Two Women Of Color Impacting Youth Wellness In Underserved Communities + Bringing The Conversation To WellSpring 2018

Wellspring is the inaugural 3-day wellness festival and conference powered by Wanderlust. The weekend (October 26-28th) is filled with 200+ classes, workshops, panels, and activities. Wanderlust host 60+ events annually and with their newest launch of Wellspring is now dedicated to advocating for more diversity in wellness, and the possibilities of global culture shifting. With an inclusive line up of talent, and panels like ‘Wellness Beyond Whiteness’ ‘Changing the Face of Wellness’ and two live podcast recordings from the number one holistic wellness platform for women of color Black Girl In OM - the wellness scene is truly taking steps towards a diversified future. We took some time to chat with two featured women on the Wellspring talent lineup, who effortlessly represent what it means to be black + well. Nicole Cardoza, founder + executive director of Yoga Foster , and Ebony Smith, founder of Yoga N’ Da Hood.

Ebony Smith, yoga and self-proclaimed "ghetto guru," found yoga when she least expected to. Smith's yoga journey started at the age of twenty-nine after a doula told her that she should start doing yoga to prepare her body for childbirth. Smith soon started trading cleaning services to prioritize the practice yoga. It didn't take long for Smith to come to the realization that yoga could not only help her in her quest for social and emotional development and self-regulation but also the impact that it could have on her community. Thus, the non-profit Yoga N’ Da Hood was born with the goal of making wellness more tangible and accessible to underserved communities by offering no-cost classes in yoga and mindfulness.

Today, Yoga N’ Da Hood provides 21 schools in the DISD (Dallas Independent School District) with 81 classes per semester in addition to the open classes across the DFW area and workshops on the importance of being compassionate towards ourselves. With an after school program ‘The Mindful Movement’ - classroom issues are transformed into stress relief opportunities, for both students and teachers. “The positive emotional and mental effects of yoga promote healthier, non-confrontational behavior in the children, making it easier for them to focus and learn”. Smith is currently in the process of interviewing yoga teachers, who will work with students within the Mindful Movements program. In the act of being intentional, the approach includes training teachers to be culturally aware of the different situations and circumstance that children of color experience in underserved communities. When asked what does it mean to be black + well, Smith says “community”. She notes that there is, "power in being black... [and] there is power in being well" and hopes to see wellness be much more accessible in black communities now and in the future. Her biggest challenge - growing herself in order to grow her business.

Nicole Cardoza is a all around wellness maven, making strides through multiple businesses centered around the reclamation of healing. Yoga Foster is a nonprofit that empowers educators with yoga training for the classroom. Cardoza also runs DAHLA (pronounced like ‘Dolla Dolla’ Bill Y’all) - an online blog for financial healing which sparks conversation about overcoming the shame + stigma associated with money amongst women of color. If that isn’t enough, Nicole also Co-Founded the Mental Health League, a retail shop that uses sports merchandise to raise awareness around mental health disorders.  

“The first time I did Yoga, was the first time I felt at home in my own body” Cardoza says. Yoga was an opportunity for a young girl who felt discomfort around her body at the time, to become aware of self, and accept what is, flaws and all. The practice took Nicole from feeling uncomfortable, to realizing her strengths, weakness, & ability to tap into her full potential, unapologetically becoming her true authentic self.

Yoga Foster has reached 500+ classrooms and creates a safe space that allows both teacher and student to feel at home in their own bodies, with a sense of oneness, focus, and fostering a deeper understanding and respectable relationship amongst one another.

When asked what does mindfulness mean to you Nicole says “a practice of liberation”. The liberation of all the things you think hold you back internally, all of the external pressures that may distract you, and liberation in your power to choose.

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If you are in the California area this weekend join us at Wellspring - tickets here Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for snippets on our IG stories @blackandwell.