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This Philly Activist Group Is Hosting Daily Yoga and Meditation for the Local Black Community

Spirits Up! is using movement and mindfulness to help address the trauma of racial injustice.


Happening this week, Spirits Up! is a six-day yoga and meditation series for Philly’s Black community. / Photograph of jean-jacques gabriel by Wren Rene.

After two weeks of anti-racism protests sweeping the nation, one local activist organization is using wellness to advocate for racial justice. Spirits Up! is a six-day free series focused on healing Philadelphia’s Black protestors and community at large through group yoga and meditation. Overall, the initiative aims to ease and unite collective consciousness in the wake of trauma.

Officially started yesterday, Spirits Up! runs every day from 1 p.m. through 4 p.m. in various outdoor locations throughout the city (details below). Each three-hour event will blend guided movement and mindfulness, and will feature guest speakers discussing what it means to see and navigate systemic racism within their professional and personal lives. The gatherings will conclude on Friday to celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday marking the abolishment of slavery in the United States.

Founder Sudan Green, a local musician and activist from Germantown, knows first-hand the healing power of yoga and meditation, but recognizes that representation is lacking in both spheres.

“I go to so many [yoga] classes, but don’t often see instructors who look like me,” he says. That’s why Green teamed up with Philly yoga teacher jean-jacques gabriel to hand-pick local instructors, including Adriana Adelé, Jasmine Bailey, and Khalief Khadafi, to lead the sessions. Green also connected with Councilmember Cherelle Parker and Little Giant Creative, both of whom are supporting the series.

As for the locations, Green says they were intentionally chosen for the purpose of healing. Yesterday’s took place in front of the Municipal Building, the former site of the Frank Rizzo statue. Other gathering spots include Washington Square (which served as a burial ground for free and enslaved Black folks in the 1700s), Rittenhouse Square, Logan Circle, Vernon Park, and Malcolm X Park.

“If you look at the locations, they move from Center City, which is predominantly white, to predominantly Black communities,” Green says. “It kind of shows you the distance that exists in the fight right now, and the communal work we have to do.”

Each gathering is free to attend, with no registration required. Spirits Up! will be giving out 40 free yoga mats each day, and is encouraging attendees to bring their masks and hand sanitizer.

For updates, visit the Spirits Up! Instagram. You can also donate to their fundraiser, which will help Green open a brick-and-mortar wellness space in Germantown, as well as create scholarships for students to become certified yoga instructors.

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