Yoga instructor shares vision to open studio in Gentilly
Grow Dat Youth farm’s Eco campus hosted yoga and reiki instructor Valerie McMillian’s website launch party for The Ohm Well, a holistic health and wellness company, on Nov. 15.
The gathering featured live painting, free vegan food, merchandise, and a preview of a documentary about McMillian instructing students of color in classes called “Black and Brown Bodies in Motion”. Those classes take place at Dancing Grounds, located at 3705 St. Claude Ave. McMillian is now in the process of achieving her dream, opening up a permanent studio in Gentilly, where she can continue her work and her initiative to serve more people of color, seniors, and youth.
“When I first became a yoga teacher my goal was black women because my mom died of heart disease and I was overweight myself, so that was my target demographic. To bring more yoga to black women because we’re so disproportionally affected by heart disease,” McMillian said.
When “Black and Brown Bodies in Motion” started, McMillian said the initiative for spreading “body awareness” expanded from the demographic of just black women to people of color in general. The website launch party celebrated McMillian’s business and what’s to come in her supplying body wellness services in the Gentilly area. McMillian said she was asked repeatedly to come teach in New Orleans East or Gentilly.
Eliza Fields, Black and Brown Bodies in Motion student, started the program in Sept. 2015. She said the classes are still in their beginning stages and called McMillian’s instruction phenomenal.
Loyola students Victoria Nachman, environmental studies junior, and Cameron Carter, music industry studies junior, are both Reiki students of McMillian’s that showed up in support of her yoga services. When asked how Reiki benefits her, Nachman said the practice positively influences her reactions.
“Reiki allows me to be powerful in my sensitivity, and it allows me to find power through compassion,” Nachman said.
Yoga instructor Emma May met McMillian at Life Yoga and also practices Reiki under her. She said she was proud of McMillian for making a transition.
“She’s in this pivotal moment in her life where she had to make this really big leap from working as a business person to this spiritualist lifestyle and trying to spread light,” May said. “And I just really felt like I needed to come and nudge her and let her know I totally support her.”
Jamie Broussard, Grow Dat Operations and Communications Coordinator, said that McMillian looks to have a strong community.
“I’m excited to see her business create a space for people of color, and I’m just proud to be able to provide a space for the event and the opening of her business.”
McMillian is offering a a three week series that combines yoga, meditation and discussion for participants to use their own tools for healing and wellness. The required reading for the class discussions on Thursdays is “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar. The classes take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Nov. 28 to Dec. 15 at 3443 Esplanade Avenue in the second floor yoga room. For more information, visit The Ohm Well’s website here.