Celebrate Black History Month with KAY’s Teachers

Black History Month was first imagined by Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent University in 1970, and six years later, during the bicentennial celebration, President Gerald Ford recognized BHM as “…the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”. 

Every year since then, the American President has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a particular theme. For 2023, the theme for BHM is Black Resistance. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and Study, “This is a call to everyone, inside and outside the academy, to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.”

In honor of BHM, we created this space to lift up the voices and accomplishments of our Black/African American teachers. They are making huge impacts in their communities and sharing the power and peace of a yoga practice with the children and families in their lives, and beyond!

We are proud to present a few of their stories. We invite you to share in their celebrations, learn from their challenges, and connect with them through their social media and digital channels.

Rosemary Johnson

orlando, fl

I was working as a nanny and I would practice yoga while I was with the children I looked after. They would join in with me and try to follow along with the poses I was doing. It became a fun activity we would do during the day. So naturally when I heard of a program to get certified to teach kids yoga, I knew I had to do it!  

I got certified in March of 2020- right before the pandemic. So at first, it was a bit of a challenge being able to teach kids yoga because we weren’t able to do in person events for a while. But I was still very excited to start putting what I learned in my training to good use. I was able to teach kids yoga virtually but most kids were getting tired of doing all of the virtual activities. I had to get creative with how I could provide yoga in a safe way but still fun for the little ones! I took advantage of being able to meet up with families to practice yoga in the parks in our community.

I’m currently working under contract with the Orange County Public Library System. I’m teaching kids yoga weekly-at two different locations. This is huge for me because this has been my biggest opportunity so far.

I think it’s beautiful for children to be able to look out in their community and see a variety of possibilities for their future selves. I want Black girls and boys to practice yoga with me and think “wow, maybe I can be a yoga teacher when I grow up”. I want this to be the norm in our communities.

My hope is that I can have a lasting positive impact on all of the kids that I come in contact with. Even if they only see me once. I want them to go home and share what they learned with their siblings and parents. I would love for them to refer back to things they remember from class whenever they need a moment to calm down. I want these kids to grow up and still remember the breathing techniques they learned when they came to my class. I want them to grow into teens who practice mindfulness. My hope is that these children grow up and continue to grow in their yoga, mindfulness, and meditation practices–I hope that the light that’s in them rubs off on those who are around them.

Find Rosemary on Instagram @rosemarytheyogi

Almetria Turner

Memphis, TN

I discovered my passion of kids yoga by becoming a birth, postpartum and loss doula and a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher. From the time a baby is in his or her mother’s womb to the time they’re now bonding with her upon a yoga mat, I knew how important and effective teaching kids yoga would improve their personal, social and cognitive skills in early childhood development. 

That’s how Little Jumpers Yoga was formed under the umbrella of Roots + River Wellness; my doula and perinatal service company. At Little Jumpers Yoga, “we’re helping babies and children grow by leaps and bounds through mindfulness, meditation and movement techniques through the art of storytelling, games and fun.”

Growing up in the South and in the Bible Belt, most Christians believe yoga is a religious cult practice that involves some form of idol worship, praying, chanting and goes against their personal beliefs. It’s a matter of educating them to believe that yoga is not a religious practice, but it is a way of life that we all live by through the yamas and nyamas; that it also includes the asanas if you choose to do them. So, it’s a matter of educating parents and leaders within the school system and community the benefits that yoga can have on children’s social and emotional learning. That’s why yoga and SEL is becoming more popular especially since the pandemic because of the toll it has taken upon our children’s mental health. There are benefits to doing yoga for adults too. It’s a great bonding activity that’s fun and can help alleviate stress for the entire family to enjoy.

My hope for the future is that yoga is accessible to everyone regardless of the many variables, racism, classism, ageism, ableism and other disparities we’re facing in the world today. I try to practice ahimsa everyday by doing no harm towards others. May we find our satya (truth) in how we authentically show up everyday and leave this world and each other better than the way we found it. 

Contact Almetria here:

www.rootsandriverwellness.com 
www.fitandfinallyfree.com 
FB/IG: fitandfinallyfree 
IG: rootsandriverwellness

Camelia (Mimi) Felton

Atlanta, GA

I discovered my passion for kids yoga when I begin doing it with my grandson. He truly enjoyed it and I knew kids needed and could also benefit from a yoga practice of their own.

Yoga was a very important piece on my journey of healing and finding true peace. My goal and mission is to teach kids and their families the many wonderful gifts of yoga. I have a big heart for serving underserved communities. It’s so important that ALL children feel seen, heard, valued and supported. Yoga supports their over well-being and allows them to be whole, happy healthy and free little kiddos.

I have been able to accomplish so much as a kid’s yoga teacher. I been awarded several grants, built strong and solid partnerships, I have a community yoga/wellness space in the heart of Atlanta and the list goes on. I am so very proud of these things. I am continuing to grow and thrive. I am truly enjoying this journey.

My biggest challenge is getting into some of the schools to provide these services. It’s a lot of red tape. At the end of the day, I just want to help the kids and their families. I have found other ways to reach them until I get into the schools full time. 

Going forward, so many beautiful things are in store. I am learning to move in silence and let things flow. The main thing is to keep serving and providing spaces for kids and their families to receive yoga/wellness offerings.

Find Mimi here:

Instagram: @mimisyogakids
Facebook: Mimi’s Yoga Kids
Website: www.mimisyogakids.com

Cne’ Hamilton

Wellington, FL
I was laid off from my job of 7 years and decided to take an intentional break from corporate America. During my break and time of personal rediscovery, I sought out things to help fill my life with joy. Spending quality time with my kids was a priority after putting so much energy into my professional career. I ran across an advertisement for a weekend long kids yoga training in my area and decided to sign up.

I created Bee Mindful Yoga out of a desire to help others and make a positive impact in the world. What better way to do that than through the lives of our most valuable commodity…our children?! Children today have an insurmountable amount of stress to manage. School shootings, child suicide, and bullying are just a few of the evils that plague our children today. Yoga nurtures the mind, body, soul in many ways. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, teaches discipline, promotes self-esteem, reduces anger and anxiety. When practiced on a regular basis, children become equipped with invaluable tools that help them develop emotionally and physically.
In the words of Michelle Obama, “Always prioritize your children and family. We owe it to God, ourselves, and society to raise whole human beings.” I couldn’t agree more! Therefore, I’m beyond excited to share the gift of yoga with our future leaders of the world!
When I took the Kidding Around Yoga teacher training, I had no real intention of teaching Kids Yoga professionally. The excitement and level of engagement I witnessed from my kids during the family yoga session during my weekend training made me realize this could potentially be more than just a fun weekend training.

Recently, one of my yoga students told me she was moving to a new state. She was kind, respectful and a was joy to have in class. When her mom picked up from her last class, she told me how much my yoga class had helped to heal her daughter’s heart. She went on to say that her father abandoned her 5 years ago and it has been very challenging for her at times. She said yoga brought her so much peace. I gave her mother a huge hug, shed lots of happy tears and thanked her for sharing her precious daughter with me. I don’t take the work that I do lightly. Instances like this remind me that the work I am doing is extremely important to my students, their parents and our world!

Growing a business is hard work. Sometimes my efforts outweigh the return. That’s when I go back to my “why.” My girls are my motivation so when I feel like giving up, I remind myself how yoga has positively impacted their lives. Most parents value competitive sports but not yoga. Personally, I think that’s just due to lake of education. Marketing and brand awareness is also challenging. Tapping into the right community who values your services and are willing to support is a constant uphill battle. This is still a work in progress.

Yoga is a beautiful mind/body resource that offers valuable tools to help young children navigate the pressures of adolescence. I believe every child deserves an opportunity to experience the magical benefits of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. I want to impact as many young lives as I can.

Contact Cne’ here:

Website: www.beemindfulyoga.com
IG: @beemindfulyoga 
FB: Bee Mindful Yoga
Email: Cne@beemindfulyoga.com

Yolonda Deon

central florida

I discovered my passion for teaching kids yoga when I owned my indoor playground, Amaya Papaya Playlounge. I taught enrichment programs to small children and their parents. When teaching, I would incorporate yoga and meditation into my lesson. I knew that besides the S.T.E.M. concepts I was teaching, yoga, and meditation would make a massive difference for kids and their grownups!

I am a self-proclaimed PLAYologist, passionate about play, mindfulness, women’s holistic wellness, and childhood development! I am a spiritual activist, peaceful warrior, and diversity advocate. As a former distance runner, I found yoga as a way to recover after runs. As my life progressed, yoga became a way to heal and learn from my past. Part of this past has inspired me to teach yoga and inspire people (specifically kids and teens) to use it the same way, as a mental health tool.

Last summer, I added to my Kidding Around Yoga certification by becoming a 95-hour certified children’s yoga teacher through Kidding Around Yoga! With this training, I hope to train educators, people in the family entertainment business, and community leaders about the importance of mindfulness and kids’ yoga! 

I have often been the only brown face in the room. I have gotten used to being one of many first or only. I am the first in my family to graduate from college, the first Black-owned  playspace owner in Florida, and the only Black (Yoga alliance) Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher in Florida. It is important to me to allow children to learn from someone who looks like them so they know that yoga is inclusive and accessible to all. A challenge I face is not being able to spread my message and seek out as many people of color as I would like. I want everyone to know the benefits of yoga.

While I am proud of my achievements, my mission is to normalize Black faces in these and other spaces. Being the first is great, but paving the way for more is most important. I hope to contribute to the growth of diversity in this community and create an environment where kids enjoy and internalize my message. Furthermore, I hope to encourage and motivate other Black instructors to join me in this mission and recognize the potential we have to alter the lives of those around us through yoga.

Yoga and mindfulness are essential for EVERYONE. The more we saturate our communities with this message and teach our children these skills, our world will be filled with more peace, love, and sunshine!

Contact Yolonda here:

Website www.yolondadeon.com
IG: @yolondadeon_
FB: @yolondadeon
Linked In: @yolondadeon
YouTube: @YolondaDeon

FREE WORKSHOP RECORDING:

Bringing Mindfulness into the Classroom

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FREE WORKSHOP RECORDING:

Relaxation & Meditation for Kids

Watch at your leisure!