MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Inside the Southbrook Town Center in Whitehaven, if you peek behind the curtains you’ll see dozens of students on their mats inside of Brwnskn Yoga.
Patrick Mask just started his senior year in high school. Yoga gives him a moment to just breathe.
“At first I was like, yoga? I never did it before, so I thought it would be weird,” said Mask.
Shawandra Ford, the owner of Brwnskn Yoga, said many have never heard of yoga.
“The only images they have seen is images on TV or people that don’t look like them,” said Ford.
That’s why Ford opened Brwnskn Yoga, to make the mat accessible to everyone as we all face trauma.
“We’re going to have trauma. It’s inevitable. We (have to) learn how to start dealing with the feeling and acknowledging the feelings,” said Ford.
Now, Ford is meeting kids where they are and working with Memphis Shelby County Schools’ truant students and athletes. Yoga helps the students relieve stress and anxiety.
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“It starts with just a few students but by the end of the year I have over 100 practicing with me, so I know it’s making an impact on them,” said Ford.
“I really enjoy it. It helps me feel relieved and helps my bones relax,” said Mask.
Ford is now focusing on Memphis’ young boys and men, hoping that yoga’s calmness can cut crime.
“Maybe yoga, especially to those in underserved communities, could make a major impact,” said Ford.