2016: when seeds sprout
Updated: Nov 23, 2017
2014 found us sowing seeds of hope for healing. in 2015, we put down roots, finding firm footing within Boston's urban communities. in the midst of the many changes and challenges of 2016, we began our push to get above ground and experienced the excitement of seeing our seeds begin to sprout.
Our growing season began by offering with a month-long residency in Boston, where we offered free yoga education at organizations throughout the city during April. Over four weeks, we explored the importance of applying vinyasa krama to our yoga practice with seniors during Yoga for Older Adults at the Parker Hill Branch Library in Boston's Mission Hill/Roxbury neighborhood. In the second half of the series, Keyona Aviles, a wonderful yoga and fitness instructor and licensed mental health clinician and founder of boutique wellness practice Inspired Release, took the helm and has been hosting Y4OA ever since.
We were honored in 2015 when the Yoga Diversity Initiative asked us to mentor their second yoga teacher training scholarship recipient, Melissa Alexis. From 2015 through 2016, we supported (and was supported by!) Melissa as she began to share yoga in community. After assisting an Earthseed Yoga session, she taught one of her first classes as a certified instructor at Yoga for Older Adults. Melissa continues to encourage us to Live Inspired, Free and Energized through her dance and yoga offerings LIFEforce2.0.
We continued cultivating connections to improve our community's health with the seniors of MSPCC's Kinnections Grandparents group, sharing ways to incorporate chair yoga poses and yogic breathing into our lives to relieve some of the stress of parenting.
We also spent the afternoon bringing yoga into the kitchen with the teens and staff of Future Chefs. During our workshop, we discussed the importance of healthy digestion of food and energy, and practiced standing and seated yoga poses and breathing techniques to promote digestion and absorption. After our practice, discussion and a moment of deep relaxation, we channeled our heightened awareness and focus into preparing a delicious lunch of savory channa masala.
Our residency came to a close on April's full moon with Electric Relaxation, a laid-back evening of yoga and music to raise funds for the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition. Held in Roxbury's Inner Sanctum art sanctuary, we partnered with DJ Eartha Clit on Earth Day to practice mystical mind-body movement to the soothing, soulful hip hop sounds. After an hour of tranquility, we enjoyed tasty vegan tapas (courtesy of Calypso Catering), healing teas and vibrant vino, all for a great cause.
The summer was full of bright, warm, energizing interactions. We kicked off our summer season in June with the launch of the Boston Public Health Commission's Summer Outdoor Fitness Series.
In our second year participating in the series, we increased the number of classes we offered each week (from one to two), and practiced poses, breath work and meditation techniques to connect with the energy of the earth and its elements at Dorchester's Adams Park and Mattapan's Almont Park.
Thanks to donations from our community, we hit the road for two weeks of travel, teaching and learning about spiritual ecology and how we use mind/body, faith and community organizing and artistic practices and principles to achieve justice.
We presented the workshop Chant Down Babylon: Yoga Mantras for Movement Builders at the 18th Annual Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI, one of the largest gatherings in the country for educators, activists, organizers and creatives who use media to realize social and political change. We also attended panels and workshops on mothering as a revolutionary praxis, Black women farmers, gathering oral histories through community storytelling projects, and women in hip hop.
From Detroit we went to New Orleans for GreenFaith’s North American Convergence, a training for millennial faith and community leaders who “put their beliefs in action for the environment in meaningful ways”.
50 convergees, including Earthseed Yoga, took part in this week-long assembly, where we learned about the impact of climate change on urban and rural southern communities and environments. Louisiana residents shared their knowledge and stories of how racism, gentrification, economic inequalities and environmental degradation, including oil drilling and weather disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, have contributed to devastating changes to the health, cultures and land of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou.
The third session of our Yoga for Older Adults class series started in July. Seniors, including several new and many returning students, learned about and practiced sun and moon salutations (surya and chandra namaskar).
Also in July, we were rising and shining two mornings a week with the youth of Sportsmens Tennis and Enrichment Center’s summer camp. After shaping ourselves into a huge yoga circle on the indoor court, we talked about the elements of nature inside and all around us, practiced yoga poses named after aspects of nature, created affirmations to inspire ourselves and each other, and tried really, really hard to bring our minds and bodies to a place of quiet and stillness during meditation. :)
Behind STEC and bordering Dorchester’s Franklin Field and Harambee Park sits a 1/4 acre lot of vegetables — tomatoes, eggplant, salad greens, garlic, peppers. Here, as well as in two other plots managed by inner city agriculture org Urban Farming Institute, we planted, watered, weeded, trimmed and harvested produce for sale at farmers markets and local restaurants across Boston.
We brought our summer season to a close with Counterpose, a cross-generational yoga and writing workshop at the Parker Hill Branch Library where we shared our stories of self care and spirituality as we discussed the importance of rest and relaxation in cultivating health and wellness.
Our process of breaking ground and slowly beginning to sprout has involved just as much work below the surface (inside our own bodies, hearts, minds and souls) as it has activity above the soil. In 2017, we have faith in the firm foundation we’ve set, and are ready to take in the nutrients we need to empower our growth.