Some Harlem kids get all the benefits of a yoga class, while getting to know their neighborhood police.
The officers attending the class are from the 28th Ward of West Harlem. They say they believe these interactions build trust with young people who are sometimes suspicious of them.
“It allows the kids to have a relationship with the police and it kind of breaks the ice, so now that they feel more comfortable seeing them on the street, they can talk to them and ask for advice, âsays Officer Marcus Colon.
Lara Land is the yoga instructor behind the class. She saw the healing powers of yoga when she taught it in Africa over ten years ago to survivors of the Rwandan genocide. This motivated her to open her Land Yoga studio in Harlem to teach yoga in local schools and to start a nonprofit, Three and Half Acres Yoga.
âWe have trained yoga teachers to work in service settings. So places that don’t look like a yoga studio, they can go to the hospital, they can go to a shelter and how to work with the strict minimum, âshe explained. .
Land started running free yoga classes for the NYPD years ago to focus on stress relief.
âThey’re under a ton of stress, from what they’re telling me, from all directions – their superiors within the force, then being out on the streets and feeling hated by the community,â Land said. .
This led to a partnership with the NYPD to create a yoga class for officers and children.
It seems to work, as young people and the police balance poses together, build confidence, and learn the joys of yoga.
How does Land know it’s working?
âWhen you see them laughing together, I mean that’s the best sign,â Land said.
If they can build bridges and do bridge poses, that’s a bonus.