The events of this past year have certainly amplified the importance of self care and community care for all. As a kids yoga teacher, one of your priorities has been family wellness. What does that look like for you at home, and where does yoga fit into it?
Family wellness has definitely been the core inspiration behind all that I do. It's a work in progress and often changes. I talk to my family about eating a balanced diet, hydration and exercise to maintain a healthy body, but we also talk about maintaining the spirit within our body. We talk about how breathing can change how you feel, and we practice different ways to do it. The conversation about wellness is continuous in our home. This helps because kids will call you out on just about anything! So when I slip into a funk and am not being mindful of what I am providing for nourishment, or if we haven't moved our bodies in an intentional way they say, "Hey Mom..." One thing that stays pretty consistent is our breath.
What inspires your relationship with yoga?
My relationship with yoga is inspired by the memory of how I felt before beginning a practice with meditation and the difference in how I felt once it became a lifestyle. I was at a breaking point, and not only did I benefit from my practice but my whole family did. My relationship with my husband improved. My interaction with my kids improved, and my perception of things completely changed. When I reflect on the trauma that has affected generations of Black people and the lack of access to heal, I am inspired to share my passion for yoga.
Part of your mission is expanding the face of wellness for Black kids and families. Tell us more about your vision and the @blackkidsdoyoga Instagram movement.
My vision of expanding the face of wellness for kids wellness started with our social media pages, helping others to acknowledge that representation is a problem and supporting the cause to change the media. It extends to providing resources and a community through our books and Black Kids Do Yoga Club. My goal is to flood various platforms with positive images of black children learning, understanding and being empowered by mental and physical wellness. I want those children to have available access to resources that support their practice. Finding books, videos and communities that mirror and embrace parts of your identity should not be a research project.
Your work has also led you to self-publish a picture book called Our Family’s Doing Yoga and start a YouTube channel to explore yoga as a family. What were some of your inspirations for this book and your YouTube channel? How do you hope kids (and their adults) will be impacted?
As a child I was blessed to have images of people who positively resembled my reflection presented to me in my home. Outside of my home it took more work to find. Books that showed positive images of the Black community weren't readily available. Images on television often portrayed us negatively, and even within our own community we faced internalized racism. When I envisioned motherhood one of my top priorities was to be a mother whose children felt seen and heard. When my children took interest in my yoga practice, I wanted them to know that this practice was for them. I wanted them to visibly see it in the books and videos we used as support but the options were slim. Writing Our Family's Doing Yoga was a way to share our story and empower my children to embrace their practice as theirs. As we began to influence others, I was often asked about YouTube videos that showed children of color. Once again our children were underrepresented in the industry on the platform, so we began creating videos to share. I am a mother and an educator. It is woven in my make up to nurture and nourish. That's what I hope my work is doing.