Embracing Ubuntu with Aree Khodai and Nina Westbrook
Aree Khodai joins me to share her insight on what Ubuntu is and how you can work the practice into your everyday life. We wrap it up with a 10-minute Ubuntu-focused flow that will leave you feeling reconnected and refreshed!
by Nina Westbrook
I am so happy to introduce you to Aree Khodai, a certified yoga instructor and founder of #AreesArmy. Aree teaches intense classes that push you to new mental and physical limits at Artha in West Hollywood, and I’ve had the pleasure of practicing yoga with her over the past year.
During one of our lessons, she mentioned a concept that I was curious to learn more about: Ubuntu. Today, we’re exploring the concept behind Ubuntu in a couple of different ways. First, Aree will share her insight on what Ubuntu is and how you can work the practice into your everyday life. Then, we’ll guide you through a 10-minute Ubuntu-focused flow that will leave you feeling reconnected and refreshed. Hope you enjoy!
I am humbled and honored to be here with my dear friend, Nina! She inspires me as a woman, a yogi, a leader, a humanitarian…the list goes on. When I consider Ubuntu, I can confidently say that I absolutely am because she is!
What is Ubuntu?
"Ubuntu is rooted in the saying “I am because we are.” It is focused on an interconnectedness between humans and originates with the African belief that a person is only a person through other persons. Our humanity is bound up in the humanity of others and when we honor one another, we honor ourselves. Therefore, when we dehumanize another, we dehumanize ourselves. This approach in life encourages working together for the common good because your humanity is celebrated through community and belonging. We are all an extension of one another and innately connected through being on this Earth together at the same time.
Why are mindfulness and mindful activities an important aspect of living an Ubuntu life?
My #AreesArmy motto is that our vibe attracts our tribe. As a community, we thrive in tribes and lead one another by example. When I rejoice, my community rejoices and vice versa. When I am feeling whole, I notice that my experiences and everyone around me seems to transform. It’s truly a ripple effect. By prioritizing time spent in a mindful state, we are more easily able to dissolve the idea that we are separate from one another. We can sense our connection to the people around us and can shed the idea that one is better than the other. This process builds trust and unity. As we become more confident, more courageous, and more open, we all share in this life and weather storms side by side.
It’s important to note that change always starts within, and how you feel on the inside attracts the right people and experiences into your life while also enhancing your sense of fulfillment. Practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to tap into that change.
How do yoga and meditation practice enhance Ubuntu?
Yoga is entirely focused on unity and the promotion of well-being among communities. There is a power in the movement of each pose that not only invites us to shed layers of ourselves but encourages unity through movement as a whole. Yoga helps us let go of the physical, emotional, and spiritual tension so that we can celebrate the union of our minds, bodies, and souls.
As a woman in the workplace, previous athlete, and person of Persian heritage, I have a very diverse background and the area of life where I have felt the most unity has been in the yoga community - both as a student and as a teacher and community leader. People of all ages, backgrounds, and economic situations come to their mats and, in that moment, they are not defined by their job title, relationship status, or how many followers they may have. They are yogis, beings moving in unison, and their presence is a coming together of crumbs that make a huge feast.
When we were placed under quarantine, it was all of the yogis that started to drop off food, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer for each other. I witnessed more Ubuntu within the yoga community than my own family. I often noticed that those who don’t practice were operating from a place of fear.
Through my practice and experience as a teacher, I have seen that, once we peel off the layers to bare who we truly are, we can visually and spiritually appreciate the many connections that bind us instead of focusing on what separates us. We can be the change we want to see, together.
Join Our Flow
I teach a very intense physical and mental class and have been privileged to see the CEOs of the world flowing next to the starving artists and actors, the doctors, and studio executives. From all over the world, beings with different religions and political views come together, and serve not only their communities but for each other. It’s the epitome of Ubuntu - “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“I am who I am because of who we all are.”
Nina and Aree