One of the many things that sets Luna and Sol Yoga apart from other yoga studios is an emphasis on community which extends beyond the physical practice of yoga, to honor the roots of yogic tradition. Luna and Sol Yoga embodies the meaning of “oran a azu nwa (it takes a village)” by providing vital support to expectant mothers and their families.
Luna and Sol Yoga offers peer support groups and mentorship in addition to in person and online streaming yoga classes. They aid the health of Black mothers/birthing persons, fathers, partners, and families both before, during, and after birth by providing respite care, fostering a positive sense of self, and increasing access to healthy and joyous births.
Owner Merissa Stern found her calling as a yoga practitioner when she became pregnant for the first time, “As becoming a teen mom happened in my life, I came to appreciate the positive impact a regular yoga practice had not just physically but (on) my mental well-being,” Merissa says on her website. “I love how yoga has created safe spaces within myself and on my mat that I can come back to regardless of life's chaos.”
As a WOC-owned business, yoga and activism are not separate for Stern. As a survivor of domestic and family abuse, Stern can empathize with other women who are utilizing yoga as a tool to aid their healing journey. She continuously advocates for Maternal Health, Mental Health, Healing Justice for BIPOC communities, and systemic policy changes.
Luna and Sol Yoga addresses the high rates of Black infant and maternal mortality in L.A. County by helping reduce the impact of stress on the body by offering the following classes: Pre/Postnatal Yoga and Mindfulness, How to Support Your Partner During Birth, as well as Grief and Pregnancy classes that may be done one-on-one or in a group setting. Classes are offered on a sliding scale to make practice affordable and inclusive. Certified in Trauma-Informed Yoga, Stern strives to ensure that all classes are held within a safe space to foster self-awareness and self-regulation.
Luna and Sol Yoga and The Village Fund
With funding support, Luna and Sol Yoga plans to continue to foster a holistic focus on the emotional health and well-being of women/birthing persons during pregnancy. Their desire is for increased representation, awareness, and advocacy for Black Maternal Health, Black Mental Health, Black Wellness, and Black Healing. Now, they believe, is an ideal time to introduce a powerful salve like yoga to a community where it is usually seen as inaccessible or predominately white.
They state, “Black Mothers have a much higher risk of stressors during pregnancy than our counterparts….Sadly, going into our first prenatal visit can only add more stress due to the lack of medical support and empathy from the medical provider and support staff. Yoga is a form of exercise and meditation where breath and specific body positions are used to help connect the mind and body. And prenatal yoga focuses on positions that are specifically designed for pregnant women/birthing persons’ bodies. Meditation can help reduce stress and increase relaxation when expecting and help during delivery.”
In addition, grant funding will facilitate business operations through the purchase of yoga props such as mats, blocks, chairs, blankets, and bolsters for each individual mother and father. It will also provide rental space for classes, as well as cleaning and sanitizing expenses to maintain COVID-19 safety compliance. Luna y Sol Yoga has also collaborated with a local Village Support Group for African-American Mothers from LADPH.
With The Village Fund grant, Luna and Sol has been able to offer:
- Free Weekly Virtual Momma Circles that include yoga, journal entries, and affirmations
- Momma Wellness Kits for postpartum mothers containing: herbal sitz baths and teas, candles with healing crystals, body butter, lip balm, and letters of Sacred Birth and Affirmation for Mommas. (All from WOC businesses.)
They are currently creating a "Baby & Me Yoga" Program so that mothers, fathers, and caretakers can get the benefits of the physical and mental practice while creating a stronger connection with their baby. It also helps if childcare is an issue, as Stern and her new little one will teach and lead the group.
As for owner Stern, she is happy to report that she has been awarded a full training scholarship from PSI (Postpartum Support International) and Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for People of Color. The training begins in July for individuals who are providers of color and working with communities with unmet needs and few resources.
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