Transcript for Founder of the Black Male Yoga Initiative discusses breaking barriers live on ‘GMA’
trying to remove the stigma surrounding mental health with the black male yoga initiative. Helping African-American men improve their physical and mental health one at a time. Love yourself. Strongly securely, let’s come up into plank. Reporter: Yoga instructor changa bell is on a mission to create a safe space for black men to breathe and open up. Anything that takes away from your masculinity is seen as a negative. It’s deeply intertwined. We get to express it here. Reporter: Many believe discussing mental health in the black community can be taboo with the black male yoga initiative bell is hoping to Chang that. Yoga brings balance. It puts everything I’ve ever went through into perspective. Reporter: According to the national alliance on mental illness, black people are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than white people. But only a quarter of black people actually seek professional mental health care. Instead, relying on faith and family for emotional support. Unchecked realities, unchecked trauma. Sadness, loneliness. Reporter: For several years bell himself lived an unhealthy life of style of smoking and drinking and after doctors recommended a pacemaker he turned his life around starting with yoga. Ultimately that led me to founding the black male yoga initiative. We’re marketed as oversexualized, overmasculine and wanted to say welcome here and come and heal. Important are us talking about our problems. Loving our communities and our families and husbands and we just need to get out there. It is great to have change bell here and some of the members of the black male yoga initiative as well. Changa, thank you. Thanks for joining us. We had a chance to hear your story and why do you think it’s so important to focus not only on mental health but also black males in particular? I just think black males are often marginalized by the media then we take some of that on. We all want to be strong for our families but like I mentioned in the piece tend to be — we’re just hyper masculine and we’re just having this put on us so yoga helps us be vulnerable and open and better human beings. We want to be strong for our families but our families can help us. If there are women who want to participate what are some of the things they can ask the men in their lives. I get asked how to be a man whisperer. Good luck with that. What I would say mostly, you know, women are great. You can’t talk about men without talking about women. For women I would advise just being open and really listening to a man empathetically using empathy as opposed to sympathy and looking at body language, you kn is he open and receptive when speaking to you about the things he’s vulnerable about? But if his body language is closed off then he might be ING closed off so being receptive to all he’s communicating. Can you walk us through this move? Explain to us why this movement is so important and what it really means? All the moves in yoga are just meant to reverse engineer your neurology so they’ll cam your body, calm your mind.’ll stand up and do the side angle pose. Maybe you can do it in a suit. I don’t know but the gentlemen are going to stick that left leg forward and extend their right leg back and open the shoulder and strengthen the legs and open up the area and we’ll lean down. So we don’t damage the rotator cuff we’ll sweep it over try to deepen the pelvis and reach, reach, reach. I’m going to need a new suit. So what does this move mean? So, so, this move doesn’t mean anything per se. It’s what it’s doing for your body and also if we stay here for another 30 or 60 seconds you’ll see it strengthening the small muscles that support the larger muscles and indicative of what we need to do in our community. We need to strengthen at the individual level in order to strengthen the community as a whole. Yes. Come back up. And the biggest thing about it is just getting started. You know, just getting started because yoga is great to calm your mind as well as your body and I appreciate you coming. I I’m glad we didn’t stand there another 30, 60 seconds. I would have cramped up. Thank you for joining us. Mental health in the black community especially for black males is very important and make
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