Black Girls Volunteer? Teaching Yoga at the Girl's Health Summit

Exhilarated and exhausted described how I felt after teaching three, 45-minute yoga classes to preteen girls and young adult women for the 6th Annual Girl's Health Summit at Cuyahoga Community College on Saturday, December 3rd.

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This free, all-day event was hosted by Clarissa Russell of All About Your Health and was supported by Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated. I was invited to teach yoga by a high school classmate and I graciously accepted.

Several hundred girls attended this free summit for different reasons:

  • Some were told to come.
  • Others came because their jobs gave them an incentive to attend.
  • And there were those who came last year and liked it.

All of the workshops were centered around health and wellness, career readiness, and youth leadership. Facilitators presented topics from self-esteem, AIDS/HIV awareness, and self-care/hygiene to stop motion animation, finances, and the Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCU) experience.  

The organizers of the event had the challenge of educating girls who are uncomfortable with their changing bodies, don’t have healthy diets, or participate in little to no physical activities. I had the challenge of educating them about the principles of yoga and conducting three yoga classes. Both were a lot of work, but I was determined to help the girls be and do their best.

Each class started with the girls sharing what they knew about yoga, if they had practiced before, or if they had a desire to try. Once the discussion was over, I had them sit on the floor and remove their shoes.

I opened up with a simple breathing and meditation exercise. We did a few neck exercises and twists to loosen the muscles around the spinal cord. After warming up on our spine, we moved to a few balancing poses. This caused a bit of a stir as some of the girls tumbled over. I emphasized that they would have to focus their mind, control their breathing, and engage their core. When they began to do this, they became steady. We moved on to our backs and worked on hip-openers before closing in a reclined pose on our backs. 

As a black yogi, it is my responsibility to create a safe place for students of color to try something new with as much information to debunk mistruths. That was the case with these girls. We talked about diet and the importance of drinking lots of water. I told them of my journey as a pescatarian. Then I opened the floor up for questions before I handed out worksheets with yoga poses.

By the end of each session, the majority of the girls were relaxed and open to learning more. My work was done!

See you around town.