The Breathwork Practitioner Who Holds Space for Racial Trauma

After my training, I noticed there weren’t many breathwork facilitators of color. And I thought: How would my community access some of the more specific issues that they deal with when they would need an individual session for that kind of thematic tailoring, and those run from $150 to $300 a session? That’s just not accessible for a community that earns so much less on average than White men. Knowing that really fueled my passion to introduce this work to my community and make it accessible and welcoming.

Breathwork is a very specific type of tool. It’s more active than regular meditation. You’re feeling your body processing emotions and energy. And because of that, there’s education that’s needed. That’s not widely available outside of New York and Los Angeles. This is bigger: We have Black women who are in Dallas or Houston or Birmingham who are interested and need that access to learning. So that’s what we provide. Black Girls Breathing tours to bring breathwork to those cities that aren’t necessarily huge wellness spots, but where women are interested in this kind of work. Before COVID, our tour schedule was looking like twelve cities across the US—and we’ve had an increase in those tuning in internationally for our virtual sessions, so I’m putting Toronto, London, Paris, and South Africa on my wish list.

You can’t necessarily aspire to and acquire mental health when you’re being traumatized and retraumatized from day-to-day microaggressions and seeing videos of someone being killed for no reason. In a normal yoga class, you may not be able to address that in an intentional way. So we’re creating this space where we can really home in on specific issues within our community, make space to talk about how racism impacts our mental health, and then not just talk about it: We use this tool, breathwork, that helps us actively manage that stress.

It’s also inspiring to me that we have a large population of Black ladies ranging in age from their forties to their seventies who participate in Black Girls Breathing. Self-care is not just for the millennial generation. Older generations are learning and making space for themselves to undo the decades and decades of trauma that they may not have been attending to before.

With all sorts of wellness practitioners and wellness platforms, there are certain levels of access you can get for free. You can listen to free guided meditations and sign up for a newsletter for free insights. But I was pushed toward how we could offer the full hour-and-a-half breathwork session in a way that’s accessible for everyone. My whole mission is to ensure that we have a growing number of Black women who are able to opt in for zero dollars, or even in the five- to twenty-five-dollar range. That’s my goal with our virtual breathwork sessions. We have a sliding scale for payment, and our overhead for virtual sessions isn’t as much as when we’re in person, so we’re discovering ways we can be more creative to ensure that we’re inviting all types of Black women to have access to this work.

There’s a growing awareness among non-Black people of why a place like this exists for Black women. With the mainstream waking up to the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, there’s been a rush of support from non-Black allies to buy our sessions for Black attendees. People can support our mission to provide free breathwork to Black women here.