I hope you are having a relaxing, fun, and fit summer! Last month, I talked about finding something that you love. How is that going? I’d love to hear your success stories, so leave your comments below on how you are moving and grooving, staying in shape and loving it.
I found something new that I love. Yoga. Seriously, how have I been a fitness junkie my whole life but never tried yoga?
Like so many other exercises, yoga is perfect for all fitness levels. The great thing about it is that it is a mental workout as well. Your mat is your zone, a time to unwind and release stress, toxins, and any invading thoughts. In the process you gain mobility, flexibility, strength, balance, and energy. I’m telling y’all, it’s good. It can be difficult, but in yoga you are challenging yourself when you are ready. The instructor will lead you with his/her calm voice to a place where you think everything is possible. This sounds too good to be true; I know! But in all seriousness and honesty, yoga is amazing for your body. Practicing can lower blood pressure and anxiety levels and help with sleeping. There are even yoga poses that are said to help with fertility. It is also low impact, and there are kids’ classes (all three of my kids LOVE it, including my ten year old son). I’ve seen chair yoga classes for yogis that find getting to the floor challenging.
I’m still learning about the names of poses, but here is what I’ve learned:
Go to a yoga studio. This is a must to get the full experience. It’s a little more expensive, but you are paying for the relaxing atmosphere which is an essential part of yoga. Nothing against the “Y” or the corner gym, but a studio is best. There’s a lot of deep breathing, so you probably want to inhale relaxing oils and incense, not bleach and sweat.
Give yourself time. There are some serious yogis out there. They have the upper body strength of an Olympic gymnast and are able to balance their whole body on their little finger. Don’t pay any attention to the people around you. It’s your mat, your time, your practice. You’ll get more flexible and stronger the more you practice.
If practicing hot yoga you will sweat – a lot (see Bikram Yoga and Bikram Choudhury). I personally love it because I feel like I’m releasing toxins from my body.
I mean really, truly, let yourself go. This is your time to free your mind of all your worries, anxieties, and stresses. Do not allow work, house, school, or life problems to join you on your mat. When I finish an hour class, I want to give the world a hug. The relaxation is probably the best thing about yoga. You are giving yourself a very physical workout while completely relaxing your mind.
Try this Morning Routine:
L to R: Child’s Pose, Plank, Chaturanga (photos 3 and 4), Upward Facing Dog, Downward Facing Dog, Warrior One, Warrior Two, Reverse Warrior
The video below also shows the sequence of poses you can do in the morning that will get you started.
When you have gone through each pose a few times end by lying on the floor on your back, arms out to the side, legs open and straight. Take deep controlled breaths and let your mind go. Stay in this meditative state for a few minutes and then get up and conquer the world.
In love, fitness, and health.
About the Contributing Writer:
Megan Weidner is a fitness coach and environmentalist in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. She manages a global sustainability and corporate responsibility program for a large multinational company; her areas include environmental compliance, social equity, community engagement and health and wellness. Megan is also devoted to Rock. It. Fitness., her fitness and natural skincare business. She is committed to making the world a better, more environmentally friendly and healthier place through motivation and education. She is certified through AFAA and Tabata Bootcamp. She has a B.S. in Soil, Environmental, and Atmospheric Science (University of Missouri), a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Policy (University of Denver) and an M.P.A (University of Missouri). She lives in Green, Ohio with her husband and three kids.
Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF) is part of our Shed Light series collection. We invite diverse women to tell us their LYFF stories to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action. The questions are meant to “shed light” on the diverse ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority. This beautiful Phoenix is Natasha:
How do you love yourself first? What does that mean to you?
Like so many women, loving myself first has been a challenge. Women, in particular, are socialized to care for and assume responsibility for others in ways that can be detrimental to wholly loving and caring for ourselves. We’re conditioned to be “givers.” This isn’t a bad thing. It’s a wonderful quality but women should also be encouraged to be givers to ourselves as well. At 33 years old, I am finally learning this lesson. I have finally heeded the advice of my husband, mother, and friends. I now take time to nurture myself through writing, performance, and other creative pursuits. I read, meditate, and do yoga. I make the time to regularly get with my close girlfriends (see photo below of Natasha with her Goddess Squad) who provide me with constant encouragement, enlightenment, good food, and laughter. Loving myself first also means treating myself with compassion. So often, I would beat myself up trying to be the perfect mother, wife, career woman, friend, mentor, student, daughter, etc. I’m getting better at saying “I’m doing the best that I can. That’s all that I can do, and it’s enough.” Loving myself means honoring my process and embracing my authenticity. It means knowing that I am abundant and absolutely worthy of giving AND receiving.
What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body, and soul? (Exercise, healthy eating, spiritual practice, etc.)
I am very big on meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. I jump between Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Kundalini yoga. I also do strengthening core exercises. I don’t follow any particular diet but I am mindful of what I put in my body, and I eat in moderation. I love creating a very Zen-like environment in my home. There is lots of natural sunlight. I like fresh flowers, candles, and art. It’s important to me that my space reflects the beauty of nature. I am heavily influenced by indigenous spiritual practices and am an I-Ching practitioner. I also like to sing, dance, and play with my kids.
Is there an obstacle or challenge that you’ve overcome that has led to a deeper love for who you are?
I am learning the importance of emotional self-sufficiency. It involves honoring my emotions by owning them. It’s really rooted in the understanding that others are not responsible for my emotional health. I now understand that having an emotional state that is predicated on other people’s actions is like living your life on shifting sand; you will always live in that unstable and reactionary place. I’ve made a conscious decision to shy away from that kind of co-dependence and to know that authentic happiness comes from my internal source.
What have you learned from self-love?
I’ve learned that self-love is not a destination. It’s an ongoing, lifelong process. There will be an ebb and flow to it. There are so many elements in this world that work very hard to prevent us from fully loving ourselves as we are. So, it’s a constant challenge. There will be days where I won’t be so good at it and that’s okay. It’s really all about the process of constantly growing in ways that require me to keep unveiling and rediscovering myself. _________________________________________ We asked Natasha to also submit photos demonstrating self-love in action or even photos that radiate the feeling of loving who she is. We created a collage (shown above) of the awesome images she chose to share:
Top left – Showing a naturally beautiful representation of happiness
Top right – Sharing her Mala prayer/chanting beads and rice bowl for meditation
Bottom left – Spending time with her son and the participants in her RAISE IT UP! program; Natasha is the co-founder and executive director.
Bottom right – Meditating with her sons
Thank you Natasha for sharing your LYFF story with us. You are a Phoenix rising! Happy Friday. __________________________________________Love Yourself First! Friday is a bi-weekly self-love series created by The Phoenix Rising Collective. Diverse women tell their stories of triumph, share their personal affirmations, and declare their love for their own lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem. Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories
“Yoga is the Journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” Bhagavad Gita
Yogini, KaNeesha in Natarajasana – Dancer’s Pose
One, two, three, four, five…I count silently measuring each inhale and exhale by the rise and fall of my contracting abdomen. Pearls of sweat roll from the widow’s peak of my hairline, down the bridge of my nose, glistening on my upper lip, nuzzling with my chin, and eventually finding respite on the damp towel beneath my left foot. My right leg is extended in mid-air behind me. I’m tightly grasping my right foot with my right hand holding for dear life. I pray to the heavens I don’t lose my balance. I feel strong and confident as I’m holding steady in one of my favorite Yoga asanas: Natarajasana a.k.a. Dancer’s Pose.
Six, seven, eight, nine, ten…my counting is interrupted by a baritone voice gently thundering over the Bikram yoga studio sound system, “Kick, kick, kick aaaand release.” As I mentally prep myself to balance the left side of my body in Natarajasana, I peer around the room and settle my gaze on the 20-something year old crunchy, and the exceedingly hairy white guy in front of me. By the way, crunchy is a term my cousin made up. It describes anyone that falls into the stereotypical “tree-hugger” category: eats granola (hence crunchy), drinks hot tea year-round lovingly clutching their mug with both hands that rock fingerless crocheted gloves, wears Yoga clothes all day (most days of the week), and could easily be mistaken as hippie or any other “crunchy” characteristic across the spectrum. No shade or disrespect. I’m pretty crunchy 50% of the week, but I digress. As I’m attempting to strike an equally fierce Dancer’s Pose with the left side of my body, I sneak a quick glance at the petite white woman standing next to me: not too crunchy but is a beast with the execution of the posture. Then, I’m met with the recurring thought, “DAMN I wish it was some sistahs up in here!” Sistahs, black women, women of color, with mesmerizing hues of sun-kissed bronze and beige skin. Black men, too! Where are the brothas? For this specific class my instructor was a black man (whom for whatever reasons WOULD NOT make eye contact with me, but whatever). Calling out all the brothas, black men, men of color, with cosmic melanin shades ranging from midnight blue to heavenly milky way. As a practitioner of Yoga for the past 10 years (on and off) and a recently certified RYT 200-hour Yoga instructor, I have yet to visit and/or join a studio where minimally 50% of the racial/ethnic demographic looks like me!
I ponder; at what point did Yoga become a sport exclusively practiced by white people, specifically white women? The dominant imagery fed to us by media and marketing sources in the United States is very slim, not-so-crunchy, Lululemon–wearing white women. Public Yogic practices that I’ve experienced – including my instructor certification training – has been comprised of predominantly white women and men, and Asian women coming in second majority; with black women, Asian men, and black men closing out an extremely low population of the statistics. Please note: these statistics are based off my own experience and observation. Yet even more intriguing, while conducting research for this, there was nary a source to highlight the racial breakdown of Yoga practitioners in the U.S.
This leads to the title of my article: Where Are the Black Yoginis? Yogini is a term that refers to women that practice yoga extensively. For Part One of this article, I’ll be delving into a brief history of Yoga and how Western practice perpetuates the cultural appropriation of Yoga.
Historical Roots of Modern Western Yoga
Padma Asana – Lotus Pose
While it is difficult to trace the exact geographical and cultural origins of Yoga, it is said to have been practiced thousands of years ago throughout ancient Egypt a.k.a. Kemet and ancient India. Cultural, religious, and spiritual influences were heavily integrated into the practice of Yoga within both of these areas. This makes the approaches somewhat different. However, prayer and intense study and practice of meditation along with the art of proper breathing are sacred rituals and fundamental components of both. With the exception of certain practitioners (which I’ll discuss in Part Two) many posit the notion that modern day Western Yoga primarily draws lineage from East Indian Vedic spiritual belief system, Hindu culture, Eastern Buddhism, and several other Eastern religious and spiritual practices. Some of the major gurus and yogis of this lineage are Maharishi Patanjali, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Vivekananda, T. Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and B.K.S. Iyengar to name a few.
There were a myriad of connections between these gurus and the Western world stemming from collaborative scientific research based in Yoga, Yoga seminars and retreats held in major U.S. cities, establishment of Yoga studios in the U.S., mentoring and teaching individuals that have become well known U.S. yogis, and a multitude of written publications. The spawn of all this work is Western Yoga. Newly decorated yogis within the U.S. began spreading the Sanskrit “word” – the message of yoking the mind and body through meditative practice and choreographed postures into sequences.
At some point (which I’m still investigating for greater clarity) the major distinction between Eastern and Western Yogic practices became a large omission of prayer, intense study and practice of meditation, and the art of proper breathing. Now, I’m not talking about the quick inhale/exhale breathing that happens for 15 seconds at the beginning and end of a Yoga class concluding with Namaste. Or even the fire breath at the end of a Bikram session (which as a newbie to a class several years ago, I wasn’t even instructed on how to do it appropriately). I am talking about chanting mantras that promote balance, praying to evoke our ancestors, maintaining meditative states of consciousness for hours, and pranayama breathing as a method of healing. In Western Yoga, these have been far removed from the source.
However, there are many exceptions to this including my Yoga Instructor Trainer, Lex Gillan, who founded the Yoga Institute in 1974 in Houston, Texas. Lex is one of the few Western Yogis that has immeasurable appreciation, respect, and admiration for many of the specific elements inclusive to the voluminous Eastern Yogic traditions. Thus, it’s provided him with a robust, impressive, and long-standing personal and professional career within the world of Yoga on a global scale. I’ll discuss more of these “exceptions” in Part Two.
Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation?
Yoginis – Top Left: Dianne Bondy; Top Right: Queen Afua; Bottom Left: Maya Breuer; Bottom Right: Jana Long
While researching, I was fortunate to uncover a jewel written by Dr. Amy Champ; Race and Yoga: Negotiating Relationships of Power. Dr. Champ is a scholar of feminism, author, speaker, and Yoga instructor. This article summarizes key themes from her dissertation which explores women and Yoga pertaining to race. Dr. Champ references Sociologists and Race Theorists, Howard Winant and Michael Omi’s term racial rearticulation which is used to “describe the acquisition of beliefs and practices of another’s religious tradition and infusing them with new meaning derived from one’s own culture in ways that preserve the prevailing system of racial hegemony.”
I also analyzed numerous sources, their usage and definition of the term Cultural Appropriation. Cultural appropriation is socially defined as, “the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture.” Oxford Reference suggests that the definition of cultural appropriation includes, “ …Western appropriations of non-western or non-white forms and carries connotations of exploitations and dominance.”
So, considering the history of Western Yoga, the terms and definitions of racial rearticulation and cultural appropriation, it is my summation that Yoga as practiced in the U.S. pervasively demonstrates the acquisition of a singular element from ancient multilayered Eastern religions, spiritual practices, and cultural traditions, and thus has been manipulated to preserve and fortify the dominant racial and socio-cultural hegemonic Western identity. This identity is whiteness. And whiteness being portrayed as the creators and innovators of a way of life that is proven to have existed in different parts of the world B.C.E.
People of color have long suffered from the effects of colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, neo-imperialism, capitalism, all based in racism as unwilling participant-observers whose ethnographies reek of cultural acquisition, demarcation, marginalization, commodification, and exploitation. The constant relegation as other has transcended into marketable products pushed for Western cultural consumption. Thus terms like exotic, aboriginal, African, Asian (as if Africa or Asia is uni-cultural), ethnic-inspired, oriental, tribal, native, etc. have shape-shifted into phantasmasgorias and likenesses wholly detached from the cultures they’ve callously been extracted. Western Yoga is no different.
Generally speaking, Western Yoga is promoted as an exercise and competitive sport with primary focus on executing asanas (postures) with acrobatic and contortionist precision. Accuracy, poise, and form is the crux of what’s taught in many Yoga studios throughout the states, especially the popular ones associated with “celebrity” trainers and practitioners who’ve gained millions in revenue off this one aspect of Yoga. I am of the opinion that this deceptive propaganda postulates a continued blatant disregard for the totality of Yoga.
Minimal consideration is given to various body shapes, weights, sizes, and to how certain modifications may be needed to support reaping the full health benefits of a posture. Or the complete opposite perspective that assumes a fuller body shape, weight, or size is unable to perform certain postures. Again, nary a Yoga magazine, Yoga based website, published article, Yoga clothing ad that features and celebrates women of color, specifically black women. Many black women in the U.S. like Maya Breuer, Dianne Bondy, Jana Long, and Queen Afua to name a few have been long time students, practitioners, instructors, trainers, and Yoga studio owners since the birth of Western Yoga to the present. Drawing from both Kemetic and Eastern traditions, prayer, meditation, and pranayama breathing are integrated into their practices with equal attention given (if not more) to the asanas.
In Part Two of this article, I’ll link cultural appropriation to the mainstream media invisibility of black women in Western Yoga and conclude by highlighting the global movement of Black Yoginis and Yogis.
For now, I’ll leave you with the powerful Oneness; Moola Mantra in Sanskrit:
Om Sat Chit
Sri Bhagavathi Sametha
Sri Bhagavathe Namaha
OM– We are calling on the highest energy there is
Sat- the formless
Chit– Consciousness of the universe
Ananda- Pure love, bliss and joy
Para brahma- The supreme creator
Purushothama– Who has incarnated into human form to help guide mankind
Paramatma– Who comes to me heart and becomes my inner voice when I ask
Sri Bhagavati– The divine mother the power aspect of creation
Same tha– Together within
Sri Bhagavate– The father of creation which is unchangeable and permanent
Namaha– I thank you and acknowledge this presence in my life and ask for your guidance at all times
About the Contributing Writer:
KaNeesha Allen is an educator and Yogini with extensive community outreach and project management experience in education and non-profit sectors. She is also the mother of two extremely high spirited and intelligent boys – Ausar and Mikah. While often seeking to master the balance between being a highly engaged mother and taking time to BE with herself in the Divine Energy of the universe, KaNeesha finds peace, solace, and regeneration through meditation, Yoga, writing, traveling, and building with her “SiSTARS.” As the Motherhood Empowerment contributor, she welcomes mothers from everywhere to join her on a journey of self-discovery and evolution towards harnessing, embodying, and emoting the Goddess power within.
“I love myself first by doing what makes me happy,” Teneele says. Making time to do things that bring her joy and meaning helps this aspiring yoga instructor identify what makes her unique. She journals, writes poetry, and reads books about history, culture, and health – and if that’s not enough for enjoyment, Teneele also listens to diverse genres of music. “When I’m in my zone, I get lost in the beats, rhythms, and lyrics. Music really is a universal language, and it allows me to feel connected to everyone and everything.”
Teneele is also a no-fuss kind of girl, so she keeps her natural hair regimen very organic. Whether she’s rocking a ‘fro or twists (like you see in the photo), she loves that her hair is healthy, soft, and versatile. This natural beauty also wants to be healthy from the inside out, so in January she became a pescetarian, and the process has positively pushed her to learn more about her body and what it needs to operate at its fullest capacity. She loves trying new recipes and foods, and even makes herbal infusions and medicines!
She has also made yoga an integral part of her life, and it has helped her achieve clarity, peace, strength, and balance. “It’s cool to see how much I’ve grown with my yoga practice, and I’ve been inspired to become a yoga instructor. I want to provide health and wellness services to underserved youth, and show them the importance of eating well, being self-sufficient, breathing, centering themselves, eliminating stress, and having focus,” she says.
To rejuvenate, Teneele begins each day with prayer and realizes that it definitely makes a difference in her day. Without prayer she says, “I feel disconnected, and it’s easier for the stresses and worries of the day to get the best of me. When I seek the Creator, my mind and heart are at ease. I know that I’m loved, and my needs and wants are being met far beyond my expectations.”
Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by the Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women of color tell their stories of triumph, share their personal affirmations, and declare their love for their own lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem.
Peace and blessings, beloved hearts! I am feeling blessed as I put my pen to paper to share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences with you about living a healthy, wealthy life. In my previous post Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S: Practicing Self-Care, Maintaining Wellness, I discussed the basic keys to wellness with the acronym W.E.A.L.T.H.S. (water, exercise, air, light, thinking happy thoughts, healthy foods, and sleep). Let’s further explore this concept with some holistic health tips that can be incorporated into your daily life to revitalize the mind, body and soul.
Water Therapy: Break Fast with Water
Start your day off with water. One to two cups of warm tea or room temperature water upon rising will cleanse the bowels, energize your body, and clear your mind. Water enhanced with fresh lemon juice is a simple and easy body cleanser that you can drink daily to decrease mucus and stimulate the digestive system.
Exercise: Yoga Therapy – Mountain Pose
We will start off with the foundation of all standing yoga poses: The Mountain Pose. Even though this is a simple pose, many people still lack proper alignment. In the words of Master Hip hopper KRS-ONE, “stand upright, not uptight.” Do you stand firm through the stormy weathers of life or do you slouch and mope?
The first thing I teach my students in yoga class is how to stand. Begin by holding the intention of Ankh Udja Seneb (life, health, and prosperity). Mountain is the basic pose for alignment. From an energetic perspective, this pose activates both the root and brow chakra.
Stand with the feet hip-width apart. From the crown through the spinal cord are the points of alignment for this pose. Root yourself into the floor by engaging your feet. The four corners of the feet are grounded, use your imagination to root yourself into the earth. The weight should be evenly distributed between both feet. There is a softening at the knee (or a slight flexion of the knee), as well as a lifting of the quadriceps femoris (the thigh muscles) into the pelvis.
Slightly lift from the crown of the head, aligning it with the torso. The rib cage is knitted, or slightly drawn towards the spine, deepening respiration. The shoulder blades are relaxed after breathing up, back, and down toward the earth. The chin is parallel to the earth. The sacrum is released down. The pelvic floor is lifted and aligned with the torso and head. The vertebral column is in its naturally curved position. The body is now in perfect balance. Bring the hands to your heart-center and allow yourself to relax and receive the medicine from this simple pose.
Air: Breath Awareness
Bring your awareness to your breath as air flows into your body. Breathing is your most precious possession; it is powerful and magical because it connects you to your mind and body – the conscious and unconscious.
Proper breathing nourishes your body, reduces stress (which induces relaxation), and opens the way for healing.
Place the hands gently over the naval area. As you breathe in, allow your belly to expand, and while breathing in, the belly goes in. Feel the movement of your hands as you breathe in and out, slow and deep, expanding and contracting. As you breathe correctly, notice the stillness of your thoughts and the awareness of the life force energy that flows through you completely.
Continue inhaling and exhaling, deep and slow, and with calm and ease – no pressure or control, just awareness. Allow each breath to bring you to the present moment. Fill your belly and lungs with your healing breath. Imagine the breath flowing in and out of your body as a shimmery electronic healing presence. Consciously send breath to those parts of you that may be in need of healing.
Light: Vitamin D
The best form of light besides lightness of the heart is soaking in rays from our shining star, the Sun. According to the Vegetarian Cooking School Cookbook by Danny & Charise Vierra, “Every living thing in our world is dependent on sunlight. Without sunlight nothing would live.”
The following discoveries show the benefits derived from the sun:
It lowers blood sugar and blood pressure.
It lowers cholesterol by converting it to vitamin D.
It utilizes calcium and phosphorus.
It increases red and white blood cells.
It strengthens the immune system.
It calms the nerves and increases adrenaline.
It destroys germs on the skin and reverses jaundice.
It increases circulation.
It helps eliminate pesticides and other chemicals from the system.
Sunlight is by far the best form of Vitamin D you can receive. Any opportunity that you get to bask in the sun, please do. Small amounts of vitamin D are said to be in dandelion greens, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, vegetable oils, and herbs such as alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, and parsley.
For those of you who may be concerned about sunburn, take a look at this recipe for natural sunscreen.
Negative thinking leads to negative living. We’ve heard this many times, but repetition is the best teacher, so I will say it again, “Thoughts are power.” How you decide to wield this power is up to you. There is a stream of well being that flows, and positive thinking puts you in alignment with this stream, so focus your attention on what brings joy and you will experience more joy.
Affirmation: Consistent adherence to the laws of health are absolutely necessary for spiritual development and success in life. Every cell in my body knows how to be well.
Healthy Food: Immune Builders
A few of the best foods to consume to prevent colds and to nourish and protect the body during the harsh winter months are: spirulina, blackstrap molasses, ginger, apples, lemon and other citrus fruits, apples, raw greens (kale, spinach, baby greens), steel cut oatmeal, cayenne, onions, garlic, quinoa. Prepaveyour way to a healthier lifestyle with high quality organic or sustainably grown fruits & vegetables. Check out Circle 77 for more details on my non-profit organization’s food buying club.
Many people are suffering from lack of sleep. Sleep is the greatest rejuvenator! It restores strength to your muscles, nerves, and brain. During sleep the body repairs, re-energizes, and prepares for renewed activity. One hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two hours of sleep after midnight, so make an effort to go to bed before 10 o’clock.
Peaks in melatonin, the body’s natural healing hormone, take place between hours nine and 12PM. If you suffer from insomnia, a soothing salt bath, relaxing stretches, and prayer or meditation can help you. Lastly, eat before sunset so that your body will have time for food digestion, and to prevent interference with your sleep. Sweet Dreams!
Systar Roni Auset is a licensed yoga instructor, healthy living practitioner, holistic educator, and master joyologist! Her aim is to improve her community’s quality of life by promoting a healthy lifestyle. By offering educational workshops, health oriented events, youth productions, and training programs, Systar Roni teaches and encourages holistic health as a way to empower people to make choices that will positively impact their own health and that of their peers, families, and communities. Using the latest information about nutrition and natural living, as well as sharing knowledge about the benefits of physical activity and meditation, she intends to be a strong source of vitality within the community. If you would like to schedule a workshop/yoga class, participate in the Circle 77 buying club, or support her work with youth, please visit The Children Shall Lead Them Productions.