The tragic images surrounding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have left many marks across our nation. Public outrage led to what may have become the largest ongoing series of protests in United States history, according to the New York Times.

That Times article from July 2020, citing a series of polls, stated that as many as 26 million people have participated in the protests at some point. And at this very moment, the story continues as ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin stands trial for Floyd’s murder.

Lanta Bice Totten, owner of Nourish, a yoga and movement studio in Northwood, New Hampshire, was moved by the disturbing revelations about police brutality in the U.S. and has decided to make a change.

“I could no longer remain silent about the rampant oppression of persons of color in this country. Talking about it does nothing. I could no longer sit back in my privilege and comfort and do nothing to support equity and justice,” she said.

Lanta Bice Totten

The national conversation about racial inequality caused Totten to consider her own line of work.

“I had to acknowledge the appropriation of Yoga in Western culture and move toward more authenticity and acknowledgement of this ancient wisdom. I knew I wanted Nourish to be diverse and welcoming to ALL people," she said. "It begins by creating an environment where the student sees themselves reflected in their teacher. It became clear that I needed diversity in my yoga teachers!”

Totten’s desire to make a difference has resulted in The Nourish UNITY Teacher Training Fund.

Nourish, along with three other yoga studios have joined forces to help fund the project.

“Our mission is to promote equity in the yoga field for Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color. We also want to include differently abled bodies and non-binary persons," Totten said. "Our minimum goal is to raise enough money to award full tuition to one individual per year, to the teacher training program of their choice. The only requirement is that the recipient brings it back home to New Hampshire, back to our shared community.”

To support the UNITY program, collaborative fundraiser Yogapalooza! will be held April 10-11. Two full days of studio activities are planned, including yoga, trapeze, lyra, burlesque, Zumba, breathing, and meditation.

In addition to Nourish, participating studios/instructors include:

  • Jenni Stevens, Embodied Directions, Rochester, NH
  • Erin Ehlers, Yoga on the Hill, Kittery, ME
  • Leah Shirton, Banyan Tree Yoga, Nashua, NH

Anyone looking for information on how to apply for the scholarship, how to register for Yogapalooza!, or how to donate to the fund can find more information here.

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