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Yoga for Black Lives

Guest Contributors: Sabrina Hicks, PhD, RYT-200

Founder, Yoga for Black Lives

What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?

To me, Black Mental Wellness means being in relationship with yourself and others in a way that promotes your own healing, growth, and sense of joy as a Black person and as a member of Black communities. It can include different types of therapeutic interventions, but I think the common thread is a commitment to prioritizing emotional and mental wellbeing and doing that in a way that your Blackness is supported and cared for.

How do you promote change and well-being in the Black community?

I started Yoga for Black Lives in 2016 as a way to connect my yoga practice to community needs for a space to grieve and support each other as we lose Black lives to state violence. Teaching donation-based yoga classes was a way to raise money for Black organizations resisting state violence. But it was also a way to bring people together to mourn and celebrate Black life. I think YBL can support change materially, by raising money, but it also creates space for care, grief, support and joy, which are a part of our wellness.

What are some upcoming events you are leading, that promote mental health and wellness, that you would like for our Black Mental Wellness audience to know about?

We have a class coming up on July 30th with Room to Breathe in Chicago.

Do you have an experience with seeking mental health treatment that you would like to share with the Black Mental Wellness audience?

I've been in therapy in some form (individual and group) since graduate school. It was something I wanted to try for years before I actually did; I thought you needed a "good reason" (a traumatic experience) to start. I think most important things I've learned from my experiences are that therapy can be beneficial even when you're not in crisis (!!!) and that it can take time to find a provider that's right for you, but it's worth it to keep looking!

What are your top 5 favorite wellness and self-care strategies?

1) Taking a long walk

2) Intentional breathing

3) Talking to a trusted friend, and/or my therapist

4) Meditation

5) Watching Desus & Mero (or anything that makes me laugh really hard!)

Guest Contributor

Stephanie Hicks (PhD, RYT-200) came to the practice of yoga in 2011, after many starts and stops on the yoga mat. She hoped the practice would help her create some stability in a time of great precarity in her life. What she found was even greater: a community, a renewed sense of purpose, and the ability to look at herself and others with more grace and compassion, and less judgement and fear.

Stephanie completed her 200-hour certification in 2016 in Chicago, IL, after which she founded Yoga for Black Lives to support resistance to state-sanctioned violence against Black life by giving people the opportunity to take part in a life-affirming and life-sustaining practice. Some of her writing on YBL can be found in Practicing Yoga as Resistance: Voices of Color in Search of Freedom.

Stephanie has practiced and taught in various studios around the US, as well as Central America. When she’s not on the mat, Stephanie can be found teaching in the University of Michigan's Program on Intergroup Relations, where she’s a faculty member. (Or taking a long walk with her dog Lola, cooking a good meal for her loved ones, or binge watching reality tv shows ☺)

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