EPISODE 117

Afro Flow Yoga with Leslie and Jeff Jones

We know moving is good for us. We just didn’t know it could be THIS good. Afro Flow Yoga is dance, yoga, music, meditation, and healing ritual all rolled into one beautiful experience. And if you haven’t tried it, it’s high time you did. Learn from Afro Flow Yoga’s co-founders, Leslie Salmon Jones and Jeff W. Jones what makes this transformational body-mind practice so exceptional.

This week, Pilar talks with special guests Leslie Salmon Jones and Jeff W. Jones, co-founders of Afro Flow Yoga. Leslie and Jeff created Afro Flow Yoga in 2008, fusing a new blend of expressive movement and rhythmic music from their own explorations of healing and their African-American and Caribbean heritage in West Africa, Haiti and Jamaica. Leslie is an Alvin Ailey-trained dancer, yoga teacher, health coach and community activist. Jeff is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer and engineer whose musical roots stretch back through four generations of Black musicians. What they create together is extraordinary. Leslie and Jeff describe Afro Flow Yoga as “an embodied practice, integrating dance movements of the African Diaspora with meditative yoga and live healing music, promoting individual and collective healing in a compassionate, inclusive, non-judgmental and safe environment.” Pilar was delighted to have a chance to talk with Leslie and Jeff as part of The Living Experiment‘s COVID-edition live-broadcast series. First, because Leslie and Jeff are themselves great examples of “living experimenters” — creative innovators seeking a healthier way forward. And second, because Afro Flow Yoga is exactly the sort of re-centering and healing practice that so many of us are seeking for our own physical, mental and emotional health. So in this conversation, Pilar talks with Leslie and Jeff about what inspired them to create Afro Flow Yoga, the special role this practice has in helping us heal our fractured selves and trauma-stricken culture at this time, and where they see things going from here. If you haven’t already checked out one of their virtual classes or retreat experiences, we hope you will — so you can experience the whole-person “aha” of Afro Flow Yoga for yourself. Note: The audio for this episode was sourced from a live video interview. If you’d like to watch it, click on the live video interview link in the Resources section, below.

“Afro Flow Yoga” Episode Highlights

  • Leslie’s background in dance and yoga, including her training at The Ailey School, plus a glimpse of her personal background
  • Jeff’s musical lineage — a pianist grandmother who was a mentor to Roland Hayes and Marion Anderson; a father who played bass for Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones; a classical soprano mother — and his influences, including Quincy Jones
  • Leslie and Jeff’s early collaborations in live-music dance performances and fitness videos
  • Leslie and Jeff’s explorations in West Africa — how witnessing slave dungeons and participating in traditional healing rituals informed Leslie and Jeff’s personal, professional and inter-cultural work
  • Some examples of Afro Flow Yoga performances and classes
  • Afro Flow Yoga as an inclusive, non-judgmental, healing, anti-racist, communal experience for anyone and everyone
  • Conversations about race, trauma and healing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder
  • Afro-Flow Yoga’s circle-class configuration — how this community-centered format promotes inclusion, connection and non-hierarchical exchange
  • The post-pandemic future of Afro Flow Yoga, including in-person and virtual classes and multi-day retreats (see Resources, below, for more on those)

Pilar’s Experiment of the Week

Take an online Afro Flow Yoga class, or even just watch one, and notice what happens. How do you feel in your body when you follow Leslie’s cues and feel into the class vibe? How long has it been since you let your body do something that just feels good?

Leslie’s Experiment of the Week

Learn something about the history of the culture you came from, or spend some time studying your personal lineage. Often we know nothing about our ancestry, so give some thoughts to your roots and your interconnectedness with everyone.

Jeff’s Experiment of the Week

Look at a map of the area where you live and start to recognize place or feature names that might be indigenous in origin. Learn more about the First Nation cultures that occupied or passed through the area before you.

Resources

Like this podcast? You’ll love our books!

Book cover: The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo
The Healthy Deviant by Pilar Gerasimo

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Book cover: The Four Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig
The 4 Season Solution by Dallas Hartwig

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