Sassin' through Sadhana: Learned Leadership Journeys of Black Women in Holistic Practice

Rachel Panton, Nova Southeastern University


Women of color, especially Black women, are underrepresented in the extant literature and research of adult development and mind, body, spirit leadership. This in-depth qualitative portraiture study explored the lives of three Black women who have been leading their communities as adult educators of mind, body, spirit practices. This examination seeks to extend the research on Black female adult development and learning to include those who are guiding their respective communities through Yoruba, Yoga, and Christian-based holistic practices by addressing these questions: How have their spiritual/religious practices changed from childhood? What was their preparation for their current teaching practice like? What did it teach them about the ways in which they learn? What connection, if any, does their body have to their spiritual practices? What type of familial and community support do they receive for their current holistic lifestyle and teaching practices? This study is informed by a transformative, Africana Womanist epistemology. The major themes that emerged are: the spiritual quest as a natural process of adult development; political/cultural consciousness and uplifting others; motherhood as power; learning through empathic relationships with men; and the body as a vehicle for the spirit and the practice. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]