Meditation

Black Girls Breathing Founder Jasmine Marie Is Making Meditation Accessible to Heal Her Community | Vogue

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As the fight for racial justice takes place against the backdrop of the global pandemic, the need for regenerative self-care services that center Black women has never been more apparent. Since 2018, Atlanta-based breathwork practitioner Jasmine Marie has been helping Black women heal from the trauma that disproportionately impacts their everyday with Black Girls Breathing, an inclusive wellness platform that provides meditational breathwork classes.

“I wanted to create a space very specific to Black women and their emotional, mental, and spiritual needs,” explains Marie. “Black women are dying from chronic stress because it’s linked to diseases such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. We’re the most affected by these ailments, and not being able to lower our cortisol and reframe our nervous system is killing Black women.”

For Marie, a graduate of New York University’s Stern Business School, accessibility is just as important as the breathwork itself, especially in these emotionally taxing times. “We’ve known the need is there, we’ve been doing the work, but now more people are recognizing just how important it is,” says Marie. Prior to COVID-19, Black Girls Breathing hosted affordable in-person and virtual active breathwork sessions. They toured cities across the country—Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta—building a community ranging in age from 18 to over 65. But beginning in May, as the dire consequences of the global pandemic continued to set in, Black Girls Breathing introduced a bi-monthly, virtual breathwork circle series on a sliding scale, with participants able to join for $0-$25. Then, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, Marie sought to provide even more support by launching a crowdfunding mission to raise funds that will give 100 Black women per session free entry to virtual breathwork circles for one year.

Here, Marie tells Vogue how she came into breathwork, the origins of Black Girls Breathing, and how she’s continued adapting in an increasingly challenging time.

When did breathwork first become a part of your life, and what struck you most about its benefits?
When I was living in New York City, I was going through a stressful period of personal issues on top of a crazy work schedule. I ended up finding breathwork through the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. The pastor there led in an untraditional way and introduced me to a community center where breathing teacher Kathleen Booker was offering classes for free. I went every week and developed my own practice. For me, it’s been a tool post-trauma, not just the general stuff you deal with when you begin to do the work, but personal trauma. After exiting a traumatic situation, when you come back home to yourself, you begin to heal your relationship to your body, intuition, and inner voice. Breathwork just really helped me get out of my mind. Having free access to breathwork not far from where I lived was revolutionary in the sense that it’s not a tool you often have in the Black community. And that’s why there’s an educational aspect to the work we do—we’re opening up and moving past the stigmas of mental health.

Read more at www.vogue.com

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