Black men are getting serious about their health and jumping into the yoga scene.
Before passing away due to cancer, Baba Groden told his wife, Sherri Doucette, that he wanted to advise Black men how to eat well and practice yoga and meditation. And although he wasn’t able to, she followed through for him.
Doucette, a licensed yoga practitioner, teaches classes for Black men in “the heart of the hood” in Dallas. She calls them “Broga,” yoga for brothers.” Her goal is to address the emotional and physical health disparities of their community, NBC reports.
“You carry 400 years of wounds and trauma. Feel the pain and weight, but let it go,” Doucette tells her participants, according to NBC.
Black men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 60 percent more likely to die from stroke than non-Hispanic white men, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And between 15 to 20 percent of Black men go through depression.
Doucette’s classes are offered through her nonprofit, Litehouse Wellness, which works to strengthen the African-American family and community by healing Black men. According to WFAA, dealing with mental and physical health troubles is what brought one participant, Patrick Brown, to her yoga classes.
“A lot of times, we’ve been taught or have seen examples where we keep everything in,” Brown told WFAA. “We keep everything bottled up. But as a result, we end up having health problems, end up on medications.”
Doucette isn’t the only Black yoga instructor, either. She, among other practitioners, is joining Changa Bell, founder of the Black Male Yoga Initiative, by creating yoga classes that are culturally inclusive for Black men and boys.
Doucette’s donation-based classes are held at the Pan African Connection in South Dallas every Thursday evening, according to WFAA. She guides her participants through a variety of yoga poses and breathing exercises in hopes that Black men will leave taking their health more seriously.
“I had never been in or seen a room full of Black men doing yoga,” said one attendee Terry Odis. “I can be myself here.”