Please welcome K’Cee, a therapist and educator who is sharing an important article on the history of Black History Month and how important the ancient yoga practice is to the African American people. She will also share eight yoga poses with matching affirmations to honor the accomplishments of Black historical figures.
Background of Black History Month
From the arts and sciences to academia and sports, Americans of African descent have an extraordinarily rich history and culture, which is celebrated in the United States annually during the month of February. This celebration is also honored in Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands, as well.
Originally created in 1976 by Black historian, educator, and author Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month has grown from a single week into a full month of recognition, education, and celebrations across the country. Mr. Woodson is considered the “Father of Black History.”
Many historical figures faced adverse situations throughout their lives but were still able to persevere and excel, becoming heroic faces of civil rights and social justice in the Black/African American community. Famous Black historical figures include Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, and Madam CJ Walker. This month, we recognize the important accomplishments and their inspiring contributions throughout American history.
Mindful living and holistic practices, including the practice of yoga, also have historical roots in parts of the African continent such as in the kingdoms of Ancient Egypt. In America during the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond, many famous Black entertainers and celebrities such as Eartha Kitt, Smokey Robinson, John Coltrane, Rosa Parks, and Angela Davis practiced yoga regularly.
Presently, as yoga continues to become more accessible and common across the globe, we continue to see the practice become an increasing part of African American culture and lifestyle. This will empower others to create their own history making paths with mindfulness, confidence, and social awareness.
8 Yoga Poses and Positive Affirmations for Black History Month
Below are eight yoga poses paired with positive affirmations paying homage to the accomplishments and causes of several Black historical figures. These, along with further education about these amazing heroes, can be inspiring and motivational to BIPOC children.
1. Mountain Pose (with hands at heart center): “I believe in peace like Martin Luther King.”
How to practice Mountain Pose: Stand tall with your legs hip-width apart and feet facing forward. Take your arms straight alongside your body. Say: “I believe in peace like Martin Luther King.”
2. Eagle Pose: “I unite the community like Marcus Garvey.”
How to practice Eagle Pose: Stand tall in Mountain Pose. Wrap your left leg around your right. Bring your bent arms out in front of you, wrap your right arm around your left arm, and bend your knees slightly. Say: “I unite the community like Marcus Garvey.” Switch sides and repeat the steps.
3. Warrior 1 Pose: “I am a determined warrior like Muhammad Ali.”
How to practice Warrior 1 Pose: Step one foot back, placing it at an angle, with your toes pointing toward the front. Bend your front knee. Reach both arms up overhead. Say: “I am a determined warrior like Muhammad Ali.” Switch sides and repeat the steps.
4. Crescent Lunge Pose: “I am an explorer of the Galaxy like Mae C. Jemison.”
How to practice Crescent Lunge Pose: From a standing position, step your right foot back into a lunge with your left foot directly over your left knee and a straight back leg. Inhale and take your parallel arms straight up overhead. Open your chest, look up, and take a few deep breaths. Say: “I am an explorer of the Galaxy like Mae C. Jemison.” Switch sides and repeat the steps.
5. Chair Pose: “I am a leader in social justice like Thurgood Marshall.”
How to practice Chair Pose: Stand tall in Mountain Pose with your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, and keep a straight spine. Hold your hands out in front of you. Say: “I am a leader in social justice like Thurgood Marshall.”
6. Half Moon Pose: “I am a creative force like Henry Ossawa Tanner.”
How to practice Half Moon Pose: From a standing position, step your left foot back while opening your hip out to the side. Tilt forward and place your right hand flat on the ground (or on a block) in front of your right foot while simultaneously lifting your left foot. Open your hips and extend your left arm up to the sky. Align your shoulders over each other and open your chest. If possible, try gazing out to the left. Say: “I am a creative force like Henry Ossawa Tanner.” Switch sides and repeat the steps.
7. Balancing Table Pose: “I can inspire others through writing like Maya Angelou.”
How to practice Table Pose: Come to an all-fours position with your fingers spread out and palms flat on the ground. Ensure that your back and neck are in a straight but neutral position. Your shoulders should be over your wrists, and your hips should be over your knees while the tops of your feet are flat on the ground. Say: “I can inspire others through writing like Maya Angelou.”
8. Hero Pose (with hands at heart center): “I am a trailblazer like Madame C.J. Walker.”
How to practice Hero Pose: Come to rest upright on your heels with your palms resting on your knees. Say: “I am a trailblazer like Madame C.J. Walker.”
Black History Books for Children
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The Story of Simone Biles: A Biography Book, by Rachelle Burk
Black Heroes: A Black History Book for Kids, by Arlisha Norwood
Bunheads, by Misty Copeland
Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History, by Vashti Harrison
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, by Javaka Steptoe
Black Inventors, by Kathy Trusty
Before She Was Harriet, by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream and You, by Carole Weatherford
I Am Jackie Robinson, by Brad Meltzer
Other Notable Figures in Black History
Booker T. Washington
W.E.B. Du Bois
Zora Neale Hurston
About the Author
K’Cee Horne is a licensed therapist, behavior specialist/analyst, and educator with a varied background ranging from writing to customer service to digital project management. She is currently a consultant for virtual educational platforms and a therapist for early intervention programs.
She is the owner of The Moving Brain, which started with providing special needs social and travel services but has now grown into a holistic and solution-focused therapeutic and wellness practice in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area. She is also creator of the innovative Co-Parent Connection program.
K’Cee has studied and practiced yoga for over a decade and recently earned her teacher certification in Vinyasa yoga with additional specialties such as yoga therapy, trauma-informed yoga, and breathwork. K’Cee joined Kids Yoga Stories in 2021 as part of their goal of expanding yoga philosophy and mindful living with BIPOC to possibly resolve many of the issues affecting their communities.
When she isn’t pursuing her passions of travel and cultural exploration, K’Cee resides in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area with her son, tabby cat Pepper, and many plants.
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Learn about the desert through movement + story!
Join Emily as she spends a day with her parents in Death Valley, California. Glide like a hawk, dart like a fox, and slither like a snake. This desert yoga book includes a list of yoga poses for kids and a parent-teacher guide. Ages 4+.
“I am a first-grade teacher. I do yoga every day in my classroom with my students. They thoroughly enjoyed this book! Here are some of their comments: ‘This book was great because you can learn about Death Valley and the animals while you are doing yoga.’ ‘I loved that the book was about a family taking a trip.’ ‘It was so awesome how the poses matched the words.’ ‘This book taught us some new poses that we’ve never done before.’ Overall, first graders at my school say… This book is awesome!” – Melissa
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This African yoga counting book includes a list of 15 kids yoga poses and a parent-teacher guide. Ages 3+.