A nonprofit group is opening up three free yoga classes every Thursday for beginners, focusing on helping Black, Indigenous and radicalized women, as well as non-binary people.
“There is so much room to show up more authentically,” said Tai Salih, founder of Red Ma’at Collective which is organizing the sessions.
Starting Sept. 21 they are putting on the sessions in partnership with OnePeopleTo, a black-owned cultural wellness sanctuary.
OnePeopleTo strives to decolonize mental health for Black and African people by providing trauma-informed wellness through spiritual and ancestral practices. Classes are offered in their wellness centre at 14 Irwin Ave.
Throughout the sessions are offered mental health tools, such as meditation techniques.
A public area is also provided to mingle with fellow attendees. At Red Ma’at, Salih encourages conversations, asking questions, and actively getting everyone’s input.
As a nonprofit organization, Red Ma’at does not charge for its classes. It is committed to being an accessible place that anyone from any background can access.
“Healing has become so expensive,” iRed Ma’at instructor Jennifer Hui said. “If it is not coming from a genuine space, you can feel that classes aren’t for the students. I grew bored of the toxic positivity there was in the industry.”
For example, being close to TTC stations means more people can access it without a car. This ultimately gives a space to marginalized people so they can come together and be themselves, Hui said.
Having spaces made and created for marginalized people is important in order for them to be seen and heard. In the 2019 case study “Why participate? An intersectional analysis of LGBTQ people of color activism in Canada,” Alexie Labelle shows the importance of the common narratives people collectively have, building a network and responding to a sociopolitical context.
“Marginalization at the intersection of race, sexuality, and gender, as experienced throughout one’s personal and militant trajectories, acts as a driving force of social movement participation,” Labelle wrote.
Guiding women through their healing journey is what Red Ma’at Collective strives to do. Women circles and healing circles are one of their approaches and enhance internal growth to healing trauma. Having grass roots and partnerships with community-based organizations allows them to create a space for all.
“Showing up for your community means listening and holding space for what is being asked, and not dictating how things need to be,” said Tai Salih, who founded Red Ma’at Collective in 2015.
After teaching at multiple yoga studios, Salih saw the lack of diversity there and she shared how weird it was not to see anyone who looked like her.
“It was a desire to create space for us. It started with me and my experience and then for the community,” Salih said.
“I didn’t like how the system instruction was,” said Salih. “It didn’t speak to the experience of racialized women where there are so many interests that come into play regarding our mental health that are just invisible in that field.”
The last Fred Hatha and Yin yoga class is offered on Oct. 5. This will be the only date available to sign up for this hour-long class. Head to Eventbrite to select a date and save your spot.
“It is a space for you to do your healing,” Salih said. “Not only the financial aspect is removed but who you are is welcomed and celebrated.”