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.
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