Chicago Yoga Program Aims to Reduce Violence

Don Babwin, Huffington Post, September 1, 2014

With their brightly colored mats spread along a sidewalk, Tameka Lawson’s yoga students try to follow her instructions: concentrate on their breathing and focus on the beauty of their surroundings.

But this is Englewood, one of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods, where streets are dotted with boarded-up houses and overgrown lots, and residents are as familiar with the crackle of gunfire as the chime of an ice cream truck. So while the students stretch their arms to the sky, a man the size of a refrigerator stands guard over the class.

It seems odd, all these slow movements, deep breathing and talk about being centered in a neighborhood ruled by drug-dealing gangs. It’s simply the latest attempt to curb violence in a city where the number of homicides and guns seized leads the nation. The hope is that yoga’s meditative focus will help cooler heads prevail the next time violence or vengeance looms.

The students “live in an environment where everything’s rushed, everything’s pressured. So if you breathe through certain things, you are able to see clearer. You really are,” said Lawson, executive director of a nonprofit group called I Grow Chicago. “Then they can act rather than react.”

The idea has even caught the attention of police. At least one officer has made Lawson’s class part of an anti-violence program for at-risk youths.

With yoga training, “when they get in a tense situation, they can breathe and relax and make the right decision instead of jumping out at someone and hitting them,” officer Daliah Goree said.


Lawson taught yoga at area schools for three years before bringing it to this street earlier in the year. She knew gangs might pose a threat. So before the sessions began, the man standing guard, Andres Brown, approached gang members who live nearby to assure them that the group posed no threat and sought their OK.


The group does what she says, quietly, though some of the children get antsy and start to make moves that are a lot quicker and seemingly intended to get a laugh.

But when 32-year-old Daisy Flowers warns, “You ain’t getting no candy,” the hands of her 6-year-old niece and those of her young friends are suddenly back together in the prayer position.

Not surprisingly, just a few of her students are men or teenage boys.

“Guys think it’s for women (and) they say, ‘I’m not doing that,'” said Brown, an I Grow Chicago employee and yoga practitioner who stood in the street to remind passersby that the teacher and her class were not alone–a message made clear by his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame and black T-shirt that read “Real Men Do Yoga” on the back.

Everyone here understands that getting young men and teenage boys involved is key if there is any chance of using yoga to reduce violence. {snip}



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  • So, Chicago, it has come down to this. You’re all out of ideas otherwise, and you won’t consider the truth. So now it’s silly time.

    I want to think this came from The Onion, but this is too crazy to be fake.

    On the other hand, it does provide some racial counterbalance to clickbait stories like “Why is my hot nude yoga class still hideously white?”

    • Oil Can Harry

      We could eliminate all violence in ChiCongo if we would only give blacks yoga classes combined with midnight basketball.

  • Whitetrashgang

    Oh good grief, guess though you could have yoga poses like, youth shooting another youth,youth raping school teacher, youth ground and pounding security guard, youth attacking cop etc etc.

  • John R

    Yoga will reduce violence? Are they….(cough)…serious?

    • propagandaoftruth

      Maybe the can meditate real hard and raise the roof.

    • APaige

      You mean where trillions of dollars have failed, that teaching people how to pose like a ‘praying dog’ might not work.
      It is a shame, but I do at least commend the woman for trying to make a difference.

  • B.A_2014

    Hilarity will ensue in. . .3. . .2. . .1

  • MekongDelta69

    Chicago Yoga Program Aims to Reduce Violence

    Wait… Hold on… Sorry, I just can’t hold it in…

    Ok – Where was I?

  • ncpride

    What can you say about such desperation, attempting to keep violent negroes from slaughtering each other? And all we hear about is racist White cops gunning down innocent thugs, when everyone in this country KNOWS the black male has more to fear from his ‘brothas’ than Whites and cops combined, whether they admit it openly or not.

  • Is it my imagination, or is the fact that a yoga class needs a security guard completely insane?

    • No imagination required for that one yo.

    • Rhialto

      It’s not insane in Chitown, Nor is it insane when citizens engaging in lawful activities need the approval of criminals: “… before the sessions began, the man standing guard, Andres Brown, approached gang members who live nearby to assure them that the group posed no threat and sought their OK.”

      • mikekingjr

        Da gangstas be thinkin’ yoga positions be new gang signs.

    • Ike Eichenberg

      Yes it’s insane.
      But perhaps it’s not the yoga class that needs the babysitter but the demographic?

    • MBlanc46

      In Englewood, security guards require security guards.

    • CallahanAuto

      If women are bending over in their Lululemons on a ghetto sidewalk, a security guard is necessary.

    • Ngati Pakeha

      They’re going to be quite a sight in their yoga attire Michael. I remember hearing someone say once that spandex should be a privilege – not a right. 280lbs of Shaniqua in spandex is going to make me lose my lunch!

  • Conrad

    “when they get in a tense situation, they can breathe and relax and make the right decision instead of jumping out at someone and hitting them,” officer Daliah Goree said.
    HA HA HA
    Ha ha ha ha

    • The people taking these classes are probably not the ones who need it.

      • Conrad

        That’s true. This is just more loony leftie nonsense. That’s why it is so funny. They get further away from reality every day.

    • Ron Cheaters

      “Yo Daliah, dat crack smell is f’n up my chi yo!”
      “Just keep breathing J’quan, become one with your surroundings”
      “Fo Reelz”

    • R L Buds

      I found that one funny too. They jump out and hit you without the tension.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    With yoga training, ‘when they get in a tense situation, they can breathe and relax and make the right decision instead of jumping out at someone and hitting them,’ officer Daliah Goree said.

    What would Chicago be without violence?

    So, violent thugs with limited intelligence and no education making thousands a week slinging drugs and willing to kill over the slightest perceived “diss” will take yoga and give it all up?

    How are the anti-violence programs working out, Chicago? Did handing out fliers to thugs, marching in a parade with the governor or field trips to the museum curb violence?

    A better question is this:

    How much of the $55 million pumped into Chicago for “curb violence” programs went into the pockets of community organizers and Dem bosses?

    • Whitetrashgang

      Its funny because its true.

      • TL2014

        Not funny but very tragic. That’s my children’s money we are talking about.

    • “How much of the $55 million pumped into Chicago for ‘curb violence’ programs went into the pockets of community organizers and Dem bosses?”

      Believe it or not, the Nation of Islam (yes, them) actually provides private security services with some of this money for quite a few cities. The notion of funding the NOI with taxpayers’ money is of course completely appalling.

    • Malgus

      Heh… thanks for the laugh..

      The Onion had something pretty funny a few weeks back… something about 80% of the air in Chicagostan being composed of bullets…

      Thing is… if you go by the FBI’s UCR, only 25% of shots fired actually hit the person they were aimed at… and of those, only 5% are actually fatal… So, out of 1,000 shootings, expect only something like 12 fatalities…

      I’m thinking “Gansta’s” are incapable of hitting the ocean if they threw themselves off a criuse ship… statistically, the safest place to be when a “Gangsta” starts shooting at you is directly in front of him… having a revolving light on your head is optional…

  • TL2014

    How tragic that we have a civilizationally incompatible minority living in our midst that just can’t function in our environment no matter what.

    I feel very bad for all of us, and for them. Surely many of them must intuitively feel that this civilization is not for them..

    • mikekingjr

      They are not aware enough to feel any such thing.

      • TL2014

        I think the more intelligent representatives do have some sort of awareness, even if it’s at the very intuitive, primal level. I doubt anything like that can be articulated on a cognitive level at this point in American consciousness, except for the true race realist.

        • Usually Much Calmer

          I agree and think it is one of the largest factors in their acting crazier.

  • pcmustgo

    There’s a relatively benign, hippie cultural event I routinely go to here in NYC that also requires Black security guards- because of blacks misbehaving, acting up, getting into fist fights, stealing from other attendees. That doesn’t even include the blacks loudly verbally racially harassing white, asian and latino attendees, which they are given a free pass to do. I also over heard the black security guard racially harassing one of the people who organizes the group.

  • IstvanIN

    Another idiotic idea. Isn’t Yoga for old White people with long grey pony tails?

  • Rhialto

    I have some experience with Blacks in martial arts. The Blacks catch on to the physical techniques, but the mental aspects seem to confuse them. The Blacks that I knew, who were effective, just ignored the mental and focused on the physical.

    • Ike Eichenberg

      You can teach them to dance, but you can’t teach them to think.

  • LHathaway

    “Everyone here understands that getting young men and teenage boys involved is key if there is any chance of using yoga to reduce violence”.

    Thank you for today’s AmRen out-loud laugh moment. I’ve been moonlighting on men’s rights messageboards the last few days. They are way behind us racists in their ability to make understandable and coherent posts. It has been nice reading something different for a change.

  • Usually Much Calmer

    Yoga intervention is at least a year old at this point.

    I was stuck in traffic for an hour tonight because a high ranking cop was shot in Englewood about 2 hours ago.

  • Ike Eichenberg

    If marijuana cannot tame the violent African tendencies, yoga has no chance.

  • MBlanc46

    They’ve tried everything else in Chicago–midnight basketball, peace vigils, after-school programs. Why not yoga? It couldn’t fail any more than everything else has.

    • Rhialto

      Midnight Basketball! That takes me back many years. By the way, how did that program work out? Is it still operational?

      • There were probably too many shootings at the basketball games.

      • mikekingjr

        All the basketballs were deflated due to bullet holes, I understand.

      • MBlanc46

        I haven’t heard about it lately, but if it’s not operating, something quite like it is.

    • LHathaway

      violence against men act

  • Alucard_the_last

    Oh, this is going to succeed like every other program has. There are about 7 racial minorities in Chicago that will actually take this class and they’ll all be gay. One dumb idea after another. Give it up liberals, ALL of your programs have FAILED.!!!!!!

    • IstvanIN

      There are about 7 racial minorities in Chicago that will actually take this class and they’ll all be gay.
      Comment gave me a chuckle. Those seven gay blacks aren’t the ones we need to tame. The ones we need to tame can’t be tamed.

    • The usual libtard refrain “but we just haven’t spent enough money yet” will begin in 3… 2… 1…

  • CallahanAuto

    If this doesn’t work, maybe they’ll try wine tastings next. Perhaps folk music night at the local coffee shop.

    • We went to a free Irish folk music concert at a city park some years back. No blacks, and no shootings.

      • CallahanAuto

        That’s a beautiful thing. I was poking fun of the “If I Were a Carpenter” crowd, not the “Finnegan’s Wake” crowd!

    • Usually Much Calmer

      There is a group that teaches ‘at risk’ ‘urban youth’ how to play squash.
      Kid you not. It always makes me imagine do goody types force feeding kids brie, clockwork orange-style, so that the brie can civilize them.

      • That gave me quite the hilarious visual, squirming trayvon, strapped into a heavy steel chair, which is bolted to the floor, twisting and trying to get free, screaming “get dat shi’ away from me mang! Dat’ smell like sho’queefa’ dirty laundry dawg!” as a grinning liberal slowly approaches with a tiny little spoon filled with brie. “Shhh trayvon, this will civilize you!” Some Bach echoing through the door from the hallway as screams from the dozens of other treatment rooms filter through the air vents.

  • Biff_Maliboo

    I’d like to have the Kevlar yoga mat concession there.

    Actually, I’d like to get a cut of the Kevlar yoga mat concession there.

  • Blackhawk

    I seriously doubt any of these negresses can assume the lotus position. First of all, you have to put down the bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos.

    • You forgot the spicy Cheetos. Those things are both as hot coming out as they are going in. No wonder obese black women have such miserable attitudes (but why, oh why do they always seem to end up working at the Department of Motor Vehicles office?)

  • Douglas Quaid

    If I was a single guy I would be going to the yoga meet ups all the time.

    • I never thought of the yoga angle when I was single. I went to ballroom dancing classes and met some nice gals, however. We still get dressed up in period clothes when we can find a big band event and a babysitter at the same time. Choir groups work, even if one is not religious. I play hearts quite well, but that is a card game for people who are bad at pinochle and pinochle is a card game for people who are bad at bridge, so I didn’t even try that. Gardening might work for a single guy, especially in a townhouse or condo complex with a neighborhood community garden. Cooking classes would probably work quite well, as with the single ladies, one would likely only be competing with gay guys and egotistical morons.

  • mikekingjr

    Breathing and relaxing is how I deflect bullets.

    • That works best for me if I am breathing and relaxing at home in a white neighborhood. That way all of the white privilege and microaggressions get concentrated in one spot, like at the Hanford, Washington nuclear disposal site, and the bullets fired by N’DeShitavious and his homies don’t feel welcome here.

  • R L Buds

    Yoga is also for attractive white and asian ladies……Attractive asian ladies LOL.

  • Malgus

    Sorry… test post. Something weird going on… or, at least I thought…

    Carry on…

  • This deserves a LOT more upvotes. You must be a yoga master with such eloquence and grace.

  • Reynardine

    Yoga, according to various ancient Indian sources, was very much for
    people who were already civilized – one of the Aryas. In fact one of the
    predominant forms of yoga, raja yoga, means “royal yoga.” The hatha
    yoga described here is an intensely spiritual practice that is meant to supplement a course of spiritual development, but in its
    modern form is merely equivalent to glorified hippie stretching. I can’t
    imagine these apes are doing anything more than “monkey-see, monkey