Allow me to reintroduce myself.

Hi there! My name is Rashida Parrish – Atkinson. I am the owner and founder of Plant Based Yogi Soul. I am a certified yoga instructor, Mom, wife, daughter,sister, niece, and granddaughter. I am a self identifying plus sized black woman, and I want to take some time here to share with you my purpose.

It is my core belief that the only way to full transform your life, to own and step into it more fully, is through radical self love and acceptance. This belief does not imply absolution of what is that you need to adjust, shift, change, or own up to. This belief does demand that every day that you and I wake up, we look in the mirror and say to ourselves “I love myself, just as I am today. I accept myself exactly as I am today.” That is the first step on the journey to fully excepting, embracing and loving YOU.

This belief is not rooted in toxic positivity. “Good vibes only” is not a real, maintainable, or mentally healthy way to live. Sometimes you’re going to feel like shit. Sometimes you are going to make mistakes. Sometimes you are not going to feel like you matter/are worthy/can do it. That is when you look in the mirror and practice self acceptance and self love in the most radical of ways. Loving and accepting yourself even in the mess and muck.

We live in a wounded culture. Wounded by the false and harmful ideologies of patriarchy and white supremacy. Whenever someone who does not fit the brain washed mold of what beauty, strength, honor, joy should look like; those wounded by those ideologies lash out. They attack and go on the offensive. How dare that person love themselves in such a way that makes me feel uncomfortable because I do not accept and love myself. And trust when you begin to love yourself through all of your flaws and mess, the wounded will come for you too. It doesn’t matter. Shine your light and love yourself anyway. That is what makes this practice radical.

It is also my core belief that yoga is for everyone. It has been westernized and capitalized to the point where the majority of images that you see as a representation are white, thin, able bodied ,young, care free. This is not yoga. No family. Yoga is a practice that can be liberating and freeing. And it is something that is for everyone.

As a self identifying plus sized black woman, one of my missions is to use my voice and actions to show other plus sized woman of color that there is a space for you in this practice. That you do not need to be thin,or white, or able bodied, or young to benefit from it. It is also my mission to continue to not only talk about radical self love and acceptance, but model it every single day. Flaunt it. Bask it. Stick both middle fingers up while systematically tearing apart and dismantling any notion that you are less because you are woman/POC/plus sized/differently-abled/mature.

This is a call to arms in a sense for us all collectively to stop falling for the bullshit. Stand up tall or sit up straight or simply take in a deep breath and say to yourself “I love myself. I accept myself as I am.” and repeat it until you believe it. Embody it. Live it. Breathe it. You can’t fully love and accept others until you love yourself. In yoga, we call this practice the practice of Ahimsa or non violence. Not just physical violence. The subtle, microcosm of violence we perpetrate against ourselves everyday by not actively participating in what is our birthright. Love. Joy. Abundance(not necessarily money.).

I believe all living beings have this right. The right to love themselves unabashedly and un-apologetically. May this reintroduction serve as a gentle nudge and loving reminder that you are divine and more than enough.

With love, blessings and gratitude –

Rashida.

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