By Nicole S. Daniel
The Birmingham Times
Adi Devta Kaur, a trauma-informed yoga instructor, knows the importance of the second annual Melanin Mala Project especially during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
The event takes place on May 21 at East Lake Park from 12 – 3 pm.
“Yoga and mental health go hand in hand because trauma-informed yoga is beneficial and allows individuals the space to reclaim their body to come home to their body,” said Kaur, who is founder of the event.
“The Melanin Mala Project was built from rejection, people of color not having visibility and not being represented in the yoga community so with my brand, The Blk Yogi Tribe, we wanted to bring the collective together in a meaningful way,” she said.
The Melanin Mala Project is a space where attendees practice 108 rounds of sun salutation, said the instructor.
“Each round is dedicated to a loved one, an ancestor, someone who’s not able to practice in this moment. That’s what makes it so powerful because we call out somebody’s name at the top of each round,” she said.
Kaur said one class cannot heal all of your trauma and not one meditation can heal all of your trauma. “But in these classes we are mindful of the participants that are there knowing they have experience things.”
Helping to deal with trauma is a key part of what Kaur does. “When [people] experience trauma, they disassociate. Yoga helps you to come back into your body to find awareness, to locate sensations within your body and to unpack that on the mat. A lot of times we compartmentalize things in our brain, things that have happened to us. And so I believe that yoga helps with mental health by helping us to unpack those things one by one, piece by piece, breath by breath.”
This year’s Melanin Mala Project event will be instructed by yoga professionals from Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Alabama.
Last year, Kaur said 150-plus people showed up and so far over 200 have signed up for this year’s event.
“It’s important for me to continue to have the Melanin Mala Project in the community for that visible representation. People of color only take up less than 10 percent of the yoga space, and only 6 percent are Black instructors,” she said. “… We have 10 percent or less Black people practicing … so it is really important for me to continue this project, continuing to share social and emotional learning and development within the Black community.”
She wants people to know that “yoga is accessible, and it is something that is available … whether that’s religion, or folks or shying away from yoga, because they think about their body type or weight or gender or ethnicity or anything, this event is really to show people that there’s a space on the mat for you.”
Mental Health Therapist, Yoga Instructor, Fancy Spears with Emotion Therapy in Birmingham sponsors the Melanin Mala Project every year. “She has donated to make sure our yoga instructors are compensated for their time,” Kaur said.
Guests must bring yoga mats. For more visit theblkyogitribe.org. There will be three food vendors and raffle ticket giveaways for attendees to enjoy, she said.
The second annual Melanin Mala will take place on Sunday May 21, 2023 at East Lake Park from 12 – 3 p.m.