The responsibility of being educated and hood.

Yoga Instructor Taina Berardi.

We knew this shirt would be controversial and we made it anyway.

A huge thank you to Taina Berardi for stepping into her power with purpose and for rocking this shirt. Taina is one of the instructors we’ve enjoyed working with over the last few years. She is from Oakland, California, has her MBA from San Diego State and her Master of Arts from Loyola Marymount. Taina is a trauma-informed yoga teacher trained in yoga therapy. We are inspired by how she serves the community by ensuring that wellness is accessible to everyone, including marginalized populations.

“The hood,” like the individuals that occupy it, is a complex space. So many people confuse what being from the hood is. Part of this ignorance stems from a narrative that is often biased and incomplete. You see, much of what we believe about ourselves is based on how we’ve seen ourselves represented. And frankly, “the hood” is often misrepresented. We’re from the hood, and we know of so many brilliant minds, undervalued experiences, and unappreciated people. We’ve come to understand that stigma prevented many of these invisible stars from shining light on all that’s good in the hood.

So Living Firme set out on a mission to destigmatize poverty. There is so much to say about the stigma of poverty that we will have to write a separate post or suggest a reading list. Destigmatizing poverty meant sharing resources as well as sparking joy, encouraging unity, and promoting positivity. We took this assignment head-on, and we’ve brought on sensitive, insightful experts like Taina to help us.

Our trainings are a blast. We make sure to show up dressed a way that hints at where we are from. Oh, the looks we get! It’s so much fun to see arms crossed in front of chests in defense. We know that stance. Our attendees usually nod in agreement when we confess that we know we don’t “look” like other instructors. We let everyone know that they don’t have to like us to learn something new. We tell them a bit about how we started and that is how we begin to weave our storytelling into our exercises. We know that we are asking people to come on a journey with us but we are not asking them to do anything that we have not done ourselves. We get vulnerable. We share the truth.

We could easily pretend that we were NOT from our barrios. We could have easily kept our hardships and our successes to ourselves, but why? We are not here to incite riots but we are here to disrupt mindsets. That is why this shirt comes with a WARNING. The goal of our training is that attendees will not feel the same about themselves or the people they may have previously judged. The journey toward wellness has to begin with a desire to love oneself and empathize with others.

We work with business owners, inmates, public servants, educators, stay at home moms, artists, the list goes on… but our mission remains the same.

We work to elevate and evolve mindsets.

Things have been physically, mentally and emotionally challenging in 2020. It’s clear that things have to change, and they will.

WE have to decide how WE will contribute to that change. 

Please check out Taina’s Instagram for healthy, culturally relevant posts on body positivity, spirituality and mindfulness.

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Yoga Therapy training has expanded my concept of how yoga can positively impact an individual’s health, wellness and lifestyle. By looking at the whole person, not just symptoms felt in the physical body, we can recognize the implications of an individual’s environment, history, disabilities, injuries, chronic illness, habits, diet, sleep pattern, stress level, etc. and use this knowledge to create an accessible plan of action for addressing the underlying issues behind the symptoms. Every person is unique and therefore deserves a unique approach to achieving optimal wellness. Fortunately, on an individual level, yoga provides many tools to achieve this goal. At a macro level though, yoga is inaccessible to many of the people who could benefit the most from its practices. From “one-size-fits-all” classes, to studios that focus on creating a brand of exclusivity… yoga is being commodified vs democratized. It’s up to us as teachers, practitioners, studio owners, event runners and thought leaders to be advocates for more accessible forms of yoga so that as many people as possible can experience the true bliss that its teachings have to offer the body, mind and spirit. This is why I am so looking forward to the @accessibleyoga #AccessibleYogaConference in St. Louis this week! A whole conference of conversation, deep thought, learning, listening, connecting and re-imagining yoga with other folks who are whole-heartedly dedicated to this work. There are some amazing speakers, world-class teachers and a deeply compassionate group of people in the mix. So glad to be able to attend and volunteer some of my time at the conference to help out! Just wish I could hire a personal stenographer for all my note taking!! ✏️📜📜📜📜🤦🏽‍♀️

A post shared by Taina Rodriguez-Berardi 👸🏽✨ (@tainaberardi) on

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