BYFree: Yoga Training For Everyone

We are a collective of highly qualified, teachers-of-color who provide free yoga and mindfulness classes in Baltimore. We are raising funds to offer these classes sustainably and free to the public. We believe in yoga and mindfulness for everyone and everybody. It serves as a way of fostering physical, social, economic, emotional, and environmental change in our in our bodies, our families, and our communities. The health benefits have been proven scientifically and have been tried and tested for thousands of years. You can see a few of these benefits here: NIH Studies and The International Journal of Yoga .

Check out our video for some clips to catch the vibe!

These classes are to bring both these health benefits, the skill and knowledge, and an economic vehicle to the most excited black and brown yogis, to bring the gift of yoga to these communities. Each trainee will receive free yoga teaching certification through Baltimore Yoga Village (an average investment of $3,000 per student). Many of us have felt the powerful health benefits of regular practice and dedication, and we invite you to join in our excitement to share it with others.

Five teachers started this project last year with the mission of reaching communities that don’t have access to these resources. It grew quickly to 10 free weekly classes within the last year, through generous contributions from early supporters like you, City investment from the Enoch Pratt Library to support access at five locations (Penn Ave, Herring Run, Northwood, Reisterstown Rd, and Edmonson Avenue), and through partnerships with Coppin State University, Ingoma Foundation (on Caroline Street), and Western High School. This fall, with your investment, we will add classes. Given the growing demand, and your generosity, we can extend this successful pilot to more sites throughout East and West Baltimore.

Imaging how Baltimore will change from all of the benefits gained from inner and outer peace. Our city of Baltimore suffers from a racially based socioeconomic disparity greater than many U.S. cities. This is the time to expand our roles, and numbers, as peace-keepers, and empowered teachers. Here’s a recent Baltimore Sun article that reveals the reality.

We defy stigmas and stereotypes. There is incredible excitement in these classes with us. For the first time at the front of the room, people see these incredible teachers, and feel hopeful. They know from the moment they walk in the room, it is possible to practice yoga and meditation no matter what your size, shape, gender orientation, nationality, age, or race they will find and encouraging community — they see before them, relatable role models — they feel nurtured by credible allies. Our programs are of the highest quality. These yoga teachers include qualified occupational therapists, social workers, and health center administrators. We understand the body, stress, and how to adapt classes therapeutically to meet those practicing, exactly where they are, with all that they bring. We reach the broadest diversity of amazing people through BYFree.

The benefits of yoga are received through regular practice, which means first we must be able to access it and afford classes until it becomes deeply engrained aspect of everyday life. There is some funding out there for youth mindfulness programs, however, we believe in teaching those old enough to come to us voluntarily, and stay with us for as many years as they like! We spend $0 administratively or on research development, and 100% of donations go toward funding classes, trainings, and supplies. Through your contribution, we will double the reach of our services in the next year. We will add locations and train teachers, ready to share. Those who complete yoga teacher training are able to enter into a market of more than 36 million practitioners in the USA and a $16 billion industry. We are excited to offer economic access to community members who desire the opportunity to enter this market as teachers.