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My name is Alicia Crysta Easter, which means “noble anointed one of dawn” (Eostre was a Germanic goddess of spring). I am the daughter of Cynthia Geneva Lawson, granddaughter of Eleanor Cecilia Lawson. I am a yogi, Black woman, teacher, podcast host, candle designer, liberator, Black joy beam, writer, facilitator, lover, sister, and friend. I stand on the shoulders of the 10,000-plus ancestors who came before me, and I do not take my presence here lightly. I have the honor of being a pair of shoulders to stand on for those who come after me. My ability to claim who I am, fully, came through the beautiful practice of yoga.
I took my first class in 2007, led by an elegantly strong and brilliant Black woman in Southside Chicago: If you’ve ever visited, you know it is predominately Black, beautiful, proud, and full of love! Since this was my introduction to the practice, I assumed every studio was inclusive and diverse like this. Unfortunately, over the next decade, I would learn that this was not the case.
When I started my yoga journey, I was still knee-deep in working through the intricacies of grieving my mother’s death—she had died five years earlier, in 2002, when I was 19. Yoga saved my life. The way the sweat rolled off my back, I disappeared, and my mind was no longer consumed with repetitive thoughts that did not serve me. The stretching, the pauses between breaths, and the resilience of my body brought me great comfort.
The more my heart cracked open, the more I learned that I was not born to fit inside anyone else’s box. Grief is not linear, and I was learning that liberation was on its way. Svadhyaya (self-study) through yoga had become my refuge in the darkest of times, helping me to navigate through my emotional growth spurt. But the more I practiced, the more it became clear that yoga in the US was not as diverse as I thought it should be for BIPOC. I knew I had found a calling and a soul-awakening was happening inside of me.
My voice is my superpower. So is my ability to listen. For a large portion of my life, my voice was hidden in the depths of fear, angst, grief, and abuse. I discovered my authentic voice during my first yoga teacher training, honed my ability to listen, and used both to make me the teacher I am today. It is a tough time for a lot of people, and we need more love, joy, and kindness in the world. Liberated joy is our birthright.
In 2016, I taught my first class, and I led my first workshop, called I am Free, the following year. It was so special. As a 40 person collective from all backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities, we moved our bodies with an energizing flow. I felt proud to lead this group as such a new teacher. I created affirmation cards and each guest received a tote bag and rose quartz crystal. It was important for me to remind people they are free and worthy of love. It felt natural, so I knew I had stepped into my purpose. I had found my way. For a girl who had lived in 22 different cities in six years, it felt good to be rooted…to have a home.
Black Soul Liberation is unconditional love of self. In loving myself, I pay homage to my ancestors, teachers, and the lineage of yoga. Yoga is my reminder to be kind, love, and forgive quickly and often. This yoga sequence was created to help liberate the mind, body and soul. The 45-minute flow was designed to balance the Anahata (heart) chakra and strengthen the spine. Set an intention. I can simply be, “I am the love I seek. Love is my natural state of being.” Warm up with a few rounds of Sun Salutations A and B. As we move through each asana, practice breathing for 5 counts, at minimum. That way, by the end of the flow, your body would have experienced a deep, heart-expanded moving meditation which will energize and balance your state of being.
Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Find a comfortable, tall, cross-legged seat on your mat. Press down through your sitting bones. Bring your hands to your heart center or rest your palms on your legs. Hold for 5 breaths.
Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Poses)
Come to Tabletop with your toes untucked. Gently engage your belly and elongate your spine. Inhale and release your belly, curving your spine and lifting your chin as you shine your heart forward. Exhale and arch your back, drawing your belly button close to your spine, and your chin to chest. Repeat 5 times.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie on your abdomen. Press your toenails into the mat. Squeeze your inner thighs toward your midline and firm your leg muscles to your bones. Draw your tailbone back and lift your chest forward then up.
Inhale and place your hands under your shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades together, lengthen the back of your neck, gaze forward. Hold for 5 breaths.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Inhale and bend your knees, keeping them hip width apart. Reach back and hold the outsides of your feet in your palms. Lift your thighs while allowing your tailbone to float back. Reach your chest forward then up. Draw your shoulder blades together and down your back. Lengthen the back of your neck and gaze forward. Hold for 5 breaths.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
From Tabletop, keep a soft bend in your knees and send your hips back and up. Draw your gaze back, and place your hands shoulder-width apart. Hold for 5 breaths.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Plant your feet hip width apart. Exhale, press your hips up, elongate your tailbone, and lift your chest. Press your arms down as you interlace your fingers under your hips. Draw your shoulders together under your back. Push the back of your head into the mat while gazing upward. Hold for 5 breaths.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Lie down on your back. Bend both knees and bring the soles of your feet together with your heels close to your groin. Let your knees release toward the ground. Reach your arms overhead. Keep your back on the floor. Hold for 5 breaths.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Find a seated position and root your sitting bones into the earth. Extend your legs forward. You can bend your knees and or hook a strap around your feet if needed. Inhale and reach your arms up. Exhale and reach toward your toes, keeping your spine long. Gaze forward. Hold for 5 breaths.
Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)
Lie down and hold your right shin to bring your right knee toward your chest. Extend your left leg down the mat. On an exhale, release your right knee across your body. Keep your right shoulder on the mat, and gaze to the right. Hold for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Happy Baby Pose
Bend your knees and place them slightly wider than your hips. Draw your knees toward your chest. Hold the outside edges of your flexed feet in your palms. If you have difficulty holding your feet, loop a strap over each sole or hold your calves or thighs. Press your knees down, coaxing your thighs in toward your torso. Lengthen your spine, release your tailbone toward the earth, and extend the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. Gaze up. Hold for 5 breaths.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Take a large inhale, and draw your knees toward your chest to give yourself the best hug you’ve received all year. Exhale and allow your legs to elongate and rest on the earth with your arms relaxed by your sides. Keep your palms soft and open to the sky. Close your eyes and deeply rest as you gaze inward. Stay for 5-20 minutes.
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