Germantown residents are welcome to move, energize and heal at the Joseph E. Coleman Free Library.
The library and Roots 2 Rise yoga will launch their second yoga series, “EveryBODY Yoga”. Roots 2 Rise is a local non-profit with a mission to provide accessible yoga and meditation to everyone, regardless of age, ability or income. Germantown resident Brianne Scott is a therapist and yoga instructor. She led the library’s yoga classes last November and December, and will also teach for the second program.
“I’m just excited for people to come out who have never practiced before, or who maybe have only practiced at home and have fallen out of an opportunity to go because it’s so expensive,” Scott said.
The public can attend free yoga classes every other Tuesday from February 4 to April 28. Roots 2 Rise is introducing yoga ambassadors to market the program and increase participation.
Aurora Sanchez,Healthy Communities Coordinator for the Free Library, attended the first program and said sheexperienced benefits.
“A lot of people think you gotta lift weights, you gotta run, you gotta run hard, you gotta run miles,” Sanchez said. “But yoga gives us a lot of those same benefits in a less aggressive way.”
Roots 2 Rise brings yoga to communities, holding yoga classes in schools and community centers throughout Philadelphia. Founder Tim Wagner explained that the goal is to be affordable and accessible.
“We are doing work in the local neighborhoods, as opposed to asking the students to come to a specific location,” Wagner said. “We are [providing] a lower cost option than what you would get if you were to go to a yoga studio.”
Yoga was developed in Northern India over 5,000 years ago and has grown into a sensation in the United States. According to a 2012 Yoga Journal study, about one in 15 Americans practice yoga, and more than four-fifths of participants are white.
Individual class prices range from $5 to $20, or more. Monthly studio memberships can cost between $100 and $200. In Germantown, where the average household income is $28,668.00, and the neighborhood is 74%African-American, the practice of yoga may not be affordable or as well known.
Further up the east coast a similar yoga program is also trying to break barriers. Hands to Heart Yoga is a Boston program which provides free yoga classes to low-income and trauma-inflicted communities. Susan Lovett, instructor for Hands to Heart, said that when yoga is accessible to people, regardless of race and income, it can have powerful effects.
“Yoga can help people feel what they’re feeling and then make choices based on what they’re feeling,” Lovett said. “So all of that can be shown to be healing and empowering.”
But Scott said the main goal of Roots 2 Rise is to create a welcoming yoga experience. She said that yoga stereotypes might prevent some people from attending.
“People go into yoga classes and they’re really westernized and they’re just for the improvement of flexibility and strength,” Scott said. “But the practice of yoga is to be able to clear your mind, focus yourself, and just be more present in your body. So I teach it that way.”
There is no online registration needed for the Coleman Library EverBODY yoga series. Classes will take place from 6 to 7 p.m.