith, he says Black Panther was the first film that he’d seen black people portrayed in “such a positive way.”
“Seeing black people, especially black women, portrayed in such a positive light, and Africa shown in its true beauty for the first time moved me,” says Smith.
Smith was “buzzing for days” after watching the film, and during that time “Wakanda yoga was formed.”
“It comes from my Ashtanga teaching, ancient Kemetic yoga, and my love for my people,” he explains.
Smith says Wakanda yoga is focused on “breath, rhythm and movement.” The yoga class is “paced with live African-style drumming,” and practitioners go through a series of poses to the rhythm of drums. Each class ends with a guided meditation.
Smith says the class is suitable for all levels as it’s “accessible to the beginner” but more experienced yoga practitioners will have the opportunity to move into more advanced poses.
Sadly, Wakanda yoga classes currently only take place in a studio in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S., but Smith says he hopes to bring the classes to other cities.
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