planting seeds: yoga service projects

Reduce Stress, Reconnect with Self, Restore Community

The American Medical Association recognizes STRESS as the cause of more than 60% of human sickness.

Black and Hispanic/Latina individuals and communities experience some of the highest levels of stress among all social groups due to our racial, ethnic and gender identities, economic and educational status and the neighborhoods we live in.

Racism, poverty, employment/unemployment, incarceration, homelessness, hunger and violence cause stress that’s been proven to lead to illness and disease such diabetes, heart disease, obesity, asthma, cancer and depression.

Our projects and programs are an opportunity for people to learn how to positively cope with and manage the stress they experience. When body, mind and spirit unite, peace blossoms from within. It’s this sense of inner peace that can empower us to transcend individual and community-wide struggles. Through yoga activism, we can work together to grow our souls and enjoy the beauty of our community in full bloom.

Food & Freedom

Our outdoor classes help us to connect to nature. That connection is life-sustaining, and the resources we reap from the planet Earth — especially our food — nourish us mind, body and soul. And just like yoga, food brings people together: in every community and culture, breaking bread is an opportunity to empower ourselves and each other by partaking of the harvest of the world.

ripening tomatoes

But while food can be one of our biggest forms of bliss, it can also be a serious source of physical and mental stress. Many people living in communities of color either do not understand how to eat for proper nutrition, or do not have the money or means to get fresh, healthy, local produce and food.

Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer — many of the diseases running rampant in communities of color have a root cause in how and what we eat. Through yoga, we can reconnect with our bodies and learn how to balance food and fitness to fuel our physical selves with the energy we need to have the mental prowess and spiritual power to reach the many destinations of our souls.

Community gardening and urban farming is an opportunity for poor communities to learn how to live off the land — to sow and reap the Earth’s bounty in order to produce the food our families and communities need to survive and thrive. We collaborate with farmer’s markets, food co-ops, farms, gardens and green spaces to host experiences where people can bring balance to their diet and exercise to achieve optimal health.

Yoga is a reflection of Mother Earth. When we reconnect to Nature, we are better able to heal ourselves of the habits, thoughts and behaviors that disconnect us from the food that strengthens us body, mind and spirit.

Address the Stress

The heart of yoga is finding that place deep within yourself that you call home, and being able to return to it, time and time again, for comfort and renewal. And yet, housing instability and homelessness is a major source of stress and trauma in communities of color.

brooklyn housing development

Economic and racial privilege has priced low-income families, especially Blacks and Latinas, out of the housing market, and not being able to afford to have a home effects people physically, mentally and most especially, emotionally.

Meanwhile, public housing used to be an opportunity for our communities to be able to afford to live in the inner city. Now, its become a space some families are forced to live in because it’s all they can afford, even as physical and social conditions of those housing environments deteriorates.

We offer yoga class series and workshops to public housing residents to share the many ways movement, stress relief and relaxation can restore a community’s health and hope.

Through community-based participatory research, we engage public housing residents in thinking about how the built environment and social landscape of affordable housing developments effects community health. In particular, we’re interested in learning how where people live effects how they think about themselves and interact with their environment and the people in it.

We hope to learn how yoga can be a tool to heal personal and familial stress and trauma and restore community bonds in order to transform elements of public housing that lead to poor public health.

To collaborate with us on a yoga service project in your community, email earthseedyogi@gmail.com.