Starting in October 2021, Jasmine Springs will be teaching BIPOC-Only Yoga on Sundays at 1pm. To be in Jasmine's presence is like being in the middle of a lush forest at twilight. She is grounded and etherial all at once. We are so lucky to have her on the teaching team at BYMC. Read on to learn about Jasmine, the role yoga plays in her life, and the importance of BIPOC-Only spaces.
What role has yoga played in your life?
I am a strong believer in vulnerability and owning every part of my story or journey. So to be real, yoga saved my life. I came to my practice at one of my lowest points ever, I was struggling with addiction, severe depression and didn’t want to live any more. My inner world was feeling so chaotic and that was blurring and mixing with my outer world. I didn’t know how to be alone with myself. It was through my mindfulness and meditation practice that I was actually able to experience peace within my thought world. I started retraining my brain to react to intrusive thoughts or negative self talk. Connecting with my breath helped to allow me to find meaningful connection to the present moment, and helped ease my anxiety attacks. As a queer, Black woman i have experienced a lot of trauma in my body. I am a survivor and never really felt safe or connected to my body. Using breath work and asana allowed for so much healing in my body. I began to love myself, and give gratitude to my body and to my breath for the first time in life. I got clean, my depression became manageable, I started to feel purpose in my life again. There are many factors from that time in my life that kept me alive, but starting my yoga journey definitely saved me in a major way.
What inspires you to teach a class that specifically centers Black and Indigenous folks and people of color (BIPOC)?
When I started my yoga journey I practiced alone, reading books, looking up videos on youtube. I couldn’t afford to take classes at any studios due to living paycheck to paycheck most of my adult life. Practicing yoga in community didn’t feel very accessible to me for many years. Four years ago I moved to Portland and started doing work trades at a couple studios around town. This often looked like 1-4 hours of cleaning a week in exchange for a week of unlimited classes at the studio. This allowed my asana practice to grow in a little bit more structure. But as I looked around the room I was often in a sea of white. This didn’t feel right in my body. It wasn’t until I started my teacher training at the Bhakti Center and had BIPOC teachers for the first time, as well as an amazing group of BIPOC humans in my cohort, who have grown to become dear friends and teachers, was I able to practice in what felt like true community. And this is what I hope for my classes to feel like.
Yoga is an act of liberation, and as Audre Lorde says, “Without community there is no liberation.”
What feels important about it being BIPOC-only?
For me yoga is healing, it is about coming home to yourself. Committing to BIPOC classes allows for a space free of whiteness where we can share in these sacred teachings and healing practices in a space just for us. Free of code switching, free of the white gaze, free of these masks and armor that many BIPOC folks have to put on to step outside into a world where white is the “standard”. There are so many classes and studios that are “unintentionally” white spaces, so I aim to INTENTIONALLY make this one hour class OUR space. Where we can fully take up space, connect in breath and movement, in healing and laughter. BIPOC only spaces allow us to cultivate our own joy which is so needed, especially right now.
What’s inspiring you right now? It could be anything, from quotes to books to a person or places and any multiplicity or intersections of these.
Something that has been potent medicine for me recently has been listening to Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer on audio book. Like many, my grief and anxiety for the natural world have been so heavy. Listening to this book continues to give me hope. I have laughed, cried and fallen in a deep meditative state listening to the author tell of her life story and passion work. I would definitely recommend reading Braiding Sweetgrass to anyone in need of a little hope. I was talking with a friend about this book and she said there is a period in her life before reading this book, and a period in her life after. I feel that in my heart, this book truly is medicine.
I work for Portland Public Schools, and being back in person after so many months away is definitely full of its challenges, but it is magical being back with students. Kids are so wise and forgiving and full of joy. My heart is full after these last few days of in person school and talking and laughing with students.