The Collective STL

As breathing becomes a political discussion, a group of Black yogis in St. Louis wants to remind us all how important is to “Just Breathe.”

The Collective STL, a black-owned yoga studio in Old North, is holding a free four-week wellness series called “Just Breathe STL” from 6:00-8:00 p.m. starting July 15. The outdoor wellness fair will be held on the lawn at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

Co-founder Terry Harris explained that the series was created as a result of the uprising of Black Lives Matter protests throughout the nation.

“This whole notion of being able to breathe and the sacredness of breath in general and yet the scarcity of Black breath and truly somebody on your neck and preventing you from being able to breathe are the fear and perception of having to hold your breath.” Harris said.

“All good things have to start with good energy, and good energy is being able to breathe freely. “That’s the concept. My proud moment is to see Black people come into a space with other Black people and to be able to just relax. You can see it.”

With a focus on breath, family and mindfulness, the weekly series will include a variety of health and wellness activities including yoga, journaling, art, biking and meditative hikes. The event will offer children’s activities as well as live music and food.

“Just Breathe St. Louis is very social justice at heart,” Harris said. “We are going to create a space where individuals can let everything go and just breathe. Bring your kids, this is a family fun intergenerational experience.”

Formed three years ago with a mission to bring health and wellness to the Black community, The Collective STL is the only Black-owned yoga studio in St. Louis. Co-founders include Harris’ wife, Ericka Harris, and Melinda Oliver and Alonzo Nelson Jr.

Harris said The Collective is about three things: space, community and yoga. With weekly donation-based yoga sessions, the group creates a loving and inviting environment. Harris said his favorite moments from the Collective STL comes from watching the yoga classes grow. They started with four or five students when they first opened their studio; today classes have as many 50 to 60 students.

“It’s like a family reunion every time we get together,” Harris said, adding he wants to create a family atmosphere for all of St. Louis.

“We want to make sure that if you love St. Louis, if you care about St. Louis then you need to care about all the people in the St. Louis region being able to breathe. Especially, more importantly and rightfully, the Black people in the city of St. Louis.”

Register for “Just Breath STL” at the event or by downloading The Collective STL app. For more information, visit their website at www.thecollectivestl.org or follow their Instagram account @thecollectivestl.

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