Black History Month was first imagined by Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent University in 1970, and six years later, during the bicentennial celebration, President Gerald Ford recognized BHM as “…the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.
Every year since then, the American President has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a particular theme. For 2022, the theme for BHM is Black Health and Wellness, exploring “the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.”
In honor of BHM, we created this space to lift up the voices and accomplishments of our Black/African American teachers. They are making huge impacts in their communities and sharing the power and peace of a yoga practice with the children and families in their lives, and beyond!
We are proud to present a few of their stories. We invite you to share in their celebrations, learn from their challenges, and connect with them through their social media and digital channels.
ALMETRIA TURNER, Memphis, TN
I discovered my passion for Kids Yoga by becoming a birth, postpartum and loss doula and a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher. From the time a baby is in his or her mother’s womb to the time they’re now bonding with her upon a yoga mat, I knew how important and effective teaching kids yoga would improve their personal, social, and cognitive skills in early childhood development.
That’s how Little Jumpers Yoga was formed under the umbrella of Roots + River Wellness; my doula and perinatal service company. At Little Jumpers Yoga, “we’re helping babies and children grow by leaps and bounds through mindfulness, meditation, and movement techniques through the art of storytelling, games, and fun.”
Growing up in the South and in the Bible Belt, most Christians believe yoga is a religious cult practice that involves some form of idol worship, praying, chanting, and goes against their personal beliefs. It’s a matter of educating them to believe that yoga is not a religious practice, but it is a way of life that we all live by through the Yamas and Nyamas; that it also includes the asanas if you choose to do them. So, it’s a matter of educating parents and leaders within the school system and community about the benefits that yoga can have on children’s social and emotional learning. That’s why yoga and SEL are becoming more popular especially since the pandemic because of the toll it has taken upon our children’s mental health. There are benefits to doing yoga for adults too. It’s a great bonding activity that’s fun and can help alleviate stress for the entire family to enjoy.
My hope for the future is that yoga is accessible to everyone regardless of the many variables, racism, classism, ageism, ableism, and other disparities we’re facing in the world today. I try to practice ahimsa every day by doing no harm towards others. May we find our satya (truth) in how we authentically show up every day and leave this world and each other better than the way we found it.
ANDREA WILLIAMS, Chesapeake, VA
I am finishing my postgrad work to be a children’s mental health therapist. I enjoy working with kids and seeing their growth. In my line of work, I see our kids struggling- struggling to fit in, struggling to be individuals, struggling to just be- I wanted to add yoga to my “bag of tricks” to share another avenue of hope.
My first job was working with kids, then I segued to management. I’ve come full circle back to my love of workout with kids! I’m just beginning, but I have had victories utilizing the KAY curriculum with the kids in my work.
My hope is to reach as many kids as possible and use the amazing practice of yoga.
Contact Andrea – Awilliamsnj@aol.com
CAMELIA (MIMI) FELTON, Atlanta, GA
I have always had a passion for teaching kids! I discovered my passion for teaching yoga to kids while practicing yoga with my firstborn grandson. The light came on that kids could definitely benefit from the benefits of yoga! I did my research and the rest is history.
While on my new yoga teacher journey, I couldn’t quite find what I wanted or needed. I decided to create it! As a teacher of color, it’s very important to me that I teach and serve black and brown children. They need to see someone that looks like them teaching & sharing the gifts of yoga.
One of my victories was creating my own yoga business! Mimi’s Yoga Kids was created to teach kids & their families mindfulness, inner peace, meditation, and imagination through yoga practices!
A challenge I face is securing continued resources & funding to keep yoga & mindfulness in inner-city schools I serve!! They need ongoing yoga practices to carry into adulthood.
My hope for the future is to create a team to continue the goal & mission of Mimi’s Yoga Kids! To keep growing and sharing love, light, and yoga.
Contact Mimi – IG: @mimisyogakids, FB: Mimi’s Yoga Kids
CNE’ HAMILTON, Wellington, FL
I was laid off from my job of 7 years and decided to take an intentional break from corporate America. During my break and time of personal rediscovery, I sought out things to help fill my life with joy. Spending quality time with my kids was a priority after putting so much energy into my professional career. I ran across an advertisement for a weekend long kids yoga training in my area and decided to sign up.
I created Bee Mindful Yoga out of a desire to help others and make a positive impact in the world. What better way to do that than through the lives of our most valuable commodity…our children?! Children today have an insurmountable amount of stress to manage. School shootings, child suicide, and bullying are just a few of the evils that plague our children today. Yoga nurtures the mind, body, soul in many ways. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, teaches discipline, promotes self-esteem, reduces anger and anxiety. When practiced on a regular basis, children become equipped with invaluable tools that help them develop emotionally and physically.
In the words of Michelle Obama, “Always prioritize your children and family. We owe it to God, ourselves, and society to raise whole human beings.” I couldn’t agree more! Therefore, I’m beyond excited to share the gift of yoga with our future leaders of the world!
When I took the Kidding Around Yoga teacher training, I had no real intention of teaching Kids Yoga professionally. The excitement and level of engagement I witnessed from my kids during the family yoga session during my weekend training made me realize this could potentially be more than just a fun weekend training.
Growing a business is hard work. Sometimes my efforts outweigh the return. That’s when I go back to my “why.” My girls are my motivation so when I feel like giving up, I remind myself how yoga has positively impacted their lives. Most parents value competitive sports but not yoga. Personally, I think that’s just due to lake of education. Yoga is a beautiful mind/body resource that offers valuable tools to help young children navigate the pressures of adolescence.
I believe every child deserves an opportunity to experience the magical benefits of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. I want to impact as many young lives as I can.
Contact Cne’ – firstname.lastname@example.org, IG: @beemindfulyoga, FB: Bee Mindful Yoga
SHAWANDRA FORD, Memphis, TN
I’ve always loved working with kids. I’ve always loved Yoga. I worked for the second largest school district in Tennessee for 22 years. After seeing students in more privileged schools benefiting from the yoga practice, I realized that students in my community were missing out on a valuable life skill.
It became my mission to introduce yoga to my community. Representation is EVERYTHING. My hope for the future is to inspire and motivate little girls and boys that look like me.